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Letters

SWAT Shop

For all you do, this one's for you: Thanks for the great article "Blue Crush" (Patti Epler, June 5). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and found it really interesting. I give the people in the SAU great respect and admiration for what they do. Unfortunately in our current society there will always be a need for their services. Since I know I could never do what they do, I can only say thanks much for all that they do.

Cheryl Otte-McCleave
Via e-mail

Good read: Re: "Blue Crush" -- Excellent article! Nice to read an atta boy for a change!

I like your style of writing as well! Informative and well-written.

Suzanne Mull
Peoria

Source material: I found it offensive that your couplet of stories on the Phoenix Police Department did not include any sources critical of the department, and virtually no sources from outside of the police themselves. For example, the author made seemingly no effort to talk to any victims or families of victims of police violence. She justifies the extreme behavior of the Phoenix PD by assuring us that these events only happen in the "poorer" (and, coincidentally, "colored") southern and central areas of Phoenix, and that these things are only caused by the scrappy, daring, and young new officers (who, doubtless, cannot be fully blamed for their behaviors).

As middle-class white people, we can all feel comforted, because, of course, brutality against the poor and people of color is always justified, especially when said brutality is committed by such valiant, handsome, muscular, and, let it not be forgotten, extremely bright individuals. We must also feel comforted by the continual assertion that these caring officers might actually feel bad when they kill someone over marijuana.

I would like to thank you for the map of the shootings in Phoenix and the immense number of pictures of handsome white cops (some of which feature arrests of black people! gosh!). Hopefully they will prove useful in illustrating to the citizens of Phoenix the extremeness of the department.

Emma Donohue
Phoenix

Objectivity lesson: Thank you for your refreshingly objective article "There's Something About Phoenix."

It's common for writers to find fault with the police for several reasons. For one, they aren't allowed to hit back. For another, the general public and the type of people who write intellectual articles aren't often exposed to the kind of situations police officers are exposed to and so can't comprehend them.

You, however, didn't take the easy road and went out of your way to explain things that few would otherwise understand. Kudos for your excellent article.

Ken Calman
Glendale

Church Chat

Abuse of trust: I read "Judgment Day" by Robert Nelson (June 5) with mounting horror. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Nelson and have been moved to write to Rick Romley, who has demonstrated that he actually cares about our children -- unlike Thomas O'Brien, who couldn't care less.

I would like to commend Romley for taking up the gauntlet in defense of Roman Catholic children here in the Valley. He is performing a function that is not just his responsibility as the county attorney but that is mainly the responsibility of Bishop O'Brien as a "guardian and shepherd of his flock." Unfortunately, Bishop O'Brien is more concerned with maintaining his power and position than he is in protecting his flock. I find it even more disturbing that the victims of these predators are children and still we have obtained no action from the church other than pious mouthings of nonsense concocted to placate Catholic parishioners.

I was very pleased to see that Romley's office is not intimidated by the Roman Catholic Church's aggressive stance in protection both of the criminals who perpetrate these crimes against children and their supposedly rational superiors. As a Roman Catholic (I'm ashamed to admit it), I have been increasingly sickened and disgusted by the abuse of our trust that has been exhibited by priests and the hierarchy of the church. I now see how fortunate I was to escape abuse during the years that I attended both Catholic grade school and Catholic high school. I do believe that there are many more good and decent members of the Catholic clergy; however, I am furious at the hypocrisy of the church's hierarchy.

I cannot express in words the disdain and contempt that I now have for these so-called "holy men," but I am determined to demonstrate it by means of refusing to make any future donations to the church for fear that even 1 cent of my money could possibly help to shelter and nurture the pedophiles, predators and rapists that the church is shielding. In addition, I refuse to give any money for the support of a man like Bishop O'Brien who has failed miserably in his duties toward God's smallest and most defenseless human beings.  

Name withheld by request

Porn again: I've never worked as a porn store clerk, but I imagine those who have are terribly offended that Robert Nelson would compare their moral integrity to that of Bishop O'Brien.

Jordan Myers
Tempe

Food -- What a Concept

Bun and run: Regarding Carey Sweet's recent article on Gonzo's Gilbert restaurant ("Going, Going, Gonzo," June 5). It's interesting to note the prior restaurant concepts that occupied this space in cuisine-challenged Gilbert. This is simply another ill-conceived incantation brought to us by a family that knows more about fixing oil leaks than fixing decent food. Service and food have always been horrible with attention to the most minor detail severely lacking. While most Gilbert-Mesa customers will find the chain-inspired fare acceptable even with the highly inflated fine-dining pricing, Sweet is quite right in her assessment that the newness will wear off very quickly and the restaurant once again left abandoned, seeking another concept. It's amazing that the East Valley cannot produce restaurants that offer any culinary direction or real value.

Steve Deegan
Mesa

As the Crow Flies

Crow's feat: I enjoyed your article on Michael Crow "("Mission: Impossible," John Dougherty, May 29). It is an important article on an important person.

We are starving for this kind of aggressive, visionary leadership in the Valley. Michael Crow needs to be nurtured and supported by our community in what he is trying to achieve. While I appreciate learning more about his relationships with the intelligence agencies, I am not troubled by what you have revealed in your article. His Washington connections are a plus, not a minus.

