Lobbying and Weaving
It seems that every time you write a story about tax breaks to business, you mislead the public regarding the benefit to individual businesses. This is the first time I've written to you about this issue, although it is by no means the first time I have recognized your "business bashing" tactics by not fully presenting the facts.

In your tax breaks story ("The Law of the Land," Amy Silverman and Patti Epler, January 7), you say that "Tosco, which owns about 550 Circle Ks in Arizona, could get a $50,000 tax break per store." This would lead your readers to believe that Tosco is getting a tax break of more than $27 million. In fact, the "$50,000 tax break" is an exemption of full cash value. Fifty thousand dollars of full cash value equates to approximately $1,500 tax. Multiply that times 550, and you get a tax break of approximately $825,000, which is nowhere close to $27 million.

While no one would argue that this is a small amount of money--and I will not argue the merits or demerits of this legislation--it is not the astronomical figure that you have led your readers to believe.

Name withheld by request

Silverman/Epler respond: There should be no confusion. The story states the exact amount of the tax break--$14 million for all companies the first year.

Excellent story! I live in New Mexico, and I wish someone would expose similar problems here. Thanks!

David Brandt
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Bravo to Amy Silverman! In this illuminating series of articles, you've "comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable" better than in anything I've read in a long time. I especially liked the comparison of the miserly budgets of the Children's Action Alliance and Child Protective Services with the lavish corporate tax cuts totaling $450 million. Big money and big influence explain a lot about Arizona's severe problems with child abuse, mental health, pollution, etc.

As Arizona residents, voters and taxpayers, we need this type of journalism so we can protect our interests on Election Day. I am only sorry that we couldn't have read this series in October--before the election.

Diane Sicotte

Prude Awakening
Great story on Arizona's attempt to legislate sexual morality ("Moral Sex," David Holthouse and Paul Rubin, December 31). The longer I live here, the more I wonder why exactly I put up with all the close-mindedness and moral superiority the general media (not New Times) and politicians try to impress upon us. These people need to live in other cities like San Francisco or New Orleans to experience some culture and diversity, rather than trying to live in some plastic bubble.

Kristi Meyer
As an experienced swinger, I have found that the new laws against swinger clubs are, at best, insane. I have been to every club in Phoenix and I have never even seen any kind of prostitution activities, nor anyone who appeared to be a "working girl." I feel that the people who passed these laws were acting out of ignorance, and that if they ever had the guts to go to a club just to observe what goes on there, they would see that it is for adults only and that everyone there is consenting. In response to something I read in your article about two underage men going to Impressions and watching cheap pornography, I find that to be very interesting since the last time I was there they had no televisions, and no movies were showing. When I questioned the bartender about that, he told me that they did not have a video permit and were not allowed to show movies there, pornographic or otherwise.

I feel that if the City of Phoenix is going to start trying to run and rule its citizens' morals, it had better look at its own first. I have noticed over the past several years a number of problems in the local governments, and a phrase comes to mind: Methinks he doth protest too much.

One more thing. If the swingers clubs close, does the city really think swingers are going to stop enjoying themselves? I don't think so. And where do you think they will have their good times? Probably in the quiet, residential neighborhood that the city is trying to "protect."

Name withheld by request

My husband and I just read the article regarding the crackdown on sexually oriented businesses. We thank the writers for being unbiased. My letter is directed at all the tight-assed people who think that if they don't like something, no one else should either. My morality cannot and will not be dictated by anyone. What I choose to do as an adult is my choice. Ranting and raving about city hall's decision is too easy and extremely lengthy. Basically, when I go to the grocery store and buy, let's say, soda, I buy one certain brand all the time, even though I know that there are many other brands available. I may not like those other brands, and may think why does this store even carry those crappy sodas? But do I go to a council meeting and ask for them to be outlawed? No. Because others like it. Why, I don't know, but they have the freedom of choice to purchase what they want, and, for that matter, where they want.

Now, if you're someone who thinks that my analogy is simplifying things a little too much, hey, that's okay, because you have the freedom to think that. But now I don't have the freedom of choice to buy that soda at an adult social club.

Thank you, city hall, for making that choice for me.
Name withheld by request

Youngstown Without Pity
Thank you for the article on Youngtown ("Scourge of Youngtown," Terry Greene Sterling, December 31). My parents live there, and I will see that they read this article. It will open their eyes, and hopefully others in the town. Keep up the good work.

Name withheld by request


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