HOAs just dont "get" it: Sarah Fenske's column on homeowners associations raised some great points, and it doesn't hurt that she writes about such a potentially mundane topic with wit and flair ("Let the Sunshine In," May 10).
Once my husband, Tom Rawles, is off the Mesa City Council, we will probably be tarred and feathered by the Dobson Ranch HOA (of course, we face that threat from many quarters on a regular basis). Our HOA, like many, doesn't "get" that native, rather untrimmed, landscaping is better for wildlife and humans (hello, we live in a desert, not the Midwest or the tropics).
Of course, being a libertarian, I am all for private contracts and am not against an HOA in its basic principle: homeowners voluntarily agreeing to abide by certain restrictions and processes. However, we cannot assume this basic premise anymore. Instead, we have government-created HOAs (try building a development without the concurrent establishment of an HOA), and HOAs that go far beyond the parameters of their contractual agreements, usually without challenge.
How many homeowners can handle the legal and emotional expense of standing up to a majority of their neighbors, or especially, a zealous minority of busybodies and do-gooders?
Sarah and New Times, keep sounding the alarm. Even when I don't agree with you, I love the bold opinions and scrappy themes that your paper represents and the First Amendment protects. Not that the majority of Americans believe in that anymore! Remember: Personal and economic freedoms go together, and if we lose any, we eventually lose them all.
Linda Rawles, Mesa
Call Jan now: Thank you for the great article about solar energy and petulant HOAs.
Just to give you and your readers an update, Senate Bill 1330 passed the Senate the other day and has been has been sent to the governor. This bill restores homestead exemption protection to homeowners in HOAs and subjects the HOA lien to the law. It also includes the Solar Bill.
Your readers should call Governor Janet Napolitano's office and ask her to sign this into law! Her phone numbers: 602-542-4331, 602-542-1318 or 1-800-253-0883.
State Senator Jack Harper did vote yes on this bill, in spite of threats from the HOA industry that it would "inform his constituents" of how he voted. This is the first time I've seen Harper act with any courage for the voters. He should be commended for this moment.
Rauni Armbruster, Phoenix
HOA despots: I completely agree with everything you have written. HOAs benefit the developer (who gets to control homeowners until all the McProperties are sold), the local government (which still collects the same taxes but delegates many responsibilities to the HOA) at the expense of homeowners (who have to pay fees to get the services their taxes should already pay for, and who lose many basic freedoms, to boot).
Meanwhile, HOA despots claim that their stupid pronouncements "protect property values." Come on! Show me any evidence that solar panels, or paint color, or native plants, have any effect on property value whatsoever.
Unfortunately, in many places, it's tough to find a home without HOA restrictions. Many county commissions require new developments to have them. If I'd had any reasonable choice, I wouldn't be living in such a development now.
Name withheld by request
BEST. MAYOR. EVER.
Leave that Goob alone: After reading Stephen Lemons' Feathered Bastard blog , I couldn't be more aghast at his depiction of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon as a coward who hides under his elderly mother's skirt (see also The Bird this week).
Phil Gordon, for Phoenix newbie Lemons' information, is the best mayor this city has ever had. Lemons should have seen the pieces of crap preceding him. Skip Rimsza was a fool, and a developer, to boot. He's responsible for getting us into the urban nightmare Phil is trying to help us wake up from. You have to go back to Terry Goddard to see a good mayor.
And what exactly is wrong with Gordon's neighborhood watch program? What's wrong with people looking out for their neighbors from their front porches? If more people cared about the welfare of their neighbors, this would be a much safer city.
It's unfair to call Gordon's ideas (as Lemons did) "Mayberry"-like. There are so many factors responsible for our crime problem? How can his watch program be expected to cure such an illness? For starters, illegal aliens are responsible for their share of the crime problem, and so many of them are coming here. I know, some of them are my relatives.
Please, Mr. Lemons, have some sense of history before you go and lambaste the best mayor Phoenix residents have ever had. Phil Gordon may come across as a bit goofy at times, because he has a tendency to get tongue-tied in public, but he's well-meaning and certainly no "goober."
Oh, and I think it was admirable that Mayor Gordon was more concerned with his mother's comfort than with answering the questions of a hostile New Times reporter.
