Mea culpa - How could I be so wrong?

Friday, May 9, 2003

What's this? The mailbag is overflowing again?

I know some of you letter writers -- both of you -- wonder why I take so long to respond to your queries and concerns. Let me explain: I have my priorities.

That, and my folder labeled "Column fodder" is mysteriously empty. How did that happen?

The first letter is from someone who clearly doesn't understand that my World Famous Downtown Golf Course is real only to true believers.

Dear Mr. Editor: I can't believe you're still promoting a golf course for downtown when our city needs so many things that are more important. Given Cape Girardeau's current financial situation, don't you think it's just a little bit selfish to yammer on and on about a golf course in a historic commercial district when you should be helping solve some of our city's most crucial problems? You and the newspaper have a responsibility to the community you serve. It's about time you started behaving responsibly instead of acting like this ridiculous golf course is a good idea for the future of our city. I and hundreds of other Cape Girardeau residents are willing to stand up and be counted as we work for the betterment of the city.

-- Concerned citizen.

Dear concerned citizen: You have managed to accomplish what dozens of your cohorts have tried to do time and time again without success. You have me hanging my head in shame.

How could I have been so selfish?

I thought a golf course in downtown Cape Girardeau was something we really needed. I thought the hundreds of thousands of dollars I was trying to raise for a consultant and feasibility study and architectural drawings and spiffy signs saying "Future Home of the World Famous Downtown Golf Course" would be good for the local economy. I thought writing applications for millions of dollars of federal grants was the American way. I thought appealing for donations to be deposited in my personal checking account with no oversight to speak of was something most of you would trust me to do. I thought the hundreds of supporters who have encouraged me to pursue my dream in the face of insurmountable odds really meant what they said.

How could I have been so wrong?

But now that you have stated the obvious and have mercilessly punctured my balloon, I'm willing to admit that there are, indeed, many priorities higher than a downtown golf course, world famous or not.

For example, how could I have possibly placed a golf course above walking trails along the riverfront? Goodness knows we need reliable access along the floodwall to look for cracks. And any fool knows that the best viewing of huge murals is from a distance of approximately 18 to 27 inches, so let's make sure those trails are as close to the floodwall as possible. I now see the folly of making the trails do double duty as cart paths for the golf course. It would be irresponsible to endanger the lives of trail walkers and mural viewers with enraged golf-cart drivers who just chunked their tee shot on No. 11 into the Mississippi.

And goodness knows how I've relegated all those critical water issues to a status far below a carefree round of golf. There's the water park and the water wells and the waterworks and the storm water. I won't even mention the water hazards for the golf course, now that I can clearly see the silliness of blending golf with downtown restoration. Thank you, concerned reader, for saving me from a fate worse than a double bogey.

As for the second letter, let me just say I think we all know how we feel about bonfire parties in the middle of roundabouts.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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