Language Lessons
I liked Michael Kiefer's lengthy article on the bilingual education issue in Arizona, which I found quite evenhanded, and much more in-depth than anything that had yet appeared in the dailies ("Bilingual Blues," March 18). Much of the most detailed and thorough coverage of the California initiative occurred in New Times Los Angeles and L.A. Weekly, and it seems like the pattern may be repeated in Arizona. Thanks again for the apparent time you put in researching the issue, though there's a lot more to go.

Ron Unz, chair,
English for the Children
Los Angeles, California

Thank you for your article on bilingual education in Arizona. I found Michael Kiefer's research and the way he put the story together so beautiful. I found his story to have a strong essence of the heart, backed by a healthy range of well-documented sources.

Carmen Joy Tenney
via Internet

In my opinion, the references to "home language" in "Bilingual Blues" represents the key and ultimate solution to the problem, not whatever school or teaching system may or may not be most appropriate.

A case in point: My maternal grandfather was a Swedish immigrant, and I am told that Swedish was the "home language" until his first child reached school age, at which time he decreed that from then on, they would speak only English at home, since that's what was required to get ahead in America. Although my grandfather never lost his thick Swedish accent, I don't recall ever hearing my mother, uncle or aunts speak Swedish. I don't speak a word of Swedish, nor do my siblings or cousins, and so far as I know none of us feel culturally disadvantaged as a result.

As for "getting ahead in America," my uncle ended up head of the geology department at a major university. My aunts and mother all had professional careers. All of my grandfather's grandchildren went on to graduate-level degrees. Seems like the moral of the story would be: Change the home environment, and the schools will take care of themselves.

T.J. Gibson

OK Chorale
I read with open-mouthed astonishment the letter from Ellis Badon (March 11) concerning Tony Ortega's story, "I Varied Wyatt Earp" (March 4). After having just read Ortega's devastating expose on Glenn Boyer's fraudulent book, I Married Wyatt Earp, Badon writes about Boyer that, "Anyone who says, after years of reading his material, 'he tricked me,' I can only say, you allowed yourself to be tricked." This is an amazing statement. On November 13, 1997, Badon wrote this letter to The Tombstone Tumbleweed on the subject of Boyer:

"As a journalist, I have a lot of difficulty with Glenn Boyer's processional attitude.It's easy to pass something off as fiction, but not after the fact.

"We in the newspaper business have space devoted specifically for news stories. They should be facts, not opinions. As you know, however, opinion creeps in to one degree or another in every story. When it comes to blatant opinion, that belongs on our editorial or opinion pages, or is labeled clearly as 'opinion.'

"Mr. Boyer says he is a novelist and a damn good one. I agree. But if he wants to give us fiction, he should label it as that from the get-go. I don't know about you, but from this point forward, everything I read by Boyer will be 'suspect' and not be trusted as fact. More likely, it will be fiction and not unlike his excuse for behavior in this matter."

All one can conclude from this is: Glenn Boyer didn't trick you, Ellis; you allowed yourself to be tricked.

Allen Barra
South Orange, New Jersey

Grave Injustice
I am writing in response to "For Reasons Unknown" (David Holthouse, February 11), the first article New Times has ever written that actually hit home with me. I am also writing in response to all the letters and e-mails that poured in in response to it. I was just as curious to read the letters as I was to read the article itself.

Everyone wanted to somehow be associated with Dana Wells, and having their names printed in the paper was what they wanted. I can tell you that damn near every one of those people didn't know Dana as well as they claimed. Everyone "knew" Dana. Phoenix is a small town, and Shadow Mountain is a small school. Everyone is somehow connected. I knew Dana and everyone else in the car, although only by casual acquaintance. No, I did not know them well. But, well enough to know that David Holthouse's article was rather one-sided.

It has always been apparent when I read a New Times article what point they are trying to get across. Facts are stated and, I realize now, facts are left out. It is called selective journalism.  

Yes, Dana was good. But to portray him like a saint is sadly untrue.
It is unfair to think that the other passengers in Dana's car were the only ones at fault. Maybe a confrontation did happen, maybe a chase did ensue. But I know that Shawn and Miles had a lot of enemies. If it did happen, maybe it wasn't over drugs.

The article stated that they all smoked a joint at Dana's. Doesn't anyone realize that smoking pot impairs driving ability? It also stated that while Dana couldn't drink beer, he did have a couple of vodka cranberries at Liguori's. What was Dana's blood-alcohol level? And for anyone who has ever partied with Dana before, I know I'm not the only one who was curious: Why wasn't there any mention of a toxicology report? It is entirely possible he had other drugs in his system.

