Don't Fence Us In

To the Editor,

J.E. Relly's "Supermax" (April 29) opened with some unfair and untrue comments regarding the town of Florence. The townsfolk do not suffer "prison amnesia." The Chamber of Commerce does not avoid discussing our five prisons, not three as reported. And our population this side of the walls is nearing 5,000, not less than 1,720, your reported number comparing our population to the number of supermax inmates.

Mailbag Department of Corrections inmate management policies are not issues subject to consensus by our local elected officials or our small but robust business community. Those issues discussed in Relly's article are issues of our Legislature, the court system and the Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, many Arizonans believe that these harsh conditions are deserving to those who are incarcerated. Change will only happen when the electorate changes its view on sentencing and prison management.

Florence is a historic community founded in 1866. It has been the site of the state prison since 1909. Florence has a registered Historic District. Our Main Street is a delightful walk into Arizona's past. Our second courthouse with its distinctive cupola adds charm and warmth to the Pinal County administrative complex. Our community is stable. Descendants of families of our founders continue to have a wonderful presence in our daily affairs.

Our attitude regarding the unprecedented growth of prisons is of great concern to us all. Prisons have been welcomed as a source of "clean" economic development and steady employment. We actually have more jobs than citizens, as many prison personnel commute from both Tucson and Phoenix. But as this dramatic growth has created pressures on our infrastructure and our rural way we now face great challenges. A good school system is reaching capacity. A housing stock suffers from short supply. Town services lack a large tax base. Annexing and growth issues are debated as urbanites seek retreat. Limited spousal employment for correctional employees exists. Many amenities and entertainment venues are only dreams. Hopefully our planning and vision will fill these needs while avoiding the awful sprawl that other Arizona communities seem to welcome.

Believe me, there is no amnesia in Florence. We are a community very much concerned about our future. We realize that, like it or not, prisons are our dominate economic force. How we shape our town is an active and on-going process being discussed from our new Town Hall to Murphy's Soup and Salad, site of the 1984 movie Murphy's Romance. Come visit and see for yourself.

--Larry L. Pfeiffer


Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce

J.E. Relly replies: I will make note to contact Mr. Pfeiffer in the future if I ever write another piece on prisons in Florence. I based my mention of Florence's population on the information provided in a Florence Chamber of Commerce brochure. I contacted the staff at the Chamber of Commerce to fact-check the number of public and private prisons in Florence, but they were not willing to answer any other questions. I was not referred to Mr. Pfeiffer.

I would agree with Mr. Pfeiffer, Florence's historic district does have charm.

Drawing the Line

To the Editor,

I was interested to read in David Holthouse's "Killer Shots" (May 27), about an incident where a Mexican national was next-best-thing-to-murdered by the U.S. Border Patrol. Such abuses of power can never be looked into enough.

However, who is the "we" in "We're pushing decent people out into the desert to their deaths, using the long arm of a gun"? I'm not a party to that, and I'm operating under the assumption that Scott Stanley, who uttered those words, is not doing so either. Last thing I knew, the Border Patrol apprehends people trying to enter this country illegally, and captures them for deportation later. So just who is "pushing"?

In this age when tobacco companies are responsible for smokers' habits and gun manufacturers are soon likely to be responsible for murder, I have the temerity to suggest the heretical notion that the would-be illegal immigrants are actually pushing themselves to make that dangerous crossing, and that no one with guns is forcing them to. Should the Border Patrol set lemonade stands every mile or so and roll out the red carpets, or should they merely turn their heads and ignore the folks crossing the fence in the towns and cities? Part of the existence of a nation is the presence of borders and the maintenance of them as to the flow of people. As the Southwest and the rest of this country are rapidly being paved over for development, quality of life for people and the ongoing existence of many plant and animal species is a serious issue. I dare say the U.S. has a sizable population as it is now. And for the traditional liberal bromide that Mexicans take jobs that Americans won't, Americans of all races might take these jobs if they paid enough. This could easily happen if the capitalists were not able to always rely on a cheap source of labor.

The illegal immigration problem is due to the wealthy cities on both sides and their pursuit of the "global economy." They'd like a one-world government where nations and borders don't exist so they can exploit all the rest of us equally at their convenience. Let's place the blame where it lies instead of placing Band-Aids on bleeding wounds. In the meantime, maybe we can clean up the Border Patrol and its abuses.

--Steve Vetter


To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's "Litigation Frustration" (May 27), subtitled "Just How Low Will A Lawyer Go?": I am a lawyer. I think Danehy must be either intellectually dishonest, a moron, a coward, or all three. In his column, Danehy stated, "Lawyers go out and scrounge for cases and the extra-low ones take pride in finding new people, places or things to sue. To a lawyer, there is no such thing as bad luck, no such thing as personal responsibility."

