Mexico, Mars and the Man

Letters from the week of December 19, 2002

Labor Pains

Mexican-American War: Day labor centers might be short-term charitable fixes, but we also need some justice and context ("Herding People," Susy Buchanan, December 12). John Dougherty's 1998 "Bordering on Exploitation" provided context and a concern about injustice.

Will the U.S. ever do with Mexico what northern Europe has done with Ireland and southern Europe over the last 50 years -- help them out of poverty? Or will the U.S. continue the war against people and children born poor?

Maquiladora factories are moving to China because Mexico's $5-per-day wage is four times China's wage. Mexican farmers are being removed from their communal ejidos. What are the options? One is to risk life in crossing the desert to help grow the food that, one, will feed us and, two, will be exported back to Mexico, displacing more Mexican farmers from their land. Yes, this is "Herding People."

As Mexican papers forecast more hunger and poverty (e.g., El Heraldo de Mexico: "Mas Hambre and Marginacion en el Campo"), it is not surprising that President Fox is getting nowhere with his ideological counterpart George I to regularize the status of 3.5 million Mexicans in the U.S. or to delay NAFTA's imminent elimination of agricultural tariffs that threatens the livelihood of millions of campesinos.

Former congressman and DEA head Asa Hutchinson has been named by Bush to be in charge of U.S. border affairs. He, like Jon Kyl and most Republicans, favors militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and has opposed any regularization or legalization of Mexican migrants.

Roland James
Phoenix

She works hard for the money: I find the situation so frustrating. I'm a working mother, good job, not bad wages. I can't qualify for medical assistance because I make too much, but not enough to afford our company insurance. Yet more money is being poured into needs for people who shouldn't be here because they are not doing it legally. Only in Arizona!

Marie Hanna
Phoenix

Neato Hideaway

You can take the girl out of the bar . . . : I would like to remind Christopher O'Connor that one guy's shithole is another gal's playground ("Nita's on the Move -- Thankfully," Kick & Scream, December 12)! I have been going to Nita's Hideaway since the grande dame (and my personal role model) Nita herself started having bands play in her bar. I continued my support through Covert's ownership, including attending the city council meetings during the unfortunate and misguided attempts to prevent the new location from opening. I plan to be a regular at the new place, too.

It is my deepest and most sincere wish that the new Nita's retains its charm and atmosphere, including velvet paintings and huge gilt mirrors, the large "amateurish insignia," and the silver curtain. Except for a larger ladies' room and a larger parking lot, I would not change a thing, except to bring in lots of cool people. The more, the merrier in my playground!

Terri J. Boaz
Tempe

Man Handling

Powell to the people: Okay, so I read "Nice Guys Finish First" (Speakeasy, Robrt L. Pela, December 12). If [Chris Powell's] not taken, then how do we get ahold of him? I'm always making trips down to Arizona!

Jamie Osman
Louisville, Kentucky

Working Man's Blues

Injury injustice: Robert Nelson should rethink his journalistic prowess. Not only was "Heart Failure" (December 5) a mere piece of sour candy, written like copy in a melodramatic marketing brochure, Nelson obviously couldn't be bothered to conduct even the most rudimentary Web research. Nelson concludes: "In a right-to-work state, justice only comes to a company's employees if the company's customers demand it." Turns out, employees also have the justice of federal and state labor laws. While a "right to work" status doesn't bode well for the additional protections offered by organized labor, there are fundamental rights that unions have forged into legislation and public opinion everywhere.

First, the employer had no authority to deny the employee's workers' comp claim. Workers' comp is a matter between the insurance carrier and the employee, with oversight by the Industrial Commission. Had a claim been filed, the employee could have had all of his medical expenses paid, received some salary during his recovery, and perhaps received job training to transition him out of such a physically demanding job.

Second, depending on the size of the company, the employer may have violated both COBRA and FMLA laws. COBRA requires an employer with 20-plus employees to offer insurance coverage after termination, and FMLA requires an employer with 50-plus employees to provide extended sick leave to an employee. In many cases, this leave is unpaid, but the employee's job is protected until his return or voluntary separation.

Further, a savvy lawyer could argue that the employer terminated the employee in an attempt to prevent a workers' comp claim, which is a type of illegal discrimination defined in the state statutes.

In short, Nelson really missed an opportunity to help readers understand this story beyond a collective "what an asshole" sentiment about the employer. I recommend that the employee find a good labor attorney who will ensure that plenty of compensation is had.

Marlena Hanlon
Via e-mail

Boss hog: After reading your article on Mike Schatz, I found myself feeling disgusted. I was compelled to rally my fellow "little guys" for a grassroots campaign to enact laws to mandate employer-paid insurance coverage for workers injured on the job. Then, even in a right-to-work state, when the Gary Carpanetos out there forego the coverage or refuse to submit a claim, they would be breaking the law! Not only would Mr. Carpaneto get the bill for the shoulder surgery, he would be sued by Mike Schatz's private health care insurance company for the costs they covered prior to his surgery. Now that would be justice!

As I was trying to galvanize my friends into joining the campaign, they informed me that this has already been done. The State Compensation Fund is up and running. Why didn't Mike Schatz give them a call? And could this be why Mr. Carpaneto isn't returning calls and is suddenly concerned with placating Mr. Schatz?

In the end, I hope Mr. Carpaneto finds his actions to save money and avoid being bothered with an injured employee prove to be expensive and bothersome indeed.

