Stop Sign

To the Editor,

I've been a huge Tom Danehy fan since he worked for me at the Arizona Daily Wildcat back in the pleistocene era, when he carved his sports columns with flint. He never fails to awe me with his ability to paint a word portrait worthy of a museum that charges admission.

The description of his lovely wife Ana ("More Than Meets the Eye," January 4), so delicately and lovingly framed in the context of the day's news, was touching beyond my humble abilities to describe.

But then those sappy feelings are obliterated the next week when Tom writes a parody of AZStar coverage of the golf tournament that prominently features Tiger Woods' bowel habits ("Teed Off," January 11)!

Tom, this ain't nuclear physics! Quit when you're ahead!

--Hans Laetz

Bucky Stops Here

To the Editor,

Chris Limberis' "Zoning Out" (January 18) makes Emmett "Bucky" McLaughlin come across as an extremely reasonable individual. I invite Chris to attend any type of public forum where Bucky performs. I further invite Chris to do the most cursory research to determine which parcels Bucky really owns, rather than blindly accepting his drivel.

"McLaughlin was ensnared not only by powerful anti-development voices in the Tucson Mountains--a steady lobby against any construction on his parcels"--emphasizing that statement in 48-point boldface font gives many readers the impression that the local residents are fat-cat NIMBYs living large in mountain mansions. Point of fact is that many local residents who have lived in their very modest homes for 10 to 25 years, and whose homes share a common property line with some of the parcels in question, do not enjoy Bucky telling us again and again that only he knows what is good for us and our neighborhood and totally ignoring the facts elucidated to him again and again as to why we built/live where we do.

It is also interesting to note that petitions against Bucky's development interests were signed by 95 percent of the residence owners surrounding said parcels.

--T. Roussey

Nader's Baiters

To the Editor,

I am an "idiot supporter" of Ralph Nader. I write in response to yet another scornful attack by Susan Zakin ("Monkey Genes," January 18).

I am amused by the hypocrisy of Zakin's criticism of "circular firing squad leftists," which she then approximates by offending everyone who voted for Nader. The irony is rich, considering that the term was originally popularized in reference to Democrats, but I'm sure that, like many salient points, irony is lost on her. At the risk of petty tit for tat, I can only say congratulations, Tucson Weekly, with Zakin and Danehy you've cornered the market on idiot columnists.

I am also a radical. So are Alexander Cockburn and many others who voted for Ralph Nader. Our specific role in the political milieu is to upset the apple cart, which is precisely what happened in Florida. Criticize our strategy, if you will, but don't pretend that we made some sort of terrible miscalculation. To the contrary, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

If you insist on blaming us for Gore's defeat (which is itself a pathetic Democratic exercise in passing the buck--the man couldn't even carry his home state), let's at least look at the consequences realistically.

First, had Gore carried Florida by a comfortable margin, none of the travesties that were perpetrated there on Election Day would have become known to the general public. Jim Crow is alive and well not just in Florida but in many places in the South; there are serious problems with our electoral process nationwide; and the Bush Mafia will stop at nothing to steal an election. If opponents of Bush seize upon these issues as they should, the resulting fundamental changes will benefit not only the Democratic party but all democracy-minded Americans.

Second, when Bush blunders into the Washington fray with both barrels blazing away at the environment, choice and other hot-button issues, he will ignite a grassroots firestorm that again will benefit Democrats and make for a healthier democracy.

The big environmental groups have grown lazy in the last eight years. It is not smart politics to sit back and wait for presidential vetoes and proclamations to bail us out of every jam. We need to organize at the grassroots level and forge a congressional majority on the environment that more closely resembles that of public opinion. Until we achieve that, we have no one but ourselves to blame when we lose.

--Randy Serraglio

Calling the Shots

To the Editor,

I just have to write to take exception to the ridiculous charges made by Steve Sharpton against Tom Danehy (Mailbag, December 28).

First of all, in high-school basketball in Arizona, the winner of the regular season is the league champion, no matter how much Sharpton would like it to be otherwise. That's why I have one of those individual medals Tom mentioned, that's why there's a championship plaque in the office at Amphi, and that's why they're going to hang a championship banner in the Amphi gym.

As a reporter, Sharpton should strictly be reporting the facts and not trying to shuffle things around to fit his idea of how things should be.

What really bothered me about the letter were his personal remarks about Tom. They were not only uncalled for--most were flat-out lies.

First of all, I was around Tom for three years straight (including summers) and I never saw him come close to throwing a tirade, as Sharpton claims. During games, Tom is loud and funny and passionate about the game. He carries on conversations with the fans, jokes with refs, and pokes fun at his own players. But as soon as the game is over (and no matter what the outcome), he is the first to go over and congratulate the other team. Tom taught me more about sportsmanship than all the other coaches I ever had put together.

One time after a close loss, I told him I felt lousy and I didn't want to go shake hands. He said, "Next time, play harder during the game and you won't have to feel lousy." He was right. I also remember a time when his freshman team lost by one point to Salpointe. I knew it just killed him, but after the game he made a point of going over to sit with some of the Salpointe kids to rehash the game and congratulate them again. That's just his way. He loves the sport and he loves kids.

Sharpton claims that Tom threw a tirade after a loss to Tucson High. Right after that game, I went to look for him so he could help me with my homework and he was sitting with Katrina Ramos and Danielle DeGrate (both Tucson High players), asking them how things were going and where they were going to go to college. That doesn't seem like a tirade to me.

As for him writing about his daughter, good for him! She's the best all-around athlete in the history of Arizona and the local papers ignore her because they don't like her dad? How stupid is that?

I think most of what Sharpton wrote came from jealousy. He's jealous of Tom's coaching ability and the fact that he wins all those writing awards.

Tom just loves sports and he loves kids. And the kids love him back. I could probably get players from every other school in town to co-sign this letter. Everybody likes him, except, I guess, other sportswriters.

Let me put it this way. I never thought that, as a young African-American woman, the coolest, funniest and nicest person I would know would be an overweight, middle-aged white man, but that's the way it is.

--Charron Campbell
Member, 1999 5A-South championship basketball team

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