DEAR MR. JACKLET: Your article on Roberto Maestas in the last issue of The Stranger ["El Gran Jefe," Ben Jacklet, June 10] was deeply offensive to me and many others in the Hispanic/Latino community. Although some of your points are well taken (such as the criticism that resources spent on international affairs detract from the ability to help the local community), the overall article is unbalanced, and does not accurately portray an individual who has consistently fought for the rights of the poor and the less privileged for more than 30 years.
I have known Roberto since 1968, when I was a freshman at the University of Washington. Roberto, along with other "older" activists, was responsible for molding a generation of young Chicanos who have become leaders in the Seattle community and throughout Washington state. There are many people who fit this description who will state that Roberto Maestas was a positive influence on their development into adults. Over the years, I have had a number of differences with Roberto. While I was a member of the Board of Directors of the English as a Second Language program at [El] Centro, Roberto wanted the board to forbid Marielitos who were leaving Cuba to be admitted into the program. Although this led to much discord, the board defied his wishes, and services continued to be delivered to all who were eligible.
It is true that Roberto has his share of detractors, including his ex-wife. However, he has many fervent supporters, and others (such as myself) who may not always agree with him, but support him because of [his] overall positive record. Roberto is a necessary community voice. While others contemplate, he acts. People who do not act do not make mistakes — so it is easy for them to criticize those who try to effect change and voice opinions.
Antonio Salazar
Salazar Law Offices


TO THE EDITOR: Three cheers for Ben Jacklet and his excellent piece on Roberto Maestas, the Dictator of El Centro. It's about time that someone shed light on this pitiable creature. I once volunteered for El Centro's Community University 101, co-facilitating the discussion group that used Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Chaos or Community" as the guide for a discussion about building community. Ben's perceptions were right on, and it is rare that we see this kind of pull-no-punches type of journalism in polite Seattle. We expect Maestas' behavior from corporate honchos, but from a man who preaches equality and justice, it is criminal. His karma was gaining on him. All Ben and The Stranger did was give it a big push. The good work of El Centro goes on through one of their spin-offs, the Institute for Community Leadership. These are the folks who trained those kids who electrified the crowd at the Stanford Memorial. Give THEM a million bucks and watch what happens.
Paul E. Nelson


DEAR NATIONAL ENQUIRER: You've taken Roberto Maestas, one of our community's wisest and kindest teachers and leaders, aired decades of his personal life stories, and taken a swipe at anyone at El Centro who works or volunteers there. I think of Roberto Maestas in the highest terms — as a friend, as family. He has spent this past year deeply involved in our community council, while leading the El Centro organization through some tough times. He has spent the last 27 years working with others to keep El Centro (one of two community centers on Beacon Hill) alive in our racist and oppressive society.
Leaders of color have a tough enough time in this society without having their work undermined by articles such as yours. The next time you're bored enough to work on such a story, I'd like to point you toward a number of billionaires, millionaires, and their cronies who are stripping our forests, developing everything they can get their hands on in Seattle and all over King County, re-arming trident submarines with new nukes, etc. Albert Kaufman


Ben Jacklet, I kiss your feet (or at least your typing fingers). Finally, someone has the balls to tell the truth about Roberto Maestas and El Centro de la Raza. I live near the school that this group stole 27 years ago. Oh, excuse me, I am so politically incorrect! They didn't steal it; it was a "peaceful and creative occupation." Whatever. All I know is that ever since then, Roberto has been giving the finger to my neighborhood with the blessing of city officials.
The most recent example was his adamant refusal to allow a new Beacon Hill library to be built on the vacant south end of "his" property. What's more of a "center for the people" than a library, Roberto? Ah, but you can't control a [public] library like you do El Centro, can you? And if there's a library next door, "your people" — as you call them — might get ideas. They might actually realize they're in AMERICA, and that they don't have to do whatever the fuck you say.
To all the elected officials who've repeatedly brushed off my concerns about Roberto and company, and to all the funding agencies who have given millions of dollars to him and his "center for the people": Read Ben Jacklet's article and get a fucking clue.
Janice Kennedy


TO THE EDITOR: I have no particular affection for Roberto Maestas or El Centro, but Ben Jacklet's piece and its accompanying cover headline was really offensive. The highlighted use of cheap Latin American stereotypes — "little dictator" and "gran jefe" — was borderline racist, especially for a paper with no apparent Latino presence or participation.
Jacklet made it worse by starting his profile of Maestas with a set of 30- to 45-year-old allegations from his bitter ex-wife. Issues about union-busting and dealing in bad faith with the community need to be exposed. Airing out a 30-year-old divorce and making judgments about Chicano authenticity, from a non-Latino, is bullshit.
Steve Marquardt


TO THE EDITOR: As a former employee of Lori LeFavor, I can say that in my one year as Lori's assistant, NO ONE (Lori included) at RKCNDY was making, or could possibly be there for, "the money." ["It's My Party," Kathleen Wilson, June 10.] It was literally a day-to-day effort to back each show. And although [RCKNDY's] financial situation has improved somewhat over the last year, it is still certainly not a business environment where anyone could get rich. A good deal of the money Lori has made has been invested back into the club.
Not to mention that she is, after all, running a business. I hope no one disputes the fact that she is entitled to make a living. With all the bullshit she and her staff put up with on an everyday basis, they certainly aren't making anything near what they're worth.
As far as the issue of business practices go: Any promoter in town who loses an act they have years of history with has a right to be pissed. I'm sure she is not the only Seattle promoter who has made a few "screaming banshee" calls to William Morris this year. Regardless of what you think of Lori as a person, you have to acknowledge that for the past few years, she has kept [Seattle's] all ages scene's head above water.
Ma'Chell Duma
Mediawhore Publicity & Promotions
via e-mail


DEAR MR. KECK: I am an attorney for Time Inc., the publisher of People magazine. I am writing to demand compensation for your use of the People trademark [The Stranger cover, May 6] and copyrighted materials published in People.
The cover of your newspaper displayed the People logotype and copyrighted material, namely text and photographs, from the cover of the May 3, 1999 issue of People. The rights to reproduce these materials are protected by the Copyright Act, under which unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. The right to reproduce the People logotype is protected by the Lanham Act, under which unauthorized trademark usage is prohibited if it causes a likelihood of confusion as to source.
This use of Time, Inc.'s intellectual property constitutes copyright and trademark infringement, both of which we consider serious offenses.
On behalf of People, I hereby demand that you cease and desist using these materials immediately and confirm to me in writing that you have done so by no later than June 18, 1999. In addition, People demands that you pay it compensation in the amount of $1,500 for the unauthorized use of this material.
Nicholas J. Jollymore
Deputy General Counsel
Time, Inc.
New York City