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Jail Grouse Regarding Tony Ortega's article ("Paying the Price," August 27) on jail costs: Boo hoo! I'm weeping for those who curse at and otherwise provoke correction officers. Ortega calls Scott Norberg a former "Tempe football star." Why does Ortega not call him what he really is--a former dope-selling, cop-attacking...
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Jail Grouse
Regarding Tony Ortega's article ("Paying the Price," August 27) on jail costs: Boo hoo! I'm weeping for those who curse at and otherwise provoke correction officers. Ortega calls Scott Norberg a former "Tempe football star." Why does Ortega not call him what he really is--a former dope-selling, cop-attacking convict? I just love the way New Times' "reporters" report. Makes me want to puke.

Name withheld by request

Police State
In reading Barry Graham's "Human Target" (August 13), it was easy to pick up his anticop sentiment. The article was painted with words about Abdiel Burgueno Jr. and how he couldn't possibly have done the things the police say he did on the night he was killed. Graham paints the police as the "bad guys" and assumes the police aren't telling the whole story.

First of all, alcohol can cause a person to act in strange ways regardless of how that person "normally" acts while under the influence. Secondly, the poem that was found in Burgueno's typewriter echoes cries from a person who wanted help, someone who was troubled about something not even his friends knew about ("I've a lump in my throat/From the words I can't speak, I mustn't exorcise from deep inside . . .").

While I am sorry for the pain and sadness Burgueno's family has to endure, it sounds like the police did the right thing in protecting themselves from this obviously troubled man.

Deb Taylor

Car Jacked
I am no authority on the law, but I detect a serious deficiency in logic and reasoning in Barry Graham's August 20 column, "Auto Lock-up." The "frightening" bill which he criticizes renders "as a class 6 felony refusal to return a motor vehicle to a . . . creditor" if 90 days in arrears on payments. He states that the law is unfair to the poor and compares it to debtors' prisons of old.

Certainly, few today would argue that debtors' prison or indentured servitude should be reinstated. Graham's comparison of the law to these past and abhorrent practices, however, is not quite correct. The key word in the law is "refusal"--an individual three months behind in payments is not a criminal, only someone with perhaps bad luck or, at worse, bad judgment.

However, an individual 90 days behind in payments who "refuses" to at least partially rectify the debt by returning the car (or, for that matter, any other merchandise) seems to me to begin to sound like a thief--letting someone else pay for the item while he or she uses it or benefits from it. Even bankruptcy laws that forgive debt have mechanisms for at least partial restitution. Even if the car is returned, the institution that loaned the money for the car is still out three months' payments and probably a car that has been devalued by use.

By analogy, suppose you sold your car, home or other major property and owner-financed it (not an uncommon practice). The buyer falls three months behind but "refuses" to return the car or vacate the house. Would you be willing to finance the buyer's continued use of your home or car? You could, of course, go through expensive and lengthy foreclosure procedures or file a lawsuit to recover your property. But even these avenues have very weak powers of enforcement for physically returning property that rightfully belongs to you. The buyer, in the interim, is unlawfully using your property at your expense, which, to me, is tantamount to theft.

It isn't clear from the column if this law only applies to institutional lenders--if so, then this is the primary flaw in the bill. It should apply equally to individuals who are faced with trying to recover bad debts from individuals who "refuse" to accept some responsibility for their debts, be they simply unlucky or, worse, intentional ones.

Name withheld by request

Offal Office
I am writing in response to Barry Graham's article "Modern Maturity" (August 27). Once again, Mr. Graham thinks he is speaking for everyone, and he is not.

He claims that he hates President William Jefferson Clinton, but that he has nothing against Bill Clinton, the man. He states that we do not care about the "personal" act that the president was involved in and that we still approve of the president.

What he misses entirely is that the man who had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky was, in fact, President William Jefferson Clinton. He is a federal employee elected by "we," the people. Monica was a federal employee working for the White House and President William Jefferson Clinton . . . not Bill Clinton. We, the people, are paying his salary, and we are his boss. When he had her perform a sexual act on him in a building the public owns, it became the public's business. When he got on national television and denied the affair, he did that as President William Jefferson Clinton, not as Bill Clinton. He lied to us as the president. He was not involved as just a "boss having an affair with a starry-eyed woman," but he was, indeed, the president of the most powerful country in the world. It shows that he is not only a liar, but a weak man that I, for one, do not think should be in office any longer. I would respect him more if he resigned.

