Amity Horror
John Dougherty's article about Amity, Inc., put a horrid "spin" into print, thereby doing a disservice to Amity board members, past and present, all of whom are of exceptional integrity and honor and who should be thanked for selfless, exemplary and dedicated service ("Children of Synanon," October 10). Any innuendoes or claims by any persons to the contrary are absurd. This article should be thrown into the nearest trash can.

Additionally, the services provided at Amity by fine volunteers and staff are excellent and will hopefully be continued as the agency works its way out of reorganization.

Priscilla S. Kuhn
Amity board member, Tucson

My current boss, two of my former bosses and my current place of employment were plastered on the cover of New Times for the "Children of Synanon" piece. I am a co-manager of the Amity Firehouse, a substance-abuse prevention program that targets high-risk youth in Tucson and Pima County. Being associated nonstop with Amity for seven years, I have witnessed many changes.

If it were not for Amity and all the people mentioned in this article, I would surely be on drugs, back in prison or dead. My best friends are drug addicts and alcoholics who have benefited from Amity, many of whom have gone on to help make a difference to high-risk children and addicts in recovery. Some didn't make it, but others lead successful lives.

"Too much too fast" is how I would describe what happened from 1990 to 1994. We went from having a few programs and employees to having 235 employees working in more than 15 programs in three states, providing services to more than 20,000 men, women and children in residential and nonresidential environments. I wonder what the cost of housing and/or providing services to this number of people would be for the Department of Corrections, or the Department of Economic Security, or even our welfare system every year.

The intent of my letter is not to place or shift blame, but rather to emphasize the impact that Amity has had on thousands of people in need and on the community as a whole, regardless of who made what mistakes.

Barry Lindstrom

Stir Crazy
Congratulations to New Times and Tony Ortega for the splendid and fact-filled article on the travesty that was perpetrated on Scott Norberg by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's animalistic thugs, i.e., "jailers" ("Sanitized for Joe's Protection," October 24). All those involved should be brought to justice. Thanks for the help.


Same Old, Insane Old
I read with a heavy heart "A System Gone Mad" (Paul Rubin, October 24). I have worked in the mental-health field for eight years, and have dealt with ComCare and case managers on a daily basis. I have had clients placed in our community-based program by ComCare who needed much more supervision. Case managers' jobs are to get the clients placed; it does not appear to matter if the clients' needs are met.

It is near impossible to get an unstable client into a crisis unit. The system is set up so that a client would have to hurt someone or himself before anyone takes the matter seriously. ComCare's urgent-care centers are a joke. The crisis line puts callers on hold for long periods of time. The system is like one huge dysfunctional family.

I can only imagine what happens to those clients ComCare deems able to live in independent apartments. Oh, wait a minute, I don't have to wonder; New Times already wrote about Donald Ellison.

Name withheld

Living Large
Thanks for doing a feature about Dave Alexander ("Heavy Competition," Amy Silverman, October 17). Keep up the good work, Dave, teaching that thinness does not equal good health (i.e., Jim Fixx), and fatness doesn't mean we can't be fit doing what we love to do.

Why does there continue to be the assumption that if one is fat, one simply cannot be healthy or fit, when there is plainly much evidence contrary to this long-held falsehood? Why do professionals and laypeople continue to ignore the evidence about obesity and its causes? Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse for this form of discrimination.

In response to Dr. Art Mollen's statement that it is unusual to find a fat person participating in these kinds of physical events, I acknowledge that there is truth here and submit that it is so mainly because we have been told and have accepted that we simply can't or shouldn't do such activities if we are fat.

As for Dr. Roger McCoy's concerns regarding Dave's health risks, I find them to be unfounded and biased (as though thin people never have these health risks). How many individuals of any size can boast a record of not only entering but also completing 261 triathlons in 13 years?

Finally, Bobbie Slate's statements epitomize the continued discrimination and ignorance about the subject of obesity. What are the "facts" that support her view that, quote, "You could die . . ."? How does she come to this conclusion? Certainly not by recognizing or accepting Alexander's accomplishments!

Name withheld

Deprogram Director
I cannot believe that New Times is still printing stories about Rick Ross and portraying him as some sort of a saint ("Cult Expert Must Pay," Tony Ortega, October 10). Ross makes his living by violently deprogramming people out of their religions after taking them against their will and holding them until, under duress, they "recant."

