By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Candy Nobody Wants
Coward of the county: Funny column by The Bird on Andy Thomas. I can't believe this guy was cowering inside his office under armed guards during the peaceful pro-illegal-immigration march ("Candy Thomas," July 20). He's truly clueless about the people he hates.
I still can't believe he's married to a Latina. How can he be so intolerant of Mexicans? Does his wife even read English? Has she not read of all the atrocities he is committing against our heritage?
Elias Bermudez, executive director of Immigrants Without Borders, got it right: Thomas definitely has a "phobia." And so do a lot of other white-breads in Phoenix. Which is why Thomas is able to get away with his blatantly racist tactics.
This illegal-immigration bugaboo is a big deal to a lot of white people here in Arizona, and I'm sure Thomas plans to use it to try to get elected to higher office someday. He would fall in a long line of racist politicians in this state.
Thank you, New Times, for never letting Thomas off the hook. For never missing an opportunity to remind everybody that Thomas is either playing racial politics or a much more dangerous game (at least where Latinos are concerned). Because he is smarter, I think he is a bigger menace in this state than senile Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Elias Valenzuela, Phoenix
Minuteman in a suit: "Candy Andy." You said it! What a chicken.
To hear him tell it, he's a big, bad, Minuteman-type guy. Yet he's afraid to face the people he torments. I, for one, would have loved to see some of the Latinos he's always criticizing get in his face at his office.
Why doesn't he speak before an assemblage of Arizona Mexican-Americans to explain why he has made Mexican-hating first on his agenda as county attorney? Probably because his throng of armed guards wouldn't be able to protect him. Many of us are getting tired of turning the other cheek only to be considered violent anyway by the likes of Candy Thomas.
It was poetic justice that he lost the cases against those two undocumented workers who hardly fit the definition of the "coyote" law. Thanks to Judge Thomas O'Toole for having some integrity. It was a refreshing change around here.
Name withheld by request
The response was inappropriate: I would like to thank The Bird for finally letting the public know what the overwhelming majority of the so-called inappropriate e-mails at the Mesa Police Department really contained ("Molehill Mountain," The Bird, July 13).
Ever since the e-mail scandal was leaked to the mainstream media, it was made to appear that porn was being forwarded from one employee to the next. I believe the total number of actual pornographic e-mails was fewer than 10. The majority of the rest were e-mails seen by anybody with an e-mail account at work or at home, and the majority of those were sent during breaks and not on city time as suggested by the "fair and accurate" daily newspaper reporters.
The city's 10-year-old e-mail policy was in place at the time of the investigation, and many of the so-called inappropriate e-mails were actually allowed. It wasn't until after the investigation that a new policy was written.
The real story is how the whole thing even came to light and how the city handled it once the press became involved.
Name withheld by request
Jocularity-challenged: I don't think it's so much that we have lost our sense of humor at the office as it is that our sense of humor has gone underground. The political-correctness cops these days are as powerful as the old KGB in the Soviet Union. People are indeed afraid of getting sent to employment Siberia if they offend.
But The Bird is right that some sanity needs to return to the workplace. If workers live in fear of being cited for passing along a funny (albeit bawdy) e-mail, then they aren't going to be very happy campers. It follows that people hate their jobs nowadays.
What the Mesa Police Department needs to ensure is that employees do their jobs. People's lives depend on it, and nobody will care if an officer looked at a half-naked girl over the Internet at police headquarters if he saves a kid's life in the line of duty. Please, Mesa city officials, get a grip!
Tim Newcomb, via the Internet
A Big Stew
Arrogant ownership: Please do not play the sob story about Ajo Al's ("Panic Attack," Sarah Fenske, July 13). The owner is one of the most arrogant sons of bitches in the industry. His refusal to correct repeat violations and "screw-you" attitude has led to his demise. To boot, his sons, who run some of his restaurants, aren't educated in the restaurant profession.
M.C. Johnson, Phoenix
A proud employee: As a tenured employee at Ajo Al's on 16th Street and Camelback, I'd like to thank New Times and Sarah Fenske for putting together and publishing the "Panic Attack" article.
Having worked in the restaurant industry for nearly a decade, I've had the unsavory experience of working at corporate restaurants. I've been employed at places where I was simply a payroll number to a front office full of drones. At Ajo Al's, it's about quality and personal service.
