January 5 - January 11, 1995


Call For


To the Editor,

In response to your cartoon regarding my cellular phone, I would like to offer some essential information. Ever since I have received phone bills for my cellular phone, years before anyone wrote a story about it, I have itemized my personal calls and sent a check to the city for each bill. Moreover, I generally added $15 extra to each check for good measure.

It has also been our office practice that if one of my staff needed to make a long distance call they could do so, provided that when the bill arrived they wrote a check to cover it. My staff has always honored this. Barbara Jordan, my secretary, had to call the east coast a number of times when the 91-year-old woman who raised her became very ill. Barbara always wrote a check when the bills came in. I believe my choice in this matter has been honest, fair and practical.

In the latter part of 1993, there were several months of phone bills that had not yet been paid because my office hadn't received the bills. During this period, my office made three inquiries about the phone bills. As it turns out, the bills never made it to my office because the Communication Department sent them downtown instead.

Because people generally seem to feel that government is unresponsive and distant, I have taken it upon myself to personally return as many calls from people as possible. While driving from one meeting to another, I use the time to return many calls before they back up.

In addition, in 1993 a private firm attempted to sneak a new prison into my ward. I was out of town when this occurred, and many people called my office fearful, requesting information and wanting to know how they could help in our effort to stop the prison. I was on vacation. I have good people in my office and I could have let my staff handle it until I got back. In spite of this, I personally called everyone who contacted my office from where I was. I paid all the long distance calls, totaling $581, myself. I believe it made a big difference to my constituents. I have never thought I should ask the city to reimburse me for those calls. It was my choice.

The Weekly, which very often takes to task other local media for distorted information and bad reporting, ironically has taken as its source in this case the same skewed information reported by those it criticizes. The view you have offered in the blurb is one of an elected official who is careless or inattentive to how his telephone charges accrue. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that's become more apparent now. It's not skewed or exaggerated information, or isolated cases that give us insight. Patterns give us insight. What's the pattern?

1. I have a history of itemizing my calls and then writing a check for them.

2. I have generally paid extra for each bill.

3. I have even paid long distance calls that were city business myself.

4. When the transmission and then the motor went out in my car with 108,000 miles on it, I had staff install rebuilt units for $2,500 rather than let them buy me a new car for $21,000, as they suggested.

5. For three years my office was open at night to accommodate people who could not leave work during the day to express their concerns. I'm sure this made the office electric bill higher. I was trying to be responsive to the needs of my constituents.

6. My council office budget is the lowest in the city. In fact, I have reduced it 25 percent since I've been in office.

I believe the information I have given here will provide some perspective. At least if people want more information, they know that if they call my office I'll call them back.

--Steve Leal

City Councilman, Ward 5

Saying Goodbye

To the Editor,

I would like to join with Jeff Smith in mourning the passing of Johnny Dudek ("Requiem For a Heavyweight," Tucson Weekly, December 15). To those of our generation, he was a real Tucson tradition. His memory brings back the town we grew up in where we could go on summer vacations without locking our doors, and young hooligans yelled "dirty copper" rather than pulling a gun and shooting someone who happens to look at them the wrong way.

Our little town has indeed changed, and in many ways not for the better. We will miss Johnny Dudek. I wish TPD had a whole squad of men like him today.

Those of us who attended Amphi High when Johnny Dudek patrolled that area on his motorcycle had another nickname for him. We called him "Paladin" after the popular TV character of the time.

--William C. Thornton

Sounding Off

To the Editor,

I really like the Tucson Weekly for the most part--I find Jeff Smith to be particularly amusing--but, when it comes to Michael Metzger, the truth is I find more interesting reading on the back of my toilet paper package. It's full of informative nuggets like "Scottissue with 1000 sheets lasts longer so you don't run out as often" and testimonials from Mrs. R.Q. of New Jersey. I hate Metzger's column, but masochist that I am, I read it every week anyway.

It pisses me off that he consistently ignores some of Tucson's best rock and roll cover bands, or worse, in Metzger's own words, he's "shot a few wicked wads at hard rock cover bands in the past." What I'd like to know is just what does Metzger have against rock and roll? Furthermore, what's wrong with a band choosing to play cover tunes to earn a living? Reality check! There's a lot of people out here who happen to enjoy going out to the clubs to hear a live band play their favorite rock tunes!

Allow me to fill Metzger in on a few home truths. It's damn near impossible for a rock band that plays only originals to consistently find work in Tucson clubs. First off, there aren't that many places around town for rock bands to play anymore. Secondly, Tucsonans just don't seem to come out in droves to listen to "all originals" rock bands. Sad, but true. So the sensible compromise is to play mostly covers with an original thrown in here and there, which is what most bands I'm familiar with tend to do.

I'm glad Metzger finally reviewed hard rock band Four Play. Well, he sort of reviewed them. Did he like the band? You failed to mention one work about the quality of the performance. Did they suck? Were they great? I've heard Four Play on many occasions over the past few years and always enjoyed it. Butch Henry is one of the most versatile vocalists around and his guitar work is nothing to sneeze at, either. The band in its various incarnations over the years has always had a clean, tight sound and they have good, strong harmony--a rare enough commodity on the local scene these days. But Four Play isn't the only good rock band in Tucson--there's a few others as well. Unfortunately, Metzger hasn't discovered them yet. (Perhaps his doctor doesn't let him out often due to his medical condition).

Metzger makes it sound like "'70s retro-rock" (whatever the hell that is--did he make that up all by himself?) is the only thing you'll hear at Rock Island Café--which couldn't be farther from the truth. Rock Island books a wide variety of rock and roll acts, from the '70s to '90s. One wonders how Metzger ended up at Rock Island anyway. From his column one gets the impression Club Congress is more his speed. (Ugh!)