Alisa Conklin
Mesa

Space Probe

Mars face-off:Thank you for a wonderful synopsis of the issues and actions in the Battle of Cydonia ("To Spite the Face," Quetta Carpenter, December 5). Richard Hoagland is not a lunatic baying at the moon; his commentary and observations deserve a fair and comprehensive response because the implications of his conclusions are that we are being "handled" by an agency that is stealing our tax dollars for a surreptitious agenda. I am only one of many who wish for someone to hold NASA accountable for the responsibility they hold to their constituent financiers, the American taxpayers. If it has to be Richard C. Hoagland who points this out, then let it be so.

The public is not stupid; we can both read and think at the same time. And the words and actions from NASA sound like damage control statements rather than serious dialogue on an important subject.

It will be people like you who, in taking this conversation one more degree from the source, will show by good, accurate representation that the basis of the conversation is not rooted or limited in scope to one man and one issue. This is ultimately an issue of accountability that will not go away until a public audit of facts is held.

Rich Riggs
Voorhees, New Jersey

Positive energy: Thank you for your balanced coverage of this subject. I have been casually following this matter since I first learned of it many years ago. I feel that it is important that people understand what is really at the main point of this whole Cydonia controversy.

Hoagland believes that these apparent artifacts are geographically laid out in a manner that is mathematically related to circumscribed tetrahedral geometry and hyper-dimensional physics. Understanding this message has the potential to lead us to a revolutionary new type of energy generation. The ramifications of this new energy source could drastically alter the world's future.

This Cydonia controversy is truly one of the most important and far-reaching questions that the world has ever seen. We need the answers to these questions. By bringing this issue into the mainstream media, you are helping to spread the awareness and understanding of this important subject .

Mark Tallman
Via e-mail

Science fiction: I must say, I wasn't surprised to see Richard C. Hoagland defending his Mars imaging conspiracy theory once again. The article stated that Richard was involved in unorthodox scientific research. This is the understatement of the year!

Legitimate science consists of guidelines and protocol that are accepted and recognized throughout the scientific community. As soon as you stray from this doctrine, you no longer have true science. I know Richard Hoagland personally; I have been to many of his presentations here in Phoenix and got to know him. What Mr. Hoagland won't tell you is that the only evidence that he has to support his claims (if you want to call it evidence) is a lot of photographs of the Mars surface, taken from hundreds of miles above its landscape, not to mention the limitations of the imaging equipment itself.

A real scientist would not base almost all his opinions on poor-quality, two-dimensional images that make it almost impossible to make any accurate conclusions, let alone the life history of a planet no one has ever been to. Mr. Hoagland's methodology reminds me of a saying: "If you look for something hard enough before you investigate, eventually you will connect some dots that don't exist." The late physicist David Bohm used to say in his lectures: "In seeking the truth in science, you must be willing to accept the facts you discover, no matter where the path takes you, without compromise." Any philosophy other than this, and you no longer have science, only conjecture.

Alan R. Morey
Scottsdale

Ball Baby

Afield of dreams: Surely Robert Nelson is joking. Although I commend Armando Reynoso on being a good father and wanting to stay with his family, he will get limited sympathy from me, if that's even what Nelson is looking for ("Hard Ball," Robert Nelson, November 28). I hardly call a career 68-62 record with only one season with an ERA under 4.00 (in 1998, mind you) something that every "baseball fan dreams of." As Reynoso surely knows, and as Nelson should, sports are all about the present -- for further evidence of this, look to Emmitt Smith, being pushed out of Dallas just after setting the all-time rushing record.

Aside from all this, Reynoso earned (according to ESPN.com) $4.5 million in 2002 and is a 12-year veteran. Surely he has earned a few more million along the way and could afford to retire and stay in Arizona if he so desired.

Dylan J. Fields
Via e-mail

Veteran Medicine

Vexed vet: Thank you for bringing Brian Callan's story to print ("Welcome Back, Warrior," Paul Rubin, November 21). There are many of us still getting the shaft from good old Uncle Sam. Me, for another. I will say that both Kate Monroe and Dr. Grant have been lifesavers in the system. The reality is the government doesn't want to pay for the medical needs of our service. It is better to deny than to give is the VARO motto, in my opinion. I am a disabled veteran, medic, woman, served 1964-'70 and am still fighting the system.

Catherine Baker
MesaHooray for the VA: In 1974 I realized I was having some problems with my time served in Vietnam, so I went to the VA, and they told me I would get over it with time and that there was nothing wrong with me. What could I do? Nothing.

In 1994 I was starting to have problems again, and finally, in 1995, a fellow veteran told me the VA was doing a lot better and I should go see them. I finally hit the wall, so I went to the Vet Center, who then channeled me into the VA for treatment, and it was a brand-new world! I was evaluated, put into programs, provided medication and counseling, and it was a relief, to say the least. The employees and medical staff at the Phoenix VA are some of the best people around. I did move to California for a year, but I could not get the first-rate treatment I was receiving here at the Loma Linda VA Center, so I moved back to Phoenix. I am around a lot of veterans who have good things to say about the treatment they receive here. Dr. Grant has been my physician, and he has helped me out immensely. I really had nothing to look forward to, and my family suffered until the VA helped me out.

The VA is a large institution and I know they have their problems, but the veterans who seek help there are sometimes not receptive to their attempts to help them. I know veterans who try and share prescriptions though they are not prescribed them and veterans who miss appointments and then demand to see a doctor right now; veterans need to realize the amount of people who seek these services and try and relax and get into the mainstream.

I do not know the circumstances surrounding your previous article, I just know that these people do the best they can and are doing a hell of job with what they have. I am glad to have Dr. Grant as my physician.

There is no nation on this earth that takes better care of its military veterans than the United States. We need to remember that.

Richard Sena
Avondale

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