No good neighbors in this story: Wow! There are no actual "good" guys in your "Good Neighbor" story (Paul Rubin, March 3). I'm sure the title was your little joke.
And it's a "good" one, since State Farm made a mockery of its slogan by trying to get back even the cost of the burned-down structure after establishing that the homeowners had nothing to do with the fire. This is exactly why people hate bleedin' insurance companies!
Then, those firefighters! Robert "Santa Claus" Brewster, in particular. Why, I guess arson is a cottage industry for them. Makes sense, since they know a lot about how fire works. But who knew?
Oh, and let's not forget "would-be neighbor" Patrick Bolley. He definitely wasn't a "good neighbor," either, making up stuff to screw over the Johnsons because his precious view was impeded.
Then, there are the Johnsons, especially Betty, who appears to have tried to pull one over on State Farm after it tried to screw over her and her husband. Betty, that's not nice!
All in all, an excellent can of worms Paul Rubin opened. Goes to show how scummy most people are when the chips are down.
Cat Bradley, Tempe
The story's homeowners speak: Just so everyone reading this article knows: The contractors were all paid.
We never had one lien put on our property from our contractors, because we [paid] the contractors. Robert Brewster was paid in full for all his shoddy work.
The money he wasn't paid was for a circular driveway that was never done. Go drive by the property. You won't see a circular drive. We didn't pay for something that never got done.
As far as Patrick Bolley goes, he knew nothing about us. [He] and his wife made it very apparent that they didn't want us moving in. He was telling all the contractors that we didn't pay our bills. How did he know, when he didn't know anything about us?
We had some very good contractors [who] for the most part, did very good work. One day when we get to rebuild [we] would reuse most of them. Our house was not done cheap; it was of good quality.
Betty and Mike Johnson, Peoria
Typical of State Farm: State Farm Insurance sucks. [It is] everything but a "good neighbor."
My family used to be insured with State Farm, and they were always fine while you were paying them. The first sign of a claim, it was a whole different story.
Jim Cozzolino, Peoria
Too much profit motive for the insurer: Insurance companies are corporations, and as corporations, they have a legal obligation to maximize profits for their shareholders. Failure to do so can result in a lawsuit or a change in management.
So, too, they have obligation to act in good faith, but who is policing them when they act so closely with the police?
This is why health insurance needs single-provider legislation. Every free, industrial nation knows what this story highlights: When you give a company a profit motive to deny claims, that is exactly what [it] will do. Here, the loss was a home. With medical insurance, the loss is a life.
If this story upsets you, then you should be doubly concerned about our current governor's death panels and her efforts to undermine reform of national healthcare insurance.
Jim Rathburn, city unavailable
One big question not asked: In an otherwise fine article, Paul Rubin desperately implies that somehow Robert Brewster got away with arson. He never bothers to explain why [Brewster] was never arrested, never prosecuted. Just that he wasn't.
Why, then, does Rubin skip this important question? Because the answer is pretty straightforward and makes Rubin's implication of guilt and cover-up seem embarrassingly juvenile.
As a matter of law, a person cannot be convicted solely upon the accusation of a co-conspirator. Period. If you have no facts other than the word of someone caught in the act, you've got nothing. With a few moments' thought, this makes sense. Imagine how full Joe [Arpaio's] jails would be if he could simply force the local meth-head to claim he sold to anyone Joe disliked?
So, no facts tying Brewster to the case, no case to chase.
Rubin, of course, knows this. He's a seasoned reporter with exceptional skills. He deliberately left it out because to include it diminishes the web of conspiracy and the tome of accusation he carefully crafted.
Kit Carson, city unavailable
A tougher look at Brewster?: What I want to know is how Robert Brewster managed to avoid charges when he was nailed by the men he hired? He was the only firefighter involved with a motive — except maybe the lying neighbor — and there was never any evidence of his involvement.
After reading this article, I hope [Brewster's] employers take a hard look at him. I'm really afraid when a guy like this is allowed to continue as a fireman.
Al Garcia, city unavailable
Fire Brewster: Shame on State Farm for doing that to this family. Apparently they are not a "good neighbor," as they try to advertise. Why is Robert Brewster still a fireman?
Meth problem is overlooked: Sad story. I hate to say it, but shame on all the [firefighters'] peers who knew they were using meth and did nothing. [Onetime suspect and firefighter Chris] Bishop's blood is on their hands.
This is what happens when you do nothing about someone who is using drugs, or in need of mental-health care. The Phoenix Fire Department has had four suicides in the past year alone. Maybe it's time to do things differently.
Thanks for reading: Read this story just for the hell of it. It really grabbed me. Lots of twists and turns. This is why I like to read New Times. They do this kind of stuff.
Lots of shadiness to go around: Obviously, arson by local firefighters is the whacked-out part, but this story makes the Johnsons sound pretty shady — and like total assholes, to boot.
Building a garage so big that it blocks your neighbor's view tends to show that these people are probably completely self-absorbed. It also sounds like State Farm had plenty of reason, at least initially, to question their claim.
Too bad for the little guy: People, get a grip! Who cares if El Mirage ain't happy? We need to keep Luke Air Force Base happy ("Crossed Paths," Monica Alonzo, February 24)!
In a bad economy like we're facing, particularly in the Phoenix area, we can't afford to have a big employer and contributor to our economic welfare pick up and leave because the denizens of a tiny town are mad over jet noise.
Maybe El Mirage should merge with one of the other towns in the area and stop trying to prop up a city government. And maybe its citizens should move if they don't like what Luke is doing — since the base was no doubt already there when they moved to El Mirage.
J.T. Schwartz, Glendale
Merge with Surprise: Unincorporate and merge El Mirage with Surprise. No reason to have the overhead of its own governing body and police and fire departments.
It's a landlocked city with zero potential for growth. Just turn it into another Surprise neighborhood and move on.