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Letters

How Come a Judge?
I just finished reading your article on Bonnie Scherer ("Sitting Petty," Matthew Doig, April 22). Here is a woman who has clearly worked very hard to better herself and get out of the system (as she put it). Then you get some arrogant judge who is clearly a pig-headed prick who probably bitches about everything wrong with the welfare system. He then forces a pregnant woman into a very degrading jail cell because he got embarrassed by a comment made in "his courtroom" by a woman. It makes me sick that a guy like this is even in a position of authority. It reminds me of little Cartman of South Park whacking people in the shin with his baton saying, "Respect my authority!" Anyhow, you can put me on that list of pissed-off-at-the-judge people.

Terry G. Vincent
via Internet

Hopefully, the Commission of Judicial Conduct will "disabuse" Judge Chris Kramer with at least a judicial reprimand!

If it does, the text should read, "Judge Kramer, you are the architect of your own misfortune."

Broad judicial discretion given to judges can easily translate into broad judicial abuse--not uncommon in the civil arena of law. Criminal law has tighter constraints to control the conduct of "ALL" parties in an action.

I understand that Kramer is a pro tem currently, and God save the public if he moves into a full judgeship and is not made to understand the principles of and carry out the code of conduct as outlined under Canon 3, Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct.

If I were to appear before Kramer's court, and he told me to "shut up" in the same manner as Bonnie Scherer, I, too, would be spending the next 24 hours at Madison Street Jail. We cannot tolerate a judge who must wield his or her abusive authority to restrain those before them in such a minor case. There is no "honorable" status for a judge who cannot control himself or herself in his or her own court. I would speak my mind and be heard out of frustration, too!

As we used to say in the military when under the command of idiot officers, "Sir, I salute the uniform and the respect it deserves, not necessarily the person in it!"

In this case, I will respect the symbol and meaning of the robe, but not the man in it! After three years on pro tem status, Judge Kramer is obviously still not ready to be a full judge.

R. Villescas
Phoenix

I was quite interested in the article "Sitting Petty." It was well-written, and I am glad you took the time to put Bonnie Scherer's story into print. When there are judges who are supposed to serve the people who turn around and behave in such a disgraceful manner, it is important that the people know about it.

I especially like the part in the article where you mention the judge lamenting the loss of "the respect and the decorum of the court." I don't suppose that he stopped to think that his words and actions were the real cause of the loss of the decorum and the dignity of the court.

Shaun L. Williams
via Internet

It's obvious Mr. Kramer would have been more comfortable on the bench someplace in the Deep South, maybe in 1949. That way he could toss people in jail, throw away the key and have a few laughs about it down at the local gas station, while he and his pals are watching the new lift go up and down. This guy is an insult to the legal profession. I hope he pulls that kind of stunt on the wrong person someday--and then learns a little something about humility.

Rick Lenaburg
Glendale

I liked the article on Judge Chris Kramer, but I didn't care for his short temper. I don't know if the woman was abusive before he let her have it, but if she wasn't, then he deserves to spend a night in jail, too. He lost his temper too quickly and then really lost it when he told her to shut up. The final straw was sentencing her to a night in jail. That was a bad move both politically and humanely.

He should spend a night in the county lockup, and then maybe he'll have a better idea of what happens when he goes off the deep end.

Daniel Laraway
Scottsdale

Pucker Up
I dislike just about everything about your magazine, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Paul Rubin's article "A Season on the Rink" (April 22) was one of the best articles I've ever read. It was honest, concise, informative and unbiased. I am a Sports Illustrated subscriber, and this article ranks up there with some of the best.  

Steve Reding
Phoenix

Food Fight
I've come to expect very little from Howard Seftel's snoozy restaurant reviews over the years. He consistently displays a profound lack of knowledge of food preparation, resorts to banal ethnic cliches and recycles his slim repertoire of adjectives to the point of torturing his readers--even made-up ones, such as the aforementioned "snoozy."

A recent effort of Seftel's ("Vittle Italy," April 15) struck me as especially ridiculous. His careless and mean-spirited review, in which he presumed to compare two utterly disparate restaurants, Cafe Terrace and Buca di Beppo, rested on the baseless premise that both establishments would claim to offer a "real and genuine," as opposed to a "contrived and distorted," Italian dining experience.

