Art of the Matter

Letters from the week of March 13, 2003

Master Plan

Code warrior: I'm glad someone is finally giving the issue of building codes some attention ("Code Squawkers," Amy Silverman, March 6). I have worked in this industry for the past 15 years, first as a designer and now as a plans examiner. I have had the pleasure of looking at these codes side by side. My conclusion is that most people who are talking about this code, pro or con, have no clue as to what they are dealing with.

Setting the building code issues aside, has Phoenix begun rebudgeting for the required number of firefighters and operating funds required by this code? It not only regulates the codes but firefighter staffing levels and operational costs also. This code book, for lack of a better definition, is a glorified reference manual. The reference library that will be required to do my job will become enormous. Yes, it makes stairs safer, but it makes a single-family home so costly that the National Association of Homebuilders pulled out of the code development process.

Should the city adopt a code that has never been tried or used? I would say not. Wait for the second writing and see if it will still work.

Shame on Councilman Dave Siebert and his cronies at city hall for having the arrogance to adopt a code only for his personal preference. You allude to the Uniform Plumbing Code, which is a state-mandated code so well-written by IAPMO (the plumbing union) that it has more than 70 amendments.

Does Mr. Siebert not realize that many of the employees from Phoenix will be unmarketable when more than 30 cities statewide have adopted various I-codes? The very training and certification program that I started under was yanked this week by the City of Phoenix. Evidently this is their way of ensuring they will have someone to enforce such a poorly written document.

I left the City of Phoenix five years ago because of inept management and boneheaded decisions. Glad to see I made the right choice.

Mike Baker, Senior Plans Examiner
Peoria Out of Commission

Artistic direction: In the column "Martial Artist" (February 27), did Robrt L. Pela want everyone to feel his pain and anger about the lack of public interest in the arts? Or is this a rookie journalist's lame attempt at becoming an instant media celebrity by degrading non-supporters of the art world? I was so moved by his interview with Shelley Cohn, the executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Are we supposed to sympathize with Ms. Cohn and the rest of the arts community because the ACA is in danger of losing $8 million of government funding? Ms. Cohn's unrealistic views ignored the possibility that perhaps the common folk are more concerned about employment, the nationwide recession and terrorist attacks. It is safe to say that funding the arts is the last thing on the average working Joe's mind right now.

Ms. Cohn stated that it was "bothersome that there are people who don't believe that the state should fund the arts." Perhaps the fiasco with those overpriced hideous pots on the Squaw Peak Parkway left a bad first impression of public-supported art. Nobody asked for them and nobody wanted them. I believe people are already sick and tired of being forced to give money to the Colangelos and Bidwills of the world. Now taxpayers have to subsidize horrible-looking art and boring performances in the theater and opera?

As for the ACA, it is nothing more than a marketing agency and a welfare program used by these "starving artists" to promote their work at the expense of the taxpayers. These painters, sculptors, actors and other performing artists are not able to support themselves so they have to rely on government subsidies and private donations. They could not survive in the real economic marketplace because there is no big demand for their entertainment services. It is basic Economics 101. Funny how artists strongly believe in the freedom of expression, but not in the freedom of the marketplace!

I loved how Ms. Cohn tied economic prosperity to the arts. She said the arts attract new businesses. This is another propaganda tactic used by the ACA to misinform the general public about the value of the arts. Perhaps she needs to review Arizona history to learn that companies started coming here for the good weather, cheap labor, and for that ever-so-famous tax break. I find it hard to believe that any company would relocate to this state solely based upon an art museum.

At one point in the column, Mr. Pela referred to the House Appropriations Chair Russell Pearce as a "real tightfisted asshole" because he feels police officers are more important than the arts. At least someone in the Legislature has his priorities straight.

Ms. Cohn is desperately trying to bridge the gap between the pompous arts community and the average citizen. Mr. Pela's insults against the citizens of Phoenix throughout his column did not help her cause.

Chip Wilson
Chandler

 
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