Hate to say we told you so, but . . . : Ray Stern's "Stop Your Railing!" article (December 28) did everything expected of a New Times exposé. It showed the good, the bad and even the structurally ugly specifics of a very visible regional situation.
However, as a continuing vocal proponent of light rail in the Valley, while I winced while reading a recounting of the temporary bads I already knew, I was pleasantly surprised to read Stern unveiling some positives I didn't even know about! And after Stern's even-handed effort, all I can say to the remaining light-rail opponents is: "Stop your railing! We told you so!"
Scott Hume, Phoenix
Money train: I read your article regarding light rail. I have but one thing to say: The whole project is a ridiculous waste of money. There is a very simple solution to the problem of commuter damage control: Put more buses on the lines already set up, and hey, maybe add a few more routes.
Phoenix is backwards in spending millions of dollars on a project to compete with other cities, and thereby try to become what it isn't. The millions spent on this little fantasy could be put to better use. Open your eyes, Phoenix!
Lori Chinnici, Phoenix
Bursting the bubble: I was one of those who thought that light rail was a disaster until I read Ray Stern's excellent story. I thought that loads of businesses along the light-rail route and beyond had closed because of the construction, when it seems that only one closed business could be verified.
What the story did was make me think. Sure, there are lots of construction woes, but what did we think when we approved facets of the project that there would be no disruption when a rapid-transit line is installed?!
As the story says, the city is a war zone where the construction is going on. I have stopped going downtown because of all the driving and parking problems. It's obvious that businesses are suffering, but it's also obvious (after reading Stern's story) that the places that manage to hang on will be making more money than they had ever hoped to earn because the rail line is nearby. That is, the payoff will come later.
Good job at bursting the light-rail naysayers' stupid bubble!
Trent Jones, Phoenix
An opportunity missed: Ray Stern's cover story about the effects of light-rail construction on Valley businesses was 5,467 words of a missed opportunity or lack of courage to tell the real story: the documented increase in air pollution, congestion and crime that light-rail transit or modern streetcar will bring to the Valley.
That there is pain during the building process is a given. The fallacy is that, after the labor pains, we will be presented with a beautiful baby that will make all the temporary hardships worth the suffering. Wrong.
Light rail is Rosemary's baby, and this monster will suck us dry while fouling itself with air pollution and congestion it promises to cure.
No amount of "the cool factor" that light-rail backers attribute to the Japanese Kinkisharyo train cars can make up for the fact that this is all about taxpayer-funded transit-oriented development for the overhyped creative classes. It has nothing to do with moving a pitiful small percentage of folks from point A to point B.
Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross publicly admitted as much.
It is false advertising to show sleek mockups of a light-rail car without the ugly overhead tangle of wires that must be present in order to move the car. But, hey, everybody's doing it, so why not?
Becky Fenger, Phoenix
A streetcar named "tax relief": I found it interesting that so many businesses crying the blues over light rail haven't actually gone out of business, but are claiming they may go out of business.
Like your writer, the last time I frequented George & Dragon, the place was hopping. I had to shoehorn in. Yet its owner is claiming he should be subsidized by the government because light rail is being built outside and he is suffering. Boo-hoo! The guy has suffered not at all, as far as most of us can see, and will be making a mint once the rail line stops out front.
On the other hand, I can't blame him for crying (um, trying).
Loved your reference to G&D being a great dive bar. You're right; it's the best dive bar in Phoenix, and probably the richest!
Johnny Davis, Phoenix
The bus stops here: I think you are mistaken on several subjects concerning light rail. The 26,000 is ridership, not people. Since those who go to town will probably return, there are only 13,000 people estimated to ride the trolley.
Also, most of these are people who are riding the bus and will have to transfer because the bus will no longer serve Central Avenue, except for one line instead of the approximately eight that now serve Central. The bus stops are much closer together at a couple of blocks than will be the trolley at every half a mile on Central.
I think your article would have been better if divided into two parts one titled "Reality" and one titled "Daydreams." The businesses that [go] are reality. The ones that are to come are daydreams. The ones that are moving are between.
We have two years yet to go on construction, according to the new timetable. The timetable that the voters voted on was for service to start in 2004, which of course has come and gone. The cost that was voted on has nothing to do with the final real cost. The cost of operation has not been adequately explained to the citizens as to how much is coming from the Transit 2000 sales tax and how much from general funds.