There's a lot of us out here who would appreciate more coverage, not to mention details, of the mainstream rock scene. Better yet, why not replace Metzger with someone else?

By the way, Metzger, was that a frontal lobotomy?

--Becky Gould

Bombs Away

To the Editor,

I have been out of town the past few years during the Fourth of July holiday. Last night, I learned that this has created a big gap in my knowledge of local traditions. It's hard to admit, but until last night, I had no knowledge of the annual "Shelling of the Bighorn Festival" at the Sheraton El Conquistador.

This is quite a spectacular event and certainly no small task. It is not nearly as easy to shell Bighorn Sheep these days with so few of them left. We have, however, made it somewhat easier for the shellers by advertising the Bighorns presence on the Oro Valley Town Seal. If you're new to town, the white thing on the Town Seal, that looks like a snail, is a rams horn.

The evening left me pondering:

1) Is this what is called a "Safe & Sane Fourth of July"?

2) Does the El Conquistador serve Rack of Lamb in the White Dove?

3) What's in their burritos?

--Ben Baker


To the Editor,

This letter is an addendum to the wonderful letter written by the Brewster Center in response to the article "Black and Blue and Still Being Bullied" (Tucson Weekly, November 17). First, I must say the article may have done some good by raising the question of problems in the shelters. With the minimal funding these essential shelters receive, it is truly a wonder that they accomplish what they do.

My concern, however, is for the women currently living in abusive situations. My fear is that this article changed even one woman's mind about seeking help in the shelter. If even one woman turned around and went back, it served no good purpose. While I recognize some of the situations, it sounded to me like someone with an ax to grind, not someone wanting to help.

Three years ago this coming March, I was a resident at the Brewster Shelter. My abuser was, and probably still is, a crack junkie. The first time he hit me, it took 22 stitches to close the gash above my eye. Needless to say, when I came to Brewster, I was terrified, unsure of my next move and virtually immobile. In addition, I had foot surgery three days before and couldn't walk very well. This leads to my next statement: I was treated with extreme kindness and consideration by the staff, counselors, and other women at Brewster. Everyone went out of their way to make it easier for me physically. So much more than that, they understood how I felt emotionally. I was given a day to myself to rest (we usually haven't slept in months), to cry and think. Someone came to check on me periodically but didn't push themselves on me. It was made very clear to me that someone was available to talk to 24 hours a day, and someone has.

I was never "forced" to do anything. I was encouraged. Unlike the women in the article, it never crossed my mind to resent this help. I needed some gentle persuasion to get moving and try to start a new life. Brewster helped expedite processing of food stamps, they counseled me (We had some enlightening group sessions while I was there--I still remember some things I learned) and the social worker started helping me find a place to live.

Yes, communal living can be difficult. I was very much a loner even before I married my abuser. It wasn't easy to live with so many women and children--all of whom are in some degree of distress. However, I think I can speak for the majority of women I knew and who have been there before and since, communal living is 100,000 percent better than being beaten. When I was at Brewster, the house meetings definitely weren't "the big deal" the article presented. Again, with communal living, the meetings are a necessity for keeping some order. If someone's child was ill or too distressed, the mother was excused. Chores were divided. Those who had time conflicts with preparing dinner chose another chore. There was never a problem with who did what. We were all entirely too happy being safe to worry about those petty things.

The article also mentioned Norma McKenzie of Tucson Centers for Women and Children. I met McKenzie when she came in to my office a few weeks before the first time I left my abuser. I was initially unaware of where she worked, but I saw her look when she saw my black eye. I gave her my excuse about running into a door and she never contradicted me. She treated me with the utmost compassion and respect and she shared her story with me. She told me she was glad I wasn't abused but if I ever found myself in that position there was help. I held on to her words and they gave me courage and helped me to finally leave for good. I never saw her again and I never thanked her--maybe she will see this and remember the sad women she met. There are many Norma McKenzies in the shelters of Tucson. I never saw anyone who didn't treat me with respect.

"Black and Blue..." made some interesting points. Jane Gainey runs a phone counseling service for abused women. That sounds really commendable. However, if you talk to battered women, most of us weren't allowed anywhere near a phone. If we did make calls and God forbid, our abuser came home, there was never a good enough explanation about who we talked to. As for the shelters, yes, better daycare is needed. Yes better facilities are needed. Yes, a longer stay would help. Those ideas are wonderful, but where does the funding come from? The author wants all these things but offer no way to get them. The shelters do the best they can with what they have. If the government, charities, and the public don't fund these agencies, wouldn't a better tact be to start lobbying for funding instead of trashing these facilities and the staff?

I want to offer a few suggestions to people who are concerned about battered women and their children. You can, individually, do something to help. If you write letters, write to everyone you can think of and express your concern about funding for battered women's shelters. The governor says he's concerned about battered women but he hasn't backed it up--talk's cheap. Consider some of the following ideas also: clean out your closets and give usable clothing to one of the shelters (women and children frequently come in with only the clothes on their backs). As your children outgrow toys, donate them to the shelter. When your bath towels are worn, donate them. If you go to Willcox and pick some apples, pick an extra bunch for the shelter. Or better yet, become a volunteer. When I was in Brewster, someone contributed 15 pounds of scallops. How about 10 pounds of hamburger or a couple of chickens? There are little things each one of us can do that will mean so much to the women and children who seek help in the shelters.

There is one more thing we can all do to help this terrible problem: Don't be an idle bystander. If you hear domestic violence occurring, call the police. If you're wrong, no harm is done and no one except the police knows you called. If you're right, and a month later it happens again, call again. Don't judge, just call. It's better to make that call to report the sounds of violence than to make a call to report sound of silence.

--Deb Nixon

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January 5 - January 11, 1995

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