Wake Up, Downing: Illegals ARE Taking Jobs

The middle-class condescension oozes from Renée Downing's April 21 column on immigrant labor.

According to Downing, Americans won't work in icky places like slaughterhouses. We're all supposed to go to college, get white-collar jobs and live in suburbs.

'Tain't so, Renée. In 1980, the work force in the meat-packing industry consisted almost entirely of U.S. citizens. Even today, it's estimated that one-quarter to half of the line workers are illegal aliens--which means that half to three-quarters are Americans, the people who Downing believes disdain such nasty hard work.

So why does the packing industry "need" Central American workers? Well, in 1980, a meat packer's pay was above the average manufacturing wage. Today, it's heading down toward the minimum. This allows executives at Tyson Foods to cut labor costs, give themselves lavish bonuses and contribute the legal maximum to politicians like George W. Bush--who's eagerly promoting a guest-worker plan. Alien workers are also much less likely to blow the whistle on health and safety violations in the plants, which is rough on consumers and workers, but great for the company's bottom line.

If we could deport every illegal immigrant in the United States tomorrow and seal the border against them, meat would still be packed. Motel rooms would still be cleaned; roofs would still be repaired; and tomatoes would still be picked. The work would be done by Americans; and without the downward pressure on wages from illegal entrants, they'd receive much better pay for doing it.

William Flack

Current Residents Hosed by the Tax Shuffle

So it looks like Chris Limberis and Jim Nintzel (The Skinny, 14 April), prudes that they are, take offense at Pima County's own risqué dance craze, the Tax Shuffle.

First Tucson pays for the library, then the county pays for the libraries, and Tucsonans pay for something else, like the City Council baking their money into pies or spending it enriching well-connected developers owning land for Rio Nuevo garages. It's the way things are always done here. We in the city also have a wonderfully sensible garbage fee, where everyone pays the same--it's only fair, right?--and, sensibly, your water gets shut off if you don't pay it.

Current residents are paying for road widening out to wildcat developments, subsidizing other people's traffic and smog, and nobody's paying a market rate for water from our common aquifer. It's free, so maybe I'll water my driveway until it grows!

Increases are almost invariably objectionable, but nobody notices them when all this shuffling is going on--how can you call a "garbage fee" a new tax? Nobody pays for anything they use in Pima County, anyway. Pretty soon, the supes will have us paying each others' grocery tabs. We all know what the SAHBA folks are eating; if Sharon Bronson and company are paying for mine, I'll have sushi-grade tuna steak.

Ben Kalafut

A Reader Review of 'The Cannibal'

Just a short note to let you know how nicely the high school play Cannibal: The Musical turned out ("Second Chance," City Week, April 14).

I first got interested in the local version of this after reading the various news reports, and, having enjoyed the film version immensely (and also being opposed to censorship), I decided to attend. I went to the Saturday 10 p.m. show, and I was extremely impressed.

The performance was on a par with a Gaslight Theatre performance, and I mean that as a compliment. I frankly admit I was expecting what one normally would with a high school play, but this was far superior!

The entire cast did a lively job. Alex Saminiego as Alfred Packer and Caitlin Singer as Polly Pry stood out, as did Nino Colaleo, who played four different parts, and Jessica Singer, who played three different roles, including an understandably suspicious little lamb. (You'd have to see the film version for an explanation of that!) It is unfortunate that the play didn't run for a few more days, as certainly word would have begun to spread.

It's too bad that there was local new coverage of the censorship end of the play, but no coverage of how everything turned out.

William May

An Easier, More Reliable Way to Fight Credit Card Offers

Martha Retallick's letter in the April 14 issue regarding how to fight credit card offers ("An Idea on How to Fight Credit Card Offers"), while interesting and novel, can be time-consuming and is no guarantee the offers will stop. Most of those offers are "pre-approved," meaning they get information on your creditworthiness before sending the offers.

A single automated phone line takes care of all major credit bureaus, where those companies get the information on you. If you tell the credit bureaus you're not interested, they will block companies from using your credit file information, cutting out a lot of the offers. Pick up the telephone; dial (888) 567-8688; answer a few questions on the automated system, and choose whether to opt out for five years or forever. Or, do it online at Less fuss, no muss.

If you want to stop other kinds of unsolicited mail as well, there is an online form at that you can print and mail in. It takes several months for the mail to stop, and the registration lasts for five years. The Direct Marketing Association promises to use the information only to remove you from the lists.

Good luck.

Walt Callahan

A Picasso Fan Says DiGiovanna Doesn't Have Heart

What's up with James DiGiovanna? I don't know this for a fact, but I'm guessing he must be the most-read local feature for the "Tucson Weakly." Too often, I feel his popularity is un-earned. The April 14 issue was a perfect example.

He chose to review a serious film ("Humanizing Horror"). He buckled down and wrote a superb review of a film of some importance--no typical flippant remarks about Hitler being almost as evil as G.W. Bush--he got right down to it and nailed that baby. I don't expect to read better a review of this film. That's all to the good.

On the other hand, he did his typical James D. thing in his longer piece on the local indie film festival ("All Hail Indie!"). He managed to alienate me on the very first page with this hopelessly juvenile, terrible remark: "... Meaning of Life is like the movie Picasso would have made, if Picasso had actual talent." Anything for a cheap hook--somehow, I think that says it all. Either James D. managed to sleep through Art 101, or when it comes to art, the boy doesn't know shit from shinola. For all you young pups at the Weekly: As far as great art goes, Picasso has no rival, if for no other reason that in 1937, he painted "Guernica" (the bombing of a Spanish village). When waiting out World War II in France, a young German officer paid him a visit and asked him how he could have painted such an obscenity, to which Pablo replied, "I didn't paint it. You did." Brave words for that time and that place, far braver than anything James will ever have to say.

So what am I saying here? Just this: It takes more than talent alone to really be "good" at something. James (sometimes) has that in spades, but to really be "great" at something, you also have to have heart. That's why James D. will forever be small-time, I'm afraid.

Larry Windham


Due to a production department error, the picture accompanying "Stepping Out!" (Performing Arts, May 5) was captioned incorrectly. It was in image from ZUZI! Dance Company, not O-T-O.
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