Slot Machinations
Herminia Rodriguez doesn't need a lawyer to go after her $330,000 winnings from Ak-Chin casino ("Lost Harrah's," Paul Rubin, January 8)! What she needs is a good PR person to contact every Indian casino in the country to explain that the perception of being mistreated at an Indian casino puts in jeopardy the entire Indian gaming movement.

Hundreds of lawyers and lawmakers would love to get their greedy mitts into the regulation and/or elimination of these casinos. The other Indian casinos will be quick to recognize this and explain it to Ak-Chin. With this explanation from other tribes, Ak-Chin will change its mind in a hurry!

Donald W. Jones

I feel really bad that Herminia Rodriguez had to obtain a lawyer to help her collect her jackpot winnings from Harrah's Ak-Chin casino. In light of the tribe's insistence that it cannot be sued or regulated because it is a sovereign nation, I think Rodriguez should contact every major news organization in the country and let them know what has happened to her.

I know through experience that if you can't get any satisfaction from an organization by negotiation and complaints, media exposure helps the organization change its tune. It's not a question of "will" she get her money but "when," because I am willing to bet (not on the reservation, of course) that she will get the money because of all the publicity that Harrah's and this reservation will receive.

John A. Cronin
via Internet

Thanks to Paul Rubin for covering this story of Herminia Rodriguez and Ak-Chin casino. I think that not paying out a jackpot won should be a crime in the state of Arizona; of course, the state tied its hands so that it couldn't do anything about this kind of thing.

How do you establish a so-called "misfire"? Is this just a way not to pay what is due? Will casinos do this to everyone who wins a big jackpot? Would the people of Arizona be ready to boycott this establishment? Or has gambling fever taken over?

Harrah's should have to pay or be closed down. A jackpot is a jackpot any way you want to read it, or every win will become a malfunction. Give Herminia Rodriguez her money!

Sherry Goodspeed

Articles such as Paul Rubin's about Herminia Rodriguez being denied a jackpot at Ak-Chin casino are good in that they raise public awareness to an apparent injustice. It seems that Rubin made particular effort to be fair to all parties involved.

I live in Gilbert and go to a casino once a month. I had been interested in trying Harrah's--its advertising is effective. But now I'll make the trip to Payson to try the casino there. Public opinion can be a powerful thing.

Joanna Smith

I am glad New Times had the tenacity to publish an article about Herminia Rodriguez in her battle with Harrah's Ak-Chin casino. The State of Arizona should protect its citizens from this type of incident and any other issue which invariably happens with gambling.

I enjoy gambling, but I made a promise never to go to Indian casinos. They take advantage because they are the only game in town, but this incident I hope will wake people up. When these casinos start losing revenue, maybe they will realize that Nevada is not that far away, and in Nevada, the gaming commission has some control over casinos.

I believe that patrons should boycott all Native American casinos until a nonpartisan commission is created to oversee gambling on the reservations.

via Internet

I sent this letter to Harrah's: I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, and grew up with Harrah's a household name. I went to Jessie Beck grammar school (Jessie Beck's Riverside Casino). An Arizona woman won a jackpot at Ak-Chin. It is a beautiful casino, with very nice people and atmosphere. But right now there is a very sticky business of this poor woman's jackpot being revoked because of machine malfunction.

The publicity here is horrible, and the way this whole matter is being handled is very bad. Realizing that your reputation is probably your strongest point, I wanted to implore you to get involved and resolve this issue. Pay the poor woman, and turn a bad situation into a positive one. A bad reputation will last for years, and there is not exactly a shortage of casinos in Arizona!

Scott Smith
via Internet

Park Place
I have spent some time researching Patriots Square park, and that led me to scathing, nearly hate-filled editorials from New Times dating back to 1989. Freedom of the press allows New Times to express itself, and it has, but I recently saw its Thrills listing of Urban Parks and read with dismay: "Patriots Square: Something of an aesthetic eyesore, the park does, at least, provide a green-tinted sanctuary for brown-bagging business lunchers descending from the spires of smoggy downtown, plus a site for various cultural, sporting and entertainment activities."

My question to New Times staff has got to be, why does it continue to bash a park that is anything but an aesthetic eyesore? How much time has the staff spent there? How many lunch concerts has it attended? How many tourists has it heard marvel at the true magnificence of the structure? I have spent countless hours there, enjoying the atmosphere, the entertainment and escape from the bustle of the city.

During the park's construction, New Times bashed the architect and it bashed the structure, but both have delivered exactly what was promised, a truly lovely, shade-providing, friendly place for people to spend time, whether it be lunch or just reading a book. The park is unique, and we are fortunate to have it and all the other city parks in Phoenix.

Kathy Jonas

Immigrant Expectations
I read with keen interest Tony Ortega's story "Jingo All the Way" about limiting immigration (December 25). I propose the following "Humanity Exchange Program":

Announce to the world that the United States is soliciting immigrants of high quality. For every law-abiding, productive citizen coming here, we will exchange one parasitic, no-account, lowlife, native-born, American sleazeball. This should appeal to qualified prospective immigrants trapped in despotic Third World countries where there is little opportunity to reach one's potential. The Americans who would go in exchange should have little objection, since they have no potential to reach anyway.

I propose a monetary incentive: a one-time cash payment to the Americans for leaving. Let's set the amount arbitrarily at $50,000. The human loss, to the country, of people who would sell their American citizenship for 50 thousand bucks should be minuscule.

