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Letters to the Editor 

Do It for the Kids
I would like to try and be an objective viewpoint in regards to "School's Out" (Cover, May 8). I am a New Orleans native who had to leave town during the oil crisis around 1986. Remember when a barrel of oil was going for about $17?

Of all the news I have seen coming out of New Orleans after the storm, I must say this is the most upsetting. Why is it so difficult to put aside the petty differences that have cropped up in the black and white communities? If for nobody else, do it for the children who are, after all, the future of the city.

It looks like the students are being punished by people inside and outside the community who want to make this some kind of political football. The shame of it all is that the kids suffer and have no real say in this whole matter.

David Reinhardt
Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Cost vs. Safety
While U.S. Sen. David Vitter can certainly be applauded for trying to help Americans access affordable medicines, we agree with Sen. Mary Landrieu that searching the international marketplace is not necessarily the best place to shop for discounted drugs.

National news reports have documented how deadly imported drugs can be and how they can expose the unwitting consumer to counterfeit medicines from everything from birth control pills to cough syrups.

When a consumer tries to buy drugs from foreign countries over the Internet, safeguards fail. Unlike American medicines, there is no guarantee of product testing. Pedigree papers can be forged. There is no guarantee the supplier is even legitimate or that the product is what is on the label.

Landrieu recognized these hazards. We applaud her for her vote on the Cochran Amendment.

As consumers, we all tend to assume the safeguards we enjoy through the Federal Drug Administration exist equally around the world. This is not so. The good news is that there are programs here in this country to make medicines more affordable. For those under 60 years of age, there is the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (www.pparx.org), and for those over 60, the Louisiana Senior Rx program (www.louisianaseniorx.org).

As Vitter said, a medicine that sits on a shelf is no good if a person cannot afford it. But equally accurate is the warning Landrieu underscored: It is very important for a medicine to be safe for the consumer as well as affordable. We encourage all consumers who need assistance paying for their medicines to access the programs mentioned. These programs do work.

Cheron Brylski
Women's Health Access Project

Ashley Cobette
Director, Louisiana PPARX

Donna Ganier
Director, Louisiana MMARX

Think About It
In reference to "A Real No-Brainer" (Commentary, May 22), now is the time to get up close and personal with citizens who have returned and struggled to rebuild and remain in our city. See the progress in this neighborhood before decisions are made that would destroy historically significant properties and displace even more New Orleanians. Let us not forget progressive trends of the past that in hindsight would have been destructive to New Orleans' landscape, such as the proposed Riverfront Expressway.

We are in favor of the progress an expanded medical district could bring to our neighborhood and city, but would like to see it built in the area where it was originally proposed. The original location was to be in the Poydras/I-10/Tulane area, which is heavily blighted and in need of renewal.

If our city is to be rebuilt smarter, is it in our best interest to perpetuate blight? Should existing but abandoned or vacant medical facilities be left standing while viable neighborhoods are destroyed to build new sprawling medical complexes? Some foresight would serve us well.

Bobbi Rogers
Resident Rebuilding Facilitator
Neighborhood Recovery Association for
Tulane/Gravier/Iberville Neighborhoods

Time to Move Forward
As Orson Welles' character Harry Lime said in the movie The Third Man, "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

New Orleans is a great city, but we have let this hurricane get to our municipal psyche. A hundred years ago, the Mississippi River flooded the city every spring, yellow fever killed thousands and racial discrimination was at its worst. But we produced the Jazz Age and Louis Armstrong. Today, we have one big, bad storm and so far what did that produce -- 400,000 cuckoo clocks?

Owen Joyner

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