Thank you so much for penning the poignant story on my interesting friend Pavle Milic ("To Serb With Love," Michael Lacey, June 3). His fragmented and diverse roots have sculpted him into a talented and passionate person, especially sensitive to the ethnocentric nature of Americans.
His future writings will surely reflect the dichotomy of his parents as well as his unique vantage point of our culture. Although I've had the pleasure of meeting Pavle's fascinating father on several occasions and been fortunate enough to listen to his powerful opinions and stories, I'd never heard the moving tale of his last encounter with his father. It brought tears to my eyes.
We take so much for granted in this country. No matter how often we see the images or hear the tragic stories of this war, it seems impossible for us to truly understand the kind of deeply historic loathing and unrest that the people in the Balkans have endured for so long. The intricacies of these disputes each have a personal story. I often find disturbing the oblivious arrogance our country often exerts, which other countries understandably resent.
David Holthouse's excellent article "Culture War Heroes" (May 27) was too mild, in my opinion. The State of Arizona has in the last decade developed a terrible record on juvenile justice, teenage pregnancy, abused elderly, needy elderly, child molestation, education and a host of other problems. We went downhill because the same people who attended this family-values meeting are the movers and shakers who have refused to properly fund and supervise necessary public services. They worship the God of Growth.
They have spent 10 years lowering taxes for the wealthy and the powerful, the special interests who have paid for their power as political wheelers and dealers. In various ways, real estate taxes are abated for special interests and passed on to the general public. I've seen it reported that $1.5 million in contributions earned $90 million in tax reductions. Necessary government services--police, fire, roads, etc.--previously paid out of the general fund now require federal grants or sales taxes. In order to lower taxes for mines, industry, utilities, sports teams, etc., they pride themselves on doing more with less in public services. These family-values advocates are directly responsible for Arizona's failure to perform services adequately. They remind me of Charles Dickens' portrayal of leaders feasting on gourmet foods and highly irritated when working children ask for a second bowl of swill.
As to their hero and guru, William Bennett, I can safely say that he and his cronies talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. Spending hundreds of millions to vilify the president, they then supported family values, well-known adulterers Gingrich, Livingston and Hyde.
The radical right chastises the president for his non-war record, but at least 90 percent of our male right-wing elected Republicans of Vietnam age avoided military service. I would estimate 75 percent of the family-value advocates are divorced.
Are all the members of the Republican Right hypocrites and leeches, preying on the members? The rank and file are honest, decent, loyal citizens. But the politicians, the family-value organizations' leaders and the televangelists have built up a substantial list of gullible, naive citizens who fall for their sales spiel.
I wish Mr. Holthouse will use his talent in the future, when he attends a conference of phonies and hypocrites, to bear down more severely; they are responsible, in large part, for the shortage of social services to protect the family.
Name withheld by request
I very much enjoyed your article ("Grist for the Millennium," James Hibberd, June 3). The only thing that bothered me was that you did the same thing that the conference did--a lot of talking about Y2K, without providing any practical information about it. It would have been nice to see some recommendations for the average Joe, what to do to prepare. Store some extra water and batteries? Common sense tells us these. But what about other things we don't usually think of missing? Gasoline? Medication? Toothpicks?
Now I'm not going to be sitting on my roof with my rifle, taking pot shots at people who venture too close to my stockpile of Spam and Kool-Aid, but I do certainly want to be prepared for a little inconvenience.
I would have liked some resources to look into for answers to these common questions, be it Web sites, phone numbers, or just your common knowledge gained from doing research for this story.
James Hibberd responds: Representatives for Phoenix utility companies such as US West, Salt River Project and Southwest Gas say they will be Y2K compliant long before January 1, 2000. For a detailed preparedness checklist, see the American Red Cross online brochure at http://www.redcross.org/disaster/safety/y2k.html or call the Red Cross Central Arizona Chapter at 602-336-6660.
On the Waterfront
I finally plowed through your article on Rio Salado--it was hard only because the article was so negative ("A Fortune Runs Through It," John Dougherty, May 20). I finally found the time waiting for the bus (I'm sure you would argue that if more money were available for the bus system, I wouldn't have had to wait).
Don't get me wrong. I'm against big government. I was outraged when they took my money to build BOB. I heard a great idea the other day for stadiums--initiate a professional athletes stadium-income tax (tax the athletes exclusively--maybe owners, too).
I would prefer to see more infrastructure improvements, better-paid community service employees (particularly police and firefighters) and overall better fiscal management by local governments. Tempe could do better.
Nevertheless, I favor Rio Salado. Your article convinced me all the more. You concentrate on how much Rio Salado costs--not how much it's worth. Just about everything I've ever invested in that cost a lot of money was worth it--why should the rules be different for cities?
I think you've got the right idea: Watch the city council to ensure it makes responsible decisions. However, your tack, doom and gloom, clouds your message. Your argument that Rio Salado could be a giant stinky algae farm is based on a few choice quotes from a CH2M Hill (environmental consultant) report. I write these types of reports, and statements like the ones you quoted are always included--more as a disclaimer than anything else. The lake area for Rio Salado is not so huge that it is unmanageable; there are lakes all over the Valley, and they are managed--this is nothing new.
