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A Message from the Publisher

New Ownership of the Tucson Weekly

This time, dear readers, we're serious. As we went to press with this issue of the Tucson Weekly, final negotiations were underway for the transfer of the ownership of the newspaper to Wick Communications, a national media company based in Sierra Vista. The sale has been the source of rumors for the past several weeks, and I thought it was appropriate that official confirmation came first in the pages of The Weekly.

The difficult decision to sell the paper was initiated by me last fall, primarily for personal reasons. After 16 years at the helm of a scrappy, independent newspaper, I have decided it's time to move on to other challenges. I also want to spend more time with my wife and two sons, now three and one. Although I can honestly say that I've loved virtually every moment of my time here, it's also true that running a newspaper like the Tucson Weekly is more than a full-time job -- it's an obsession, a calling, and a helluva lot of work. It's also, as we say around here, the most fun one can have while fully clothed and completely sober.

I'm gratified by the genuine excitement and commitment of the Wick organization to maintain the quality and the unique role of the Tucson Weekly in the years ahead. They have assured me that they understand the importance of the voice of the paper in the community and are committed to strengthening that voice and continuing to serve both our readers and our advertisers with an excellent product. I wish them all the best.

It has been my distinct pleasure to work with a group of dedicated and incredibly talented individuals, many of whom have been my stalwarts and friends for a decade or more. I look forward to seeing their contribution to the paper evolve in the months ahead.

I haven't completely finished with my tenure at The Weekly. I'll be assisting Wick in the transition for the next 60 days and have promised to inflict the readers with a reminiscence of my nearly 20 years as an alternative media publisher in this crazy, infuriating and beautiful place we call home.

My sincere thanks for the opportunity to bring you the Tucson Weekly these many years. I'll miss the singular experience of opening a paper on Thursday and knowing I was the publisher. It was always a moment both joyous and fraught with disappointment.

But I'll still be reading, always, and I hope you will, too.

-- Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher


Well Designed

To the Editor,

Margaret Regan's "The Master Builder" (February 3) was superb -- as good an article about an architect and about architecture as I ever recall reading in a Tucson publication. The descriptions of Judith Chafee and her architecture and the quotes from her fellow architects were all excellent. I think even Judith would have approved.

-- Kirby Lockard


To the Editor,

Tucson never completely forgot the brilliance of architect Judith Chafee, but Tucson has a lousy memory for architectural brilliance -- a fact that The Weekly's "Designing Women" series seems to have illuminated, perhaps by accident. Chafee and Annie Rockfellow have something more interesting in common than being influential female architects: they designed buildings, the best-known of which a developing Tucson could do nothing better than destroy.

Margaret Regan's account of Chafee's life and works ("The Master Builder," February 3) succinctly pointed to the fact most of her buildings sit on expensive pieces of private property where the public cannot easily see them. This is sad, but only because the buildings are so good. The Blackwell House, a now-demolished concrete treasure of Chafee's in the Tucson Mountains, could have been preserved and incorporated into the park in which it sat. In a world where architecture was more important to people, this would have happened. It never did, though, and in a matter of months both Chafee (who was dying at the time) and the beautiful little house were gone. I wondered at the time how many people would go on to remember anything about it. I suppose I ought to thank Margaret Regan. It is wonderful when a journalist makes sure that something beautiful is not publicly forgotten.

-- Luke Knipe


Always Amusing

To the Editor,

Regarding Dan Huff's "Walkout On Walkup" (January 27): Let me see if I can shrewdly deduce on which side of the Big Box/El Con controversy the Tucson Weekly comes down:

Descriptive phrases for big-box proponents used in one article: Walkup's El Con owner buddies; decaying El Con; ridiculously out-of-place big-box stores; gargantuan merchandisers; mall owners' boorish behavior; incompetent mall owners' wet dream; corporate pawn Shirley Scott; nasty old Wal-Mart; biggest, ugliest goddamn box they want; greedy, insensitive mall owners; big, bad boxes; Corporate Bob; mega-merchandisers; Attorney Brad Detrick... lackey for Walkup; Mayor Bob and his trio of yes-men on the council.

Description of others: enlightened communities elsewhere; neighborhood activists; sincere and legitimate neighborhood concerns; worried El Con neighbors; El Con lawyer Si Schorr (ref: attorney Brad Detrick... lackey for Walkup).

It's a good thing that you don't purport to be a newspaper which simply provides the facts and assumes your readers are intelligent enough to make up their own minds! Indeed, I've always been comfortable knowing that anything I read is going to be slanted (I believe the term yellow journalism could be applied) toward whatever the "I feel better about me, don't you?" position is most current and that it will be directed at those among us who can't or won't think for themselves and want to stake out any perceived moral high ground to feel better about themselves, too. I've also always been amused by your we-know-more-about-anything-than-anybody-and-anyone-who-dares-to-think-other-than-what-we-tell-them-is-a dirty _____ (fill in the blank), just before you take shots at guys like Limbaugh for doing the same.

