Letters

Letters from the week of February 19, 2004

The Bishop & Me
Throw the good book at him: After reading the article on Bishop O'Brien, it did nothing but confirm my conclusion about this man ("What Was He Thinking?!" Michael Lacey, February 12). Bishop O'Brien is a disgrace to the human race. How dare this man declare his conscience is clear after condoning child molestation for more than 20 years? Now he has the gall to state he thought he hit a dog or someone threw a rock at his car. Old Bishop O'Brien deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his life with a roommate named Big Bubba.

Philip Watson
Glendale

Not a fan: Let me get this out of the way first: I am not a Catholic, nor am I a big fan of Bishop O'Brien. After reading Michael Lacey's article, I can also say that I am not a big fan of Michael Lacey.

C'mon, Mike! The bishop exhibited the "warmth of a dead cod"? So how much warmth do you think you'd display in such a situation?

Bishop O'Brien is a "monster"? You are mistaken. He is a man, a man in a terrible predicament who may have committed a terrible crime. That is yet to be determined. That is what this trial will determine.

Comparing the "sartorial splendor" of the bishop's defense team with the "honest wool suits" of the prosecutors is, at best, cheap journalism, much like the rest of the article.

It's obvious that you detest the bishop, Mike. You could have just cut to the chase and said so, rather than take up space with your bile.

James P. Mertz
Phoenix

Faith no more: Michael Lacey's article reads as the profile of the hypocritical Pharisee with a seared conscience. While Jim Reed probably was no Jesus, he probably saved many a man's faith from being pinned underneath the religious vehicle of Catholicism manned by Bishop O'Brien.

Men have been abusing religious power since it's been around. This is why we can't have religious government behind the wheel. Man is no close substitute for God. No matter what anyone may say, no one does God's work better than God. What we do worship in man is what we can see manifested from God. Probable cause that God could be found to be real. If man were capable of being anything else than infinitely flawed, then Jesus, the avatar of Catholicism, would never have had to be sacrificed for the "sins of the world."

How many times do we have to prove that man can fail at religion, even the paid professionals of religion, before we are convinced there will never be any way that we'll ever "get it right"? If the truth can be had, we never will get it right. You can't live a godly life without God in it.

In O'Brien's case, he may have fallen for the oldest lie of all. That it isn't necessary to answer to God in order to run God's show. The Catholic's Lucifer bought into that and he lost everything God intended.

If anyone cares, I think God's best hope in man is that we have a lifetime to declare who we really choose to answer to, God or self. A lifetime is all we really get anyway, no guarantees. Each lifestyle is dramatically different from the next based on the choices of who we choose to answer to. My personal slant is that God runs the show anyway. Those disrespectful to his property and to God personally run themselves right off the page. Proof of God's love is when he tries to stop us. Proof that we love God is when we go along with it.

Sheila Dean
Via e-mail

Covered up: The cover of the February 12 issue is easily the most offensive, thoughtless and insensitive thing I have seen in years. How callous we have become, to make a mockery of one life lost and one destroyed.

Joshua T. Nite
Phoenix

Free speechifying: Over the years, I have found myself defending free expression and fighting off those who would work to eliminate arts funding. Piss Christ and Robert Mapplethorpe are examples of free expression I've been compelled to stand up for. I believe strongly in free speech and equal dollars for all types of expression. That being said, I am frustrated and bothered by your current cover.

How dare you use the envelope-pushing nature of your cover art's reputation to put such a crude image? I'm sure the cartoony image of Jim Reed will make his family all warm and fuzzy while they await the jury verdict regarding his death. In the vein of Janet Jackson's "Boobgate," I think Mike Lacey must revel in the thought that his paper might actually be talked about. By anyone. Its embarrassing, really. A great Valley institution in Nita's Hideaway closed down recently; I can think of another that should consider it.

Charlie Buttermann
Phoenix

Jail Break
Just the facts: My husband was on one of the SWAT teams stationed at the prison during the hostage situation. On behalf of all the wives and police officers involved, we cannot thank your reporter Robert Nelson enough for reporting the truth in his February 5 column ("Covering Tracks")!

Word for word, he relayed facts and expressed the frustrated point of view of the police (and fellow corrections officers). He wrote about everything that the police felt during this time, which was mainly failure at not being allowed to rescue the corrections officers. I know the governor was concerned about loss of life of our men; however, they train extensively and are paid extra to train for these types of situations! If they are not going to be used, then what is their role in law enforcement? If I were a widow writing this right now, I would be proud and comforted to know that my husband fulfilled his duty to "protect and serve."

I am not alone in this thought, because the wives discussed this daily for two weeks, as we traveled through the emotions of the ordeal of our men and women, of the trapped woman all alone, and of her fellow colleague who could not rest upon his release because he knew her torment.

