Military Plane Crashes Can and Do Happen

I would like to respond to Charles Walker's "That's Not Airplane Noise; It's the Sound of Freedom" (Mailbag, Aug. 4).

I was very happy to read that Mr. Walker and the community he lived in never experienced a military jet crash. However, mechanical problems and pilot errors are inevitable. Each jet has a statistical accident rate. In the 2004 Joint Land Use Study, it was reported that while military jet accidents over populated areas are infrequent, they tend to be catastrophic.

Mr. Walker's community never experienced one of those catastrophes. However, Tucson has experienced many. In 1959, a female bicyclist was killed by falling debris from a passing jet. In 1967, an F-4D Phantom slammed into a supermarket at 29th Street and Alvernon Way, killing three women in the market and a teenage girl in her home. In 1978, a single-engine A-7 crashed at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Sixth Street, just missing the UA and Mansfeld Middle School, and incinerating two young students.

After the 1978 tragedy, a letter from the U.S. Air Force outlined a plan to minimize such tragedies. The mission was changed to A-10s (less-loud, safer, double-engine jets), and National Guard activity was transferred to Tucson International Airport.

The 1978 crash and the subsequent mission change are proof that a catastrophic crash can happen. It also demonstrated that the Air Force can make changes that support the community's need for quality of life and safety.

Jean de Jong

Thanks to Downing, This Reader No Longer Feels Alone

It is a terrible burden going through life feeling that you must hide part of who you are, dreading the ostracism that will be your fate should the world discover your shameful secret.

For years, I believed the propaganda that "everybody" felt something I did not. For years, I have believed I had to "go along to get along," knowing that I was not being true to myself.

But now, thanks to the recent column by Renee Downing (Aug. 18), I know that I am not alone. I can, at last, stand tall with head held high and say, "Hello, my name is Maria, and I don't love Lucy."

Maria Ryne

Pima's Proposed Changes Fit the College's Stated Mission

I applaud the well-written article by David Longoria (Guest Commentary, Aug. 11). Pima Community College's proposed sensible admission guidelines would not only create more successes; they are also aligned with a nationwide trend.

In 2010, the American Association of Community Colleges urged community colleges to make a "change in institutional culture, from emphasis on access only to emphasis on access and success," and "to increase the number of students who complete degrees, certificates and other credentials with value in the workplace."

These changes will better serve the interest of students' success, advance "the completion agenda" and benefit our community with a larger pool of educated people and a skilled workforce.

Accepting change is not easy, but one must courageously respond to the challenges while remembering the fact that community colleges are post-secondary institutions.

I urge the PCC Board of Governors to vote for the new admission standards. Their support will reflect responsiveness, responsibility, effective governance and accountability.

Edith Shaked, adjunct faculty, Pima Community College

Conservatives Are Killing a Homegrown Arizona Industry

Thanks to Tim Vanderpool for his reportage in "Moving Pictures" (Currents, Aug. 4).

Arizona can lay historic claim to film production as being one of its very own homegrown industries, an original economic driver that has fueled both tourism and commerce. There is no better free advertising for Arizona than that viewed in the average motion picture, filmed here and seen by the global movie-going public.

Many people know that Arizona has always provided an authentic backdrop for America's fascination with the Wild West. The landscape is a ready-made setting for a film industry that has grown up around it. The action and the people depicted in these films are found in our real history. This is our heritage, and moving pictures have immortalized it.

At this time, when Arizona has an especially great need for alternative sources of income and sales-tax revenue that new jobs can generate, why aren't our elected officials taking full advantage of the film industry as a resource that's already here?

Instead, Arizona got co-opted by a couple of characters, Reps. Kirk Adams and 'Crazy Jack' Harper, who killed the motion-picture tax-credits bill by not allowing it to be heard in Harper's Ways and Means Committee.

If killing the bill wasn't enough for Harper, he added insult to injury by posting a YouTube video denigrating the professionalism of the film industry in Arizona. Turns out, Harper has ties to the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the same group pushing for the Arizona flat tax and the ones who produced the video. Without any transparency or input from the general public, these two public servants conspired with a cabal of conservative elitists and successfully hijacked the film industry in Arizona!

Final scene: The hero has saved the town. He kisses the damsel, gets on his horse and rides out of town into the sunset ... but without the Motion Picture Production Tax Incentive Program, he won't be coming back.

Roy Zarow, business representative, Studio Mechanics Local 485 of Arizona

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