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No Slime Here: Whitten Defends Industry

I take great offense of what you said of my family ("Death of a Salesman," Cover Story, July 5). We have been selling used cars in this city for over 85 years — my granddad, my dad, my uncle, my two cousins and myself. We have never made a living by "stereotypicical smarminess." You seem to take great pleasure in putting down our profession. If you had a bad experience, don't take it out on the industry as whole.

To say CarMax is trying to "de-slime" the car-buying process, you border on slander. If you knew what you were talking about, you would clearly see that CarMax stores' fixed prices are the area's highest, so who is "ripping off" who?

You could have written that article without taking all the shots you did at my family, and that's the way I read it. All of our stores are run by family members, and we take great pride in the way we conduct car sales: with integrity, honesty and straight-forwardness. We have never "manipulated" anybody into an automobile. But is that what you call selling?

Wally Whitten
Whitten Lincoln Mercury Isuzu Suzuki

T-D Blurs Lines with Columnist-Reporters

Speaking of the Richmond Times-Dispatch ("Truth and Consequences," Cover Story, July 12; "Times-Dispatch Kills Staff Forum," Street Talk, July 19), I've tried to ask them to stop running both news articles and opinion columns by the same "reporter." But alas my concerns have fallen on deaf editors' ears.

Jeff Shapiro kills the T-D's credibility by writing partisan opinion columns one day and supposedly reporting on factual hard news the next. This is a practice that journalistic authorities like the Columbia Journalism Review and Editor & Publisher call unethical.

In his biased zeal, Shapiro writes things that are obviously wrong. For example, in a Feb. 5 column he wrote that in the 97th House District Special Election, Democrat John Montgomery "raised almost twice as much money as his opponent." When Shapiro's column was published, a quick visit to www.vpap.org — the online authority on Virginia campaign finance — revealed that Montgomery had $111,800 to his opponent's $196,000.

In his weekly opinionated column June 11, Shapiro personally attacked Attorney General Bob McDonnell's "disputed opinion" regarding the General Assembly's budget impasse, calling it a "big-time political problem" and a "constitutional headache." Meanwhile, The Virginian-Pilot said, "McDonnell has it right." The Daily Press said McDonnell shows "an admirable sense of responsibility" with "a straightforward reading of the state constitution." Yet T-D readers only got a vindictive columnist/reporter distorting the facts, while the rest of Virginia was more in touch with reality.

Add to this the T-D's online political blog where Shapiro rants enlightening journalistic wisdom like "Time to turn up da noize" and "My colleague, Tyler Whitley, is bird-dogging."

When "reporters" wear their political leanings on their sleeve, readers question the integrity of a newspaper and wonder what can be believed.

Kelly Waters

What About Me? Bieber's Blog Is More Like an Ad

Not to be too picky, but why did Style highlight Joel Bieber's blog ("Bieber's New Pitch: He's Blogging for You," Street Talk, July 26)?

Any number of attorneys gets sold on these advertisement blogs, but they don't garner a readership base and eventually, after the businessman/lawyer realizes the very small benefit isn't worth the cost, they wither on the vine and die.

Often, the first sign of this is sporadic posting — less than once a week is almost certainly a sign the blog is doomed. And Mr. Bieber is definitely not the first lawyer in the Central Virginia area to put up a blog.

But, hey, what do I know, I've only been a lawyer publishing a blog in Central Virginia for three years before Mr. Bieber stuck his online.

Maybe I should take my blog and go to another part of the commonwealth. It seems that nobody around here would notice if I were missing.

Ken Lammers Jr.http://crimlaw.blogspot.com

Museum's Future Is Cause for Concern

While I do not consider myself — born and raised in Richmond — a "fan" of the Confederacy or the Civil War, I am concerned about the historical items at risk at the Museum of the Confederacy because of its financial (and land-locked) problems ("Will Confederate Museum Sell Out?" Street Talk, July 12).

Has the Museum considered folding itself into the state's Virginia Historical Society? Could it not become part of the society, thus saving all this history which would fall under the state's protection? Must it remain an independent nonprofit (which doesn't seem to be working anymore)?

Then, perhaps the trustees could focus on moving the "White House" to a better location. Truly it cannot stay where it is. Time marches on. MCV is only going to get bigger. Historical homes are moved all the time. What's better — to save the house in a new location or let it rot away to oblivion in its current location and face a much more unpleasant demise? The current "problem" just smacks of stubbornness and a typical lack of creative problem-solving.

Claudia Brookman

Clarification and Correction

In a cover story about changes at the Richmond Times-Dispatch ("Truth and Consequences," July 12), we reported that the Weekend section was "on the chopping block." Readers should not interpret this to mean that a final decision was made to cut the section; rather, that the section was on a list of potential cuts.

Music events listed in last week's calendar under Café Gutenberg (Night & Day, July 26) should have been listed under Café Diem. Style regrets the error. S

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