Letters

Letters from the week of September 11, 2003

The Candidate

Dog eat dog: After reading your article regarding Jessica Flores (excuse me, Florez, since the letter Z is Spanish, unlike the rest of the letters in the Castilian alphabet) and her campaign for the Phoenix City Council, I am very disappointed /("Vote For Me Or I'll Shoot This Dog," Susy Buchanan, August 28). I am discouraged by her ideas, her opinions and the manner in which she is conducting herself during this process. Why does she need to wear pale foundation to hide her skin color? Does she think her constituents are more concerned about her race than her intelligence and capability?

There are many problems in Phoenix, and I do not believe cars parked on grass lawns to be one of our major problems. Our children are receiving the poorest education in the country, neighborhoods are not safe, parts of Phoenix look absolutely awful, and that tops her issue list? In addition, I believe her "Dogs and Lights" program to be the incorrect way to deal with property crime. Has she thought about the additional costs homeowners would have to incur? She is willing to pay for some of the costs for the first 20 dogs -- are there only 20 homes without dogs in Phoenix? What about food and veterinarian costs? I know a large portion of the community she wants to represent cannot afford these additional costs. How is she going to ensure the dogs are safe and well cared for? If she loves dogs so much, you would think this issue to be one of her main concerns.

I am tired of the incessant bickering and jealousy that I see among our political leaders. The entire Phoenix community needs leaders who are willing to be blind to color, religion, race and lifestyle. We need to learn to vote based on who will do the most good for our community, not based on whether the candidate is gay or truly Hispanic.

Ambar Renova
Phoenix

No, they're Mexicanz: Jezzica, you gotta have some Mexicans in New Mexico. Who does the landscaping there, who works at the car washes and restaurants? You all can't be wanna-be Europeans.

David Sanchez
Avondale

Rooney Ruckus

Backing the boycott: Joe Russomanno's objection to an award to Andy Rooney isn't censorship ("Shut Up, Andy!" Joe Watson, September 4). He's not trying to stifle Rooney's hateful views. He just doesn't think they deserve a prestigious award. Bully for the good professor. Look at it this way: It's censorship to bar publication of Ann Coulter's Treason; to deny her the Pulitzer Prize is just good taste. Get the distinction?

Harris Collingwood
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Freedom of speech: Who among us has not been stung by the sarcastic editorial of Andy Rooney? Is it offensive? Sometimes. But it is intended to make people think and -- more often than not -- chuckle. Like Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney brings a deep historical perspective to our society. Rooney chooses to do it with his own brand of wit and cranky sarcasm. And while it might not be enjoyed by all, certainly it can be appreciated by those who do not necessarily share his politics.

As a communications professional and educator, I make it a point to teach the importance of freedom of speech without wrapping it in my personal American flag. Joe Russomanno might want to consider this option. What positive goal will be achieved by a boycott? From the outside looking in, it seems to me that a boycott will do little more than tear at the fabric of one of the great emerging institutions of your community during its 20th-anniversary celebration. The invitations are out and the event is a done deal. Does Russomanno believe he will change Rooney? It's a little late to be trying to effect change on the event or Rooney.

Why not take that same energy and join people together to nurture and support women in journalism? Celebrating freedom of speech by building something valuable is so much more powerful and enriching than diminishing the importance of another institution.

Robert Taglairino
Miami, Florida

Dissent stage: Walter Cronkite considers Joe Russomanno's boycott of his awards luncheon to be "censorship"? Last I heard (at ASU, in Communications Law), the First Amendment also protects the right of adults to peacefully protest, and Professor Russomanno is exercising that right. If Russomanno is guilty of censorship, then ol' Uncle Walt is guilty of quashing dissent and opposing views (how typical of today's media).

Stacy Holmstedt
Via e-mail

Stuck in the '60s: I would like to thank Joe Watson for his article on the Andy Rooney award. It does my heart good to see the selective "Free Speech" purported by the academic community by the likes of Joe Russomanno. These actions are rampant on university campuses today. They use "speech codes" under the guise of offensive speech to squelch anything that does not adhere to their old '60s ideas. The protesters of 35 years ago are now in the tenured faculty at most universities and need to be rooted out. It won't be done, but luckily this whole generation of selfish boomers is now being retired to Taos with gray ponytails.

Bill Rickords
Via e-mail

Lesson not learned: When was the last time Professor Russomanno actually worked as a journalist ? By his absurd stance, he merely underscores that old saying about tenured J-school faculty members who've forgotten everything they once practiced -- "those who can't, teach . . ."

F.P. Model
New York, New York

Blank endorsement: I fail to see how boycotting a function given in honor of someone is akin to censorship. If Professor Russomanno chooses not to sit through any more of Andy Rooney's idiotic ranting than he has to, that's his choice. And if by choosing not to attend he sparks similar protest from his fellow professors, which ultimately may lead to the Cronkite school not getting all the money it needs for the year, hey, he's shooting himself in the foot for the sake of making a statement. But the point is, Russomanno is actually exercising his First Amendment rights to make a symbolic statement of his views (i.e., that Andy Rooney sucks). To suggest he's trying to undermine the First Amendment with such action is just a misreading.

Even if the protest succeeds in its ultimate goal -- to make the school reconsider its choice of journalist of the year-- it's still not censorship. No one's saying Andy can't go be racist or sexist wherever he likes and in whatever media he chooses. Russomanno's just saying the school ought not to honor the career of someone who is so clearly an asshole. If they do reconsider (which I doubt they will), Andy can always set up across the hall and give some highlights from his career if he wants to have his say on campus. It's just that the Cronkite school wouldn't be endorsing him.

