Keep It Local

To the Editor,

I am writing in response to James DiGiovanna's review of Last Resort ("Polished Up," February 22). Unlike most people writing in response to DiGiovanna's reviews, I have no problem with the tone of voice or nature of criticism that he applies in his film reviews.

In his review of Last Resort, DiGiovanna refers to Polish film director Krzysztof Kieslowski, and his influence on Polish and world filmmakers no fewer than seven times. Despite noting Kieslowski's considerable impact on modern filmmaking, he fails to mention that The Decalogue, Kieslowski's masterwork, is currently running at The Screening Room in downtown Tucson. I wonder if this is because DiGiovanna currently resides in New York and not in our fair burg.

The choice of the Tucson Weekly to employ a critic living across the country seems at odds with its mission of providing local news and coverage of Tucson's arts community. I have no doubt that the Weekly would run wonderful fare-thee-well articles at the demise of such local institutions as The Loft or The Screening Room should they ever be forced to close down for lack of support (as the Weekly did for the RAW Gallery). However, by not having a critic that can cover local showings at these venues, the Weekly reduces the amount of exposure these fine institutions receive and hence the number of people who may patronize them. The Tucson Weekly also robs its readership of the knowledge of the offbeat, artistically astute, and usually lesser-known works that The Loft and The Screening Room often exhibit. Even the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star, both of which the Weekly routinely criticize for sacrificing local news coverage to the demands of non-Tucson owners, have critics that live in Tucson and report on local film events.

I encourage the Tucson Weekly to stay true to its mission of covering local political and cultural issues by providing more coverage of films showing at the Loft and the Screening Room. If you do not, then the only coverage Weekly readers see of them might be of their closures.

--Mike Lisboa

Read Flag

To the Editor,

Susan Zakin wrote that when she visited the Gila, she "learned how cattle grazing causes rivers to go wide and shallow." I've just been reading in Gary Paul Nabhan's Desert Legends: Restorying the Sonoran Borderlands, gleaning from it that grazing contributes to rivers going narrower and deeply gashed--quite an opposing theory concerning Southwestern range problems. There is a body of scholarly works presenting a view also opposing what Susan Zakin has learned about the issue in general, works written by authors whom I doubt are in the employ of the "National Cattleman's Association" (she must mean the National Cattlemen's Beef Association).

First to mind would be Paul F. Starrs, a professor of geography at University of Nevada (Reno), who wrote Let the Cowboy Ride: Cattle Ranching in the American West, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Or try, Beyond the Rangeland Conflict: Toward a West that Works by Dan Dagget and Jay Dusard, which not only presents cases of ranches whose management produces improvements of degraded lands through combinations of approaches, but also tells of the understanding that can grow between the historical enemies "ranchers" and "environmentalists." For more on that kind of cooperation, try a web search for the Arizona Common Ground Roundtable meetings, sponsored by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona--unless you believe the quietly caring and deeply concerned attendants at those meetings all also "work for the National Cattleman's Association." There is also an in-depth set of articles from the Albuquerque Tribune about rancher Sid Goodloe, who through his careful husbanding of livestock brought permanent streams back to a hammered rangeland he'd bought. These were streams that had disappeared a very long time ago but whose existence he deduced from area petroglyphs.

There is also a work by Sharman Apt Russell (who was at University of Western New Mexico), Kill the Cowboy. While many have seen this book as a condemnation of things cowboy, I did not in my final analysis of it take that as the view intended. In fact finishing it strengthened my determination to get back on a horse and ride for a brand again after a long career in academia and natural history study, and I did. I wanted to see about these issues myself, on the ground and, coincidentally, I signed with an outfit whose 14 miles of south fence bordered the Gila Wilderness. This was a life of, as one writer put it, "a minimum of theory and a maximum of direct experience," one that has brought me new ways of viewing the issues, that perhaps couldn't have been gleaned from any amount of writing, either scientific or rabid.

--Woody Hume


To the Editor,

I find it astonishing just how much attention Mary Schuh gets from both the mainstream media and the alternative media like the Weekly. Her credibility as a spokesperson for the taxpayers is a joke. When the incorporation movement began in 1997, Mary was asked to participate in the process. Mary was happy to join the effort and stated publicly in a meeting at the Foothills Mall that she supported Casas Adobes. However that support quickly changed. In her typically arrogant style, Mary demanded that she be the lead person on developing a proposed budget. When she was politely turned down by the Committee to Incorporate Casas Adobes, a committee that was well into the budget process, Mary admonished the group for not knowing what they were doing and demanded that she be part of the process. When she was again refused, Mary became, in typical Mary Schuh style, an outspoken critic.