You forgot to mention that we had a trolley system that we tore out because it cost too much to operate. It was in the middle of the street, and politicians of the day considered it a safety hazard.
Bob McKnight, Phoenix
The government may be doing something right?: Great article on light-rail construction. It's about time somebody in the media told the truth about what's going on instead of kissing the asses of all the Neanderthal anti-progress idiots who want Phoenix to stay the same as it was in wagon-train days.
I'm sure said crowd members are pissing in their panties over what you wrote, since the Arizona Republic tends to report everything they say unchallenged. TV, too. Good job!
Also, it was refreshing to see New Times write a story that the government just may be doing something right for a change. Your writer wasn't entirely sure that light rail would work out, but still I considered his approach a breath of fresh air.
Ron Johnson, via the Internet
"F"-ing misquoted: This letter is in response to your article "Rage Against His Bowling Shirts" (Ray Stern, December 21). I was a witness to most of the occurrences described in the article and found many discrepancies in what was described and what actually happened.
However, I am writing for one reason, and that is to clarify what your reporter has printed about me. In his interview with me, I explained to him how offensive it was to have Jason Tunay screaming his anti-American opinions in my face with every other word the F-word. (I happened to be seated next to the man he came over to yell at.) Your article spells out the word, which I do not use, and it sounds like he is quoting me as saying the word. I realize it is a paraphrase and not a direct quote; however, it sure sounds like a quote! All I used was the letter "F" to describe the word Mr. Tunay is so fond of. I find the word crass and offensive, and I appreciate this chance to clarify what I actually said.
Fay Stancill, Phoenix
Property owners have bleeping rights, too: Here's the thing about the whole Jason Tunay incident. He has free-speech rights as in "Congress shall make no law," etc. It doesn't mean that he has the right to wear provocative shirts on private property. Property owners have rights, too. They can say to whomever they wish, "You're on private property, and we'd like for you to leave." End of problem. I'm surprised that the situation escalated to the level it did.
For the bottom line on free speech and tee-shirt slogans, check out the "Bleep the Draft" ruling. It concerns the right of a citizen to wear a shirt that says "Fuck the Draft" in public. The Supreme Court ruled that yes, he could. State police can't stop him in public, but private property owners don't have to allow it.
Bryan Frymire, via the Internet
Patriot acts: Part of being patriotic is realizing that Jason Tunay has a right to express his beliefs, which are shared by many other Americans.
However, when he uses his guaranteed right, some want to squelch it using patriotism as their excuse. I'm saying, you may not like what his tee shirts say, but if you're patriotic, you will realize he has the right to say it. The people who don't believe this aren't patriots they're being hypocritical and thumbing their nose at rights under the guise of being patriots.
Charlie King, via the Internet
The blind leading the blind: Sarah Fenske did a great job covering the mess at Valley Cathedral, and teasing out the smaller stories beyond what is apparent to any casual observer/attendee ("The Faithless," December 21). It was unfortunate that Sheriff Joe Arpaio got the front page that week ("Joe Strikes Back," The Bird, Stephen Lemons), but I certainly understand why.
Interestingly, Charles Combs and Sheriff Joe seem to have a great deal in common they both have a gift for alienating people, spending money that isn't theirs to spend, and for being in complete denial about their own actions.
Bravo, New Times!
Patience Hoag, Phoenix
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Our paper's free: As someone who attended Valley Cathedral for longer than Carol Davidson, I can tell you that you couldn't have gotten the story more wrong if you'd tried. Carol Davidson is not "Mama Davidson," whom everybody talks to when they're upset. She's an emotionally unstable individual and a gossip.
The conflict described (incorrectly) in your article started when Carol began a campaign of slander to undermine the new senior pastor for reasons we can only guess at. She was asked to leave because, in a church, you can't have people in leadership who are trying to undermine the senior pastor. Like it or not, a church is set up more like a corporation than a democracy: If you lead an open, public campaign to discredit the CEO, you will be fired. It's not that hard to understand.
Now, some leaders are not that good at leading. Some are not even very good at their jobs. Pastor Combs has made more than a few mistakes. That still doesn't mean that one malcontent can remove the head of a church simply because she is dissatisfied.
But, in the end, I suspect you knew that. You knew that Valley Cathedral has long been a good church that is good for the community. However, a collapsing church sells more papers than a family sorely in need of professional help.
Mark Thomas, Phoenix