Letters From the Issue of Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flash Point

The devil you dont: I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever written a letter to an editor, but after reading your vilification of Fire Chief Bob Khan I just had to ("The Fire Inside," Sarah Fenske, March 15).

I retired from the Phoenix Fire Department in 2003 after 26 years. I was very close to Chief Khan, and he worked for me as a firefighter for nearly five years. People are making out that these organizational changes made by Khan are somehow nefarious, even unusual. But let me tell you that if Chief Alan Brunacini felt slighted in any way when he was chief, you can believe that your career would be affected. Believe me, I know from experience. There were no fewer than three mass "reorganizations" during my career, usually precipitated by some perceived or actual slight toward the chief or his department.



You quote Assistant Chief Bob Cantwell. Well, let me tell you that he was the henchman for Bruno [Alan Brunacini] and did all of his dirty work, and Chief Robert "Hoot" Gibson . . . don't get me started.

The Phoenix Fire Department has a long history of not airing its dirty laundry in public, with corresponding hell-hath-no-fury retribution for those who do. The king is dead, and long live the [new] king. Bob, you go, girl!
Mark Bracy, retired PFD captain, Phoenix

Wrath of Khan, or the one and only Billy Shields?: Who's kidding who? The United Phoenix Fire Association, Billy Shields, and Shields' buddy Pat Cantelme are running the Phoenix Fire Department now, and anybody who says differently is either an idiot or in on the scheme.

It speaks volumes that Assistant City Manager Alton Washington refused to speak to New Times about a couple of matters, since he's the one the paper was referred to for answers. What has Washington got to hide if everything is on the up-and-up?

In one area, I'm referring to this statement in your story: "They then purchased a $210,000 billing system from [former union president Pat] Cantelme's business partner, Bob Ramsey, without soliciting other bids or openly advertising." About that, Washington, who's in charge of the city's dealings with the Fire Department, refused to say a word.

Even if the endgame in a deal like this turns out to make sense, as Fire Chief Bob Khan argues it does, then shouldn't it be done on the up-and-up?

The other area regards Bob Compton's getting a "fat consulting contract," as your story states. Again I quote the New Times article: "Oddly, Compton was hired without a request for proposals or any attempt to see whether anyone else was interested in the job." Compton is a close ally of Khan and Shields, and again Washington was the man the city held up as an expert on such matters, and again Washington refused to comment about the transaction.

Mayor Phil Gordon's friend Billy Shields hates retired Fire Chief Alan Brunacini, and now, because Chief Khan has to be worried as hell about his political future if he messes with the union, Khan must do as Shields tells him.
Name withheld by request

Prole Violation

Any time we can help: I was actually intrigued enough to consider seeing the new staging of 1984, even though this version is under the direction of perpetually pissed über-liberal Tim Robbins. But New Times' blurb ("State of Shock," Wynter Holden, Night & Day, March 22) pretty much deflated any interest:

"In 1949, author George Orwell described a fictional state in which Big Brother is always listening, innocents are jailed without trials, and citizens are punished for speaking out publicly. Sound familiar?"

Yeah, how about the Taliban ruling Afghanistan with terrorist leaders, public stonings. and women enslaved under black robes and dying on sidewalks in front of hospitals that won't admit them? Or maybe Iraq, where Saddam's sadistic sons kept elementary schools near their palaces for their personal booty calls and fed citizens into industrial plastic shredders for entertainment? No, please, let's cry about our own government trying to keep these crazy bastards from killing us again.

The blurb continues: "At least Dubya hasn't resorted to spy cams yet — we think — and the Dixie Chicks weren't tortured for their thought crimes, unless you count boycotts, blacklisting and the mass burning of their albums."

How many Grammys were thrown at the Dixie Chicks this year? If Hollywood didn't have to make a choice as to how to out-liberal itself, I'm sure the Chicks would've had an Oscar instead of global warming scare-meister Al Gore.

Thank you, New Times, for saving me some time and money. I get enough hysterical liberal panic and smug persecution delusions from most of the media, especially New Times.
John Kestner, Peoria

Amazing Race

Two more people, and theyve got a football game: What the hell is the matter with you people? Can't you see the damage the invasion of Mexicans into this state is doing to us? Next thing you know, they'll be flying the Mexican flag over the state capitol and broadcasting the evening news in Spanglish. They're like a buncha damn parasites, sucking the lifeblood out of us!

KTAR's Darrell Ankarlo is a true patriot standing up to the powers that be and trying to stop the flow of these bloodsuckers into Arizona. And you dicks have this damn faggot Steve Lemons all over his jock, calling up his show, pretending to be someone else so he can get on ("AnKKKarlo Pride," The Bird, March 15).

