February 16 - February 22, 1995


An Apology

SHORTLY AFTER WE published Ruben Hernandez' article on the difficulties of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico ("Bitter Harvest," January 5), we heard from Sonoita-based journalist Alan Weisman, who had authored a similar article for The Los Angeles Times Magazine nearly a year before ("Deadly Harvest of the Sierra Madre"). Weisman contended Hernandez had plagiarized his work.

Indeed, upon questioning, Hernandez said he "may have lifted some facts" from Weisman. And in comparing the two pieces, there are at least five examples of similar phrasings in Hernandez's article. Hernandez claims to have written a rough draft before reading Weisman's piece, adding, "I tried not to let it influence me." However, it is evident that the initial portions of Hernandez' article closely follow the structure of Weisman's piece.

It does not help matters that a copy of Weisman's article was

floating around The Weekly's art department for some time, while members of our staff negotiated for photo rights with the Times. Apparently no one here was moved to read Weisman's story during that negotiation period.

Obviously we regret this sort of occurrence, and we apologize to Alan Weisman. The Tucson Weekly has tried to bring its readers the best work of local freelance journalists, and we'll continue to do so. As for Hernandez, a reporter with a great deal of experience who should have known better, his work is no longer welcome in this publication.

After discussing this matter with Weisman, we have agreed that the fee Hernandez was to have received from us will go to the Forest Guardians, a non-profit organization working with the Chihuahua-based Consejo Asesor Sierra Madre, whose mission is the preservation of the lands and peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara region.

--The Editors

Visionary Work

To the Editor,

Jeff Smith's article, "You Say You Want A Revolution?" (Tucson Weekly, January 12) puts him up there with the greatest visionaries of our time. And how sad to think that his bold ideas of reforming government seem almost impossible today. This shows the horrific state of our nation.

Our government has become the very imperialistic form of power our founders fought against. In George Washington's farewell address, his last words were that we need not engage in foreign alliances. And that held true until the First World War when we canceled the Declaration of Independence and rejoined the British (economic) conquest of the planet. Does it surprise you then that our government in the latter part of the 20th century has become aristocratic if not oligarchic?

Realistically, Mr. Smith's ideas belong to another time, another country.

--Randy Skye

Pet Project

To the Editor,

Thank you for your well written and sensitive piece on the stray animal situation in Tucson ("In Search Of A Trail Buddy," Tucson Weekly, January 12). I was horrified by the woman dropping off her cat because it didn't match her furniture--I only buy furniture that matches my pets! I think the Society should charge money for "owner-releases," although I'm sure that would lead to more animals being dumped in the desert as coyote food.

I wanted to inform you about a wonderful cat shelter called The Hermitage. This is a no-kill cat shelter in need of volunteers and donations, and is a terrific concept. There is a lot of indoor and outdoor space for the cats to roam around and they are fed and well-cared for. Kittens can be difficult for some people, and these adult cats are ideal for adoption. For more information, you can contact The Hermitage at P.O. Box 13508, Tucson, AZ 85732. Or call at 571-7839.

--Thea M. Gilbert

Cut The Crap

To the Editor,

Regarding Karen Brandel's "Prime Suspect" (Tucson Weekly, January 26): How did Lemuel Prion get parole for a violent rape? In Arizona, you can get five years for possession of marijuana.

How can we go on packing the prisons with non-violent drug offenders and letting violent criminals out early to make room for more drug offenders? Even prison wardens say that's nuts.

We have a billion-dollar economy in illegal drugs and both the cops and the robbers work to protect that economy. Meanwhile, our legal drug, alcohol, is probably the most dangerous drug on earth when it is abused.

Let's cut the crap and treat drug abuse as a medical problem while we concentrate on effective care, education, and law enforcement to prevent the continued proliferation of sick, violent families which produce Lemuel Prions.

--Clark B. Lohr


To the Editor,

I am writing to congratulate you on doing your job. As trivial as that may sound, it is so rare in the mass media these days that the citizens of Tucson really would be lost without our own member of the "alternative press."

During the campaign season last year, the local mass media decided that the environment was a non-issue, and their coverage showed it. Your paper, on the other hand, has consistently scooped everybody in this vitally important area ("Welfare Wranglers," the San Pedro River, Prop 300, etc.).

Most recently, your coverage of the Arizona Legislature's plans to turn back the environmental clock 20 years is nothing short of a blessing. We here at the Arizona League of Conservation Voters have been giving out the toll-free number of the legislative switchboard to our members--along with explanations of bills and schemes--for three years now. It goes without saying that grassroots lobbying, without wads of cash and cronies in the smoke-filled rooms, is a long uphill battle.

Imagine our joy when we saw that number--along with "CALL THESE BOZOS"--blaring out from your pages ("Welcome To The 42nd Legislature," Tucson Weekly, February 2).

In a free functioning democracy, the press must play a crucial role as a public forum for public policy debate. There is no higher purpose for media, especially for a newspaper. Your paper is a government watchdog that has a bite to go with its bark. Keep up the good work.

--Randy Serraglio

Assistant Director

League of Conservation Voters

Poet's Corner

To the Editor:

I've enjoyed your paper a lot since moving to Tucson. It's a great publication that tells it like it is without mincing words. Except for all of the mindless Republicans in Phoenix and elsewhere Arizona's a nice state.

I think we should have the equivalent of an "open season" on these right wing legislators who seem bent upon overturning laws which are designed to preserve and protect the environment and the species that inhabit it. Of course the weapons used would be restricted to small bore of "varmint" rifles.

--Jim Bailey

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February 16 - February 22, 1995

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