Inflated Claims

Bag it: New Times' April 12 article by Laura Laughlin ("Arizona's Worst Neighbor") does not offer one single shred of solid evidence that any of the alleged animal illnesses or examples of harm alleged by Bunny Bertleson are caused by TRW's sodium azide-related operations on Germann Road. Not even one.

The City of Mesa did studies analyzing air plumes containing sodium azide from the TRW plant. The conclusion of these and follow-up studies was that sodium azide releases from the TRW plant posed no threat to the public.

In fact, the Mesa Fire Department and organizations such as the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Public Health also reviewed Ms. Bertleson's claims against TRW and found no tangible evidence to support her allegations. Neither, apparently, has New Times.

From the beginning, TRW has been willing to listen to and investigate the claims of Ms. Bertleson. She has our offer to pay for veterinary experts to look at her animals and have third-party, independent experts study her property for azide exposure -- something that all the independent studies say is highly unlikely.

TRW continues to believe strongly that Ms. Bertleson's claims are totally without merit.

Extensive studies by governmental and other reputable organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, have concluded repeatedly that exposure to sodium azide or related combustion chemicals that could have occurred from TRW operations do not result in any long-term health effects. Exposures of residents to these emissions are all significantly below any levels that would raise any health concern.

TRW is committed to being a good neighbor and a contributing corporate citizen. Thanks to our dedicated employees, we have made significant improvements in the safety of our operations during the past several years and are equally committed to the areas where we all live and work.

DeWayne Pinkstaff
Director, U.S. Air Bag Operations
Queen Creek

Clearing the air: Laura Laughlin's piece on the effects of TRW's plant disgusted, offended, shocked and revolted me. In short, it made me proud to be a journalist.

When the TRW plant first opened, there were news stories, both in print and on television, about the all-too-frequent explosions, fires and just about anything else that can go wrong in industry. Where have they gone? Reading the Arizona Republic or watching Channel 3, one would think the plant is running smoothly and without problems. Clearly, this excellently crafted piece shows the far different reality.

One can't help but wonder who at Gannett knows someone at TRW.

It's a pathetic sign that a 50-cent paper is somehow considered superior to a free one; yet many believe that's the case. Stories like Laughlin's are the real news -- they are the things we don't know but damn well should.

They must be researched and reported on, for clearly "conventional" journalism has become too corporate to serve the public. Sadly, that's not the worst of it -- having supervised a newsroom and read the feedback from readers, I've come to the grave conclusion that the public would prefer to be uninformed.

Why else would letter writers be angry?

Peter R. Hahnloser

Mo' Joe, Man

L.A. law: Thanks for the "truth in advertising" story on Sheriff Joe Arpaio ("Joe Arpaio's Balloon Payments," Robert Nelson, April 5). When will people start paying attention to Joe's activities and send him on to Hollywood instead of the Sheriff's Office?

James Davis
via Internet

Badge company: I have just finished reading the article on Joe Arpaio. As an employee of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, I could not agree more with the article. It was written with nothing but the truth in mind. I see some of the problems of short staffing and misspent monies on programs and non-necessary items that have been purchased for the office. It makes me ill to think that we are working in an environment that does not care about us. If more money would be sent to places that need it, like employee paychecks instead of the 13 or 14 more chiefs that this place has, it could be an efficiently run office. This office ran just fine when there was just a sheriff and two chiefs. One chief was for custody and the other chief was for enforcement. They did not have the problems that we have today.

I was just ecstatic to see somebody write such a powerful article about the sheriff. Keep up the good work.

I, too, have requested that my family sue if anything should happen to me.

Name withheld by request


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