Lemons' Bird-related alliterations may have been funny once, but numerous variations of the same, tired old joke week after week? Gimme a break! At the risk of being accused of plagiarism, I'll say that the sooner that moronic mallard vanishes up his avian asshole, the better!
John Rycraft, Phoenix

John, you’re so conflicted: When are these anti-immigration advocates going to wake up? Illegals and, in particular, Mexicans come here for one reason and one reason only: work. If no one was prepared to offer them work, they'd have no incentive whatsoever to come.

Spare your vitriol for those who are more than happy to employ migrants for far less than they'd have to pay Americans.

Regarding Stephen Lemons, I agree completely with the editor that The Bird is an opinion column, not an objective piece of reporting, and that Lemons is free to write whatever he wants ("Accountabilibuddies," Letters, March 29). I also have no problem with him pretending to be someone else in order to get on Darrell Ankarlo's radio show ("AnKKKarlo Pride," The Bird, March 15). Try calling that oxymoron Rush Limbaugh's show and telling them you're a liberal and see how far that gets you!

As far as the 9/11 Conference goes, however, pretending to be open-minded when you're there and then writing a complete hatchet job, which was obviously always Lemons' intention, smacks of hypocrisy ("Prevaricators Powwow," The Bird, March 1).
John Rycraft, Phoenix

Smoked

Questions aplenty:Regarding your story "The Fire Inside" (Sarah Fenske, March 15), former Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini provided remarkable leadership that created what is acknowledged as one of the finest fire departments in the country.

He brought leading-edge services to the community at less cost than in virtually any other metropolitan city in the country. The citizens of Phoenix were well-served by this man. I know; I'm a Phoenix firefighter.

Brunacini was all about quality service. He cared little about power or politics. New Chief Bob Khan, on the other hand, is all about power and politics. His efforts to kill the king (Brunacini), remove all Brunacini family members from the department, and isolate any chief officer that was closely associated with Brunacini prove it. But Khan's efforts to erase Chief Brunacini's legacy are only a minor part of the story.

The real question for Phoenix taxpayers is how much union control over the fire department and city politics they will accept — and how much they are ready to pay.

The firefighters union, United Firefighters Local 493, "owns" the Phoenix City Council. It also own the mayor's office. It has considerable influence with Governor Janet Napolitano. The mayor's chief of staff was hired from the union headquarters.

New Times' article correctly alluded to the fact that the union basically told Khan that he had the chief's job if he would bend to union demands. The union wants total control, and they are out to get it.

The ethics of current union president Billy Shields and former president Pat Cantelme also come under question. They seem to be in the newspapers a lot recently — and they are generally associated with questionable activities.

Union president Cantelme (unbeknown to the membership) took $2.5 million from Bob Ramsey to be a partner in Ramsey's company, PMT Ambulance. Ramsey bought him for his political connections.

Cantelme never revealed this payment to the union membership while he was president. This arrangement was revealed by New Times after he left office. The hypocritical aspect is that PMT is a nonunion company. Why any union member would support this guy is a puzzle.

Cantelme and Ramsey got an ambulance contract from the city of Scottsdale using questionable "giveaways" to the city. He used his union ties with the Chandler Fire Department to split the city in half between PMT and the existing Southwest Ambulance. That concept returns to the way ambulance services operated decades ago.

Even the Arizona Department of Health Services (which regulates ambulance services) expressed concern about both the Scottsdale and Chandler contracts.

Billy Shields comes under question also. Shields was the chair of the 9/11 Memorial committee that allowed distasteful and unpatriotic quotes to be engraved on the memorial on the state Capitol grounds ("Shrine Whine," The Bird, October 5, 2006). He and Cantelme used their influence with the governor's office to eliminate any competition in their efforts to form a student loan company. Again, questionable ethics.

Billy Shields is a union thug. Cantelme picked him as his replacement at the union. These two men are going to influence how the Phoenix Fire Department operates. All indicators are that the department's performance will be weakened and controlled to the detriment of the community. And taxpayers are going to pay for it.
Name withheld by request

Loco motives:I read "Backdraft" (Sarah Fenske, also March 15) and the related article, "The Fire Inside," with great amusement. I'm not a regular reader of New Times, but I was told that there was an article that quoted Chris Medrea as a reliable source. I have known Chris for years, and to say that he's an inefficient, incapable egomaniac is a compliment.

On another note, Steve Hart represents the company that is competing with Pat Cantelme for ambulance service. What is his incentive to speak honestly about Pat Cantelme or Billy Shields? It seems that the article would have benefited greatly by simply spending a little time checking the credibility and motives of those cited.
Name withheld by request

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