Developing Story

Guilt by association: Thank you to Robert Nelson for his January 22 story "Big Bad Developer." George Johnson should go to jail for what appears to be a long history of criminal activities associated with his big bad developments. Pinal County officials should be ashamed of themselves. If for no other reason than homeland security, they should nix the enemy George Johnson's plans to build Arizona's sixth largest city near Ironwood National Monument.

Diana Rhoades

Ranch hands: My husband and I recently bought a house in Johnson Ranch. We consider ourselves a young hip couple that tries to stay up to date with our everyday politics and community beat. After reading this article, I am ashamed to say I am not as aware as I should be. Knowing what this schmuck has pulled, not only causing damage to the underdog, but to our environment, I want to go back to our brand-new house, pack our boxes right up again, and get far away from being associated with this man. Living out on the streets seems closer to nirvana than this guy is trying to offer. Thanks for making the awareness heightened.

Name withheld by request

Porn Free

Suicide squeeze: Considering the fragile state of live music venues in the Valley, I find it downright irresponsible and stupid that Brendan Joel Kelley would choose to slam the Mason Jar's owner and local promoters over the SuicideGirls' show being moved ("Anatomy of a Fiasco," January 22). Now, maybe the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control will come sniffing around and dredge up some "violations" and we will witness another club struggling to survive. Maybe not. But this whole thing smacks of some lonely, desperate, porn-crazed soul who didn't get his fix. But I guess you have to resort to these "stories" when there's not much left to write about, even if you are biting the hand that feeds.

Phil Beach
Southbury, Connecticut

Monster Mash

First time's the charm: I agree with any review that praises the poignant film Monster ("American Girl," Gregory Weinkauf, January 15). My difficulty with the New Times review was the insight about Tom, the Vietnam veteran played by Bruce Dern, being the "only family and occasional john" of Charlize Theron's Aileen. There was nothing to indicate that the "occasional john" was a part of their relationship. The last two of the three scenes of them together specifically indicated that nothing had ever gone on between them, and it was because of this lack of a sexual dimension that he was her "only family." I know it's a small issue, but it changes the tenor of their relationship, which changes the tenor of the movie, which means the reviewer saw a different movie than the one actually presented. Which could have been easily remedied if the reviewer had seen the movie again. As an aside: Christina Ricci's character, Selby, "who's been dispatched to conservative Florida relatives," wasn't related to the people she lived with in Florida, but that's a really minor error that doesn't change our feel for the characters.

The great filmmaker Peter Kubelka said that one shouldn't talk about a film unless they've seen it 12 times (or was it 14? -- I'm going from memory). And I know that only the most obsessive movie geek or child with a new Disney video sees a movie 12 or more times. And I know most reviewers are required to make their judgments and present a critical analysis after only one viewing. And I enjoy reading and watching movie reviews, probably more than most people. Yet how much weight should we give any review or critical analysis done by an individual who has seen the movie only one time?

Mark Keith

Accidental Debt

Unanswered questions: Two lives lost in this accident? Plus lifelong injuries ("Double Hit," Amy Silverman, January 15)? The woman who hit Jennifer Morse was not injured -- and she left the hospital and no one ever saw her again?

Did she get a citation? Did she go to court?

No mention of a lawyer tracking down this person and putting a lien on her for the rest of her life?

This story should have been titled "Hit & Run."

Mac McKeever

Unjust law: I read your article about the Jennifer Morse auto accident and the wrongful way the hospital is extracting money from the auto insurance policy. I didn't know this law existed. The hospitals make their deals with the insurance companies for the reduced rate for medical cost, and to double bill the auto insurance policy is just wrong.

This law needs to be changed. Let me know what I can do. This is just another of many unfair government laws that need to be revised.

Larry Aungst
Via e-mail

It's double something: What is interesting is that the patient wants to settle her case with the insurance company on the total bill submitted and not based on the HMO and PPO contracted rate with the health-care providers. The change in the law should also specify that the settlement has to be based on the reduced rate and not on the total charges. I am sure the claimants would not like that idea. Mrs. Morse calls the hospital action double billing. I call the patient attempt to screw the health providers as double milking.

Daniel Glassman
Via e-mail

Brain Drain

What's the point?: You guys are great at exposing the lies and puncturing the overinflated egos of politicians and bureaucrats, and you perform a valuable public service in doing so. But "Brainiacs" (Jimmy Magahern, January 15) left me wondering exactly what you were trying to accomplish. What was the news value of this article? That high schools can be stratified by race, class, or degree of academic achievement? That cliques can develop among students who have much in common, and that cliques can develop stereotyped views of other cliques? That "brainy" kids are still kids, without necessarily possessing the kinds of social and interpersonal skills that we expect from adults? None of this is exactly front-page material; it sounds just like my high school experiences three decades ago. If you were trying to write a serious study of such matters, why employ such a sensationalistic approach based on a few "sound bites" and the contents of Internet chat rooms? And why attack the International Baccalaureate program, which provides students with a head start at college? The title of the article, and the accompanying artwork of a nerdy white male dismissing a group of other stock high school figures (jock, cheerleader, black guy and stoner), perpetuates tired old stereotypes without regard to the facts or the complexities of real life. Finally, what kind of journalistic courage does it take to write a hit piece on high school students doing the best they can in a system that is too often stacked against them? Save your time, energy, and sense of outrage for the Joe Arpaios and J.D. Hayworths of our fair state -- targets truly worthy of your scorn.

