Excellent article on the BOB ("If You Spend It, Will They Come?" John Dougherty, February 18). As the scandal begins to erupt over the money, let's not forget the "enablers," the fat cats and political types on the fringes who aided and abetted the gigantic baseball rip-off.

We need a good recap of all the events along with the names and pictures of the weasels who plowed headlong, with other people's money, into a "world class" sports venue that was consistently promised to make money from "people all over the Southwest who [would] come to see major league baseball." Bet that revenue stream is prominent on the (negative) balance sheet.

And please don't forget to remind us again of lofty promises and huge benefits to be derived of having the Big Three sports represented in the Valley and folks in other states looking enviously upon the sports dynasty in Phoenix and deciding, gee, let's go there for all the great teams.

And jobs. Remember all the jobs? Now, these weren't going to be your garden-variety, hamburger-flippin', juice-bar type jobs. These were going to be JOBS WORTH HAVING (Arizona Republic-type emphasis). Heck, a quick stroll on any of the mezzanines quickly shows all the smiling faces behind the service counters humming through the day, preparing hot dogs, salads and (ouch) hamburgers. Those sorts of JOBS WORTH HAVING are a little tough, but they do have a nice 401(k)/health benefits package, don't they?

And the MAGIC OF BASEBALL! Remember the magic and how it would utterly transform all the children after attending even one game, the ambient resonance of the American Pastime being sufficient to produce many family golden moments and enduring memories to grow up with? Why, the relationship revolution between parents and children alone justified the cost, so the logic went. The magic was promised to extend to the city's poorest residents with low-cost tickets available.

Now, read about the mounting crisis and take a good look at the balance sheets. Does it still feel world-class and magical, with a lot of great jobs?

Chris Long
Columbus, Georgia

The sidebar ("Stadium District Riding High," John Dougherty, February 18) to your article about Jerry Colangelo's Diamondbacks is quite baffling. In it you claim that the Stadium District "appears to have been a good deal for the county." This is despite the fact you report that the taxpayers' expected income during 1999 will be only around $1 million. When we consider that taxpayers have "invested" $238 million on the stadium, our return is less than one-half of 1 percent per year. You mentioned in the Colangelo article that his partners expect a 5 percent return on their investment--why should we be happy with a return only 10 percent as great as theirs?

You quoted the ballpark's booking agent (who's hardly an impartial source) as saying that the "Stadium District negotiated a phenomenal deal." While our deal may not be as bad as others (such as Pittsburgh's or Cleveland's), it is still a bad deal for the taxpayer, and is a worse deal than some others, such as San Francisco. You obviously think that since we got screwed less than some other citizens around the country, we "negotiated" a good deal. Private businesses such as the Diamondbacks should not receive corporate welfare for their playgrounds. Unfortunately, your misguided statements can only help the Cardinals and Coyotes in their efforts to get huge public subsidies for their proposed stadium districts. I hope you plan to present both sides of the debate regarding those two stadium districts before the public votes in May.

Gary Tredway

Editor's note: The letter-writer mischaracterizes what Dougherty reported. Dougherty did not report that the "Stadium District appears to have been a good deal for the county." He reported, "[T]he agreement forged to build the ballpark now appears to have been a good deal for the county, for a number of reasons." There is a distinct difference, implicit in which is the knowledge that the Stadium District already had been created and the sales tax levied.

Wily Peyote
I read with interest your cover story on peyote ("A Vision Gone Bust," Terry Greene Sterling, February 18). I thought you might be interested in some Arizona history.

In 1963, I investigated and eventually defended in court a Native American who was accused of using peyote. In those days, there were no exceptions to the criminal law for religious use; if you used peyote, religious rationale or not, it was a felony.

The defendant was named Mary Attaki. She was Navajo. The contact was the Native American Church. As you are aware, this is a church transcending tribes. The individual who was the head of the church at the time was a Crow named Frank Takes Gun. The trial was in Coconino County. It was a judge trial with no jury, presided over by Yale McFate, a Superior Court judge in Maricopa County who sat there expressly to try this case.  

My agreed-to expert witness was Aldous Huxley. His then-recent book dealt with the effects of peyote, and he was prepared to testify as to the religious significance, on a historical and contemporary basis, of peyote and peyote rites. Unfortunately, just before the trial, he died; however, as it turned out, I had a first-rate, marvelous expert, a professor and scholar from Colorado named Omar Stewart.

At the trial itself, Professor Stewart simulated the peyote rites, and the courtroom was turned into a verisimilitude of those rites.

There was no question Miss Attaki used peyote, but there was also no question that she was an ardent peyoteist in the religious sense, and it was on this constitutional basis the case was defended; namely, constitutional impediments for the government to prosecute because of First Amendment religious rights and concomitant rights found in the state Constitution. She was acquitted and the judge wrote a magnificent decision. It was the first such case in the country successfully tried.

