Letters From the Issue of Thursday, January 4
Selectively enforcing the law: Brilliant tactic to run that embarrassing fool Joe Arpaio's home address on the front page of New Times ("Joe Strikes Back," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, December 21). I've never laughed so hard as when I saw his bulbous red nose on that stamp. All this draws attention not only to the fact that Joe's guilty of criminal malfeasance for creating conditions that killed all those people in his jails but that he's using a state law improperly to hide what's going on with his commercial property. Joe, if you've got nothing to hide, give up the records!
And for the Pinal County Attorney's Office to play right into this cretin's hands just goes to show you what a backwoods organization it is. It's just plain stupid to get involved in trying to enforce a state law that makes something illegal on the Internet and not in print or on TV. I'm speaking of publishing Arpaio's address in cyberspace, as New Times writer John Dougherty did two and a half years ago. And when you throw in that the address is published in so many places that it boggles the mind, how can these legal morons only prosecute New Times? Why not go after the state Corporation Commission, too? Why not prosecute all those Web sites The Bird cited?
The reason, of course, is: Joe Arpaio is a vindictive old coot who wants to punish New Times for failing to line up to blow him, like the local Fox news channel and the Arizona Republic have done.
Dan Martinez, Phoenix
Preferential treatment: Who the fuck does Sheriff Joke think he is? He gets to do all of his shady real estate deals under a rock somewhere, while the rest of us have to file papers, etc. Come on, Joe, what are you so afraid of? That we might find out you're the big crook most of us think you are? That you might end up eatin' green baloney in Tent City someday? Don't worry, Joe. If they catch your hand in the cookie jar, they'll probably send you to Florence, where the food's a lot better.
What I don't get either is that the rest of the local press ignored the latest story as if nothing at all happened. Those idiots are obviously scared to death that Arpaio would indict them, too, or at least make their lives harder. If all of the local media were after Arpaio's ass, he wouldn't last long, which makes me think the Republic and others have a reason to kiss his rear in print and to ignore all of Joke's bull, like trying to indict a whole newspaper!
G. Rose, Phoenix
Standards and practices: When you don't possess the IQ or education to conduct an actual discourse of ideas, it's easy to revert to junior high school tactics. Publishing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's personal home address on your cover violates every standard of conduct that an honorable organization aspires to.
Phoenix New Times is a disgrace to the profession. I hope that a planned felony indictment by the Pinal County Attorney's Office can be (despite a possible conflict of interest) joined by the Maricopa County Attorney as well. I hope that the principals responsible are convicted and actually serve time for this offense. I plan to work hard with my friends in Phoenix to encourage them to cancel advertising in your publication.
Stephen Anderson, Tempe
Hanging Lemons: As I was walking out of the convenience store one recent morning with coffee and the latest New Times in hand, I started to read the cover. My first response was an out-loud, "HOLY SHIT!"
Joe and his troops are going to hang Stephen Lemons! After reading the article in toto (well-crafted, I might add), it seems Arpaio has no legal grounds to sue. His address is public information.
It will be interesting to see what Joe's response will be. I want a ringside seat.
William Thurber, Chandler
Despise and conquer: There's definitely something too self-serving by The Bird's recent opening sentence: "It's been obvious to The Bird for a long time that Sheriff Joe Arpaio despises New Times." The only thing more clear than that is that New Times despises Joe Arpaio.
I actually enjoyed The Bird's takes on the mind-numbing stupidity of Arizona's 9/11 "memorial" commission and the lunacy of the conspiracy theorists who believe the attack was inflicted on us by our own country (I work with a couple of these wingnuts), but the rather torturous justification for printing Sheriff Joe's home address is flimsy and suspicious at best.
I can check with a Realtor or a bank clerk, but I believe this is called "investing," right?
"It all looked fishy, considering the sheriff's spent his life as a humbly paid public official. Maybe the deals were on the up-and-up, and maybe not."
I know someone who made about $6 million in Valley land investments and he was a humble security guard.
Cloak yourself in the First Amendment all you want, but putting Arpaio's home address on the front page and stacking papers at every bus stop in town isn't "getting to the bottom of things" it's giving a map to every demented crack-head with an ax to grind or any ambitious street thug who wants to get famous the easy way. To try to pass this off as anything else badly damages your credibility.
John Kestner, Peoria
Appoint well taken: Great expos on this rotten fascist bum. Arpaio needs to be removed from office and incarcerated for murder and corruption. What's wrong with Maricopa County voters? A legacy from the Goldwater era? Or does this position just attract sadists? Maybe sheriff should not be an elected position but only an appointed one for one term of five years. Then you have to get your fat ass out of there.
Michael Hardesty, Oakland California
He's doing his job: Just leave the sheriff alone. I firmly believe he's doing a great job. It's about time that we have a man like that in office. I just hope that anyone who decides to break the law looks at what happens when they get caught.
Karl Kroeger, Lake Havasu City
There's no place like home: Joe Arpaio's a public official who is riding in a float in every parade in the county, who never misses an opportunity to get his ugly mug on TV, and he's complaining that somebody might kill him?!
