Letters from the issue of Thursday, March 20, 2008


No sense of Yuma: This goes to show what a stupid, bullshit operation the Border Patrol is ("Doggy Style," Ray Stern, March 13). So the Border Patrol sector in question increases agents by 300 and has very few illegal aliens to process. That in itself is an outrage, but to use manpower to bust minor pot offenders?! What the hell is that about?!

Since when is a federal agency supposed to be fueling the coffers of a local-yokel, small-town Arizona county attorney's office? The very idea of the border agents — whose job is stopping human trafficking — turning themselves into small-time narcs is an beyond insane! And for what purpose? So they can bust little old ladies who have a tiny roach in their suitcases after a trip to the beach in San Diego.

Fine to bust bigtime drug dealers, but all these junior G-men are doing is helping Arizona enforce its ridiculously harsh drug laws. And none of the money from fines is even going to the feds!

The real irony is that, right across the state line in California, the same federal agency's officers are looking the other way. What kind of policy is this? I just hope that when the Dubya administration is history (and it will be soon, thank God!) the new president will make sense of what border agents are supposed to do.

If the Yuma Sector has too many damn agents for the mission it's supposed to carry out — because of the wall, or whatever — transfer them elsewhere and stop using them to bust unsuspecting scofflaws! Hello!

In any case, thanks for the warning. I hope your story reduces down to zilch the number of cases the Yuma County hayseeds get.
Don Preston, Tucson

Chronic naiveté: Corruption often has unintended consequences. Our borders have been corrupted for years, and as a consequence, we lucky taxpayers get to pay for medical care, housing, food, and jails. We also get to pay for a system that ensures a minimum number of illegal aliens make it into America.

So while pockets are being lined beefing up "border security," here we see border security is really working to provide a funding source for an Arizona county — a county that would very likely still be complaining about a lack of border enforcement.

But in return for no complaints [from Yuma County], here are easy misdemeanors for the county to use to fund whatever program helps line county officials' pockets.

All that being said, I am especially unsympathetic to the grandma busted along with her friends. In your 50s and you still don't realize that riding around with pot in your car can get you arrested? Then you deserve your wake-up call.
Name withheld by request


Scary care: How can stuff like this happen? I refer to your story "The Doctor Is Out" (John Dickerson, March 6). Drug-abusing doctors need to be banned from the medical profession for life for what some of them did. We cannot allow physicians like them to endanger patients — doctor shortage or no doctor shortage in this state.

The Arizona Medical Board is nothing but a professional organization bent on protecting doctors, and this article proves it! The examples mentioned in your story are terrifying.
J.T. Gordon, Phoenix

System works for him: Your article "The Doctor Is Out" does a disservice to our physicians, your readers, and the Arizona Medical Board. As an attorney who has represented literally dozens of impaired physicians, I have found the system works and works well.

For a period of five years, impaired physicians are closely monitored. They are subjected to random tests, participation in group activities, controlled usage of medications, and a host of other controls, all designed to carefully protect the public. After five years, relapses are practically nonexistent.

Society spends a fortune educating our doctors. We do not have enough physicians. To make it sound as though doctors are impaired, or that they are not getting help, is a disservice to you and to our public. The Medical Board should be congratulated, not condemned, for the human [sic] treatment it shows impaired physicians.
Kraig J. Marton, Phoenix

Five years should do it, right?: I think it's unfair to say that the state's approach to dealing with physicians and substance abuse is largely "hands off."

By statute, all physicians and their affiliated entities are required to report [substance abuse] and usually do. They are backed by legal teams and have the comfort of knowing their little slip-up will remain confidential.

Whenever a doctor or licensed healthcare provider is accused of, or admits to, any kind of substance abuse, the first thing that occurs is an automatic interview, a drug screening, and a referral to an evaluation facility of the state's choosing. Often, long-standing abuse issues are noted or detected during treatment.