Smash-mouth journalism: I have read New Times religiously since moving to the Valley nearly 20 years ago. Stephen Lemons' recent article article on Sheriff Joke's jails was spot-on, although I didn't have quite the same experience as the person he mentioned ("Sheriff Gangbanger," The Bird, January 18).
I did not know, upon my arrival at the Durango Jail, that the "Woods" were part of the Aryan Brotherhood. I did, however, witness some of what can happen if jail protocol is not followed to the letter of the "law." A minor infraction earns you what is known as a "chin check" in the bathroom, essentially someone from one of the "gangs" taking a free shot at your face.
More serious offenses will earn you a "smashing," which amounts to one member of each "gang" beating the living shit out of you in the bathroom. Taking such beatings earns you respect, and I am happy to say that I was not subjected to one. I was housed with three "kinfolk."
My point here is that I got lucky while inside; I witnessed many of the same kind of atrocities that New Times has reported on over the years, and truly believe that the sheriff is an evil person with disregard for human life. I got through my experience in his jail without a scratch, but many, many people do not. So please keep reporting what you report. The public needs to be kept aware of what Sheriff Joke is doing.
Name withheld by request
Overripe for organizing: Really enjoyed your Eddie Basha slam ("Basha Da Union," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, January 11). As a 14-year veteran of Bashas', I really appreciate your scraping the surface of the Dark Side of Bashas'. I could not resist a reply following MLK Day, and, being a 1960s-White-Glover myself, I can still seem to remember hearing Martin Luther King say, "Oppression often breeds in silence."
This is why the employees do not complain. Many are relatively unskilled, uneducated or otherwise ill-prepared for the workforce, for some reason, and need their jobs.
Hopefully the union will figure out that the real way to get union converts is to address the working conditions.
Yeah, Eddie's worried. You're so right on. Including the need for PR help from Mary Jo West. But what the heck, let him panic. His behaviors are what actually kept him out of office.
Name withheld by request
Red Bird Diaries
Darkest before the dawn: Wow! Your story marked the first time I've ever really understood what's been wrong with the Arizona Cardinals ("The Curse," Robert Nelson, January 11). When I was watching the Cardinals lose unbelievably to the Chicago Bears this season, I muttered to my wife: "This frigging team has gotta be cursed!" I didn't really believe that, and I still don't (because I know your reference to the Pottsville Curse, though it involves a very interesting saga that nobody seems to know about anymore, was tongue-in-cheek). As the analysis in your story proves, the dismal Cardinals record over the years is because of its owners' ineptitude and intractable cheapness.
I'd always heard that the Bidwills were skinflints, but I never before saw the hard evidence laid down the way Robert Nelson laid it down. Nelson proved that point once and for all, and he used experts who were there for this dismal ride to drive in the coffin nails. Businessman Karl Eller and former Cardinals Coach Vince Tobin were very convincing with their expert testimony in the (ahem . . .) case of the People and Players vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
But your yarn had a positive upside that is sometimes missing in New Times stories: It predicted, if not a bright future for the Cardinals, a good future for the team. And I think Nelson's right in this conclusion. First came the acquisitions of Edgerrin James and Matt Leinart, to go along with the two great wide receivers the team already had, and lately has come the hiring of Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to replace the idiot Dennis Green as coach. Even the experts Nelson interviewed, who had every reason to be down on the Cards, predicted future good times. I, too, am glad the team didn't hire has-been Packers coach Mike Sherman.
And, in a way, the Cards' upcoming good fortune is because of Bill Bidwill. Not to give the cheapskate too much credit, but if he hadn't even wrongly insisted that he was owed a stadium, would the state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium even exist today? No. And would the Bidwills be forced, as your story said, to "spend big money to make outrageous money"? Whatever the reason for the predicted improvement in the team, the whole recent scenario is a welcome breath of fresh air to long-suffering fans, especially season ticketholders.
John Norman, Phoenix
And he was there: I read the article with great interest. You did an excellent job of writing! Your facts were right on one of the best-reported stories I've read on the Cardinals.
Karl Eller, the Eller Company, Phoenix
Only in America: I picked up a New Times at Miracle Mile Deli at 20th and Camelback recently. What a well-researched in-depth article on the pitiful Bidwill family! I couldn't agree with you more that, despite themselves, it looks like they will probably end up with a successful franchise.
It just goes to show that, in America, all you need to be assured success is inherited wealth, greed, incompetence and a business where you literally have no competition. Nice job.
Jeffrey Alan Adam, Phoenix