Should be kerosene and not heard: New Times should be ashamed of itself for giving so much space to a big old dyke nut like Laine Lawless ("Burn, Baby, Burn!", Stephen Lemons, February 15), who has no credibility even among anti-illegal-immigrationist assholes. That Chris Simcox will have nothing to do with her speaks volumes.
About the only thing that sets her apart from all the other Mexican-hating nuts is her homosexuality and that she actually burns the flag of another country. That makes for good photographs in the paper and on TV, I guess, but why should any of us listen to what she has to say?
Isn't it funny how easy it is in a so-called progressive country like the U.S. to get 15 minutes of fame? You lead a worthless life, and then suddenly you pour kerosene on the flag of a so-called backward country and light it, and you're somebody.
J.C. Coronado, Phoenix
Not So Fast
Make it fair: Ray Stern's photo-enforcement story really got me thinking ("Gotcha!", February 8). Do we really need Big Brother watching us at every turn? In this case, at every intersection in speed traps like Scottsdale and Paradise Valley?
The problem with these cameras is that they aren't discriminating. A police officer might give a motorist a break if he was in the flow of traffic (as the story said) or if he didn't think it was safe to stop at an intersection just as a light was changing because of a wet road. These cameras just zap everybody without regard to extenuating circumstances.
And then to find out that corporations and city governments aren't even expected to pay, and that process servers literally ride around neighborhoods stalking the rest of us . . . The inequities of this system are out of whack!
I thought it was interesting that Denver has pretty much scrapped its traffic-camera program that is, made paying the tickets voluntary. They're smart enough to realize that the Big Brother factor is not a good thing.
And why can't we do that here? Because the insurance lobby is against it! Your article says insurance companies feel they need to know who among their customers are getting tickets. Well, of course they do! The additional tickets from photo radar translates into additional money they can charge their clients.
The Arizona Legislature needs to stop paying attention to the likes of the insurance lobby and make some sense of this program.
Thomas Leon, Phoenix
We spend less time on the road, and we still get shafted: Great article on photo radar! But nothing was mentioned about the impact on car insurance. There are so many people getting tickets that the average quote is higher than most cities with no photo radar. People get the tickets and their insurance premium is higher. So in addition to the photo-radar companies and cities making money, insurance companies are making it, too.
Elliott Calvetti, Scottsdale
You gate what you pay for: What a great article! You really gave all of us readers a lot of meaningful information. Just curious, what about gated communities? Can the process servers get in them?
K.J. Peres, Scottsdale
Ray Stern responds: Process servers say they follow drivers with card keys into gated communities, on occasion. They contend that if it's a guard-gated community, the guards must let them in because they are officers of the court.
So some companies are reporting their violators: I read the photo-enforcement article, which you clearly put much effort into. We have companies that are now mentioning the article. They are calling us to make sure that the person they reported as the driver has actually followed through and taken care of the ticket. I wasn't expecting that at all from your report.
Elsa Lynch, Court Services Manager, Paradise Valley
Win some, lose some: What a joke the photo-enforcement system is around here! I usually drive a company car, and I have been flashed numerous times. I don't have as many tickets as Francesca Cisneros (whom you mention in your story as having gotten 70), but I have gotten my share. I guess the tickets must come to my work and get trashed, because I never heard word one about any of them.
Which isn't true about the couple of tickets I've gotten in my personal vehicle. In both cases, the process server literally hung out in my neighborhood on weekends for several weeks trying to get me. Finally, my wife answered the door with the last ticket, thinking it was a package she was expecting, and (bam!) I was served. It didn't matter that I wasn't even home! (With the first ticket, I somehow managed to avoid service.)
Name withheld by request
Car Wars: Episode IV A New Hope: I was surprised to learn that judges actually listen to excuses for photo tickets. My impression was that this photo-radar stuff was all about hauling in money by the boatloads to participating cities. The next time I get one I'm definitely not going to just send in the envelope.
I may also register my car to my own corporation. I didn't realize how inexpensive and easy doing this is. My boyfriend is already looking into registering his car to the business he and his family own. Thanks for all the helpful hints.
Tabitha Johnson, via the Internet
River in Egypt
Bedfellows get stranger all the time: Thanks to The Bird for reporting in his February 1 column that one of our upcoming 9/11 Accountability Conference organizers and presenters, without informing us, had recently self-published a book questioning the facts of the Holocaust ("Deniers Conference," Stephen Lemons). We immediately removed him from prominent roles in the conference and later uninvited him due to security concerns.
I would like to respond to The Bird's hit piece, which said: "Ever notice how much Holocaust deniers and '9/11 deniers' have in common?" We note an odd similarity between Holocaust deniers and the purveyors of the official story of 9/11 events. Both refuse to acknowledge evident facts. This distorted perception results more from ideological bias and ulterior motives than from any honest desire to pursue 9/11 truth.
Our goal is to find out exactly what happened on 9/11, so we have asked the hosts of the Web site Screwloosechange.blogspot.com and other defenders of the Bush Administration's al-Qaeda conspiracy theory to appear with us in an onsite television studio to dialogue during our conference. This would mark the first time in five and a half years that those who claim that 19 Muslims perpetrated the attacks would dare to defend in a public forum the conventional narrative that has been endlessly repeated yet never proven.
Have they something to hide by staying away? If the official version of 9/11 events is grounded in truth, would it not withstand the scrutiny of our ideas and questions? Our group welcomes those of contrary view who might answer the many questions that cry out to be addressed. Feel free to get in touch with me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All citizens who care about the direction of our country in the wake of 9/11 should join us in Chandler at the San Marcos Resort on February 23.
Pete Creelman, Steering Committee, 9/11 Accountability Conference
The truth will set you back $129: I love the way Stephen Lemons has made sport of the conspiracy freaks organizing the so-called 9/11 Accountability Conference (see also Lemons' blog, Feathered Bastard). That so many speakers have dropped out of the conference makes me wonder what people who pay the lavish entry fee [$129 for the three-day event] are going to think when almost nobody who had originally signed up to speak actually shows up.
Naming a Holocaust denier to a prominent role in the conference was incredibly stupid on the part of the organizers, who are now trying to get anyone they can (even people who think they're crazy) to come and debate them. They've got to have somebody to tout at the affair!
What they don't understand is that most sane people would just as soon go to a convention of flying-saucer advocates than show up at this convention of kooks, particularly when nobody of note is speaking.
John Mackie, Tucson
RipOff retort: My name appeared on RipOffReport.com with all kinds of lies attached to it, and my life hasn't been the same since. I sincerely hope that your article brings heat down on Ed Magedson's Web site ("The Real Rip-Off Report," Sarah Fenske, February 1).
Name withheld by request
Blogging a dead horse: Bloggers have been getting away with stuff like you cite in "The Real Rip-off Report" for years. The blogosphere is the most lawyer-proof thing I've seen for some time.
Herbert Greasham, Scottsdale
Michele's a Belle
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Treat transsexuals right: I am appalled and disgusted with the way Stephen Lemons wrote about the incident at Anderson's Fifth Estate regarding the transsexual woman Michele De Lafreniere ("Tranny-Gate," The Bird, December 28).
Lemons was insulting and insensitive in his portrayal, never once even taking a moment to consider what a transsexual person has to go through their entire lives because of jerks like him who perpetuate such stereotypes.
From the moment that transsexuals realize that something isn't right inside of them, they must cover up who they are and how they feel. They live their lives in quiet agony, knowing they are not who everyone thinks they are.
I always thought New Times was a progressive publication, but if you deign to print stuff like that, you just lost me as a reader, not to mention a paying advertiser.
Linda Costello, Scottsdale