While I feel for the Cavalera family, the New Times reaches so many people, and I know that Gloria knows enough people and is vengeful enough that there's a gang of people out there that hate everyone involved in this tragic accident and believe Gloria's theory. It has to be considered that the passengers have undergone a serious trauma and their lives will never be the same. Now everyone knows who they are, and they believe the article. But the basis of the article has to be taken for what it is: a theory.

I didn't even personally like Shawn or Miles, and I believe at least one of them remembers more than what he claims to, but maybe they aren't telling any details for a reason. Right or wrong, I think it is only fair that both sides are considered, not just "the stepson of a rock star's."

Name withheld by request

That's A More
City Attorney Hays and his legal advisers on the Christian right ought to go to work for Ken Starr ("Civil Libertines," David Holthouse, March 18). I don't push my value system on others and I don't need their values pushed on me! Get the hell out of Arizona, you fundamentalist asses!

Ted Bundy

Bureau of Condemnation
Paul Rubin's article on the slowness of Maricopa County courts ("That Would Be You, Mr. Chief Justice," March 18) comes as no surprise. I worked there for more than two years, as a court information processor (clerk) in the Adult Probation Department.

The county is a typical government agency: absolutely no motivation to produce or serve, since lifetime employment is guaranteed. It overpays sheriff's administrators ($112,000? For what?) and underpays the rest. It prides itself on hiring minorities, paying them little, then spends most of its time wondering why little gets done. It is wrapped in bureaucracy and self-serving entanglements to the point where little, if anything, ever gets done, much less properly. Its hiring practices are nepotism-in-action, refusing to start anyone not a relative at any but the bottom rung, regardless of experience, education or skills. Most employees can't wait to be hired across the street by the City of Phoenix, a mecca of government efficiency and effectiveness, where morale is 100 percent higher, where people are polite, and care and provide good customer service. Multiple layers of supervision--impossible to overhaul, eliminate, or reduce--strangle daily operations.

Sad thing is, nothing will probably ever change. Sheriff Joe will continue to bully anyone who threatens his kingdom and his thugs; the courts will continue in their daily, painfully slow grind; hiring practices will continue to be a joke. This is what the taxpayers are getting for their dollars.

John Schwendler

Right Punks
I don't know where you come up with the nominees for the "New Times Music Showcase," but I've grown weary of the same old nominees every year. Just who is it that does the picking? Whoever it is obviously is totally inactive in the punk scene. For the past three years, you've posted the same bands in the punk category. I think it sucks that there is only one designated blank for "other." I could name at least five "other" bands that have been around a lot longer and are far more suitable for playing in the showcase. Who the fuck is Reuben's Accomplice, anyway? Are they friends of someone on the staff? You people need to get out more. Has anybody ever heard of the Wongs or the Fatskins or Mob 40's or the Trash Idols? And what about garage punk? That's definitely in the punk category. Anybody ever heard of the Brakemen or Thee Oh No's or the Vices? Why even bother having a punk category if you aren't showcasing bands that are truly a part of the local punk scene? There would be a more diverse crowd of attendees if some of these local talents were on the ballot. I suggest that whoever scouts these nominees get more involved with the scenes they are "scouting."  

Melanie Reeves

Music editor Gilbert Garcia responds: The selection process basically involves my conferring with people who are knowledgeable about a particular genre of music, and putting together a list based on those suggestions. Ultimately, though, the decision is mine.

It's a flawed, subjective process, but that would be true of any approach we could take. There are so many bands out there, it's inevitable that every year many will be frustrated or disappointed. Aggravating the problem is the lack of consensus on what any category means. There are an infinite number of sub-genres under the umbrella of punk, or funk, or hip-hop. If we start creating distinct categories for all these sub-genres (e.g., garage punk, pop-punk, etc.), we'll end up with 500 bands and a 50-hour showcase. That's not doable.

Differences of opinion are understandable, but you're wrong when you say that the same bands end up in the punk category every year. Only Mad At 'Em has been nominated each of the last three years, and three of last year's four punk bands were not nominated the year before. What's most important, though, is that we honestly pick what we consider to be the best (not the most popular, or most accepted within the local scene) bands who are available for each category. I'm more concerned with the fact that Reuben's Accomplice is a great band than whether or not they're part of your--or any other--clique.