Graham claims that "we" don't care. I care that he is a liar, and I care that other presidents have had affairs while in office. I care because I am trying to raise a little boy into a God-fearing, respectable, honest young man. It is hard to imagine trying to explain all this mess to him when he gets older. I care because I voted for Clinton. I care because what he did was wrong. I care because he only seems sorry for getting caught, not sorry for what he did. I care because I feel sorry for Chelsea; she will be the one to suffer the most from all of this.

I, too, want this to be over with, but I am not in agreement with Graham when he writes that it makes no difference to us that the president had an affair with a young woman in the White House as long as he was doing a good job. It makes me sad to think that the American people think none of this matters because the president is doing a good job. I realize that the economy is good, unemployment is low and the stock market is high, but that gives us no reason to assume it is all because the president is doing a good job. We have to give ourselves a pat on the back for most of it.

I hope that when Hillary met with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, he went over the Ten Commandments with her and Chelsea, so they could tell our president. I hope Jackson also went over the story of King David, who, while he was king, had an affair with a married woman. He then had her husband killed to cover up what he did. But God was watching. God punished him by making war in David's own household and allowing his son, Solomon, to become the great king. God granted Solomon one wish. Did he wish for money or power? Did he ask for beautiful women or material things? No. He asked God for wisdom to know how to rule the kingdom the right way. God was so pleased with this humble request that he blessed Solomon as the wisest man on Earth.

I hope Hillary reads that bedtime story to President William Jefferson Clinton on their vacation. Maybe Bill Clinton will learn from it, too.

Ruth A. Douthitt

I agree wholeheartedly with Barry Graham's assessment of Clinton's presidency to date. Yet that is where the agreement abruptly ends.

I strongly disagree with his view on the entire Lewinsky fiasco. He begins by stating that it is a "trivial" matter, and that it was ". . . purely personal. It affected no one but the guy, his wife and his lover. And so it was no one else's business."

Clinton has no personal life. Once a man seeks a political life, much less that of the presidency, he accepts that matters which were once personal are now public. These events did not occur on his personal time, rather on "company time" and in his office! This alone makes it a public matter, since his "company" is the United States. It is not trivial because he then lied about it, compounding his bad judgment.

I also have issues with Graham's assessment of Kenneth Starr. I would like to believe that when you are given a job to do, you make it an issue to succeed. That is exactly what Starr has done. The only issue is that the job he was given was to investigate the president of the United States. America no longer has a work ethic, and it is upsetting for people to see Starr pursuing his job with vigor. Why is it that his personal views are at question, while Graham says that Clinton's are not?

Which brings us to another one of your rantings: "Kenneth Starr . . . and the minority of close-minded, hypocritical finger pointers. . . ." I support Kenneth Starr, and I am not a hypocrite. I have never cheated on my wife, and I never will, as Graham apparently has (". . . his sexual indiscretions, even if most of us had been guilty of the same indiscretions at some time in our lives"). Can I take this to mean that Graham and Clinton are in the same boat?

He calls America's reaction to this an "evolution." (Interesting analogy, since that is another unfounded concept!) Graham argues that we should compartmentalize this issue, saying that it does not matter if Clinton is good at his job. But he fails to realize that a man's reaction in one situation reflects his character in all situations. Mr. Graham, we are whole people, and if we show a lack of morality in one area, then that is a reflection of our character. We cannot be upright in some areas but not in others. Clinton himself has demonstrated this. Not only did he have an improper relationship with this woman, but he then lied about it, showing consistency in his character. I only shudder to think of how this consistency has been carried out in the political arena. Clinton's lack of faithfulness to his wife is a reflection on his character in all areas, and that is anything but trivial.

"It makes no difference to us."
It does to some.
Brent Thomas
via Internet

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