This lazy presumption just serves to set up a straw dog for Seftel to swing at. "Do you believe Buca di Beppo is a genuine Italian restaurant?" he asks, suggesting that the people who created Buca must believe it. He then proceeds to criticize and ridicule Buca for failing to rise to a standard to which it obviously does not aspire. Amazingly, he seems to think he's cleverly deflating Buca's pretense of authenticity by likening it to a Disneyesque "Little Italyland." Is Seftel being deliberately obtuse, or is he truly such a bonehead that he could have so completely missed the point of this restaurant?

Fine, he doesn't like the food, or he isn't charmed by the "hot concept." There's no point in debating those matters of taste. But he's insulting everyone's intelligence by actually suggesting that this place was trying for authenticity and woefully missed the mark. I think it's clear to everyone who has set foot in the door--with the exception of Seftel--that Buca is a deliberately over-the-top parody of, and homage to, 1950s Little Italy-style restaurants. That is what they were going for. And one would no more expect to get "real and genuine" Italian food in Little Italy in the 1950s than one would expect to get legitimate Mexican food at Tee Pee. I'm a huge fan of Tee Pee; but I know what I'm getting there is Mexican-AMERICAN food, with a hefty dose of Mexican kitsch thrown in for good measure.

Seftel also fails to inform his readers, as he lambastes Buca for huge portions, that the huge portions are PART of the CONCEPT. Again, he doesn't have to like the concept, but he should at least base his criticism on what the people at Buca are attempting. This is, as the atmosphere and servers underscore, a restaurant for groups and celebrations. Entrees are meant to be served "family style," with a few large dishes passed around and shared by several people. Seftel deliberately gave the impression that the large portions were a weird lapse in judgment on Buca's part.

No Seftel review would be complete without those ethnic stereotypes that he so loves to truck out, but here they are used to truly bizarre effect. What's with the repeated references to Buca's supposedly "Scandinavian" roots? Really, what's up with that? First of all, Buca's founder is a man named Phil Roberts, and he's not Scandinavian. He just isn't. But apparently Seftel feels that he's uncovered some shameful secret about the restaurant's pedigree in that his careful research indicates that Roberts is from . . . Minneapolis. Ahh, say no more. How laughable that a restaurant serving Italian-American food would be based in Minneapolis, where Seftel has it on good authority that lots of Scandinavians live. Would his editors have allowed him to make similarly disparaging comments about Buca's inauthenticity had it been based in Washington, D.C., where lots of black people live? I was just wondering.

By contrast, he lavishes praise on Cafe Terrace as he goes out of his way to refer frequently to the "affable, Italian-accented proprietor" and his "Mama in the kitchen." There's even a funny joke about Sicilians and horse heads. This simple-minded obsession with what he perceives to be the ethnic origins of a restaurant's proprietor is as tiresome as it is offensive. Oooh, an Italian accent all the way out here in Phoenix. It must be good.

I'm a New Times reader who genuinely cares about the quality of restaurants in this city. I'm so disappointed that New Times is relying upon Howard Seftel to cover this beat. We'll never be a real restaurant town without a real restaurant critic.

Karen Kolbe
Paradise Valley

Howard Seftel responds: Oh, no, Ms. Kolbe, I did notice that Buca di Beppo is a "deliberately over-the-top parody of, and homage to, 1950s Little Italy-style restaurants." And as a parody and homage, it's a kitschy hoot. But as a restaurant, it's awful, unless you enjoy tasteless mounds of pseudo-Italian food.  

I also noticed, and take a lot more seriously, Kolbe's charge of ethnic stereotyping. Let's see exactly what I wrote.

According to Ms. Kolbe, in the accompanying review of Cafe Terrace, Seftel "goes out of his way to refer frequently to the 'affable, Italian-accented proprietor' and his 'Mama in the kitchen.'" No, I didn't go out of my way at all--I said it deliberately, and just once. Wouldn't you want to know who was running the restaurant?

Next, Ms. Kolbe is annoyed that I referred to Buca di Beppo's founder's Scandinavian roots. But I didn't rip Buca di Beppo because of the ethnic background of Phil Roberts, or his Minnesota address. I ripped it because of its corporate roots--the dishes here taste like they were fashioned by accountants, not chefs.