I'd like to comment on the article "Fare Game" (Chris Farnsworth, March 11). I was appalled by the way Phoenix police put Frank Leyvas' life in danger when there was no reason to. And then to say Leyvas should be thanking the police, not complaining. Thanking them for what? Almost killing him?

I am new to Phoenix. I moved here from Connecticut in December. Since I have been here, I have heard some strange things that these supposed professional police officers (the best in the country) have done. With all these incidents taking place, I am convinced that the Phoenix Police Department is trigger happy.

I am in the armed security field and have received training in the use of deadly force (training done by police departments), and I feel that the whole incident involving Frank Leyvas was handled badly. If the police were worried about keeping Troy Davis confined somewhere, they should have taken him out while he was still in the hotel room. He was in there by himself. Or taken him out when he left the room. The police had officers in the very next room.

In such an operation, the main concern is the safety of uninvolved people in or around the area. The police seemed to have no concern about this. The way I see it is that the police wanted this guy (Davis) dead and did not care who got in the way. They decided to forfeit, if need be, an innocent bystander (who was just doing his job picking up a cab fare). Scary, isn't it?

I hope Frank Leyvas wins his lawsuit. Leyvas should also demand a public apology from all the officers that were involved. Maybe then the police will think twice before drawing their weapons and firing over, around, through and by a person who was as innocent as a newborn baby.

Andre Doiron

Flashing Lights
In the column of March 18, The Flash devoted a couple of paragraphs putting down an article that appeared in the Mesa Tribune on March 13. That article, by writer Kevin McKeehan, was commented on the two-year anniversary of the event known as "The Phoenix Lights." For some reason The Flash took a very negative and almost angry position about the article saying: ". . . for complete boneheadedness, the Mesa Tribune took first place with a dishonest story that was, unfortunately, picked up by the Associated Press." I'm not sure what The Flash meant by "dishonest," but since I am the person whose picture accompanies the article and in fact was a witness, along with my wife, my 11-year-old son and my 13-year-old grandson, I feel compelled to make a comment.

On the evening of March 13, 1997, we all stood out in front of my house and watched an alpha-shaped pattern of five lights approach us from the Prescott area. After about 12 minutes it was close enough to see that these lights were set into a dark geometric shape like a carpenter's square. Then the whole thing passed directly overhead about 100 feet above us. We know it was that low because after passing over it went through a gap in the mountain peaks at the end of Hatcher Road just above the Squaw Peak Parkway, and we could see where it passed on the mountain was not very much higher than us. This thing was very large, maybe 600 or 700 feet long and didn't make any sound at all. It was traveling so slowly that it almost seemed it was going to stop above us. It took about 15 seconds to pass over us.  

Two things really stick in my mind about it. First, the last light on one side passed directly overhead, and my wife and I got a good opportunity to look directly up into the light. It was about six or seven feet in diameter, perfectly circular and seemed more like a hole filled with super-pure-white light that was held in not by glass but by some kind of field.

Second, was after the light passed, almost immediately the end of the arm passed over, and the stars were uncovered as it went by, and I noticed how very sharp and squared-off the end was. The shape was just dark, blocking out the stars and sky. The four of us stood there amazed and then my 85-year-old uncle came out of the house just in time to see the "lights" pass through the notch in the mountain. What I am saying here is the honest truth and I believe that what passed over was definitely not of this earth. The smug attitude of opinionated "boneheads" who deny the testimony of regular folks like me and my family and call anyone who doesn't agree with them names, only serves to expose their own narrow-mindedness and insecurities. When reporters filter information to please their own emotionally held beliefs, then they become equal with those whom they accuse of being dishonest. Anyone with a sense of "fair play" and any kind of common sense can spot this kind of person right away and avoid getting involved with them.

By the way, the Reader's Digest is coming out with a feature article on the March 13, 1997, UFO happening in its May issue. Keep an open mind and a gentle attitude.

Timothy Ley

The Flash responds: Tim, my buddy, lay off Reader's Digest; it's impairing your comprehension. The Flash took the Trib to task for reporting, "two years after Valley residents saw a mysterious V-shaped object in Arizona skies, no one has any idea what it could have been." This is patently untrue. Lots of people have ideas about what it could have been, including you--not to mention the amateur astronomer who looked at the formation with his telescope and saw square-winged planes. How are you filtering that information, Tim? The Flash doesn't claim to know with certainty what the unusual "lights" were (in fact, the Flash earnestly hopes it was a UFO). What the Flash does know is that it's kinda weird that your grandson is older than your son.

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