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Letters

Campus Rumpus
Since the article in the May 7 issue by Amy Silverman about my book, Policies of Deceit in Our Public Schools and Colleges, sold a few copies, I want to express my appreciation for your publishing the article ("Junior College Confidential"), complete with a telephone number.

I found it somewhat amusing, however, that Ms. Silverman would question my journalistic skills, which include 15 years as a reporter and executive on three large daily newspapers and 20 years teaching collegiate journalism for two community colleges and a university. She questions the entire creditability of my book since I referred to John Carver, author of Boards That Make a Difference, as Canadian.

My book is a crusade against what Carver is doing with his book--encouraging elected school officials to violate state laws and cede their sworn duties to the public to an educational chief executive officer. My book recites horror stories of this happening and the consequences.

Neither of Carver's books lists where he is from, and since the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, his alma mater, declined to reveal his birthplace, I relied on other sources. Those sources heard Carver speak at seminars. Board members from three separate public institutes of learning said Carter, in his lecture, said he came to the United States from Canada. Based on this, one can conclude since he came from Canada, he must be Canadian. Had Ms. Silverman studied under me, she would have been taught in order to be objective, one must ask both sources of a story about charges made in a story.

Three sources--Arthur DeCabooter, president at Scottsdale Community College; Paul Elsner, chancellor for the Maricopa college district; and his errand boy, Rick DeGraw--spewed personal venom about my inability as a journalist and failed to answer charges made against them.

DeGraw, a former political consultant, was indicted on nine felony charges in the AzScam scandal and, while under grand jury investigation, was hired, without board approval, to teach religion at Mesa Community College. But by the grace of county attorney Rick Romley, who reduced the charges to a misdemeanor, DeGraw is knocking down around $100,000 as executive aide to the chancellor instead of doing time in prison.

Elsner is one of the highest-paid collegiate executives in the nation, with a salary and benefits of about $300,000. Although a public figure, Elsner has managed to keep his salary a secret even from board members. The exact amount has never been published. It would be interesting to know why he makes it a practice to hire misfits and convicted criminals to work in the district.

These charges were made in the book against the unholy three, but Ms. Silverman seemingly was more interested in questioning my ability as a journalist than relating how taxpayers of Maricopa County are being ripped off. Nevertheless, I thank the New Times and Amy for their willingness to tell it like they see it, regardless of the status.

Jim Martin
Scottsdale

What the Doctor Ordered
Great BOMEX article ("The BOMEX Files," Chris Farnsworth, May 7). I was especially pleased that you put the BOMEX search form online to allow people to search for complaints that have been filed. BOMEX's own search tool shows nothing unless the person is censured or a letter of reprimand is done--and then it doesn't tell you what happened, only to call and ask them.

A few years ago, I attended a few BOMEX meetings and realized that the board was more interested in following drunk or drugged doctors than other equally serious ethics violations. People I know who have tried to get justice done on bad medicine have not been able to get through the system. I think BOMEX should report in the newspaper every year the list of doctors who have had complaints against them and the number of complaints they have had. That would help protect the patients.

Dean Hughson
via Internet

I am writing this letter because I am one of the more than 12,000 patients who have had a positive experience with Dr. Gary Hall. The recent New Times article states there have been 121 complaints about Dr. Hall. I have read other accounts of this sort. Dr. Hall performed surgery on my eyes. After wearing glasses for more than 20 years, I now see perfectly!

My experience with Dr. Hall and his staff is, and has been, remarkably different than the accounts that I have read. His staff is totally professional and courteous. Dr. Hall is unequivocally one of the nicest human beings I have had the pleasure of knowing. He spent a great deal of time with me before surgery, and I felt totally cared for by this kind man during all post-op visitations. I have recommended friends to him, and they have enjoyed the same results as myself.  

I can't speak for the 121 persons who have supposedly lodged complaints. I can only speak for myself and the many others who have had their lives enhanced because of Dr. Gary Hall's medical abilities and total professional care.

Anthony Christopher
Phoenix

Tithing Pains
Congratulations to New Times and reporter Terry Greene Sterling on the investigative series about the slick money practices of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona ("The Moneychangers," April 16 and 23).

