Big-Box Stores Cause Terrorism?

To the Editor,

Again we read an article ("More Than 1 in 4," Jan. 23) about the ever-rising cost of living and low wages in our town. Unfortunately, many cities are facing the same problem. This sad situation will only become worse if we keep thinking in the same terms.

We have all contributed to this poverty by wanting cheap products and supporting the Wal-Marts, Home Depots, Lowe's, etc., which have destroyed the small business. This depletes our tax base for services. These companies use cheap labor around the world, angering many and helping create future terrorists.

I suggest two innovative solutions. Our city should demand that Wal-Marts, Walgreens, Home Depots, etc. pay a minimum of $9-$10 per hour. Second, institutionalize a real estate tax, with the funds going toward the purchase of homes around town to be resold at a price range of $50,000-$60,000, to individuals or small families who have no more than one or two children. The homes could not be resold at a higher price except for home improvements.

My social approach deals with poverty, plus attacks the demand for housing, which increases prices even further. Instead of a portion of Social Security being used to buy foolish stocks, as is desired by the Republicans, use a portion to provide low-interest home mortgages for the downtrodden, which would strengthen Social Security by helping the middle class and those in need of a home.

This new idea would still allow those who can still afford a home to purchase as usual, but the tax on real estate transactions will help contribute to the American Dream that all Americans desire.

--William Zaffer

Intestines Have Fangs and a Tail?!?

To the Editor,

It's a rattlesnake? We thought that bridge was a large intestine! Well, what do you know? And it's supposed to be art? Well there's no telling what the city will buy and call it art. Did you know it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money? This bridge goes nowhere and comes from nowhere, cost taxpayers lots of money and represents a snake. Did the artist have the city government in mind when he designed it? Or was it the local real estate developers that the artist used as his muse?

The city built this bridge to make Tucson look interesting. Enticed by real estate developers, the city likes to build these image projects. It helps developers to sell land here in Tucson. But like the trolley on Fourth Avenue, we have never seen anyone on that bridge. Like that tiled mural on the underpass just beyond this bridge that depicts people on Tucson streets from the 1940s, the bridge represents a distant past when downtown was active and rattlesnakes still existed in a pristine local desert.

Your article ("Simon Donovan," Feb. 6) also featured a portrait of Mr. Donovan, the bridge designer, that he did of himself as Vincent Van Gogh! Poor Vincent. Somehow, I just can't imagine Vincent Van Gogh designing a large intestine--oh excuse me, a diamondback rattlesnake--with taxpayer money and placing it over a roadway. Rather than attempting a post-impressionist portrait of Van Gogh, Mr. Donovan should have painted himself dadaist style, as a corporate executive or a local real estate developer. It would better capture the absurdity and swindling that took place at the expense of tax money.

I know that this bridge is supposed to connect with a bike path in a few years. However, the working poor in this city need social services. Health care and education needs funding now! Not in a few years, but now. Hundreds of people try to impress this on the city year after year. However, the city ignores the idea of direct funding of social services in favor of image enhancing schemes like this bridge.

To be sure, art funding has a place in a civilized society. But this predatory economy has put many out of work. To say this bridge has universal approval is yet another example of hyperbole when trying to justify elitist waste in government.

--Jim Kennedy

Credit Engineers, Contractors Before the Artist

To the Editor,

I work at a local structural engineering firm as a draftsman, and I have worked on bridges and buildings under the engineers, artists and architects that create the structures that we take for granted every day.

Regarding the Diamondback Bridge ("Simon Donovan," Feb. 6), no credit is given to those who did all the work to make the artist's conception a reality. I would have hoped the artist would at least give some credit to the hard work of the engineers and contractors to create the artist's dream. Instead, we get a one-sided story about how artist was a genius, trying to get the "foreman" to see his great vision, and how the contractor did not want to do the work. The fact is, the artist had to do very little. Once the concept and materials were agreed on, the artist basically only had to show up to meetings and assist color selection. The artist did not have to design a bridge span, footings, lighting or alignment. The artist did not have to control traffic during construction. The artist did not have to pour concrete, weld or paint.

In this case, the artist's work is minimal, but important. The engineer and the contractor had to solve many difficult design and construction decisions.

The artist should also take some blame for the bridge being nailed twice by trucks, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and major delays in construction. The cast for the belly of the snake required formwork over the roadway, exposing workers and drivers to increased danger. It may interest you to ask the city about the budget for this project, and what the final cost was.

I like the Diamondback Bridge, and appreciate and respect the artist for a bold design concept. Please give credit to those that actually worked to make it come true.

I enjoy your newspaper, and the diversity of writing. Keep up the great work.

--Randy Wintz

And Now, a Bagel Break

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's Jan. 9 column ("Coffee Klatch"): I'm from New York and have tasted every bagel ever made in Tucson. A copy doesn't exist. I found that plain Lenders Bagels in the grocery store frozen food case are as good as it gets here. Cut one in half, toast it and put lots of butter on it and have a cup of coffee--a New York City continental breakfast.

--Richard Collins

Your Waite Story Was a Disservice

To the Editor,

I was appalled by Chris Limberis' coverage ("Waite's Wait, Feb. 6) of Rex Waite, currently serving time for kidnapping and assault. Certainly, it is an important story, not only for the fact that it raises important separation of powers issues between Arizona's executive and judicial branches, but also that it exposes the fact that in Arizona, a mandatory minimum three-year sentence for kidnapping and assault can be considered "excessive."

If the intended focus of the article was the politics of the situation, Limberis should have stuck with that and left out Waite's personal history. Any savvy editor should have seen the irrelevance of Waite's history of public service to his convictions. Their inclusion only serves to lessen the significance of the violence he committed against this woman.

It was also unacceptable and poor journalism for Limberis to repeatedly refer to Rex Waite with the respect of a surname, while using first name familiarity when referring to the woman he abused. (He does introduce her with a surname, but then fails to use it.) It would have been preferable not to name her at all.

The truth is that the things Waite did are not justifiable or forgivable, nor do they incur my pity, and no matter how many excuses Limberis makes on his behalf, Waite is still guilty of his crimes. We all make choices in our lives when faced with challenging circumstances, and we also accept that those choices have consequences.

Limberis did a disservice to readers in writing this article. He places the political and personal history of one abuser's life over the humanity and dignity of the woman he hurt.

--f.g. elias walsh


Last week's story on spending by Mayor Bob Walkup ("The Bucks Go Here") did not provide the experience necessary for a Tucson police officer to earn $40,000 a year. It is three years' experience. We apologize for the omission.
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