This just smacks of controversy for controversy's sake. You could have covered the story as something interesting going on over at the J-school instead of spinning it into the "First Amendment Scholar Advocates Censorship!" story that it is. If we were talking about a department at ASU wanting to honor, say, Louis Farrakhan, and the Jewish students decided to use their freedom of expression to make a statement and boycott the event, would you have written the same article?

Tara Seals
Via e-mail

Trial and Error

Credibility gap: I am awestruck by Paul Rubin's latest article about Dr. Brian Finkel ("The Practice," August 28). So much for "impartiality" in reporting, which New Times constantly claims as its greatest forte.

I also attended the opening arguments for the trial and have sat in on the testimony of two prosecution witnesses. Apparently, Mr. Rubin and I were not in the same place -- Courtroom No. 704 in the Central Courts Building at 201 West Jefferson.

What I heard was defense attorneys Richard Gierloff and Kristen Curry make the prosecution's witnesses look less than credible. No wonder Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley offered Dr. Finkel a plea offer of 12 years just before the trial started. Perhaps this offer says a lot about the state's case.

If Mr. Rubin continues to cover this trial, I hope he makes it to the right courtroom.

John M. Carpenter
Phoenix

Imperfect attendance: After reading "The Practice," I wondered if Paul Rubin and I were following the same trial. Mr. Rubin was seen at the opening statements and then only sporadically for the past two weeks, and then only to talk to the prosecutors. If he had been in attendance, he would have heard Dr. Finkel's counselors Richard "No dummy in the courtroom" Gierloff and Kristen Curry impeach the testimony of alleged victims and expose the biased and unprofessional investigation by Phoenix police and county investigators. Skipping class and copying someone else's homework isn't the mark of a competent reporter. New Times has a well-deserved reputation for cutting-edge journalism and deserves a better effort from Mr. Rubin.

John N. Bode
Via e-mail

Street Scene

Just say no: Meth is the worst drug. Only one in six gets clean and stays clean. Much is written about it, but no one has mercy or compassion for those addicted to it ("Meth Mess," The Street, September 4). No one offers any solution or explanation of how meth affects a person. They label them all losers. Those losers might not have been losers before meth and maybe they won't be after meth. There are people out here trying to do something different besides labeling people. Trying to turn the tide of our country's failed drug war and our current incarceration frenzy. I have more than six years clean of meth and I'm not a loser.

Marcella Perrine
Gilbert

An Oily Mess

Gouging the market: I love the phrase that Robert Nelson uncovered -- "intentional actions of the oil companies" ("Dishonor Among Thieves," August 28). Maybe a careful reading of Nelson's investigative piece will shut up the blind fools who claim the obscenely high prices of recent times were merely a result of supply and demand. It's not "price gouging"; it's more like market manipulation!

Scott Hume
Phoenix

What price journalism?: Apparently, you believe the residents of Maricopa County have a God-given right to inexpensive and freely available gas. This assumption then leads to one that is directly underlying your opinion piece; that because of this God-given right, we have the right, through the agency of government, to dictate the business practices of (read: nationalize) the oil industry.

Did I enjoy paying $4 per gallon for gas? Nope. But I still got in my car and drove, despite the high cost. Does my objection to the high price give me the right to shove additional regulation down the throats of the oil industry executives? No. My rights begin and end with the right to decide if I want to buy gas at the price charged. You want to know how to make the oil industry execs squirm so much they change their business practices? Reduce your gasoline consumption by 50 percent.

If you disagree with me, then I have a proposal (reasonable within the boundaries of your op-ed piece): I propose that journalists be limited to an income no higher than a government committee deems reasonable (cost of living and demand for services should not be considered).

Further, any opinion editor who disagrees with my proposal should be vilified in the press as a thief.

In addition to commenting on your assumptions, I also would like to comment on your conclusion: Throughout the piece, you built a case for the just-in-time inventory being the root cause of the problem. Then, you conclude that if we outlaw the selling of multiple grades of gasoline, we would triple storage capacity, thereby alleviating the storage bottleneck that caused the shortage.

If the problem is the just-in-time inventory kept by stations and suppliers, then increasing the capacity to store gas by any factor (say, a million) will simply result in lots of unused storage capacity. If you make a new law that requires gas station owners to maintain minimum inventories, then you condemn them to buy gas at one price and sell it at another. In a decreasing-cost market, this disparity could put many stations out of business.

Finally, I'd like to put forth an opposing view: The real reason we have gas shortages and high prices is the regulation of the supply of gas. The real question is, "Why is there only one pipeline supplying gas to the Valley?" The answer is that the cost of building a second line is prohibitive. But it's not the construction cost that makes it infeasible, it is the cost of jumping through regulatory hoops added to the cost of defending against spurious lawsuits brought by the likes of the Sierra Club.

The solution to this problem is less regulation, not "more" as proposed in your piece, and reduction in retail demand for gas. Just watch the price of gas drop, when the Valley is supplied by competing pipelines, and nobody's buying anyway.

John Crockett
Phoenix

RAPT attention: Robert Nelson's "Dishonor Among Thieves" offers gas-tly insight to the oiligarchies' manipulation of gasoline distribution and pricing. There's little chance, however, that the petrol-price-protesting patrons will take any remedial actions. Hence, an acronym suited to the situation is suggested: RAPT.

That stands for Reluctant Acceptors of Price Increases. Rather than seeking redress, RAPTists will become complacent about the gougery and cower with the diffident disciples of doing nothing.

Lloyd Clark
Phoenix

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