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Letters from the issue of Thursday, March 20, 2008

SNOOPING DOGS

No sense of Yuma: This goes to show what a stupid, bullshit operation the Border Patrol is ("Doggy Style," Ray Stern, March 13). So the Border Patrol sector in question increases agents by 300 and has very few illegal aliens to process. That in itself is an outrage, but to use manpower to bust minor pot offenders?! What the hell is that about?!

Since when is a federal agency supposed to be fueling the coffers of a local-yokel, small-town Arizona county attorney's office? The very idea of the border agents — whose job is stopping human trafficking — turning themselves into small-time narcs is an beyond insane! And for what purpose? So they can bust little old ladies who have a tiny roach in their suitcases after a trip to the beach in San Diego.

Fine to bust bigtime drug dealers, but all these junior G-men are doing is helping Arizona enforce its ridiculously harsh drug laws. And none of the money from fines is even going to the feds!

The real irony is that, right across the state line in California, the same federal agency's officers are looking the other way. What kind of policy is this? I just hope that when the Dubya administration is history (and it will be soon, thank God!) the new president will make sense of what border agents are supposed to do.

If the Yuma Sector has too many damn agents for the mission it's supposed to carry out — because of the wall, or whatever — transfer them elsewhere and stop using them to bust unsuspecting scofflaws! Hello!

In any case, thanks for the warning. I hope your story reduces down to zilch the number of cases the Yuma County hayseeds get.
Don Preston, Tucson

Chronic naiveté: Corruption often has unintended consequences. Our borders have been corrupted for years, and as a consequence, we lucky taxpayers get to pay for medical care, housing, food, and jails. We also get to pay for a system that ensures a minimum number of illegal aliens make it into America.

So while pockets are being lined beefing up "border security," here we see border security is really working to provide a funding source for an Arizona county — a county that would very likely still be complaining about a lack of border enforcement.

But in return for no complaints [from Yuma County], here are easy misdemeanors for the county to use to fund whatever program helps line county officials' pockets.

All that being said, I am especially unsympathetic to the grandma busted along with her friends. In your 50s and you still don't realize that riding around with pot in your car can get you arrested? Then you deserve your wake-up call.
Name withheld by request

VALLEY OF THE DOCS

Scary care: How can stuff like this happen? I refer to your story "The Doctor Is Out" (John Dickerson, March 6). Drug-abusing doctors need to be banned from the medical profession for life for what some of them did. We cannot allow physicians like them to endanger patients — doctor shortage or no doctor shortage in this state.

The Arizona Medical Board is nothing but a professional organization bent on protecting doctors, and this article proves it! The examples mentioned in your story are terrifying.
J.T. Gordon, Phoenix

System works for him: Your article "The Doctor Is Out" does a disservice to our physicians, your readers, and the Arizona Medical Board. As an attorney who has represented literally dozens of impaired physicians, I have found the system works and works well.

For a period of five years, impaired physicians are closely monitored. They are subjected to random tests, participation in group activities, controlled usage of medications, and a host of other controls, all designed to carefully protect the public. After five years, relapses are practically nonexistent.

Society spends a fortune educating our doctors. We do not have enough physicians. To make it sound as though doctors are impaired, or that they are not getting help, is a disservice to you and to our public. The Medical Board should be congratulated, not condemned, for the human [sic] treatment it shows impaired physicians.
Kraig J. Marton, Phoenix

Five years should do it, right?: I think it's unfair to say that the state's approach to dealing with physicians and substance abuse is largely "hands off."

By statute, all physicians and their affiliated entities are required to report [substance abuse] and usually do. They are backed by legal teams and have the comfort of knowing their little slip-up will remain confidential.

Whenever a doctor or licensed healthcare provider is accused of, or admits to, any kind of substance abuse, the first thing that occurs is an automatic interview, a drug screening, and a referral to an evaluation facility of the state's choosing. Often, long-standing abuse issues are noted or detected during treatment.

 

The Arizona Medical Board does review and randomly drug-screen these physicians between two to five years after the incident occurs. Why should a physician have to be screened for more than five years, especially because the screenings are on their dime the entire time?

I'm not condoning drugged-up physicians' actions and certainly would not want to be operated on by a physician with a relapse in his past. It just seems unfair to target one of the only state agencies taking their role in protecting the public seriously, when this is such a complex issue.
Name withheld by request

The drugs are right there: An estimated 90,000 staph-infection deaths, an estimated 90,000 malpractice deaths, and tens of thousands of people who suffer disabilities because of physicians. Many more because of insurance companies not providing what's needed.