This is what he tried to do with Jason Scott. I do not care that Scott's mother was the one who paid Ross or whether she was there. Scott is an adult who can make decisions for himself and who certainly did not need the "intervention" of Ross to "convince" him of anything. Deprogrammers like Ross routinely attempt to hide behind family members whom they "convince" to pay them large sums of money.

It was reported that the bankruptcy judge upheld the decision not to discharge the civil debt against Ross. The judge was right. Ross was wrong in what he did and needs to pay. To everyone but the likes of Ross, this is a free country. Ross is imprisoning people against their will in America, and this needs to stop.

Regarding the confidential family files that New Times says that the Church of Scientology wants, the church wants to get these files for the victims' families, as that is where they belong--not with violent deprogrammers such as Priscilla Coates and Rick Ross.

It's time for New Times to stop bashing religions and stop portraying people like Rick Ross as some sort of saints. People like Ross don't deserve attention from anyone.

Jinny Leason, director of public affairs
Church of Scientology of Arizona

I am writing to respond to Tony Ortega's article about the admitted kidnaper and "deprogrammer" Rick Ross. Ortega's reporting in the beginning of "Cult Expert Must Pay" is admirable in the "matter of fact," rather ho-hum ticking off the truth of the kidnaping and assault on Jason Scott. It leaves one with the conclusion that Ross got exactly what he deserves. Then, of course, the article degenerates into a puff piece in support of this thoroughly discreditable man. That being Ortega's obvious intent, he would have been better advised to skip the factual first part.

This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. Like all freedoms, it must be continuously protected and assaults on it fought off. Good riddance to the antireligious hate group--the "Cult Awareness Network." To Rick Ross: Why don't you find a decent, honest way of making a living?

Jim Reeves

Playing Favorites
As a fellow theatre reviewer (for The Grapevine newspaper), I, too, lament the ongoing trend of many of the professional and community theatres in the Valley toward mounting the old "war-horse" shows in an attempt to remain profitable and increase their subscription base as described in Robrt L. Pela's article ("Hello Dolly, Goodbye Risk," October 17). Funding for the arts has made such adventurous choices difficult to justify. However, as dramaturg-in-residence for Playwright's Workshop Theatre, I did want to point out that there are a few groups, many running for several years, that have been consistently willing to take the risks that many of the larger companies have begun to avoid.

The two most obvious companies, besides In Mixed Company, are Playwright's Workshop Theatre and Planet Earth Multi-Cultural Theatre. PWT has been mounting original productions by Valley playwrights for nine years, and this year may mount as many as 12 original works by local talent. PET has shown time and again that it is willing to take big risks in presenting original works and plays that would ordinarily go unseen in Phoenix.

In an era of dwindling resources and higher costs for the arts community, it is regrettable that the first casualties are the riskier, more controversial productions that keep the theatre community fresh and invigorated. Pela's mourning for their passing is commendable, but please don't forget to mention that there are some smaller companies that are still willing to go against conventions and take risks in the name of art.

Mark S.P. Turvin

Return to Sender
This letter is in reaction to the letter written by Roger O'Day (October 24). Apparently, O'Day is upset by the influx of move-ins to Arizona. I realize that there are problems involved with the rapid growth the Valley has seen, but look at all the benefits also.

Does O'Day think that everyone who moves here is part of a gang? No sir! Look at the economic growth the Valley has experienced. Would it have been possible without us move-ins? Would the recent professional hockey team be here if it were still a "great little cow town"? Would the City of Phoenix be building a major league baseball stadium, boosting the economy even further, if we weren't here?

Yes, there are problems, but they are not native to the area; they are nationwide. Instead of griping about all the negative things, try thinking of the benefits of living in a major metropolis: a strong economy, freedom to buy what one wants, the major events and the tourism that make the standard of living even higher.

How many people join with O'Day in saying "Welcome to Arizona. Now go home"? I would just like to respond: Thank you for the warm welcome. Now give me back my tax dollars, and I'll consider leaving.

Face it, we are here to stay.
Mark Adam Reese
via Internet

For Art's Sake
Huzzahs for Edward Lebow's piece about forgotten sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens ("The Amazing Colossal Sculptor," October 31). There's a certain pathos (or, perhaps, bathos) in the story of an artist who spends a lifetime trying to perfect an art that would educate and inspire--but winds up in great murky pools of bombast and xenophobia. As usual, Lebow masterfully weaves the historical facts with compelling reportage that brings the topic home.

Dan Collins, associate professor of intermedia
School of Art, Arizona State University


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