Could Dan Huff's article have been more blatantly an advertisement for those you wish to sway or more condescending to your readers? Whose wet dream was his article? What's wrong with voters deciding the issue anyway? Is it that you're afraid that, as incompetent, ridiculously gargantuan consumers who are merely Mayor Bob's yes-men, lackeys and corporate pawns of nasty old Wal-Mart and of Corporate Bob, on Election Day voters will simply exhibit boorish behavior designed to further our own greedy, insensitive self-interests and allow the big, bad boxes to overrun our worried neighborhood, thereby trampling their sincere and legitimate concerns? Hey, maybe that's our wet dream!

Give us a chance. In the future try a little balance, just give us the facts, quit tooting your own horn, and we may surprise you. You may find that your readers don't have to be condescended to to make the right choice (even if it's not necessarily your choice).

-- John L. Hill


Keeping The Faith

To the Editor,

After living in Anchorage, Alaska, I recently returned to Tucson after a 10-year absence. Imagine my surprise to find Raul Grijalva and Sal Baldenegro embroiled in controversy. Thirty-one years ago, as a Tucson High School student, I actively participated in the walkouts.

"School Board Suspends 300 Students" was a shocking headline back in those days. The issues were the same as now: unacceptable drop-out rates, indifferent teachers, etc. The urgency we felt was, of course, angrily protesting a structured environment only effective in supplying cannon fodder for Vietnam. A Vietnam type of war is waged daily by teen gang members thriving and surviving their own guerilla war.

Everyone seems complacent that this "New World Order" is inevitable. Ironically enough, somehow those of us who were born in Tucson, Arizona, are being made to appear to be the "outsiders."

What's new about outsiders invading Tucson to economically loot and rape for their own benefit? Raul and Sal's tiny presence, in the overall scheme of things, gives the rest of us hope. Rodney King said "Can't we all just get along?" It must come down to that eventually.

-- Joseph Vasquez


Stormy Response

To the Editor,

I suggest that you drop so-called movie critic James DiGiovanna. Anybody who pans The Hurricane as "mushy paste" should never give up his day job.

This Academy contender has been praised by the Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Philadelphia Enquirer, The Arizona Daily Star and Time magazine.

I will give you odds that not only will Denzel Washington be nominated by the Academy as best actor but that he will also win.

I usually check the Tucson Weekly for movie reviews. But from now on I won't pay any attention to what DiGiovanna has to say.

-- A.B. Stirling


Mall Adjusted

To the Editor,

Regarding "Big Box Redux" (The Skinny, February 10): I would like to thank Judge Donfield for finally putting to rest the illusion of self-government. It is a relief to know that citizens have no effect on what happens in their city, and that city government is basically just ornamental, installed to decide appropriate issues, like where a new school crossing should go, while leaving all the big-people decisions to responsible corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

The flowering of big-box stores that will surely ensue in the wake of the Honorable Judge Donfield's decision will have incredible beneficial effects on our community. Now citizens will no longer have to drive that extra mile down Broadway to Target in order to find economy-sized orange juice. Moreover, Tucsonans in our historic neighborhoods will now have walking-distance access to three-for-a-dollar T-shirt deals and Mariah Carey CDs. Sure, we give control of our city over to corporations, intensify traffic, make the urban sprawl even uglier, but isn't this a small price to pay for the benefits of all those blue-light specials?

Of course, it would have been a terrible blow to the city's economy if those stores were not built at El Con. Not only would the spending power of the mall owners themselves have been drastically jeopardized but Tucson would have lost another source of minimum-wage, futureless jobs with low benefits. That's the mainstay of our economy! As for limiting their size, well, as our national ethos tells us, more is always better. If eating one bag of Wal-Mart brand corn chips is good, then eating three is better. Why else would we have that great three-for-one-deal?

I think the only healthy, sane thing to do would be to cede all municipal power to the board of directors of Wal-Mart or one of the other big boxes. Perhaps as a democracy we could vote on which one. In fact, once city planners step down, I would personally like to write Wal-Mart and ask them to take Big K's idea one step further and build a Wal-City where that Saguaro National Park now stands. What use is it serving as is? Perhaps a new Disney theme park in the Catalinas? Once city government is out of the way, anything is possible.

Let's hope there are no unsightly protests once construction begins at El Con, nothing like those shenanigans in Seattle last year. Let's all be adults and swallow whatever anger we might feel, expending the energy on something useful instead, like perhaps a family trip to Big K?

-- Jeff Gibbs

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