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Letters to the Editor 

Top Bars for Whom?
I want to make a comment on"Gambit Weekly's Top 50 Bars" (Cover, June 24). To be blunt, the article ought to be called "the best 50 bars for white people." How can it be that in a city that has a large, vibrant black community, almost all the bars listed are white bars?

Please don't tell me that these bars have mixed clientele. A few black patrons doesn't cut it. If we're honest, we can admit that the city is pretty segregated, and that includes the bars and nightclubs.

It's not Gambit's job to fix that, but at least the paper could make an effort to address it by giving some sort of coverage to the nightlife outside of the "white New Orleans." As a white person, I'd appreciate it.

Dan Forman

Race Shouldn't Matter
I am tired of hearing how the mainstream media and the general population oversimplifies Barak Obama's race — "He's a black candidate." — and how some of my white friends tell me how their racist colleagues vocalize they will not vote for Obama because he is black and/or because his name is Obama.

If I were running for president and my name sounded like America's most wanted, Osama (bin Laden), I might consider changing it to something like Bobby. Hey, it worked for Jindal. With a name like Piyush Jindal, I don't think the conservative party would have allowed him to even run for governor in Louisiana.

But the racial oversimplication is hard to swallow for me and anybody who, like Obama, has biracial parents. In this country, especially here in New Orleans, we need a president whose racial background reflects the mixed cultural diversity of our people to truly understand how to build communication bridges that we so much need to begin healing from the deep-rooted issues we are dealing with that, for the most part, are grounded in race.

So the next time somebody says to you that Obama is black or "not black enough, almost white," tell them he is neither. He is of the new race, the one with which the majority of Americans of mixed-race and/or culture can identify. They are the ones who cannot be easily misled by the stupidity of their ancestors and understand the beauty and power of diversity. They are the ones who will make this country a better place for all Americans.

Omaira Falcon

A Word From Our DA
Every month, my office receives complaints from individuals who have paid contractors thousands of dollars to repair their Hurricane Katrina-damaged homes. In most cases, the complainants argue that their contractor performed minimal, shoddy or no work prior to abandoning the project.

Such complaints are frequent, and my office does pursue criminal charges when warranted.

As many of you await receipt of Road Home disbursements in the upcoming weeks and months, I want to encourage you to protect yourself and your assets. There are fraudulent contractors out there who do not have the homeowner's best interest in mind.

Verify your contractor's Louisiana license or registration with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors or the local Better Business Bureau prior to executing a contract.

Obtain a detail-specific contract that outlines the work to be completed as well as the materials that will be used. Contracts can also include start and completion dates and should be signed and dated by both the homeowner and contractor.

Lastly, obtain records for all payments. Consider paying a contractor via check or credit card, as such payments are automatically documented through your financial institution and can be introduced as evidence for criminal prosecutions.

This is a critical moment in our city's recovery. Under no circumstance can we afford to lose time or finances. Keva Landrum-Johnson District Attorney, Orleans Parish More than Just a Church The people at Our Lady of Good Counsel should know that the Honorable Archbishop Hughes is practicing his ordained magisterial right to close and/or open any and all Catholic churches that he sees fit.

The jurisdiction over the fate of the Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans is the rightful responsibility of the Archbishop. However, just having the canon law right to open and/or close a particular Catholic church in his jurisdiction does not make it morally right.

I sincerely believe the archbishop is acting in good conscience. He is not in the process of defending Holy Mother Church from some medieval heretical lunatics, nor is he fighting illegitimate dissenters. He is essentially fighting the mystical body of Christ as he exists in the spirit, heart and souls of the committed faithful of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Christianity never has and never will be about having and/or not having enough money. And as far as having a priest shortage, there are many Catholic religious orders around that would be more than willing to take over the management of Our Lady of Good Counsel. I could totally understand the closing of a church struggling too much financially or a church overly damaged from Katrina, but not the closing of a vibrant, sound, giving parish that has also proved to be more than a hub of the neighborhood as well as a viable economic asset to the area.

In this critical time in the redevelopment of post-Katrina New Orleans, it is important to all that we keep open and hold dear and sacred any and all establishments that were able to survive.

The Archbishop's decision to rule against the people of God is morally wrong. Closing Our Lady of Good Counsel will cause a domino effect leading to the disintegraton of an essential societal community.

I see his actions as cruel, uncaring, ignorant and insensitive. If he is not willing to dialog with the community for some creative alternatives, then he must, at all cost, be resisted.

Jack David Harris

More About Helmets
I was born and raised in New Orleans and now reside in Mobile, Ala. I have ridden motorcycles for the last 36 years, and take aim with "Keeping the Helmet Bill" (Commentary, April 15). Some critical facts are missing or otherwise grossly abused.

Gov. Mike Foster did not "muscle law makers" into repealing the helmet bill. Motorcyclists across the state of Louisiana united together to contact thier legislators and express their opinion as individuals and through motorcycle rights organizations, i.e. A.B.A.T.E. of Louisiana (www.abateoflouisisana.com). Bikers worked together to pass the repeal of the existing helmet law. Gov. Foster supported the effort but, hundreds of hours were spent by people who wanted to "let those who ride decide." It was truly a huge undertaking by Gov. Blanco when she went into office to reverse this bill.

Gov. Jindal has supported motorcyclists rights, and I admire him for this. Perhaps his support stems from an understanding of the framers of our constitution. I assume anyone who cherishes the First Amendment, such as a publisher, would empathize with those who want the freedom to decide whether or not to wear a safety device that is marginally effective.

Motorcycle Rider Education is an effective means for preventing injury and loss of life. Motorcycle helmets are not tested on full-body anthropomorphic test dummies, and until the late 1990s there was no sensor even placed in the helmet.

Several states allow motorcyclists to decide. The DOT standard for helmets is pretty much on the honor system. Helmets can prevent injuries, but not an accident. Motorcycle rider safety courses can help prevent the accident, which avoids the problem completely.

Finally, as leader of the Department of Health and Hospitals under Gov. Foster's administration, and as a Rhodes Scholar, perhaps Gov. Jindal has a better understanding of this issue than a layman.

Ken Behr

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