Ann Fernandez, Phoenix
Right perspective: Congratulations on another fine article on Arizona State University's Michael Crow ("ASU Inc.," Megan Irwin, April 26). I have no personal knowledge of the topics addressed in the article, but I would like to comment on the letters to the editor that appeared in the May 10 issue ("ASU Inc.-Lings").
Two of the letter writers criticized Irwin for bringing up her personal experiences with President Crow. I disagree strongly with their reasoning.
A fault that I found with Irwin's article on the Cancer Research Institute ("A Cancer on ASU," January 18) was that it didn't really convey the vindictiveness and mean-spiritedness of the administration in that dispute. This is, of course, hard to describe unless you have experienced it directly, and for that reason, I think inclusion of Irwin's personal experience with Dr. Crow was not only justified but extremely useful to the reader.
Thomas H. Smith, Tempe
Injustice to vegans: Your headline does grave injustice to tens of thousands of vegan couples who raise perfectly healthy babies ("Diet From Hell," Ray Stern, May 10).
The Parker couple's infant died not because they were vegan, but because he was fed a diet of soy milk and apple juice not recommended by any authority on vegan nutrition. Prosecutor Mike Carlson summed up the case accurately, if somewhat harshly: "They're not vegans. They're baby killers!"
The diet of vegan babies begins with breast milk or fortified vegan formula and continues with fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. This is why they are less likely to become obese and to suffer from common childhood diseases and food allergies. Sound advice on raising vegan children is available from www.vegetarianbaby.com.
Alex Hershaft, National Chair, the Great American Meatout, Bethesda, Maryland
Misguided, but not bad: I feel so sorry for Blair and Kimu Parker. I lived in the same apartment complex as them and saw them often. They did not intentionally harm those children.
When the weather was nice, they would have their door open, and the kids would go in and out and be playing outside. Their apartment was always clean.
My apartment was right in front of the mailbox, and often I would see their older boy come and get the mail. He was so cute and would say, "Hi, how are you?" I noticed that the kids appeared short but not extremely skinny or unhealthy. They just seemed small.
I often saw Blair carrying laundry home from the Laundromat nearby, and his kids would be helping him, and they would be laughing and talking. I would also see him giving the kids shoulder rides all the time. They were a very happy family.
The Parkers were misguided when it came to nutrition and, unfortunately, it came down to this. I feel so sorry for them because anyone who knew them could see that they loved their kids dearly.
Kelley Najarian, Tempe
Monster parents: Kimu Parker deserves all the jail time she can handle. Her husband did more than just give them vegan meals. He made them do extreme calisthenics, too. These were monsters. Kimu knew better.
Cindy Schwartz, Phoenix
Ignorance is negligence: I understand parents wanting to make sure their children are healthy I have three boys who are ages 11, 4, and 3. I am all in favor of that.
But when your children are demonstrating physical signs of illness, there has to be a point where common sense kicks in and you realize that something isn't right. For a child to be small is one thing, but skin-and-bones and having unexplained seizures is something else.
I absolutely believe that blatant ignorance is negligence. Especially after the family had already lost a child to seizures. I feel that they knew that they were somehow in the wrong, or they would not have hesitated to call 911.
Those poor children. With all their parents' good intentions, the Parkers didn't realize their children were starving to death.
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I blame part of this on the media's constant portrayals of what is considered acceptable in our society. Whatever happened to focusing solely on health and well-being?
Nicole Niesz, Fountain Hills
Wrong diet for seizures: As an adjunct professor of nutrition for Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, I find Ray Stern's report on the Parker family's unfortunate vegan experience ironic because medical research has determined that many cases of seizure disorders both in children and adults respond very favorably to a ketogenic diet.
A peer-reviewed article in Pediatrics (Vol. 105, April 2000, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/105/4/e46.pdf) concluded that "the evidence is sufficient to determine that the ketogenic diet is [effective] in reducing seizure frequency in children with refractory epilepsy." A ketogenic diet consists primarily of fat- and protein-rich foods such as meat, butter and cream the types of foods the Parker family avoided with very limited intake of the carbohydrate-rich plant foods the Parker family preferred.
A ketogenic diet can meet all nutritional requirements for children and adults and has no adverse effects on health provided it includes [exclusively] unprocessed muscle and organ meats and bones and low-carbohydrate fresh vegetables or fruits. Previous to their acculturation, Eskimos raised their children on a similar diet for centuries with excellent developmental results.
Don Matesz, Tempe