Letters

Recover Story
John Dougherty's story "Children of Synanon" (October 10) fails to convey an accurate description of how Tucson and Arizona lost a major drug rehabilitation center, which served 700 addicts a day, and which can only serve 36 residential clients.

New Times accuses two former and one current drug-program administrator of "outlandish accusations" against board members and agents of Amity, Inc. The article says that the three, myself being one of the three, are making charges for personal gain and as a direct result of brainwashing by an organization that the three of us played a major role in discrediting and closing down nearly two decades ago.

Naya Arbiter, Bette Fleishman and I worked with the U.S. Department of Justice in the early '80s to close Synanon, a seminal drug-treatment program which had gone bad when its founder, Charles Dederich, returned to alcoholism.

As a result of Fleishman's direct testimony, supported by Arbiter and me, liens of $58 million were levied by the Internal Revenue Service against the organization. Despite the Pulitzer Prize-winning reportage by David Mitchell, Synanon continued to operate, even winning a huge libel settlement against ABC--it was Fleishman's testimony that finally brought down the curtain.

New Times certainly breaks new psychological ground in its assertion that Fleishman, Arbiter and I, who effectively closed Synanon, were and are dupes and devotees of Synanon's most discredited techniques.

While neither Arbiter nor I can or will speak for Fleishman, we admire her for the willingness to work in Tucson to rebuild Amity, and to devise a plan to pay back Amity's creditors while trying to maintain a few of Amity's vital services. I find New Times' article misrepresents our statements. We never suggested a widespread "plot" among board members to drive Amity into bankruptcy. Instead, we arrived at the conclusion that there were certain events and transactions at Amity that had very serious financial repercussions and which involved a few key people.

Those events had a devastating effect upon Amity since they prevented board members, management and oversight agencies from getting an accurate picture of Amity's fiscal situation. The incompetence of Amity's auditors in ensuring that Amity adhered to federal reporting requirements cannot be trivialized or dismissed as it was in this article.

What happened at Amity is a tragedy--not really for me, nor for the board members, nor for the federal government, nor for Amity's vendors, all of whom will go on, but for the thousands of addicted mothers and children, drug-involved adolescents, men and women trapped in a cycle of despair, hopelessness and self-destruction which is a blight on our society and eats a huge hole in our limited tax resources. Amity has, we understand, filed a plan in federal court to repay its debts, but the loss of services to hundreds of individuals per year in Tucson will cost millions and has already resulted in great suffering.

Rod Mullen
Lemon Cove, California

Conspiring Squads
Congratulations on the Fife Symington conspiracy chart and John Mecklin's "Correction and Apology" (October 10). My thought/hunch is that New Times has some information on Lou Grubb that he is trying to help Fife with his car/establishment credibility and that this is New Times' way of putting Grubb and perhaps others in their place, as well as helping to keep the Symington issue/mystery/(scandal?) alive.

The risk New Times may have taken has been to upset Grubb and his "elite" friends, since money means influence.

Robert Barnes
Phoenix

I can't tell you how pleased I was when I finished reading John Mecklin's correction and apology, which included his resignation. Ever since the New Times/Amway scandal, I haven't been able to believe a single thing I've heard that New Times has printed. The scandal had caused me to stop reading New Times so I wouldn't be contaminated by its commie-influenced filth, but when I saw the front-page announcement of Mecklin's quitting while scanning the front pages of the singles papers, I knew things had changed. I now see that Mecklin was the cancer that the Martians were finally able to remove.

Thanks to them, I now sleep better at night, knowing that our great city--heck, our great country--is now safe from the likes of that tree-hugging, owl-loving Mecklin. I am forever in their debt.

Keith A. Wells
Glendale

City Slickered
This is twice I've read reader comments about how Phoenix just doesn't stack up to other cities around the country. There was a bumper sticker around, oh, ten years ago that said, "Welcome to Arizona. Now go home."

Where do Gina and Brian King (Best of Phoenix letter, October 10) get off telling me, a lifelong resident, that Phoenix "can't touch Midwestern fare"? And where does Sandra O'Hara (Phoenix Art Museum-bashing letter, August 29) get off telling me how bad this cow town is?

Let me clarify for you Johnny-come-latelies: Phoenix was a great city/cow town 'til all of the rest of the country decided to call it home. I walked to grade school, about a mile, without my mom. I road my bike to high school, 3.5 miles. Never once in my 12 years going to school did I have to worry about being kidnaped or shot in a drive-by. I grew up in a neighborhood in west Phoenix where we kids could, and did, play outside after dark, on other streets. All over our area.

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