But it seems I'm anti-black, too, at least potentially. Why else would Kolbe have wondered whether New Times editors "would have allowed him to make similarly disparaging comments about Buca's inauthenticity had it been based in Washington, D.C., where lots of black people live?" This, Ms. Kolbe, is what you'd call a "straw dog," and what others would call a "straw man." I'd call it outrageous.

Finally, she notes that "we'll never be a real restaurant town without a real restaurant critic," which, presumably, I am not. I have no problem with readers debating my merits. But one thing is equally sure. We'll never be a real restaurant town as long as we have diners like Ms. Kolbe.

Beware, Capitalist Gun Nuts
I am writing to finalize this "Arm the Homeless" article y'all wrote ("Give Piece a Chance," April 1). This truly shows how naive, ignorant, and plain fucking stupid people are in Arizona.

To all those who write in saying it is stupid to give a "homeless" person a gun because they're all drunks and/or crazies, I bet you not one of those people has ever been in that horrible situation. If I were in that situation, I know I would go crazy.

Homelessness is a product of capitalism, which is all about going for it all, meaning someone has to be at the bottom. So any time you see a homeless person, you should be happy for them, especially if you love the USA, because without them, all you rich-ass bastards would have no way to get as much money as you want.

As for all you redneck stupid-ass "proud Americans" who love their Second Amendment: The more people love guns, the more they make. The more they make, the easier it is to get my hands on one. I've been oppressed by the devil's racist hand all my life. In these times, life's all fucked up and the mentality of my people (the oppressed people, hip-hoppers, Rastas, Third World civilians) don't give a fuck anymore for your fucking bullshit rules. The mentality is straight do or die. So, if you don't want to hire me because of my skin color, lifestyle or any other bullshit y'all (corporate America) come up with, I'm gonna take my piece of the pie any way I can.

So keep making guns, 'cause it makes it a lot easier to take back what's mine, what you stole from us people for so long. As long as guns are made, someone is getting killed. Fuck gun safety, because the whole purpose of a gun is to kill.

So if you love the Second Amendment, prepare to get robbed by me, 'cause on the streets, life can end any second. I'm prepared to kill anything that threatens me, just like the crooked-ass cops are taught: Shoot to kill. And you wonder why so many people are getting shot. Because almost everyone's got a gun, and everyone is afraid of each other. So if I feel threatened by your six-figure, Republican, racist ass, get ready for the plow, 'cause I don't give a fuck about no one but ME. And I'm not the only one who thinks like that. A gun makes it a lot easier to get my point across. So if you love guns, get ready for one in your face, because Armageddon is now.

Lorenzo Gonzalez
Phoenix

Arms Way
As I read David Holthouse's column ("Clip Joint," April 22), I could not help but think of the events in Colorado. The CNN moderator kept wondering how these "kids" could have the arsenal that was used, and why they did what they did. I think some of the answers could have been found in Holthouse's column. It sickened me when you observed that there were "lots of kids fondling, fiddling with and pointing guns." I visualized the two students doing just that--and it being condoned. And the bumper stickers! The mindset that creates these racist things turns my stomach. Funny how all these good American vendors are probably sitting in their living rooms tonight wondering how such a murderous rampage could happen, never thinking that maybe, just maybe, they themselves contribute to it. Their "right" to sell guns could have very possibly put those guns in those teenagers' hands, not for "home defense" but for killing and wounding innocent people.  

Thank you for your informative column. Maybe some people will see that the Brady Bill should be covering all gun sales. Unfortunately, the condoning of racism in the country also was a factor in the murders in Littleton, but the availability of guns, whether it be murder in schools or road rage or police officers, must be stopped.

Barbara Blackford
via Internet

As a rule, your articles are well-informed and well-written, regardless of whether I agree with each and every observation or conclusion drawn. I must take issue with David Holthouse's column "Clip Joint."

"Clip Joint" is riddled with misinformation, dubious deduction and exaggeration. While it's better than most of what we see from the mainstream media, Mr. Holthouse repeatedly demonstrates his ignorance and couples it with shoddy journalistic technique.

For example, regarding his opening digression on the merits of the .380 (a.k.a. 9x17 mm), he is way off base. There are some good .380s, and I saw a couple of them at Crossroads without even looking for them. One was a Walther, a fine pistol with a price tag to match. Good .380s are simply not as popular as they once were.

