By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Ill at Ease
The overall tone of Chris Farnsworth's article suggests that Dr. Ken Fisher's reputation as a pillar of the community is long-standing, while his reputation for sexual impropriety in the workplace is more recent ("Dr. Fisher and Mr. Hyde," January 8). It is true that the first actual charge of a sexual nature was filed against Fisher with the Board of Medical Examiners in 1996. But the tales of inappropriate behavior with his patients go back as far as Fisher's earliest days in private practice and parallel his rise to local prominence while battling the AIDS crisis.
The smallest amount of digging would surely have led Farnsworth to that conclusion, and would probably have changed the focus of his article from the biased point of view of Fisher's attorney, Calvin Raup. Treating Fisher's attorney so reverently and accepting his defenses so easily are not what one expects from a publication that regularly refers to lawyers for other public figures in trouble as "hired guns," "flacks" and "spin doctors."
Raup's unrebutted attribution of the accusations against Fisher to professional jealousy and revenge is pathetic. To suggest Fisher's former patients are angry at him because he didn't return their sexual advances is laughable. The saddest thing is that there are prominent gay men in the Valley corroborating Raup's view. The self-hatred that would motivate any gay man to include the phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a fag scorned" in a letter of support for an accused professional is evidence of the atmosphere of shame unique to the gay community.
Fisher will probably always be admired and respected as an AIDS consultant, but it's time for Fisher to speed the BOMEX investigation by apologizing for his behavior and closing his private practice. Despite the quote from an unenlightened APAZ board member (no longer, incidentally, AAP, as Farnsworth reported), we now have other, qualified and even openly gay AIDS specialists from which to choose. We have something else today that we didn't have as a community 11 years ago, when I moved to Phoenix. We have self-respect.
Allen Kalchik, editor
Chris Farnsworth responds: According to Mr. Kalchik, my story should have been shorter by half; if only I'd left out the parts where people stand up for Dr. Ken Fisher, it would have been much more in line with his own judgment. I interviewed five of Fisher's accusers, and two former employees whom BOMEX has not contacted--all of whom said some pretty damning stuff. Quoting Fisher's attorney, Calvin Raup, doesn't mean I subscribe to Raup's opinions. It means offering him a chance to tell his client's side of the story. I heard the same rumors Mr. Kalchik refers to while researching this story. But until 1996, they remained just rumors, as I wrote; until then, no one came forward. Now there are people who have come forward publicly, and the case against Fisher can be decided on its merits. But to presume a man guilty on the basis of rumors is a mistake no journalist should make.
Bravo to Chris Farnsworth on his accurate reporting regarding Dr. Ken Fisher. He was the first, the only, AIDS specialist in Arizona and he abused his power and took advantage of a horrible situation. How sad to be controlled by fear into such a situation that I think is akin to date rape and child abuse.
Ken Fisher's behavior has gone on for years. It upset me to see that no action has been taken against him. As soon as new specialists came into the Phoenix area, many patients immediately switched to other doctors. After they became comfortable with their new doctors, the reports of abuse began to spread, and formal complaints were filed.
The most interesting aspect of this whole situation is that many of Fisher's victims are now standing up for him. They are thankful that they are still alive, and would never come out and speak against him. Some have even written letters in support of Dr. Fisher.
Illegal behavior is illegal behavior regardless of the person's background as a saint or savior. Perhaps the best solution to this situation would be to revoke his medical license and put him on intensive probation for five years, including psychological counseling. I think that five years of "time out" would be enough time to reflect on the damage he's caused to so many people in dire need of help.
Absent from "Fife's Ghost Lingers," because he remains invisible for his actions, is Chris Herstam (Flashes, January 8). As David Pasztor wrote for New Times four years ago in "Pitching a Shutout" (January 19, 1994), it was Herstam who was most responsible for Senate Bill 1344. This was the most controversial, unpopular and polarizing legislation enacted, at least in the past eight years. It did more to create distrust and cynicism about government and the courts than any other bill. It was enacted in five minutes and 15 seconds as a "striker" to an innocuous water-code bill. The public was "shut out," as were a number of legislators.
Three years after SB1344 became law, the Arizona Department of Commerce commissioned Deloitte Touche for a financial impact report to justify tax money being used for the baseball stadium resulting from SB1344. The report did that. Last month, Forbes magazine had an article, "Fields of Debt," that painted an opposite picture of sport-franchise investments, not good. Its source of financial information for this was Deloitte Touche.