On the Road

Deals made in the shade: Kudos to Sarah Fenske for taking the time to listen and investigate Paul Braunstein's allegations ("Friends at Work," June 1). The Arizona Department of Transportation's shady practices are why Arizona will always be the "pothole" of the country. Shame on James Romero. I can only hope he gets what he deserves -- legally, of course.
Dan Rivera, Phoenix

Who's the boss?: After reading through your story on ADOT, I wanted to commend you on keeping the real head of ADOT out of the story: Governor Janet Napolitano. Being that it's an election year, she doesn't need any bad press at this time. Do you think that your readers are that oblivious to the fact that the governor is the real head of the agency? Give some credit where credit is due.
David Gibson, Phoenix

But the metaphor lives on: It stinks! The way ADOT treated Paul Braunstein stinks. But the smell is coming from the rotting carcass of the dead horse he continues to beat with his lawsuits.

ADOT, once a national leader in transportation engineering, has died at the hands of a boneheaded Legislature, a self-serving Transportation Board, and a lip-service governor.

There has been a mass exodus of experienced engineers from ADOT. They have gone to the private sector where they command greater salaries and the respect of their employers. Those who remain at ADOT do so because of their proximity to retirement, for civic-mindedness, or because they are just plain stupid. They are holding the carcass together with duct tape and baling wire. The horse was brain-dead long ago.

ADOT's operating budgets and real salaries, controlled by the Legislature, have stagnated or declined steadily over the years. Meanwhile, consultants are bought with free-flowing highway-construction funds, controlled by the Transportation Board, away from the scrutiny of the state budget process. This creates the illusion that operating costs are being held in check when, in fact, they are increasing without control.

ADOT's "small" Valley Project office was established in the mid-1980s to oversee the original Proposition 300 freeway construction program. It was once the centerpiece of ADOT, had three times the present staff, and managed a program equivalent to the current Proposition 400 freeway program. It, and all of ADOT, has been rendered dysfunctional by the simple-minded conservative ideologues in the Legislature.

ADOT needs competent engineers to hire and manage consultants, but few rational engineers would commit to the abuses of state employment. This has led to the absurd situation where ADOT is hiring consultants to hire consultants. (In some cases, ADOT has hired consultant-employees to monitor the consultants who are hiring the consultants.) A stupid government bureaucracy has been replaced with a more costly, stupid, bureaucratic, private-sector profit machine.

And, while ADOT's engineering staff has been decimated, the PR staff has multiplied in response to the governor's mandate of "no bad news."

ADOT could be completely buried, with control of the state highways abandoned to the counties or cities. Or, it could be resurrected as an independent, self-funded organization in the mold of the Salt River Project. More likely, it will continue to rot in the sun with the occasional spritz of air freshener by the governor's PR hacks, shovel of dirt by the Legislature, and gnawing at the bones by the Transportation Board. The legal buzzards will continue to circle, and folks like Mr. Braunstein will render the carcass into their personal tallow at the expense of the taxpayers.

The ADOT horse is dead. It's time to dismount.
Richard Anthony, Phoenix

A thrilling tale of cronyism: I want to commend you on your well-written article on ADOT contract awarding. Normally I would not read such an article, but you made it "a thriller" through your craft, and I look forward to the next episode. As a retired consultant having been involved in competing for government awards, I am only too familiar with "cronyism" and tolerated it, fearing being blacklisted. Keep up the great investigative journalism.
Berny Rasch, Paradise Valley

Don't forget the arts: Looks like more Arizona graft. After over 45 years in the state, I left the smog, traffic, heat (minimum lows ever increasing), housing with red tile roofs and shaking hands across the five-foot space between houses and 10-foot back yards, and watering to keep anything alive -- and did I mention dust storms? And I forgot the pink underwear and Third World treatment by Sheriff Joe. Who needs any more reasons to get the hell out of the Phoenix area?

Of course, you still have the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Zoo, and the ASU sports losers!
Dick Obst, Eugene, Oregon

Not It

Fluff piece: Tag, you're It Girl! After reading the story about Katie Rose ("It Girl," Megan Irwin, May 25), I have to say that a part of my heart broke for the city. Is there really so little going on here that there is room for this horribly biased fluff piece? It was all about sex, drugs and drugs -- fuck rock 'n' roll. Is this what the press considers newsworthy these days?

Katie Rose is one of many people in Phoenix who make things exciting, but no single person can do that alone. Calling her the pinnacle of the city's artistic and musical movement is quite overdramatic. Shake! at The Rogue is an awesome night, and I think everyone should go check it out and have one of Katie Rose's amazing cocktails. I actually feel sorry for any backlash that article might cause her. Regardless of the fact that she says none of the gossip hurts her, I'm sure it still stings when people read the article and laugh, wondering why this is even in the paper.
Jonny Noir, Phoenix

It's all about me: I am beyond irked by the immense irrelevance of the It Girl. Interesting would be a feature on the CIA tagging homeless dude, or a story on all of the corruption in the Tempe City Council, or the rise of neo-fascists like the Minutemen, or Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas' war on immigrants. Hell, an article on me would suffice. So, if you would like to do an article on the plight of a 23-year-old college chick who works at a comic book shop, let me know! I promise to have real problems.
Catherine Marr, Tempe

Not icon-worthy: That was one of the worst articles I've sifted through. Katie Rose is a nice girl, but no icon. Arizona doesn't need a coked-out ex-porn-star wanna-be rocker burnout as its faux celebrity. All of that aside, the writing in this was juvenile at best. The author sounded like some 13-year-old Green Day fan with a crush. I can't believe someone along the way didn't say anything.
Elizabeth Shaw, Tempe

Glamour slammer: I suppose you could say I have some ambivalence toward the article that was written about Katie Rose. To be honest, I was sickened by the glamorization of a very young woman addicted to drugs, and a lifestyle that is equally destructive. It's not "cool" or "glamorous." Why wouldn't people pay attention to her? She's a tower of big red sex on a stick, and screams, "I'M FUCKED UP." Who would give her a second look if she didn't attract so much attention to herself? I guess maybe we all want attention, even me, who stands only five feet tall, but who is pretty awesome as far as looks and personality go, depending on your taste.

