Coulda been a contender: What an astounding resemblance between Phoenix wrestler Billy Graham and Hulk Hogan ("Death Star," Gregory Pratt, March 31). No wonder Graham went crazy over the years thinking about what should've been: "I coulda been a contender."
The prudish old man [Vince McMahon Sr.] cost Graham mega-millions, which he would've blown, I guess, just like Hogan did. All it takes is one pissed-off wife.
New Times feedback
Your story was interesting in that it didn't fawn over "Superstar," but put him in human terms. As the story noted, he is much like the character from the movie The Wrestler — only, I think, more so.
The toll that the pro wrestling life took on Graham personally is what this story is all about. If you live in that insane world long enough, your whole life becomes a "work."
Greg Mendez, Tucson
Coulda been a movie: Too bad the movie The Wrestler already has been made, because this is movie material, for sure. Wait a few years and submit it. Hollywood forgets in a hurry. Sheesh, they're already remaking Arthur, which was bad enough the first two times they made it.
Seriously, though, there's an Academy Award in it for the actor who nails the "Superstar" Billy Graham character. Jeez, Superstar proves that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Sarah McMillan, Los Angeles
Few bigger scumbags than Graham: Good reporting on a lousy, loathsome man. "Superstar" Graham is sterile, but he still has sizable stones.
After the defamatory lies Graham told about Pat Patterson, Graham had the gonads to sue innocent ambulance drivers and a museum. Graham made the McMahons look good, and perhaps they are.
Vince McMahon gave Graham work after Graham lied to a national TV audience about witnessing a sex crime in McMahon's company.
Scumbags rarely come bigger than Superstar. His inflated ego is bigger than his pythons ever were.
Wayne Diamond, city unavailable
Garbage like Graham?: The BS started in pro wrestling when it became less about how you could work in the ring and more about whether you have the "right look." Vince McMahon Jr. uses people and then throws them away like last week's garbage.
Terry Callen, city unavailable
All about taking responsibility: This article should be required reading for all fifth-graders, with the moral of the story being that each of us is 100 percent responsible for each and every decision we make.
Personally, I think this knucklehead Billy Graham can't be swept off the planet fast enough. He has earned each and every second of his miserable existence.
Jon Came, city unavailable
Billy mistreated Greg Price: The black-and-white action figure in question is not bootleg, nor illegal. It was made by Jakks Pacific and WWE as a special-edition exclusive.
I've met Mr. Graham a number of times and found him cordial, but his treatment of Mr. Greg Price, as mentioned in the article, was repulsive. Mr. Price is a man of character.
Josh Watco, city unavailable
God bless Valerie: Steroids or not, this guy is a piece of shit. The only one I feel for is his wife, Valerie. God bless her; I don't know how she has endured the last 34 years with this guy.
Jim Collins, city unavailable
Human side of wrestling: A very interesting article from the world of professional wrestling. The reporter gave a close-up window in which to catch a glimpse of the real and human side of pro wrestling.
Kay Anderson, city unavailable
Get the feds involved: I believe that the Federal Transit Administration has a duty to us taxpayers to look into what has happened here ("Veolia Gets Free Pass," Monica Alonzo, March 31).
Public agencies have been claiming poverty for too long while at the same time awarding fat contracts to companies that can also fatten the pockets of local leaders. If anyone remembers, the city lost federal funding just a few years back for transit due to another Veolia contract. The same mayor, along with virtually the same City Council, gave Veolia a "no bid" contract, which was unlawful.
While our elected city leaders are helping their Veolia friends make millions (about a half-billion dollars here) of our taxpayer dollars, who suffers?
Well, the citizens who actually count on transit to get them to work, to get their kids to school, to help our disabled community to get out of their homes and be mobile.
It is sad, it is pathetic, and our mayor and City Council should be, at least, ashamed and, at most, thrown in jail.
Thankfully, our corrupt mayor is term-limited and will not be able to run again. However, Peggy Neely and Claude Mattox will both be seeking the mayoral seat, and they both were on the council when this Veolia fiasco played out.
I am so upset, as a taxpayer, that our city has wasted so much of our money in making their friends wealthier — while screwing over the people who elected them.
Michael L. Cornelius, Phoenix
Worst in the country: I read your story about the bus system and just had to let you know how much I appreciated it. Phoenix has the worst public transportation system I have ever seen.
I've used public transit in three major cities in this country before moving here, and I've never experienced anything like this.
It's hard to believe that they continue to contract with these people. At a time when the U.S. economy is in so much trouble, wouldn't it make more sense to keep the money at home and hire an American company? [Veolia Transportation Services is a French firm.]
I think the officials' motives for renewing this contract again and again are for some personal gain, not for the good of the community. Raising the price of tickets was a slap in face to the people who are putting up with the incompetence. Buses are often late, drivers are frequently rude, and bus seats are usually dirty. [Since this is taxpayer money], it's as if we, the public are forced to reward them for treating us like crap. Top this off with the city giving them a free pass on the fines after imposing a sales tax on groceries.
Personally, I find Arizona to be a very cold and unfriendly place, unless you have plenty of money.
I've recently waited at bus stops for as long as an hour. It is a major reason why I've been unable to find employment.
The corruption in Arizona is unbelievable, and we need people like those at New Times to keep digging and exposing the truth. Keep up the good work.
Sarah Cartier, Phoenix
City lays on the bureaucratese: I wanted to make clear to your readers that Phoenix Public Transit values its customers and the public trust, and we do not give contractors "a free pass" in regards to quality bus service.
We are implementing a prescribed plan of action for addressing contract issues, as negotiated with Veolia Transportation Services in the settlement and release agreement that was recommended by Phoenix city staff and approved by the Phoenix City Council in May 2010.
This new bus-operation contract dramatically changes the way we do business and saves money for the city and our residents. We impose liquidated damages for a variety of reasons that help us ensure buses arrive on time, are well maintained, and are clean and graffiti-free. The inclusion of liquidated damages requires our contractor to keep performance and customer service clearly in the forefront of every aspect of their work to ensure service quality. The limited moratorium on liquidated damages in the agreement was provided to allow for transition into a large and complicated new contract with detailed performance requirements.
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As we work to conclude our analysis of bus performance data, we will be invoicing Veolia Transportation Services for six months of liquidated damages retroactive to November 1, 2010. Unfortunately, the available documentation quoted by the New Times reporter contained estimates and incomplete analysis, because the exact amount of liquidated damages is yet to be finalized.
The Phoenix Public Transit Department is focused on providing cost-effective, reliable public transportation for our residents.
Debbie Cotton, Phoenix Public Transit director
How many times?: We can't make those responsible for regulating these offices do anything. We wait while they rob us blind and laugh at us behind our backs.
For instance, the judicial investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio's actions. How long has this been going on? And the Arizona Attorney General: "We don't have enough evidence." How many times have we heard that cowardly horseshit?
Walter Concrete, Phoenix