January 19 - January 25, 1995


Rad Thoughts

To the Editor,

I am a regular reader of this rag, and I have found it amusing on a number of occasions, not for the information it contains, but for its hyperbole.

The intent of this letter is to provide corrections for Susan Zakin's "Radwaste Rendezvous" (Tucson Weekly, December 1), and to comment on the consequences of such inaccuracies.

One flaw in Zakin's article occurs when she paraphrases Mary Manning, who is writing her Master's Thesis on ethics. Here, the source of her worries is one isotope of plutonium, plutonium 240, which "takes about 200 years to decay. Once it's gone, neutrons are released, which increases radioactivity levels."

Plutonium 240 decays with a half life of 6,560 years, and emits a helium nucleus as it decays. This decay does not increase the levels of radioactivity, but decreases them.

The comment I which to make is this: It is clear from reading the article that the author has little or no comprehension of the factual basis surrounding radioactive "waste." The hyperbole in the article has but a single intent--which is polarization.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of professionals the net effect of works such as Ms. Zakin's work is discreditation. It is ironic that this use of Manning's research in ethics is itself unprofessional and unethical. It oftentimes seems that the most vocal of advocates of environmental issues, such as Ms. Zakin, are their own worst enemy.

--Dr. Wayne Jouse

Department of Nuclear Engineering

University of Arizona

Painful Choice

To the Editor,

Regarding Noelle Planting's letter to the editor ("Physician, Shield Thyself," Tucson Weekly, December 22: No one wants Planting's sympathy. How dare she place herself in a position of condemning someone to a guilty verdict? She doesn't even know the countless women who have chosen to have abortions. It is one of the most difficult and extremely painful decisions a woman in that situation has to make.

Did she ever think for one moment about the lost children she is speaking about and the world or situation they may be brought into? It seems to me she is speaking out of her exit hole and knows nothing of what she is saying. She obviously knows nothing about living and should keep her fingers in her knitting basket instead of writting ignorant, self-serving babble. As far as responsibility, I bet she's never had to be responsible for anything more than a hamster. A child is a precious human being that needs and deserves kind, loving, non-violent surroundings, stability and attention. This world is much too cruel for even us who are here.

--B. J. Zabatino

Wrong Note

To the Editor,

Regarding the so-called feminist analysis of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ("In One Year and Out the Other," Tucson Weekly, December 29): Surprise! He did put words to it! Next time you want to make humor about a piece of music, maybe you should give it a listen (on this one, try the last movement).

--Gail Hesshberger

Shun Gun

To the Editor,

Regarding Jeff Smith's "Lock 'N' Load Loony Tune" (Tucson Weekly, January 5):

Our species has not "evolved into a better (nicer, kinder, gentler, more civilized) animal," which is precisely why the arming of this country to the teeth terrifies me.

--Nancy Cerepanya

Valley Woe

To the Editor,

Regarding Morgan Falkner's "Developing Problems" (Tucson Weekly, December 22): The political unrest and general dissatisfaction with the elected officials in the town of Oro Valley is a direct result of their failure to represent and safeguard the interests of the community and its citizens.

The developers' main objective is to develop their projects and generate profit. This is the way it should be. To accomplish said goals, cooperation from the town government is essential. The town has the power to regulate. Often, the objectives of the developers are in direct conflict with the interest and wishes of the community. Because of the favorable political climate of Oro Valley toward developers, their agenda often has priority.

Losing sight of their duty to the constituents, many elected officials fail to serve the people that elected them.

Short term income from construction fees for the town of Oro Valley has been a great influence in this matter. Unfortunately, in the long run the citizens will have to pay the tab in taxes, bonds, and the like for the developers' failure to provide for the needed infrastructure (schools, roads, parks, water supply, etc.) necessary for a healthy community. This has been done with the cooperation of many of our officials in government over the protests of the town citizens.

The present recall is a direct result of the blatant and arrogant attitude displayed by some of the very elected officials that refuse to obey the will and needs of the community of Oro Valley.

This may set a trend, unless the elected heed to the interest of the people that elected them. Appointing clones to vacated council seats by council members will only perpetuate the problem.

The will of the community must prevail, or future recalls will become a trend rather than an exception.