The governor and the DOC director are trying to protect their political futures more than they ever tried to protect the brutalized man and savagely raped woman in the tower. I hope that this situation gets fully investigated, because this is a huge case of incompetence, negligence and extreme liability. I pray for the victims' recoveries and hope that they both pursue every avenue of compensation.

Rachael Babinchak
Glendale

Lack of leadership: Thank you! Finally something accurate from the media about the prison hostage crisis. I worked for that outfit for more than eight years, eventually resigning as a CO IV (program's equivalent of a security captain). I knew the cronyism and incompetence of the administrators would lead to something terrible, and it did.

The lack of real leadership in ADOC began long before the current director took the post; it began with Terry Stewart and Chuck Ryan. They were the ones who groomed the current wardens and deputy wardens to be loyal followers in their good-ol'-boy network. I completely understand why the ADOC brass couldn't make a decision on how to end this ordeal. They weren't trained to make decisions on their own, or how to manage people. Chuck Ryan's philosophy was that people are dispensable, prisons should run on written policy alone with robot-minded staff unquestioningly enforcing the policy. And yes, the hostage-taker inmates have to be sent out of state, because they would be a constant reminder of how they embarrassed the politicians and top ADOC brass.

Now the mainstream media are crying in their beer because they got duped. They are whining that ADOC isn't releasing information after the media played along with them so well. Yes, there is a lot of blame to go around with this tragedy. I just noticed that you left a few folks out: Stewart, Ryan and all the current spineless administrators who benefited from being part of the old gang.

A deputy warden once told his staff that most of his correctional officers weren't qualified to work at Circle K. What became apparent from this hostage situation is that top ADOC prison officials aren't qualified to manage a Circle K. What a shame!

Alex Seigla
Tucson

Damage Control
Justice isn't served: It appears that a great travesty of justice was inflicted on Shawn Dirks ("Molecular Damage," Paul Rubin, February 5). My feeling is that it is very plausible that the Mesa DNA lab made a cross-contamination error in the samples, or the lab technician just made a mistake in the various stages of analysis and documentation, or that Mr. Dirks transferred a small amount of the woman's DNA to himself while going to the bathroom.

All the other parts of this story do not support the version of events by this woman with a history of apparent mental illness and being a very "twisted" person. If the allegations had been brought by a credible woman in the community, Mr. Dirks' position would be very bad indeed.

To think a brand-new police officer with a sterling history in his own life, when he now has the milestone in his new career of being out alone in his patrol car for the very first time (this would have to be a very big event for him personally), is going to anally rape a woman, then arrest her and take her to the police station for booking and give her the perfect opportunity to report the "rape," is ludicrous to believe. If he had raped her, he would have cut her loose and hoped she did not report it and ruin his first shift going solo, and, oh, by the way, his life and career.

For the Phoenix Police Department to hang its hat on her story is shameful and laughable.

Jeff Speer
Via e-mail

Indecent exposure: I had to e-mail my comments on this article. I would not normally read such a long article for something that happened in Arizona, but I read with disbelief how a less than stellar person could so easily destroy the life of a decent human being. Police officer Shawn Dirks' life was destroyed for being a good person. The real crime here is that the person who did this is being recognized as honest about the situation and, with her background, this legitimizing her false accusations encourages her and others to use this ploy far, far, far too often across this country. It is really scary how fragile our lives really are.

Being an upright and decent citizen is almost an invitation nowadays for attacks such as this. I pray there is a God and in the end the truth will be rewarded and the lies will also be recognized for eternity. I am still shaking my head, but I give credit to this young man and his wife, Jill. They have been to hell and back.

Wayne C. Wood
Newington, New Hampshire

Judgment day: I couldn't stop reading this story today while at work. I believe Shawn Dirks' story and feel that Lori Levinson is a crazy, messed-up liar. It is a tragedy that this happened to the Dirkses just as it seemed to them that everything in their life together was falling into place. I hope that your article stirs up something, brings this story to the attention of many others, and justice is finally served.

This woman cannot be allowed to continue to falsely accuse anyone else of this type of crime. People accused of sex crimes are rarely able to recover and go on with their lives as they were before.

I do not recall hearing about this story when it happened. I hope to hear, someday soon, about how all wrongs in this case were put right.

P.J. Sauter
Phoenix

From Sweet to Sour
Not taking any crap: I'm a longtime reader of New Times and have always enjoyed the dining reviews. Lately there seems to be a trend of abusive reviews (which I notice were all Stephen Lemons'), with the fish and chips review a prime example of this ("Bottom Feeding," February 12). I'm not questioning Mr. Lemons' judgment, but surely it's not necessary to use the word "crap" in the same article that describes food I might one day want to eat.

In general, the tone of the article was very rude and condescending. For example: "But anyone who eats at Pete's more than once of their own accord is a bloody imbecile." I'm sure I speak for many readers when I say, bring back a reviewer of the caliber of Carey Sweet who was able to review restaurants -- even bad ones -- in a professional manner.

