Letters From the Issue of Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dead Man Talking

Questions aplenty: I've got a theory as to why city of Phoenix CFO Kevin Keogh killed himself by jumping off the top of his moving Mercedes: He wanted to check out, sure, but he also wanted to make sure his death would draw the attention of a guy like John Dougherty ("The Mystery Deepens," September 29). That way, somebody would look into the big development deals that the likes of Assistant City Manager Sheryl Sculley are spearheading.

Or, in Sculley's case, I should say were spearheading. I find it very interesting that Sculley is leaving Phoenix city government to go to San Antonio's, not only on the heels of Keogh's untimely end, but after she has been in charge of all the big downtown development Phoenix is planning. (For the uninitiated around here, Sculley's been the real power behind the city manager's office, not City Manager Frank Fairbanks.)



I don't know what is going on behind the scenes, but it's curious that Keogh would kill himself in the manner he did. That's why, at first -- until I thought about it -- I was prepared to believe the Mexican parasite idea (though I have never heard of anybody getting such a brain parasite from eating Mexican food).

So Dougherty's theory that it's got to have something to do with his work rings true.

It's possibly telling that Keogh wrote in his work calendar that he had a meeting with the city's outside auditor to discuss "fraud inquiries." Also, why did the convention hotel deal go from $300 million to $350 million? That's a big difference for the City Council to just approve without explanation! This could have been to cover cost overruns, but why wasn't the feasibility study that the city says was conducted ever turned over to Dougherty? That is, why wasn't it made public? Does it even exist?

The hotel deal has smelled from the get-go.

First, downtown hardly needs another hotel to stand vacant, one that is built using taxpayer funds. Second, the city apparently violated Proposition 200 in approving the deal without taking it to voters. Dougherty has mentioned this in two columns now (also "Stick It To 'Em," July 8, 2004), and I've yet to see Mayor Phil Gordon offer up an explanation for how this possibly could've been legal. Why the hell is it that Phil -- first among a list of city officials who wouldn't talk to New Times about Keogh -- always seems to be burying his head in the sand?
Anton Carpenter, Phoenix

If it quacks like a fish: What an incredible mystery story on Kevin Keogh! What a way to go, if you just wanted to commit suicide because of job stress! Better to put a bullet in your brain, or swallow too many sleeping pills, than jump off a car heading down Camelback in Scottsdale.

That's why I don't entirely buy the job-stress angle, without more explanation. There must have been something else going on with him. You'd have to be crazy to do what he did; I'm surprised that he didn't wind up a quadriplegic instead of dead.

Please keep digging on this, because, if Keogh's death did have something to do with his job, there must have been some fraud going on somewhere. That convention hotel deal has always seemed fishy.
J.R. Sanchez, Phoenix

No Place Like Homo

You figured us out: Is your publication's sole existence to promote homosexuality? I find it very depressing that your magazine couldn't recommend a shoe store for ladies in "Best of Phoenix 2005" without proclaiming, "it's so hip to be gay" ("Best Place to Buy Clogs," The Shwagg: Goods and Services, September 29).

Also, two weeks after promoting Jen Sincero's book The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks ("The Vagina Dialogues," Sarah Fenske, September 15), you give your two cents on the "Best Way For Straight Women To Hook Up With Lesbians" item in the Best Of issue (Sin City: Megalopolitan Life).

I have one question for your staff, as well as for Jen Sincero: Did the definition of "straight" change, or are you just trying to make females think homosexual behavior is normal and reassure them that they're straight?
Name withheld by request

"Sprawling" was the first word that came to our mind, too: Thanks from the bottom of my heart for finally recognizing in New Times that gays are a big part of this metropolitan area!

It seemed in the years since writer Dewey Webb disappeared from your pages that gays simply didn't exist in the Phoenix area that your publication covered. This year has been an exception.

We in the gay community were gratified to see a plethora of "Best of Phoenix 2005" items about our sprawling culture.
Sonya Milner, Phoenix

Next time we'll spell it out: I recently read with some disappointment your Best Of listings for 2005. I noticed a "Best Gay Bar" and "Best Lesbian Bar" entry, but instead of a "Best Trans Bar" entry, I saw instead a "Best Place To Meet a Tranny" entry.

The term "tranny" is somewhat derogatory. Plus, I found myself wondering why a publication that I'd come to respect held so closely to the commonly destructive stereotypes that make life for the average trans person that much more difficult.

As a trans woman, I was also wondering how readers who might follow your recommendation would react when they met me at Cruisin' 7th and found that I don't have a "little something extra." See, I left my "something extra" in Montreal back in 2002, during gender-reassignment surgery. I'm not sure which category of "tranny" I'd fit into under your definition: "fake female" or "soon-to-be-female."

Perhaps I'm simply oversensitive, but I felt myself objecting to the tone of your review, especially in light of the treatment given to the gay and lesbian bar entries.

