Honkey Talk

To the Editor,

Any alleged writer who needs to resort to tired and pernicious stereotypes in a feeble attempt at irony ("Black Light," September 16) raises the question whether his real career goal is publicist for the Aryan brotherhood.

I can only conclude two things: 1) Your publication is the victim of a hostile and secretive corporate takeover by white-bread lunatics, and 2) As a result, Jeff Smith did the honorable thing and left.

You guys are in journalistic deep shit, and from the caliber of Reel's pathetic attempt at criticism, not smart enough to know it. Good luck, you'll need it.

-- Concetta Tuttle

Washed Up

To the Editor,

Thank goodness your editorial opinions are of no consequence to Tucson voters. Your article "Yes on Prop 200" (October 28) lists some absurd "reasons" for voting for Bob Beaudry's Rube Goldberg scheme to cause land subsidence and water quality degradation while enriching Bob's pal Brett Cluff. You urged us to Vote for Bob because 1) You claim the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had another of its typically stupid ideas in 1967, a scheme involving a nuclear device and Sabino Canyon. Let's pretend Prop 200 is somehow connected to that. 2) Colorado River water and Tucson Water policy are, to quote two of the more technical terms in your article, "piss" and "puke," respectively. Let's pretend the average voter is an 8-year-old who appreciates this level of intellectual discourse. 3) If Tucson Water and developers are against Prop 200, then it must be good. Let's pretend that if A hates B, and C hates A, then C will love B. Easy concepts are the best concepts!

You haven't explained how Tucson Water was supposed to deliver water from wells with radon concentrations in excess of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards while complying with Bob's edict that no water will be delivered from "polluted sources." (Define "polluted," please. If you think about it, you will realize that "polluted" is a pretty vague term. Real scientists, and real public policy makers, use quantifiable terms.) It is obvious that if and when the EPA tightens up its radon standards, Tucson Water will have to deliver water from wells containing radon in excess of EPA standards, but the water will be treated first. But Bob won't accept treated water! He demands "pure" water (more vagueness). So why is Tucson Water accused of using scare tactics when it announces that Bob's Big Plan would require shutting down wells containing elevated levels of radon? What choice did the anti scientist leave them?

Somehow you managed to imply that a vote for Prop 200 would be a vote against growth. What part of Prop 200 prohibits construction of new homes and the immigration of hundreds of thousands of more people? It is not an anti-growth proposition at all, but you pretended that it is. Under the current zoning fiasco, houses will be built, and people will move here, regardless of the fate of Prop 200. People who really want to stop or slow growth will have to take a more logical approach, like demanding some real planning. That will take more than slogans, cartoons and bumper stickers. Sorry, but contrary to the Gospel According to Reagan, there are no easy answers for complex questions.

Fortunately, because Prop 200 was defeated, those of us who are already here will not see our central Tucson homes and underground utility lines destroyed by Bob-sponsored land subsidence. Because Prop 200 was defeated, we won't have to finance Brett Cluff's new treatment plant, and we won't have to pay for deeper, less efficient new wells to pump poor quality water from ever-deepening depths. We also won't have to bribe the mines and farmers to give us their groundwater (these would not be small bribes), then build more infrastructure to bring their water to us and our water to them.

You portrayed Prop 200 as an evil attempt to let the "experts" determine water policy. The contemptuous quote marks are yours, implying that hydrologists are not experts. It is difficult to imagine a world where public policy and public facilities are designed by mob rule. The mob rejoices, "You don't need any special training to design a road, a building, a transportation system, or a water supply system! The 'experts' want us to think that these things are all much more complicated than they really are! Power to the people! Anyone can be an architect, an engineer, or a hydrologist! This is a democracy! Let's have public policy made by the car dealer with the most entertaining advertising campaign!"

Now there's a concept an 8-year-old's imagination can really support! Lots of television, and no more homework!

I was pleased to discover on election night that the voters of Tucson are more sophisticated than the anonymous writers of the nonsense in your paper. By the way, why are your writers afraid to come out from under their hoods and tell their names? Democracy also means taking responsibility for your words and actions. John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence with a big flourish so King George wouldn't have any trouble identifying his principal critic. Your writers are not so brave.

