Bird brain: Thank you for printing the article about Jerry Ostwinkle ("Raptor Rapture," Jennifer Markley, February 1). It shows us just how out of control the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Kamile McKeever and others in her department have become. It makes me feel like one of the sheep waiting for the slaughter.
The reason that the migratory bird treaty act was put together was to protect hawks and eagles from the shooting and poisoning that was widespread at the time. The laws were put in place not to keep individuals who respect and keep raptors from flying their hawks in front of a camera!
This is another case where power-hungry individuals within the federal government have overstepped their bounds! I love the USA and everything it is. I loathe individuals who use the power of the federal government to twist the laws, and to use that same power to whatever end they want.
Firebug feedback: Every now and then, you folks go above and beyond the call. While I thoroughly enjoyed the article "An Exclusive Interview With the Preserves Arsonist" (James Hibberd, January 25), I enjoyed even more the follow-up mail and Jeremy Voas' essay on journalistic ethics (Letters and Voas, February 1).
Voas hit the nail right on the head with respect to the role of the press. I particularly enjoyed the observations concerning his fellow local "journalists." Yes, I think that term ought to be used carefully here. Having read some of his columns on occasion, David Leibowitz doesn't surprise me at all by stating that he would have "promised to protect the arsonist and then turned him in." In my opinion, this attitude typifies a fundamental error of many law enforcement types and their sycophants. This error boils down to believing and acting on the belief that the ends justify the means. They will so often sacrifice trust and credibility to achieve short-term goals. Then, of course, there is the essential issue of betrayal of trust.
Ironically, Brian Smith's column, "Loaded," in the same issue of New Times ("The Life and Crimes of Andrew Forkes," February 1), portrays a career thief and criminal whose espoused moral code includes the following:
"You know," he says, "I have a code. I have never violated a confidence. Never. And you know what? I can't be intimidated."
I find it very curious, and just a bit amusing, that were I faced with a choice of confiding in either the "journalist" (Leibowitz) or the criminal (Mr. Forkes), I would probably opt for trusting Mr. Forkes. You folks intended the irony, right?
Firing line: I read with great interest your story on the "eco"-terrorists responsible for the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of homes. I wasn't at all comfortable with the author's reasoning that the insight into this criminal's thinking was worth letting him walk away into anonymity again. I feel this whole article was wrong. It paints this wacko as a nice, intelligent guy who feels so strongly about his beliefs that we should forgive him the small fact that what he's doing is a crime, and eventually someone will get hurt if he and his gang of outlaws continue.
I am a mountain biker, and as such, I was pretty pissed that this article identified these twisted people as fellow mountain bikers. I'd like to just thank you clowns at Phoenix "High Times" for making it harder for my friends and me to receive positive recognition from other trail users we meet on our rides. There are individuals in every group who act irresponsibly, giving the entire group a bad name.
Mountain bikers as a group seem to have our fair share of bad apples, and we are in a constant battle to keep access to the trails we love. Now, it not only is not enough to be courteous to other trail users, but it could actually work against us. Because your article reveals that this arsonist has escaped suspicion by being courteous to people he meets on his missions, blending in by acting normal, like he belongs doing what he's doing, every one of us who bikes on urban trails is now a suspect.
This fact hit home last night when I rode past three hikers on a trail parallel to the one I was riding. They shouted at me as I rode by, and I realized that people now have more reason to resent seeing us ride our urban trail systems. I blame this on you irresponsible jerks at New Times. Responsible journalists would have reported these facts after the criminals were caught, when thousands of innocent people would have to pay the price for the sins of a few. Already, I have five friends who have been hauled off downtown to have their pictures taken, for the crime of enjoying a night ride on our lawfully ridden trails.
Fire damage: Um, does this "environmentalist" realize the damage mountain bike tires do to the fragile desert ecosystem?
Burning issue: I was left with a disturbing feeling after reading your article on the Preserves arsonist. The underlying slant of the piece smacked of a fascination and admiration for this individual and his accomplices. Whether it was James Hibberd's conscious intention, the article showed a compassion and veneration for someone whom Hibberd found more sophisticated than he may have thought the public expected.
This is romantic and idealistic in a Robin Hood-tale sort of way, but the stark reality of what this individual and others like him are doing cannot be sugarcoated and should not be emulated. The sort of destruction seen here is a pathetic, desperate act committed by self-proclaimed vigilantes. It is foolish and futile. It is surprising that supposedly educated and intelligent individuals like the CSP have let their efforts fall into a trap in which the offensive nature of what they are doing has far overshadowed any praiseworthy intentions. There are many in the Valley concerned with the same issues as this group. There are not many who will destroy their neighbors' property to address them.
The acts of this group exemplify a selfish, egotistical extremism. The public shoulders the burden in the form of higher insurance rates, construction costs and liabilities for honest-working contractors. Lives are endangered and tax dollars in the form of police resources, badly needed elsewhere, are used up in a cat-and-mouse game with the arsonist and his merry band of attention-starved vandals. These individuals would apparently even risk their careers and personal lives for this cause. Time that could be spent with their families is spent burning down homes where other families would have lived.
Make no mistake: The members of CSP are simply unsophisticated terrorists, not modern-day heroes of the public cause. I, for one, will breathe easier the day they are caught and jailed -- and that day cannot be far off. In the meantime, please do not print my address with this letter as the batteries in my smoke detector have not been checked for a while.
