Letters

Out on Allege
I hasten to remind the writers and the editors at New Times that the allegations made in the Feedback section of the September 5 issue, under Editor's Note, are just that--allegations.

Again, New Times ignores the rules of ethics in journalism by publishing allegations and construing them to be facts. None of what New Times writers claim to have happened in jail has been substantiated and verified as truth by anyone at the Department of Justice. The claims New Times published are CLAIMS . . . made by inmates. It is a wish that this office will never likely see come true . . . that New Times writers and editors will report on issues in our community truthfully and without bias.

Lisa Allen
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Office of Communications
via Internet

Editor's note: Well, Ms. Allen, I hasten to remind you that what you call allegations, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division calls the findings and conclusions of its investigation of the jails. To quote from a Justice Department report sent to Maricopa County: "We have concluded that unconstitutional conditions exist at the Jails with respect to (1) the use of excessive force against inmates and (2) deliberate indifference to inmates' serious medical needs. These conclusions and our recommendations for remedial measures are based in significant part, but not exclusively, on the opinions of two expert consultants whom we retained to advise us in this matter." The Justice Department report clearly states that the department's investigative conclusions are based on a variety of evidence, not just inmate complaints.

In other words, Ms. Allen, your letter is remarkably inaccurate, and the editor's note to which it refers was precisely correct. The United States Department of Justice has found serious, repeated, ghastly violations of human rights at Maricopa County's jails, and no amount of public relations spin will change that fact.

Sterling Silverman
Just finished Amy Silverman's excellent article on Snell Johnson ("The Shape of Things to Con," August 29). I really enjoy reading articles that provide so much more depth than what you usually see in a newspaper.

James Lewis
via Internet

Another feather in the cap for Amy Silverman. As a transplanted Phoenician, I rely on New Times to give me the inside story of events in Phoenix. I always appreciate the candor and thorough investigative reporting of Amy Silverman. How she manages to get so much information and present it in an interesting fashion are among the reasons I go to the Net to read New Times. Thanks for making life in Norway not so far after all.

Monica Meling
via Internet

Plant Food
Paul M. Fleming touched on many points in "Meating of the Minds" (Cafe, August 22), but as local growers of organic foods, our main criticism concerns his wholehearted acceptance of the status quo without even acknowledging that there are problems in the present system of food production and distribution. Change rarely starts with people "trying to . . . protect [their] wealth."

Conventional agriculture, based on technological and chemical innovations developed in World War II, has come at great costs to human health, small farmers and local economies and threatens to upset the entire balance of nature. In contrast, organic farming has a 10,000-year tradition of sustainability and is proving itself adaptable to modern economic conditions in other parts of the country. With the support of local chefs and restaurants, the Salt River Valley could become a center of organic-food production. As support increases, costs will decrease.

Fleming's "simple system" of red-meat-eating consumers and ranchers providing jobs for restaurant and slaughterhouse workers ignores that food comes from the earth, and eating is, therefore, an agricultural act. What we eat has implications far beyond our wallets. The current system of megascale beef production and chemical agriculture is an untested proposition developed to provide Americans with cheap food. It threatens not only ecological collapse, but makes whole populations much more vulnerable to economic calamities.

Donna Hart and Matt Suhr
Tempe

Great Caesar's Host
Peter Gilstrap captured the essence of an entertainer I have followed for the last 30 years (Screed, September 5). I know that Vic Caesar is producing great shows to benefit the Salvation Army every Christmas for the last four years, and he is currently producing a show for the Children With AIDS Project. He was also the No. 1 disc jockey for KXAM for the last years of its musical life. Do we need him NOW!

Forest D. Arden
via Internet

Sprocket Fuel
David Holthouse's "The Sedona 5's Excellent Adventure" was the best I've read (August 15). Yesterday, I was riding in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. It's controlled by our Neanderthal L.A. City Park system so all its 52 miles of big, wide, fire-access roads are for the exclusive use of horses.

A large group on horseback was coming so I pulled off to wait for it to pass. Then one of the ride leaders decided to charge directly at me on his horse. Narrowly missing me, he exclaimed, "Next time, buddy!" We exchanged words. "Mountain bikes are here to stay. Get used to it, get used to it."

Bill Laque
via Internet

Organ Recital
Michael Kiefer's "Life With a Dying Liver" (August 29) was informative but extremely negative. Well, I have Hepatitis C, and I would like to focus on the positive to give the millions of people out there like me some hope.

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