January 12 - January 18, 1995



And Bruisers

To the Editor,

Regarding "Black And Blue And Still Being Bullied" (Tucson Weekly, November 17): Basically your story reported purported problems at Tucson Center for Women and Children but labeled Brewster Center as a similarly problem-loaded agency seemingly as an afterthought, with very little supportive detail. Brewster, as I know it, is constantly looking inward to see that the kinds of problems you suggest do not exist in its shelters.

Also, let's face the fact that spousal violence is the root of the problem. The perpetrators force these women and children out of their homes. Any shelter is a poor substitute for those homes if violence were not present there. Shelters, although never perfect, do offer respite from the ever-threatening battlefields these women face in their homes and the proven resultant damage to their children.

I am sure your story will cause Brewster to look even more deeply to insure it corrects any hint of victimization your reporter thought she had found there.

--Jane Doherty

Premium Thoughts

To the Editor,

It seems that good ol' Jeff Smith is at it again. A portion of his piece "More B.S. From Mr. Bill" (Tucson Weekly, December 22) trashed the entire insurance industry while failing to offer any proposal for a constructive alternative.

I wish Jeff would tell us how much he has received in insurance benefits over his lifetime in comparison to premiums he has paid. My guess is that this big evil business, which exists solely to reap huge profits at the expense of the little guy, has actually been pretty good to him.

On one point at least Jeff is correct. Health care does indeed cost more because of insurance. This, however, is not because of some nefarious scheme cooked up by insurers and health care providers. It is because of simple human nature. When you don't pay for something directly, you probably don't look very closely at the cost. Providers of services will inevitably take advantage of the situation. Again, simple human nature at work.

So Jeff, please suggest a solution. If we abandon the insurance system which spreads risk and reduces uncertainty, how will the average person be able to rebuild a house that burns down, or pay for $1,000 per day hospital care? (Actually I'm pretty sure I know what Jeff's proposed solution would be, but maybe he'll surprise us and come up with something intelligent). Surely someone who can so thoroughly trash as idea must have a better one. Come on, let's hear it.

--William C. Thornton

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 ram's 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

Growth Groans

To the Editor,

Reading the latest news about land development in Tucson makes one ask the question, "Where is the Monkey Wrench Gang when you need it?" Jim Wright's "Rocking K Rip-Off?" (Tucson Weekly, December 22) dealt with yet another proposal to legitimize the partnership between local government and land developers, and it brought to mind the question of why we need the Rocking K development in the first place.

As a resident of the Rincon Valley, I'm saddened by a prevailing attitude that, like the horror of Rita Ranch, the Rocking K project is inevitable. The beauty of living in the Rincon Valley lies in its peaceful, rural environment. It's a place where people can become friends and neighbors who care about one another's welfare, where they share a gratifying sense of community and pride in the place they have chosen to live. But if further development takes place, the only thing that will be inevitable is that this tranquillity and reason for living in the Rincon Valley will be gone.

Anyone who has spent time in the Rincon Valley cannot help but be struck by its uniqueness, its natural beauty, its diversity and by the way in which it has been threatened recently by the spread of land development and building. It is astounding there is not universal condemnation of those who are willing to parcel up and forever destroy this treasure for the sake of golf courses, resorts, and "Town Centers." This is especially true in the case of we residents of the Rincon Valley. We should be the caretakers of this land we have the privilege of sharing, and defenders of a lifestyle that is being challenged. No justification like "huge profits," no establishment of developer backed institutes to study environmental impact, no expansion of recreational possibilities, no rationalizations in the form of benefits to the populace are worth the sacrifice of this land which we are allowing at the hands of the alliance of developers and elected officials. Can we continue to have a "What can you do?" attitude, or hope that the Rocking K development may be "too rich" for developers these days, or is there something more we should be doing?

--Robert Genovese

Black Days At

The White House

To the Editor,

I have just read Jeff Smith's excellent article "More B.S. From Mr. Bill" (Tucson Weekly, December 22) and I wanted to add a couple of comments to what you wrote.

Like you, I was very excited in 1992 at the thought that our country would soon be run by three youthful, energetic, and very well-educated people. That thought is still exciting, of course, but the reality has become what you have so well articulated in your piece.

In trying to understand the how and why of it I start with the belief that Gore and the Clintons are still the very bright folk we thought, but they (and hence we) have taken a terrible stumble from their "Administrative Hubris." (We could also call it the Jimmy Carter effect). They have staffed their immediate positions, as well as most of the adjacent cabinet levels, with terribly inexperienced and often politically arrogant "outsiders" who seem to believe they really know how to do their job because they were appointed to it. My own limited interactions with the White House structure these days has left me with an appalling dread of what may still be coming down the pike. The only thing worse than entrenched mediocrity is hunkered down idiocy; the Clintons are not going to be able to rise significantly above their staff simply because no CEO of a large outfit can! He's got what he's got, and even the Clintons don't have the energy to simultaneously run the country and retrain its management.

Not a very cheerful set of holiday notions, but nevertheless let me extend to you my very best wishes for the new year.

--Peter Franken

Pistol Whipped

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's column "Cracking Gun Nuts" (Tucson Weekly, December 29): Is the pen mightier than the gun? If it is, it should be banned. There is not specific guarantee in the Constitution that the people may possess a pen, typewriter or word processor. You could poke somebody's eye out with that pen, Tom. And not everyone is a responsible pen owner like yourself. Many career criminals own pens. I believe both Jeff Smith and Edward Abbey owned pens, but they also owned guns and were not ashamed of it.

I always enjoy Tom's columns, and appreciate that he can write intelligently about anything, not only sports. But Tom needs to grow up and realize that we will not ban guns anymore than we will ban drugs. Go ahead, Tom, and write your congressman, influence the people, get more laws passed. (God knows we need more laws.) Let's ban all guns and institute house-to-house searches for them. I'll bet that we can confiscate at least 20 million or so of the 200 million or more of the guns in private hands. We can even start a new growth industry, perhaps based right here in Tucson--the illegal manufacturing of guns in garage machine shops--it's not too hard to do, as Emil Franzi or anyone knowledgeable about firearms might tell you.

I wish I lived in a world where I didn't feel the need for guns, but I have a job where I actually see some of the nastiness inflicted on people by other people. I'm 41 years old, I've never shot anyone, don't want to shoot anyone, am not a paranoid right-winger (actually I'm a liberal-independent type) and fully expect to die at an advanced age without ever pointing a gun at a criminal. But I do want an option, a contingency plan. Was Mary Poppins your mother's maiden name, Tom? Sorry, but I just like firearms, Tom, just as you like basketball. Just because you own a basketball doesn't make you Michael Jordan, and I'm not Son of Sam because I own a handgun, OK?

Hey Tom, ya know the difference between a pen owner and a gun owner? The gun owner cares about accuracy. Stay away from guns and keep up the good work.

--Doug Galinsky


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 12 - January 18, 1995

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