Beer vendors will bring sanity: I disagree with The Bird and agree wholeheartedly with efforts to rid First Fridays of so many street vendors ("Art Crime," Stephen Lemons, April 3). If you want to go to the art galleries, you have to walk in the middle of Roosevelt Street, sometimes, to get to them. Try pushing a baby carriage along there, as I once did!
It's not only a dangerous situation, but the stuff most of these retards are selling on the streets is worthless.
What the city needs to do is set up a zone where vendors can sell refreshments, from beer to anything of a food-and-beverage variety, as is done at festivals in parks and on fairgrounds. As for tchotchkes, ban them! Who cares about that crap at an art happening?
So, Mr. Bird, why is it that you always back anarchists over law-abiding types? Sometimes I applaud you for this (most of the time, in fact; especially when it comes to Sheriff Joe Arpaio), but we need to bring some sanity to First Fridays, or people will stop going.
Zee Brundell, Phoenix
NANNY STATE 911
Ruthless self-preservation: Arizona Child Protective Services is paid to do everything it can to drag the parent through the mud. It will fabricate, embellish, exaggerate, take the parent's statements out of context, and blatantly lie ("Mother, Interrupted," Megan Irwin, March 27).
CPS will allege and it will allege. It will attempt to cover up its lies by destroying records. So discrepancies might not ever be brought to light. A blatant injustice.
And the parent and the child must live with it forever. CPS is advocating only for the state, not the child. My God, think of the children who have suffered because CPS caseworkers knew they wouldn't get paid if they told the truth.
Melanie Bulseco, Phoenix
Why just "Sarah"?: I would like to thank you for writing the article exposing the horrific miscarriage of justice that Carol Dunlavy and her daughter have received at the hands of CPS and the Maricopa County court system.
I am the mother of two special-needs children and met Carol in an observation room where we could watch our children receiving group therapy together. I bonded to Carol pretty quickly, because when you are a parent of children who require early intervention, your life soon revolves around therapy and doctors' appointments.
Friends you used to have don't relate to your lifestyle, your kids can't do what their kids can do, and you don't have time for them anyway. Carol was living the same kind of life with "Sarah" that I was living with my two children.
When she started to share what was happening with her custody situation, I was horrified. Each one of my children had more hours of therapy than "Sarah" did — some funded [publicly] and some privately by myself and my husband. I told Carol that if she went to trial, she'd be okay, that [the authorities] would have to give her daughter back or take away all of the children undergoing early intervention.
"Sarah" isn't receiving any more hours of therapy than any other child parented by a good, involved parent. Children with autism are supposed to receive 30-40 hours of early intervention each week. Mine do, and they are each under the age of five. If that is excessive care, then I am guilty, too.
Michelle Lopez, via the Internet
Some parents lie: Stories like this really anger me because it is all so one-sided. The other side is not going to comment because any comments will be used against them by wonderful attorneys looking to sue the state.
There are a lot of fallacies in this story. She did not lose her parental rights; she lost custody. Of course she is still paying bills, bills she had when she had custody of the child. In everyone's mind, the mission of CPS is leaving kids with bad parents and taking kids away from good parents. That parents never lie, only CPS does. That CPS has shredders running 24/7.
I would like to see [critics] in the place of a CPS worker trying to make a decision in this case. You have a mother who has lied about her education and who knows what else, and you have doctors/professionals telling you something is not right. Then you have people writing that CPS kills kids.
It is hard trying to do the best you can with the information that is being provided. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Is CPS doing a good job? I don't know, but let's not jump off the deep end. Is the mother telling us the complete truth? Of course not.
I am not associated with CPS, but was once a child who was helped by CPS-type agency in another state. It saved my life from an abusive father.
C.V. Dirk, via the Internet
Nothing but the facts, Mari: I have enjoyed reading featured articles in New Times, but there are so many misrepresentations of CPS' role in removing the child from this mother's care [in "Mother, Interrupted"] that I now have to rethink articles I have read in the past and wonder how much of them is fact and how much is malicious fiction.
Mari Masatada, via the Internet
Foolish choices: I am not a fan of bureaucracy, nor do I feel that the law is applied equally. However, in the past three New Times cover stories ("Doggy Style," Ray Stern, March 13; "One Drink Wonder," Sarah Fenske, March 20, and "Mother, Interrupted"), I feel you are doing the community a huge disservice.
The people in these stories made poor decisions. Those with weed chance getting arrested. The mother who was driving after dental surgery, on painkillers, with (albeit minimal) alcohol in her system and her child in the car should not have been. The "Mother, Interrupted" showed some rather serious issues, and I for one hope that she gets the help she needs before she gets her child back.
Thanks for protecting the identities of the people involved with the stories, as you have certainly made them targets. I tangentially know about one of the individuals involved. According to all who are close to the situation, the authorities did the best that they could, given an extremely tricky situation. I am not saying that the decisions made were the best possible for all involved in any of these situations. If only that were true. I am saying that I expect more from New Times than glorifying poor decision-making and making victims out of those who were victimized first by their own decisions (although that applies less to the woman whose child was taken).
What I would like to see is an exposé on the authorities without the "victims" being aggrandized. That is what I have come to expect from New Times. Please do not squander your journalistic integrity. You are one of the few places that still has any.
Bill Terrance, via the Internet
What a country: This is absolutely barbaric that CPS can just come in and remove a child from her home with virtually no proof that the parent has done anything wrong.
Any day of the week, you can read about yet another dead child whose life was cut short because CPS did not act in the child's interest or remove a child when there was clear evidence that the child's life was in danger. How many kids are beaten, punched, stomped on, thrown against walls or sinks or bathtubs, drowned like feral cats or stabbed, strangled, shot, hanged and tossed out like yesterday's garbage?
And here is a woman simply doing the best she knew how for a child who obviously had documented eating problems — and for that (and nothing more!) they take her child away?
Just makes me more convinced that child welfare needs to be taken out of government's hands and put under the authority of private companies — so there could be more of a hands-on involvement with children deemed "at risk."
I can't believe CPS can "lose" a child like Rilya Wilson — who has never been found and is presumed dead — but can turn around on a dime to take a child whose parent has committed the simple sin of caring "excessively" for the child.
My first and only child had acid reflux from birth. I took him to the doctor nearly every week, and he was even hospitalized once. It's very upsetting to think that my concern for his misery and discomfort could have been construed as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy! This country has gone nuts.
Name withheld by request
COURT AND SNARK
You a lawyer, Sol?: Regarding ("The Ghost of Judge Marquardt," Sarah Fenske, March 27): We have it good in our judicial system? Please note the comments I have heard from judges:
• "If I rule in your favor, I would not know what to do next, so I am dismissing the case."
• "We do not have time to read all the pleadings that are given to us, so I am going to rule that you shall not file any more pleadings in this case without getting my approval first."
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• "I am going to hold you in contempt because you told me that I caused you harm."
• "I had sinus trouble before, and it was no big deal (to a person who almost died from an infection). Case dismissed."
• "I am going to take care of it at the next hearing." (Judge drops out of the case.)
The court system in Phoenix is littered with incompetent, ill-prepared and/or pretentious judges who would cause any real Legislature to limit making laws that would be subject to it. The fear of a [good] legislator is that the court system has no wisdom and would bend the laws to hurt people versus making their lives better.
Sol Jaffe, Phoenix