Feedback from the issue of Thursday, July 31, 2008
MYSTERIES OF DEATH
Girl's demise will stick in the mind: What a gruesome yet fascinating article about the "unidentifieds." It's truly a mystery where some of these people came from. Wonder why, after all these years, somebody didn't claim that beautiful young girl's body. It shows what cruelty goes on in our world ("Cold Case," Paul Rubin, July 17).
That somebody just dies at a young age and nobody (not a mother, father, brother, sister, husband, cousin, boyfriend, friend) cares enough to contact authorities is really tragic.
Corpse 99-305 will stick in my mind for a long time.
This was another excellent research job by reporter extraordinaire Paul Rubin. His stories about crime and those who labor inside the macabre world of death and violence (i.e., coroner lady Suzi Dodt) are always a perverse pleasure to read.
Rick Carey, Phoenix
Also working to solve mystery: Thank you so much for doing this story. There are many of us working on trying to find out who 99-305 is. We now call her Maricopa Jane Doe (MJD).
We are just common folk who are interested in finding out who the unidentifieds are so they can have at least a name on their grave marker or so their loved ones can finally know what happened.
We have a complete thread at websleuths.com/forums under Maricopa Jane Doe. Please check out our research.
Marsha Gourley, Yuma
Best wishes in the afterlife: "Cold Case," indeed! The family of that young girl [99-305] is [made up of] cold-blooded monsters. Either that, or they all died in some kind of terrible tragedy, and she was left all alone in the world. Maybe she met up again with somebody (anybody!) who loved her in the afterlife.
Julia Johnstone, Prescott
Ready for prime time: This was a great story, and if Paul Rubin lived in Hollywood, they would be asking him to write a treatment for a movie or TV show about Suzi Dodt and her line of work. What a slice of life!
Mark Brooks, Phoenix
And "pond scum" is being kind: Ray Stern wrote a brilliant profile of Mesa Police Chief Paul Gascón ("Staredown," July 10), and it really made me long for a more civilized place, where Sheriff's Office forces aren't allowed to maraud through our communities.
And this is only about Sheriff Joe Arpaio getting TV publicity for his re-election campaign. I don't believe he gives a hoot about ridding the county of illegal aliens. He didn't even get involved in the issue until he saw what a political boon it would be among the uneducated voters (his obvious fan base) around here.
All he's about is opportunism. He has no real values. No decency.
And what about the massive cost in these hard [economic] times? How can he justify spending money on this and let serious criminals roam free (with all the warrants he doesn't take the time to serve, because he's so busy feathering his political nest)?
It's our money, sheriff! Though I keep seeing you on TV talking about "my" money this and "my" money that. ("Why you . . . Don't you know I'm the sheriff? Nobody tells me what to do!") Not even the governor; certainly not the mayor of Phoenix. Not even higher law enforcement authorities who haven't the backbone to get into a legal knockdown with this tyrant.
Bring on Democrat Dan Saban. He's a decent, honorable man, and a professional police officer, like Chief Gascón. It's not because Joe Arpaio's old that he must go (a lot of us aren't spring chickens anymore); it's because he's pond scum.
Jana Fitzgerald, Phoenix
Joe is on the right side of this issue: I like New Times, but I'm absolutely flabbergasted by the myopic view concerning the Mesa illegal-immigrant sweeps.
If Gascón won a "staredown" with Joe, then why, only a week after the sweeps, did Mesa require its officers to determine the residency of arrestees?
Why did Gascón (by his own admission) have far too many police officers to control the small group of protesters during the sweeps? About 130 officers for 70 to 100 protesters?
Why did the Mesa PD first come out and say it wasn't going to investigate anti-Joe graffiti, yet reverse itself the next day and say that, because Arpaio's an elected official, it would investigate?
Because Sheriff Joe, for all his rhetoric and bravado, is on the right side of this issue. He is in line with the majority of Maricopa County voters when he throws out the net to catch illegal immigrants.
And he is right when he says Mesa is becoming a haven for illegals and the criminal element. In my 15 years in Phoenix, I've seen Mesa go from a nice bedroom community to a dangerous place that I visit only when absolutely necessary. Seems like more than half of the violent news stories in the Valley come from Mesa.
And Mesa residents should be mad — the law-abiding ones, at least. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gascón fired soon if he doesn't start falling in line with public opinion.
I know New Times has an anti-Joe agenda. I realize that being a politically slanted organization, much like Fox News (but leaning in a different direction), that probably won't change. But stories like this one that obviously fly in the face of the facts aren't doing any service to either your publication or the anti-Joe forces.
Ken Ferrell, Scottsdale
Editor's note: The previous letter and the one following originally appeared online after the "Staredown" story.
Firing back at Ken Ferrell: The "staredown" description, while mildly hyperbolic, is essentially accurate.
Arpaio had previously engaged in a war of words in the media, criticizing Gascón's policies and approach, and asserting his preeminent authority to do as he wished, without proper notification or coordination, despite the expressed wishes of the local chief of police and in violation of professional protocol and courtesy.
Arpaio also had planned to take control of events from a local command post. Instead, when Gascón's show of force established Mesa PD's control of the area and its supervision of events, Arpaio became flustered and retreated to downtown Phoenix, where he angrily denounced Gascón for daring to intervene.
That's as close to a "staredown" as a figurative expression can get. It's also interesting to note the effect that Mesa PD's supervision had on the usual assortment of armed right-wing protesters and provocateurs. When they saw (or, more likely, heard beforehand) that their usual antics were not going to be tolerated and that protesters would be assigned to segregated, carefully monitored areas, they didn't show.
Also, as far as overkill is concerned, don't forget that the Mesa PD expected on the order of 400 protesters, but when only a handful of anti-immigration activists came, that greatly reduced the numbers.
As for changes in Mesa PD's policy, they were dictated by Mesa's deeply conservative mayor and other city leaders. Ask them why the policy was changed. My theory is that they needed a bone to throw to the reactionaries who called to complain after Gascón opted for public safety instead of the usual circus that constitutes the Joe Show.
As for the graffiti flip-flop, Mesa's initial "so what?" was natural enough, but later it probably decided that if anything ever did happen, Uncle Joe would try to tie it to the "anti-Joe" graffiti and blame Mesa officials for irresponsibility in failing to investigate. They put political pragmatism ahead of normal procedure.
About Mesa's becoming a "haven for illegals and the criminal element," it seems two separate issues are being conflated. Because most of the crimes committed in Mesa, as Stern's article clearly shows, aren't committed by illegals.
So, if you're really concerned about crime in Mesa, then you ought to be agitating to have limited law enforcement resources assigned to the biggest problems first, where they can do the most good.
The biggest problem isn't otherwise law-abiding cooks and tree-trimmers, whose biggest crime is being here illegally and driving a jalopy with dirty plates, but instead drug dealers, burglars, robbers, rapists, and other violent criminals.
No doubt some of these are also illegals, but not most of them and, besides, Joe's "sweeps" aren't targeting that criminal element; they're targeting random brown-skinned people. If he manages to pull in a few serious criminals with outstanding warrants that way, it's by luck only.
So exactly how does Stern's story "fly in the face of the facts"? Which facts, and why? Contrary to diminishing New Times, this story is yet another feather in its cap. And if the paper has an anti-Joe agenda, it's because his behavior warrants it. He's a major public official with a lot of power and he and his deputies abuse that power on a regular basis, sometimes heinously.
You ought to be congratulating New Times for its civic spirit in doggedly exposing this.
Emil Pulsifer, Phoenix
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