--Rudy Roszak

Vested Interest

To the Editor,

Regarding Elizabeth Karlin's "What Shall I Wear?" (Tucson Weekly, December 1): It's a shame that we live in a world where you have to wear a bulletproof vest in order to protect yourself from those who would kill you in the name of a religious premise. But religous terrorism is rampant in the world today. Each one of us has a responsibility to combat this kind of hate-mongering wherever it is focused, to champion the cause of human rights (this includes gay rights, women's rights, grandparent's rights--the rights of humans already born).

Noelle Planting's letter to the editor (Tucson Weekly, December 22) states, "Badly hidden in the guise of fear, Dr. Elizabeth Karlin shamelessly promotes her abortion facilities...." Of course she shamelessly promotes her abortion facilities; there is nothing shameful about abortion in a world which is already suffocating under the weight of too many people. Indeed, anyone who has a loving thought for our wonderful planet cannot help but consider the ravages to a once-pristine environment. We are now standing knee-deep in several generations' worth of pollution. A health professional who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion not only protects that woman's potential to achieve her own personal goals (even if one of those personal goals means helping to provide for the mouths she already has to feed by not bringing another one into the world), he or she is playing a small but important part in the noble and courageous act of taking a stand for Mother Earth.

The shame lies on the part of those who would oppress such health professionals by threatening them, by inducing fear, by terrorizing not only these doctors and nurses but the very women they profess to "save."

Abortion is an act of courage in a world that cries out for a sane reduction in consumption and chemical degradation. Abortion is not "the easy decision," and definitely does not negate responsibility. It is a far more responsible act to choose not to birth in an overloaded world where so many children are starving already, than to produce another individual to add to the momentous burden this planet is shouldering. We have a problem in this society where children are giving birth; most of these do so because they want someone to love them. And what of these babies born to teenage mothers? And the teenagers themselves? Therein lies but one of many tragedies in our far-too-prolific population. Many children that are already here are neglected and unloved...these are the ones who need our nurturing and protection. It is a far more responsible act to choose not to give birth, than to have a child who will only end up being a victim of abuse or neglect.

Dr. Karlin, I applaud you. You are a woman of courage in a world where terrorism threatens to overshadow sanity. Wear your vest as armor, for you are battling against those who would see freedom vanquished.

--Kimberlie Catone

Smoked Out

To the Editor,

Regarding David Rice's letter "Fuming" (Tucson Weekly, December 1), it's ludicrous to compare taxing books or newspapers that "some people didn't like" to taxing tobacco products, especially cigarettes, one of the greatest scourges in America today.

The Journal of the American Medical Association says the top three preventable causes of death were associated with the use of tobacco products (400,000 total deaths, or 19 percent of all deaths). Some might argue these folks ought to have the freedom to kill themselves. The problem with this argument is that the non-tobacco users should have the freedom to enjoy a life without the perils of second-hand smoke and the freedom from the huge burden the tobacco users impose on the health care system and the economy.

Despite the great divide between user and non-user camps, and the disdain each has for the other, some votes were cast in favor of Prop 200 in hopes of giving fellow Americans yet another reason to quit smoking and free both sides from the affliction of tobacco use.

--M. Wilke

Growth Groans

To the Editor,

Reading the latest news about land development in Tucson makes one ask the question, "Where is the Monkey Wrench Gang when you need it?" Jim Wright's "Rocking K Rip-Off?" (Tucson Weekly, December 22) dealt with yet another proposal to legitimize the partnership between local government and land developers, and it brought to mind the question of why we need the Rocking K development in the first place.

As a resident of the Rincon Valley, I'm saddened by a prevailing attitude that, like the horror of Rita Ranch, the Rocking K project is inevitable. The beauty of living in the Rincon Valley lies in its peaceful, rural environment. It's a place where people can become friends and neighbors who care about one another's welfare, where they share a gratifying sense of community and pride in the place they have chosen to live. But if further development takes place, the only thing that will be inevitable is that this tranquillity and reason for living in the Rincon Valley will be gone.

