Letters

Scientology is under attack from many corners of the globe. The death of a young woman prompted some members of the media to launch intense investigations. The German government has outlawed Scientology as part of its anti-fascism laws. Internet sites showing the dark side of Scientology abound. The church and its leaders are being hounded from all sides.

But I think for a clergy member to say that four people bringing to light the questionable death of an innocent woman under a bizarre set of circumstances is ". . . no different than someone painting a swastika on a synagogue or burning a cross in a black family's yard--no different whatsoever" is absolutely outrageous. To compare a small, peaceful demonstration in the light of day to cowardly, despicable acts such as those is unconscionable.

Hopefully, people will do as the church encourages and "think for yourself . . ." You have to, since the church sued the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and won big. If you call CAN for information on the church, chances are pretty good you'll get a Scientologist answering the phone. Taking a clue from another corporate giant, if you can't beat the competition, buy 'em out.

All religions have their positives and negatives. I believe that Mr. Jacobsen is doing a good job in making sure that the church's balance sheet gets all the publicity it deserves.

Heath Newburn
Chandler

A very informative article on Scientology. How can a "religious" body behave in such an execrable and inhumane fashion? Picketing Mr. Jacobsen at his home and workplace? Harassing his family, acquaintances? I must admit I am more than a little bit astounded, not to mention disgusted. Once again, kudos for your article. This is information that needs to be made known.

E. Fischer
via Internet

I've just finished reading Tony Ortega's article, and I'm really impressed with the Phoenix New Times.

Here in Ontario, Canada, our newspapers tend to be ultraconservative, and even though something is true, as is the info in your paper's article, it doesn't get reported in such detail. But, in the U.S., freedom of the press is a given, isn't it?

Name withheld by request

Phone Hex
Terry Greene Sterling's "For Whom Your Bell Tolls" (January 21) relates the severance payments of $45.1 million to three retiring U S West executives, including $24.5 million to CEO Richard McCormick. These golden parachutes were, in part, for the non-arm-length "negotiation" of the restructuring of U S West.

Actually, the restructuring of U S West has the potential for a much greater impact on the customers of U S West than $45 million golden parachutes to executives who had lost billions in non-phone diversified investments. Prior to restructuring, the Media Group lost $480 million in 1997, despite $347 million net income from DEX/Yellow Pages. The restructuring moved DEX back to the phone side, from which it should never have been separated in the first place, for $4.75 billion, or 28 times DEX's book value, including debt of $3.9 billion to the "new" U S West phone company. In giving their stamp of approval to this restructuring last summer, Arizona Corporation Commissioners Carl Kunasek and Jim Irvin made no effort to make sure that Yellow Pages revenues and expenses would be accounted for and allocated prior to the allocation of the interest on this humongous debt.

There are many precedents for using Yellow Pages revenues for the "goal of providing affordable telephone services for all Americans." An Arizona court has said that the 1988 ACC-U S West agreement of $43 million annual imputation from Yellow Pages to hold down phone rates may be adjusted "either upward or downward as the evidence of fees and services supports."

However, back to Ms. Sterling's main thesis. In the restructuring decision last summer, commissioners Kunasek and Irvin also said nothing about keeping these golden parachutes out of rates. Perhaps they, like many Americans, measure the U.S. by its 3.5 million millionaires rather than by its 30 million hungry or by the $2 to $8 paid per day to foreign workers to keep U.S.-based corporations competitive in the global marketplace.

Roland James
Glendale

Thank you for alerting us to the executive money grab at U S West. It is interesting that U S West spokesman Dick MacKnight justifies these outrageous payments on the basis of Richard McCormick's delivering outstanding return to shareholders.

If the shareholders want to fork over millions in gratitude, sharing some of their returns, they are welcome to do so. They should not expect the customers to do it for them. The manager of a regulated public utility monopoly can only justify remuneration to be paid by the customers on the basis of quality and economy of service delivered to customers.

My only complaint about the article was that it did not include the e-mail addresses of the Corporation Commission and its commissioners so that your readers could express their outrage and hopefully head off this money grab or at least put a little heat on the grabbers. Maybe in this case, phone numbers as well as e-mail addresses would be appropriate. Keep up the good work, but give us a way to act on the dirt you discover.

Lawrence P. (Larry) Grasso
Tempe

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