An Idiot in a Truck Sends a Bicyclist Looking for the Car Keys

An open letter to the people of Tucson and Pima County: You win.

For years, I have been a bicyclist in the Tucson area and have ridden a bicycle for 99 percent of my transportation needs. I have been an advocate for safe and courteous riding. I rode for my health and for the environment. I have endured terrible street conditions, huge potholes, debris, rocks, tons of broken glass, indifferent police and sheriffs. I have been spit at, honked at, yelled at. I have had sodas, beers and other liquids thrown at me. I have had shopping carts rolled into my path, cars and trucks veering at me, buses, semis and vehicles of all sorts coming within inches of hitting me.

Last night, while riding home from work, in the bike lane on Ruthrauff Road, I was struck in the kidneys by a water bottle thrown from a work truck pulling a trailer. The impact was great enough to burst the bottle and cause severe bruising. I've had enough. Today, I will get into my car and hang up my bicycle.

You win. Tucson is a bicycle-friendly city? Yeah, right ("Pedal for the Medal," Currents, June 7).

Phillip Newman

Religious Funding 1, Arizona Constitution 0

So Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bethany G. Hicks has approved the Arizona school-voucher plan ("Voucher," The Skinny, June 21). Maybe a collection should be taken to buy Judge Hicks new glasses so she can read Article 2, Section 12, of the Arizona Constitution, which bars public funds from being "appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment." The vast majority of nonpublic schools are pervasively sectarian operations that practice forms of discrimination and indoctrination that would be intolerable in public schools.

If Arizona voters had the chance, they would reject school vouchers as strongly as their neighbors in California and Colorado did a total of five times.

Edd Doerr
President, Americans for Religious Liberty

Thanks to Technology, the Music Around Us Is the Best Since the '60s

While I agree that Avril Lavigne and My Chemical Romance represent a derivative and bland representation of rock music--I don't know why you included Justin Timberlake, as he is not a rocker, but a pop artist, and a very good one at that--to say that there's a shortage of great rock music is a bit naïve (O'Sullivan, June 28). While most generations only get one musical revolution, in the past 10 years, we've witnessed two: the garage-rock revolution of the early 2000s, kick-started by the terrific White Stripes; and the Internet revolution of recent times.

We no longer have to depend on the trite programming of terrestrial radio or MTV, or the backing of a powerful major label. Thanks to sources like YouTube, MySpace, MP3 downloading programs, Wikipedia and satellite radio, we are exposed to artists and bands that in previous years would have stayed forever underground. Here in Tucson, we have many terrific musicians, and you need not look any further than the music section of the Tucson Weekly to see interviews with and reviews of great musicians. Without a doubt, we haven't had so much great music around us since the '60s.

Not all of the mainstream music is bad, either, since there are a handful of artists in the genres of rock, rap, pop and country that defy modern conventions and deliver good music on a large scale. And just because the music is not broadcasted by corporations, it doesn't mean it's not there.

Jorge Gamboa

The Search for Immigration Truth Continues

The thrust of Tim Vanderpool's "Migrating Truth" (Currents, June 28) is that immigration "truths" (facts) are displaced by emotional rhetoric. But his "truths" are a limited and biased selection of all the facts.

Take, for example, the conventional wisdom that guest workers do the crop harvesting that U.S. workers won't do. Farmers such as the Arizona pecan growers seek labor for the 2007 harvest. This is an annual ritual. Sen. Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, in support of the 2005 immigration bill, said that 72 to 78 percent of the agricultural force in Idaho was illegal and that the industry would collapse without these workers. The message: Agribusiness would have to pay higher wages to attract workers, and if we could find Americans willing to pick crops (at $20 per hour, says Vanderpool), we, as consumers, would have higher food bills.

My food bill, or my tax bill? Many U.S. crops also are exported. In 2004, 75 percent of the domestic almond production was exported, walnuts a more modest 35 percent. Exports of potatoes and potato products reached an all-time high in 2005/2006--and U.S. taxes go to promote exports. In 2005, the National Potato Promotion Board received a $3.9 million grant from the USDA, as part of a program to create and expand foreign markets for U.S. agricultural commodities (the program's total 2005 allocation was $140 million).

So what's the truth about our need for farm labor? You want to find truths? Put aside the clichés, and dig a bit deeper

Kathleen C. Schwartzman
UA associate professor of sociology

Hey, Voters: Get Off Your Butts and Do Something!

I would like to pose a question to voters in our city and representatives in our government: How about a ballot initiative outlawing lobbying and gifts to legislators ("No Extensions!" Currents, June 28)?

Corporations and businesses should not be able to participate/influence/meddle in government. A paralegal friend and I were discussing this: If such an initiative did get on the ballot, companies and corporations would go apeshit advertising against it; newspapers, which are funded by corporations, would write against it; and so on. Is this true?

What would our government be like if lobbyists and gifts were outlawed, and if every politician had to participate in Clean Elections in order to get funding for their campaigns? What if government officials and representatives actually had to listen to the people and do their jobs, or get fired by the people? This is an idea that could make for an interesting article and discussion, and I would love to see the day when this is on a ballot, and see the results of that vote.

Instead of standing idly by and waiting for somebody of influence, power and intelligence to fix our government for us, maybe voters should take action to shape our government and put it back under the people's control, rather than let ownership and influence of it slowly but surely pass out of our control. Maybe we should be present at meetings by our officials and have our voices heard. Rather than sitting by, complaining, waiting and hoping for the best, let's do something about it !

Jay Busby

Alfalfa, Bees, Food: It's All Related!

I really appreciate you publishing the article "

Brave New Hay" by Matt Jenkins (June 21). Out here in the Southwest, we have not heard too much about this at all. While the entire article made me anxious about the future of agriculture in this country, one thing struck me as particularly spooky: The author states that "alfalfa is one of the main sources of nectar for honey production." Could there be any connection between the genetically modified alfalfa and the recent disappearance of thousands of honeybees?

Thanks for the great coverage of important issues; keep the out-of-state features coming.

Sharon Hulin


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