I enjoyed some of the bumper stickers, too. I bought one that read, "Visualize Using Your Turn Signal." Considered one that read, "PETA: People for Eating Tasty Animals." I also saw quite a few obnoxious ones; but hey, that's bumper stickers.

I saw lots of licensed dealers doing Brady checks, and only one sign of the type described in Mr. Holthouse's article "Uncle Sam within a red circle with a slash. . . ." As for what Bill Clinton and his folks say about gun shows, his credibility is about zilch after Waco, Ruby Ridge, Monica and their other shenanigans.

As for the AR-15 being the most popular item of the show, I have my doubts. Yes, I did see many AR-15s. But no way were they the majority of items sold. Also, AR-15s are pretty sophisticated weapons, contrary to Mr. Holthouse's assertions. They are user-friendly up to a point, but require much more care for optimal performance than, for example, the SKS or AK-47. And one does, contrary to Mr. Holthouse's assertion, need to aim the AR-15 (or, for that matter, any firearm) if one expects to hit the target. And what was that crack about the intelligence of Vietnam-era draftees? I recall a lottery when my number came up 26. Was Mr. Holthouse too young for the draft, or was he smart, wealthy or lucky enough to dodge it like Bill Clinton?

As for Crossroads not being a media-friendly event, what the hell do you expect? Look at the hatchet job you did on them. They have seen your kind (and worse) before. They knew what to expect, and you didn't disappoint. Why should they extend open arms of welcome to people who mean them no good?

If I didn't know better, I'd swear we had attended two different events. There may be an interesting article waiting to be written on Crossroads, or even a tome to be written on the gun subculture, but "Clip Joint" missed the target entirely.

Name withheld by request

I am writing in response to the column "Clip Joint." Once again, American gun owners are made to look foolish and/or frightening. Your article summons up pictures of kids grinning over guns and dreaming about shooting up the countryside, gang members just waiting to buy new arms to kill us all in our beds. Mr. Holthouse says he didn't think taking notes on the bumper stickers was okay because one of the sellers was wearing a .45 on his hip. If he wanted information about the stickers, why not ask the dealer? Or buy a few? I guess it's more politically correct to be afraid of guns than to learn the truth.

The gun-control laws only affect law-abiding citizens. Criminals could not care less about the law. They're "criminals." Get that through your head. New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago have the strictest gun laws in the country. One cannot even own a handgun within these cities. Yet they have high handgun murder rates. If gun control works, why aren't these cities free of violent gun crime? It's because criminals make their livings off of unarmed people. Owning a gun is a personal choice for many Americans, in spite of what the liberal media and White House think.  

As a registered nurse and veteran, I have seen more of what gun violence can do than most ever will. No citizen has anything to fear from legitimate gun owners. Criminals, however, will always be criminals. Liberals who want to fight crime should enforce the laws we have and put violent criminals in jail where they belong instead of trying to disarm honest citizens. If they want to pass laws to help fight crime, then pass one against the plea bargain.

Stephen L. Miller
Phoenix

Utility Men
Thanks to Republican corporation commissioners Carl Kunasek and Tony West, top aides to commissioners not only received a 13 percent raise over last year and now make more than the commissioners themselves, but also now make more than 100 percent more than aides did four years ago (Flashes, April 15). Republicans crow about the private free market, but they covet jobs that should be imbued with the public good and public service rather than enhancement of their own private wealth.

On April 14, commissioners Kunasek and West, after much rhetoric glorifying the free market, voted to revive electricity generation competition rules without a Solar Portfolio Standard, which originally was in the rules to provide a market overlay and eventually a market backstop, to commercialize and drive down the price of solar, just as California had helped commercialize and drive down the price of wind from more than 30 cents/kwh to 5 cents during the past 20 years. Lower-cost solar is important for economic development in Arizona, for the planet's two billion people without electricity, for abating global climate change, for a diverse "fuel" mix for electric generation, and for decentralizing economic and political power.

The electric generation market has enough public attributes that all people should be concerned about it. Please call commissioners Kunasek and West to voice your concerns about including solar in a meaningful way in Arizona's future. Don't be bamboozled by the short-term, low-price argument--it only leads to "knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Roland James
Phoenix


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