Neighborhood Prez: Why Didn't Regan Talk to Us?

I have come to respect Margaret Regan's approach to journalism. When I read "At Last!" (Nov. 23), in which she visits our neighborhood and discusses the impact of Rio Nuevo, I kept waiting for neighborhood voices to appear. There were none.

She quotes Councilmember Jose Ibarra: "We're going to protect Barrio Sin Nombre and Menlo Park. We'll stand up for housing there." Of course, we agree, and the "we" in that statement is the city and the neighborhood working together. She could have asked the neighborhood, too.

She quotes city planner Albert Elias: "The community stakeholders care deeply about this project. They have tremendous engagement with it--this is their story." But Regan did not ask us our side. Instead, she quotes multiple city employees and prints their photographs in a piece with PR all over it.

The success of Rio Nuevo 20 years from now should be measured, at least in part, on whether the neighborhood is still standing, still recognizable, still livable and enjoyable by old faces and new. Success depends upon consultation and collaboration with the neighborhoods.

Mac Hudson
President, Menlo Park Neighborhood

Lane Larson Friend: He Was One of the Finest Men

This is written in response to the Guest Commentary written by Keith Rosenblum, published Nov. 9. Rosenblum's reporting lacked veracity and was incorrect down to even the most verifiable facts. Rosenblum also questioned the content (or the lack of content) of Lane Larson's obituary. It was written by Lane Larson's son, and published unchanged as written, without apology to anyone.

My name is Mark Berard. I had the honor of being one of Lane Larson's closest friends for more than 30 years. Lane and I ran scuba diving expeditions, rafted rivers, kayaked oceans, climbed mountains and explored caves from Guatemala to Alaska.

Here are the facts: The Santa Barbara, a converted Mexican shrimp trawler more than 70 feet in length, was capsized by a giant wave and sank in the Sea of Cortez with loss of life, not long after midnight New Year's Eve 1989-1990. Sixteen souls were on board, including 12 Americans and a crew of four Mexican nationals. She was returning from a trip of more than 60 miles south to an island called Tortuga; she was not en route to San Pedro Nolasco Island. Neither Larson nor his company owned the boat. The vessel was leased from the owner of a respected Guaymas shipyard. She was converted for use as a dive boat under the eyes of the owner; I was there. The conversion was well-done. She had a profound roll but went to weather well, sustaining 10 knots in any kind of seas. The vessel was absolutely seaworthy and had weathered many extreme storms and seas in her time. I spent many weeks on the Santa Barbara each year and have fine memories of voyages made with and without Lane aboard.

In his time, Lane Larson was among the top river runners and whitewater-rafting expedition leaders in the world. We rafted three remote Alaska rivers together site unseen; I followed his lead, and he made it look easy. He was also a passable sailor.

Lane Larson was one of the finest men I have ever met. He would risk his own life to ensure the safety of his client or crew without a moment's hesitation. I have seen him do that--for me. He was my friend, and he is gone now.

If anyone would like to contact me by e-mail or phone, I would welcome questions or comments.

Mark Berard, Markberard.06@comcast.net

When You See the Tri-Color "A," Salute France!

I'm still savoring the "Get Out of Town!" piece (Dec. 14). Each outing was so appropriate, especially the nostalgic wish that the kitchy red, white and blue paint on the great "A" overlooking our fair city would fade away and return to its former pristine white.

I watched the TV coverage of the Christian group painting the "A." It was a festive affair, a pastoral scene, except for the cop in attendance and the presence of then-Councilman Fred Ronstadt. It had the organized serenity of an ice cream social, or a lynching bee.

Perhaps none of it would have happened but for the group that painted the "A" black. It offended people, left and right, and predictably led to an equally confused response, which we now have to live with. That may not be such a bad thing, because out of all the madness comes a lovely irony. Whenever you glance up at the good old "A," see it for what it is: a great joke on the patri-nazis, who in their zeal got it backwards and painted the colors of the French flag--blue, white and red, from top to bottom.

It is a tribute to the courageous people who poked a stick in the eye of George W. Bush, by refusing to go along with his ill-conceived war. Look up and shout "Vive la France"!

Bill Cox

Christmas Music Exposes People to Great Older Tunes

To the Grinch who complained about 94.9 FM playing all Christmas music in December: She has the other 11 months of the year to hear her favorite Eagles song for the 1001st time ("KMXZ 94.9 FM, aka MIX-FM," Get Out of Town! Dec. 14). I enjoy hearing the Christmas music, because it helps me celebrate December, when the weather is at its best in Tucson, and Sabino Canyon is at peak fall colors. For many people, it is the only time they hear older artists like Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis, as well as choral singing and complex orchestral arrangements.

Is nonstop Christmas music torture to the Scrooges of the world? Yes--another reason to love it.

Brian Brainerd

An Invitation for a Letter-Writer to Get Involved

This is in response to Robert Steigert's letter of Dec. 14 ("A Man Unafraid to Say, 'I Told You So'"), and his other letters, all of which the Warehouse Arts Management Organization read and considered, glad that he was urging things we were already working on. I am very happy Steigert is "unafraid" to say, "I told you so," regarding his belief that WAMO did not listen to him when he urged WAMO to work for a no-eviction policy in the Warehouse District.

I guess what Steigert has been afraid to do is to speak directly to any WAMO officer or board member, to come to one of our many meetings over the past two years, to write directly to us or to pay the least bit of attention to what WAMO has been doing.

Since WAMO's beginning in 2004, we have worked hard for "no evictions." Unfortunately, we can't rewrite existing leases; the city is reluctant to give anyone a lease without full code compliance; and the Arizona Department of Transportation, the major property owner, has been unyielding about making changes in favor of artists/tenants. WAMO has no budget and little political clout, but has been active in going to all sorts of meetings and lobbying. WAMO has been unafraid to speak truth to power.

Steigert has been unafraid to speak to the press. He keeps the issue alive, for which I am grateful. I love where his heart lies. I invite him to come to WAMO meetings, to see what we do and what we're trying to do, to nominate himself for board membership and to join us in our efforts. I invite him to practice making things work, and not practice saying, "I told you so."

Charles Alexander


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