A Fine Meth
Paul Rubin's article, "Suspects of Convenience," in your May 28 edition, stated that the police warned the major retailers that selling certain over-the-counter medicines could be illegal because they could be cooked into illegal drugs. It also said the police did not warn the Americans of Arab descent who owned a number of mom-and-pop convenience stores.

Did these hardworking, Arab-American citizens, without prior criminal records, solicit illegal sales of legal medications, or were they entrapped based upon a hidden technicality by those with an agenda? If the latter is true, why did the police consider this item to have had a higher priority than much more serious crimes?

It would appear from reading Rubin's article that the shopkeepers, some of whom could have been deported had they been found guilty, were set up. If so, is it possible that their constitutional right to equal protection was violated? Is this yet another example of how our rights are eroding?

As you know, there are those who believe the Chandler police arrested a number of illegal aliens and even American citizens of Mexican descent without probable cause but rather based upon their skin color and command of the English language for the purpose of deportation. Was it within their jurisdiction to do so or did they violate the law?

Is there a chilling relationship between what happened to the Americans of Arab and Mexican descent? Is it possible we are in a period of "ethnic cleansing" that could affect many other minorities one group at a time? That's an absurd extrapolation; isn't it?

Rich Rosen

Is this the best thing our government can come up with? They go undercover to buy Sudafed, Actifed and Mini-Thins at mom-and-pop stores and turn around and charge them with a crime? What law did they break, trying to survive in this day and age against larger stores?

I know Amir and Fay Alyas. I have been shopping at their store for four years. They're good people, but, yes, there have been times when I talk about certain things and I know they don't understand and just smile and say, "Have a good day."


Reform Madness
Contrary to the May 14 article "Waiting for McCain" (Amy Silverman), Senator John McCain should not be attacked but commended for the leadership he has shown in the fight for campaign finance reform in Congress.

McCain has tenaciously challenged special interests and entrenched incumbents who have fought to protect the campaign finance status quo. That's why Common Cause gave him an award earlier this year citing his "courage, commitment and perseverance in the fight to restore integrity and fairness to government."

He successfully built a bipartisan majority in the Senate in support of his bill banning soft money--the unlimited, unregulated contributions from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals that are corrupting our democracy. Because a majority of senators supported the McCain-Feingold bill, opponents had to resort to a filibuster to block passage of the bill. But the same bill is now on the floor of the House and may come back to the Senate again.

In addition, the "Waiting for McCain" article repeats the erroneous contention of reform opponents that the McCain-Feingold soft money ban is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld restrictions on the size and source of contributions to candidates and parties. Last year, 126 constitutional scholars wrote a letter to Congress concluding that the soft money ban contained in McCain-Feingold is constitutional.

We commend Senator McCain for his courage in the fight to clean up government and to make our elections fairer and more democratic.

Ann McBride, president
Common Cause
Washington, D.C.

Dennis Burke, executive director
Common Cause/Arizona

Hot Copy
This is the first time that I've been faintly tempted to respond to a printed word. But after reading the article about eating jalapenos ("Cowering Inferno," Barry Graham, May 28), I'm barely able to keep the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Being a 47-year-old born and bred Arizonan, I know exactly where you are coming from. Many times I've entered into pepper-eating contests with many of my Hispanic friends over the years. The end result (no pun intended), has been the affliction that Graham mentioned in this column. I even believed that I've suffered permanent damage from such excesses. The doctors say no, but I know better.

Please accept my deepest sympathies and my thanks on writing about your experience on a subject that holds many memories (not all of them fond), for me and my years growing up here in the Southwest.

David G. Melcher
via Internet

I may have laughed as much, but I have never laughed harder than at "Cowering Inferno." I brought it back home to New Orleans and have been shoving it under my buddies' noses, and they are screaming for copies. I don't get to Phoenix much, but rest assured, I will always be looking out for Barry Graham's writing.

Pablo Schor
New Orleans

Barry Graham's jalapeno soup article cracked me up. Rarely do I laugh out loud reading an article, but he killed me with that one! Sorry I got so much enjoyment from his suffering!

Loren Wise
via Internet

Suspicious Minds
This is in response to "Overdressed," by Barry Graham (May 21).
Imagine that several New Times offices had been bombed. Imagine a constant stream of more bomb threats. The bombers, though seen, were not apprehended. And then a man fitting that description is found in your building with a suitcase. Wouldn't you call the police regardless of his skin color? Or would you tell everyone to ignore him because somebody might think we are picking on black people?

Four Valley jewelry stores were held up recently at gunpoint. Lives were threatened and hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods stolen. One gang is implicated in at least 11 of these crimes in two states. Should this be ignored simply so feelings are not hurt?

A month ago another jeweler was murdered by a robber in Fresno. The two criminals were Asian. Would you blame Fresno stores for being suspicious of Asians now? If the black man in Scottsdale had been white, would you have written about it?

Roger Ellington
via Internet

Author, Author
Bang-up job by Amy Silverman on former Scottsdale Community College professor Jim Martin ("Junior College Confidential," May 7).

Silverman's piece on the retired journalism instructor and his recently self-published expose of goings-on within the Maricopa Community College District did--as Silverman promised--reveal a failure "with regard to the most basic of journalistic tasks." The most obvious deficiencies, however, are Silverman's.

She's quick to sneer at Martin's inaccuracies concerning dates, names and places. Apparently the errors she managed to pick out in her "quick perusal" of Policies of Deceit freed her from the necessity of doing her job as a reporter.

"It would take months to thoroughly research each of the claims made in the 320-page book," Silverman wrote. Since she didn't have that kind of time, Silverman did the next best thing. She scribbled a piece of tripe so slanted it wouldn't have merited a passing grade in one of Martin's--or any other journalism professor's--undergrad reporting classes.

Silverman built her "story" around quotes from several characters who claim they were unjustly maligned by their inclusion in Martin's book. She created a secondhand character assassination.

Hard-hitting newshound Silverman knows that time is of the essence, so she wastes none of it checking out any of Martin's claims. Instead, she accepts as gospel the word of the supposed injured parties. She made MCCD Chancellor Paul Elsner sound like a saint for recognizing Martin's right to make whatever claims he wants. Of course, she didn't bother to do any research of her own, but she did stress Elsner's assurance that everything Martin said was untrue.

Silverman included comments from SCC President Art DeCabooter, who rubbished not only the book, but Martin's work at the college as well. DeCabooter said the book reminded him of the "old campus newspaper," to which Martin was adviser, "bordering on the false and ludicrous."

Never mind that The Campus News, before DeCabooter and SCC pulled the plug on it, was a consistent award-winner and launched numerous topnotch journalists to the forefront of the Valley media, including New Times.

It was a catchy quote, so why bother questioning its accuracy?
Never mind that anyone who's spent five minutes on the SCC campus knew that the internal politics played out by DeCabooter and Co. are simply mind-boggling.

Why waste time checking to see if any of Martin's claims are legitimate, when you can contact a handful of people to malign the man? Of course it would be just as easy to look up other sources who might support or even substantiate Martin's claims, but that would be too much like work. Much easier to run some good, juicy vitriol.

Silverman even included without question condemnation by Rick DeGraw, Elsner's "administrative assistant" and Arizona political dogsbody with a far from savory record.

She didn't let Martin defend himself in print, either. She doesn't even contest any of his claims, preferring secondhanded slander to anything approaching factual analysis.

The only thing unclear about Silverman's article is whether the abysmally poor coverage is a result of bias or good old-fashioned incompetence. Either way, it's piss-poor reporting.

Ben Leatherman


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