From the week of February 8, 2001

Winging It

Bird brain: Thank you for printing the article about Jerry Ostwinkle ("Raptor Rapture," Jennifer Markley, February 1). It shows us just how out of control the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Kamile McKeever and others in her department have become. It makes me feel like one of the sheep waiting for the slaughter.

The reason that the migratory bird treaty act was put together was to protect hawks and eagles from the shooting and poisoning that was widespread at the time. The laws were put in place not to keep individuals who respect and keep raptors from flying their hawks in front of a camera!

This is another case where power-hungry individuals within the federal government have overstepped their bounds! I love the USA and everything it is. I loathe individuals who use the power of the federal government to twist the laws, and to use that same power to whatever end they want.

Robert Payne
Liberty, Missouri

Hot Button

Firebug feedback: Every now and then, you folks go above and beyond the call. While I thoroughly enjoyed the article "An Exclusive Interview With the Preserves Arsonist" (James Hibberd, January 25), I enjoyed even more the follow-up mail and Jeremy Voas' essay on journalistic ethics (Letters and Voas, February 1).

Voas hit the nail right on the head with respect to the role of the press. I particularly enjoyed the observations concerning his fellow local "journalists." Yes, I think that term ought to be used carefully here. Having read some of his columns on occasion, David Leibowitz doesn't surprise me at all by stating that he would have "promised to protect the arsonist and then turned him in." In my opinion, this attitude typifies a fundamental error of many law enforcement types and their sycophants. This error boils down to believing and acting on the belief that the ends justify the means. They will so often sacrifice trust and credibility to achieve short-term goals. Then, of course, there is the essential issue of betrayal of trust.

Ironically, Brian Smith's column, "Loaded," in the same issue of New Times ("The Life and Crimes of Andrew Forkes," February 1), portrays a career thief and criminal whose espoused moral code includes the following:

"You know," he says, "I have a code. I have never violated a confidence. Never. And you know what? I can't be intimidated."

I find it very curious, and just a bit amusing, that were I faced with a choice of confiding in either the "journalist" (Leibowitz) or the criminal (Mr. Forkes), I would probably opt for trusting Mr. Forkes. You folks intended the irony, right?

W.K. Klofkorn

Firing line: I read with great interest your story on the "eco"-terrorists responsible for the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of homes. I wasn't at all comfortable with the author's reasoning that the insight into this criminal's thinking was worth letting him walk away into anonymity again. I feel this whole article was wrong. It paints this wacko as a nice, intelligent guy who feels so strongly about his beliefs that we should forgive him the small fact that what he's doing is a crime, and eventually someone will get hurt if he and his gang of outlaws continue.

I am a mountain biker, and as such, I was pretty pissed that this article identified these twisted people as fellow mountain bikers. I'd like to just thank you clowns at Phoenix "High Times" for making it harder for my friends and me to receive positive recognition from other trail users we meet on our rides. There are individuals in every group who act irresponsibly, giving the entire group a bad name.

Mountain bikers as a group seem to have our fair share of bad apples, and we are in a constant battle to keep access to the trails we love. Now, it not only is not enough to be courteous to other trail users, but it could actually work against us. Because your article reveals that this arsonist has escaped suspicion by being courteous to people he meets on his missions, blending in by acting normal, like he belongs doing what he's doing, every one of us who bikes on urban trails is now a suspect.

This fact hit home last night when I rode past three hikers on a trail parallel to the one I was riding. They shouted at me as I rode by, and I realized that people now have more reason to resent seeing us ride our urban trail systems. I blame this on you irresponsible jerks at New Times. Responsible journalists would have reported these facts after the criminals were caught, when thousands of innocent people would have to pay the price for the sins of a few. Already, I have five friends who have been hauled off downtown to have their pictures taken, for the crime of enjoying a night ride on our lawfully ridden trails.

Randal Nemire
via Internet

Fire damage: Um, does this "environmentalist" realize the damage mountain bike tires do to the fragile desert ecosystem?

Rick Dowlearn
Venice, California

Burning issue: I was left with a disturbing feeling after reading your article on the Preserves arsonist. The underlying slant of the piece smacked of a fascination and admiration for this individual and his accomplices. Whether it was James Hibberd's conscious intention, the article showed a compassion and veneration for someone whom Hibberd found more sophisticated than he may have thought the public expected.

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