We need equally critical examination of the legislators who would thwart his efforts if they have the chance. I am a lifelong Republican, and I am increasingly disgusted by the short-sightedness and small-mindedness of our Legislature. We need to invest in the future!

Jack Kerrigan
Via e-mail

The English languish: Once again, another fine effort on your part! The only thing that disturbs me, besides the usual legislative endeavors, is the fact that the president of a major university would utter the phrase "most unique!" There is no such thing, as I am sure you know. Unique is one of a kind and stands by itself. It cannot be very, most or be preceded by any adjective. So the prez should have said it is the unique opportunity. Shame on him. Or are the low standards of English grammar going to represent the new leader?

Matt Ganis
Phoenix

Numbers game: Arizona's universities claim they need $400 million for new research facilities; the reality is that they could cover any additional requirements through internal savings.

When I went to college, professors taught 12 hours per semester. In 1987, professors at ASU's main campus taught nine hours. Now it is down to six, and professors at UofA complain about having to teach six hours per semester to qualify for a raise!

"Research to support local high-tech businesses" is the rationale offered for such a low teaching load. While there is some truth in such logic, it has been stretched beyond reason. For example, Harvard's president believes that research is not that important at the undergraduate level, and, cheered on by his counterparts at MIT and Yale, is moving to increase undergraduate professors' pupil contact. If Arizona universities increased professors' undergraduate teaching hours, it would substantially reduce costs and also increase students' ability to graduate in less than the current five-plus-year average.

Increased research efficiency and focus offer considerable additional savings. IBM, despite reducing its R&D expenditures by more than $1 billion a year in the early '90s, has substantially increased revenues and R&D output. Why shouldn't Arizona universities do likewise? One place to start is by reducing research in low-priority areas offering little potential benefit, and redirect those resources back into the classroom. This could be initiated by requiring at least 25 percent outside funding for any research efforts that utilize staff time.

Reducing overhead offers another major cost reduction opportunity for Arizona universities. GE, the world's most admired business for the last four years, plans to reduce its 40 percent overhead by 75 percent over the next three years -- despite having already made substantial reductions. Similarly, AT&T has contracted to reduce its overhead by $2.5 billion over the next five years, while AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) has pushed for a 5 percent to 6 percent annual productivity improvement. Arizona universities should be expected to do likewise. A first step would be for them to admit that their overheads are far higher than the 8.1 percent for administration depicted in the Regents' 2000 Report Card.  

Encouraging pupils to get college credit through advance placement or equivalency tests is another means of substantially reducing costs; this would also offer pupils a means of speeding their graduation and motivation for improved high school performance. Unfortunately, according to our state superintendent of education, Arizona ranks well below average in this area.

Finally, Arizona universities could considerably further cut expenditures by reducing the number of pupils admitted that never graduate (about half), or that do graduate only to end up with jobs not requiring baccalaureate (estimated to be about 50 percent by at least one expert) or graduate degrees. The unfortunate reality is that the market for college graduates is going to steadily decline, because of increasing computerization of business and engineering functions, overseas outsourcing via high-speed Internet and phone lines, the large number of H1-B visas allowing foreign workers to take computer and engineering jobs in the U.S., internal business education (e.g. GE University), and business downsizing. Improving students' choices could be accomplished with better counseling at both the high school and college levels.

Arizona universities are not sacred cows. Arizona's citizens are being forced to do more with less. Our universities should do likewise -- at least $300 million more (15 percent) should be cut per year while improving outcomes. This would easily pay for any required new research facilities.

Lloyd Eskildson
Scottsdale

Whither Heather?

Public service: I am writing to thank you for the dynamic article about Heather Grossman as written by your staff writer Amy Silverman ("Paralyzed in Paradise," May 1).

I actually had the pleasure of meeting this classy, beautiful, dignified lady, her devoted parents and her wonderful children at a party on Easter Sunday. After meeting her, I was substantially impressed, to say the very least. I did not know of the horrible circumstances she has been dealing with. Heather presents herself in such a way that you immediately see beyond her wheelchair and are taken in by her beauty and engaging personality. Her interaction with her three children was a joy to see!

I think you did a valuable service by bringing Heather's story to the public. I believe that those of us who have been so deeply moved will find a way to write letters to and/or call our representatives, as it is vital to let the authorities know that people are very concerned about these issues.

Thank you for your important and most effective article.

Sheila Siegel
Phoenix

Rights Guard

Caught unawares: While I think it is sad that nothing was done to prevent a second crime, there is more than just that to what goes on with the mentally ill ("Murder by Accident," Susy Buchanan, June 5). Many times it is simply because we, as citizens, forget to take care of our lost children. Mentally ill people are often turned away from care, neglected or just ignored because of their aberrant behaviors. We continually ignore the issues that allow the powers that be to cut care and force more and more people to go without the medication and counseling necessary to head off something like what happened here.

The courts cannot, legally or morally, convict a person of a crime that they can't understand or even defend themselves from, regardless of guilt or innocence. Our Constitution protects all of us from that. If we start allowing people to be tried even though they are not even aware of the consequences or able to defend themselves, it will make it open season for everyone.

Remember, give away your rights and they do not just magically return. Don't you think enough people have fought, died, been murdered and jailed to allow you the freedoms you have? Or would you prefer to start over? Just a thought.

Name withheld by request


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