Sadly, I can offer no solutions, but I do hope that someone with more knowledge than I can offer input that will lead to a suitable resolution for everyone involved, even though that would never happen in my lifetime!
Living near the El Paso-Juarez corridor, I have found that even with my limited involvement with border-crossers, the atmosphere that now exists along that border is something I want no part of.
Thanks for an excellent and realistic look at an endless problem and for the usually excellent content of the Weekly. One could only wish we had something like it over here.
It's good that Leo W. Banks acknowledged the role the United States plays in illegal border crossing with our demand for drugs and cheap labor. What else nobody seems to talk about is the role we play in the global "neighborhood."
If you are very poor and have a neighbor who's wastefully rolling in dough, won't you want to get some of that for yourself--especially if said neighbor gets richer and richer by running sweatshops where you work for pennies a day in unhealthful, dangerous conditions, and the sweatshops dump their toxic waste all over the neighborhood? If people in other countries "hate our way of life," it's because we're hurting them in order to maintain it. This is an enormous problem with no simple solution, but we can at least take some responsibility for it.
One thing the average American can do is stop buying things from big corporations, like Wal-Mart, that exploit our neighbors in the world community. Buy locally and from socially responsible companies, even if it's less convenient or costs a few dollars more. Most of us are rich by world standards. We can live more simply and seek ways to share with our neighbors. We can vote for leaders who look for ways to cooperate with other nations in creative solutions. Requiring U.S. companies with factories in Mexico to pay a decent wage would be a good place to start.
These ranchers are victims of a massive labor migration and an uncontrolled drug trade that is taking place in their backyards. But you fail to mention that the immigrants are also victims in the vast majority of cases. What motivates people to pick up their family and move hundreds, or thousands, of miles to a different country, where they are considered illegal, despite that country's dependence on their cheap labor? It's a matter of survival for most, and they risk their lives for their own sake and for that of their family.
This does not excuse the poor treatment they inflict on the ranchers and the environment along the border. But I would challenge you to ask yourself: If you were faced with the decision to break a few laws for guaranteed employment, or watch your family suffer in desperate poverty with no hope for improved conditions, what would you do?
I'm not sure what I ever did to incur the wrath of Mr. Limberis, and frankly, I don't really care. Since you have chosen to give his opinions a forum, however, I do need to point out just a few of the facts he ignored or distorted.
First, he never mentioned the presence of a large number of people from the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, and the testimony offered by two of their representatives. The association has been meeting with Brush Ceramics for 18 months. The association has been diligent in trying to learn the science of beryllium and the facts behind the company's plans for the future. The company responded to all their requests for information. This partnership convinced me that Brush Ceramics is trying to be a responsible neighbor and not a health threat.
Second, he never told Weekly readers that Brush Ceramics met with the Environmental Justice Action Group (EJAG), a grassroots activist organization. Based on information from that meeting, and on information provided by the Pima County Health Department and county Department of Environmental Quality, EJAG told Brush Ceramics that they were comfortable with the information provided and agreed that Brush should return in a year to provide an update. Since EJAG is a diligent group of activists, they agreed to check back on the company to make sure they are keeping the commitments they made.
Third, Mr. Limberis was selective, to say the least, in his reporting on testimony from the county. The Health Department and county DEQ told Sunnyside that there had not been any reports of disease related to beryllium exposure during the years that Brush Ceramics has been part of the district. None of the district's air monitoring surveys, which are conducted every five days, showed beryllium levels that even approached federal cutoff levels that designate health hazards, which is consistent with Brush Ceramic's air monitoring results.
While Mr. Limberis puts a lot of credence in the so-called "swipe tests," the people with expertise say they can't be relied on to indicate anything. They can only be used to ensure that equipment inside a beryllium manufacturing plant is clean enough to be taken outside for repair or maintenance. In addition, the test cannot identify the form of the material. The few particles that were detected with this test could be naturally occurring beryllium, which is found in the environment, or it could be beryllium oxide, the byproduct of processing naturally occurring beryllium. No matter where it originates, the consultants hired by Sunnyside did a careful analysis. The consultant said that the air monitoring is far below any applicable standard. In fact, the air samples have been so far below the emissions standards that it is very likely that the swipe sample detected naturally occurring beryllium from wind-blown dust, coal burning plants and other potential outside sources. There was no health hazard.
