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Letters From the Issue of Thursday, April 6, 2006

Mother of a Problem

Adding insult to injury: Good story on Amaré Stoudemire's mother ("Amaré's Burden," John Dougherty, March 30)! No wonder Amaré isn't mentally ready to come back to the Phoenix Suns and kick ass. Family problems like that can be debilitating.

Even though he has his millions of dollars, I still feel sorry for the young guy. You know, I hate to say it, but it will probably be good for him if his mother is incarcerated for a few years. She will be out of his hair.

I know that Amaré would be horrified to read such sentiment, because we all love our families (no matter how much trouble they've gotten themselves, and sometimes us, into), but it will be good if he can get free of her alcohol and drug problems.

It's hard enough coming back from such a devastating injury in the best of family circumstances, but when you have to worry about a 23-time loser like Carrie Stoudemire in the process, it's got to be too much to bear.

Now I understand a lot more about Amaré's situation, and I send out my utmost sympathy, not only as a Suns fan but as a human being.
Antonio Marquez, Phoenix

Bringing Down the House

Floating point: Great articles regarding an area of frustration that leaves too many homeowners wringing their hands ("Cracked Houses," March 16, and "Soiled Hands," March 23, both by Sarah Fenske).

I had the same problem some years ago with a fairly new home whose foundation simply lifted and began to "float" every time the Valley experienced a heavy downpour.
Tom Hamblin, Scottsdale

Building blockheads: My background in construction is mainly with builders. I have worked as a customer-service representative for several of the larger builders in town, and for the past six years I was a customer-service manager for two smaller, privately owned builders.

I will tell you that Sarah Fenske's "Cracked Houses" article is very accurate and well-researched. Every time I said to myself, I'll bet she misses some point, I was wrong. There it would be as I read on.

The thing to remember is that nothing is guaranteed! But there are so many things that can and should be done that are overlooked or just dismissed as "not necessary" by builders. And as you said, this is not just one builder. I have been dealing with these same issues since I started in 1990.

I have put homeowners in hotels for weeks, sometimes months, while we tried to address these kinds of problems. The more I understood, the madder I got at the people I worked for, and the more I felt for the customer.

Something homeowners should be aware of is that field personnel for builders are usually not qualified to make decisions on many issues. Most builders do take the stance that they will fix the kinds of problems noted in the story; it's just that sometimes you have to get to a manager to get the right answer.
Name withheld by request

Enlightening strikes: I would like to thank the author of "Cracked Houses" for enlightening us about home foundations. It was clear from the pictures and the story who is really to blame for the situation.
C.C. Shriver, Scottsdale

Objectively objecting: Regarding the "Cracked Houses" series, it's a shame you idiots don't understand objective journalism. It's one thing to write long editorials, but it's another not to label them as such.
Phil Lipnevicious, Phoenix

Zoning out: Your articles "Soiled Hands" and "Through the Cracks" (also March 23) show that the state Legislature makes it harder for homeowners to sue homebuilders, that the Arizona Registrar of Contractors gives a free pass to licensed contractors who build shoddy homes, that the Arizona Department of Real Estate wants to ease quality control, that local zoning inspectors sometimes check 90 homes a day (even when they make a lot of mistakes inspecting only 45 homes a day), that newbie zoning inspectors make lots of dumb mistakes that allow shoddy homes to be built, and that city council members pressure inspectors to pass shoddy homes built by people who gave the politicians money.

Finally, the article points out that the only way a diligent homebuyer can guarantee his or her home is built correctly is to hire a private independent zoning inspector and pay $300.
Mike Ross, Libertarian candidate for Arizona governor

Son burns: Many thanks to Phoenix New Times, but especially to Sarah Fenske, for the wonderful article "Cracked Houses." I'm the son of Bernice Kaleta, one of the people featured in the article, and you cannot imagine how horrific the past four years have been for my mother, my wife, and myself.  

Hopefully, the article will enlighten and help others when dealing with money-hungry builders.
Ron Kaleta, via the Internet

License to bill: I found your article "Cracked Houses" very interesting and informative. You pinpoint the political issues with the homebuilding industry in Arizona.

I have been in the construction trade for more than 25 years. I have worked on some of the largest commercial projects in the Valley. Most of my work is currently in the residential side of construction. The quality of work in this state is some of the worst I have ever seen.

