He who laughs last . . . doesn't get the joke: Thanks for adding some sanity to the nationwide debate over joking around over the Internet ("Molehill Mountain," The Bird, July 13). Careers have been ruined inside the Mesa Police Department over this, and it's not right. And what for? Because city officials have no sense of humor.
I guess I can understand why city governments and businesses don't want to get sued for sexual harassment because some devout Mormon (or whoever) is offended by a fellow worker's looking at porn on his computer, but as The Bird pointed out, the vast majority of the claims in Mesa against city workers are over lighthearted joking around.
I say, punish the precious few who are actually sending around gross pornography, and leave the rest alone.
For years I've been reading about companies firing guys for sending e-mails containing pornography, and even for sending messages with bawdy jokes. Come on, stuff like the latter used to be the subject of water-cooler talk. Nobody got fired or suspended because of passing along a joke.
Now, because there is an electronic evidence trail, the humorless have been empowered. We're not talking about workers sitting around all day and wasting company or city time with e-mails, we are talking about, in the huge majority of cases, an occasional joke. Other than those who are looking at the worst kind of porn at work, it would be rational to come down only on people who're actually spending their entire shifts playing around on the Net.
I'm telling you, in Mesa, they went out and got everybody who had even sent around a joke or two. It's ridiculous.
Name withheld by request
Flirting With Disaster
Victims need to move on: What the Hurricane Katrina victims need to understand is: America has a short attention span ("Desert Storm," Katy Reckdahl, July 13). There hasn't been a national disaster rivaling Katrina yet in America, but there will be. Point is, the refugees have to move on with their lives, get jobs, stop acting like professional victims.
I know for a fact that caregivers in the Phoenix area are getting sick and tired of hearing the same old excuses for why the people who landed here after Katrina haven't gotten jobs. It's been a long time now. I know for a fact that many of them haven't even tried. Why should they? They have been on relief all their lives. Some come from families who have been on the dole for generations.
The only criticism of your story that I would have is that it is far too lenient toward these people who are manipulating the system, as they've always done. Sure, it's hard after a storm forces you out of your home, but that doesn't mean you sit around and cry about it for the rest of your life. Phoenix is booming: Go out and get a job working at a fast-food restaurant, if that's what you have to do. Get something much better if you can step up and meet the qualifications.
I know one Katrina victim who came here and took up where he left off in New Orleans. While living off the largess of a local church, he started selling crack again in a new city. And using it.
I'm not saying this is everybody, but it's definitely part of the equation. I just wish your story had said as much and then told the story of how so many so-called Katrina victims are really lazy, lifelong relief recipients and/or career scammers. Folks like this should realize that Phoenix won't cater to the likes of them forever.
Charlene Devlin, via the Internet
Determined to make a new start: How dare you racist motherfuckers contend that Katrina victims are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings. It may be true that not that many of us have found employment in Phoenix, but it takes time.
Imagine having your home flooded or blown away, and having to relocate to a locale that you know nothing about. It takes years for people just to get over the shock of such a situation.
The people of Phoenix have been very kind to us, and I really appreciate that. But as a single mother, it's been hard for me to get on my feet as fast as I'd like. But I want to stay here and make a new start, and I'm determined to make it happen.
Lena Milsap, Phoenix
Bombs away: I find the cover of your newspaper with the headline "Desert Storm" to be very racist and offensive. Is this how this state sees the people of New Orleans? Like black bombs falling out of the sky?
I am going to send this picture to the NAACP and see how they interpret it. How could you be so insensitive to the feelings of people who have lost their livelihood just because the color of our skin is black?
We're here, yes, and it is our right as human beings and citizens of this great United States to be here. And yes, we do read the paper, and we do have feelings and opinions about what's written.
We are evacuees, but we are also survivors of one of the worst natural disasters in the history of this country. And we're still here, and I believe it's for that reason that we belong here.
Mitchell Davis, Phoenix
Keep a positive attitude: It's sad to see these people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, but they seem to dwell more on their situation than trying to help themselves.
I can imagine the feelings of despair because of the loss of home and family, along with the loss of the way their lives used to be. However, there has to be a way of looking ahead to make ends meet and getting back on one's feet.
Arizona is a state that gives to the "needy," which is why there is a large population of "needy" people who are able to work but are too lazy to find and keep a job. Education among these "needy" people is low because they do not want to get educated because of the welfare programs they have become accustomed to counting on.
