Letters 06-08-2000

Suburban Subhumans

Sit, roll over, beg: The sad truth of the violence and subsequent punishment of the Devil Dogs ("Bad Dog," Michael Lacey, June 1) is that this is all too common in suburban America. The only saving grace for the victim is knowing that there is a good chance that at least a few of the gang members will get it up the ass from -- guess who? -- a minority.

Name withheld by request

Every dog has its day: Just finished your excellent article on the Devil Dogs. Aside from making me want to vomit several times, it also made me yearn for the days of vigilante justice. Looking forward to hearing about these "dogs" getting a real taste of their own brand of entertainment. Perhaps then a new moniker would be in order. May I suggest W.P.? (Whipped Puppies or White Pussies, take your pick.)

J. Patrick Mertz
Phoenix

Devolution: It's sad that in this, the 21st century, our technological advances far outweigh our moral and spiritual growth. It seems that the human race is regressing. Just the thought of cowards like the Devil Dogs someday running for political office is terrifying. The very mention of white supremacy sends a shiver down my spine. The more groups like this that are allowed to grow and flourish, the more desensitized the general public becomes to them. Our justice system needs to take a much tougher stand, now, before the seeds of another holocaust are permitted to germinate.

name withheld by request

Dearth and Taxes

Misbehaving: Kudos to Terry Greene Sterling for ("In Harm's Way", May 18). Although it was frustrating to read about how much altogether preventable abuse was inflicted on Jimmy Rodriguez, the author hit on an important point. Sterling notes that Jimmy's Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) caseworker has almost 50 people on his/her caseload. Underfunding and subsequent understaffing for state-run as well as contracted behavioral-health agencies is an important point that deserves elaboration.

I work for Alternative Behavioral Services of Arizona (ABS), Maricopa County's contracted provider of behavioral-health services for the seriously mentally ill (SMI). While I am not a state employee, my employer ABS is paid with state funds doled out by Value Options. The point is that my own caseload of SMI clients approaches that of the DDD worker discussed in the article. I do my job the best I can, but often feel I am unable to have enough contact with clients because of mandatory pencil-pushing, etc. The explanation for ABS's and DDD's unmanageable caseloads lies not necessarily within their own administration but rather within the state that funds them. Services for developmentally disabled and SMI clients are atrociously underfunded, resulting in low pay, high turnover and consistently swamped employees. Such an equation has potential for disaster, as evidenced by Sterling's article.

While I do not wish to excuse the negligence of Jimmy's provider agencies, I do think much of his pain could have been avoided by the provision of better state funding for caregivers. It's simple, really: Better funding means higher pay, which makes for more applicants, which in turn makes it easier to weed out the perverts and finally provide raises to retain quality staff.

As usual, it all comes down to taxes. Arizona should push for better funding for programs for disabled citizens and vote out governors who refuse to include such funding in the state's budget. I will gladly give up an extra $10 a paycheck if it means that no one else will have to go through what Jimmy Rodriguez did. I think most other Arizonans would, too.

Jeff Sanger
Mesa

Revoltin' Development

Desert deterioration: This is in response to your stories ("What a Butte!", Edward Lebow, May 11) and ("Anarchy How?", James Hibberd, May 11). Stop the Disneyfication, please!

I am a 53-year-old housewife. When I moved to Arizona in 1993, I recoiled in near horror upon seeing what had happened since I first visited Arizona in 1973. At that time, even in Okinawa, where my husband was stationed in the military, people asked if the "desert was still there," because their dream to go to America was cherished. I wonder what they thought after they got here. In the 40s, when a part of my family came here to homestead, it was a very special place. Thanks to the corporations, it's very different. If they intend to keep going, no one will ever want to see it. Thank God for people like Randall Amster and Richard Dillon! Please keep listening to them.

K.J. Meadows
via Internet

City for sale: Many Tempeans do not look forward to the day when we have paved and developed every square foot of Tempe. They settled in Tempe years ago and never imagined their hometown would become an "urban center," a community willing to forfeit its heritage for baubles and trinkets. Your Scottsdale reader may be willing to offer up Tempe Butte as a sacrifice to the developers who consider themselves gods, but the citizens of Tempe will continue to fight for the things they hold dear -- our historic landmark and open space being two of them. Tempe residents pay the highest sales tax in the state, and truly, there is nothing anarchic about asking our city government to reflect our values.

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