Lady of the Rings
Dewey Webb's "Lourdes of the Rings" (February 8) was most interesting, even and well-done, except that it gave a misleading, two-dimensional profile of Kay Torrez. For a half-century, Torrez has been an ardent, effective, respected neighborhood and community activist, much of it in the cause of public education, in a racially mixed, high-crime, mostly impoverished area that desperately needed voices at the Legislature and City Hall.

Torrez has been most active in creating an upscale enterprise and chooses to keep the business in the inner city where it began. She personally designed Azteca Plaza, which, along with the New Times building and Immaculate Heart cathedral, is a neighborhood point of pride.

Webb calls Torrez a 73-year-old grandmother, although she's several times a great-grandmother. Her burgeoning clan, collectively and individually, is worthy of great pride to her and to the community. She could flee the presidential streets for LaJolla or Paradise Valley, but lives on, by and for East Washington, working to make it a better place.

Torrez knows controversy when she sees it and must be respected for opening her ranch, her resources and her heart to New Times and to the public to let us explore labyrinths for ourselves.

Virgil F. Carson

Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Bill FitzGerald believes "100percent" that Justice of the Peace John Barclay's dismissal of marijuana possession charges against me is wrong, and will be overturned on appeal ("Hemp, Hemp, Hooray," David Holthouse, February 1). Then perhaps Maricopa will become the first county in America to prosecute someone for complying with state licensing laws and paying state taxes. More than $1,500 worth, so far.

As a spokesman for Arizonans for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, let me say this: Anyone who buys marijuana should pay the tax; anyone who sells marijuana should be a licensed dealer. AZ4NORML believes 100percent that no jury in the state of Arizona will convict anybody for marijuana possession who has paid the tax on it.

Since Barclay's November 1 ruling, there has been no public hue and cry for repeal of the cannabis tax. No bill to repeal the tax has been introduced into the Legislature. Perhaps the Maricopa County Attorney's Office will be the last corner from which we hear the tired refrain, "Wolf in hemp clothing! Assassin of youth! Marijuana? My God, the sky is falling!"

Peter Wilson, chairman

Thirst Aid
Getting a safe glass of water to drink should not be something anyone has to worry about. However, "Tale of the Crypto" (Michael Kiefer, January 25) reveals that the threat of drinking contaminated water in Phoenix gives us reason to think twice before filling that glass from our tap.

Every year nearly one million people in America get sick from drinking contaminated water, and almost 100 people die, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As Kiefer pointed out, in Milwaukee in 1993, 400,000 people got sick, and 100 died, from an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis.

The City of Phoenix seems to be in denial about the potential health effects that dumping raw "sludge" into the water supply may have. Moreover, it is only now starting to develop the technology to test for contaminants like cryptosporidium. As in many cities, we don't figure it's time to do something about the problem until people get sick or even die from a waterborne illness. Sounds like bacterial Russian roulette.

Despite these many problems, the U.S. Senate recently unanimously passed a bill that would significantly weaken the Safe Drinking Water Act. This bill would create exemptions from testing requirements for many water systems, slash budgets for small communities to improve their water and sewer systems, and delay or weaken standards for known carcinogens such as arsenic and radioactive radon.

We should not be fearful of our own tap water. We need a stronger Safe Drinking Water Act, not a weaker one. We need to put our health and safety first, not allow large loopholes in the law carved out by big-business lobbyists. As this bill moves on to the House of Representatives, it is imperative that we call on our legislators to keep our water safe enough to drink.

Dyana Mason

Hot-Air Quality
I am writing this letter in response to "The Center of the Warm" (Dave Plank, January 25). I could only shake my head and sigh, "Only in Arizona." The article was, ah--er--interesting.

The tobacco lobbyist's insight to tobacco's link--or lack thereof--to health problems could be seen as interesting. My alcoholic grandfather's creative rationalizations for drinking beer were both humorously and sadly interesting. Robert Balling's insight into global warming is definitely interesting. I wonder if he consulted the Arizona Legislature regarding its interesting plans for Arizona to produce Freon, too.

