Club Meditation
It seems to me that a few bad apples spoil the bunch when it comes to, as one obviously racially ignorant person says, the "dark element" at clubs ("The War on HipHop," Michael Kiefer, December 21). Come on! Whites are fighting as much as blacks. My guess would be there's just as much or more posturing and machismo in white clubs, especially at the bars that surround ASU.

We always talk about equal rights, but there are "black" clubs. That's reverse discrimination. I think until whites, blacks and Hispanics can just hang out, bar owners are going to have to turn to the cops to give the nonviolent customers a sense of security.

As biased as New Times is, I think there may be some stones unturned. Which is not to say that shootings or sexual assaults at "white" clubs don't warrant a fine or the yanking of liquor licenses. But there is a definite, unsettling racial funk in Phoenix's air. Someone had better figure out how to fix it soon, or we're all going to have to wear flak jackets.

Scott Nosenko

Saint Nick
After reading Marc Ramirez's article "No Fowl, Some Harm" (December 21), I am left with two questions: Is Nick Ligidakis responsible for repairing the tenuous community relations apparently created by the Garfield School District? Should he be held accountable for a failure to feed more than 32,000 people (needy or not-so-needy) when he stated a limit of 16,000?

Fear of liability discourages many businesses from generous acts; to that New Times is adding fear of a public flogging--proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

Jim Foley

What on Earth prompted New Times to lambaste Nick Ligidakis for serving "only" 32,000 free Thanksgiving meals? Didn't the hit piece on Mother Teresa work out?

Chris Thomas

Marc Ramirez's article about Nick Ligidakis' Thanksgiving efforts was offensive to me and insulting to a Samaritan. Had a New Times reporter been on hand for Jesus Christ's miracle of the loaves, we might have read first about those who got nary a bite.

As one who knows firsthand the challenge of organizing volunteers during the holidays, I'm awed by the dedication of Ligidakis and his volunteers. Personally, I'd like to see New Times and reporter Marc Ramirez demonstrate their ability to do a better job of feeding the poor and hungry at holiday time before reading more petty cavil about a local "saint" Nick.

Glenn Michaels

Soap on the Ropes
Kudos to New Times and Paul Rubin for the delightful insight into big-business shenanigans at Dial Corp ("Dial's Dirty Laundry," December 14). Thank goodness New Times is around to play vacuum cleaner. Bravo!

J. Davis

Chips Ahoy
Why is Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza sending letters to Valley business officials regarding the huge coalition of citizens opposed to the construction of the Sumitomo-Sitix plant ("Sumitomo Wrestling," Dave Plank, December 7)? In his letter, Rimsza states that the coalition has its facts wrong about the plant. As a member of this burgeoning coalition, I can tell the mayor that our facts about water and environmental issues relative to this plant are right on target.

Maybe our mayor is anxious because he and his staff didn't ask enough of the right questions before they hurriedly passed the Sumitomo agreement. They were so nervous that they passed the agreement in a secret emergency meeting--though it is highly illegal. The Phoenix City Council passed the agreement in secret because it did not want to give constituents the opportunity to question this matter publicly. There's only one word to describe these actions: sneaky.

This is yet another example of who Mayor Rimsza really serves. Shame on Skip and his cohorts for trying to bypass public opinion. Many Valley citizens are working to correct this type of bad behavior and to save families from exposure to the toxic emissions that will be generated by this plant.

Fran A. Booth

Believe It or Naught
Tony Ortega's story on Rick Ross was beyond one-sided ("Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlatans," November 30). The decision to portray Ross as some kind of saintly "good guy" is remarkable. The one thing I will give him credit for is his fantastic ability to get media types and a few others to take him seriously. Because of his terrific publicity-garnering skills, he is now considered an expert. What Ross is an expert on is his own brand of hate.

Perhaps those who attack him can be called "Nut Busters"--as that is what he is, a nut. He decides certain religions aren't "good," and, therefore, it is okay to attack those religions and attempt to get others to hate and attack them, as well.

That little detail that this country was founded upon--freedom of religion--is still quite important to some people. No one--not even "one of the nation's foremost deprogrammers"--has the right to decide what is an "acceptable" religion for another.

W. Russell Shaw

I am appalled at the reportership in the article about Rick Ross. I cannot believe that New Times can allow a reporter to slam a religion and present a criminal as a saint. The misrepresentation and lies were unbelievable.

Let's begin with who Rick Ross really is. Ross violently deprograms people out of their religions after taking them against their will and holding them until they recant their religious beliefs. This is the truth, and this was found true in a recent court case in the state of Washington. A jury found that Ross had violated the civil rights of Jason Scott, who was violently abducted and held against his will for several days. The jury ordered Ross to pay Scott $3.1 million.

Rick Ross and Cult Awareness Network protested the original verdict, and the judge responded with "the Court again notes that there was ample evidence supporting the finding that Mr. Ross acted with the purpose to deprive Mr. Scott of the right to interstate travel due to discriminatory feelings towards his religious affiliation."

The decision also stated, "The Court notes each of the defendants' seeming incapability of appreciating the maliciousness of their conduct towards Mr. Scott. Rather, throughout the entire course of this litigation, they have attempted to portray themselves as victims of Mr. Scott's counsel's alleged agenda. Thus, the large award given by the jury against both CAN and Mr. Ross seems reasonably necessary to enforce the jury's determination on the oppressiveness of the defendants' actions and deter similar conduct in the future."

Rick Ross has been arrested two times, once for grand theft by embezzlement, at which time he broke into a Broadway store in the Valley and stole jewelry valued at $100,000, while threatening to detonate a bomb that he said he was carrying in a bag. Ross was convicted of second-degree grand theft and fined $1,100, with four years' probation. Ross did this while still on probation for an earlier attempted burglary in December 1974.

New Times' article prints information that was supplied to writer Tony Ortega by criminals and ex-members of the Church of Scientology, even after I gave him the true information, both in person and over the telephone.

The Church of Scientology is known internationally for the work that is done in the community. The Scientology religion was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1951, after Hubbard wrote Dianetics. The full body of Hubbard's works includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures about Dianetics and Scientology. There are tens of millions of individuals whose lives have been demonstrably bettered because L. Ron Hubbard lived.

Locally, in the Valley, the church works with the Salvation Army to provide food to the needy, toys to the Children's Nursery Center, and first-aid supplies to the American Red Cross. As I told Ortega over the telephone, I went to Oklahoma City after the bombing to assist victims along with business owners to get another start. There is not a day that goes by that Scientologists aren't assisting people in our own community and in communities all around the planet. The next time Ortega wants to start bashing someone's religion, he'd better look at who the so-called facts are coming from, because, in this story, he was way off base in listening to a criminal whose only interest is himself, without the regard of another human being.

Ginny Leason,
director of special affairs
Church of Scientology of Arizona

Urchin Message
I am proud that we have a little life in Tempe, a little culture, a little grunge (Screed, Peter Gilstrap, December 7). So, there are happy people in the streets playing drums. What's wrong with that? If the city wants to sterilize everything, maybe we all should wear surgical gloves when we go out. As for panhandlers, they've never hassled me, and I have never heard anything negative from anyone else. I guess the people who run this city can't stretch their imaginations far enough to think what it might be like to have to split from home. As long as these kids don't steal, or get involved with drugs, why should anybody persecute them?

Colleen O'Donnell

December 7's Screed was one of the best columns about the homeless I've read in a long time. In my opinion, they should be able to hang out and crash where they want; it's not like they are hurting something. If they are happy on the streets of Tempe, let them stay! Everyone wants to feel safe and loved and happy. They are happy right where they are, so please, let them stay.


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