It's one more honest disclosure of what goes on behind the scenes of these so-called religious and conservative wheeler-dealers who manage to corrupt such fronts into money machines for their own purposes. All in the name of the Lord, of course.

So far, they've gotten away with such schemes because the religious exemption relieves them of quarterly reports and audits of for-profit corporations. In effect, they're responsible to no one but their own board of directors, whose members may also be engaged in plucking the system for their own financial gains.

Their shell game with subsidiaries and kiting property values with each alleged sale copies the technique of the S&L looters and the web of Republican politics that made it all possible.

Anyway, thanks to the expose by your talented and award-winning reporter, the house of cards may come tumbling down--with a host of apparently well-rewarded past investors discovering that the shell game is over.

Lester Schlangen
Phoenix

Shelf Serving
I am compelled to write this letter after having read the media coverage garnered by the owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, Gayle Shanks, for the past few years now. Her complaints and criticisms have run the gamut. Her first complaint was that the "chains" were "taking the business" from independent bookstores. (One is almost forced to picture men in corporate hats kidnaping customers and programming their shopping choices.)

More recently (through interviews with Arizona Business Gazette and a reprint in the Arizona Republic on April 14), she has alleged (through a group federal lawsuit) that the chains "have been bullying major publishers into giving them bigger discounts. . . ." And, in the April 30 issue of New Times, Shanks even stoops to allude that the clerks and customer base of the chains aren't exactly bright: "They're fine [the chains] if you want clerks who wouldn't know Melville from . . . well, if you asked them for The Confidence Man, they'd probably send you to the business section." (La-tee-dah!) Furthermore, Ms. Shanks would have the public believe that her concerns are not merely personal, but for the good of community-based bookselling.

Someone please unclog the egg timer on Ms. Shanks' 15 minutes. How about a little equal time? How many of your readers are aware that Shanks' new store has been built two doors down from a small mom-and-pop used bookstore called The Book Connection? The Book Connection doesn't have new fixtures or a tenth of Changing Hands' new size. Another shop literally right next door has wind chimes hanging in its window. What does Shanks have hanging in her new window for sale? Wind chimes. Hope she doesn't roll over anyone! (Gee, I guess she is kind of a chain now.)

Perhaps Ms. Shanks is selling wind chimes for the little shop next door. Perhaps she has also agreed to help the little bookstore stay afloat even if she does manage to "take" all of their business. Hmm . . . I kind of doubt it. Looking through the window, it appears that Ms. Shanks seems to be doing pretty well: new fixtures, coffee bar, thousands of square feet, CDs for sale, soft seating . . . kind of reminds me of (hmm, let me think here), oh yes, that's it! A Borders! Let's just hope she never employs an ex-Borders employee! (Unless she plans on not stocking Melville.)

In all fairness, I wish Ms. Shanks the best in her new endeavor; I'm sure that she and her newest store will be quite successful. However, in the future I hope that she can keep her hypocrisy to herself. She's spouted enough to fill volumes.

C. Swafford-Rhodes
Chandler

Sculpture
Enjoyed the article on Marilyn Zeitlin ("Framing Marilyn Zeitlin," Amy Silverman, April 30). FYI--through Marilyn's efforts, ASU has recently been donated an art sculpture (arguably worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars) for just the cost of moving and installation. Subject piece is located to the east of the Music Building (north of Gammage Parkway and east of Mill Avenue), thus lending further credence to value to the university and community.

Richard Collins
via Internet

Fore Play?
Let me see if I've got this straight.
The husband of the Paradise Valley Country Club woman rumored to be lesbian is upset because--according to his legal briefs--if his wife should happen to eventually come out and divorce him, that she won't be able to legally marry her gay lover? ("Heading Off a Rumor," Amy Silverman, May 7).  

He's right. Something is aMissy in Arizona. We need more gay-rights activists like him to challenge the statutory status quo.

We're here and we're queer (not that there's anything wrong with that). Pass it on!

Jeff Ofstedahl
Phoenix


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