November 22 - November 29, 1995



To the Editor,
I thought you guys were getting pretty desperate with cover stories on space aliens, but you topped even that with "Cockroach Confidential" (Tucson Weekly, October 19), a veritable font of drivel on cockroaches. By the second paragraph my hopes--that this would be a story to help dispel kneejerk revulsion of roaches--were shattered. At the very least, Richter might have questioned the use of Vector Control money to chase after poor dears who would prefer to stay out of our way in the safe, human-free sewers-of-plenty rather than venture up into a world chock full of bootheels and Raid, which "Vector Control" encourages by dumping poison into their happy home. A vector, contrary to the definition in the story, is NOT "just a fancy word for nasty little creatures," but a word for disease-carrying insects. The Weekly blew a great opportunity to assure people that despite roaches' bad rap, they do not carry human disease. Why did Richter not question why this vector money is spent on these harmless bugs rather than true vectors, such as mosquitoes?

The article was tiresome and juvenile. I thought a liberal rag like yours was in the business of trying to replace groundless stereotypes with the facts. By the way, is Richter a blonde?
--Laurie Henneman

To the Editor,
Pathetic fluff. That's all I could think of upon reading "Cockroach Confidential" (Tucson Weekly, October 19). Basically, it was nothing more than Stacey Richter stretching a one-line thought, "I think cockroaches are gross," into an article.

The lifestyle of cockroaches and preventive measures for controlling them or the environmental effects of Pima County's Vector program could've been informative and worthwhile reading. All you gave us was Stacey's narrow (but oh-so-wordy) thought.

Next time around, try.
--Brad Lancaster

To the Editor,
Regarding "Cockroach Confidential" (Tucson Weekly, October 19): What are you, a hired soapbox for the exterminators' industry? I searched in vain for any quotes from anyone concerned with possible contamination of our local ecosystem by these massively dangerous pesticides of which you sing the praises.

Instead, we got a lot of scary language about how horrifying roaches are, and quotes about how everyone in the city (including the author) wants these evil things killed, despite the costs, financial or environmental.

As for me, I'm a lot more scared by the widespread use of a potent pesticide called Killmaster II (which is " effective, that we had trouble locating any live bugs at all...") and the subsequent risk to my groundwater and my family than by an insect which doesn't even bite.

You talk a lot about the need for balanced reporting in our pathetic dailies; I expect a lot better from you.
--Steve Farley

Fool's Gold

To the Editor,
Regarding Vicki Hart's "Death Of Innocence" (Tucson Weekly, October 26): The tragic death of John Tsakanikas under ugly and suspicious circumstances strikes me in a very uncomfortable way. My heart goes out along with all the others in this community to the Tsakanikas family. Perhaps we cannot comprehend the depth of their sorrow, but we can, and should, weep with them.

But the tenor of Hart's article worries me, as did most of the hundreds of similar articles I've read about the outcome of the trial of O.J. Simpson. The Simpson verdict and the verdict on Elizabeth Clark have incited an outpouring of indignation that is understandable and perhaps even appropriate. But it behooves us to remember that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. And those who rush in shouting indignantly are not only foolish, but dangerous.

It is easy to condemn the defendant and the system of American justice when the verdict rendered flies in the face of a perceived preponderance of evidence. But evidence is a tricky thing under the best of circumstances. For us observers, it is even trickier because all we know is what comes to us second- and third-hand from our friends, neighbors and the media.

It is easy to condemn judge and jury under the same circumstances, but supremely arrogant for us to question the integrity of either based on hearsay, speculation, conjecture and sensation. From a legal standpoint, these are all the media have to offer us. It is easy to condemn defense attorneys and their assault on the prosecution's witnesses, until one of us ends up a defendant. That changes the picture entirely.

Hart makes it abundantly clear who she believes are the heroes and the villains in this ugly tableau. For me it is not so simple, and it shouldn't be any simpler for any other reader. The lawyers who defended Elizabeth Clark represented their client aggressively, as is their mandate. It was not outside of any reasonable bounds to call the Tsakanikas family into question, their reputation and standing in the community notwithstanding. The Susan Smith case makes that abundantly clear. People of far superior reputation have been guilty of much worse crimes. A little boy is dead and no one is above suspicion.

Is Elizabeth Clark guilty? I don't know. Only Elizabeth does. If she is, I hope she has not one moment of peace for the remainder of her days. I hope life for her is a living hell and ditto for O.J. Simpson. But the judge who represented my interests as a citizen said the people's case against Clark was unproven.

Hart's handwringing about the evil defense attorneys, the emotionless Miss Clark, and the saintly Tsakanikas family lend nothing of substance to the discussion. It is the journalistic equivalent of gossip over the back fence. Nothing wrong with it; it might very well be true. But only a fool would bet on it.
--Bret Holtz

Mine Over Matter

To the Editor,
I've tolerated Kevin Franklin's mediocre and largely uninteresting writing for a long time--but now he's gone too far. I'm talking about his article on the Phelps-Dodge mine ("Really Big Show," Tucson Weekly, November 9).

After putting a token statement that folks believing the mine to be "a blemish on the environment...would be right," he shows his true colors by saying that "[mining] is an undeniable truth," and that "given the billions of people on the planet, vast [mining] operations...are necessary." It seems it never occurred to Franklin that there are plenty of ways to reduce the necessity of mining; for example, expanding recycling, doing away with the yearly production of millions (tens of millions?) of worthless copper-coated pennies and, last but not least, having less than four cars and eight children. The argument he offers here insults the intelligence of any environmentally aware person and goes even further, to the point of deception, with the message that vast mining is a necessary evil. Is uranium mining? Who's gonna buy that? I don't--not for one copper-coated cent.

Is your paper really as progressive and environmentally conscious as it (at least) poses to be, or is it as phony as that last piece of literary pollution of Franklin's? There are plenty of writers out there who can come up with more interesting and worthwhile writing than his; why not give someone else a chance?

To Mr. Franklin: I realize you have to make a living like the rest of us, but why not do something you're better at? Like a public relations man for Phelps-Dodge? Perhaps they're hiring.
--Danny August

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November 22 - November 29, 1995

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