"Suspects of Convenience" by Paul Rubin (May 28) is an excellent example of the methods that the federal and local governments are using to subvert the Constitution in the name of "The War on Drugs." Here you have store clerks and owners arrested because they sold legal over-the-counter medications that can be used in meth labs. Since when was the law changed to require store clerks to psychoanalyze customers to determine what they will use the merchandise for? Perhaps the feds will next require us to fill out forms that describe what we intend to use each grocery item for.
Stories such as these are tragic but not unique. Law-abiding store owners' constitutional rights were thrown out because it was a great way for the cops to make the headlines. Families have been executed by drug cops who break into homes without warning and shoot to kill if anybody tries to defend himself. Courts routinely confiscate property in the name of this drug war. The FBI tries to force bookstores to reveal who bought books on hydroponics gardening. Workers' rights are violated by forcing them to take urine tests in order to get a job. Senator McCain and Bill Clinton join forces to keep the killer weed (tobacco) out of the hands of our youth by endorsing the same police tactics used against Amir and Fay Alyas. Don't think these are isolated events. Lawmakers are methodically chipping away at our rights!
I fear that the vast majority of the American people doesn't care if the Constitution is turned into a worthless piece of paper. Most of them don't know and don't care what's in the document. They are the ones that say nothing will happen to them because they have nothing to hide. Hitler and other world despots would surely admire how quickly the courts and the government have subverted our Constitution.
Re: "Suspects of Convenience." What is overlooked is not misunderstanding of the English language, nor street slang for drugs, nor notification of recently imposed bans on a common product, but typical greed. My dealings with businesses run by the recent (15-20 years) hoard of foreigners shows me the almighty dollar surpasses all in their way of thinking. The "mom and pop" operations of yesterday were conducted with a level of integrity. If the Alyases are guilty of anything, it is their inability to fully understand that such "operations" existed for many years without looking for the quick buck. The original "mom and pops" are out because of the chain stores' ability to buy in volume, not lowering their integrity for a few bucks.
As regards the Phoenix police, they know that in a small operation it is easier to bring about entrapment, without high-power lawyers available to fight it. The larger chains deal in such quantities that the paper trail to find which employee stole or dealt in these items is beyond their mental comprehension. How many street cops have the ability to read a computer spreadsheet dealing in thousands of products ordered, shipped, pilfered, etc.? Imagine an America where we all speak the same language.
Running on Water
I read Michael Kiefer's piece on the debate surrounding the Prescott Active Management Area ("Going to the Well Too Often," June 4).
This is yet another example of an Arizona Legislature that seems not to believe that the people of Arizona can be trusted with the truth.
The legislation referenced in the article was cobbled together behind closed doors without any opportunity for meaningful involvement by the public.
The result was Yavapai County cities who didn't know what was going on, closed-door meetings in which Shamrock Water Company was invited to participate but the public was excluded, and geographical bitterness between members of a Yavapai County Board of Supervisors that had, before the legislation, functioned as a team.
During the controversy, I asked Attorney General Grant Woods to investigate whether violations of Arizona's Open Meetings and Public Records laws occurred. I'm told that an investigation is ongoing.
Two things emerge from the Prescott AMA experience. First, we need a governor who reasserts in clear terms that the Groundwater Management Act of 1980 is about proving water supply before development is authorized. Second, the Arizona Legislature needs to apply to itself the same Open Meeting and Public Records laws that apply to cities and counties.
Something Rotten in the County of Maricopa?
In "Clearing the Air" by Tony Ortega (May 28), what isn't clear is the full extent of the complicity on the part of Maricopa County to help Sumitomo Sitix avoid full compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. Nothing in the county's legal action stops the plumes of smoke from the smokestacks, the smell of rotten eggs in the neighborhood, or the operation of unpermitted air-pollution equipment, or prohibits Sitix from operating equipment that it acknowledges to the county does not work properly. The latter is important because the criminal standard for violating the Clean Air Act can be as little as knowingly firing up equipment that the company knows does not work or knows pollutes excessively.
