By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"Suspects of Convenience" by Paul Rubin (May 28) is an excellent example of the methods that the federal and local governments are using to subvert the Constitution in the name of "The War on Drugs." Here you have store clerks and owners arrested because they sold legal over-the-counter medications that can be used in meth labs. Since when was the law changed to require store clerks to psychoanalyze customers to determine what they will use the merchandise for? Perhaps the feds will next require us to fill out forms that describe what we intend to use each grocery item for.
Stories such as these are tragic but not unique. Law-abiding store owners' constitutional rights were thrown out because it was a great way for the cops to make the headlines. Families have been executed by drug cops who break into homes without warning and shoot to kill if anybody tries to defend himself. Courts routinely confiscate property in the name of this drug war. The FBI tries to force bookstores to reveal who bought books on hydroponics gardening. Workers' rights are violated by forcing them to take urine tests in order to get a job. Senator McCain and Bill Clinton join forces to keep the killer weed (tobacco) out of the hands of our youth by endorsing the same police tactics used against Amir and Fay Alyas. Don't think these are isolated events. Lawmakers are methodically chipping away at our rights!
I fear that the vast majority of the American people doesn't care if the Constitution is turned into a worthless piece of paper. Most of them don't know and don't care what's in the document. They are the ones that say nothing will happen to them because they have nothing to hide. Hitler and other world despots would surely admire how quickly the courts and the government have subverted our Constitution.
Re: "Suspects of Convenience." What is overlooked is not misunderstanding of the English language, nor street slang for drugs, nor notification of recently imposed bans on a common product, but typical greed. My dealings with businesses run by the recent (15-20 years) hoard of foreigners shows me the almighty dollar surpasses all in their way of thinking. The "mom and pop" operations of yesterday were conducted with a level of integrity. If the Alyases are guilty of anything, it is their inability to fully understand that such "operations" existed for many years without looking for the quick buck. The original "mom and pops" are out because of the chain stores' ability to buy in volume, not lowering their integrity for a few bucks.
As regards the Phoenix police, they know that in a small operation it is easier to bring about entrapment, without high-power lawyers available to fight it. The larger chains deal in such quantities that the paper trail to find which employee stole or dealt in these items is beyond their mental comprehension. How many street cops have the ability to read a computer spreadsheet dealing in thousands of products ordered, shipped, pilfered, etc.? Imagine an America where we all speak the same language.
Running on Water
I read Michael Kiefer's piece on the debate surrounding the Prescott Active Management Area ("Going to the Well Too Often," June 4).
This is yet another example of an Arizona Legislature that seems not to believe that the people of Arizona can be trusted with the truth.
The legislation referenced in the article was cobbled together behind closed doors without any opportunity for meaningful involvement by the public.
The result was Yavapai County cities who didn't know what was going on, closed-door meetings in which Shamrock Water Company was invited to participate but the public was excluded, and geographical bitterness between members of a Yavapai County Board of Supervisors that had, before the legislation, functioned as a team.
During the controversy, I asked Attorney General Grant Woods to investigate whether violations of Arizona's Open Meetings and Public Records laws occurred. I'm told that an investigation is ongoing.
Two things emerge from the Prescott AMA experience. First, we need a governor who reasserts in clear terms that the Groundwater Management Act of 1980 is about proving water supply before development is authorized. Second, the Arizona Legislature needs to apply to itself the same Open Meeting and Public Records laws that apply to cities and counties.
Something Rotten in the County of Maricopa?
In "Clearing the Air" by Tony Ortega (May 28), what isn't clear is the full extent of the complicity on the part of Maricopa County to help Sumitomo Sitix avoid full compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. Nothing in the county's legal action stops the plumes of smoke from the smokestacks, the smell of rotten eggs in the neighborhood, or the operation of unpermitted air-pollution equipment, or prohibits Sitix from operating equipment that it acknowledges to the county does not work properly. The latter is important because the criminal standard for violating the Clean Air Act can be as little as knowingly firing up equipment that the company knows does not work or knows pollutes excessively.