Abiding Faith

Hide and seek: We, members of the Christian Faithful, apologize for the lateness of this communication. However, it does not lessen our appreciation of your coverage in New Times of the controversy involving Father Saúl Madrid, Bishop Thomas O'Brien and the Catholic community/Latino parishioners ("Immaculate Heart Break," Gilbert Garcia and Laura Laughlin, July 27).

It is so refreshing to read your weekly newspaper, a newspaper whose editor is not afraid to tackle difficult issues. A newspaper that "does its homework" of exhaustively researching an issue and then presents the findings to its readers. You know you are being effective when Bishop O'Brien condemns your articles! Sadly, we believe he uses this ploy as a way to hide behind them and avoid facing issues and giving the public and his parishioners the information they're seeking.

We think your two writers are to be congratulated. The comprehensive and thorough research they did in preparing the article was highly admirable. That article got great mileage -- a number of people read it on the Internet; it was distributed and shared with friends in the Valley and state as well as throughout the country.

Again, Gilbert Garcia's article in a recent issue of New Times ("Strife With Father," November 16) was just excellent. He did a wonderful job of not letting Father Madrid or Bishop O'Brien "off the hook" by recalling to the reader the numerous problems with priests under the bishop's 20-year term and (between the lines) reminding the reader that Bishop O'Brien's modus operandi has always been to hide, avoid the press and show a total lack of respect and accountability toward his parishioners. Oh, yes, and to blame the press for his problems and accuse them of "yellow journalism."

Thanks again for your conviction to get the truth out to the people and for your courage.

The Christian Faithful

City Lites

Mal de mayor: Your column ("2000 Maniacs," Jeremy Voas, November 9) was the most direct and accurate text I have seen regarding the manner in which the City of Phoenix truly operates. I am a native Phoenician and downtown community activist who worked daily to save the Warehouse District, as well as other historic buildings and communities, and it became all too apparent to me that Mayor Skip Rimsza and those leading the City Manager's Office are not interested in the will of taxpayers or the viability of the communities they serve, especially the downtown area. Jerry Colangelo and his nonprofit organizations, Downtown Phoenix Partnership (which just received $800,000 from the city for "Copper Square") and Phoenix Community Alliance, seem to be the only appropriate factors when decisions are made as to the future of our downtown. The fact that our city manager, Frank Fairbanks, and our deputy city manager, Cheryl Sculley (as well as the Arizona Republic), are part of Downtown Phoenix Partnership makes this conclusion all the more concrete.

However, I must correct you with regard to Maricopa County's plan to place its new jail, morgue and parking garage(s) in downtown Phoenix. The City of Phoenix was fully aware of the impending disaster that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors had planned for the Warehouse District. Additionally, the Maricopa County BOS now has plans for two parking garages within seven blocks of each other, both on Jackson Street. Lastly, the Jackson Street Ad Hoc Committee made several resolutions that were sent to the city council for approval, the most dominant being a request from the City of Phoenix to the Maricopa County BOS to move the jail from the Warehouse District to Durango. This resolution alone was not acted upon by the city council.

My experience with the City of Phoenix has left me almost completely apathetic to my birthplace and the future that awaits us all. I long for the days of Mayor Terry Goddard and local government by active participants.

Lisa Irwin

Crash Course

Wrecking bawl: Thank you, Laura Laughlin, for exposing State Farm Insurance ("Snake Killer," November 16). State Farm may be like a good neighbor when it comes to fender benders, but God help any policyholder in an injury accident, such as the one I suffered in 1993. I suffered a whiplash-related injury when I was struck by an uninsured driver running a red light. I suffered back pain and was treated by a chiropractor for two months after that. I had a 10-day rental car clause with my policy, and State Farm did not appraise the damage on my vehicle until nine days after the accident, which gave me exactly one day to decide on the fate of my vehicle, whether to repair or replace it. They declared it a total loss, although I found out later that the repair estimate was only about $200 more than Blue Book, which they never disclosed to me. I would have been willing to pay for the repair, but instead they insisted on my replacing it, which cost thousands more. For my injury, they offered a settlement so low that it was an insult. My personal injury lawyer was able to negotiate a higher settlement, but it still was not sufficient. I was not being greedy, but the accident caused a major financial hardship in my life that State Farm refused to acknowledge. I was forced into bankruptcy and required to work two or three jobs at once to pay subsequent living expenses arising from the accident, thanks to the skinflints at State Farm.