There are many, many factors that play into this, as pointed out by your article. I recently had an inspector walk into a 3,000-square-foot home, sign the inspection report and walk out. He did not check or even walk through the house. He was there for maybe five minutes.

It also seems to me the state wants everyone to get a license. This brings in a tremendous amount of money. In 2004, it cost me nearly $3,000 to get licensed, bonded and insured. Until this state cracks down on shoddy workmanship and other factors, it will only get worse.
Name withheld by request

Cost-effective litigation: We and many of our neighbors have recently settled a class-action lawsuit against a major Arizona homebuilder, so we read your article "Cracked Houses" with great interest.

We found the article to be very informative, and it accurately portrays the significant hurdles faced by homebuyers, like us, who have to battle with their builders for months and months to recover money to adequately repair their defective homes.

However, we think the article may unnecessarily discourage homeowners from seeking compensation from builders, as a result of the substantial dollar amounts that you noted were spent by the homeowners on attorneys' fees and litigation costs.

We want Arizona homeowners to know that many attorneys, including ours, Dicks, Coglianese, Lipson & Shuquem (you quoted Mike Dicks in your article), work on a "contingency" basis, and advance all costs. These attorneys recovered money to repair our homes, without having to spend our own money.
Nick Wilson, Gilbert

Bird Brains

Q: Is he not a journalist? A: He is The Bird: The Bird is a fucking idiot -- a leftist fucking idiot -- on levels too numerous to mention. I'm just sick of his leftist blather, his endless rhetorical diatribes delivered with pious arrogance, as if all his notions are made of simple common sense that his detractors surely must be missing.

Duh! Just like all panties-in-a-wad liberals, he gets himself all worked up, then reverts to name-calling against his targets. Is he not a journalist? Is it not his charge to write and be published part and parcel of his profession? If you ask me, he's a dweeb.
Jason West, via the Internet

Manly Andy: I've read repeated ball-busting screeds against Andrew Thomas by The Bird (the latest "Judging Andy," Robrt L. Pela, March 23), and I have wondered how the foul fowl gets away with it with such a powerful individual. It seems that the County Attorney would just have one of his pals in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office plant some confiscated crack cocaine in The Bird's hubcaps (I've just always figured that New Times columnist John Dougherty must drive a vehicle with no hubcaps or Joe Arpaio's goons would've already done this to him).

Then I ran into Andy Thomas on the street, and I realized what a sawed-off doughboy fucker he is. He's about as frightening as a well-fed pussy cat. You guys called him "Candy" Thomas once. Indeed.

I was surprised that Thomas wasn't some big ol' redneck, with the anti-Mexican shit he's always spouting. I couldn't get over how pasty white and soft he looks. You know, he looks like one of those little guys who's never done physical labor or gotten any exercise. This is not to say that he isn't a powerful, um, man.

But I guess it's always the little insignificant-looking wimps who're overcompensating and trying to seem all bad-ass.
Mary Frances O'Rourke, via the Internet

Bible belted: If The Bird did any research into the theological aspects of what Nick Moran is portraying ("Bite o' Christ," March 23), he might just find out that Bishop Thomas Olmsted is right.

In fact, if you story-hungry saps at New Times would look into the facts, you might just find out that Matthew Moran can eat corn chips and French fries, and that his dad is a distorting liar who wants it his way or the litigious way. Nick Moran's just picking a fight because he thinks he can.
Rob Frier, Phoenix  

Barry Glib

A critic spouts shifts of wit . . . : I can't believe the mean-spirited, vicious, self-serving and cowardly piece Robrt L. Pela wrote under the guise of a review ("Over the Hill," Stage, March 23). Clearly he has some kind of ax to grind with the Copperstate Dinner Theatre's Peter Hill, or he has absolutely no concern for the feelings of others in his comments about Somewhere in the Night: The Barry Manilow Songbook.

The show is average? Most shows in the Valley are average. A few are total dogs, and a precious few are gems.

Pela was apparently told by Mr. Hill not to review the show because of a very bad review already. Hill's wishes should have been granted. Instead, it's clear that Pela preferred to act like a 7-year-old who has been told "no" and reviewed the show anyway.

Only he was too cowardly to admit his real feelings and instead attributed them to his sister. There's a difference between a critic and an ass.
Diane Senffner, Mesa


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