The same goes for illegal immigrants; however, they are willing to find employment wherever they can. Some of these "needy" people complain that illegal immigrants are taking all the jobs for low wages, but it isn't true. I personally know a few illegals who make more money than me, but their jobs involve manual labor that most "Americans" won't do because they think the jobs would lower them to the level of immigrants.
The best attitude is a positive one. I now make enough money to support myself, as well as own a vehicle and keep a roof over my head. This despite the fact that I was a bum (alcoholic) living on the streets seven years ago. I got an education, thank you!
So, to the people of Katrina: Life is hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But you must get to it by employing a big fat "E" for effort.
Name withheld by request
'Net gain: I have made your piece on The Format required reading for my unsigned acts ("Format Busters," Michele Laudig, July 6). You somehow worked in Malcolm Gladwell's concepts and totally nailed the formula that hard work, a decent break and talent = success. Period.
The Internet changed everything how music lovers discover and purchase new music is at the forefront of that new business model. It's 100 percent of mine.
Great job! And thanks for shedding some light on the fact that it can be done without a Sony/BMG deal behind a band.
Sean T. Shepherd, personal manager and agent
No need to be labeled: Loved your story on The Format. It made me think my band can make it, too, even without a big record label behind us. I really admire these guys for doing it their way.
Gene Abbott, Tucson
Publicity hound: Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' crackdown on Ajo Al's ("Panic Attack," Sarah Fenske, July 13) is a misguided publicity attempt by a nebbishy Joe Arpaio wanna-be.
The only crime is that this chump can virtually shut down a legitimate business with no evidence and get away with it.
Brian Simpson, Gilbert
A bad personal experience?: I've been a loyal customer of the various Ajo Al's locations for 16 years. They not only serve some of the best Mexican food in the Valley, they are among the cleanest restaurants I have ever enjoyed.
The obvious witch hunt that our county attorney launched against Ajo Al's has to be a cover for some other, more devious goal. Or maybe he didn't get waited on quickly enough during a personal visit to one of the eateries.
In any case, I believe that Andrew Thomas should keep his big fat mouth shut in front of the media until he has hard facts and not just innuendo.
Mary Grant, Tempe
Spreading the love: Thank you for your article about Ajo Al's and the Dains family. They are a wonderful family and have done so much for the community. We appreciate your taking on this assignment. This will certainly change my opinion about your publication.
Jim Young, Phoenix
Short and sweet: Thanks for Sarah Fenske's efforts to report fairly on the Dains family and Ajo Al's.
Kathy Davidson, Phoenix
Total recall: Well, it looks as if we have a tag team from the World War II era right here in our backyard! We have the ever-so-great Stalin (a.k.a. Sheriff Joe Arpaio), and little Adolf (a.k.a. Andrew Thomas). Both are extremely political, and both fail to serve the public. It seems as if they only serve up their own agendas to attempt to further their own careers.
Regarding "Panic Attack," I grew up going to Ajo Al's, and I never once got sick or noticed anything other than the employees making it a point that I had an enjoyable experience.
When did it become all right for Arpaio and Thomas to run this city like it's their own little playground?
Someone opposes Arpaio in the election, and he reverts to Nazi tactics to scare people away; he claims untrue facts about his opponent, Dan Saban, in the media and gets away with it ("Bully Pulpit," John Dougherty, June 29).
When does it end? Do we really not care about these tactics, or are we just turning a blind eye? We are the ones who vote these guys in. I'm for organizing recalls.
Name withheld by request
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A black eye for ASU: After reading your column ("Prez House Stench," John Dougherty, July 6), it didn't amaze me that ASU would be caught in another controversy. There was the one involving student-athletes and their off-the-field problems ("Fire HIM!," May 4). Now this affliction with bad publicity has moved to other parts of the campus.
It seemed that money was involved in the student-athlete scandal, and it looks like the real estate scam will net a couple of "decent" citizens a nice bankroll at the expense of the school.
Why do situations like this arise in our educational institutions? Because everyone is out for a buck nowadays, and individuals resorting to these illegal tactics know they can get away with it without legal prosecution.
But outside individuals aside, what is this world coming to when you can't trust the people placed in upper-level positions at universities to act with at least some modicum of dignity? This type of imagery reflects poorly on an educational institution that already has a black eye.
Name withheld by request