He went on to say, "We're [the lawyers] going to sue the snot out of them..." However, after taking this bigoted, journalistic McCartheyesque swipe at lawyers, he goes on to talk about four articles he labels as "lawyer-related absurdities."

The cases he wrote of involved a teenager who was badly mauled by a bear, a teenager and another woman who each died in traffic accidents, and a woman who was bitten by a rattlesnake. I think the point of his comment was that some people who are injured blame their injuries on others, rather than acknowledging and taking the responsibility for the fact that they caused their own injury. The examples he used were cases in which he apparently felt that the injured person, seeking to blame others, was solely responsible for his own injury or death. I am not connected with any of those cases. Perhaps in those cases he is correct. However, why is he seeking to blame lawyers for these cases? Where is any evidence that a lawyer went out to "scrounge" for these cases?

If Danehy can prove that any of the four cases he reported were the result of a lawyer scrounging for it, I will donate $100 to Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. I will even let Emil Franzi of the Tucson Weekly decide if Danehy's allegation(s) is true. I suspect what you will find, if you bother to check, is that each of these injured people (or their families in the case of the dead women) originated the idea of making a claim. The clients then contacted lawyers to represent them.

If he thought the clients acted improperly and irresponsibly, then why not go after them? The cases are theirs. Talk about not understanding "responsibility"!

Perhaps Tom's knee-jerk views, which are on the level of the type of comments I would expect from the audience at a Jerry Springer show, result because he didn't understand the function of lawyers vis-a-vis their clients. Lawyers are essentially the messengers. The clients are the ones sending the message. The clients approve the filing of a lawsuit on their behalf. The clients approve all major decisions in a case. Perhaps Danehy did understand that, but he just wanted to jump on the popular bandwagon of taking a cheap shot at lawyers.

There are some sleazy lawyers. There are some lawyers who should not be practicing. However, for every sleazeball, there are probably 50 good, hard-working lawyers. These are the lawyers who protect the rights of women, gays, the elderly, the physically challenged and the wrongly accused. These are the lawyers who protect your First Amendment freedoms and the environment. These are also the lawyers who will protect the rights of the Tucson Weekly if any of its precious copyright or trademark rights are infringed upon. You know, the ones warned of at the bottom of your contents page. It is those lawyers, the majority of lawyers, who are tired of these mean-spirited and childish attacks on them. They don't complain much because they know clever columnists will just make fun of them. However, they are good people and deserve better treatment.

Why should I complain about Danehy's yammering? It is because he is only part of a larger mob of fools who attack those who would protect their legal rights. This attitude creates an environment of unjustified disrespect in this country. How about them there legal rights of the fine folks in Serbia. I bet you they don't have many of them damn lawyers over there!

I suspect what happened in his piece was that he really didn't have the guts to strongly say what he thought about the true motivation of these injured people or their families. He apologetically approached any criticism of the clients. However, when it came to the part about the lawyers, then the gloves came off.

I want to assure you that I am thick skinned. However, Danehy's comments were quite rash. So just how low will a columnist go? Please print a clever, sarcastic response directly below this letter.

--Phil Abromowitz

Right And Ron

To the Editor,

James DiGiovanna makes yet another ugly comment about Ronald Reagan in his review of Election ("Primary School," May 13). I have never encountered anyone with such a hard-on about Reagan. DiGiovanna often manages to mention him in his writings. I do not know about DiGiovanna's personal life, but this seems to be absolute hatred.

DiGiovanna apparently is not knowledgeable about economics, as he has several times suggested that somehow Reagan was responsible for a deficit, and other horrible things, in the 1980s. Someone should tell DiGiovanna that a president does not spend the nation's money. Congress does. Since the evil Republicans did not control Congress until 1994, one wonders how the evil Dr. Reagan did this (and the other things, too). Yes, Reagan had veto power, but the appropriations bills came from Congress. Further, all income groups did very well in the 1980s. He can check this by contacting various government agencies.

I do not know where DiGiovanna gets his info about politics, but it is clear that he lives in a fantasy world. I know it is troubling to DiGiovanna that a patriotic anti-Communist occupied the White House for eight years. But that is no excuse to distort history. DiGiovanna should stop reading leftist clap-trap and find better sources of information.

Please make sure that DiGiovanna sees this letter. He needs to learn. And yes, he may e-mail me back to insult me and call me names, because this is how the Left does things.

--J.M. Birkby

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