Balling is right: Global warming is a very complicated issue. Though all the causes may not be certain, to dismiss the thinking of the general scientific community as a paranoid, doomsday environmental speculation is selective foresight. One only needs to look out the window during a stagnant winter day in the Valley, with pollution scratching one's throat, itching one's eyes and tightening one's chest, to know that this certainly is not good for the environment.

Would anyone deny that polluting our air is harmful somewhere down the environmental chain? This pollution has to have some impact on greenhouse gases and the subprocesses that affect these gases, such as acid rain's influence on the forests worldwide. We do not know exactly how the atmosphere is dealing with our polluting emissions; but even if our direct impact on global warming is not as critical as we may fear, there are still many other significant environmental and health reasons for wanting to improve the situation.

We are shortsighted and selfish, and typically only correct problems after the consequences are on our doorstep. If we must speculate about the causes to prevent the problems, I would prefer to err on the preventive side, though I sincerely doubt we are close to understanding the harm we are doing or have already done. Balling, the Reason Foundation and others like them are doing a huge disservice for the integrity of current undereffective environmental efforts and the education of the public.

It is amazing that Arizona is a hotbed for such extreme-right environmental thinking. Could it be something in the air?

Derk R. Finstad

Reading the article on global warming, I was struck by the strong similarities between the techniques used by the apologists for the energy lobby and those of the tobacco companies. I would say they are now at a period similar to when the general public believed that cigarettes were, indeed, harmful to health, but smokers themselves were in denial, and health warnings were not yet mandated.

So the job for Robert Balling and others is just to muddy the water, which Balling does adequately. He doesn't want to say anything that later can be construed as inaccurate, and in doing so doesn't say much of anything.

The scary part is the difference of scale. By the time this argument has run its course, the huge amounts spent by the tobacco companies will seem minuscule to that which the industrialists will have spent to obfuscate and minimize their part in an environmental catastrophe of truly global proportions.

Similarly, the general public has a greater role to play, that is, the consumption equivalent of "Stop Smoking." We cannot totally blame the enablers and ignore our part in the debacle. To extend the analogy, we may not be courting a singular catastrophe, but a long, painful death by environmental cancer.

Robert Maffeo
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Q Card
The January 25 letter by James Wienberg of Phoenix was an example of exactly why a station like KUKQ can't compete in Phoenix. Too many people like Wienberg feel threatened by all that is not the "norm." Just because the Q was unique does not mean that it was "unlistened-to and self-righteous"! The world is full of diversity, and the "norm" is not Ted Nugent songs ten times a day.

Scott Nosenko (Letters, January 25) says he believes that only "slackers and sk8ers" listened to the Q. What about the female market, what about the 18-to-30-year-old market, what about all the college students, college graduates and gainfully employed people who listened to the Q? Are we now supposed to listen to KEDJ? Please, the next time I want to listen to some music that was "alternative" two years ago, I'll tune in to "The Edge."

Did KUPD ever do a survey to see who was listening to the Q? I doubt it, because if it had, I think the results would have surprised the management, and the Q would still be on the air. Until someone recognizes that there really is a market for unique music, art and film in Phoenix, we will have a tough time building a cultural scene rivaling those of other cities of the same size.

Nicole Yackell

Ted Nauseam
For two years now, my boyfriend has been telling me that it is a shame that Ted Nugent has such an arrogant attitude ("Bedtime for Gonzo," Bob Mack, January 25). Nugent is a decent guitar player, but his mouth always gets in the way. My boyfriend traded in his copy of the Ted Nugent CD immediately after Nugent's last visit to the Valley.

Reading this interview with Terrible Ted was equal to drinking a quart of Tomocat solution before a CAT scan while dealing with two extra-strength Ex-Lax pills taken the night before. Now I can truthfully say, "Honey, I know exactly what you meant during the past two years."

Belinda W. Dunbar


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