Torch bearer: I'll keep it short and sweet, regarding the article on the Phoenix Preserves arsonist and all the "heat" you're receiving. Bottom line is the so-called arsonist is innocent until proven guilty, and New Times should feel no obligation to compromise. That's what keeps you the best in journalism.
Write side: I haven't even read the story yet, but I wanted to stand up for the confidentiality of a journalist's information. I can't imagine where we would be without it. The fear of being revealed hides many ills.
Moths to the flame: Thank you to New Times and the CSP for being "under fire." As our landscape experiences a festering sprawl, society will obviously spawn a remedy. The backlash may be in the form of proper legislation. However, if that does not succeed, another remedy always rears its ugly head, sometimes in the form of revolution. We must wake up Governor Hull and the capitalist pigs, one way or another!
Inflammatory remarks: So, in your dogged pursuit of journalistic integrity, you protect the identity of a cowardly criminal. That makes you accomplices and equally cowardly. Here's hoping the arsonist (or one of his ilk) makes that eyesore New Times building his next target. What kind of protection would you offer then?
J. Patrick Mertz
Pained desert: Bravo, James Hibberd! The interview article with the Preserves arsonist was extremely well-written. While I do care for the environment greatly and think people need to be more assertive about protecting it, I can't help wondering about the waste that is involved with burning down a house. Wood, labor (which requires transportation) and land are used up once again just to rebuild. I think that this arsonist, while trying to be helpful, has become part of the problem.
Ignite crawler: First off, I would like to say that I am thrilled that there exist those humans who feel so strongly about the desecration of our beautiful planet that they would actually take explicit action against it, regardless of consequence to their personal lives. I am certain that there are many of us who are silently rooting away for "the arsonist" in our hearts, only because we lack the gumption to commit these acts of attrition ourselves. I know that I personally fantasize about going around to all the McDonald's and spray-painting "Son of Ron" everywhere in big red letters -- but I don't. Not because I don't want to, but simply because I lack the balls (the fact that I am female has no bearing on this statement -- so for all you feminists out there, don't get your panties in a bunch, it's merely a figure of speech).
I would also like to interject a friendly word of caution to our little fire-starter friends: You will not be doing yourselves or anyone any good if you get caught!
So, please! Enough with the little snippets of inference and the dropping of clues! You guys have given away entirely too much information on yourselves. Despite your claims that much of it has been distorted, even that very statement could assist in building your profile. I'm not saying that you guys aren't smart, or that the police aren't dumb and dumber, but any moron with a pencil could eventually catch you with the way you keep running your mouth! Everyone now knows your general work vicinity, how many are in your group and of what gender, as well as your main recreational interests and preference in location. If you guys do have jobs, as you apparently do, then you obviously have co-workers. People are envious and have big mouths. It wouldn't take much for some lesser-paid "disgruntled" employee to make that anonymous call.
Name withheld by request
Burn there, done that: I wasn't born in Phoenix, just raised here, and I've been just aching to say how very sorry I am for the people who have lost their beautiful, expensive, Preserve-view homes, but I haven't been able to stop laughing long enough to do so. Hell, yeah, burn, baby, burn!
Instead, I'll just wish the arsonists luck in keeping their fires under control and in evading the snowpigs with their guerrilla tactics, although I fear that your coverage may have provided too much information for them to remain free for long. From the tone of your source, I also fear they might get cocky and diverge from tactics that seem to be working without causing other than superficial harm.
Garnish her wages: Carey Sweet's recent review of Suroeste Grille ("Snooze Flash," January 18) was appalling for its inconsistency and bias. Some of her inconsistencies: She decried the grill marks on the chicken, yet loved the burnt flavor the grill marks gave to the steak. She mocked the diced yellow, red and green peppers dusted on every plate for presentation as "sleepy, predictable" (a signature presentation technique of chef Emeril Lagasse), but wanted the chef to "kick it up a few notches" (another Emeril signature). I'll tell you what sleepy, predictable presentation is: ubiquitous sprigs of parsley. Someone does something different, and it becomes "tired" -- please! Sweet complains about the menu -- "Watch out, there's little warning of packed heat on the printed description" -- but then wants "food that tastes as spunky as it reads." Obviously, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde wrote this review. How do you please a person who can't make up her mind as to what she wants?
I recently moved to the Club West area from Chicago, and this review reeked of anti-Ahwatukee ("world's largest cul-de-sac") sentiment. There are only four roads in and out of Ahwatukee from I-10. I only need one, why does Sweet need more than four? Be sure to let her know about Pecos Road opening up in the fall. It seems, from past reviews, that Ms. Sweet was upset with having to travel south of Baseline.
At least she got one thing right: "The people behind Suroeste care, it's apparent. It's obvious in the friendly, warm service and the consideration behind menu descriptions." I've been looking for a place like this since I moved, and now that I've found it, I'm going back for more.
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Hall of shame: I'd like to thank you for the story about ASU residence halls ("Dorm Warning," Robert Nelson, January 25). I am a resident assistant who works in the building and therefore have firsthand experience of all the problems that exist. We have complained as loudly as possible about the building conditions to no avail. I think this sort of outside pressure from the press and public might now be the only thing that will get things done. I also truly appreciate the way the article didn't look down upon the Manzanita dorm experience as a whole. Thank you for pointing out that we do a much better job with student programs and the like.
Name withheld by request