Tom Wright

Just the facts: Your one-sided story of IB students really stinks. I suppose you would be happier if they were out drinking beer and doing drugs. Get with it! Who do you think passes the AIMS test, scores high on the SATs and SAT-2s? Beer drinkers? Drug addicts? Get your facts straight! These students work hard to learn more. Get your facts straight! IB students get offers to universities all over the world! Get your facts straight! Many scholarships (including the Flinn) come from IB programs. The reporter on this story is the idiot nerd, not the IB students! Way to go, IB students! We're proud of the choices you have made.

Karen Griego

This just in: With all of the important and controversial issues in Phoenix, why would you pick the IB student story for your front page? Why was it written at all? The article was about as interesting as those fillers they put on the 10 o'clock news, such as "Is your kitchen floor making you sick?"

Jimmy, kids have always been in cliques. Honor students hang with honor students, jocks with jocks, goths with goths. Only a few exceptionally mature and thoughtful young people expand their horizons. Even adults have a hard time breaking out of their niches. Construction workers hang with construction workers, New Times writers probably hang with other creative types. When was the last time you had a high school dropout sanitation worker to your house for a beer? Do you regularly entertain any elderly Republicans?

Every single high school student is trying to navigate the complex societal landscape that is America today. Why would you, an adult, go out of your way to stir up trouble for 16-year-old kids who are just trying to develop their talents?

Mary Huson

Social distortion: I am a sophomore IB student at North Canyon High School. I read your article, and though I believe that it is mostly correct, I think that you left out a few things, resulting in the IB program seeming like a special society of snobs. First, the fact that IB kids do not get any new friends has very much to do with the time that we do not have to socialize. The reason we do not sit with the other kids at lunch is because we use that time to do our homework, and that is something that most regular kids cannot do with us. Also, I have kept myself from having any prejudices toward the non-IB kids. I actually wish that I could be a non-IB kid, because the social life that they have is much better than mine. There are also many other points that I would like to mention, but I do not want to seem too wordy.

Dan Thomson

Equal opportunity enjoyers: Characterizing the North High School International Baccalaureate program as "elitist" defies social reality. The IB program, originally required by a federal court as a remedy for segregation, is profoundly about equal opportunity. Through the IB program, a student of any background who is willing to pay the price of three to five hours of homework per night can receive a truly world-class education, even if his or her parents can't afford an elite private school. Without the IB program, an education of this quality would be available only to the wealthy.

Jim Huntwork

Superiority complex: I was told to read your article by a senior at North Canyon. I graduated last year, but she and I are both examples of students who did not participate in the IB program, but chose of our own volition to take classes that IB requires (like ToK). My closest friends were in the program, and I like to think that during high school I was able to reap the advantages of IB without being forced to adhere to the pitfalls (no CAS, no problem).

The idea of elitism that your article attributes to the IB program is understandable, I guess. There are countless times I've witnessed mockery toward the regular kids (my favorite being walking into the cafeteria, seeing my friend turn up his nose and mutter, "It smells like regular kids in here"). Perhaps even beyond harmless joking, though, there are kids in the program who give the impression that they are somehow superior to everyone else.

But then again, I think you give high school too much credit. No one goes through high school with a perfect grasp on their identity and self-worth. In the case of the IB kids versus other high school cliques, I think the story is as old as adolescence itself. Insecurity could lead just about any teenager to find her strength and use it as a reason to declare herself superior. In most cases, this is just a façade of superiority meant to hide how extremely (and inherently) insecure a teenager can be. As for Astrid's remarks that the IB lunch table doesn't want to make conversation with anyone outside of their group, I'd say this is an example of rampant high school paranoia rather than any IB superiority complex. All cliques tend to "keep to themselves," if you think about it; there was, after all, no description in your article of young Astrid making an attempt to befriend the IB table.

You tend to make a clear-cut separation between the IB participants and other students. I understand this was to illustrate the point you were trying to make, and that you were using North as your prime example, but I can at least vouch for North Canyon that that sort of segregation is not as clear-cut. Of course the IB students are mostly separated from mainstream students in the classroom, but the IB students I know participate in an eclectic range of outside social groups. Last year's girls' soccer team was composed of half regular and half IB students; no separation was blatantly apparent, and the girls who were in IB were just as able to juggle their academic and athletic responsibilities (no pun intended). Clearly skipping P.E. wasn't an issue for all the IB students.

Of course, some are the stereotypical brains you portrayed in your article. But only a minority. And I could identify similar students, both brainy and egotistical, in regular classes.

Carly Hoogendyk
Via e-mail

Vintage whine: You students cry like a bunch of kindergartners on their first day! Suck it up, you think it's hard now?

You're so pretentious and full of yourselves. You don't alienate others, or make them feel less than equal, you just show how small-minded you are. With everything you write here, it shows how conceited and hollow you are. With that extensive vocabulary, and intuitive mind, all you know is what's right there. A person truly interested in learning wants to know everything, and takes the time to study any subject at length before coming to a conclusion. You write off your mainstream schoolmates before you even know them. How dreadfully ignorant of you.

Amarise Roberts

Fuzzy math: After reading this article, I am utterly horrified at the attitude you relayed about the IB students and other private schools in the Phoenix metropolitan area. I realize that you only quoted another person saying how the IB program is better than Brophy because "Brophy students don't even take calculus," but that is ridiculous. You took no steps to rectify the poor woman's error, not even noting that Brophy has one of the largest numbers of students in calculus, nearly half the senior class is taking it in one level or another. There are even 30 juniors in BC calculus this year, which means they will be taking differential equations next year.

At any rate, your selected choice of interviewees biased the article and I felt myself becoming angrier and more put off as I read through it.

Sonya Seif-Naraghi
Via e-mail


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