Someplace Special

To the Editor,

At first read, Dan Huff's strident and poorly researched "Sun Stroke" (April 22) baffled me. As a regular reader, I'm usually entertained and sometimes delighted by the writing (i.e. Gregory McNamee's recent cover story on Ed Abbey) in The Weekly, but Huff's story was so inaccurate and mean-spirited that my second reaction was sadness. Huff's story confirmed my suspicions that discrediting Civano is high on The Weekly's editorial agenda.

Mailbag Let me correct the two most prominent errors in Huff's comments about Civano. First, Huff infers that taxpayers will be left holding the bill for Civano. The City of Tucson invested $3 million in Civano by way of a bond. This bond is being paid back by the residents of Civano's first neighborhood. My wife and I are in the process of building a modest two bedroom adobe home at Civano. We will pay $53 each month amortized over 20 years. I don't mind paying this Municipal Improvement District fee, but I do mind having Huff suggest that Tucsonans are paying my way. Some residents on larger lots will pay as much as $93.75 a month. The city will make 5 percent interest on their investment.

Secondly, Huff is mistaken about the lack of solar water heating at Civano. All of the homes in the first neighborhood come standard with a solar "batch" water heater. It is the only community of its size in the U.S. to have this requirement.

I could go on about all the things that attracted us to Civano: the narrow pedestrian-oriented streets where the auto is viewed "almost as an intruder," or Civano's hundreds of reclaimed old palo verde and velvet mesquite trees, but I think the project is really beginning to speak for itself. It is instantly recognizable as a better way of doing things.

Like Tucson's Barrio Historico and Sam Hughes neighborhoods, Civano is beginning to feel like some place special. It's a shame The Weekly staff won't admit it.

--Scott Calhoun

Dan Huff replies: First, Civano was billed as the "solar village," for which the people of Arizona spent $1 million to make this a model demonstration of the best advanced solar energy concepts and technology. But the developers didn't even get past the first and most basic step: proper orientation of the houses for passive solar design. When all is said and done, by any reasonable standard, Civano simply doesn't qualify as a solar village, given the poor site orientation of the housing. If it were originally billed as the "well-insulated village," perhaps the tone of the article would have been unwarranted. But what we obviously have here is a slap-dash "widget" approach to solar energy. Unfortunately, this technology is not a widget to be slapped on at a later time--if it were, you'd see it going up all over Tucson. According to the experts, solar infrastucture must be integrated from the get-go into a structure's design and siting to yield worthwhile efficiencies. (Furthermore, a solar water heater does not make it a solar house. Solar pioneers spent millions demonstrating efficient and reliable solar water heating 20 years ago. What you, and many good people like you, will be missing is the real thing.)

What we have in Civano is an electric power company's dream of a "solar community," and nothing more.

Second, in a city already suffering the effects of uncontrolled sprawl, Civano is way the hell out there, which means additional and continuing costs for all Tucson taxpayers, not just those in your tiny Muni Improvement District. It's a ridiculous place to build a supposedly "environmentally friendly" community, reclaimed trees or no reclaimed trees. And, since you brought up the subject, I should point out that low-interest, municipally secured bonds are a public benefit not usually available to developers.

Hell is a special place, too, the road to which is paved with good intentions.

Mouth Wash

To the Editor,

There is little respite from the microscope of entering the public life. Retracting words, I realize, is akin to putting toothpaste back into the tube. I recently made a rather offhanded remark about Ross Perot in an interview I had with Jim Nintzel ("Third And Long Shots," March 18). I called Perot a fascist, and upon reflection, I wish to apologize for having done so.

Fascism is a term that has been coined in a very loose manner. I meant nothing more than to say that Perot has some strong nationalistic viewpoints. There was a time when fascism was actually a viable political movement, devoid of the dictatorial bent it's now associated with.

While I may have some philosophical disagreements with Perot, I have a great deal of respect for a man willing to throw himself into the political arena and expose many of the well-entrenched systemic flaws of our political system. He built the groundwork of the Reform Party, a political movement taking hold in this country that bemoans partisan inefficiencies and special interest influence. Perhaps I will one day have the opportunity to apologize directly to Mr. Perot for a comment that was without warrant, and to likewise thank him for having the courage to change the political landscape.

--Mike Fleishman

Snuffed Smoke

To the Editor,

Regarding "Hide and Sneak" (April 15): I find it amazing that Project Censored's annual list of the year's most underreported news stories never includes cannabis suppression. That should be No. 1 on their list every year without fail!

--Gary Donovan

School Bored

To the Editor,

What could possibly be more boring than reading about school boards--again and again and again?

--Lynn Jacobs


To the Editor,

I learned about this nifty little concept in one of those "working together" seminars at work called "Paradigm Shift." If there's anyone I've met or heard of recently who needs to have one, it's Michael J. Urena (Mailbag, April 8). I agree, he needs to leave Tucson, and now! Since he's about to become a "transplanted peckerwood" himself, I thought I'd share some tips to help him adjust in whatever city he chooses to grace.

• Kids everywhere think there's nothing to do.

• Tucson hasn't cornered the market on angry, long-winded white men.

• It's hard to make a living anywhere, especially in a city where $1,000 a month buys you an "efficiency." Also, welcome to personal property taxes.

• In a larger city, you might be lucky enough to have a more diverse population to complain about, instead of the same-old same-old (Anglo Sam Hughes transplants).

I don't think Tucson sets a stellar example in many areas, but leaving Tucson for a while, or maybe forever, might give Mr. Urena the insight to appreciate what a great place it is.

--Victoria Perkins

P.S. As for WB weathercaster Jennifer Santiago, I agree The Weekly's response was uncalled for, but please don't tell me she was singled out because she is a Latina. The Weekly seems to believe in equal opportunity when it comes to being surly and rude!

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