Why don't you write about all the crimes these illegals commit while they're here? The garbage they leave everywhere they go. How they have 20 people living in a house. Where does it stop?
Jeff Gallagher, Gilbert

Journalism school?: I think I figured out Stephen Lemons' angle after reading the March 15 Bird column. He must be working undercover for the Minutemen trying to discredit the pro-immigration side, because nobody could be that dumb. I guess journalism school doesn't teach logic or critical thinking. Then again, maybe he is being ironic to get our attention, but I doubt it.

First we were treated to the unintentional comedy of "The Passion of El Cristo" (September 14, 2006), and now he compares the plight of illegals to "the way blacks were treated in the Jim Crow South."

Wow, do I really need to point out what a bad analogy that is? What the hell, I'll point it out anyway. Group A willfully breaks the law by sneaking into another country and then complains when that country's citizens don't welcome its members with open arms. Group B's ancestors were brought here by force and, in spite of being born in the United States, were treated like second-class citizens.

Frankly, I can't wait to see what apologies for illegal immigration he'll come up with next. Maybe next month he'll compare the plight of illegals to the Holocaust. How about a remake of Star Wars with Andrew Thomas as the Emperor and Cheech Marin as Luke?
Brock Wilson, Mesa


A rose by any other Plame: Can old Bird Steve Lemons learn any new tricks? Judging from his trash-talking article posing as an objective news report in New Times ("Prevaricators' Powwow," March 1) the answer is a resounding no!

As former President Ronald Reagan said of former President Jimmy Carter in their presidential debates in 1980, "There he goes again."

As an attender who was somewhat involved in organizing the 9/11 Accountability Conference at the Chandler San Marcos Resort from February 23-25, I talked with columnist Steve Lemons on several occasions. We talked about the subject of 9/11 and the conference in general; he seemed quite reasonable and open-minded about the events and program taking place. In fact, he even said that as far Dr. Bob Bowman's keynote talk, he agreed with Bowman "90 percent of the time."

So, it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to reading his column in New Times the week following our conference. Instead of an objective and a real examination of any of the substantive issues raised about what happened on the tragic day of 9/11/2001, I was exposed to a series of ad hominem attacks against the various speakers at our program and against conference chair, Kent Knudson.

Just look at the language that Lemons used in his piece: "Prevaricators Powwow," "kook Congress," "cuckoo clambake," "Kent 'Cow Killer' Knudson," "fanatic fest," "paranoid powwow," "9/11 coffee klatch." Are these the words of an objective reporter?

The same kind of attacks were employed in his previous article "Denier's Conference" (February 1). And once again, he drags out the red herring of "Holocaust denial." Eric Williams was trumpeted, once again, as the Holocaust denier par excellence. Perhaps he is, but that was not the focus of the conference. Our focus was on 9/11/2001 truth and accountability issues.

I also found extremely objectionable his use of the religious card in reference to myself. What does my religion have to do with anything? Absolutely zero! And yet he believes he can violate my trust and refer to my religion in a snide way, even though I told him this is something I don't generally discuss with people.

This reminds me of Robert Novak's offhand comment in his July [14,] 2003 Washington Post column, revealing the identity of Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, the CIA operative. The intent by Lemons was the same: to defame and damage, not share any really important information.
Pete Creelman, Phoenix

Editors note: The Bird is a column, which means it's commentary. Commentary, by definition, isn't objective; it's the opinion of the writer. As for why Stephen Lemons mentioned that Pete Creelman's Jewish: First, Creelman told him he was. Second, Creelman never mentioned that he keeps his Jewishness a secret, and why would anybody assume he would? Unless . . . he was ashamed of helping organize a conference that had a Holocaust denier in a prominent role?

Made You Look

We didnt know Harper draws hands that well: I'm a retired schoolteacher now living in Surprise, but the other day I found myself visiting friends in Phoenix and came across a copy of your publication at their home. While (ahem) taking a sojourn in the lavatory, I happened to read this column titled The Bird. Now, I'm a man of the world, but I found the illustration that accompanied that story about the deputy police chief in Phoenix to be way, way over the top ("Anger Mismanagement," Stephen Lemons, March 15).

I know it reflected an unfortunate reality, but why is it necessary to spread such vulgarity? Your paper is free, accessible to any grade-school student who would take in such obscenities and likely copy them. Thus whatever point you made criticizing the policeman's uncivilized behavior is undercut by the fact that you have replicated it thousands of times in the streets of the Valley. I'm no prude. All I'm saying is that with every crude drawing such as that one, our civility is diminished, and our discourse is dipped into the gutter.

I ask that you please think a little more about the images you're adding to the collective consciousness and what impact they may have on our society at large.
Don Davis, Surprise


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