Speaking Out Of School

To the Editor,

Regarding Margaret Regan's "Clearing The Air" (Tucson Weekly, October 23): I am a first-year student at the Arizona International Campus, and co-producer of the fledgling school newspaper, The AIC Edition. Frankly, I'm absolutely fed up with the weird rivalry amongst AIC and the UA, largely created by the media. The Weekly, notably Margaret Regan, has been steadfast in its sophomoric and mal-informed standpoint, when it has come to report the downfalls, trials and tribulations of the controversial new institution.

Mailbag Having attended both institutions in my own academic quests, I have found excellent qualities in both. I have also found some downfalls in both, but such is life. AIC's approach to education is better suited to my individual needs as a student, and I have a hard time understanding why, from what I read in The Weekly, the Tucson community would like to refuse me my education. If AIC is forced to close, I would absolutely never again attend the traditional UA, for a number of personal reasons. I probably would not go to college at all, because I would never be able to afford a smaller, liberal arts institution, especially out of state, that is not publicly funded. Is it The Weekly's aim to shut out those of us who can't conform to massive lecture halls and impersonal faculty, from attaining higher education and being successful people?

Margaret Regan has turned the controversy into an emotional battle between good and evil, Dr. Kalí Tal being the epitome of all good, and Dr. Celestino Fernández being the basest evil. I have never met or had any direct experience with Tal, but I would like to emphasize that she is merely eligible for hire at AIC in 1999. This does not contradict what Regan has stated in "Clearing the Air," but the point does seem to be downplayed. I have met and spoken with Fernández, and I view his resignation not as a rat-bailing-off-sinking-ship, but more of a Moses-staying-behind-before-nation-reaches-promised-land scenario. Not that Fernández is any sort of prophet, but as I see it, AIC is largely his creation, and for its sake and his own he is moving on.

Regan should consider coming down to the campus for actual interviews, rather than quoting from pre-published memos. She failed miserably at incriminating Fernández as the mean old money-hungry provost who can't stand people with a voice of their own. If she feels lambasted by being asked to take "the time to visit the campus to examine first-hand the academic program and to talk with students and professors," perhaps she has some personal issues to deal with. One large benefit I see in moving AIC to the main campus is increased accessibility to critics. This alone might cause some drastic reconciliation.

I have yet to see the community-conscious Weekly mention even in passing the productive involvement AIC students have had this semester alone. In the past two weeks, students have donated 27 usable pints of blood to the Red Cross, collected an estimated 400 canned food items for the Community Food Bank, put together a credible newspaper, helped to clean up the South Park neighborhood in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, raised money and walked the full 10K of the AIDSwalk, and it was the week after midterms! About 75 students participated in or organized at least one of these activities (for non-math wizards that's almost 75 percent of the population of AIC), and all my family heard about in the media is Provost Fernández's resignation.

What happened to responsible journalism? I now remember why I've reduced my interaction with The Weekly to glances at Brezsny's horoscopes and Red Meat. The Best of Tucson issue didn't even include music awards this year. Another rag bites the proverbial dust.

--Andrea Potts

Margaret Regan replies: Moses?

OK, call him what you want, but Moses stopped talking to the Tucson Weekly a long time ago. But stonewalling by a public official is no excuse for not getting the story. If I have to resort to Celestino Fernández's "pre-published memos" to write an article, I don't hesitate to do so.

For the record, I have been out to Arizona International Campus. I even attended a class at the invitation of a professor until a Fernández assistant ordered me out of the room. Over the past 15 months or so, I've spoken at length with half AIC's founding faculty, and I've talked with almost two dozen of its students, several administrators and even a few parents.

As an aspiring journalist herself, perhaps Andrea Potts will one day have to make a news decision like this: Do you go with the resignation of a controversial public official who's been under fire for months? Or do you cover instead the commendable good works of a group of students? In my mind, it's no contest. Moreover, I'm always skeptical of good-deed-doers who crave media coverage. Later on in the same book that features Moses, St. Paul advises in a letter to the Corinthians, "Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." Pretty astute, I'd say.

Editor's postscript: Andrea, we're sure you and many other Meatheads will be thrilled to hear that the first collection of Max Cannon's strips, released in a handsome volume entitled "Red Meat" by Black Spring Books last year, has provedso popular it was snapped up by perspicacious publisher St. Martin's Press, which is shipping the compendium nationwide in just a few weeks! It's sure to make an ideal holiday gift, so be sure to buy as many copies as you can.

Incidentally, we dropped the music category from our Best of Tucson issue because we decided the vital local music scene deserved its very own celebration, the Tucson Area Music Awards, better known as the TAMMIES. Look for this annual festival, as well as a host of related exciting concert activities, next spring. It's just one more example of The Weekly's commitment to you, the generally disgruntled reader!

Tort Action

To the Editor,

As if it's not bad enough that the Tucson Weekly wastes valuable newsprint every week so the quintessential loony Emil Franzi can rant and rave, now The Weekly donates a cover and a zillion column inches to thinly-disguised pro-incorporation propaganda ("The Town Too Tough To Grow," Tucson Weekly, October 16).

