Pet Peeve
Was there a purpose to Amy Silverman's article about the evils of PetsMart finding homes for unwanted animals ("Who Pooped on the Scoop?" November 30)? I could not tell what point, if any, the writer was trying to make. Conflicting phrases such as "possibly unsanitary conditions (kennels are sanitized once a day)" don't help much.

A cat I adopted from PetsMart's program immediately became ill with a respiratory infection, then gave it to my other cat. After minor vet bills, both are fine. I don't blame PetsMart, since my cat would have been sick had I adopted the other cat directly from the shelter.

If New Times was trying to show some Arizona Republic/PetsMart conspiracy, it missed the mark. I get my local news from New Times (wouldn't touch a brown-nosing Arizona Republic if you paid me), but skip the Oliver Stone tactics. There are plenty of scummy dealings between the Republic and our elected officials to report. And they don't require inflating a threadbare story into a headliner.

Kelly L. Armstrong

Feline Fine
I thoroughly enjoyed Dewey Webb's excellent "Tails of the City" article (November 16), and appreciate his poignant handling of this sensitive subject.

I greatly admire Greg LaTraille for his deep dedication to his many aging kitties, and others like him who choose to devote their lives to animals. I can fully relate to this kind man and his mature felines after sharing 17, 22 and 24 years with my own trio of elderly kitty companions. Fortunately, my "girls" passed away before me, sparing them a grim future without my care and protection.

There is a bittersweet aspect to the human-animal bond. Tragically, sole caretakers, especially of animals, seldom have the luxury or guarantee that someone will carry on their vital work, which is a sad reality for both animals and their human benefactors. It's an extremely frustrating situation perhaps best solved by more people willing to share the same noble commitment to other sentient beings.

I do not believe that the "gatherer" tag applies to LaTraille, who is clearly a compassionate caretaker providing abundant TLC and medical attention, including vital spay/neuter services, for his highly dependent senior residents, who are all obviously purrfectly contented and healthy.

Donna Worthington

Tales Out of School
While I have never been a big fan of New Times because of my belief that its stories are superficial, simplistic and clearly aimed at pandering to the frustration of the general public concerning affairs it neither understands nor cares to understand fully, I found Michael Lacey's column "Trusting in Family Values" (November 9) an amazing display of capricious and unnecessary character assassination with respect to its gratuitous, meanspirited and wholly irrelevant comments about a respected member of the bar, Donald Gaffney.

Lacey clearly despises Governor Fife Symington, his wife, Ann, and that they have family wealth. Clearly, Lacey will never achieve such wealth based upon his writing ability. In his zeal to attack the propriety of Governor Symington's bankruptcy, as well as the financial affairs of the governor's wife, apparently Lacey believed it was necessary to dredge up a 17-year-old incident purportedly involving counsel for Ann Symington. The gratuitous nature of the comments regarding Gaffney, and their complete lack of materiality to the story that Lacey was purporting to "report," indicate that Lacey (and presumably the editors at New Times) has very little, if any, judgment with respect to what is and is not "fair game." The inclusion of this event regarding Don Gaffney was not included because it had any real relevance to the story, but, rather, because it was thought to be sensationalistic and would be applauded by lawyer-hating readers. It was cowardly, unnecessary and in the finest traditions of "lawyer baiting" of New Times.

In short, it is exactly the sort of doggerel that I expect. Lacey admits that he is a "big fan of unmitigated arrogance." His wholly gratuitous personal attack on Gaffney, with its foreseeable repercussions in both Gaffney's professional and personal lives, is evidence of a callous and arrogant disregard for any norms of decency and an abuse of the power of the press. What's next? If Lacey thinks APS is charging too much for electricity, how about a personal attack on the meter reader?

I have known Donald Gaffney since 1982, and have worked both with him and against him during the last 13 years. Gaffney is a bright, aggressive and creative lawyer whom I am proud to call my friend and colleague. Lacey's dredging up of a very old incident (regardless of whether it is true) is a cowardly act of character assassination, and, I suspect, in the finest traditions of his so-called "newspaper." Gaffney's current fine reputation is no more premised on an event that may or may not have happened nearly 20 years ago than it is built on what grades he received in law school.

While I recognize the media believe it is their sacred duty to report any mistake made by anyone at any time in his or her life, regardless of how relevant such an event is, in fact it is a truism of life that people can and do outgrow their past mistakes. In fact, it is possible that even Michael Lacey might someday evolve into a real journalist and outgrow the mistakes of his past (for example, this column).

I suspect that Lacey considers this column "investigative journalism." New Times should consider a new marketing strategy. Perhaps it can be marketed alongside National Enquirer and the Star at supermarket check-outs since its content certainly complements the "investigative reporting" of those fine periodicals (such as the dogged pursuit and investigation of numerous Elvis sightings and revealing that world leaders are conferring with aliens). Lacey's column has proven, however, that the principles of a free-market economy are still applicable--New Times is certainly worth every penny one pays for it.

Thomas J. Salerno

Editor's note: Take a deep breath, Mr. Salerno. Envision yourself on a Tahitian beach. Now repeat after us: New Times believes Donald Gaffney is a good lawyer. That's it. Again: New Times believes...