Anyone who has spent time in the Rincon Valley cannot help but be struck by its uniqueness, its natural beauty, its diversity and by the way in which it has been threatened recently by the spread of land development and building. It is astounding there is not universal condemnation of those who are willing to parcel up and forever destroy this treasure for the sake of golf courses, resorts, and "Town Centers." This is especially true in the case of residents of the Rincon Valley. We should be the caretakers of this land we have the privilege of sharing, and defenders of a lifestyle that is being challenged. No justification like "huge profits," no establishment of developer backed institutes to study environmental impact, no expansion of recreational possibilities, no rationalizations in the form of benefits to the populace are worth the sacrifice of this land at the hands of the alliance of developers and elected officials. Can we continue to have a "What can you do?" attitude, or hope that the Rocking K development may be "too rich" for developers these days, or is there something more we should be doing?

--Robert Genovese

Black Days At

The White House

To the Editor,

I have just read Jeff Smith's excellent article "More B.S. From Mr. Bill" (Tucson Weekly, December 22) and I wanted to add a couple of comments to what you wrote.

Like you, I was very excited in 1992 at the thought that our country would soon be run by three youthful, energetic, and very well-educated people. That thought is still exciting, of course, but the reality has become what you have so well articulated in your piece.

In trying to understand the how and why of it I start with the belief that Gore and the Clintons are still the very bright folk we thought, but they (and hence we) have taken a terrible stumble from their "Administrative Hubris." (We could also call it the Jimmy Carter effect). They have staffed their immediate positions, as well as most of the adjacent cabinet levels, with terribly inexperienced and often politically arrogant "outsiders" who seem to believe they really know how to do their job because they were appointed to it. My own limited interactions with the White House structure these days has left me with an appalling dread of what may still be coming down the pike. The only thing worse than entrenched mediocrity is hunkered down idiocy; the Clintons are not going to be able to rise significantly above their staff simply because no CEO of a large outfit can! He's got what he's got, and even the Clintons don't have the energy to simultaneously run the country and retrain its management.

Not a very cheerful set of holiday notions, but nevertheless let me extend to you my very best wishes for the new year.

--Peter Franken

Pistol Whipped

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's column "Cracking Gun Nuts" (Tucson Weekly, December 29): Is the pen mightier than the gun? If it is, it should be banned. There is not specific guarantee in the Constitution that the people may possess a pen, typewriter or word processor. You could poke somebody's eye out with that pen, Tom. And not everyone is a responsible pen owner like yourself. Many career criminals own pens. I believe both Jeff Smith and Edward Abbey owned pens, but they also owned guns and were not ashamed of it.

I always enjoy Tom's columns, and appreciate that he can write intelligently about anything, not only sports. But Tom needs to grow up and realize that we will not ban guns anymore than we will ban drugs. Go ahead, Tom, and write your congressman, influence the people, get more laws passed. (God knows we need more laws.) Let's ban all guns and institute house-to-house searches for them. I'll bet that we can confiscate at least 20 million or so of the 200 million or more of the guns in private hands. We can even start a new growth industry, perhaps based right here in Tucson--the illegal manufacturing of guns in garage machine shops--it's not too hard to do, as Emil Franzi or anyone knowledgeable about firearms might tell you.

I wish I lived in a world where I didn't feel the need for guns, but I have a job where I actually see some of the nastiness inflicted on people by other people. I'm 41 years old, I've never shot anyone, don't want to shoot anyone, am not a paranoid right-winger (actually I'm a liberal-independent type) and fully expect to die at an advanced age without ever pointing a gun at a criminal. But I do want an option, a contingency plan. Was Mary Poppins your mother's maiden name, Tom? Sorry, but I just like firearms, Tom, just as you like basketball. Just because you own a basketball doesn't make you Michael Jordan, and I'm not Son of Sam because I own a handgun, OK?

Hey Tom, ya know the difference between a pen owner and a gun owner? The gun owner cares about accuracy. Stay away from guns and keep up the good work.

--Doug Galinsky


To the Editor,

This letter is an addendum to the wonderful letter written by the Brewster Center in response to the article "Black and Blue and Still Being Bullied" (Tucson Weekly, November 17). First, I must say the article may have done some good by raising the question of problems in the shelters. With the minimal funding these essential shelters receive, it is truly a wonder that they accomplish what they do.

My concern, however, is for the women currently living in abusive situations. My fear is that this article changed even one woman's mind about seeking help in the shelter. If even one woman turned around and went back, it served no good purpose. While I recognize some of the situations, it sounded to me like someone with an ax to grind, not someone wanting to help.