I've read the article a half-dozen times and can't figure if the point is the benefits of semi-rural self-governance, protection of the pygmy owl, elimination of all lawyers (except your own, of course), or how to get your wife elected to a town council.

Franzi begins his puff piece with a detailed description of how the town sprung from the grass-roots citizenry, in an area where everyone apparently lives in "single wides" (i.e., "trailers") and where the number of horses exceeds the human population. It seems everyone and their brother has nothing better to do than attend steering committee and town council meetings. With elitist and superior tone Franzi holds this out as preferable to the governments of Tucson and Marana.

Well, you can do things that way in small towns. Hell, I run my own little corner of the world (population 4, not including various cats, a rabbit, and a herd of guinea pigs) much the same way (although not quite as democratically). There is nothing inherently better about this approach, nor is there anything inherently evil in the representative governments larger 'burbs employ out of necessity.

The real irony of the piece, though, is that under the "Too Tough To Grow" headline Franzi spends considerable ink discussing the future growth of Tortolita. "We're hardly no-growthers," he writes, advocating the expansion of the population five-fold. Of course, not everyone is welcome to join. While claiming the town's incorporation was not driven by "elitism or race," Franzi cautions that future neighbors had better "think and live like we do" and that they'd best be prepared to "do it the way we did." Franzi is betrayed by his own words.

The balance of Franzi's work consists of the expected boasts about lawyers and lawsuits, rantings over the poor pygmy owl, cheap shots at nearly every surrounding community (and communities-to-be) and general condemnation of developers and out-of-state mega-corporations.

What Franzi should be worrying about, and explaining to the ignorant masses, is how the Town of Tortolita plans to pay for its piece of heaven on earth. I, for one, am quite glad I'm no longer supporting that elite rural enclave through my tax dollars. Dirt roads and septic tanks may serve for now, but the 10,000 new residents projected by Franzi will certainly demand, if not outright require, considerable infrastructure.

I guess I'm not particularly surprised that such weighty issues are beyond the comprehension of a bunch of folks whose first official act was to name a town bird. At that rate they'll surely be up to handling budgets and the like, say, around 2005.

--Don Martin

Emil Franzi replies: I am constantly amazed by the blind, arrogant, ignorant bigotry against a group of folks who basically just want to be left alone expressed by Mr. Martin in his irrational ranting. His standards of governance are so low he calls references to the corruption and incompetence shown by Marana and the Amphi School District Governing Board "cheap shots." Martin apparently believes the game is on the level with those two rather repulsive governmental entities, and that the current Tucson City Council majority contains paragons of civic virtue who produce finely wrought policies the rest of the valley should emulate. Either that or he has a very high tolerance level for sleaze and lying.

Martin obviously knows nothing about Tortolita or its inhabitants, where there are not very many "trailers." Nor do horses outnumber people. New residents are welcome--as long as they do what we did, which is to leave the desert basically undisturbed by building under the current zoning. Clear-cut destruction a la Marana and Oro Valley is not welcome.

Martin bitterly believes that he has somehow been taxed to support our "elite rural enclave." The residents of Tortolita currently pay Pima County more in property taxes than they receive in services, period. That doesn't include the sales taxes our 3,000 residents cough up to other communities, and will continue to as we plan no commercial uses. Seems we're subsidizing you, Don.

Martin also believes we will need all the massive infrastructure he finds necessary. He is too narcissistic to grasp that there are people with priorities and lifestyles different from his own who neither want nor need what he insists they must have. That is clearly shown in his snide mention of the pygmy owl. We in Tortolita like pygmy owls, and all the other critters and plants that are still left out here. Martin clearly doesn't give a rat's ass. Well, neither do the people who run all those other towns he admires so much, where he is free to reside. Unfortunately, the freedom to have a different type of community is something he would apparently deny to us.

Thorny Truth

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's "White-Guy Vista Estates" (Tucson Weekly, October 9): I thought that you might appreciate a bit of Spanish-language etymology. The toponymic derivation of the community of Marana comes from the Spanish maraña which means tangle, thicket, or impassable because of brambles and briars. It came about when the area was cleared by a man named Post who settled there during the first decade of this century.

"Marrana" or "marrano" (depending on gender) is the word for pig. I hope this information is useful to you.

Warm regards and keep up the enjoyable writing style.

--Carlos Nagel

Everybody Must Get Stone

To the Editor,

Jams DiGiovanna's "Arid Zone" is pure hatred instead of a movie review, which is what it should have been (Tucson Weekly, October 9). DiGiovanna sounds like a frustrated filmmaker. Too bad. He should go do something about it, instead of ranting and raving against Oliver Stone. I was a grunt in Viet Nam and I say Platoon was excellent, and so was JFK. Stone may have stretched the boundaries of credibility a bit here and there--it was still a very well assembled film.

What DiGiovanna needs to do is get his head out of his ass and/or find something that he enjoys to do for a living. He comes across more like the type of character who might fit right in that nightmare called LALA. Lighten up. Life is short.

--Joe Grunt

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