Letters

Jail Grouse
Regarding Tony Ortega's article ("Paying the Price," August 27) on jail costs: Boo hoo! I'm weeping for those who curse at and otherwise provoke correction officers. Ortega calls Scott Norberg a former "Tempe football star." Why does Ortega not call him what he really is--a former dope-selling, cop-attacking convict? I just love the way New Times' "reporters" report. Makes me want to puke.

Name withheld by request

Police State
In reading Barry Graham's "Human Target" (August 13), it was easy to pick up his anticop sentiment. The article was painted with words about Abdiel Burgueno Jr. and how he couldn't possibly have done the things the police say he did on the night he was killed. Graham paints the police as the "bad guys" and assumes the police aren't telling the whole story.

First of all, alcohol can cause a person to act in strange ways regardless of how that person "normally" acts while under the influence. Secondly, the poem that was found in Burgueno's typewriter echoes cries from a person who wanted help, someone who was troubled about something not even his friends knew about ("I've a lump in my throat/From the words I can't speak, I mustn't exorcise from deep inside . . .").

While I am sorry for the pain and sadness Burgueno's family has to endure, it sounds like the police did the right thing in protecting themselves from this obviously troubled man.

Deb Taylor
Tempe

Car Jacked
I am no authority on the law, but I detect a serious deficiency in logic and reasoning in Barry Graham's August 20 column, "Auto Lock-up." The "frightening" bill which he criticizes renders "as a class 6 felony refusal to return a motor vehicle to a . . . creditor" if 90 days in arrears on payments. He states that the law is unfair to the poor and compares it to debtors' prisons of old.

Certainly, few today would argue that debtors' prison or indentured servitude should be reinstated. Graham's comparison of the law to these past and abhorrent practices, however, is not quite correct. The key word in the law is "refusal"--an individual three months behind in payments is not a criminal, only someone with perhaps bad luck or, at worse, bad judgment.

However, an individual 90 days behind in payments who "refuses" to at least partially rectify the debt by returning the car (or, for that matter, any other merchandise) seems to me to begin to sound like a thief--letting someone else pay for the item while he or she uses it or benefits from it. Even bankruptcy laws that forgive debt have mechanisms for at least partial restitution. Even if the car is returned, the institution that loaned the money for the car is still out three months' payments and probably a car that has been devalued by use.

By analogy, suppose you sold your car, home or other major property and owner-financed it (not an uncommon practice). The buyer falls three months behind but "refuses" to return the car or vacate the house. Would you be willing to finance the buyer's continued use of your home or car? You could, of course, go through expensive and lengthy foreclosure procedures or file a lawsuit to recover your property. But even these avenues have very weak powers of enforcement for physically returning property that rightfully belongs to you. The buyer, in the interim, is unlawfully using your property at your expense, which, to me, is tantamount to theft.

It isn't clear from the column if this law only applies to institutional lenders--if so, then this is the primary flaw in the bill. It should apply equally to individuals who are faced with trying to recover bad debts from individuals who "refuse" to accept some responsibility for their debts, be they simply unlucky or, worse, intentional ones.

Name withheld by request

Offal Office
I am writing in response to Barry Graham's article "Modern Maturity" (August 27). Once again, Mr. Graham thinks he is speaking for everyone, and he is not.

He claims that he hates President William Jefferson Clinton, but that he has nothing against Bill Clinton, the man. He states that we do not care about the "personal" act that the president was involved in and that we still approve of the president.

What he misses entirely is that the man who had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky was, in fact, President William Jefferson Clinton. He is a federal employee elected by "we," the people. Monica was a federal employee working for the White House and President William Jefferson Clinton . . . not Bill Clinton. We, the people, are paying his salary, and we are his boss. When he had her perform a sexual act on him in a building the public owns, it became the public's business. When he got on national television and denied the affair, he did that as President William Jefferson Clinton, not as Bill Clinton. He lied to us as the president. He was not involved as just a "boss having an affair with a starry-eyed woman," but he was, indeed, the president of the most powerful country in the world. It shows that he is not only a liar, but a weak man that I, for one, do not think should be in office any longer. I would respect him more if he resigned.

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