TRACKING THE PROBLEM

Light-rail problems stem from mismanagement: Troubling story by Sarah Fenske on problems with the new light-rail system. A lot of these problems are caused by the tight economy, but others result from just plain mismanagement.

I've ridden the trains regularly for a couple of months now and have never been asked for my ticket. The story points out that homeless people are hanging out in the trains, and I've seen plenty of this. I'm sure they ride all day and never get asked for a ticket. This will happen more in the summer months.

Why were the transit stations designed like they are? Why aren't the ticket machines outside turnstiles so that honest people, at least, will pay to play? Taxpayers spent millions upon millions on this system, and I doubt many people even buy tickets to ride.
Joseph Rosales, Phoenix

Andrew Ayers has it all figured out: First, replace the drivers with computers (this should've been done in the beginning). Then rehire and retrain the drivers as security guards/ticket checkers/carriage maintenance people. Continue to press for a (proper) union.
Andrew L. Ayers, Glendale

Putting a "for profit" in charge was the first mistake: Of course, there are all these problems when a "for profit" company is hired to run the taxpayers' transit system! Alternate Concepts Inc. [the company Metro Light Rail hired to run the new rail system] is going to cut every corner, save every nickel possible — the public be damned!

The only thing that will change the way the trains operate in Phoenix is for somebody to file a lawsuit over the abhorrent conditions mentioned in the New Times article.
Sabina Flowers, Portland, Oregon

Privatization is at fault: Ah, the wonders of privatization! Full disclosure: I'm a former Amalgamated Transit Union member.
Mark Hendershott, Sutherlin, Oregon

Perhaps not: Does this surprise anyone?
John Schroeder, Chandler

Pissed at the union: As a light-rail operator, all I can tell you is, yeah, we're pissed — but not at ACI. We're pissed at the ATU for negotiating a contract without doing any research of other light-rail contracts. The contract being proposed is basically the bus-driver contract rewritten — and light rail is not a bus!
Name withheld

Where's the other side of the story?: Wow, what a crock! Next time, ask the majority of the train operators what they really think of ACI, and not the handful of operators interviewed for this article, who would find a reason to complain even if they were getting paid a million dollars an hour to go fishing.

Good thing the majority of operators are voting out those idiots at the ATU; this was the last parting swing by ATU officials before they leave, because they know the operators can't stand them.
Name withheld

Numerous problems with light rail: Good article. In addition to all the problems noted, have you ever listened to light-rail operators on a scanner? Literally, every few minutes, drivers are reporting problems and issues with the "mechanics" of the system. Like, "Train won't move" and "Doors won't close."
Name withheld

POKER LAW

Story downplayed key points: Paul Rubin's article made light of one of my principle defenses — that the international sport of poker is exempted within the state gambling law as a bona fide business whose transactions are valid under the law of contracts, ARS 13-3301.

He also neglected to mention the Web site of our professional guild, icgpa.org. A visit to the site will help explain why we have been in business since 2005 without so much as a warning from any bona fide police agency or prosecuting authority.

At our Web site, one can also discover some of the reasons that the new head of the gambling police, Mark Brnovich, is being forced to go shopping for a prosecutor to handle a criminal case against me.

As he should have mentioned at some point, I took extraordinary measures years ago to establish a lack of intent (a critical element in criminal prosecutions). We went directly to prosecutors and challenged their authority over our sport, and to this day, we have never received any indication that we could be violating the law.

It is not correct that I want unfettered poker rooms all over the state. To the contrary, the International Card and Game Players Association has been in discussions for over a year to craft legislation and oversight for the sport of poker. We have a plan to open arenas in partnership with local government to ensure the safety of the players and the community.

As for the comment that my view regarding the Indians is paternalistic, I contend that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is the paternalistic one. Actually, my view is that the entire reservation system is nothing but systemic racial segregation and apartheid.

We do not see [the Indians] as children, like the government maintains; we see them as future business partners.
Harold Lee, executive director,ICGPA, Tombstone

Poker Nation owner clears up two issues: Thanks to Paul Rubin for such a well-written article on off-reservation poker in Arizona. There were two moderately significant factual errors that I noticed. Harold Lee is not charging 15 percent of the profits for his so-called "charter." He is charging a crippling 15 percent of the gross revenues.

The second error was that the Arizona Department of Gaming did not find that Club Royale was making $550 an hour off of one table; that was ADOG's estimate of what was made off of the entire room, with (I believe) six tables going at once. Even casinos, with their exorbitant "rake," don't make $550 an hour off of one table.

Thanks for the great coverage of what we do here, and I hope that some of your readers will come and check us out!
Christine Korza, Poker Nation, Phoenix

The federal government is the paternalistic one: I agree with Harold Lee that poker should be allowed by the state. What a waste of taxpayer money to go after him for his poker rooms!

And, come on, why should Native Americans have this cash cow exclusively anymore? Must we as a nation continue to feel guilt about the Indians after all these decades? Must we push out even small poker rooms so that the tribes can enjoy their monopoly?

You accuse Lee of being paternalistic toward the Indians when it's really the federal government that's guilty of that.
Peter King, Tucson

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