By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
UP IN FLAMES
And while we're talking stupidity . . .: Ray Stern's story on the fire at Young Champions of America headquarters in Phoenix appears to be a tale of a "gang that couldn't shoot straight" and of misguided revenge.
But it's also about how an individual apparently manipulated his friends (who may not have been that savvy) into helping him carry out a crime. From your story, it looks as if Jonathan Antonucci persuaded Josh Robinson to strike that match and that he talked the other two — who had no visible stake in any of it — into participating.
And while we're talking about stupidity, Jon may have been smarter than the others, but how could anybody think they wouldn't get caught setting such a stupid fire? Even if he hadn't been so foolishly at the scene, he would have been the cops' number-one suspect in any arson, because of his long history of defrauding Young Champions and his firing.
Also, his alleged reasoning that they could just burn up evidence against him and Robinson and [at the same time] eliminate the competition to his future karate studio is truly something a 19-year-old would dream up.
Jason Bundy, Mesa
Antonucci's charisma did them in: It's mentioned in your story how Jeff Otto and Moniza Murrillo had nothing to gain from hooking up with Jonathan Antonucci, and this is true. But neither did Josh Robinson. From what I read in the story, it seems apparent that they were taken in by the persuasive Antonucci.
Give Antonucci the maximum: This article by Ray Stern gets to the bottom of what happened. Through Stern's extensive research and interviews, it should now be clear to all what transpired.
There is no doubt that Jon Antonucci is a habitual, conniving liar who will say anything to save himself. He has no remorse for Josh Robinson or the others he conned into this scheme. He ruined their lives and tried to take down Young Champions for his own greedy benefit. He deserves the maximum.
The real Antonucci is exposed: A very well-written article! It shows who Jon really is: a liar, a cheat, and a cold-hearted man. I believe in our system, and I know he will get what he deserves.
How about some credit for her man?: With all due respect to [my husband's] boss, Chef Michael DiMaria, you never once mention my husband's name in your review [of Mid City Kitchen]
Chef Scottie Bissell is the driving force and creator of the wonderful food that you and your co-workers enjoyed. It would be terrific if you would in some way acknowledge his role at Mid City Kitchen.
Lisa Bissell, Phoenix
A few words about arts and culture: It doesn't seem that the writer of this article did much research. If she had, she would have found that not just Metro Phoenix Partnership for the Arts and Culture has been involved in this effort [to institute an arts tax]. Many people (both inside and outside the arts and cultural community) have been involved for a number of years in careful and responsible preparation for this initiative.
Thanks to the leadership of the business and foundation community, it was possible to learn a great deal about the impact that arts and culture have in Arizona and that citizens view arts and culture to be important in their lives and in the lives of their children.
Arts and culture create an environment that attracts highly skilled workers to our state and have a huge impact on the state's economy through the employment of hundreds of arts-and-culture workers who pay taxes. [Also, there are] the many purchases made locally by arts-and-culture organizations.
Isn't this a good thing?
It has been proved that children involved in the arts do better in school and, with the severe cuts that our schools are facing, arts organizations are providing creative activities that many schools can no longer provide themselves.
The initiative isn't about subsidizing existing programs. It will truly be transformative for organizations across the state and will serve many more Arizonans with free and low-cost access to arts-and-culture activities not possible now.
Jessica Andrews, Tucson
Editor's note: Citing the ongoing state budget crisis, MPAC decided not to seek a sales-tax increase for the arts on the November ballot.
No chance in this economy: This is a tax in a bad economy. This is a bad idea right now. I love the idea of more funding for the arts, but pigs will fly before Arizona voters pass this tax during this economy.
Also, MPAC just theorizes that arts and culture will bring more businesses and highly skilled workers to the state. It was not able to prove [the theory] beyond pointing to Austin and Seattle — cities that had large arts-and-culture populations for years before they saw the payoff.
Does MPAC theorize how long Arizona will have to wait? Also, who else would this initiative serve but existing organizations? And who decides which organization gets what?