The Peabody argument does not persuade me, either. Personally, I think Tempe should dump Peabody, but who am I to say? I recognize, as you must, the degree to which local governments are linked to big business (in fact, the local governments might be more accurately considered businesses themselves). Do you really disdain the capitalistic environment that creates this government-business interaction? It's the same genie that pays your salary.
Rio Salado is an ambitious task. Ambitious tasks will always be criticized. I'm sure if you dug deeper, you'd find all sorts of subtle mismanagement glitches. However, I can't see any gross errors.
These days, I drive over the Mill Avenue bridge on my way home with eager anticipation just to check up on the lake's progress. That's hard to buy with any amount of money.
Lock 'em Up
I lost my cool after reading "Blowing His Cool" (Tony Ortega, May 27). It's time Sheriff Joke and the fat-assed yes-man Hendershott be removed from office. Armored cars, machine guns, spying, misuse of taxpayers' money, stealing, lying and killing have the makings of the "Maricopa Mafia." Go get 'em, Romley! We'd love to see Joke and his ugly duckling in the Madison Street Jail, standing in the same shit they choose to spew at us.
Help for a Friend
Like most people, I found David Holthouse's column regarding Cris Kirkwood ("Lake of Fire," April 29) interesting. However, it has been with a certain amount of amusement that I have followed the string of letters to the editor written in response to the column. At most, I am a casual fan of the Meat Puppets and, truthfully, it matters very little to me whether Kirkwood lives or dies. I wouldn't deny Kirkwood is, or at the very least was, talented, but in the great scheme of things, it doesn't bother me if he wants to shoot up until it is time for him to lie in the ground.
What I find curious is how certain fans, most of whom claim to be longtime friends, or label mates, or somehow peripheral members of the band, all seem to be lining up to comment on his condition. Are any of you people who care so deeply about Cris Kirkwood planning on doing anything? Or do you merely wish to comment and therefore claim a small role in the macabre production of his life/death? If he is important to you, a good first step would be to knock down his front door and speak to him directly. That's the first damned thing I would do if he were a friend of mine.
Reference Byron James letter to the editor defending our sheriff ("Good Riddance," May 20). I belong to a law enforcement family, and all my life have had the utmost respect for police officers. Mr. James scares me. If he is for real, it's time to turn in the badge. Surely he knew law enforcement was going to be a tough job and, unfortunately, with little thanks from a minority of the citizenry. Nevertheless, he chose his career knowing he would be dealing with the dregs of society. Sadly, in our society, someone has to deal with accident victims and child victims. That goes with the job. Mr. James shares that 24-7 and holidays with many other officers who know they have a job to do and they do it with dignity. Though it seems at times that they are unappreciated, from my point of view, they are very much appreciated, and I am not alone. When push comes to shove, I hear more empathy toward law enforcement than not. As to Sheriff Arpaio, I would say, "Discretion is the better part of valor."
Perhaps it has something to do with the low unemployment rate, but the letter from Byron James on May 20 forces us to believe that the hiring standards of our law enforcement organizations have taken a dangerous turn. Perhaps Byron James is not really a police officer at all; that would be a comfort.
It's a sad and pitiful thing when cops begin to whine. They disgrace themselves, their brethren and especially those who have gone before, bleeding out the last moments of their devoted service to us on some dirty street or filthy crackhouse floor.
For the most part, we Americans prefer the Knights of our Thin Blue Line to be stoic. We expect them to come when we summon them to duty. We expect them to bravely answer the call and to restore order and safety when chaos and terror invade our lives. We expect them to deport themselves in the finest traditions of the police service and then we expect them to go away, like salt in a wound, having prevented the spread of dangerous infection, it no longer draws attention to itself.
We don't mind if officers, who choose to work for us, close ranks when attacked. We expect it, and, to some degree, silently support it. But please, Byron James, quit sniveling about having to work on weekends, holidays and around people who smell bad. We equip and pay you quite well for these sacrifices.
In his reference to Scott Norberg, Byron James makes much of "six officers" having to "put down" (interesting choice of words) one guy. We like to see six officers on one guy, because when a suspect is so outnumbered, it generally means neither he nor our precious officers will be hurt in the encounter. But when six officers bring a restrained and unarmed suspect under control by killing him, something goes horribly wrong, and answers must be provided immediately.
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Byron James, big dog from Gilbert, even resorts to the ultimate, time-tested Mother of All Whines by referring to suspects who ". . . walk because of a bullshit technicality." I can only assume that the technicality with which he takes issue is the Constitution of the United States of America, the most perfect and precious document of freedom known to man. Well, at least he used his spell checker.
James opened his letter by defending Joe Arpaio, and I'm certain the sheriff is delighted to have such capable defenders during these turbulent times. I will admit, our sheriff is kind of cute. He's part clown, part street cop, part showman, part con artist. It's like having P.T. Barnum in your living room each night. But, this is Phoenix, the greatest show on Earth. So step right up, only one thin dime, children under 12 must have a note from their mothers.
Editor's note: James' letter indicated he lives in Gilbert. However, Gilbert police officials say he is not employed there. In fact, they say, nobody by that name is listed as a certified peace officer in Arizona.