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Zakin: Election Sites Have More Info Than 'Weekly' Coverage

Jimbo! What were you thinking with that article about Steve Farley and Nina Trasoff ("Battle Royale," Aug. 4)? Too much TiVo, dude.

Before launching into a few serious points, full disclosure time: I'm not only a former columnist for the Weekly and winner of several awards from the Arizona Press Association, but also a friend of Steve's. More disclosure: My involvement in his campaign has consisted of asking him repeatedly why he would ever want to be in politics in Tucson, a masochistic act if I ever heard of one. Because I've been fairly distant from the campaign, I've been genuinely interested to read the press coverage. I didn't know much about Nina Trasoff, and the big question seemed to be whether there's really much of a difference between the two candidates.

Well, if Steve hadn't finally convinced me to go to their Web sites, I still wouldn't know, despite having read all the papers. As much as I like Steve, I'm more concerned about the impact of lazy, mediocre journalism on our democracy than I am about whether he'll be elected to the City Council. So I thought I'd share both my critique of Nintzel's piece as well as what I discovered when I actually went to the Web sites. For starters, Nintzel tells us there are hardly any differences between Trasoff and Farley. Then he spends three paragraphs on annexation before telling us it's a non-issue. So why waste three paragraphs on it? Then we get to the supercilious stuff, like writing that Farley is "hatching another of his farfetched ideas." What, like light rail? Phoenix voters supported light rail, and it's happening there. It's a sad day when Phoenix makes us groovy Tucsonans look like a herd of knuckle-draggers. A final thrust, or perhaps just sloppy writing: "Farley is a successful public artist who does work in cities across the country, where, he says, he sees all sorts of new approaches to problem-solving he'd like to bring to Tucson."

He says? Jim, don't you think we'd like to know about some of those new approaches? Wouldn't it have been a more responsible choice to spend three paragraphs on those, with reaction from Trasoff, instead of the "non-issue" of annexation? Tucson is politically and intellectually stagnant and it's hurting us--bad. Just look at Congress Street. Why didn't you tell us about the loans for small businesses that Steve's determined to put in place? Both candidates are concerned about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the community, but Steve's got a program that might actually create economic balance and preserve neighborhoods and small entrepreneurs. As we all know, simply fighting Wal-Mart usually doesn't work. Steve is an entrepreneur himself, but he's constantly billed as an artist, which makes him sound like a flake. This guy ran a graphic design firm for 20 years before branching out into public art, where he's become nationally known. He makes a living at both of these enterprises, a damn good one, but he'd never be crass enough to tell you that. He was a scholarship kid at Williams College. He and his wife, Regina Kelly, who started the Voices project for at-risk teenagers in Tucson, won that school's highest award for community service last year. And by the way, Williams College is in Williamstown, not Williamsburg.

Nina Trasoff seems like a nice woman, from what I see on her Web site, but she hasn't been nearly as successful in business. It's good that she serves soup at Casa Maria, but you can't compare that to the kind of successful public service entrepreneurship practiced by Steve and Regina.

But, hey, Linda Ronstadt and the ladies who lunch like Nina! She says the right things, even if it's only in generalities. Her Web site doesn't tell us whether she has any solutions, and it contains zero policy analysis. She was, after all, a TV reporter. My impression is that Nina Trasoff would be a good candidate compared to the usual dreadful hacks, but only if someone like Farley wasn't running.

All I ask of the Weekly is that your reporters give us an in-depth assessment of both candidates. I'm not interested in smart-aleck stuff about where the candidates stand on the elephants in Reid Park Zoo, which was in an article a couple of weeks ago. The alt-weekly attitude is so dated, man. It's a copout from doing the real work. C'mon, Jim.

Susan Zakin


Thanks for Telling the Truth About Greyhounds

Kudos to the Tucson Weekly and Catherine O'Sullivan (Guest Commentary, Aug. 4) for printing the truth about the living conditions that Tucson racing greyhounds have endured for years. Truth is a rare commodity in Tucson when it comes to the dog track. Those who care about the dogs maintain a code of silence out of fear, and those who don't care, well, they just don't care. Attributing the conditions solely to a decline in racing revenue, as others have done, is a misleading distortion of reality. This is borne out not only by my personal experiences with Tucson greyhounds but also by documented facts.

Our adoption organization, Greyhound Friends for Life, rescued several hundred greyhounds that came directly from Tucson Greyhound Park kennels to California from 1991-1997. The greyhounds were consistently in poor condition and infested with fleas, ticks and internal parasites when they arrived. During the 1990s, dozens of Tucson greyhounds were sold for research, and truckloads of greyhounds were routinely euthanized at Pima County Animal Control.

Sadly, since the track's heyday in the early 1990s through to the present, Tucson greyhounds have been rewarded for their service with substandard care, abuse and death.

Susan Netboy, founder
Greyhound Protection League


Another Art 101 Lesson on Prints and Reproductions

Ron Butler may have known Ted DeGrazia, but he doesn't know about printmaking. He claims in his guest commentary in the July 21 issue that "There is no such thing (as an original print). Being a print makes it not original."

I'm willing to bet that if Mr. Butler has a wallet with just one dollar bill in it, he is carrying an original print. Anything else would be a forgery. All of our paper currency is printed from engraved plates.

An original print may be an engraving, an etching, a lithograph, a woodcut, a serigraph or a monoprint. With the exception of the monoprint, all are produced in multiples, usually limited in number, and were conceived of by the artist as prints. Often, the artist has signed each print individually by hand, after it was made.

In many states, it is illegal to call a reproduction a print. In Arizona, however, it is common to find reproductions for sale which have been numbered and signed by the artist as if they were original prints. It's nice that reproductions of art are available, because not everyone can afford original art. But consumers should understand that what they are buying has little intrinsic value beyond the autograph of the artist and the frame that the reproduction is in.

Mr. Butler apparently doesn't understand that the signed reproductions that DeGrazia sold have value only because of the signature. Otherwise, they are no different.

Katherine Hagstrum


No Money to Pay for Care? Then You Die!

Regarding your article on "medical" bankruptcies ("Expensive Medicine," Currents, June 21): The best way to stop them is for the health care industry never to accept a patient who cannot show upfront that he is able to fully pay for the service.

We all, individually, must be responsible for our behavior. It is irresponsible to ask for any service knowing you cannot pay for it. If this means some very ill people die, that is the way it is. Too bad.

Jim Cadien

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