Letters From the Issue of Thursday, April 6, 2006

Mother of a Problem

Adding insult to injury: Good story on Amaré Stoudemire's mother ("Amaré's Burden," John Dougherty, March 30)! No wonder Amaré isn't mentally ready to come back to the Phoenix Suns and kick ass. Family problems like that can be debilitating.

Even though he has his millions of dollars, I still feel sorry for the young guy. You know, I hate to say it, but it will probably be good for him if his mother is incarcerated for a few years. She will be out of his hair.

I know that Amaré would be horrified to read such sentiment, because we all love our families (no matter how much trouble they've gotten themselves, and sometimes us, into), but it will be good if he can get free of her alcohol and drug problems.

It's hard enough coming back from such a devastating injury in the best of family circumstances, but when you have to worry about a 23-time loser like Carrie Stoudemire in the process, it's got to be too much to bear.

Now I understand a lot more about Amaré's situation, and I send out my utmost sympathy, not only as a Suns fan but as a human being.
Antonio Marquez, Phoenix

Bringing Down the House

Floating point: Great articles regarding an area of frustration that leaves too many homeowners wringing their hands ("Cracked Houses," March 16, and "Soiled Hands," March 23, both by Sarah Fenske).

I had the same problem some years ago with a fairly new home whose foundation simply lifted and began to "float" every time the Valley experienced a heavy downpour.
Tom Hamblin, Scottsdale

Building blockheads: My background in construction is mainly with builders. I have worked as a customer-service representative for several of the larger builders in town, and for the past six years I was a customer-service manager for two smaller, privately owned builders.

I will tell you that Sarah Fenske's "Cracked Houses" article is very accurate and well-researched. Every time I said to myself, I'll bet she misses some point, I was wrong. There it would be as I read on.

The thing to remember is that nothing is guaranteed! But there are so many things that can and should be done that are overlooked or just dismissed as "not necessary" by builders. And as you said, this is not just one builder. I have been dealing with these same issues since I started in 1990.

I have put homeowners in hotels for weeks, sometimes months, while we tried to address these kinds of problems. The more I understood, the madder I got at the people I worked for, and the more I felt for the customer.

Something homeowners should be aware of is that field personnel for builders are usually not qualified to make decisions on many issues. Most builders do take the stance that they will fix the kinds of problems noted in the story; it's just that sometimes you have to get to a manager to get the right answer.
Name withheld by request

Enlightening strikes: I would like to thank the author of "Cracked Houses" for enlightening us about home foundations. It was clear from the pictures and the story who is really to blame for the situation.
C.C. Shriver, Scottsdale

Objectively objecting: Regarding the "Cracked Houses" series, it's a shame you idiots don't understand objective journalism. It's one thing to write long editorials, but it's another not to label them as such.
Phil Lipnevicious, Phoenix

Zoning out: Your articles "Soiled Hands" and "Through the Cracks" (also March 23) show that the state Legislature makes it harder for homeowners to sue homebuilders, that the Arizona Registrar of Contractors gives a free pass to licensed contractors who build shoddy homes, that the Arizona Department of Real Estate wants to ease quality control, that local zoning inspectors sometimes check 90 homes a day (even when they make a lot of mistakes inspecting only 45 homes a day), that newbie zoning inspectors make lots of dumb mistakes that allow shoddy homes to be built, and that city council members pressure inspectors to pass shoddy homes built by people who gave the politicians money.

Finally, the article points out that the only way a diligent homebuyer can guarantee his or her home is built correctly is to hire a private independent zoning inspector and pay $300.
Mike Ross, Libertarian candidate for Arizona governor

Son burns: Many thanks to Phoenix New Times, but especially to Sarah Fenske, for the wonderful article "Cracked Houses." I'm the son of Bernice Kaleta, one of the people featured in the article, and you cannot imagine how horrific the past four years have been for my mother, my wife, and myself.

Hopefully, the article will enlighten and help others when dealing with money-hungry builders.
Ron Kaleta, via the Internet

License to bill: I found your article "Cracked Houses" very interesting and informative. You pinpoint the political issues with the homebuilding industry in Arizona.

I have been in the construction trade for more than 25 years. I have worked on some of the largest commercial projects in the Valley. Most of my work is currently in the residential side of construction. The quality of work in this state is some of the worst I have ever seen.

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