All Fired Up

Up in Smoke

Fighting to retire: I loved your article on Rural/Metro and the screwing of its employees ("Burned," Amy Silverman, February 14). I did not enjoy the treatment the firefighters received; I enjoyed Rural/Metro being exposed for the liars and cheats they are.

I worked for them as a paramedic in Alabama from 1997-99. In my mind, they are criminals. I never understood how they were able to mistreat their employees, provide such poor service, mismanage a business, and stay afloat. What your firefighters said about the "rollover" sale of their stock, that rip-off 401(k) plan, and the information they received from management, is all true.

Rural/Metro should have been investigated years ago. I wish the federal government would go back and audit their Medicare charges. These people are bloodsuckers. They make televangelists, used car salesmen and lawyers look good. Take a wider look at R/M and you will discover a ton of strange stuff.

An old joke about the quality of service we were able to provide is, "What's the difference between a Rural/Metro ambulance and Domino's pizza? Domino's can be there in 15 minutes or less."

Jack Busby
Mobile, Alabama

Oh, George

Not so funny after all: Your article on Scottsdale councilman George Zraket was most amusing ("Furious George," John W. Allman, February 7). Councilman Zraket is the classic example of a critic who is extremely intolerant of criticism and the opinions of others. He believes himself to be more knowledgeable and more expert about every possible topic than everyone else. Your article accepts his self-appointed praise of "merely asking questions." An intelligent questioner asks short, direct questions and listens attentively to the answer. Councilman Zraket does neither. Councilman Zraket's exclusive purposes in speaking are to hear his own voice and to humiliate others. He does not ask questions, he lectures -- at great length.

Once upon a time, Scottsdale was the first choice in the Southwest for everybody -- homeowners, renters, hotel guests, restaurant operators, home and hotel builders, and business people. Innovation and creativity were the norm. No longer. Now, rarely does a Scottsdale development offer more than the absolute minimum. Scottsdale has recently become just another suburb where nothing interesting or exciting happens.

Paul Basha

Change of Art

Get it together: I am saddened by the lack of visual arts coverage in the past five months. In many regards, I had grown spoiled by the regular appearance of articles by Edward Lebow, Josh Rose and Kathleen Vanesian. Now, none of those names grace your pages -- and the only so-called arts article I have seen recently was a review of the Titanic exhibition, placed in the arts for lack of a better category. The culture in Phoenix would be well served by the return of regular arts coverage.

After living in Arizona for four years now, I am disgusted by the inconsistent coverage of the arts in local media. It seems like a publication such as New Times should be setting the standard for coverage of the arts, but it has not. It seems almost pathetic that a surface-based publication such as Java would be the only outlet for an art article every month.

When I first came here, there was virtually no art in New Times. Fortunately, it got better and better until I deliberately picked up every issue to make sure I didn't miss an article. I should have applauded you then to make sure the good times lasted. Sadly, I did not, and for my contented apathy I am partly to blame. I am only able to speak now, hopeful that you may return to the level of arts coverage that made your publication worth reading.

Gregory Schaffer

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

The people have spoken: I read with amusement (but mostly disbelief) John Dougherty's feature on the NFL "cartel" ("National Football Cartel," January 31). While I agree with the assertion that publicly subsidized sports stadiums are a bad idea, his story minimizes the importance of a voter-approved referendum. Right or wrong, Proposition 302 passed in 2000. Maricopa County has an obligation to the voters (not necessarily the Bidwill family) to build the new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals.

I voted for Prop 302, but not because of the stadium. I did so because our youth sports programs do need more playing and practice fields. In some parts of this country, there is a severe shortage of such facilities, which limits how much these programs are able to offer our children.

I even support funding the Cactus League stadium for Surprise. Major league baseball has been coming to the Valley for as long as I have been a baseball fan (more than 40 years). Spring training is one of the most enjoyable times of the year in the Valley. Adding two more teams will just add to the enjoyment.

My other point of contention with Mr. Dougherty's story is his use of academic "experts" to support an assertion that professional sports franchises do not positively affect our local community. I totally disagree with their theory. I would have liked to have seen some research from Mr. Dougherty to show how many of our major sports athletes (Suns, Diamondbacks, Coyotes and Cardinals) make the Phoenix metropolitan area their year-round home, or have purchased homes in the Valley.

The story also seemed to ignore the impact of the visiting teams. In baseball, because the average series is three games, visiting players, coaches and their traveling personnel will spend money in our local economy for dining and entertainment. Considering that the money to build the Cardinals stadium will come from hotel/motel taxes and car rental fees, the visiting teams will contribute significantly to providing those revenues.

Mr. Dougherty needs to be reminded that because Phoenix has all four major sports franchises (one of fewer than 15 cities in the United States that can make that claim), we have professional sports all year round. You cannot point to one month during the calendar year when there is not a major franchise competing in our metropolitan area. Then, add to that fact that because of the Cactus League, there are seven teams that hold their training camps in the Phoenix area and three more in Tucson, including our champion D-Backs.

I understand the intent of Mr. Dougherty's story about the NFL. It is a monopoly and a cartel. It does reward mediocre franchises and tightwad owners because of revenue sharing. Frankly, I believe that because of the extremely lucrative TV deal the league has with four major networks, the NFL ought to be able to fund new stadiums for franchises such as the Cardinals (who should have their own game facility). The franchise would then be responsible for repaying the other teams in the league over a period of time from their proceeds generated by a new stadium.

Glen Chern

Arizona History

Can I still get the bag?: In a world that's had more than its fair share of unpleasant surprises lately, I was glad to see a nice pleasant surprise, in Robrt L. Pela's "Lunch Meet" with Bill "Wallace" Thompson ("Sundaes With Wall-Boy," February 7). I moved with my parents to the Valley back in 1984, and when I first encountered The Wallace & Ladmo Show one morning, I could automatically sense that there was something special about this "kiddy cartoon show" that outclassed anything that Bozo had to offer. (I still can't stand him!) And I somehow just knew that this show had to have a history even though I couldn't imagine how much of a history. The thousands of new Valley residents that have moved here since 1989 have no idea what they missed.

Jon Krieger

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