It seems to me that what the various columnists, letter writers and Fife Symington himself all have missed is a simple point: A person in a prominent position, such as the governor of a state, should serve as a model and an example for our young ("Governor J. Fife Crook III," Michael Lacey; "Castle Creep," John Mecklin; and "The Governor and the Lawyer," John Dougherty, June 20). I want to be able to tell my children or grandchildren, "Look at the person who is in the governor's mansion. Imitate him (or her)."
Whether Symington is innocent or guilty of the many crimes he has been charged with is irrelevant. He should find a way of stepping aside until his innocence or guilt is established. He has not been charged with any trivial offense, but with fraud. Common decency demands he suspend his functions for a time.
Shucks. Fife may well be guilty of all that New Times says he is, but isn't he entitled to a trial to determine that first? You guys are jumping the gun a little in your fervor to run him out. Why not relax and let the process take its course?
Editor's note: We've spent five years waiting for someone in authority to do something about the amazing display of unethical and incompetent behavior Symington has inflicted on the state of Arizona. Half a decade is long enough.
Here's a challenge to voters who see "no difference" in character or integrity between Republican and Democratic politicos: Compare the plight of Arizona's Republican Governor Fife Symington with Whitewater-plagued Democratic President Bill Clinton. After years of investigation of both, the Republican is indicted on 23 criminal counts and the Democrat is charged with nothing.
Symington's 1990 opponent, Terry Goddard, prophetically warned voters of the shaky financial condition of Symington's business. In spite of juicy temptations provided by the unfolding scandal, Symington's 1994 opponent Eddie Basha followed in Goddard's footsteps on the high road. Basha concentrated on the state's serious education needs, not on Symington's personal financial failures and alleged peccadilloes. Both Democrats lost after questionable infusions of Symington family money into last-minute ad blitzes.
Opposition to Symington by Democrats in the Legislature has been about issues, virtually free of sustained attack about his looming financial and legal problems. Even after his indictment, there is little glee among leading Democrats; Symington alone is responsible for the mess he and this state are in.
Republican politicians have turned the four-year Clinton presidency into "payback time," time for political revenge at any cost to the nation. Significantly, Democrats evidenced no similar partisan irresponsibility during the Symington years. Clear character differences between the parties are there for voters with eyes to see.
Youse guys has got your crystal ball dirty and can't read it too well. This governor is not on the skids at all! No, he has great support in this state and will run again successfully, causing youse-all to choke on your words. See, the trick is not to govern this state, but to put it on the map of Laughing at Arizona.
I've lived in Arizona for 38 of my years. I went into the service and bragged Arizona up to beat the band. I loved this state. But when I returned from the service, I saw the remains of a beautiful little city turned into a trash pile like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Opportunists like Fife Symington were tripping over each other to get in first, flashing money, seeking to cash in at our expense.
My friends from the military are now having the last laugh on me. Symington is a documented criminal; he broke the law. The Legislature should oust Symington today.
Fantastic! New Times' Joe Arpaio series just keeps getting better ("The Shadiest Guns in the West," Tony Ortega, June 27)! Don't give that guy a minute of slack until he is out of office. My hearty congratulations to the author!
Way Black When
For a long time, I have been concerned about the Arizona Historical Society Museum, Marley Center, and its conception of Arizona blacks (Letters, June 20). I learned of the contributions of African Americans to Phoenix and to Arizona during research for my book The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks.
Since the territorial days of the mid-1800s, blacks came as farmworkers, picking cotton, fruit and vegetables; as buffalo soldiers, protecting Anglo migrants and workers stringing telegraph lines; as miners, digging for the Earth's natural ores; as laborers, building roads and dams.
Perhaps the planners of the Marley Center were unaware of those contributions but had access to plenty of funds to do their own research. On a personal matter, I had haunted practically every public museum in the city, trying to convince the management to consider the role of black citizens for their exhibits and displays. A few did accept a photo, oral tapes or a book, all on the subject.
Several years ago, I happened to meet one or two individuals planning the Marley project. I offered my credentials hoping to have the African-American problem given consideration: 40 years as a reporter; author of three black-history books; 12 years as director of the Phoenix Urban League Cultural Enrichment Program; a consultant to the B.T. Washington Memorial Room in the New Times Building, plus memberships in several black historical organizations.
Richard Rabinowitz, president of the American History Workshop in Brooklyn, claimed AHW interviewed "hundreds of Arizonans" and that its community-based investigations were highly praised articles appearing in several community and ethnic newspapers. Of all the black leaders whom I had contacted, no one ever mentioned being contacted by the museum planners.
Now that those museum sponsors seem set on milking taxpayers to "improve" their project, the danger is that such undertakings have tended to throw Arizonans back to the days before civil rights legislation helped make life somewhat better for blacks and other minorities.
Fortunately, Phoenix at last has its own African-American Museum and Cultural Center at 415 East Grant. For the past three years, youths and adults of all races visit and participate in its programs through which its predominantly black board of directors hopes to help to erase the stereotype images of blacks that the Arizona Historical Society Museum's Marley Center seemed to insist in perpetuating as invisible entities.
Richard E. Harris
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Compliments to the Chef
Todd Hall, yum ("Epicured," Michael Kiefer, July 4)! I can't wait to try his dinners. Please let readers know where he will be. Good luck to him and his family. I wish them much success.
Many thanks to Dewey Webb for his article about Castle Boutique's selling of VCR-head cleaner ("What's the Buzz?" July 4). We sold out of our current stock in two days, which put us over our sales quota for the week, and meant free cookies from the sales director.