Letters from the week of November 13, 2003

Let me digress a bit. I have lived in Arizona since 1981. I have experienced firsthand the "commuter" lifestyle that is so prevalent in the Valley. But because of my experiences downtown over the last three years, I believe that downtown Phoenix, through baby steps, is headed in the right direction! While I cannot speak for other venues, I can say without a doubt that Majerle's is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. We have grown -- just like downtown Phoenix -- over the past 11 years. We are not going away! (In fact, I guarantee that Mr. Florida could have had a memorable dining experience at Majerle's on the night in question -- even after 9 p.m.!) Downtown Phoenix is attracting people with vision and with expectations. The problem for those of us who spend a majority of our time downtown is that, from the outside, the rest of the people in the Valley of the Sun may feel like it is not happening fast enough.

This brings me to another point. There is zero affordable housing in downtown Phoenix! Lofts that are listed in the mid-150,000s. "Free three months rent" is actually prorated over the course of a 15-month lease at some apartment complexes. And the buzz word of the mid- to late 1990s is still apparent: gentrification. How many vacant, semi-historic homes sit boarded up and abandoned for months and years just waiting for the adjacent land to be bought and redeveloped into another high-rise that holds 2,000 people who live in Gilbert?

I applaud New Times for keeping people aware of a myriad of issues -- downtown Phoenix among them. While I do not always agree with what is written or the opinions expressed therein, I cannot thank you enough for doing what all "news" publications should do: keep us thinking and talking!

Andrew Voeltz

The shadow government knows: My thanks to John Dougherty and New Times for their courageous exposé of what appears to be public corruption at the highest level of city and county government ("Jerry's World," October 16). In cooperation with 501(c)3 public trusts, organized for the public benefit and private, for-profit interests, which are both one and the same, "the shadow government," as stated by Angelos Peter Romas, appears to have diverted billions of public tax dollars for stadiums, a theater, exclusive non-compete/no-bid contracts and, most recently, the $15 million purchase of property, supported by the threat of condemnation and eminent domain.

When the boundaries between the state and public and private interests are blurred through an intimacy of interaction and intent, yielding massive public investment in private enterprise, it is the responsibility of governmental authorities and agencies to hold the public officeholders, the officers and directors and the corporate vehicles they control, accountable to both the taxpayers and voters. We can demand nothing less than honest stewardship.

Rick Handel

You can't go home again: This is in response to Jim Sparks' letter (October 23) accusing people who have moved here from other cities of wanting to change Phoenix to be like the city they left. Actually, Jim, we don't want to change Phoenix into the cities we left, we want to change Phoenix into a city.

Liz Novak
Via e-mail

For Kids' Sake

Redact this: As a former caseworker at Child Protective Services, I say your column is absolutely right on the money ("Redact Attack," Robert Nelson, November 6). Rick Romley seems to be the only person who knows what needs to be done to reform this seriously flawed agency.

The family preservationist/social worker mentalities have dominated CPS far too long. Family preservation is a social experiment gone askew. The morons who wrote the present laws governing CPS were only echoing a social experimental agenda in calling for family preservation over protecting a child. Family preservation concepts have no provision to make parents responsible for their actions, and children were placed in jeopardy time and time again because the parents weren't made to correct their ills and show significant progress.

I'm all for Romley's plan.

Name withheld by request

Doing Time

Taking a stand: An excellent article by Robert Nelson on Arizona's prison system in crisis ("Clink!" October 23)! Thank you. The public needs this kind of reporting. Alas, sometimes the big media are scared to take a stand (like calling for an outright end to the failed drug war) for fear of losing ad revenue; and the politicians not only fear losing votes but their empowerment over the masses.

Roma Thomas
Sun City West

In Harm's Way

Living dangerously: It's very much true that the system does not work. Why would Union Pacific still even have Michael Coleman working there after he killed Charles Conway ("Throttled," Patti Epler, October 16)? They must be nuts! Or just very stupid for putting other people in danger. And what I also don't understand is why they would hire some guy who doesn't have the right specifications for being a train engineer. I don't see how not being able to see clearly is being discriminated against, when clearly you need perfect vision for the job. And while giving this killer $400,000 to drop his case for a job he couldn't even do right, he still has the same job as before. Why wasn't he convicted for killing that guy? Obviously they don't care if he does it again.

Name withheld by request

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