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Letters

Dem View
Amy Silverman's article about the Democratic party in Arizona ("Hee-Haw Politics," December 4) was right on the nail, with one exception, in my opinion. She surmised that, as Governor Jane Hull had usurped what were traditional Democratic promises, no Democrat had any platform to gain undecided vote.

A Democrat could say the differences are: The promises could become reality with a Democratic victory, not just the governor, but the Senate and House. Does anyone believe, with the makeup of the state Legislature as of now, it is going to pass anything but a little window-dressing on needed reforms? Quit worrying about being called a liberal. That is the nicest thing the far right could call you.

Robert Hays
Phoenix

In an otherwise fine analysis, Amy Silverman makes an error by including Karan English among those who failed in attempts at higher office upon leaving the Legislature. English was elected to Congress precisely because she eschewed the "tax and spend" mantra of the Arizona Democratic party, ran largely without its support and knocked off the party's poster boy, Alan Stephens, in the primary.

English might have held that office for years if she hadn't become involved in an even more fatuous organization--the National Democratic Party!

Jim Roush
Tempe

Having known Janet Napolitano for many years, and, at one point, having worked very closely with her on some serious legal issues, I can tell New Times that the suggestion made in Amy Silverman's article that Napolitano is simply a liberal feminist best suited for Eastern climates is not at all well-taken.

As one who by principle is anti-political party, although unenthusiastically registered as a Republican and an early advocate of open primaries, I have personally found, from working with Napolitano, that she is very dutiful and bright, presses very hard to learn what she does not know, gets on top of subject matter very quickly and well, and can argue and debate issues very effectively. Moreover, she dedicates much of her waking time toward such efforts, with a consistency and natural disposition which border on the marvelous.

Our state should be so fortunate as to have her in high public office. As a member of the Eastern establishment once put it to me in a telephone call: "Didn't you guys elect Evan Mecham, but Bruce Babbitt had to succeed to the office of governor?" It is because of the lack of the likes of Janet Napolitano that we are held in such low esteem by other states in regard to our internal "politics," and not just by Eastern "liberal" states. 'Twas a hatchet job.

Kimball J. Corson
Phoenix

Past Imperfect
I read with great interest Howard Stansfield's article "History Lessens" (December 4). I was beginning to believe that only a few individuals felt the same disappointment and frustration with the recent direction of the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum.

I first visited the museum in the mid-'70s with my daughter and was genuinely impressed with the activities and apparent goals of the facility. After a number of years out of state, I returned in the late '80s and began spending several weekends a month volunteering time, labor and resources to the facility. Many other individuals were doing the same. People re-created the daily life of the Arizona pioneer in the many structures throughout the facility. The horses were well cared for and were being worked by a trained wrangler. The employees truly cared about what they were doing.

Another brief stint out of state kept me away from the museum for about 18 months. When I returned, I once again offered my services, but, unfortunately, things had changed. Many of the longtime employees were gone, and only a few of the old volunteers still frequented the grounds. Many of the new employees demonstrated almost a disdain for their jobs and little regard for the public. The horses were in poor condition. Artifacts were uncared for or, worse, missing. Unsafe and routinely inaccurate firearm representations were present. I understand that several letters had been received from schools which had visited the museum, complaining about the mistreatment of their students. Although I never saw any of these letters, I did witness abuses of safety and common sense on a regular basis. I and several others continued to attempt to "fit in," but were not made to feel welcome. Our visits to the museum became less frequent.

My last visit to the museum was almost a year ago. I attempted to introduce myself, and offered again to donate my time and energy, to the new director, Dennis Loveless. I was greeted by complete and utter indifference. The apparent new attitude and direction of the museum are that of "Rawhide wanna-bes." The attention to historic accuracy is apparently lost or, at the very least, losing ground. The Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum has provided countless people, adults and children alike, with insight into the early roots of Arizona's history. It is a part of the heritage of this state that, when lost, will not be found again. It's truly a shame, and shame on the museum board for causing it to happen.  

