Rezoning Process Gives Neighbors a Say

"Paving Paradise," by Dave Devine (Currents, March 2), exemplifies what is terribly wrong with infill development in the city of Tucson. Adam Karon says he cares about the magnificent tree that was bulldozed for his office/retail development along the Rillito River Park, but he stifled neighborhood input by going behind closed doors to get the zoning administrator to rule that his development did not need a rezoning. Only during a rezoning do neighbors have input regarding development.

Throughout the city, neighbors are viewed as impediments instead of stakeholders whose property values and quality of life are impacted by the project next door or down the street. In this case, input from neighbors would have helped to create a commercial center that benefited the neighborhood as well as the developer.

As long as the city has policies in place that exclude residents from the infill-development process, we will continue to see neighbors, such as Leslie Meigs, flee their neighborhoods. Only with an open and honest dialogue between a builder and the neighborhood will we ever create quality development that adds to our community fabric instead of tearing at it.

Bonnie Poulos

In Defense of the Arizona Training Program in Tucson

Regarding "Autistic in Tucson" (March 2):

I was very upset about a paragraph that was less than complimentary regarding the Arizona Training Program-Tucson in the 1970s, which was lumped together with the other state institutions in the statement: "When (Ron) Barber started working for what was then the Bureau of Mental Retardation in 1974--the division serves people with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism--the only services were provided in three shockingly overcrowded, understaffed state institutions."

I was residential services program administrator in the mid- to late-'70s, and I would like you to know that ATPT was an excellent treatment facility at the time. Totally different from ATP-Coolidge, ATP-Tucson was set up under the normalization model and was anything but overcrowded and understaffed. Treatment was offered in a normalized, home-like environment with staff ratios varying upon each individual client's level of functioning from 1:5 to 1:2. The goal for all residents was to teach them skills they needed to function well in a less-restrictive community setting, and move them from ATPT. Treatment was humane, client-centered and effective. The program was a model for the nation.

This part of your article is a glaring disservice to all the wonderful staff who worked with me during those years. More than a few continued to be leaders in the field both here in Arizona and in other states.

It also should be made clear that ATPT was founded and created by a partnership of parents and forward-thinking professionals who wanted to blaze new trails in the treatment of those with disabilities. Tucson should be proud that such a program existed here.

John Zimmerman

Mentioning Alleged Vaccine-Autism Connection Is Dangerous

It's sad to see that the left now has an issue equivalent to the right's intelligent design--the phony vaccine-autism "connection."

Irresponsible alarmism like "The Mercury Thing" (March 2) can only exacerbate a growing problem. Sinking beneath even the journalistic standards of the corporate media, where "balance" means presenting two ideas as equal, simply because they are opposite, the piece instead relies almost entirely on the opinion of one professor and dismisses the consensus opinion of the medical community with one sentence. Not a single peer-reviewed study using valid methodology has found any evidence for a link between vaccinations and autism.

As easy as it is to point at the pharmaceutical companies (who have plenty to answer for on other accounts) and shout "conspiracy," the science simply doesn't back this claim up. Instead, the theory is being shamelessly promoted by trial lawyers eager to dig into the government's vaccine-injury-compensation money, in a strange union with "rural compound" conservatives who oppose vaccinations as government intrusion. The resulting paranoia surrounding vaccines may well lead other parents to keep their children from getting vaccinated (despite the fact that only the flu shot currently contains thimerosal), which could lead to the (further) re-emergence of diseases which have largely been eliminated in the industrialized world.

Antivaccination zealots will have to answer when more children die from unnecessary exposure to this and other fatal diseases.

Jim Cain

Yet Another Perspective on Chaffin's

About two months ago, I got a call back about the job application that I had submitted to Chaffin's Family Restaurant ("One Day at Chaffin's," Feb. 23). On my first day, the first thing said to me by another waitress was how horrible the place was--which was soon followed by her walking out and leaving my trainer, another waitress and me as the only servers on a busy morning.

At one point, one of my many tables was ready to pay. The customer gave me $20 for an $18 bill. Knowing I was not allowed to use the cash register, I turned to the one waitress who could. Caught up in the morning rush, she forgot to give me the change, and I forgot to ask her for it. A few minutes later, my eye caught the customer; after asking him if he'd gotten his change, I went to the waitress who had his money. She said it was next to the cash register.

I went to the register and found that to the side and below, there were compartments with all of the servers' names on them. I had never seen these, nor had they been mentioned to me. I quickly found my name and saw that the compartment held tickets and money. I assumed this must be what she was talking about, considering all my tickets and tips were in there. I looked for the gentleman's ticket; as I was doing this, I heard the loud, angry voice of Mr. Chaffin yelling, "What do you think you're doing?" I said I was getting this gentleman's change. Mr. Chaffin yelled, "You are not allowed in there! Put that down!" I thought he must think I was in someone else's box, so I said to him, "Oh, don't worry; I got the one with my name." He said, "You're not listening! I can't have you here! How dare you!" I told him I was sorry and that no one had told me not to go into my compartment. He then went totally off, ranting and yelling in front of all the customers: "I don't want you here! You are not wanted here! I think you are stupid, and I think you are ugly!"

I walked away on the verge of tears. Mr. Chaffin followed me into the back as I put my apron away and prepared to get out of there. He said to the dishwasher, "Watch her; I don't want her stealing." I walked out the front door and left.

By the way, I am a 20-year-old African-American woman.

K. Peoples

We'll Get Right on It After We Can Open a Washington Bureau!

Recently, a writer criticized Hightower's column as being the same, tired Bush-bashing ("Question: How Much Did This Letter Add to Our Publication?" Feb. 16). I think Hightower is too lenient on the Bush administration. I suggest the Weekly devote a major column covering the destructive and Orwellian activities of the Bush administration. A little sunlight on those bootlicks Kyl and McCain won't hurt, either.

Robert P. Bishop

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