By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Boondoggle in waiting: Thanks for your article on the Phoenix Civic Plaza ("Convention Hysteria," Jeremy Voas, August 31). Allowing for cost overruns and mistakes, which are quite common where the City of Phoenix is involved, this could conceivably end up being a billion-dollar boondoggle.
It is not just the initial cost that the taxpayers will be stuck with, but a 20-year legacy of tremendous operating expenses. Considering those potential operating expenses, I think that you might do a public service if you looked into the way the Civic Plaza is operated now. I hope that the public will become better informed through articles such as yours and vote this monstrosity down.
Please do not print my name. I am a city employee, and city officials have proven that they can't deal with anything resembling the truth.
Name withheld by request
Garage Mahal: Your article reminds me again of the parking lot ostensibly built for the Arizona Science Center, although fortunately sited next to Bank One Ballpark. This was done because the voters had enacted a law that it couldn't be built for convention- or sports-related purposes.
A few months ago, I was a volunteer at the Science Center. I parked in the new Science Center lot (virtually by myself, incidentally). I asked right away at the Science Center that they validate my parking ticket. They told me that they didn't validate for that lot, but suggested I move my car to the lot where they could validate my ticket. I did so. I was there all day, so it saved me a lot of money (although I did have to pay the minimum for the 15 minutes or so I was in the "Center's" lot).
You would think they'd at least feel the need to pay lip service to maintaining the fraud.
Civic crime: Thanks for an excellent article. This is nothing more than large-scale white-collar crime. I suggest in the future you also report per capita cost of the construction, as well as anticipated financing costs. Such waste is part of the reason many in Arizona cannot afford decent housing and health care.
Safari Media Circus
Cinematic: Thank you for a marvelous tale ("Ecstatic Fall," James Hibberd, September 7). I did not have much money invested in Safari, so I can view this as an entertaining diversion and a fun lesson. I first invested in Safari several years ago when I was surfing the Internet with my daughter, who is in the music industry. We thought it would be fun. And it has been. Wonderful stories about unnamed companies and opportunities for incredible wealth . . . opportunities to stay in and get rich or cash out and miss out on the business opportunity of a lifetime. You never knew what was coming next, and all the time you were an "esteemed shareholder" of something but you were never quite sure. And the stock certificates just kept coming in, as did the promises of buyouts and splits, etc.
Last spring, after an entertaining e-mail from Mare (who wrote she was on her way to Europe for a well-deserved rest and that all was well with Safari), I jokingly wrote her, knowing nothing about what was going on, that it sounded like a great company and she was having a good time with my money, but what was happening? Lots of promises, no fulfillment and she was off to Europe. She answered me, as she always has, telling me how funny I was.
Later on I became more curious and wrote saying if she would give me the lowdown on this scam, I would write a book about this, as I believed it was a major hoax. Again she laughed, and then to my amazement she told me about James Hibberd's upcoming story, which I have just read.
Now, I am a little disheartened, but not angry that Hibberd beat me to the punch. After all, I live near Cleveland and knew nothing about the attorney general's investigation, except Mare wrote me that it was all part of a scheme to discredit Safari and her family, not to say anything to the attorney general and to assure me this was a temporary setback.
At any rate, I feel sorry for those who lost a substantial amount of money in this scheme, but fools and their money are soon parted, and the culture of greed and easy money makes this a snap to do in this time period. I hope your article will enlighten others who might be tempted for the easy buck, but the P.T. Barnum rule never fails.
I hope you will do follow-up stories on Safari and the Chisholms. It may yet become a fabulous movie, even better than I ever imagined.
Name withheld by request
Sordid details: Man, that was an interesting article! Since leaving high school two years ago, I have attended, almost religiously, Kind Thursdays and later Kind Fridays at Pompeii. Getting to know a lot of people over the years, I became pretty well acquainted with the electronica and underground party scene in Arizona, and always heard bits and pieces of the Safari/Plastik/Schulz/Pompeii story. Now it all fits! I was enthralled with the real story behind it all, and am fascinated by its sordid inner workings. Thank you very much for shedding the light! Keep up the good work!