If you find my input worthy of printing, withhold my name. After all, I'd have some explaining to do if the curiosity seekers showed up at my front door, or at the place I work. In and around these places, people seem to view me as just another person, with the same needs for dignity and respect that we've all come to value.
Name withheld by request

Epilogue to a Kiss

Or maybe she does live under a rock: I just read the letter to the editor by Barbara Jo Johnson ("75 Percent Trash," September 29), and I have three possible explanations for her off-the-wall rant: Johnson is either very religious (fanatically so), has had a lobotomy or is simply one of the stupidest people to ever live.

Honestly, unless she and her children live under a rock, her children are going to be exposed to what she refers to as "sexual perversion."

It seems as if she equates homosexuality with pedophilia or any number of true sexual perversions -- which is hurtful, very backward and intolerant. If her children truly wondered about the picture of women kissing on the cover of New Times ("The Vagina Dialogues," September 15) , she could have taken the opportunity to explain homosexuality to them.

Instead, she decided to write an angry letter to the editor saying that everyone at New Times should be taken to Sheriff Joe's Tent City. Johnson rants about your articles about Arpaio and the atrocious conditions in his jails, but does she even understand the meaning of jail versus prison?

Most of the people in Tent City have not been proven guilty of anything; they haven't even had a trial. The very existence of Tent City is embarrassing because government is supposed to support the idea of innocence until proven guilty. Oh, wait, Johnson must be one of those people who believes that everyone arrested is guilty of something.

If there is any justice in the world, Johnson will be wrongfully arrested and have to experience the joys of Tent City for herself. Johnson should just try to raise her children in the manner that she thinks best and keep her trap shut about things that she obviously knows nothing about.
Ashley Yohn, via the Internet

Welcome to the real world: So New Times writer Sarah Fenske deserves to go to Tent City because she has a picture of two girls kissing with her story titled "The Vagina Dialogues"?!

Letter writer Barbara Jo Johnson is the one who should be sent to Tent City, for felony ignorance and bigotry. Immediately!

Where does Johnson get off saying that homosexuals are beneath contempt and that her children shouldn't be exposed to homosexual activity? What kind of sheltered world does she live in? I'm sure her kids are already subjected to such behavior at school. They're certainly seeing it on television.

Johnson should have used the cover of New Times as an excuse to explain the real world to her brats, instead of letting them know what a moron she is.
Jack T. Hurley, Glendale

Funny Business

Slaves of comedy: I'm an employee of Tempe Improv, and I just thought you might like to have an update on the situation at the comedy club since your article came out ("Jokers Wild," Jimmy Magahern, September 8).

Lots of Improv staff members disagree with proprietor Dan Mer. We feel that Dan was dead wrong in calling the comedians of Phoenix no good. Your point that Dan would rather go outside of the state for openers rather than try out local talent is true.

After your story and the letters to the editor that followed it, Mer ordered two employees to pick up the New Times newspaper stand and remove it from outside the Improv. Not only were they to remove it, they were to throw it in a Dumpster across the parking lot.

Dan now feels someone is trying to sabotage the Improv, when I can honestly say that the only thing bringing down the club is Mer himself. His arrogance and paranoia are destroying the good morale and family-like atmosphere we employees used to have.

We are no longer allowed to talk extensively with the headlining comedians, unless it's a hello or goodbye. Dan feels that fraternizing with them is inappropriate, even when they initiate conversation. We aren't allowed to go have a drink with any of the talent after the show. Dan has also gone so far as to tell us where we can and can't go to relax after work.

Dan treats his employees the same as he does the Valley's local talent, like red-headed stepchildren. The Improv used to be a great club, and I look forward to the day when Dan is gone. That will be a new and brighter day for Valley comedians, as well as for Improv employees.
Name withheld by request

Standup on the edge: Thank you for writing an article about the comedy scene in the Valley. I've been doing standup for three years here, and I've seen a lot!

Dan Mer was totally right to say that most local comics are too filthy, even for a short seven minutes. Yet there is so much talent here.

I've been privileged to work with locals like John Jesmer, Chris Bennett, Josh McDermitt, Josh Skalniak and Travis Thurman. I know I'm forgetting someone (I just had a gig last night, and I'm drained).

Tony Vicich has been one of the most supportive people I have had the pleasure to work with. Having never met me before (I'd never taken his class), Tony gave me Mardi Gras every Sunday for 90 days to do all-female shows.

Then there's Sean Dillingham, who runs the Comedy Spot. It's an awesome club in Old Town Scottsdale and always has a great crowd. Locals don't often get to headline there, but Sean has always given opening and feature spots to my comics.

Comics need experience. And until you have your own HBO special, don't go pulling the ego trip and saying you are too good to do any of the above.
Amy Donohue, Tempe


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