On the Breach
Lisa Davis' "The High Cost of Education Reform" (Breach of Contract, December 28) assumes that pupils are damaged by limiting the increases in Arizona education spending. In reality, there is no relationship between expenditures and results. For example, a 1989 study I conducted for Richard L. Harris, former Maricopa County school superintendent, found that inflation-adjusted per-pupil maintenance and operating expenditures in Arizona increased 24percent from 1980-81 through 1988-89. What did we get for the $1.4 billion increase? A slight increase in dropout rates, and no overall improvement in pupil achievement scores. A second study found that about 75percent of the variation in Arizona pupil achievement was attributable to parent and pupil factors.
Arizona's public schools have, for years, spent far more per pupil than most private schools. Educational reform and greater parental support are required. Our public schools need competitive incentives to improve performance and lower costs, not bailouts that excuse fiscal irresponsibility.
After reading Terry Greene's article "Quit Polluting Our Aquifers. Please. Pretty Please" (Breach of Contract, December 28), I hope the public will become more aware of the ridiculous political tightrope Department of Environmental Quality employees are forced to walk in their jobs trying to keep this state clean. On one side is industry that will get you if you do, and, on the other, the public and environmental groups that will blame you if you don't.
As a former fellow employee of Ed Pond, Ifound him to have excellent technical abilities and knowledge of the mining industry, not some "hidden agenda." If he has any agenda, it's to protect human health and the environment, which is the basic mission of DEQ, and what the public expects. Despite advances in pollution-control technology and a good compliance record by many Arizona businesses, there are always those outfits that believe they are above the law, and will pull any strings necessary to get out of complying. The taxpayers of this state should be thankful for public servants like Ed Pond for doing the job they were hired to do.
Anybody opposed to adequate environmental protection should get up in front of a crowd of irate citizens at a public meeting to tell it the nearby plant, landfill or mine is just fine when many of the regulations have been sidestepped. This is a basic job requirement at DEQ, and worth more than the relatively low wages it pays. The employees of DEQ and citizens of Arizona deserve better.
I would like to comment on Amy Silverman's article about the Department of Economic Security, "Welfare That Doesn't Work" (Breach of Contract, December 28). I was told after I moved to this state 12 years ago that getting my handicapped daughter into a facility such as the sheltered workshop would take four years, and that placement in a community-living facility would take seven.
Now I am having another battle with DES and ComCare. If the federal government is going to let this state control welfare (God forbid), services for the handicapped will come almost to a standstill. And then what? We parents of handicapped children are wringing necks and, in frustration, hitting our heads against a padded wall! I know how it is to be frustrated--I know what it is to cry for help.
I feel DES is too big for its britches and needs to be overhauled. I believe that we need to get rid of all of the politicians and get some new blood in, before it is too late and we cannot turn around. I feel that we, as a country and as a state, are going downhill.
State Senator Carol Springer confirmed a Legislature attitude problem in reforming government. The Constitution's top priority is not for government to protect citizens, as Springer states; the top priority of the Constitution is to protect citizens from government. What better example than "a refusal by the state to deal with unconstitutional inequalities in the school finance mechanism, despite evidence that thousands of children are attending substandard--even dangerous--schools"?
Kudos to New Times for the excellent articles on state government. Now I know where the dumbing of America originated--right in the Arizona State Legislature. It then spread to the editorial boardroom of the Arizona Republic, which most always supports the idiotic state Republican agenda.
Jack M. Weiland
The Ravers' Edge
Though ravers of the hard-core type probably would shun any media attention, my thanks to Candy and Julie for escorting David Holthouse to the underground ("Rave Review," December 21). The reporting was accurate and thought-provoking. Ravers are an amiable, motley crowd, the '90s avant-garde, and are synonymous with love, technology, cyberculture and progress. We are living proof of Alvin Toffler's prediction of the growing gap between the fast and the slow. We are the sensitive souls, the poets, artists, philosophers and prophets, and thus our culture helps keep a proper perspective in an era of intolerance and smothering government regulation. Being light-years ahead of conforming mainstream dogma, we are the guardians of the human soul. So go to raves, hang out in cyberspace and feel the karma.
Dunces With Wolves
My problem with the article "The Governor Who Cried Wolf" (November 30) is one of thought process. That is, writer Michael Kiefer does not even attempt to see the other side of the issue. If a neighbor's dog was running free and "marked" a tree in one's front yard, one would call the neighbor and complain. The second or third time the dog was loose, one would call the police or Rabies Control and have that dog "taken care of." Why, then, do city folks want to turn wolves loose on their country neighbors?
Wolves are predators and carnivores, and so is man. For the most part, man raises the poultry, cattle and sheep we eat, or he buys it in a grocery store as the fruit of someone else's labor. Wolves (like sharks) are eating machines. It is said that they kill the old and the infirm--natural selection. In fact, they kill whatever they can catch, and they run in "packs." A baby calf, a newborn deer, a mother cow "down" to deliver a calf are quite acceptable prey.
Why in the world would a pack of wolves chase deer, antelope or even rabbits when domesticated animals like cattle or sheep cannot run as far or as fast and, in some cases, the mothers will just stand there and watch their young be killed? I have had people tell me that wolves wouldn't even recognize domesticated animals as prey. Wolves are smart--almost as smart as coyotes. They can and will figure out the "easy kill."
J. Robert Bogle
Turn Over a New Belief
As a member of the Church of Scientology for more than 26 years, I can honestly say I am fed up with self-proclaimed "dogooders" evaluating for me that my religion is a "cult" ("Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlatans," Tony Ortega, November 30). Obviously, deprogrammer Rick Ross has never looked up the definition of "cult," and only bases his conclusions on his own warped sense of reality. Even if Scientology were a cult, who or what gives Ross the right to decide the beliefs of another person? Granted, one could get almost anyone to give up a belief about anything with enough force or duress. However, all people have the right to their own religious or ideological beliefs, and, as I recall, that is one of the main reasons we left the old country and came here.
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Shame on New Times for printing an article so obviously biased and full of "facts" given only by the dissidents. Why not ask the other 99-plus percent of Scientologists who are in agreement and have enough information about the subject to offer a valid viewpoint? The reporter and his subject, Rick Ross, do not have that information. Therefore, if one starts out with false data to build a story, then one can only come up with false assertions and lies. That makes it more sensational, perhaps, but not necessarily better--and definitely not ethical--to distort the truth about something, intentionally or not.
I think it's great to be on the "cutting edge" of journalism, and New Times is usually there. But if the newspaper doesn't print the truth about its subjects, eventually no one will read it, and it will have lost its credibility and the public's ear, and therefore its purpose for existence.