If I'm not mistaken, he has held press conferences from in front of his own home. I used to live in his town, and everybody there knows where he lives. I've seen him walking around the shopping centers without any protection. If a criminal wanted to know the location of the sheriff's residence, he could ask a hundred people. Joe makes no secret of it, unless he wants to trump up some charge against New Times, the only paper or broadcast station in town that's ever had the nerve to go after him.
Now, or so it seems, he's gotten the Pinal County Attorney's Office to help him try to shut up New Times, so he can do his dirty deeds in peace, thank you very much!
Please don't print my name; I'm not worried about criminals getting me like Joe claims to be, but vindictive old Joe himself and the "goon squad" of corrupt deputies that you mentioned.
Name withheld by request
Faith No More
Actions speak louder than God's Word: I read the recent article on the Valley Cathedral with great interest ("The Faithless," Sarah Fenske, December 21). It's a story that I've been following for several months. I enjoyed your article, and found it to be balanced and well-written. If anything, I think that it may not have gone deep enough in exposing malfeasance on the part of Pastor Charles Combs and his close circle. His actions certainly suggest that he has a great deal to hide.
But the article touches on an even greater issue, and that is what congregants in a church community will sometimes tolerate when told that questionable actions and policies are cloaked in the Word of God. The bedrock foundation of Christianity requires faith, and a desire to act in accordance with God's will.
But the faithful are left vulnerable when someone comes along and exploits that willingness to believe. This probably comes close to describing a sort of cult mentality; a means by which even the purging of faithful church members guilty of nothing other than a desire to worship is excused.
This article should serve as a warning to all of us. The power, influence, and access to funds granted the leaders of these larger church communities is impressive. But even these leaders are human. No one should be held above human accountability.
Thanks to New Times for yet another example of great journalism.
John Dixon, Phoenix
Servants first: Kudos to Sarah Fenske for her research. A timely warning to all of us pastors out there who forget sometimes we are servants and not masters. Well done!
Jay Warren, Scottsdale
Fair and balanced: Thank you for presenting a very well-rounded picture, allowing any and all responses from the church administration. I believe the article was fair, laying out issues without the strong emotions that are involved. Your effort will encourage discussion for your readers and certainly all the church members. It was needed during this religious holiday showing how man historically has affected what God has created and put in place.
Robert E. Orin, via the Internet
Get up, stand up: This is just so unbelievable. How can the people at Valley Cathedral allow this to continue? If the church members are so grounded like your article portrays them to be, why don't they vote on it, and get rid of Pastor Combs? The congregation and staff have the power to do that. I just think that would have been a better solution than everyone leaving the church. Stand up for what is right! Jesus sure did.
Diane Zimmet, Phoenix
New pastor, same story: I was a member of the Valley Cathedral when the previous pastor was there, and it was the same story then, too. So I left. People leave so there is no wisdom accumulated to keep history from repeating. I think the bylaws need to be shored up to remove some of the pastor's power and to provide for procedures for handling conflicts, and the trustees need to go through a rigorous training to understand their responsibilities legal and otherwise. It is certainly a very dysfunctional situation.
Dahl Harding, Phoenix
Free Speech Impediment
Deport authority: I wish we could deport this Jason Tunay character to a place like Iraq where he would find out what "free speech" gets him ("Rage Against His Bowling Shirts," Ray Stern, December 21). I hope the bowling alley stands by its guns and keeps this idiotic creep out of its establishment before he causes others to take matters into their own hands and get themselves into trouble defending the very laws and beliefs Tunay so openly ridicules.
Bob Smallwood, Glendale
Don't rain on my tirade: I was interviewed by Ray Stern since I am Dave Johnson's teammate and had to sit at our table and listen to Jason Tunay scream the F word at us over and over while he ranted and raved in our faces about how terrible the USA is. He even stated that veterans were ignorant and that he had a bachelor's degree in history. Several of us commented that we also were college grads, but he never listened to anyone else because of his temper tantrum!
By the way, I did not want to see Jason leave the league. This is America and he can wear whatever he wants, but he should grow up and learn how to take a comment without screaming obscenities. Other people on Jason's team had other issues with Jason besides the shirts! AMF had nothing to do with it.
Faye Stancill, Phoenix
Thank the soldiers: Oh my, getting upset over a shirt. Good heavens!!! Why don't you all use that pent-up energy to do something constructive send packages and letters to our soldiers; get down on your knees daily and pray for our soldiers who are fighting the real battle; visit the VA Medical Center at Seventh Street and Indian School Road and thank the soldiers who have fought and are still fighting here. Be constructive.
My son is serving in Iraq at the present, and he knows why he is there and is proud of it. His mother served during Vietnam and his grandfather served during WWII and Korea. People have a right to wear any kind of tee shirt they want to in any building, most of the time. If all else fails after the suggestions I have proposed, do some pushups.
Denise Masters, Mesa
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