New Times incorrectly reported the number of times the Arizona Republic has won the Pulitzer Prize ("Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss," August 10). The newspaper has won twice for cartooning. Also, Eugene S. Pulliam was Nina Pulliam's stepson, not her son.
Shiny Clean, No Tangles
Just Simplify: The bureaucratic tangle created by the Clean Elections Act ("Wash Daze," Amy Silverman, August 3) could be reined in with common-sense simplification and reform, now that the precedent for public financing has been established.
There's no need for $5 contributions and bloated financial compliance forms. Traditional petition signature and filing requirements provide sufficient basis for a simple reform, which also improves the quality of campaigns.
Instead of providing participating candidates with cash to purchase expensive advertising and postage, the Clean Elections Commission or Secretary of State should directly purchase TV and radio time, space in newspapers and direct mailings for the free use of all candidates willing to limit fund raising and spending, and appear together with opponents in each free media exposure. (Nonparticipating candidates would be charged a market rate if they chose to appear with a participating opponent, and supplemental funding would continue to be available to participating candidates who are outspent by opponents.)
When candidates appeared opposite each other, voters would have a convenient way to compare them and hear their own words. This would be especially convenient if it were timed to supplement vote-by-mail ballot distribution. Better-qualified candidates would be attracted to compete with ideas instead of fund raising. And presenting all candidates together in one mailing or ad would be most cost-effective because of economies of scale. The mailings would go to all voters; they would not be "targeted" to only those deemed most likely to vote one way or another.
That would stimulate increased participation by better-informed voters. And appearances by all candidates together could be sponsored by nonpartisan public-service advertising, in addition to tax-advantaged personal contributions.
The pioneering Clean Elections law is just the first step toward a rejuvenated voter-friendly electoral process.
Tired of Taking It
Public ought to be fed up: Soft cell? Hard heads is more like it. I cannot blame any of the parties involved in your "Soft Cell" article (Robert Nelson, August 3). I mean, who could truthfully tell themselves that, if they were in Lisa Roberts' place, they would willingly go to the general population of the jail and take their full punishment like everyone else? If you're that person, you'd better get fitted for wings and a halo.
I can't even blame the offices of the sheriff or the U.S. Attorney any longer. They're just getting away with everything they can, and right in front of our faces. It's almost like the bully on the block saying, "Yeah, I did it. What you gonna do about it?" It's arrogant, to put it mildly.
What is annoying is that the people of this state have continued to allow this nonsense to go on for all these years -- from the police to the city leaders, and oh, yeah . . . even the governor! I've never seen this level of blatant corruption in any other place.
Is this blind faith, stupidity or just old-fashioned ignorance? One thing is sure: If these slick end runs don't stop, they're only going to get worse. At our expense.
A Matter of Class
Swimming in money: Although the story about Gary Hall Jr. ("Diff'rent Strokes, Shane DuBow, August 3) was interesting and well-written, when I got to the part about his "falling out" with his grandfather, Charles Keating, it dawned on me: Who cares about the poor, athletic rich boy from Snottsdale?
Masses of the Opiate
Blind hypocrisy: So the Immaculate Heart Church of Phoenix has burned down ("Immaculate Heartbreak," Gilbert Garcia and Laura Laughlin, July 27). I have little sympathy for the occurrence in general, and marginally less for the Reverend Saúl Madrid, who, although he seems persecuted himself, could have applied his latent compassion for humanity in more secular social work, instead of choosing to lead gullible idiots along the path of the Great Deception, preaching the notion of undetectable gods to them. He's certainly no martyr to me. Boo hoo, so there's no more church architecture in which to worship, and his followers on Washington Street have relocated to the gymnasium and are upset about the new surroundings. Hypocrites! If they truly had faith, they wouldn't let this affect them at all. I thought believers didn't care about material environments. In any case, they should take both fires as a message from their god: "Hello, God here! I'm torching another firetrap because you didn't get the message the first time. Now close the doors for good and move it to an upscale neighborhood: Scottsdale. And don't forget the circular driveway."
For shame, for shame: As a practicing Catholic, I read with disheartening dismay your article on the happenings at St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic churches. The fires at the churches point to, at a minimum, gross neglect. No one allows an advent candle to burn after services. They are all immediately extinguished after Mass. Second, candles in front of statues are not allowed to be in close proximity to flammable materials at any time. I'm surprised that the insurance companies agreed to pay damages in these cases.
