By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Is That a Banana in Your Pocket or Just a U.S. Senator?
Senator John McCain is promoting the Spur Cross public land swindle in Scottsdale for a pal of his from Cincinnati--the wealthy manager of Chiquita bananas. Amy Silverman points out that Mr. Chiquita is a major contributor to U.S. presidential campaigns ("Saving Private Interests," August 6).
McCain would now demand that the five forest services in Arizona sacrifice 120,000 to 350,000 acres of Forest Service lands to please Senor Chiquita. Forest Service officials protest that Forest Service lands are for the benefit of all the citizens of this nation, not just the economic benefit of McCain's pals.
But McCain is well accustomed to intimidating and coercing Forest Service officials as he did during the Mt. Graham fiasco in 1989. Forest Service officials can look forward to the same McCain bludgeoning as they received in 1989 from McCain regarding Mt. Graham. On May 18, 1989, the GAO documented McCain calling into his office Jim Abbott, forest supervisor of the Coronado National Forest. Abbott had been attempting to follow federal environmental law on Mt. Graham to McCain's displeasure. McCain told Abbott he had better shape up because he, McCain, ". . . had an understanding that the USFS would not stand in the way and would facilitate the Mt. Graham project." The GAO went on to describe the legendary McCain temper: "McCain said: 'If he [Abbott] did not cooperate on this project he would be the shortest tenured forest supervisor in the history of the Forest Service.'"
It is against the law for a U.S. senator, or anyone else, for that matter, to obstruct a public official in carrying out the laws of the nation. The laws McCain violated were 18 U.S.C. 1505 ("Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees") and 18 U.S.C. 371 ("Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States"). No one has yet had the courage to take this lawbreaking U.S. senator to court.
Will McCain do it again? Who knows? But here is a man that willfully violates U.S. laws to help his developer friends. This is not a nice, ethical, law-abiding citizen. That such a temper-ridden lawbreaker is planning to run for president or vice-president is alarming.
Accolades for Amy Silverman on her exemplary and definitive article. It has clarified to some extent the shell game involving the Spur Cross Ranch issues.
Ticking-clock syndrome and grab-bag swaps should make a savvy public back off from these high-pressure tactics.
We, the silent majority, hope Senator McCain, et al., will be able to ascertain the difference in the color green, chlorophyll vs. paper. We don't want to say shame, shame, Senator McCain.
I just finished reading your article on the Spur Cross Ranch joke, and one thing that I wish to say is: Don't stop there, go out for more.
I am tired of seeing the desert lands torn up to build houses, resorts and golf courses for the people from back East. Back in 1989 I returned to Arizona (which I'd left in 1959) after living in England for 20 years.
Since returning here, I have seen so much of the desert disappear and put off limits to the people that it makes me sick. I used to go out into the area around Pima Road, Dynamite Road and 136th Street to relax and get away from the city. The stars in the sky at night out there were something to behold. The wildlife to be seen was great. At night in the desert it is quiet--only the calls of the animals. Now that is gone. Golf courses, houses and resorts are all over the damn place and they won't let you on the land that has not been developed, and the state won't let you walk on the land without paying a fee for it. This so-called State Trust Land belongs to the people of this state. It seems that the federal and state and local governments have forgotten that they don't own a damn thing or rule this country; it is the people that own every stone, every drop of water, every tree and every blade of grass in this country, not the governments.
John W. Devins
Abdiel Burgueno Jr.
Your article "Human Target" (Barry Graham, August 13) was superior. As much as we all tend to judge, Abdiel was as genuine as they come. He was not flaky. (And though I knew him less than two years, neither do I remember him as frequently shoeless. This may not mean much to you, but Richard Ruelas from the Arizona Republic seemed to be unnaturally preoccupied by it. I hope he didn't lose any sleep.)
Forgive me if I sound bitter. For nearly two weeks, sweet Abdiel has been 'The Machete-Wielding Madman.' It seems that everyone is talking about THE INCIDENT. Water-cooler conversations. It's actually sickening to hear their conjecture, their blame, what THEY would have done.
As much as I want to shout from the mountaintops that Abdiel was nothing like they have heard, my voice--ALL our voices--are not so loud or far-reaching as yours seems to be. You have done him justice.