Letters

From the week of December 7, 2000

Customer Disservice

Claim jumper: A brand-new J.D. Power and Associates National Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction Survey shows State Farm among the top three U.S. auto insurers and the only major national insurer in the top three. This high policyholder satisfaction rating is consistent with the fact that more State Farm customers are renewing their auto insurance policies than ever before.

Your November 16 article ("Snake Killer," Laura Laughlin) dredged up some old lawsuits and suggested that a few plaintiffs' trial lawyers know more about State Farm than its customers do. Your readers should consider that these attorneys have a vested interest in assuring that future jurors have negative feelings about insurers in general, and State Farm in particular.

Your story completely looked past the fact that State Farm is a mutual insurance company whose undivided loyalty is to its policyholders. There are no stockholders to please and no quarterly profit expectations to meet on Wall Street. Customer satisfaction is what we are about. You even acknowledged that one of the chief State Farm critics frequently quoted in your story remains a State Farm policyholder.

In the time it takes an average person to read this letter, State Farm professionals will have handled about a dozen auto insurance claims, helping our mutual policyholders recover from the unexpected. That comes to millions of claims each year.

Thousands of State Farm employees and agents work very hard, earning their well-deserved reputation for quality and fair service in one of the most highly regulated and scrutinized industries in the United States. Unfortunately, your story was essentially a trial lawyer's advocacy piece -- not a news report. It missed the mark.

Dave Gonzales, Regional Vice President
State Farm Insurance Companies
Tempe

'Til Death Do Us Party

Murder, he wrought: I appreciate your coverage about Judi Eftenoff's death. I guess I should say her murder ("'Til Death Do Us Part," Paul Rubin, November 23 and November 30). I was very good friends with Judi for several years when she moved to Arizona. She was a wonderful friend and co-worker. It is pathetic that Judi has been portrayed in the media as just a drug-abusing woman who engaged in group sex with her husband. She was a good person who would have done anything for her friends and family. She was loyal, loving and caring. I was very close to her until she married Brian and tried to be the perfect wife. Brian presented her with a lifestyle and she bought into it. Too bad she had to take so many pills and drugs to stay thin -- even at her death she was 5'8" and weighed about 110 pounds. Apparently for Mr. Eftenoff, that was not thin enough. Too bad she had to take so much cocaine to deal with the verbal and extreme physical abuse from her husband. I guess she could not live up to his standards and ultimately got what every bad wife deserves: death. Maybe now Mr. Eftenoff will get what he deserves. I guess we will see. Do not rip on the prosecution's case. I know you are a liberal newspaper that wants to be fair to both sides, but she was murdered by her husband. Her family knows it, his sister knows it, her best friend knows it, the neighbors know it, and I know it.

Name withheld by request

Killer instinct: While visiting Phoenix this past Thanksgiving weekend I read the article "'Til Death Do Us Part." I found myself totally engrossed in this story. This guy not only looks like a snake and smells like a snake, but is a snake. I know this type of personality; he thinks he is God's gift to women, has no respect for women and any form of rejection or the loss of control of a woman brings out the psychotic side. That beautiful girl probably could have had any guy she wanted. Too bad she could not get away in time. I feel for her parents and family for all the dirty laundry that is coming out. I hope if this bastard is found guilty, he rots. You can just see the evil in his eyes. Well-written, and I doubt you are on this guy's list of favorites.

Laurie
Overland Park, Kansas

Snuff said: We never read New Times. Last week, for some reason, we did. Your story about Brian Eftenoff was captivating. My girlfriend and I could not stop reading. We shared one paper and I read a page ahead of her. She kept nudging me and telling me to hurry. I did not blame her. We finished the article today at Long Wong's over hot wings and a couple of beers. The wings got cold and the beers got hot, but we had a great time finishing the story. Good job, bro. It was a hell of a story. We are looking forward to your next article. I think we will start reading New Times more often.

Tony Flood
Phoenix

Sicken Thoughts

Compassion pit: Never before have I read a story that had so many characters for whom I had no sympathy whatsoever ("Devils' Advocate," Amy Silverman, November 30). Suffice to say that the main character in this little drama probably needs some professional help. I mean, to equate the temporary loss of a loved one to incarceration with the death of a loved one shows how out of touch this guy really is. He at least still sees and talks to his lover, a far cry from someone whose loved one will never be seen or heard again in this life. I was going to be mad at him for his whining and his incomprehension at being manipulated and used by the dregs of society, but then I realized that deep down inside he probably is a compassionate person. Too bad it's misdirected. Now, as for his house and cat problem: He needs to get off his ass and clean that house himself, and take some of those animals to a no-kill shelter and donate some of that money he's giving to those losers in prison to the shelter. Sheesh. Doesn't anybody have a lick of sense anymore?

Mark A. Hoffman
Phoenix

Collar ID

Steeple chase: I am an 18-year-old student at St. Mary's High School. I am writing in response to "Strife With Father" (Gilbert Garcia, November 16) because I believe there is a better way to handle this matter. I am very strong in my Catholic faith and beliefs. I feel that the media and Father Saúl Madrid's congregations are taking it to the extreme by presenting to the public any and all mistakes he has made. This clearly is not the Christian way to deal with the situation. His congregation needs to forgive him and concentrate on its faith.

Although it is clear that there are some definite issues to work out in the congregations of St. Anthony's and Immaculate Heart of Mary, they have forgotten what is important, and that is their faith. I am not defending the actions of Father Madrid, but I am recognizing that mistakes are made. There are better ways to deal with conflict, such as moving on and letting Father Madrid and the congregations heal.

To blame one man, Bishop O'Brien, for the actions of 10 other men over an 18-year period is ridiculous. The 10 priests mentioned in the article do not represent the number of priests who are in our communities serving and helping their congregations. Bishop O'Brien has dealt with the issue by stating "like all of us he has apologized. However, I believe he is a dedicated priest and remains committed to the church and service to the people." I agree with Bishop O'Brien and think that the community needs to move on in rebuilding its church.

Holly Castorena
Mesa

Psalm of the South

Black Sabbath: Those folks viewing the reruns of The Andy Griffith Show probably mean well ("Prayberry RFD," Dewey Webb, November 23). And they might see Mayberry as "a timeless microcosm of Christian values -- one whose moral messages are as applicable today." But one thing they won't see are African Americans on the show, despite the fact that African Americans composed a fairly significant proportion of the population of the South. The Andy Griffith Show ran during the years when only whites made it to television, and the people of color of "Mayberry" were rendered "invisible." (The modern viewers really are right when they say, "There's nothing like it on TV today.") And the show's stories during all of its episodes never asked once where these other citizens were or what their situation was, either, for all of the musings about "God's Word." The civil rights movement had not made its social advancements, and we should be reminded that churches were (and are) on both sides of that struggle.

I hope that the modern viewers who are studying the show for "some sort of relational family message" will also take time to wonder about the covert injustice and racial prejudice in the show. If they indeed see Mayberry as that timeless microcosm of Christian values, then they will have missed the larger message. And if they think the civil rights issues are resolved, they should spend some time late at night in west Phoenix smelling the chemicals being dumped into the air adjacent to the communities of color. Those are the "invisible" people of today.

Steve Brittle
Phoenix

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