Sharon Shindel
Via e-mail

For Pete's sake: I had the unfortunate opportunity to read your article on fish and chips places in the Valley. I am so surprised by the evaluations of the restaurants you chose. It seems strange to compare fast-food fish and chips with sit-down, full-service seafood restaurants. It's quite obvious which will come out on top. Do you actually get paid to tell your readers that fine dining tastes better than fast food?

I am confused, and the more I read the article, the more confused I become. I am a fan of Pete's Fish and Chips. While it might not be your idea of good seafood, it is greatly appreciated by those who enjoy it in its proper context -- a cheaply priced, family-run fast-food restaurant. I enjoy the food, the casual picnic tables, the outdoor setting and, yes, even the absence of ketchup. According to your article, this makes me an imbecile.

I greatly resent this evaluation. Pete's needs to be critiqued in its context -- greasy, cheap, casual fast food. This place is a community landmark. It is more than oysters and French fries. It is a family-run business you've maliciously attacked. You don't like the food, fine, but you've gone too far to compare it to a crack den, to attack the lack of ambiance, to say you wanted to puke in the parking lot -- are you kidding me?

In the future, I would appreciate evaluations of apples to apples. This is completely amateur and absolutely over the top. Your ability to fairly critique a restaurant is completely undermined by your inability to put everything in context. It doesn't take an expert to know Taco Bell isn't as good as Mi Amigos. Please consider this in your future reviews.

Sunshine Wright
Mesa

Wine dining: I enjoyed reading your review of The Steakhouse on Central and especially liked your comments on the wine ("Cursed . . . ," Stephen Lemons, February 5). I have always felt wine is part of the dining experience but don't see many critics warn customers of what is coming with dinner. It is especially hard to tell with indies. Chains you know pour supermarket wine, and it is disappointing to see indies doing the same. They owe it to themselves and patrons to be open-minded and not afraid to support smaller wineries.

Keep letting us know what they're pouring.

Sandy Wasserman
Scottsdale

Hip-Hop Is Life
The real deal: I really enjoyed how you portrayed Cut Throat Logic as a group of people who are living life as they see fit ("Cutting Through," Christopher O'Connor, February 5). It gets into some of the personal triumphs and tragedies that shaped their lives. Life that we relate to. I also like the way it's written honestly and with an understanding of this ever-evolving culture that most Phoenicians thumb their noses at.

Hip-hop is very much alive in Arizona. People want hip-hop: black, Latinos, white or Native American. I thought this article gave justice to some of our Valley youths, who dream of something more in life and like to express it in their own way. There are so many creative musicians and artists in this state, I know because I have known lots of DJs and graffiti artists such as, for example, DJ Z-Trip and the Tempe Bronx Crew that put Tempe on the map as far as hip-hop.

Just keep it real, that's all anyone asks.

Ishmael Marquez
Phoenix

Detroit Leaning
Full of surprises: I was surprised to learn that food critic Stephen Lemons is also a connoisseur of art ("Colangelo's Kitchen," January 29). To be "suspicious of any art on loan to us from Detroit" is a peculiar statement that is not correct if it means that any work of art from Detroit is not worthy.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the top five museums in the United States. It houses an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek art. Its Asian collection is home to Quan Xuan's Early Autumn, from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty. Its permanent collection also includes works by Brueghel (The Wedding Dance), Poussin (Selen and Endymion) and Fuseli (The Nightmare), as well as works by Czanne and Picasso.

In fact, the Phoenix Art Museum's current exhibition "American Beauty: Painting and Sculpture From the Detroit Institute of Arts 1770-1920" is only a small part of the institute's vast collection. Some of the pieces currently on loan to us are by John Singleton Copley, John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Frederick Church, William Merritt Chase and Albert Bierstadt. They are serious works of art and should not be shrugged off lightly.

Detroit is also home to the stories of this country's greatest innovators (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers) in the Henry Ford Museum. Its jazz history is documented and preserved in the Greystone Museum where it tracks Detroit's jazz influence to be second only to New Orleans. The Motor Sports Hall of Fame and Museum honors and preserves the achievements of the great legends of motor sports on land, sea and air (it includes motorcycles, powerboats, drag racing, open wheel, stock cars, sports cars and air racing). Detroit is the place where Diego Rivera's famed mural Detroit Industry was the subject of a highly controversial debate in 1933. Then there is Motown -- the soul phenomenon that swept the world in the 1960s.

To say that Detroit is "hardly the cultural capital of the universe" is disturbing. The city's cultural influence has had a definite effect in this country and is considered a significant arts and cultural center. It is an honor and a privilege to have a collection like "American Beauty" from Detroit's art treasures available for Phoenix to see and experience.

Charles Armijo
Mesa

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