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If We Want to Support the Troops, Paint the 'A' Yellow

If we in Tucson want to show we are supporting the troops, as opposed to supporting the Iraq war, then paint the "A" yellow. Otherwise, paint it white again, as clearly stipulated in the ordinance ("Weasel Words," Currents, May 10).

Or how about this idea: Defuse the whole issue by repainting the current shade of blue to dark navy blue, and rename it the "U of A" mountain. As a new Tucsonan, that is what I thought the colors stood for before I learned about the controversy.

Beverley A. Sutton


City, Warehouse District Artists Need to Be Better Listeners

In 2006, Rio Nuevo's Karen Leone was quoted in the Downtown Tucsonan, about the historic arts Warehouse District: "Something sustainable has to happen there. Hopefully, you would be looking for a diverse type of retail that would include dining opportunities ... ."

She then added about the Warehouse District artists themselves, "I do not see it as practical that the city will step up and subsidize them. There will have to be a more creative identification of a revenue stream."

The writing was on the wall for the artists: Get a kitchen; sell tchotchkes and T-shirts; don't ask for any handouts--you're out.

Eight months later, Charles Alexander and tenants are considering taking on half of a $1.4 million debt, "hoping City Hall will pick up the balance" ("Art Reprieve?" Currents, May 17). Something doesn't fit here; someone isn't listening. The Steinfeld Warehouse and the tenants deserve to be one of those "pieces" Nina Trasoff refers to that needs to fit.

Robert Steigert


Every Time the 'Weekly' Runs a Sept. 11 Conspiracy Letter, the Editor Dies a Little Bit Inside

Concerning William Winkelman's Mailbag submission ("Danehy Was Right to Take on Sept. 11 Conspiracies," May 17): Most "debunkers" have learned to avoid using the collapses of the McCormick Center and the Sight and Sound theater, because these structures are not comparable to any part of the World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 or 7. They are single-story structures with unusually large, wide, high ceilings.

Then he suggests interested readers can look up Skeptic magazine's thorough job of "debunking." I don't know for sure if it's a rehash of Popular Mechanics, but it does contain the same holes. I would like to recommend to interested readers David Ray Griffin's new book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory.

No opposition to Winkelman's hit piece is placed in the same issue. Fairness does include timing. Winkelman's submission and all the other hit pieces fail to adequately explain:

· The pools of molten steel in the basements of all three buildings.

· The rate of descent of all three buildings (two at free-fall speed). The process of failure in a building accelerates, but never in violation of the law of conservation of momentum. There is too much mass underneath.

· The complete annihilation of all three building and their contents.

Winkelman's emeritus professor of civil engineering would be a great person to invite to a forum with a member of the 911 Scholars for Truth and Justice.

Jack T. Waldron


Ray Carroll: Why I Oppose a County Sales-Tax Hike

A $1 billion dollar budget benchmark was first exceeded in Pima County in 2004-2005, and the current recommended budget is almost $1.5 billion dollars--more than $4 million dollars a day. Presently, Pima County's tax burden is one of the highest in the state of Arizona. As if this present tax burden was not enough, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry now proposes a brand new half-cent sales tax in order to add an extra $55 million a year to county coffers ("Sales Pitch," Currents, May 3).

The county administrator insists that a new sales tax is justified, because Pima County has become "far too reliant on property taxes" which "constitutes a material disincentive in retaining and recruiting business investment in our community." He does not consider what effect the brand new sales tax may have on future business investments. His proposal would boost a total combined sales-tax rate in most of the incorporated area to 8.6 percent.

Mr. Huckelberry assures us that approximately 20 percent of this tax could be collected from noncounty residents, including "shoppers from the republic of Mexico" who are responsible for "the enormous cost of our criminal justice system." Are they really the ones to scapegoat for costing us government expenses, or are they actually contributing to our tax base? According to a 2001 study by the University of Arizona Eller College of Business, Pima County receives the largest economic benefit of Mexican visitors to Arizona, who contribute more than $300 million dollars to our local economy. Should we be discouraging them with higher taxes? And what about the other 80 percent of the tax that will be paid by our own citizens?

Pima County residents are promised that, with the imposition of a new sales tax, our property taxes can be reduced. What is not explained is that even without a sales tax, our property-tax rate must be reduced due to a state-imposed levy limit. To avoid a special notice and hearing required pursuant to "truth in taxation" statutes, Pima County is required to cut its tax rate by 23 cents (per $100 of assessed value) to achieve a revenue neutral rate. The administrator's recommendation was a 24-cent cut. This rate could still be reduced substantially more.

There is also an enormous political difference between a set sales tax and a property tax. This year, with property valuations high, there is considerable political pressure on the Pima County Board of Supervisors to reduce the tax rate. Once a sales tax is in place, however, it's set; it's collected; it's permanent. Shouldn't the public have some influence each year regarding what they are taxed?

Which brings up another point: Our citizens have a right to know how and where hundreds of millions more of their dollars are spent each year. Unbelievably, with an annual budget reaching $1.5 billion, there is no citizens' budget oversight committee. Such a committee could examine the buildup of the Pima County bureaucracy with the increase of costly private consultants (hired for everything from financial plan formulations, management recommendations, project selection, rate increases and other jobs) doing things that highly paid county bureaucrats could and should be doing. A citizens' committee could examine contracts, programs and purchases to help guard against higher taxes and wasteful spending in Pima County.

Ten years ago, when the same sales tax was pushed, we were given a gloom-and-doom projection of what would happen to Pima County government without it. I was the lone "no" to a sales tax then, as I am now. Since such a tax requires a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors, rejection of the tax 10 years ago helped keep about a half-billion dollars in the pockets of the taxpayers, and the government has yet to collapse or the sky to fall.

It is time for us to substantially reduce our property-tax rate while rejecting any new and ominous form of taxation that will hurt the poorest of our citizens, and to finally form an effective, independent citizens' budget oversight committee to look at the one budgetary option that never seems to be considered: reducing Pima County expenditures.

Ray Carroll
Pima County supervisor, District 4


Clarification

After reading "Progress Delayed" (Currents, May 24), a representative of Nimbus Brewery pointed out that the company is still part of the Town West project. We apologize for any confusion.

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