And doctors are not regulated, reviewed or monitored until they're busted, and then only for five years. I think this proves [that the Arizona Medical Board] can't be trusted.
Name withheld by request

HMS COUNTY

Abuse and kill us, okay, but stop costing us money already: I'm angry that Sheriff Joe Arpaio condones this Honduras thing, and that County Attorney Andrew Thomas, whose office is supposed to monitor what the Sheriff's Office is doing, just looks the other way ("Evil Weed," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, March 6). Thomas has been looking the other way when it comes to Joe since he assumed office.

Thomas has made a fool of himself in so many ways. Let's not get into the illegal immigration thing his office spends time pursuing (because I'm in favor of what he's doing there); let's talk about his outrageous blunders regarding old Joe.

Thomas has backed him in every way possible as Joe costs us [$43 million-plus] in payouts because of jail lawsuits. I don't care that much about lawbreakers who died, but I do care that Joe's supposed inhumane policies are costing me as a taxpayer.

My point is that Thomas' malfeasance in Joe's regard didn't start with [fired special prosecutor] Dennis Wilenchik and the New Times case ("Blowback," Stephen Lemons, February 21, and "Head on a Skewer," Paul Rubin, in this issue).

Thomas needs to stop catering to Joe, who most thinking people believe is a bozo, or he may have to forget politics in this state. Because I think Joe is going down on this Honduras thing, and if Thomas isn't careful, he will go down with him.
Dent Travis, Phoenix

As county attorneys go, maybe Thomas will: Hopefully, the County Democratic Party will do something for the county attorney primary winner. Four years ago, it didn't help Don Harris, the nominee. And prominent Democrats like Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon endorsed Andy Thomas.

When I was the uncontested Democratic nominee in 1992, I got no help — except the formation of a "Democrats for Romley" Committee that included liberals who should have known better.

In hindsight, Romley was much better and fairer than Thomas, although I stand by my criticism of him over the phony AzScam sting and the belated release of four innocent alleged murderers of the Buddhist priests in the West Valley.
Gary Klahr, via the Internet

Police Academy 8: The Fleecing: So if I'm to understand this, Nickel Bag has done it to me again? He has put his grubby meat-hooks in my pocket, taken my tax dollars and given it to Jabba [Chief Deputy David Hendershott] to run amok with down south.

I'm sure [Hendershott and the other deputies traveling to Honduras] are teaching the finer side of police work, like how to make sure nobody makes it out alive after a weekend in the clink. Ah, elected "officials." Where would we be without them?
Tony Alexander, via the Internet

LIFE-AND-DEATH DECISIONS

Hobson's choice: I took the time to read the comments (about "Arrested Development," Megan Irwin, February 28) and was taken aback by one ("Why should I have to pay for their care?" Letters, March 13). First off, Drew's parents had to stay at or below the poverty level for 18 years to have the Medicaid money needed to pay for the average of $100,000 year in medical expenses.

No insurance would touch our family even if we could find a company that would take us on. That meant my three sons and we two parents had to forgo medical care and a normal life all that time until my son became "a family unto himself," in Social Security terms. It doesn't matter what the expenses are in relation to the family income, only that the diagnosis be severe enough for the family to be at poverty level.

 

All those years that two college-educated professionals could not work in their career fields because it would put us over the income level [to get government assistance]. And, remember, no insurance would cover anyone in the family!

Second, we were not members of any church at all, so your comment about our religion making a difference in deciding to help Drew live was off the mark. It was our personal values and morality, and isn't that enough for a personal family decision?

Third, who would [the letter-writer] suggest make these life-and-death decisions?

If government money is not used for the support of those most vulnerable in society, most dependent and most unable to ever "pay their own way," then what is a government for? Oh, yeah, perhaps some people would rather all their taxes go for more bombs and weapons for the War of Terror.

I could have made a career and income to support myself, but instead I spent 28 years struggling to make ends meet. Now I face old age with no security at all. But then I made my choice.

Meanwhile, this family, consisting of myself and my three sons, does its best see that Drew is taken care of and survives each day. When I'm gone into the great beyond, I just hope that there is a government system that not only supports him, but does so with an adequate quality of life. It's looking grim out there, and it will get worse.

BJ Bolender, Phoenix


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