I am the only elected official who has taken the time and the trouble to tour Brush Ceramic's plant, and I have tried to be diligent in pursuing the truth about the matter. Mr. Limberis tried to portray my questions and efforts at clarification as some sort of bias on my part.
I am proud of my record on the environment, and the ratings I have received from such groups as the League of Conservation Voters. They know my record, and so do my constituents. As long as groups like that are around, the slings and arrows from someone like Mr. Limberis will always fall short of their mark.
Member, Sunnyside Unified School District Board
Arizona House of Representatives, District 29, Assistant Democratic Leader
The problem with the rodeo is not a problem of humane treatment. It is a problem of disregarding animals' inherent value--their rights to have their own interests upheld over the entertainment or financial interests of any human being. In this regard, to accept the myth of a humane "kinder, gentler" rodeo would be akin to accepting that slavery or rape could be "humane." Rodeo, slavery, rape: These are all examples of the reduction of sentient, valuable individuals into means rather than ends in themselves.
That said, I do want to point out, in slight disagreement with Tuttle, that rodeo is NOT unique in calling an activity that subjugates animals a "sport." Fishing and hunting are two such so-called sports. What is unique about rodeo--here, at least--is that its form of cruelty is condoned to the extent of granting children time off from school to attend rodeo-related activities. Imagine what we teach children when, as Tucsonans, we give the impression that it is an event worth taking time off from school--like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Presidents Day! Surely, we can do better than that.
I am an amputee and wheelchair bound. We arrived at the theater and waited in line, only to be informed at the ticket counter that the film was being shown in the upstairs theater, completely inaccessible to me or any other similarly disabled person. What a disappointment and a waste of my valuable time!
Nowhere in any of your advertising or movie listings do you state that there is an inaccessible space at the Loft. Their recorded message does not inform anyone of that fact, either, nor is it posted in the facility. The box-office employee was apologetic and embarrassed and informed us that because it is an older building, it was grandfathered out of the legal requirement to make it accessible for the disabled.
Even though the law does not require them to adapt, it would seem to me that the least courtesy would be to inform the public in your film listings that disabled persons are unable to have access to films being screened in that room. Don't make us drive there, struggle with parking and wait in line, only to be turned away at the door!
If it is beyond the Loft's finances or interest to adapt the building, they might consider rotating whichever film is in the upstairs room to ground floor screening rooms on certain days so as to allow those of us who are denied access to be accommodated.
I hope the Loft will consider making the theater accessible to all Tucson film lovers, with or without legs, and that the Tucson Weekly will inform us when wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.
Miriam Lippel Blum
Loft Executive Director Peggy Johnson responds: I appreciate you letting us know what your experience was and what your concerns about the theater are.
Please know that we take the issue of accessibility very seriously and we have been working toward the construction of an elevator and ADA compliant restrooms since the day we purchased the Loft. We expect the cost to be significant and we are hoping to apply for government grants. In order to do that, however, we must have an architect do the technical drawings, and we have not had the funds to hire an architect to do this. Recently, we were fortunate enough to have an architect who is volunteering his time and expertise to get this done. After we get the drawings, we must get bids from three different companies and contractors, and from there, we apply for the grant. Unfortunately it's a long, complicated process.
We do have a policy of rotating our films, with the new films downstairs and the older films upstairs every day except Monday and Tuesday, when the films are flipped.
We have not done a good enough job of being consistent with this, nor have we been as aggressive as we need to be to inform our patrons of this practice. Please know that steps are being taken to rectify the situation, and we will do everything within our power to make sure that no one repeats the experience you had when you came to the Loft to see The Merchant of Venice.
Please accept my personal apologies and those of the staff and the Board of Directors, and know that your patronage is very important to all of us.