Edgewater plan, pro and con
I was disappointed to read your article on the proposed Edgewater redevelopment ("Edgewater Plan Secret, Suspicious," 7/3/09).
The article was one-sided, discussing none of the potential positives of the proposal - taxes, economic development, saving the hotel, etc. Nor was there mention of the many meetings by the developer with the neighborhood and others.
The article alleged that Downtown Madison Inc. (DMI) has a questionable alliance with the developer, Hammes Co. [because of a business connection to DMI executive board chair Allen Arntsen]. In fact, Mr. Arntsen did not participate in the discussions or deliberations, and any arguable conflict was disclosed to all involved.
Moreover, the board and the Economic Development Committee heard presentations from both sides of the issue before making a considered decision. In the end, the board concluded that the concept was good for the city and the downtown and that the potential positives outweighed the negatives.
Kenneth B. Axe
Congratulations to Jay Rath for his exposé of the "clandestine lobbying effort" behind developer Robert Dunn's grandiose scheme for a re-do of the Edgewater Hotel. But even without the backroom shenanigans, Dunn's plan amounts to a vulgar, extravagant, oversized blight on the skyline. Am I the only one sick of the endless efforts of developers to transform downtown Madison into one giant McMansion?
In the mid-1960s, the Vilas house, the grandest of Madison's Victorian landmarks, was demolished to make way for the depressing glass-and-steel cube that now squats on the corner of East Gilman and Wisconsin Avenue. Allowing Mr. Dunn to realize his vision of Xanadu on Lake Mendota would likewise insult the city's most charming, historic and user-friendly neighborhood.
Gary L. Kriewald
Rick Berg's fan mail
In "Revolution in the Air" (7/10/09), Rick Berg lambastes the stimulus package and issues treasonous calls for a terrorist insurgency. Of course, he is batting for the team whose free-market fundamentalism caused our current meltdown, and whose party racked up the elephant's share of America's national debt. Previously I asked why Isthmus wastes space on him. Now, please, let me ask why his fulminations are not balanced by equal space for other economic and policy points of view?
Floyd A. Hummel
The American people decided not to "put up with failed approaches" when they voted for a Democratic president, as well as Democratic majority in the House and Senate. These guys are lawmakers, not supermen. You expect that the failures of the past eight years (and before) are to be turned around in a mere six months? Hilarious!
Isthmus, please keep Rick Berg on. He is great for a laugh, and reiterates the fact that the Republican Party has been hijacked by a homogeneous collection of clueless dolts.
There is no revolution in the air. It is only "hot air" spewed by Rick Berg and his fellow right-wing Tea Party goers.
President Obama has only been in office six months but already he is starting to turn the economy and foreign relations around and dig us out of a mess that President Bush took eight years to create.
Berg's disclaimers notwithstanding, it sounds to me that he and others are advocating a violent overthrow of a government elected by the people. That sounds like treason to me.
No fans of the fountains
Perhaps the complete mechanical breakdown of the fountains on the Capitol Square (Watchdog, 7/10/09) is just punishment for the way they detract from the view of the Capitol. The money involved in construction and repair is not a laughing matter.
Who decided the visual approaches to the Square needed improvement? Did anyone knowledgeable review the mechanics of the proposed fountains before installation? Perhaps most important, does the Common Council rubberstamp proposals coming from city commissions?
The bad news is that the city spends thousands on these ugly things. The good news could be getting rid of them. They obstruct the view of the Capitol from both ends of Washington Avenue and clash with the architecture of the Capitol and its walkways.
Health-care reform now
Unfortunately, Bill Anderson's experience with our health-care system is not unique ("Maybe He Should Have Kept the Hernia," 7/10/09). More and more people are without health insurance; many end up bankrupt due to medical bills.
Most insurance comes through employment. But costs keep rising. In the last 10 years, insurance premiums have risen 120%. The annual premium for a family of four is $12,000. Small businesses and individuals just can't pay it.
This might be bearable if American health was better. But we rank last among 19 similar countries in preventable deaths.
