From the week of November 30, 2000

Abiding Faith

Hide and seek: We, members of the Christian Faithful, apologize for the lateness of this communication. However, it does not lessen our appreciation of your coverage in New Times of the controversy involving Father Saúl Madrid, Bishop Thomas O'Brien and the Catholic community/Latino parishioners ("Immaculate Heart Break," Gilbert Garcia and Laura Laughlin, July 27).

It is so refreshing to read your weekly newspaper, a newspaper whose editor is not afraid to tackle difficult issues. A newspaper that "does its homework" of exhaustively researching an issue and then presents the findings to its readers. You know you are being effective when Bishop O'Brien condemns your articles! Sadly, we believe he uses this ploy as a way to hide behind them and avoid facing issues and giving the public and his parishioners the information they're seeking.

We think your two writers are to be congratulated. The comprehensive and thorough research they did in preparing the article was highly admirable. That article got great mileage -- a number of people read it on the Internet; it was distributed and shared with friends in the Valley and state as well as throughout the country.

Again, Gilbert Garcia's article in a recent issue of New Times ("Strife With Father," November 16) was just excellent. He did a wonderful job of not letting Father Madrid or Bishop O'Brien "off the hook" by recalling to the reader the numerous problems with priests under the bishop's 20-year term and (between the lines) reminding the reader that Bishop O'Brien's modus operandi has always been to hide, avoid the press and show a total lack of respect and accountability toward his parishioners. Oh, yes, and to blame the press for his problems and accuse them of "yellow journalism."

Thanks again for your conviction to get the truth out to the people and for your courage.

The Christian Faithful

City Lites

Mal de mayor: Your column ("2000 Maniacs," Jeremy Voas, November 9) was the most direct and accurate text I have seen regarding the manner in which the City of Phoenix truly operates. I am a native Phoenician and downtown community activist who worked daily to save the Warehouse District, as well as other historic buildings and communities, and it became all too apparent to me that Mayor Skip Rimsza and those leading the City Manager's Office are not interested in the will of taxpayers or the viability of the communities they serve, especially the downtown area. Jerry Colangelo and his nonprofit organizations, Downtown Phoenix Partnership (which just received $800,000 from the city for "Copper Square") and Phoenix Community Alliance, seem to be the only appropriate factors when decisions are made as to the future of our downtown. The fact that our city manager, Frank Fairbanks, and our deputy city manager, Cheryl Sculley (as well as the Arizona Republic), are part of Downtown Phoenix Partnership makes this conclusion all the more concrete.

However, I must correct you with regard to Maricopa County's plan to place its new jail, morgue and parking garage(s) in downtown Phoenix. The City of Phoenix was fully aware of the impending disaster that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors had planned for the Warehouse District. Additionally, the Maricopa County BOS now has plans for two parking garages within seven blocks of each other, both on Jackson Street. Lastly, the Jackson Street Ad Hoc Committee made several resolutions that were sent to the city council for approval, the most dominant being a request from the City of Phoenix to the Maricopa County BOS to move the jail from the Warehouse District to Durango. This resolution alone was not acted upon by the city council.

My experience with the City of Phoenix has left me almost completely apathetic to my birthplace and the future that awaits us all. I long for the days of Mayor Terry Goddard and local government by active participants.

Lisa Irwin

Crash Course

Wrecking bawl: Thank you, Laura Laughlin, for exposing State Farm Insurance ("Snake Killer," November 16). State Farm may be like a good neighbor when it comes to fender benders, but God help any policyholder in an injury accident, such as the one I suffered in 1993. I suffered a whiplash-related injury when I was struck by an uninsured driver running a red light. I suffered back pain and was treated by a chiropractor for two months after that. I had a 10-day rental car clause with my policy, and State Farm did not appraise the damage on my vehicle until nine days after the accident, which gave me exactly one day to decide on the fate of my vehicle, whether to repair or replace it. They declared it a total loss, although I found out later that the repair estimate was only about $200 more than Blue Book, which they never disclosed to me. I would have been willing to pay for the repair, but instead they insisted on my replacing it, which cost thousands more. For my injury, they offered a settlement so low that it was an insult. My personal injury lawyer was able to negotiate a higher settlement, but it still was not sufficient. I was not being greedy, but the accident caused a major financial hardship in my life that State Farm refused to acknowledge. I was forced into bankruptcy and required to work two or three jobs at once to pay subsequent living expenses arising from the accident, thanks to the skinflints at State Farm.

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