Letters

It Takes a Fife
An objective observation by a 40-year Associated Press editor in three countries, now retired: A wonderful job New Times has done in covering the Symington condition. All honest Arizonans should feel pride that freedom of the press is still in the hands of us all.

Dan Tedrick
Mesa

Man! I used to think we Mexicans were the only ones with "tricky" politicians. I guess they are everywhere, or maybe Fife Symington, Sandra Dowling and Mary Rose Wilcox learned it in their vacations to Acapulco, no?

Rafael Silva
Phoenix

I'm a person who has cluttered New Times' voice mail with irate messages in the last several weeks. I probably belong to a type familiar to New Times editors--that is, people to whom New Times used to be important, who feel possessive of it, and who perhaps occasionally crave a bit of attention from their betters.

But maybe I haven't been paying enough attention lately. Because what I picked up on September 11 was a watershed issue for New Times, brimming with life, honesty and wit. The whole front of the book was wonderful. Even the cover was literature, and delightful at that. Thank you.

Clay C. Cavness
Phoenix

I wish to object to New Times' calling Fife Symington a robber baron. He is no part of the Baron family. If my attorney weren't disbarred, I would refer the matter to him. Please apologize.

A. Baron
Phoenix

Forte Brag
I wonder if New Times can toot its horn any louder. Terry Greene Sterling's column about John Dougherty ("The Indomitable Dougherty," September 11) was a waste of paper. I don't recall any other reputable paper doing feature stories on its staff reporters. Greene Sterling's ramblings about how Dougherty was "battered," "bullied" and "ridiculed" and how he managed to rise above it all to pursue his victim at all costs almost brought a tear to my eye--tears of laughter. I mean, come on, get real. Maybe Dougherty should get the Mother Teresa award for having to endure such an ordeal. I'm not denying that those things never happened, but many more reporters have put up with much more than that in the pursuit of a story.

I've disagreed with Fife Symington on many issues, including education and health care, to name a couple, but I always held a certain level of respect for him as governor. New Times' harpooning him at every turn, and the glee with which it does so, puts it on the same level of its fellow colleagues--the paparazzi. New Times will continue to lack the character and integrity to be taken seriously, no matter how hard it tries or, maybe, doesn't try.

Lorenzo Salazar
Tempe

All Wet
Terry Greene Sterling's "Spinning Westech" (August 28) passes off inaccuracies as facts regarding Scottsdale's water quality. Greene Sterling has made statements without backing them up by attribution that would have readers believe that Scottsdale deliberately served its citizens TCE-laden water.

Despite efforts of some special interests to portray a different picture, U.S. citizens enjoy the highest-quality drinking water in the world. Scottsdale's drinking water falls well within 80 federal and state water-quality standards. Scottsdale citizens drink water that is safe and healthful.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified Motorola, SmithKline Beecham Corporation and Siemens Corporation as potentially causing TCE contamination of Scottsdale's groundwater. The EPA required those companies to build a groundwater treatment plant to treat this water to acceptable levels before being delivered to Scottsdale residents.

The EPA has established a very conservative health standard for TCE. A person would have to drink eight glasses of water containing more than five parts per billion of TCE each day for 70 years to increase the risk for cancer by one in a million. Federal and state laws require that our groundwater treatment facility produce water that, on an annual basis, averages less than 5 ppb.

The plant has always produced water that is well within the national and state standards. The averages ran well below 2 ppb in 1994-95. While this was well below requirements, city, state and federal entities have continued to evaluate plant performance and make improvements that have resulted in levels today of routinely less than 1 ppb. The City of Scottsdale operates the treatment facility above and beyond normal operating procedures approved by EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The City of Scottsdale takes great pride in its water quality. Its water has been and continues to be safe and healthful. It continues to work with those responsible for cleaning up any groundwater contamination to ensure the water served to Scottsdale's citizens meets the highest possible drinking-water standards.

Roger Klingler
City of Scottsdale
Water Resources General Manager
Scottsdale

Terry Greene Sterling responds: Roger, you know very well that, on 17 days in 1994 and early 1995, about 70,000 Scottsdale residents got drinking water that contained TCE in amounts exceeding EPA health limits.

You also know that in 1995 when the EPA and the state learned of the high hits of TCE, both the Criminal Investigations Division of the EPA and the Arizona Attorney General's Office launched investigations of Scottsdale's water department and Westech, the lab that tested Scottsdale's water.

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