So we need health-care reform now - for our health and our economy. We need to cover everyone, to contain costs and ensure competition by having a public option.
A rally for Healthcare for All is set for July 25, on the State Street steps of the Capitol, 3 p.m.
Carlene Bechen, Brooklyn, Wis.
Drugs are appropriate mental-health care
Regarding Jill Carlson's article "Saying No to Drugs" (7/17/09): Would Isthmus publish a cover article with the subtitle "New movement embraces a pill-free approach to leukemia"?
Mental illnesses are illnesses like any other physical ailment, and are medically managed through a combination of behavioral and pharmaceutical methods. Some people respond to a certain set of therapies and drugs, others to a different set; some respond to therapy alone, others to drugs alone.
Nobody considers the cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy to be overmedicated, or the side effects so bad as to prefer the disease itself. Let's hold mental illnesses and their treatment in the same light.
Although I empathize with the situations described in "Saying No to Drugs," I have a different perspective.
Despite many years of childhood depression, I was not diagnosed until my early 20s, after a suicide attempt. At first, I rejected any medication as I thought I could do it myself. In addition, my therapist at the time was adamantly against medication.
Later, another therapist suggested I try medication. I was resistant at first, but he assured me I could try it and then decide to continue or not.
For the first four weeks, the medication had multiple, unpleasant physical side effects. But after about six weeks, it seemed as if a curtain had been drawn back, and I could finally feel the good feelings along with the bad.
As I have grown older my body has changed, and I have had to change medications a few times. Some drugs have had terrible results for me; others have worked well.
Today I am happy and productive with the help of appropriate medication and a wonderfully supportive therapist.
I am a psychiatrist in practice in Madison. The most effective way to alleviate suffering from mental illness is a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can help. A patient and licensed clinician together develop a treatment plan that is likely to work and is acceptable to the patient.
Your article did not fully inform readers of the risks of discontinuing treatment, including relapse of mental illness. Untreated mental illness can devastate people, their families and our communities.
I strongly urge anyone who has concerns about treatment to speak directly to her or his doctor, nurse practitioner or therapist before embarking on a potentially dangerous path.
Art Walaszek, M.D.
As a practicing psychiatrist in Madison, I am angered that your article will increase perceived mental health stigma for patients. People who seek psychiatric treatment often feel that they should be able to manage their symptoms on their own, without medications. By the time a patient comes to our clinic, he or she is suffering severe symptoms and is unable to function, yet may be reluctant to accept appropriate psychiatric care.
Psychiatric conditions are medical conditions, analogous to such illnesses as heart disease, diabetes and asthma. Medications to treat all illnesses have potential side effects. And although lifestyle can make a large impact on physical and mental health, one would never suggest to a patient who has just suffered a heart attack to stop taking their medications and just deal with it.
Sherri Hansen, M.D.
As a sufferer of mild depression my adolescent and adult life with episodes of major depression, I too have struggled with the dilemma of medication. This desire not to be on medication right up to the point of debilitation. I believe this is the feeling that the majority of mental health sufferers share.
In my experience with different psychiatrists, pill-pushing was not the goal. Being able to function daily and overall mental health was the goal. There can be a useful biological application of medication when in moderation and when part of an overall therapy program that includes counseling, exercise and diet.
Don't worry, bee happy
I was happy to see your article on urban beekeeping ("Bees in the Hood," 7/10/09). But quotes on how the beekeeper's father swelled up like a balloon and having 10,000 tigers that could turn on you at any moment really bothered me.
I am a beekeeper who developed an allergy to bees since the installation of two hives three years ago. I receive allergy shots and no longer swell up when stung.
If you leave bees alone, they will leave you alone. Maybe if Erich Schmidtke didn't keep them on his front porch, he wouldn't view them as tigers. This paints a bad view of a rather nonaggressive insect.
I keep my bees in our backyard and have only had an issue with them when I have opened the hives unprepared. I wear a bee hood or suit and smoke my bees when opening the hive. I really enjoy beekeeping, and I think the urban beekeepers could save the honeybee in this country.