Milquetoast 'Weekly' Was Duped by Big Spenders

I noticed the following headline in the June 15 edition of the Arizona Daily Star: "Pro-Road Side Had Huge Edge in Funding." This referred, of course, to the recent Regional Transportation Plan referendum, approved by area residents in May, and endorsed by the Tucson Weekly's editorial board as a progressive and populist solution to the region's traffic problems ("Drive Time," April 20). The Star article went on to observe that the pro-RTP organization (Yes! for Regional Transportation) raised more than $1.174 million to push the plan through, which amounted to $16.30 per "yes" vote. The rag-tag anti-RTP organization (Enough!) raised a total of $14,421, translating to 30 cents per "no" vote.

Even more telling was the list of the Top 10 contributors. This list was headed up by the Tucson Association of Realtors ($150,000), the New Car Dealers Association from Phoenix ($137,235.14) and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association ($100,000). Also high on the list were such forward-thinking and environmentally sensitive organizations as the Associated General Contractors of America, Jim Click Ford and Diamond Ventures (Don Diamond's sprawling real estate empire).

I was, frankly, astounded when I read the Weekly's editorial just before the referendum, where you urged your presumably alternative readership to support the circle-jerk machinations of these reactionary forces. Now, I realize that the Yes! organization employed a sophisticated "divide and conquer" strategy, whereby it threw a few mass-transit bones to Tucson residents who would have otherwise seen this plan for what it was: the same old recipe for an ever-widening ring of suburban sprawl cleverly repackaged as a solution to the automobile traffic that goes hand-in-hand with such sprawl. I would've hoped the Weekly might've actually done its homework before deciding that the handful of superficially appealing parts of the plan were even to be taken at face value. How many times do we have to suffer the old bait-and-switch before we realize that their reassurances about environmental and quality-of-life issues are nothing but the most self-serving spin?

Anyone who followed that money trail behind the Yes! organization could hardly be shocked by what will inevitably follow in the wake of the Regional Transportation Plan: the eventual merging of Tucson with that toxic, soulless cesspool known as greater Phoenix. In the meantime, we can thank the milquetoast Tucson Weekly for the 15 years or more of urban blight that now awaits Grant Road. Way to speak truth to power!

Richard Howard

Click and Diamond Support Whatever Lines Their Pockets

In your Editor's Note ("Learnin'," July 20), you say, "I have a feeling that if (Jim) Click and (Don) Diamond came out and endorsed an initiative that simultaneously saved all cuddly animals and eliminated pollution, these people would think it had to be a bad thing."

I, too, used to think that if Click and Diamond are supporting something, then it must be bad. However, I've modified my position somewhat, and it's a lot simpler: These guys support things that make money for them (which, in the case of Click and Diamond, is probably bad).

I'm sure that saving cuddly animals and eliminating pollution would not be their prime consideration and instead just details. Positive, worthy and useful details, but still just details.

Andy Peters

And Now, This Word From a HUGE Orlando Bloom Fan

I was reading your review on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ("Sunken Sequel," Cinema, July 13), and I am a little offended by your critique of Orlando Bloom. I understand that you are entitled to your opinion, but you took it a little too far. I am a HUGE Orlando fan, and you tore him apart, especially about him getting his "ass" recast. I am not saying Orlando is the best actor in the whole world, but you made him sound like a complete idiot, and he is not.

Ana Rodriguez

Why Give Aid to a Country With Gazillions?

In response to Seth J. Frantzman's Guest Commentary (July 6): Let's put politics aside. (I know this is difficult when talking about money, but humor me, OK?) According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Saudi Arabia contains 261.9 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. (The CIA puts it at 261.7 billion barrels, but let's not quibble.) At $75 per barrel, that is $19.6425 gazillion.

Since the United States is running up a record deficit, and since Saudi Arabia is amassing a surplus by selling us oil, why is there any debate at all about cutting funding to Saudi Arabia? How did this funding even start?

Richard Shapiro

Props to Napolitano for Appointing a Biologist

I applaud our governor's decision to appoint an actual scientist to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission ("The Shooting Party," Currents, July 13). In addition, I congratulate her on her willingness to lead this state away from the good ol' boy network which has continued to lead us down the road to ruin.

We need forward-thinking people. We need people with the guts to make decisions that defy others who want to be rich instead of prosperous. Our governor is such a person.

Jennifer Martin, the world needs more people like you. And Janet Napolitano ... drive on!

Stuart A. Smith

Welcome to Flag Law 101 With Alan B. Barley

In the July 20 issue of the Tucson Weekly, Tom Danehy wrote about Congress' continued attempts to re-establish penalties for "flag burning."

Actually, Congress has defined many acts besides "flag burning" as criminal desecration. Personally, I think one should be able to destroy the flag as an act of protest. But one should also be aware of what the laws were and currently are.

Public Law 829; Chapter 806, 77th Congress, Second session: "Exact rules for use and display of the flag." (36 U.S.C. 173-178). Passed in 1942, it is still the law of the land, but the federal government can no longer impose penalties invoked under this law.

Formerly, one could face criminal penalties if the flag was printed on disposable items such as napkins and shipping boxes. Or if any part of it was used in advertising. Or if it was displayed on an article of clothing (or automobile) other than for official purposes. All these provisions, as well as the prohibition against "flag burning," were ruled unconstitutional in 1989. Ever since then, some members of Congress have be working to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration, worded such that it won't affect advertisers, Republican bumper stickers, underwear makers, etc.

For more information, see Title 4--Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States--of the United States Code Chapter 1, as provided on the Internet by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University School of Law.

Interesting reading.

Alan B. Barley

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