When several Valley media outlets began publishing Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' reports, our entire staff was confused and dismayed. Our personal incomes, because of the severe drop-off in business, suffered incredibly. I've had to take on a second job since the debacle.
Immediately after the story broke, the Dainses, who own the restaurants, reassured us that they would take a firm stance against the allegations. I'm proud to work at Ajo Al's. If my co-workers and I felt that we were passing harmful substances to guests, we certainly wouldn't work there, no matter how happy we were.
Name withheld by request
School of hard knocks: About your article on the Pappas Schools ("Flunk'd," Sarah Fenske, June 29), first let me say that I'm not a school administrator, employee or anyone acting in an official capacity for the Pappas School or for the Maricopa Regional School District. I'm a retired police officer who spent 27 years working in a large city. After retiring, I moved to Phoenix. A year ago, I became involved at Pappas as a classroom volunteer and mentor.
I don't know who is to blame for the current budget crisis or for the other issues that surround the district. If there is wrongdoing, I hope that an investigation brings everything to light and any guilty parties are dealt with accordingly. What I do care about is the kids at Pappas and their stake in what has become a political issue driven by people who I believe have agendas not related to the education of children.
I, too, was touched when I saw the clothing room, and the medical facilities, and heard about all the "great things" Pappas provides its student population. I signed up on the spot and later reached out to one special child through the mentor program.
What goes on in the classrooms at Pappas is truly amazing as overworked, undersupplied and underpaid teachers work to bring education to kids who often have little or no prior experience with formal education. These kids don't come to Pappas straight from kinder-care or Montessori, they come from such places as the Flamingo Hotel or the Salvation Army Shelter. For many children, Pappas is the first school they've attended for any length of time. I think even the experts would tell you that stable, consistent education is the key to learning, and that children who cannot get this are going to have a hard time succeeding in life.
One of the big expenses at Pappas is the bus system. If the kids move, the buses find them and bring them back to their island of safety and security. It's not uncommon for a child to have his or her bus route changed while at school because parents have been forced to move during the day. I don't believe that any other school or school district could provide this critical service to such children.
One of the main points that experts argue is whether the children at Pappas can be mainstreamed, and if this would improve their chances for success. I believe that there are children at Pappas who would do well in a regular school environment. But there are kids who, if forced into a regular classroom environment, would simply disappear from the system. These kids have special needs. We all know how cruel children can be, and a child who has not showered for days, and is wearing the same clothing on Friday that he was wearing on Monday, cannot be expected to learn while being subjected to scorn from classmates.
You also argue that the teachers at Pappas are somehow subpar. This is pure fiction. Are there teachers at Pappas with provisional credentials? Sure, but the same conditions exist at almost any inner-city school. For the most part, you couldn't find a more seasoned, dedicated, caring and hardworking group of teachers than at Pappas. These teachers not only do their best to educate kids who often have no tools or background to equip them for the rigors of the classroom, but they also serve as mentors and social workers. If the kids at Pappas test low, it's likely a product of where they come from or the lack of value placed on education by their parents. It could be the simple fact that the kids haven't gone to school much.
I have stayed long enough at Pappas to find out that there is good work being done there that goes beyond the fluff. As a retired police officer, I can tell you that we either pay the price now to keep places like Pappas open, or we pay the price later. Without help, uneducated and misfit children will extract a toll from society as they get older.
Milt Dodge, Phoenix
Strong beliefs: I feel very sad that you think the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practices what the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preaches ("It Practices What They Preach," John Dougherty, May 25).
That is your opinion, and I won't say you cannot write it since we have freedom of speech in this country. But I've been a member of the LDS all my life, and I know that, while you have done a lot of research, you haven't done enough.
This church loves its children more than I can describe, and it wouldn't put them in harm's way. We base our beliefs on Christ's teachings, and he wouldn't allow the harming of children.
We don't practice polygamy in the mainstream church any longer because we were commanded not to do so by the Heavenly Father; it isn't just because the law demanded it. When we did practice polygamy a long time ago, we didn't allow our daughters to marry very young. We protected them until they were grown.
Do your homework better, and you will find that we help many people everywhere. But, more important, you will find that we do practice what we preach.
JeriLynn Chapman, Mesa