Since the new immigrant will be a law-abiding, productive citizen, he or she should, within a reasonable period of time, be able to pay back the money expended for the exchange. I suspect that the payment would, in most cases, be made gratefully.

Notice that this plan nullifies the population impact of direct legal immigration without mentioning nationality or ethnicity. Jingoistic and racist elements simply don't figure in. Also, the program would be self-promoting: Doesn't everybody have an acquaintance or two that he or she would like to encourage to earn this easy money?

Michael Bartlett
via Internet

New Times persistently attributes the basest of motives to those whose political views its editorial staff does not share. Many Americans, perhaps a majority, feel that the resources and advantages of citizenship should be reserved for the people who pay their taxes and elect their government to provide benefits to those people who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. This country's resource base is finite, and shortfall in social security, education and finance have to be made up from the existing income or property-tax base. Providing free medical care, low-cost housing and food stamps to those who are here illegally takes from people who have complied with the law and rewards those who have broken it.

The alliance of the liberal press and the big businesses that need a constant influx of cheap labor for which they have to pay no fringe benefits has great influence on the administration. Serious attempts to police the borders are hamstrung by lawsuits and often laughable efforts to avoid even the semblance of political incorrectness. The inept and corrupt government of Mexico protests even the most minimal attempts to control the frontera problems, because the outflow of population provides a safety valve for its self-created economic problems.

I am a first-generation American whose parents came here legally with sponsorship and for whom English is a second language. I would have been ashamed to demand that a ballot be written in my native German language, as are many citizens of Hispanic heritage. For New Times to attack the Hispanic citizens who disagree with its views is unconscionable. Perhaps a quick foray into the working, blue-collar, taxpaying America would open some eyes on New Times' editorial staff and force realization that much of the population does not have as sanguine a view of the immigration problem.

Peter Slater

Tony Ortega failed to mention the illegal practice of noncitizens registering and voting in Arizona and throughout the United States, even though I furnished him with documentation that this is happening. He also failed to mention that three Phoenix police officers have been murdered by "illegal aliens" in the past 10 years.

Ortega failed to mention the agenda of MECHa and its "brown berets" being to "retake the Southwest United States and establish AZTLAN, a nation for brown-skinned people only." Or perhaps Ortega's research did not include reading La Fronteriza newspaper published at the University of California at San Diego.

Hopefully, Ortega can someday meet my daughter, who was born in Mexico, and my two beautiful grandchildren, who were also born in Mexico, before he calls me a racist!

Patrick O. Walsh
Concerned Citizens Network of Arizona

I really appreciate New Times because it describes the positive and the negative, and I wanted to let New Times know I was very shocked by Tony Ortega's article about anti-immigration. I thought racism was slowly dying away, but I see that it is not.

I'm a 22-year-old Mexican American. My parents came from Mexico to this country because they wanted a better life for their children. I'm working on a bachelor's in special education, putting myself through school, and I've held a full-time job since I was 16 years old. At one time, I was working three jobs and going to school. I did this because I wanted to get a degree to help others, especially those who are less fortunate, like people from Mexico, like my family was once.

I understand that these anti-immigration groups are scared and don't know how to react to people they know very little about, but instead of shutting them out and attacking them, they should try to learn about them and work with them!

The only way people will stop coming to this country is if we help those countries make their countries more attractive to their natives by providing freedom and opportunity, and I plan to do this, but for now, stop the hate--instead, understand each other!

Alma Lidia Marquez

My parents emigrated from Germany in the late 1920s. My 16-year-old dad needed a sponsor and a job in order to get into this country. Coming from this background, it would be difficult to call me "anti-immigration." The first task of both parents and grandparents was to learn English. No attempt was made to spread the German culture--we were American, period!

I was glad to see that Tony Ortega brought in the presentation by Roy Beck because, in my opinion, Beck has put passion aside in presenting his case for review and revamping of the immigration policy. The numbers are not arguable. This fact was driven home when I was caught in rush-hour traffic. I thought at the time, "None of these cars has foreign plates; there is no indication of the ethnicity of the driver; the language of the occupants has no bearing on the situation we are all in. Our problem is numbers--plain and simple."

As Roy Beck points out in his analysis, the government predicts the population of this country to exceed 500 million by 2050, given current rates of immigration and reproduction. No Phoenician can reasonably think that we in Arizona are somehow going to avoid the effects of this additional load on our lifestyle, the environment, water, the deserts, wildlife habitat, city services, regulation, etc.

Tony Ortega made a good start, but he has only scratched the surface. Now is the time for rational discourse at the local and national levels on how to deal with the impending crisis, or life in these United States will be gone--the alternative will likely be a drastic erosion of our lifestyles to the point where there will be no American dream, only a Third World lifestyle which is, after all, the motivator for immigrants headed our way. I'd hate to think that this is the only way our immigration policy will be changed.

Ron Gawlitta

Land Hope
Thanks to Michael Kiefer for his very excellent article "Government by Litigation," Part 1 (December 11). It is imperative that the public becomes aware of how our public lands are being mismanaged for the benefit of the timber and ranching industries. We are losing irreplaceable and priceless resources that belong to our children and grandchildren. Please keep stories like these in the public eye--New Times will be assisting today's taxpayers and our children's futures!

Irene Schmidt
Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin


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