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'Weekly' Wrong to Point Out Judge's Religion

As a frequent Weekly reader, I often enjoy the edginess of your story mix and the presentation of alternative points of view. They can be both engaging and informative. What I do not enjoy are gratuitous references to people or events purely for the sake of color.

The Weekly's article about the county's decision to not have a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn due to the poor condition of the figurines ("Away Goes the Manger," Currents, Dec. 23) is a case of the latter. I understand that it might be reasonable for the presiding justice of the peace to raise some questions about the legality of religious representations on public property, particularly given the national prominence of that debate.

What I do not understand is what the religious affiliation of the justice has to do with this issue. Is the writer trying to suggest that because the judge is Jewish, he is opposed to other religious iconography? Was that a question asked or discussed, or was it simply implied in the written equivalent of a sideways glance, a wink and an unsavory scent of anti-Semitism? Are you going to begin identifying judges and other elected officials by religion? Gosh ... how about letting us know the race and ethnicity of police officers and schoolteachers? Or better yet, the political and religious affiliations of Weekly staff members connected to the stories they write and edit?

C'mon ... I expect more.

Robert J. Present
Chair, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona


County Was Right to Dispense of Nativity Scene

"Away Goes the Manger" criticizes Pima County for letting the 50-year-old figures of Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men get damaged in storage, but Chris Limberis fails to ask why Pima County has been storing the figures all this time in the first place. The ruination of the figures is symbolic of what happens when government and religion mix. The figures should have been sold or donated long ago.

Moreover, Limberis implies that Judge Paul Simon overstepped his authority by questioning whether the display of the nativity scene is constitutional. I commend Judge Simon for taking seriously his duty to uphold the Constitution. The nativity scene was clearly the central focus of the annual holiday display. The cute little rabbits in the desert and the Christmas trees were all on the periphery, with the Chanukah menorah relegated to the Presidio Park area, in back of the court building.

Perhaps those who insist that Pima County display official recognition of the alleged birth of Jesus will succeed in returning the crèche to the public square. In that case, there should be statues of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and the late atheist, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, to commemorate their birthdays, as well. But even this would not address the honest objections of Christians, and others, who deeply resent governmental attempts to usurp religious symbols in order to imply that government is doing the will of God.

Howard Druan


Some Ideas About How to Give Cyclists a Better Ride

I walk, run, bike and drive the city streets. Improvements are a good idea. Here are some related to biking (Guest Commentary by Maynard Hershon, Dec. 23).

All roads must display a clean, smooth surface area. A painted white stripe encloses a decent bike lane. Debris is an actual threat to my skinny road tires. At times, there are piles within the bike lane. Regular street sweeping is proven successful at removing debris such as pebbles, sand and litter. A simple white stripe serves to not only create a lane for bikes, but also communicates to drivers and riders how to respect each others' boundaries.

My preference is not to have a select few bike lanes given extra attention. Portions of Mountain Avenue have a brick divider separating the bike lane from the vehicle lane. While I can appreciate the aesthetic and functional effort, the focus needs to remain on the achievement of minimum standards for all roadways.

Michele Beagan


Bikes vs. Cars: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I feel a need to help Maynard Hershon understand motorists. Some of us have no realistic choice but to drive gasoline-powered vehicles, and some of us must use pickup trucks. Many of us have encountered offensively defensive bicyclists who insist on riding directly on that line separating us from you, if not slightly to the left of that line, even when that bicycle is the only one in the bike lane. Why?

All I know is, it scares the heck out of me, especially when I'm on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic. Do you really think that people want run over bicyclists? People have encountered too many of these offensively defensive cyclists, and in this case, a man's ire was released in an unfortunate manner.

Trying to get yourself killed on two wheels is not a feasible way of eliminating cars, and I do believe in eliminating cars. You seem like a reasonable man with a good sense of humor. Let's work this out peacefully and productively.

Janice Petty


When It Comes to 'Beaten Paths,' It's About the Smugglers, Stupid!

Sometimes, I wonder why I choose to respond to such ignorance, no matter how deeply buried under education it may be. It just goes to show that education does not mean intelligence ("Here's One Interesting Way to Read Our Story on Environmental Havoc," Mailbag, Dec. 30).

I have worked with Trevor Hare on these road closure projects ("Beaten Paths: Illegal Immigration and Smuggling Continue to Wreak Environmental Havoc in Southern Arizona," Dec. 9). I have never heard it said that the immigrants themselves are doing the damage, but instead, it is the smugglers driving the immigrants northward through environmentally sensitive areas. The objective is to protect the habitat of several native species that are rapidly disappearing.

I fully understand that the immigrants are trying to feed their families. I have no problems with people trying to improve their way of life.

With that said, I would like to express my rebuttal to several comments made by Sahee Kil.

Yes, it was stated in the Dec. 9 issue that the battle was with the drug smugglers and illegal migrants. I feel that the wording was wrong. The true battle is with the smugglers, of both humans and drugs. It is the smugglers who have no concern for anyone or anything but themselves and a profit. They are the ones who choose the routes, and with their vehicles loaded with immigrants or drugs, destroy the habitat of so many rare creatures.

I called the Tucson field office of the U.S. Border Patrol this evening and spoke with a field officer. He assured me that it was not their policy to make the immigrants leave their belongings behind; in fact, he told me the immigrants are given every opportunity to keep their possessions with them. I can, however, assure you that the large amounts of trash I have picked up are a result of the smugglers, not the Border Patrol. I would be more than happy to take a hike with Sahee Kil anytime, find these dumps and discuss their origin.

Mike Everett


And Now, a Word on Patty Weiss

I just wanted to send you a short letter to say that not everyone in Tucson is unhappy with Patty Weiss's "retirement" ("New in Town," Media Watch, Dec. 23). I have never understood why they kept her on air this long. She has an extremely annoying habit of sighing, yipping, squealing, etc., off-camera when another reporter is live. She editorializes with her words, mannerisms and facial expressions. Isn't she supposed to be a reporter/news reader, not an editorial writer? Besides, who cares what she thinks?

She is not lovable, but arrogant and condescending. Good riddance. Good move, KVOA.

John Zimmerman

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