Richard E. Lewis

Hide and Sect
Tony Ortega's description of Sherry Roberson's vocal abilities and her career background were very well-written and informative ("Blues Bodhisattva," June 13); but I was just a little surprised (though not shocked) by the inaccuracies concerning Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism and its past relationship with Soka Gakkai International.

SGI was the lay organization for Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism in the United States during the time that Roberson was introduced to the religion. However, in 1976, Roberson did not join SGI; what she did was to become a believer in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism and a member of the nearest Nichiren Shoshu Temple. There was no Soka Gakkai Buddhist sect at that time.

Soka Gakkai has only been in existence since its establishment in 1930 and then later, in 1951, sought and was granted permission by Nichiren Shoshu to establish SGI as a religious corporation for the purpose of propagating Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism outside Japan.

SGI has always been hung up on its numbers. During my tenure as an SGI district chief, I had some knowledge of how these numbers were accumulated (I would not be surprised at even finding my own name still listed on the membership roster, even though I severed my ties with the organization five years ago).

Of course I realize that SGI will, as always, attempt to put its best spin on what I've stated above, but the facts are the facts: SGI was excommunicated in 1991 and has no connection to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.

Steve Pontious
Fountain Hills

Gotcha Covered
New Times' coverage of Governor Fife Symington's indictment and the lack of adequate coverage by the Arizona Republic underscore the acute need for a publication like New Times ("Governor J. Fife Crook III," Michael Lacey; "Castle Creep," John Mecklin; and "The Governor and the Lawyer," John Dougherty, June 20). Thanks.

Aubrey Kesterson
via Internet

Thanks, New Times, for telling it like it is! I work in the Arizona Department of Administration, and I have seen so many things done in arrogance without regard for state rules and regulations in this administration. My biggest gripe is that exempt employees, many of whom are friends of Fife Symington or are former Symington employees, were allowed (encouraged) to work on Fife's last campaign, on state time.

They do not have to take annual leave for anything less than eight hours, and many don't even submit an absence slip, as the rules require. Even though the governor's people surely understand state rules and regulations, they regularly flout them. The sooner this whole bunch is out, the better!

Secretary of State Jane Dee Hull will really enjoy the palace Symington created on the eighth and ninth floors. She will probably be a very good governor and certainly has the experience to know how government works.

Name withheld
via Internet

People ask me, "Why does a Texas lawyer read New Times' online cousin avidly?" Answer: Its coverage of the Fife Symington saga is creative, courageous and delightfully humorous. New Times maintains a balance. New Times appears to be a combination of Atlantic Monthly, Washington Monthly, Spy and Mad. Thanks for being on the Web.

Terry O'Rourke
via Internet

Editor's note: And thank you for not mentioning Cracked magazine.

I'm out here in rural Arizona, where the only newspaper I can get is the Arizona Republic. Though New Times writers have, for the past eight months, been writing about Fife Symington and his imminent indictment, I never read one word about the same in the Republic. It blew my mind! The Republic missed the biggest story in the West. What a pathetic piece of trash! Henceforth, the only time I will ever touch the Republic is when I'm out in the middle of nowhere, and I need to take a crap.

George Smith
via Internet

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