Larry Harmer
Apache Junction

Dice Capades
Michael Lacey's long piece about Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and the Hudson dog-track matter ("Babbitt's Department of Ulterior," November 20) contained many errors of fact and implication. I must simply wonder, given New Times' flair for sensationalizing, what kind of story it would print if Babbitt:

* after granting an on-the-spot, unscheduled, one-on-one audience to an old friend and former law partner from Phoenix

* who had been hired by Florida gaming interests because of his connections with the secretary

* to press for Interior Department approval of a casino in Wisconsin
* which would be located at a financially troubled dog track in a non-Indian community that was resolutely opposed to the idea

* but which would be co-sponsored, at the behest of the Florida gaming interests, by three Indian tribes with reservations 85 to 185 miles away

* had decided to respond to the entreaties of his old friend, the gaming interests' lobbyist, by

* suddenly injecting himself for the first time in the Department's decision on this proposal

* overruling the senior-career Bureau of Indian Affairs official who had recommended that the proposal be rejected, and then

* trying to explain how his approval over strong local opposition was lawful, the governing statute prohibiting such approval unless the department could find it was not "detrimental to the local community."

To put the Wisconsin facts in a local context, suppose a Las Vegas gaming company enticed the Pascua Yaqui Indian Community in Tucson to join it in sponsoring a casino in a financially troubled resort in Scottsdale and came to the Interior Department for approval. Suppose that Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, the local Indian tribes, and political leaders were all on record in opposition. Suppose that senior-career BIA officials recommended against it because they could not say it was not "detrimental to the local community." Suppose the Las Vegas interests hired Paul Eckstein, who paid a private visit to Bruce Babbitt, who then overruled his underlings and approved the casino.

Had Babbitt proceeded that way, surely there would have been all sorts of public outcry, congressional hearings and demands for Department of Justice investigations, and New Times would have had a genuinely juicy story, much less dependent on imaginative speculation than the column Lacey wrote.

Mike Gauldin, assistant to the secretary
and director of communications
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

Michael Lacey responds: What a clever fellow. Is it difficult to imagine Mr. Gauldin on his school's debating team?

Rather than listing any errors of fact, Mr. Gauldin chooses instead to manufacture a "what if" scenario. I cannot respond to his fictional stage play any more than I can prove that the Scarecrow had a brain. (Although, if Mr. Gauldin's fantasy had occurred, you can bet I would have written about it.) Mr. Gauldin's inability to cite specific errors is understandable; my article is based upon sworn depositions, court transcripts and judicial opinions.

Yet Mr. Gauldin's acrobatic scribbling pales next to the bold effort in the Sunday, December 14, edition of the Arizona Republic. Under the banner headline "Babbitt Hits Back," the daily paper once again printed an article containing denials regarding news it did not cover.

This is a new theory of journalism, pioneered by the Republic when members of the Phoenix Suns had a postseason orgy in 1994. The Republic invoked its theory with another basketball star recently, when Kevin Johnson became involved with an underage girl he so romantically labeled "Whiskey." In this new school of reportage, New Times breaks a story the morning paper ignores. Never mind the police reports. Never mind facts. Then the morning paper offers the subject of the New Times story, Bruce Babbitt or Kevin Johnson, the opportunity to deny responsibility without reporting upon the allegations.

The Arizona Republic has grown so fond of this cutting-edge journalism that it ran a large "copyright" logo beneath the headline on Sunday, as if the Washington Post was in the habit of stealing witless reporting.

If you dipped into the Republic's apologia for the Secretary of the Interior, you learned that the article had all of the freshness of tinned Spam. First, Babbitt refused to speak to the Republic reporter. All questions had to be submitted in writing. After all, the last time the Harvard-educated Babbitt spoke on this topic spontaneously, he told his friend the casino decision was the result of politics and campaign contributions.  

Once Babbitt read the questions, his written responses--and weren't they refreshingly candid?--were submitted to the secretary's attorneys for review.

Only after Babbitt's remarks were laundered by his litigation team did the Arizona Republic craft them into a lengthy denial of a story the morning paper never bothered to report.

Copyright? Hell, they ought to patent this claptrap.


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