[County Attorney Rick] Romley's gripe at Steve Brittle for suggesting the possibility of criminal behavior is ill-founded on Romley's part. Unlike Romley, Brittle understands what the criminal standard in environmental law is, and Brittle was absolutely correct in bringing this to Romley's attention. While it is Romley's discretion to prosecute Sitix criminally, it is improper of Romley to suggest any wrongdoing on Brittle's part. In fact, if Brittle had not referred the ex-Sitix employees' allegations to Romley, he could have been prosecuted (and no doubt zealously), just as Michael Fortier in the Oklahoma bombing was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for not coming forward regarding suspected criminal behavior. So according to Romley, Brittle is damned if he passes on the allegations and damned if he doesn't.
The motives of Romley perhaps become more understandable when one studies the citizens' complaints against Sitix, where it becomes abundantly clear that Maricopa County is lying to the public when "resolving" the citizens' complaints. Maricopa County is telling citizens who complain that the smoke is just "steam" when county inspection reports indicate that at least some of the smoke is 70 degree ammonium nitrate. Also, when citizens complain about the foul, rotten-egg odor, county employees tell the complainant that they "will check the scrubber logs." Problem is that the process creating the offensive odor, as documented in county inspection reports, has no scrubbers and therefore no scrubber logs! This is usually called fraud.
Whether it's Maricopa County Environmental Services on its own, or with complicity from Rick Romley, a federal-level investigation and a federal grand jury should be called to look into why Maricopa County appears to be fraudulently lying to the public on behalf of Sitix. Then we'll really clear the air.
Don't Waste Arizona, Inc.
I am writing this letter in response to "Bill Blake's" Trashman column in the March 26 issue of New Times. Not only was his account embellished, but what really was upsetting was that the author of this account wasn't anyone by the name of "Bill Blake." In fact, it was none other than Brian Smith of the Beat Angels. Moreover, he was the one involved in the debacle at the Jar that night. His words were hurtful, self-serving and fictitious.
My problem is simple: If your paper wants to sell itself as journalism, it might not be a bad idea to inform your dedicated readership where these accounts are coming from. That way, readers such as myself and others who have grown to depend on New Times for their coverage of the Valley's happenings won't have to take everything they read in it with a grain of salt.
If I wanted to read fiction the day I picked up the March 26 issue, I would have gotten a comic book. With The Rep and Get Out gaining momentum, I seriously doubt that you want to add comics to the list of your competitors, which is exactly where your paper is headed until you make a commitment to present accurate, unbiased accounts in all of your articles. In short, the people of Phoenix and I deserve an apology from Bill Blake (a.k.a. Brian Smith) for his duplicity in this matter.
The Mason Jar
Editor's note: The Trashman column in question did not mention the letter writer or his establishment. The Trashman rocks!
Reading "Mother's Little Girl" (Bill Blake, May 21) was like reading one of those short stories that leaves your emotions screaming and a hole in your gut. Achieving that in less than 10 paragraphs was amazing. My nieces, ages 9 and 11, were visiting the day I read the article, and upon finishing it, I immediately grabbed one and gave her a huge hug with tears in my eyes, thanking God that she has a far better lot in life.
You're there and obviously care; why don't you do something? Fatalistic attitudes are for wimps, whom you obviously detest, according to your Dio article. Simply recording the event and doing nothing makes you just one more lame-ass critic who knows how to complain and criticize but does nothing of real value. Real change comes from helping people in your immediate circle of influence. If this sounds like a challenge, it is.
By the way, why don't you ever listen to music you like? It would probably improve your outlook. Thank you for that wonderfully written article. It helped to remind me of my responsibilities.
As an average reader, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this story ("Accountants Payable?" Amy Silverman, May 14) and the others you write. Although it doesn't directly affect me, I like to be informed. I think New Times is the only newspaper in the state that tells the truth. Anyway, I just wanted to thank Silverman (and her co-workers) for her hard work, and I hope you get the support you need to continue.