-- Donna Moulton


To the Editor,

Regarding Chris Limberis' "The Road To MDA" (November 4): What, pray tell, has Jerry Lewis done to piss Limberis off, anyway? He didn't like Damn Yankees? What's that he says? Lewis had the gall to write letters to the editor? And he made phone calls? Pretty shocking stuff!

First of all, let me establish my bona fides, as it were. I am a native Tucsonan who knows that particular part of town fairly well, going back to the infamous Pontatoc "boonies" of my misspent youth (sorry, Dad). In December of 1990, I was one of the local hires that met the moving trucks, when MDA moved here from New York. Three years ago, I left MDA after working for them for almost six years.

First of all, why is MDA's National Headquarters located in the Foothills? Oh yes, I remember well all the controversy and indignant letters about "the Taj Mahal on Sunrise." Limberis presents a bare-bones description of how MDA happened into Pima County -- long on sinister innuendo, but short on details. Bob Ross and MDA, we're being asked to believe, threw such a temper tantrum that four Pima County Supervisors were "forced" to have an emergency meeting. Greg Lunn, we're told, was glad he missed the meeting, despite the fact that he was in favor MDA's move. And, as is always the case, the "fix" was in as various movers and shakers (Mehl, Caviglia, et al) took good care of themselves and their friends. (Incidentally, the image of Bob Ross as a modern-day robber baron is hysterically funny to those of us who know him.)

So tell me, didn't Chris Limberis once cover the county government beat for the Star? Isn't this pretty much the way everything gets done, around here? Didn't we used to say that we wanted our representatives to try to attract "clean" industries to our fair city (this before we discovered that "clean industry" is a euphemism for "call center")? Isn't $1.3 million dollars mere pocket-change, compared to what we shelled out for Microsoft? Hey, at least MDA is still here.

So when the board voted to give MDA the land on Sunrise, Bob Ross was supposed to say, "Oh no! We couldn't possibly allow our National Headquarters to be in such a nice part of town. Surely you could find a nice, depressed barrio for us, couldn't you?" Uh, okay, Chris. The fact is that MDA's headquarters building was erected on the land they were given, plain and simple.

Anyway, my next question for Limberis is for an explanation of the difference between taking care Mr. Mehl, taking care of Mr. Ross, and taking care of the developer who wanted a traffic light at his dirt road...errr...leading to his proposed new development? Why isn't this developer named in Limberis' piece? Why no details of his proposal?

But damn it, we can't be expected to support a traffic light at Skyline and Sunrise, just so "Robert Ross and other MDA big shots can turn left." Right?

Maybe so, but what about the 90 percent or so of MDA employees who aren't "big shots?" What about the assorted visitors -- some local, most not -- who have enough trouble finding the building, itself, let alone the "back entrance?" Is it really that important for Bob Ross and/or Jerry Lewis to be able to turn left onto Sunrise? No one knows, because no one in their right mind would dare to try it, as things now stand.

I'm not a traffic engineer, nor do I have accident stats at my fingertips. But I do recall seeing numerous accidents at that intersection, and I know for a fact that -- during rush hour -- Sunrise moves faster than I-10. And given the number of blind curves -- especially the one immediately west of the MDA building -- it's a wonder that there aren't more accidents.

I think County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry put it best when Limberis quotes him as saying, "(the MDA light) would impede those traffic movements that have grown the fastest." Exactly. People driving east on Sunrise toward MDA might just feel like they can slow down to turn into MDA without being rear-ended. People wanting to turn from Sunrise to Skyline, as well as those wanting to merge from Skyline to Sunrise, might actually be able to do so without fearing for their lives. And the traffic is certainly going to get worse with all the grand developments planned for all the empty land up there.

By the way, when I worked at MDA, there was bus service available once in the morning, and once each night. Please bear this in mind when talking about the shadowy new development, along with the new "Scottsdale-style, up-scale" shopping mall that is due to be built at the nearby Campbell and Skyline intersection. You don't suppose any of these new developments will increase traffic, do you?

Chris, old pal, I've enjoyed your work for many years, but I have to say you blew this one. A little more actual research (you know, maybe take a drive up there to see for yourself such small details as the difference between where the MDA building is, and the La Paloma Corporate Center, where they used to be some seven years ago) and a little less Don Quixote journalism would have made this piece work much better.

-- Bill Greenberg

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