Three years ago this coming March, I was a resident at the Brewster Shelter. My abuser was, and probably still is, a crack junkie. The first time he hit me, it took 22 stitches to close the gash above my eye. Needless to say, when I came to Brewster, I was terrified, unsure of my next move and virtually immobile. In addition, I had foot surgery three days before and couldn't walk very well. This leads to my next statement: I was treated with extreme kindness and consideration by the staff, counselors, and other women at Brewster. Everyone went out of their way to make it easier for me physically. So much more than that, they understood how I felt emotionally. I was given a day to myself to rest (we usually haven't slept in months), to cry and think. Someone came to check on me periodically but didn't push themselves on me. It was made very clear to me that someone was available to talk to 24 hours a day, and someone has.

I was never "forced" to do anything. I was encouraged. Unlike the women in the article, it never crossed my mind to resent this help. I needed some gentle persuasion to get moving and try to start a new life. Brewster helped expedite processing of food stamps, they counseled me (We had some enlightening group sessions while I was there--I still remember some things I learned) and the social worker started helping me find a place to live.

Yes, communal living can be difficult. I was very much a loner even before I married my abuser. It wasn't easy to live with so many women and children--all of whom are in some degree of distress. However, I think I can speak for the majority of women I knew and who have been there before and since, communal living is 100,000 percent better than being beaten. When I was at Brewster, the house meetings definitely weren't "the big deal" the article presented. Again, with communal living, the meetings are a necessity for keeping some order. If someone's child was ill or too distressed, the mother was excused. Chores were divided. Those who had time conflicts with preparing dinner chose another chore. There was never a problem with who did what. We were all entirely too happy being safe to worry about those petty things.

The article also mentioned Norma McKenzie of Tucson Centers for Women and Children. I met McKenzie when she came in to my office a few weeks before the first time I left my abuser. I was initially unaware of where she worked, but I saw her look when she saw my black eye. I gave her my excuse about running into a door and she never contradicted me. She treated me with the utmost compassion and respect and she shared her story with me. She told me she was glad I wasn't abused but if I ever found myself in that position there was help. I held on to her words and they gave me courage and helped me to finally leave for good. I never saw her again and I never thanked her--maybe she will see this and remember the sad women she met. There are many Norma McKenzies in the shelters of Tucson. I never saw anyone who didn't treat me with respect.

"Black and Blue..." made some interesting points. Jane Gainey runs a phone counseling service for abused women. That sounds really commendable. However, if you talk to battered women, most of us weren't allowed anywhere near a phone. If we did make calls and God forbid, our abuser came home, there was never a good enough explanation about who we talked to. As for the shelters, yes, better daycare is needed. Yes better facilities are needed. Yes, a longer stay would help. Those ideas are wonderful, but where does the funding come from? The author wants all these things but offer no way to get them. The shelters do the best they can with what they have. If the government, charities, and the public don't fund these agencies, wouldn't a better tact be to start lobbying for funding instead of trashing these facilities and the staff?

I want to offer a few suggestions to people who are concerned about battered women and their children. You can, individually, do something to help. If you write letters, write to everyone you can think of and express your concern about funding for battered women's shelters. The governor says he's concerned about battered women but he hasn't backed it up--talk's cheap. Consider some of the following ideas also: clean out your closets and give usable clothing to one of the shelters (women and children frequently come in with only the clothes on their backs). As your children outgrow toys, donate them to the shelter. When your bath towels are worn, donate them. If you go to Willcox and pick some apples, pick an extra bunch for the shelter. Or better yet, become a volunteer. When I was in Brewster, someone contributed 15 pounds of scallops. How about 10 pounds of hamburger or a couple of chickens? There are little things each one of us can do that will mean so much to the women and children who seek help in the shelters.

There is one more thing we can all do to help this terrible problem: Don't be an idle bystander. If you hear domestic violence occurring, call the police. If you're wrong, no harm is done and no one except the police knows you called. If you're right, and a month later it happens again, call again. Don't judge, just call. It's better to make that call to report the sounds of violence than to make a call to report sound of silence.

--Deb Nixon

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January 19 - January 25, 1995

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