Burning Hot

To the Editor,

Thank you for saying that you have supported me all these years (The Skinny, June 28); I never realized that. Now that I know you did, I thank you. As for my vote on the increase in the TUSD desegregation budget, I am sorry I let you down. I hope you understand it would have passed with or without me voting on it and I assume you understand that I may have had good reasons for voting the way I did. Sometimes things appear a certain way when you do not have a global view of the situation.

Now I have some questions for the Tucson Weekly. Where have you stood on fully funding education in Arizona for the last 10 years? How have the candidates you have openly supported (not secretly, like me) positively impacted TUSD. in the last 10 years? I can think of a couple whose negative impact will have an effect for years to come.

Voting for an increase in the deseg budget is one of the hardest decisions I will ever have to make. But I know I am making a difference for the children of this community. I know that every day I am finding ways of making TUSD. the kind of school district that parents will be eager to send their children to and teachers will be eager to work in. Unlike some, I am finding ways to trim the fat and getting the support to do it. It is very easy to be a naysayer and get a lot of media coverage. It is not so easy to spend your days doing the hard work of trying to turn a huge bureaucracy like TUSD. into a school district that meets the needs of students, parents and employees alike.

Bottom line, I consider the impact on students in every vote I take. I may have to compromise my beliefs some days, but I will not compromise what is best for the children.

--Judy Burns
TUSD Governing Board Member

Up with Downtown

To the Editor,

Great. Another article about Tucson's downtown with no real grasp of the actual makeup of this city ("Downtown Downturn," June 28). Here's a town that has done its best to eliminate genuine grassroots music arts support (concert flyers can barely be posted anywhere, that ludicrous dancing ordinance, arbitrarily enforced noise laws); soundly defeated Prop 202, which would've raised the obscenely low wages in this town to a semi-liveable level (so that people might, you know, be able to put some money back into the community); and has consistently failed to establish any cross-pollination between the UA arts-related activities and those of the city proper (try spotting a college student at a locally owned establishment that isn't a dance club or a restaurant). But it turns out that what we really ought to be concerned about is that some of the only places that can survive downtown are tattoo parlors and rock clubs.

Well, there's a reason or two why those types of businesses (both of which can safely be classified as arts-oriented by even the most naïve definition) are surviving, and if the post-Yuppie/Boomer arbiters of culture in Tucson crave a "nice, classy arts district," they should probably try a little harder to embrace the diversity of real city life. Tucson simply isn't large enough to continue these attempts at ghettoization that have done little but create pockets of self-aggrandizing elitists who cater to people well above the income of anyone who might actually, say, live downtown.

Look: I regularly support live theater in Tucson (aka was one of my favorites), I frequently go to galleries and I play in a punk rock band that is damn grateful for downtown clubs like the Double Zero and Skrappy's, both of whom were given casual smears in the piece (as though the art they play host to is art that Tucson wants to do without). To find success, a lively downtown simply has to embrace the many genuine artistic endeavors of the city it resides in. Tucson's downtown planners need to figure out who actually lives here, rather than simply who they hope to entice into shopping here.

--Jason Willis

To the Editor,

You cite Portland, Ore., as the best example of a vital downtown, one Tucson might emulate (Newsreel, June 28). But your list of its virtues omits what I thought was the most important when I lived there: a commitment to public space.

Portland has several wonderful downtown parks. The best of these, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, was put in by removing a major road. Portland's public spaces were not built for ticket-buying tourists, but its citizens. So in Pioneer Courthouse Square you'll see families, protesters, musicians, homeless people, lovers, office workers, teenagers--the whole city. You'll find public art all over Portland, and a collection of wonderful fountains that are built so you can get in them to cool off.

Light rail may carry people downtown (though Portland also has a fine bus system, free buses downtown and many bike lanes as well), but in Portland what drew me downtown so many times were the free public spaces. Ronstadt Plaza is fine for buses, but Tucson has no place downtown for its citizens to freely gather.

--Steven Johnstone