By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
It appears that Sitix violated the very laws that are supposed to keep its smokestacks clean. Most important, the public is not fooled by Sitix's PR firm's latest spin-doctor attempt to blame its problems on alleged acts of sabotage. The bottom line is that industry does not belong in established residential neighborhoods! Sitix should have built in a rural area as it had originally intended to!
Howard Stansfield's recent article about the fight over Tempe's rental-housing code was more accurate than most articles written on the subject ("Code Blues," August 14). However, a few clarifications are in order.
The motivation for the rental code in Tempe is abundantly clear. In order for elected officials or their political cronies to reap a financial windfall on properties they own in blighted areas in the path of economic development such as the Rio Salado project, low-income populations and competing property owners must first be removed by selective enforcement. A rental code like the one Tempe proposes, with its arbitrary and capricious provisions, provides the solution.
The case of Tempe Vice Mayor Joseph Lewis, the principal architect of the code, and Tempe landlord and rental-code proponent Bill Butler illustrates how unmitigated personal greed can take control of an issue. Butler was appointed to the rental-code committee as a supporter of the city's position. Both men own property in blighted areas in the heart of the area that the Rio Salado project will benefit most. But in order for them to capitalize on this economic windfall, they must first remove all of their neighbors from the area with the proposed rental code. In that way, the area won't be blighted anymore, and their property will actually be worth something.
Finally, we come to the issue of Ken Volk, the president of the Arizona Tenants' Association. Contrary to information in Stansfield's article, the last time I checked, the ATA had only 30 members statewide, and that number was declining. Approximately one third of those members were attorneys. In contrast, the Arizona Multihousing Association represents approximately 15,000 rental units in Tempe, and the Arizona Association of Realtors has about 600 members in Tempe alone. Both the AMA and the AAR oppose the code, as do virtually all renters. If the ATA and Volk represented the views of tenants, who compose roughly one half of Tempe's population, the city council wouldn't have needed to cancel the election on the rental code or compromise--after the fact--on its contents.
In summary, the rental-housing code isn't about correcting slumlike or blighted conditions. Those conditions will still exist under the code in the form of owner-occupied housing that the code does not address. Instead, the proposed code is about abusing taxpayers and renters for the benefit of a handful of greedy people.
The recent article "Code Blues" by Howard Stansfield pictured Ken Volk and referred to his Arizona Tenants' Association. Wow! Could there really be some agency helping renters in the Valley? I have never been referred to it or even heard of it during my year and a half of searching for help. Good ol' New Times, coming through for working people again! I smiled as I dialed the number and heard a voice say he was Ken Volk of the Arizona Tenants' Association. . . . I'm not smiling now.
I knew from reading Stansfield's article that a $25 donation was required to receive help, so I first inquired whether Volk's organization could help tenants address the general problem of "ghetto-ization." Simply put, tenants with a landlord judgment against them are blacklisted from being able to rent anything but a ghetto apartment in Arizona regardless of their earnings or otherwise perfect rental-payment history.
Volk informed me that this "judgment/blacklist law" took effect in 1995 and that its effects are permanent. That is, once blacklisted in Arizona, you can never be un-blacklisted.
Suffering the expense and terrible inconvenience of being forced to move at the total whim of a landlord is by itself unfair and can be a traumatic experience. Bad enough that this is all perfectly legal, but it gets worse. As a tenant, if you dare to fight a landlord in court and it ends in a judgment against you, the punishment is to be banished to ghetto apartments in Arizona forever! This is accomplished by a so-called "judgment check" which is done automatically in almost all rental situations in the Valley.
I know that there are many others out there suffering the same fate. It is my hope that this letter brings attention to them and perhaps some help to solve their problems. One more thing: Volk (whose organization is the only agency in the Valley that exists solely to help tenants with their landlord disputes) was nice enough to sincerely offer me his knowledgeable, best advice . . . for free. Leave the state of Arizona!
In Teri L. Goslin's letter about the Phoenix Mercury women's basketball team (Letters, August 14), she argues that the professional women have the "gifts of a Jordan, Rodman or Barkley." Does Goslin suggest that the reason these women don't play in the NBA is because of sexism? Please!