Claim: O'Conor's Proclamation Proves He Didn't Establish Tucson

In Margaret Regan's superb article about the late Father Kieran McCarty ("The Good Father," March 12), there was a copy of the original proclamation by Hugo O'Conor establishing the presidio. According to McCarty's translation, O'Conor stated that he selected and marked out (the future presidio) "at a place known as San Agustín del Tucson." I think that should settle the debate over whether O'Conor founded Tucson or not.

Clearly, that presidio founder had no such pretensions and knew that Tucson was already there when he arrived. So much for Tucson's terribly misnamed "birthday party" each August. This was also the firm belief of the late Charlie Polzer, another old family friend. Let the truth prevail, please.

Jerry Juliani

Claim: Illegals Are a Bigger Problem Than Buffelgrass, No Matter What the Scientists Say!

In "State of the Desert" (March 5), (environmental historian) Julio Betancourt states, " The biggest thing that's happening in the American deserts is these invasions by exotic grasses ... ."

Where has Betancourt been for the last 30 years? There is an enormous devastation in the desert now--and it is caused by humans. Betancourt mentions the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Thousands of illegal aliens and drug-smugglers enter each night through the Arizona/Mexico desert. These illegals cut down cacti and throw them on the roads to impede the Border Patrol's path.

Tons of garbage mixed with human waste litters the desert where illegals camp to wait for their smugglers. Illegals are destroying plant and animal life with the thousands of feet they trample each night through our U.S./Mexico border. And Betancourt worries about foreign grass? Give me a break!

Haydee Pavia

Claim: PETA Wants to Keep Up Global Warming

Regarding Tom Danehy's column, "PETA Claims That Good Christians Should Be Vegetarians Lack Biblical Backing" (March 5): I am not surprised that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would make such outrageous claims. They have equated killing chickens for food with the Jewish holocaust. (They were forced to apologize for that outrage.) PETA has said that people shouldn't eat fish, because fish are more intelligent than dogs--really!

They are offering $1 million to the first person who develops a method to manufacture frankenmeat in a chemical plant as a replacement for real meat. Most of the energy in real meat comes from the plants the animals eat, which in turn get their energy from the sun. The energy required to produce the frankenmeat would come from the usual nonrenewable energy sources. Evidently, PETA, like George W. Bush, doesn't see a need to reduce energy use and fight global warming.

Alfred Levinson

Claim: Jesus Endorses Vegetarianism by Never Appearing on Meat Products

Tom Danehy may scorn Father John Dear's linking of vegetarianism and Christianity, but by doing so, he ignores a wealth of extra-biblical evidence: Think of the many times the image of Jesus has appeared on taco shells and potatoes. Whatever spiritual message is intended by these manifestations, a tacit endorsement of the food product is certainly present.

So far, there have been no holy images staring up from a Big Mac.

Some writers, often subsidized by "Big Meat," point to the turn-of-the-century exclamation, "Sweet Jesus on a ham sandwich!" as proof of divine favor of a carnivorous diet. A doubtful proposition. Most scholars believe the sheer unlikelihood of the scenario gives the expression its great comic force. No endorsement of meat was intended.

Garth Gould

Former Hermitage Volunteer: Deceptive Board Members Need to Resign

The deeper Tim Vanderpool digs ("Gimme Shelter," Currents, March 5), the more information he turns up about deplorable events at the Hermitage Cat Shelter.

The board of directors has steadfastly refused to communicate with anyone. Their meetings have been held in secret, and they decided to abandon the original mission of the Hermitage without informing donors, staff members or volunteers. The Hermitage is financed by public donations, and it is unethical for the board to make such a radical change without notifying its supporters.

As a volunteer, I became more and more alarmed by what was going on within the shelter, and in June 2008, I wrote several letters to the board requesting information. The only response I received was an accusatory group e-mail that the board sent to staff and volunteers saying, among other things, that "insubordinate ... behavior will not be tolerated" and threatening "appropriate legal action if warranted."

As a donor, I felt that money was being used fraudulently. Even as scores of unadoptable special-needs cats were being euthanized, the Hermitage continued to take in donations under the guise of a no-kill shelter. They also continued to take money every month from some of the sponsors whose cats had been killed.

The reputation of the Hermitage as one of the best no-kill animal shelters in the country has been destroyed. Supporters have been alienated, and donations have dwindled. The Hermitage is on a downward spiral, and it is time for the directors to make changes or resign.

Valerie Conforti


Due to an editing error, a quote in "The Real Thing" (Yum! March 19) was incorrectly attributed. Mindy Bernstein, not Debbie Tingley, said: "People have fewer symptoms. It improves their quality of life. There's a cost savings to the community."

We apologize for the mistake.

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