But most disheartening is the conduct of Father Madrid concerning the church finances in both parishes. A pastor is supposed to build trust in his parishioners. Full and regular disclosure is the only way to build that trust. There should be an immediate order from the bishop for accounting and an audit by an independent accounting firm. After that, all monies should be handled by duly elected members of the parish finance committee as required by church law. This friend or cousin of Father Madrid should be prohibited from having any contact with any of the monies since he has no legal standing to do so.
Most perplexing has been the conduct of the bishop with the handling of the assistant priests at these parishes, especially the violence that occurred against one of them. It is never permissible for a layperson to strike a priest. It is more incomprehensible to me that the bishop would side with the layperson against the priest. The fact that every assistant has left in so short a time can only leave one to conclude that something is woefully wrong at these parishes.
Finally, the report that Catholics have left or quit the church because of these goings-on is the saddest chapter in this story. How can a bishop who is shepherd of his flock of the diocese of Phoenix ignore this? In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus tells of the shepherd leaving his flock just to go after and return the one sheep that was lost. Jesus must be holding his head with both hands and crying over what is happening at St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Should Liars Get Ink?
Minds made up: I read two letters written by Jack Martin (July 20, August 10) discussing the "fact" that there were no gas chambers in any of the concentration camps in World War II, and that there simply was no Holocaust. There have been responses to Mr. Martin's letters, some from people who experienced and/or saw the atrocities of Nazi Germany with their own eyes. Nevertheless, Mr. Martin seems unfazed by the firsthand accounts of eyewitnesses. I also read a response to this fabricated controversy by Mr. Reedy (August 10) who encourages debate on the subject as a means of "arriving at some semblance of the truth." Mr. Reedy, I have it on good authority that fish cannot swim. Perhaps we should open this topic up for debate in hopes of arriving at some semblance of the truth.
For the limited purposes of this discussion, there are two points that are important. First, I will not include a thorough discussion of the obvious -- that gas chambers were utilized by the Nazis and there was a Holocaust. Mr. Martin, in his initial letter, provides that "you cannot believe everything you read." This is normally good advice. On the other hand, you cannot ignore everything you read, including the obvious facts. A researcher of history has to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction and to recognize the utility of primary, as opposed to secondary, sources of information, the former generally providing a more detailed and accurate portrayal of events. On the issue of gas chambers and the Holocaust, a well-informed researcher need not even know how to read -- he or she could simply speak with people who lived through the event. I would be glad to lend New Times photographs taken when my father's outfit in the U.S. Army liberated some of the concentration camps. In short, as I assume New Times is already aware, Mr. Martin's letters are ridiculous. Of concern is what the next generation of ill-informed persons will believe, when World War II is no longer recent history.
The second point that I will address has to do with New Times' decision to publish Mr. Martin's rubbish. I am an ardent supporter of First Amendment rights. The First Amendment, however, does not protect false assertions of fact. Indeed, such falsities contribute nothing to the free flow of ideas in the political or democratic marketplace. Although not constitutionally protected, I couldn't care less about what Martin says -- he has his own agenda. It was New Times' decision to publish the letters that gives me cause for concern. Even assuming that the letters merely stated opinions or beliefs (as opposed to false assertions of fact), New Times is under no obligation to publish. In the instant case, however, by publishing Mr. Martin's lies, New Times became, at least, the unwitting mouthpiece for the dissemination of hate and misinformation. Congratulations. I find it hard to believe that the publication of white-supremacist rhetoric helps circulation. What other reason could the paper have for publishing assertions of fact that the editor must have known were not true prior to publication?
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Regrettably, people like Mr. Martin seem compelled to spread their hurtful falsehoods. Why would New Times step in to help champion this cause? At what point does responsible journalism and credibility come into play?
Howard M. Shanker
Can't get no satisfaction: In his letter that appeared August 10, Jack Martin writes of a book that purportedly puts the lie to the Holocaust: "The book, first published in 1976, is still available, and has yet to be successfully refuted. And, I might add, it will not be." Mr. Martin is correct, but he forgot to add an all-important phrase: The book will not be successfully refuted to his satisfaction. There is little that will convince a true believer. Mr. Martin gives the game away with, "And, I might add, it will not be." If actual diaries of Hitler were to appear that said he did plan a Holocaust, Mr. Martin would call Hitler a liar. After all, he told us, "It will not be." He doesn't say that it is unlikely that it will ever be, but without waiting for any additional evidence, he says, "It will not be." Actually, the book has been successfully refuted many times, but not to Mr. Martin's satisfaction. After all, he has told us outright, "It will not be."