Letters from the week of October 16, 2003

Mr. Lacey envisions a happy wonderland of artists and a thriving downtown stocked with clubs and galleries and upscale-stacked condos. What isn't in this wonderland are the people who park the cars, pick up litter and live the life not cool enough. Where are they? Where do they live in this utopia? I guess you could build a wall to the south and a big fence to the north and it will look so much better that way.

Charlie Buttermann

Growing up is hard to do: Just when you think, "Damn! This is a good newspaper!" along comes an article like Michael Lacey's on building downtown Phoenix to cater to "our" taste.

What is Lacey, about nine-years-old? He writes that Phoenix has no "essential services" downtown, like places to rent DVDs. The city needs more places like the Emerald, so people can hook up easier. And let's have an entertainment czar no older than 25 to book acts in all the bars and restaurants.

Calling the booker a czar isn't quite right, because the form of government in which the government tells private businesses how they will operate is fascism. And how, BTW, will these acts (and DVD stores) be paid for? If they could live on customer revenues only, they'd probably already be happening, so I suppose Lacey wants to divert tax dollars from whatever he feels is less important -- maybe the homeless, since they don't look like the people he wants downtown.

"Build it, and they will come," Ray Kinsella heard. It was a movie, Michael! In real life, it takes customers willing to pay, investors willing to invest, and entrepreneurs willing to dream and create. In other words, it takes a lot more than wishing and demanding.

George Ertel

Another wasteland: Yo! Editor, in reference to Michael Lacey's "Exploding Downtown," Phoenix is a cultural shit-hole. The most creative and interesting people are the poor brave souls who live on the brutally hot streets of Phoenix. The Salt River Valley has been home to some great ancient cultures, they had imagination from and a spiritual connection to the natural world.

The current inhabitants are arrogant and disdainful of sky, water, land and animals. Case in point, TGen, the newest publicly funded, pseudo-scientific project, promises of miracle cures from over-paid academics. The Translational Genomics Research Institute is an old, failed concept. In the late 1980s, the citizens of Baltimore, Maryland, were sold the Columbus Center, a genetic research facility, built in the harbor, at a cost of $200 million, precious tax funds.

City leaders and academics promised high paying jobs, new businesses and increased tax revenue. It failed within three years. The Columbus Center is the white elephant of Baltimore.

So, the next time you hear how great TGen is going to be for Phoenix, try using your creativity and imagination to visualize what the $400 million wasted on false premises could have been used for.

David Brainerd

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