Letters

Open Season
I want to thank Barry Graham for saying in his column "Assailing" (August 21) what, I know now, I wasn't the only one thinking.

When I saw on the TV news that Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox had been shot in the buttock by a man angry for her role in bypassing the voters in the Bank One Ballpark sales tax, one word immediately came to mind: karma.

While I don't advocate violence, either, I think the member of the Libertarian party who was quoted in Graham's commentary was correct: Public officials who use their positions for personal gain and violate the rights of the people they are supposed to be serving should probably start wearing Kevlar underwear.

Robert Crook
Phoenix

I couldn't agree more with Barry Graham about Mary Rose Wilcox and her brand of politics. I agree with Graham 100 percent when he states that perhaps we all feel like shooting a politician--but of course we don't! I am personally tired of being screwed, and where is my threshold? Where is yours? Let's not let Jerry Colangelo off the hook. Yes, maybe he did bring sports to Arizona--big deal! I can't afford to go anyway. Who gets the good tickets? Yes, that's right, big money and politicians.

The point is that as long as our politicians continue to play the politics Mary Rose Wilcox plays, people pushed over the threshold like Larry Naman will continue to come out of the woodwork.

Please don't take my gun away--I may need it!
Mark Nelson
via Internet

As a regular reader of New Times, I never cease to be amazed at the journalistic narcissism that at times makes foolish an otherwise decent article.

The latest example of this is Barry Graham's recent piece, "Assailing," in which he belittles listeners of radio station KFYI-AM 910, particularly Bob Mohan's show, in which he states that these listeners are "bigoted know-nothings" who "have to be bigots by the time they tune in to his show, or they wouldn't be able to stomach it."

However, even though Narcissus was able to see his own reflection, Graham has been blinded by his. For Graham to be able truly to know what these listeners to KFYI are really like, he would have to be a regular listener himself and, therefore, also a "bigoted know-nothing."

And if he tries to weasel out of this self-inflicted paradox by claiming that he formed this opinion from other sources who fed him his information, then he is guilty of the same irresponsible journalism that he criticizes the Arizona Republic's David Leibowitz and E.J. Montini for--which just adds one more good reason to escape lousy journalism from time to time to find out what less self-infatuated fools have to say on so-called "hate" radio.

As a regular listener and caller to KFYI, I would like to tell Graham that there is a lesson to be learned by him in all of this. Bob Mohan and his listeners and his callers are probably not as dumb as Graham looks right now.

E.B.
Phoenix

Sitix Slickers
After reading Tony Ortega's article about air-permit violations and internal sabotage at the Sumitomo Sitix silicon-wafer manufacturing plant in northeast Phoenix ("Sabotage at Sitix?", August 7), it seems to me that a factory this controversial would be extra conscientious about following all the rules to avoid further controversy--not screwing up at every opportunity.

Contrary to Sumitomo Sitix's constant claims that it is state-of-the-art, safe and clean, it is in fact seeming to be extremely lax and incompetent. Judging from the article, it appears that even when the Sumitomo Sitix people are under a microscope, they can't get it right.

Which leads to a disturbing question: Could they ever get it right? I'm sorry, but for the residents of northeast Phoenix, the trial-and-error method of management and operation is not going to cut it. If Sitix's current mode of operating is an example of things to come, not only does it have no business being located near people's homes--it has no business being located anywhere! It is no surprise that Sitix's incompetence has led to an investigation by County Attorney Rick Romley.

More than a year ago, I contacted Mayor Skip Rimsza's office, expressing my concern regarding this hazardous new factory. I was assured by one of Rimsza's aides that I needn't worry; everything would be clean and safe. Mayor Rimsza has only to examine the Sumitomo Sitix file at the Maricopa County Department of Environmental Services to see the true picture, and it is a frightening one of noncompliance and incompetence. If this evidence is not enough to convince him that this factory is far too dangerous to be located in this community, what's it going to take? Isn't it time for someone to step in on the side of the residents? Why is Rimsza so loyal to Sumitomo Sitix?

Liane Waselus, secretary
Citizens' Environmental Awareness League
Phoenix

In my opinion, referring to the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department (MCESD) as environmental watchdogs is about as believable as referring to Hitler as a humanitarian.

Why didn't MCESD go public back in July when the agency determined that Sitix was in violation of its air permits, as per Ortega's article? MCESD should come up to northeast Phoenix and explain why it did not inform the residents about the violations uncovered at that time. I remind the readers that the Sitix air permits were issued under bogus conditions and against the wishes of both the EPA and the hundreds of residents who attended the sham of a public hearing. Now it appears that even the EPA is implying that the MCESD-issued air-quality permit itself may be illegal!

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!

Chris Wilson
via Internet

Rent Cycle
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.

Fritz Tuffli
Tempe

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!

Name withheld

Sporting Roles
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!

I appreciate women's athletics and believe that playing sports is an equally healthful pastime for both males and females. I have been a spectator at women's sports, and, as I recall, the women do not have sexless, unaesthetic bodies, which is one reason I enjoy watching them. Male and female bodies are different; it has nothing to do with homophobia, or misogyny, or patriarchal values. When a writer like Barry Graham ("Les Go, Mercury," July 31) observes a lack of femininity in female athletes and gets criticized for it, who are the ones devaluing femininity?

Robert Carmen Barber Jr.
Phoenix

Wow! I'm completely shocked by the backlash from Barry Graham's July 31 article about the Phoenix Mercury phenomenon and its enthusiastic fans!

I guess Phoenix readers are suffering from the summer heat because they have no sense of humor! Speaking as a lesbian and a Mercury fan, I thought the article was hilarious! I've copied it to numerous people and quoted it in e-mails. Sure, not all the observations match my own, but everyone is entitled to his opinion . . . and I surely would expect a guy's perspective to be different! What is the big deal?

P. Stone
via Internet

Smallsville
I want to comment on the article by Leigh Watt in the August 14 issue ("A Band in Bondage"). I am personally outraged that Corey Adams and Charles Delk were treated so poorly by the City of Mesa. Does that police department have nothing better to do than to arrest some club owner and a local band with no explanation as to why? I personally feel that bands with an original act or with more imagination than the average commercial Nirvana wanna-bes are kicked to the curb in Phoenix. Places like San Francisco, L.A. and New York are the only cities that appreciate this kind of music. I am extremely conservative, yet I have artistic freedom and realize, hey, it's the Nineties! The City of Mesa needs to drop its Holy Roller attitude and come to grips with reality. People are different than they were in the Fifties, and things aren't about to change!

Heather Kelder
via Internet

Origin Recital
Great job airing the inexplicable politics of prehistory ("The Man Who Loved Lucy," Michael Kiefer, August 7). A very entertaining and informative article. As a graduate of University of California-Berkeley's anthro department, I couldn't understand how it would lose the Institute of Human Origins to Arizona State University. Now it is clear. Where else in Phoenix can you get this kind of detailed journalism? Good job!

Eric Rasmussen
via Internet

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