Much the same can be said about Pete Tescione. Pete tried to be the lightning rod of the incorporation movement. When it was apparent that his thunder was received by deaf ears, he left with his tail between his legs. Prior to election, Pete and Mary were vocal opponents of the Committee to Incorporate. Once the election succeeded, Pete and Mary again rose to the occasion, both trying to grab the spotlight. When it was obvious that they were both out for personal gain, they were once again political outcasts. Mary left the interim council screaming that over-taxation is around the corner and only Mary knows the truth. Pete, on the other hand, ran for the first elected council and won. Unfortunately for Casas Adobes, there were not enough qualified candidates on the ballot so Pete was elected by default. Once Pete realized that his personal agenda was again met with deaf ears, he became the pariah of the council, routinely embarrassing himself until the following election, when he was resoundingly defeated. With all this history it is no doubt that both Mary Schuh and Pete Tescione are opposed to Casas Adobes. If only they could learn to leave their arrogant egos and personal agendas at their front door, then the respect of the community may rise.

One other note: it is no surprise that Mary sits on the Amphi school board. With all the scandal, Mary looked like a lamb in comparison to her competition. However I would suggest that the voters be aware of "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

--James Gerety
Committee to Incorporate Casas Adobes, 1997

Keeping it Clean

To the Editor,

Congratulations on your recent Skinny supporting the Clean Elections law. Once again our legislators seek to overthrow the will of the people. How many times have we heard them say the voters didn't know what they were voting for and they have to correct the wrong! Hey, get with it guys--voters do know what they are voting for.

The Clean Elections Act is flawed from a semantics and logistical standpoint, but the overall concept of the law needs to be preserved and encouraged. Campaign finance reform needs to start somewhere and this is a good one.

Look at the facts: In the last general election in November, 44 candidates chose to run "clean." Sixteen of them were elected to office. Almost half of all legislative districts have at least one Clean Elections lawmaker. This includes 20 percent of the entire Arizona House of Representatives and 7 percent of the Arizona Senate. And as a plus, 67 percent of the Corporation Commission.

Because of the Clean Election funding, there was a 63 percent increase in total candidates running in 2000. Significant is the fact 87 percent of all women running as Clean Elections candidates would not have done so without the funding; 80 percent of all Clean Election Latinos; and 50 percent of all Clean Election African-Americans. In other words, the availability of funding allowed average citizens like you and me to run for office that may not have had the opportunity before.

So where is the problem? As a Clean Election Senate candidate in District 9, the problem is "soft money" that is rarely accounted for and gives non-participating candidates a definite advantage. Soft money comes from special-interest groups and lobbyists and committees formed to help a candidate. Everyone that might have a vested interest in getting that candidate elected. I can't tell you how many groups came out and told me that because I was running clean they would not endorse me and would not contribute anything to our campaign. I was limited to the $10,000 of Clean Elections funds while my primary opponent spent more than $50,000, funded by soft money sources, on targeted direct mail and phone banks. This is hard to combat and the old grass-roots "door-to-door" does not work in a district like 9, which is about the size of Rhode Island. This is where Clean Election fails. When you make a formal complaint, by the time they track down the sources of the "soft money," the quasi committees have all but skipped town, or the election is over and there is little they can do.

It goes back to the age-old problem of politics and that is campaign finance reform. There should be a limit on how much money is spent on a campaign and no soft money available. Any candidate who accepts any should be disqualified from the election.

I sent a letter to the morning rag supporting the Clean Elections law and they told me they would print it after I edited it down. I got busy and never had the chance, but apparently they liked the content, as they came out with a large editorial supporting the law using many of my arguments and facts. I don't deny them the right to express their opinion, but what is ironic is that in their endorsement of candidates last fall, they said almost nothing about Clean Election candidates or that is was important in any way shape or form.

With apologies to Martha Stewart, while it's not perfect, the Clean Elections Act is a good thing.

--Matt Welch

Show Me the Money

To the Editor,

My compliments to Jim Nintzel for the article "Pay As You Grow" (March 8). The city's task force has taken a good first step toward a more equitable distribution of the cost of growth. The devil, of course, lies in the details and apparently city staff members will provide them. Goal 4 of Supporting Policies reads: "Recover fair share costs which are defined as total capital cost (facilities and equipment) minus developer credits'" (emphasis mine) and funds dedicated to a project as set forth in the city's approved Capital Improvements Program. Councilman Jerry Anderson defined developer credits as "including infrastructure improvements made by the developer that will serve not only the new development but, in some way, will serve the community." Councilman Anderson could not provide specific examples; nor were any to be found in the Capital Improvements Program. I can understand a rationale for allowing credits for improvements that clearly will benefit the community as a whole but, without specifics, we have a loophole big enough to run a developer's bulldozer through.

At a minimum the final plan must include: firm definitions of improvements that will qualify for developer credits; a sound methodology for calculating allowable credits. Unless these items are in place we are not likely to reach the goal of making new growth pay for itself. Concerned citizens should watch this process closely and provide information through the city's formal process as well as their council representative. We can have a good plan, but only if we demand it and refuse to settle for less.

--William C. Thornton

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