J.S. Dunmire

Abandon the Farm: It is great to see somebody finally stand up and do something for the consumer. I work for a major insurance company, and the article about State Farm just blew me away. I'm just disappointed that the consumer really is helpless when it comes to a company like this. Hopefully, every person who reads this very excellent article will jump the State Farm ship.

Tremayne Fontenot
via Internet

Campaign Wishes

Voters' rites: I am writing in response to your editorial ("Electile Dysfunction," Jeremy Voas, November 16). The author lamented the list of problems in America that need to be fixed and the inability of our elected leaders to fix these social ills.

First, in every society, decisions have to be made about what to fix now and mortgage for another day. We cannot solve all of our problems -- unfortunately, in the interim, some people do get the short end of the stick. But as a country we are pretty good at fixing things when the critical mass gets big enough. Remember when your parents told you to do well in school so you could get a good job? They were not kidding. Now having a good job means access to health care, child care, etc. . . . To artificially correct this situation by taxing the working into poverty is called socialism -- yuck! Who pays for fixing all these social ills?

In regards to death by firearms, you are out of bounds. In those lovely countries you mentioned, all hell is breaking loose. The Aussie government just passed rules allowing the police to enter a private residence, disperse crowds and stop people on the street without a warrant. Sound familiar? In jolly old England, they now call Manchester "Gunchester" because of the escalation in home invasions and robberies. No other country in the world has the same level of TV watching, isolation and mass media violence as the U.S. When someone addresses the issues of drugs and gangs, we will have fewer firearm deaths. Don't blame law-abiding citizens for the behavior of criminals. And don't try to fix a crime problem the politicians won't fix by disarming your law-abiding citizens.

We have freedoms here. There is a price for freedom -- and all of it is not good. Still, by and large, I'd rather live here and have change when it is needed, not change for liberal social engineering.

P. Scott

Prop Music

Back to El Paso: Just read your article concerning Prop 302 ("Silk Purse," Jeremy Voas, October 26). I live in El Paso but come to Phoenix a couple of times a year for jazz concerts at the Celebrity Theatre and Red River Music Hall. I know that Prop 302 passed and am trying to figure out how much more it is going to cost me. To me, it really sucks that I am paying for so much and getting so little back in return. I think that I will scale back my visits to Phoenix in the future, and if I am joined by other visitors, I am sure there is some fine print somewhere where the taxpayers who were fooled into thinking somebody else is going to pay for the stadium will prove to be ultimately responsible when the bills come due and the tourist money is way short of what was forecast.

Cowart D. Fairley Jr.
El Paso, Texas

Ewe, too: You kept two losers in town!! Ha ha!! Sheep!! You people are sheep!! Not only do you vote in that pompous fat-ass Sheriff Joe Arpaio, so we can pay more and more of our tax dollars to settle wrongful-death suits and the like, but then you vote for a stupid stadium!! My God, people!! Wake up! The Cardinals are unworthy of a bus pass, let alone a stadium. Jeez, if subpar performance is all it takes, buy me a house, $100,000 would be great!! Don't give me your high and mighty babble about "youth sports" and "Cactus League." That money only makes it there if Bill Bidwill's babies get their happy little abode. If things fall through, then youth sports and the Cactus League suffer. Oh, and one other thing: The land and its development will be provided by the host of this amazing facility. The funniest part of this whole pile of crap is that the wonder boys got blown out AGAIN!! So they win ONE game, and all you jackasses vote for a new stadium?? Sheep, I tell ya, you're all sheep, following the freakin' flock!! Baaaa! Baaaa!!

Mike Wells

Dread Head

Jeri's kids: I have one question for Kathleen Vanesian ("Gasp From the Past," November 23). Have you ever set foot in an African-American barbershop? Without waiting for a reply, my guess is, Absolutely Not. The barbershop installation does not represent a step into the past, but rather a representation of a present-day barbershop. Many African-American barbershops do look like a thing of the past. Memorabilia intermixed with contemporary objects, including reproductions of African art, and many times posters that have remained intact from a bygone era.

I also wonder if she ever bothered to talk to any of the artists to gain any insight into their work. Again, my guess is Absolutely Not. My guess is Vanesian is just another myopic art critic, lacking the most minimal skills of discernment.

Joe Willie Smith

Editor's note: Smith is one of the artists whose work was reviewed.

Pistol Whipped

Let go of something: Please, please, enough of the Pistoleros already ("Hanging On to Something," Brian Smith, November 16). I'm sick of hearing about their connection to the Gin Blossoms. This has got to be the fifth article this year on them. Come on, go out and interview someone else. We know everything there is to know about this band, and it's always the same old thing. Thank you.

Rick Olson


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