Letters

Letters from the week of November 20, 2003

Limitless Potential

Indy rocks: Your article about downtown Phoenix was very informative ("Sorry, We're Closed," Paul Kix, November 6). It brings out a lot of good points about what is needed as far as support services and entertainment for living, working and playing in downtown. Having lived in downtown Indianapolis from 1987 to 1994 when that city was going through a renaissance, as well as seeing what they have done since we moved to Phoenix, I can appreciate what you have described about the "chicken and egg" theory.

One of the premier events that helped downtown Indianapolis get on the right path was the opening of an O'Malia's grocery within three blocks of a 224-unit condominium complex developed by Borns, two-story quads with one- or two-car garages, patios, and balconies. It was the suburbs, built in downtown Indy. From our condo, it was a seven-block walk to The Circle. My wife and I loved living that close to the trendy nightlife that was cropping up when we first moved there and kept on improving ever since. Now, there are many more condo and apartment complexes close to downtown, many of which are within walking distance of Conseco Fieldhouse.

I should point out that the O'Malia's stores are on a par with AJ's, not Albertsons or Food City. The people who want to live in a revitalized downtown are those who want quality in their home, and they want convenience that they are willing to pay for. That doesn't mean that the home must cost $500,000. It does mean that the residents don't want to feel as though they are confined in their cell, because to venture outside they must deal with panhandlers.

My wife and I have seen many similarities between Phoenix and Indianapolis since moving here, beyond never changing our clocks for Daylight Savings Time. We hope that we'll see similar changes that improve downtown Phoenix. We love where we are living near the North Phoenix Mountains Preserve, but we would enjoy moving to a revitalized downtown Phoenix.

Steven Capes
Phoenix

Catch the vibe: I just finished reading your recent article about downtown businesses. I agree with you and feel very strongly about the need for a vibrancy downtown. Two and a half years ago, I bought a great loft in Artisan's first project, 9th and Osborn. My company's biggest trade show of the year is this March downtown. Physicians and executives will be coming from all over the country and the world, and I'm embarrassed that they'll have nowhere to eat/play downtown. I'm already making plans for nights out in Scottsdale and the Biltmore area. It's a shame. The 1 a.m. liquor law certainly doesn't help, either. Anything that I can do to help fill in the downtown "doughnut," please let me know.

Shane Brown
Phoenix

Religious Write

Jewry case: Why was it necessary for Amy Silverman, one of your distinctly talented and informative writers, to use the following sentence on page 20, October 30 issue ("Legally Brown"):

"Many years earlier, another Jew who would go on to make it much bigger in the movies attended Arcadia."

Ms. Silverman did not identify the religious heritage of Amanda Brown's parents, nor did she identify the heritage of Justin Chang (Amanda Brown's husband).

Is New Times losing its objectivity? Or is New Times embarking on an ethnic approach to feature writing, an approach sure to heighten and intensify private passions in a disguised attempt to be presenting newsworthy information?

H. Muller
Phoenix

Arty Facts

The Peter principle: Peter Petrisko, did you just say that ("Art for Pete's Sake," Speakeasy, Robrt L. Pela, November 6)?! I mean that in a good way. It helps restore my faith in the Phoenix arts community to know an artist with your perception exists. My latest disgust is the fear-based cutting-edge style floating around. Welcome back. Give us "danger." Thank you, Robrt Pela, for the great interview.

Darlene Washington
Phoenix

The Human Stain

West side story: I fail to see the hoopla concerning the Paradise Valley police investigating Okeme Oziwo and Matt Lyons ("Ice Creamed," Robert Nelson, October 30).

Oziwo and Lyons were far safer than had they gone to a Baskin-Robbins on the west side -- in a predominantly black/Hispanic area.

Second, why does Paradise Valley need black cops? Phoenix has a black police chief, yet most of their cops are white. Why isn't there recruitment specifying "white officers"?

If it weren't for the white police officers in Paradise Valley, the area would become what the rest of the state and major cities have become -- a battleground for black/Hispanic gangs and drug pushers.