On a personal note, of the many constitutional cases I have handled and taken to trial, this was the most enjoyable. It may sound a little odd and perhaps obscene, since a woman's freedom was at risk, but the pleasure of meeting all the people I did and the hypnotic spell Professor Stewart cast on the court was something to behold.

Herbert L. Ely

Bravo! New Times has managed to roundly ridicule a man who dared to stand up for his rights. Once again, Big Brother is the sacred cow, unquestioned. What does the Arizona Constitution actually say about religion?

"Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured to every inhabitant of this state, and no inhabitant of the state shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship . . ." (Article 20, 1st Ordinance).

Well, I have served time in jail, and been molested in person and property on account of my mode of religious worship. The government doesn't like the Constitution, however, so the government just ignores it in persecuting people like Leo Mercado and me.

You can open up a topless club. You can sell or rent X-rated videos for men to "worship" in the privacy of their homes. But try to promote communion with God via the ingestion of sacred plants. That will not be tolerated! Pornography? Yes. Spirituality? Absolutely not! The War on Drugs is a Holy War, after all. Religious freedom means you are free to worship in the manner Big Brother says you may worship. Nothing else will be tolerated. Thanks for a totally unenlightening "expose."

Peter Wilson

Read your article. Interesting. But I do worry what's next. I couldn't find where Leo was really harming anyone. That should have been the main point. Okay, so he's a deadbeat dad by not paying his child support, but I felt he was being harassed. I also don't see where the Indians should have a claim on peyote, either. Even though Leo most likely has started the law looking at those religious practices again, because all of those sour-lifed politicians who have nothing better to do than harass individuals living a life they wished they could, what other individuals will suffer because of their religious practices?

Will they attack those of us who practice Wicca and burn/smoke mugwort for our spells? What about dancing naked or making love underneath the moon to give praise? Will that be attacked someday by law enforcement, too? Ignorance causes fear, and fear causes radical decisions to be made. That is how laws are made in America. Are we not already controlled by society on what we do behind our own bedroom doors and on our own time?

Gloria Brashier
via Internet

After reading your article "Pride and Prejudice" (Paul Rubin, February 4), I have to say that I'm extremely glad I don't live in such a racist part of the United States where people are so openly discriminated against and antagonized for being a specific ethnicity and skin color.

I am speaking as a college-attending Asian American who lives in California, and I find it disgusting and vile that some of the individuals and the police department that handled the Thunderbird incident made such a mess of the whole ordeal. The ultimate blame falls on the faculty of Thunderbird who failed to uphold their responsibilities to make the school a safe learning environment for all the kids, regardless of race.  

I have gone through much of the same racist attitudes growing up, and I have to say that America in general has to relearn the fundamentals of humanity and what Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights speech was really about. It's sad to think in this day and age that racism is still very much alive in this country. Seeing this nation's racist history repeating itself is a sure-fire indicator that this problem isn't going to go away.

Davie Liu
via Internet

It was shocking to read some of the attitudes expressed by readers in the letters to the editor in your February 18 edition. I refer primarily to those in response to an article you ran regarding conflicts between groups of high school students and their relation to a teen suicide. At first glance, it may seem that I don't have much room to talk, because I honestly didn't read the article. However, in reality this probably gives me more objectivity. If the article oversympathetically portrayed immigrants and the dead boy's family as victims (though I'm sure the family feels victimized), then perhaps the criticism is warranted, but the overall tone of the letters was of condemnation toward "them" (meaning legal immigrants), and "those people."

This conveys a self-righteous, ignorant, American ethnocentrism that can be summed up in one word: racism.

I'm visiting from out of town. I know, I know, don't let the door hit me on the way out, blah, blah, blah. No place is free of short-sighted views like those expressed in these letters, but I just hope that when this country falls, the invading forces make refugees out of those readers first. Maybe then they'll realize that their sentiments are shallow and naive.

Name withheld by request

Dana Point
This story of Dana Wells ("For Reasons Unknown," David Holthouse, February 11) was very sad and tragic. What can one say when a youth is taken in the prime of his life? If these two other boys who were in the car thought it was so cool to be friends with Dana because his stepfather is from the band Sepultura, why put his life in danger? Why not come forward with the truth now that tragedy has struck? It's a moral outrage that these two boys have made money off the death of their friend, yet they can't say what happened that night. I hope these two young men live long, healthy lives with the guilt on their shoulders. Hopefully one day their simultaneous amnesia will be cured and poor Dana will finally rest in peace.

Mary L. Ramirez

The Hard Celibacy
Your short piece on the column by Arizona Republic staffer Doug Carroll ("A Hand for Doug," Flashes, February 18) was unnecessarily mean-spirited. Perhaps you would prefer that Mr. Carroll engage in sex out of wedlock and go into detail on his justifications to his 9-year-old son? I believe that the obvious failures of the sexual revolution and the ill effects of this country's generally permissive attitude about sexual relations would be ample reason to support and applaud Mr. Carroll's decision to abstain. While I am sure that he has other good reasons for his decision, his one stated reason is good enough to be worthy of our (and your) support.

Patrick Mertz

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