After reading the story, the thought did cross my mind that I might just be jealous. But I'm generally not a jealous girl when it comes to other women. I admire those who deserve it. I also thought about my own life and all the things I have done and who I could have been, and how they rival Katie's woes.

So what makes her so fucking special? She's nice and sweet? A lot of people are. What about her tattoos? We all have them. It has got to be the big red hair. No. I think fucked-up people attract fucked-up people. And that is exactly what you will find at The Rogue or any other bar in any other city or town on any given night (unless you are European). This fascination we have with this ridiculous image of cocaine chic has really got to stop. It is not cool on any level. This superficial shit does not make us who we are. Those brats and pricks with their big hair think they know it all, but in reality they would be a lot cooler if they weren't trying so hard to be so different.

I am not completely heartless, though. I hope Miss Katie Rose makes some fucking great music worth listening to. After all, that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Elise Tate, Phoenix

Everyone's a Critic

Stephen's rib: I've been reading New Times for years and, well, enough is enough with this so-called food critic, Stephen Lemons ("Guinea Piggery," June 1). I honestly have a headache right now. Sure, it can be fun to read his overdramatic, silly, self-praising and catty articles -- much in the same way it's fun to watch the queens on Queer Eye. But much like watching those haughty queens, after a while, eventually one has to say, "Enough!" I mean, can any of the readers really tolerate his incredible arrogance? Yes, I realize he's a critic, so by nature he needs to be somewhat arrogant, but this guy is annoyingly arrogant. Plus, he just plain gets it wrong so many times. Maybe he should have gone to culinary school instead of taking those creative writing classes at the Learning Annex.

Here's a mistake from a recent issue: "I found the rib eye disappointing as well. Curtiss trims the cut to make it look like a filet, and in doing so, removes all that juicy fat and flavor."

Okay, listen up, oh Holy One. What you got was an actual rib eye steak -- the real deal. You see, when you trim away all of the fat from a rib steak, you are left with the rib eye. Yes, it looks like a well-marbled filet. If you wanted all the juicy fat, you shouldn't have ordered the rib eye. I think that you were looking for a rib steak, commonly called a Delmonico steak or prime rib (when roasted).

Of course, most people mistakenly refer to the Delmonico steak as a rib eye, but you're not most people, Stephen. You're a food critic. You really should know your cuts of meat -- especially considering that you are the epitome of foodie arrogance. I read your reviews only so I can laugh at your verbiage; I'll never be swayed one way or the other by a guy who makes so many factual errors.

Please put away the thesaurus and buy some cookbooks.
Karen Blodgett, Chandler

You don't know our copy girl: I am sure that Stephen Lemons does not really exist. That is to say, at New Times you folks must draw straws to see who is going to get a free lunch for the effort of putting out a bit of satire. "Lemons'" notion that he (or she, depending on who wins the pool that week) is doing a public service by eating for free in restaurants that are just getting started, and then telling the public if they should go or not, is ridiculous. Unless he is reviewing a new Burger King, the nature of restaurants starting out, almost by definition, is that they will be inconsistent. So Lemons goes in, has a great time, says, "Hey, you all should get down there." Of course, there is an excellent chance that the next meal won't be that good. Now the public was misled, and the restaurant gets more black eyes than it would have gotten without the extra publicity. If Ms. or Mr. Lemons has a mediocre experience, which may have been this restaurant's worst night ever, the public and the restaurant owner are once again simply being abused. Privately owned restaurants simply need time to get established. Real diners know that and can tell which restaurants deserve another visit and which ones may not. That is part of the excitement of fine dining, and if you can't afford to play, you should stick to McDonald's. But under no circumstances should anyone listen to one person's critique of a new restaurant, even if the copy girl is chosen to be that week's food critic.
Greg Brownell, Phoenix

Last Hip-Hop Hurrah

No static at all: So the hip-hop radio station "Power 92" is going away ("Power Failure," May 18)? Right on! This is the best piece of news I have ever read in New Times. Even though I do not listen to that station, I resent even having to tune through it while surfing. Regardless of the fact that the Mormons are behind the switch, a blow has been struck for intelligence on the Phoenix radio scene. News and talk radio on the crystal-clear FM band? Yes sir, and yes ma'am! I can hardly wait until September 1 when a silent but collective cheer will go up in the local radio-listening community. The only tragic part is that current 92.3 listeners probably won't stay tuned to the new format. Oh, well, we've all heard the old saying before: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Thank you, KTAR, for bringing us this new oasis.
Bill Summers, Glendale

Distant Relations

The Nazi's copy was always late: I can't believe the culturally insensitive, racist crap that hides as free speech in your weekly column "Ask a Mexican." Why not a column called "Ask a Nazi"? The damage Gustavo Arellano does to Mexican-American relations will not be undone.
Stephen D. Saulka, Glendale

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