Kurtis C. Wolf
Glendale

Prison Reform

If you build it, they will come: I've been keeping up on the issues regarding the prison system, overcrowding and sentencing guidelines reform ("Clink!" Robert Nelson, October 23). I have some concerns when it comes to the "Let's just build more prisons" mentality. It seems that overcrowding is an issue that needs immediate attention. It takes a minimum of a year to build a new prison, and even then, given the current state the system is in now, it will be filled before it is even done and we're right back where we started.

When the parole boards were active, they were sort of a "pressure relief valve," and kept the numbers of inmates being released because of good behavior, and kept the system in balance. The truth in sentencing guidelines took the "valve" away and, as a result, put the "system" in a very complicated situation. There are many, many people in the prison system who should have been released by now (under the pre-1994 guidelines), paying taxes and being productive members of society. But being a model prisoner in today's Arizona prison system doesn't warrant any type of relief whatsoever.

It's easy to form an opinion, standing on the outside looking in at all of this. It seems to me that this "tough on crime/truth in sentencing" bill has caught up with us, and put us in way over our heads. We need to figure out a way to get that "valve" back that protects the public's safety and ensures the balance of people in prison and out.

If this means the percentage of time served on a sentence reflects the nature of the crime, so be it. Cases are on an individual basis, and should be treated as such, from the judge, who deserves to have the discretion (as an elected official), to the parole committees. We are running out of Band-Aids, and we can't keep going the way we're going. Something has to be done, from one concerned Arizonan to another.

Raymond A. Baker
Mesa

Stop the madness: Thanks for publishing the honest column by Robert Nelson. The war on drugs isn't about justice or protecting our children. We've spent 30 years under that pretense and what have been the results?

Our senators and representatives have conveniently exempted themselves from drug testing while Drug Czar John Walters tours the country pressuring school boards to implement drug testing for our children.

The hypocrisy of this is so thick it stinks. Current and past presidents have used some of the very substances that have sent others straight to prison. What message are we really sending our kids?

Our "leaders" need to find the courage to end this insanity before another generation is forced to endure the hypocritical prosecution of American citizens.

If our "leaders" can't find that courage, then they need to be voted out to make room for those who have the conviction to do real justice and end this domestic policy disaster.

Scott Russ
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Semi Conductors

They can't see, but they show up on time: I have represented various railway workers for the last 20 years. One of my responsibility areas has been various medical disqualification (disability) cases Ma href="/issues/2003-10-16/news.html/1/index.html">("Throttled," Patti Epler, October 16). With respect to vision and railroading in the operating crafts -- switchmen, brakemen, conductors and engineers: While on first blush it may seem that people with monocular vision may pose a risk to railroad operations, such really is not the case. In all of the cases I have been involved in, the vision-disabled employees have had significantly better attendance and performance records than normal-vision employees.

It is also significant to note that several years ago the Department of Transportation was directed by the Congress to reassess its medical disqualification requirements for commercial truck drivers to make sure that same were not violative of the ADA. Vision was an area reexamined by DOT, and a trial program was instituted wherein commercial truck drivers with various medical conditions (who were normally disqualified because of said conditions) were allowed to continue to be provisionally certified by DOT if they met certain qualifications (like much better driving record history than their peers -- this was discriminatory itself as a required standard). These individuals were also followed very, very closely as to their driving performance through the trial period.

The result of the trial test period: Impaired drivers had very significantly better driving records than did non-impaired drivers.

This same type of result was attained in Sweden with respect to a test group of 5,000 color-vision-impaired bus drivers vs. 5,000 normal-vision drivers. Far fewer accidents and/or driving violations were experienced by the color-vision-defective drivers.

Perhaps the jury in the cited case was uneasy about Michael Coleman's ability to see the accident site. However, in reality, there were three people viewing the site -- two with normal binocular vision -- and yet none of them took any action to reduce the train's speed immediately prior to the accident. So, was the accident caused by defective vision? I think not!

The disabled have quite a "cross to bear" when it comes to employment issues. Most discrimination in this area is based on myth, stereotypes, misinformation and baseless fear. The scientific evidence and various other types of studies concerning the disabled worker usually show that such workers perform the job much better than their peers!

Kenneth L. Rogers
Vice Local Chairman
United Transportation Union

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