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SAAVI Motorcycle Fundraiser: Good Cause, Bad Location

I saw an article in Tucson Weekly ("Help From Hogs," City Week, July 7) about the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired's unique idea of an "outside of the box" fundraiser involving motorcycles, rock music and fun. SAAVI cleared an area in the back of their property off Grant Road, built a stage and plans to host these events on a regular basis. Great organization. Great cause. Wrong venue.

I'd like to share my perspective on the events, brazenly publicized by one of their sponsors, radio station ROCK 107.5. The walls/fences/structures you see in several of the pictures on the station's Web site border my property.

Tucson Weekly gave publicity to the event. Other motorcycle groups are advertising this event widely like it's a big field in the middle of nowhere. It isn't. What formerly was a practice area for blind individuals learning how to walk with a cane has become home to rock concerts. Problem is, the sound stage is 75 feet from a two-family residence, not to mention two apartment complexes, which face their self-proclaimed rock-hog heaven.

I'm sure City Hall is cutting some slack to a nonprofit agency, but the people approving the special events permits need to be aware that in addition to serving alcohol, running super-bright light poles, hosting rock bands and having 100 motorcycles--coming, going and demonstrating their "skills," complete with loud mufflers and exhaust fumes--in a small commercial zone wedged in between residential areas is not only patently a bad idea; it's a recipe for disaster.

John Cise
Vice president, Dodge Flower Neighborhood Association

Trasoff, Farley Should Team Up, Run as a Ticket

I have been a registered Green for the last several years, and while I ardently opposed Bush, I was not among those who grouped the Democrats with the Republicans. I supported Democrats as much as I could in trying to defeat Bush, while still holding out hope for the Green Party. Alas, the Green Party seems permanently mired in feudal factions and struggles at their core about governance.

In Tucson among progressives, I see a similar trend and am committed to see a different result. It is present within the ranks of supporters for Steve Farley and Nina Trasoff ("Battle Royale," Aug. 4). I know both these people and hold great admiration for their work, their vision and their capabilities.

I will throw my support behind the person who emerges after the primary (and I fully expect the candidates to do same). The problem is that we are faced with a false choice, and one we cannot afford to mess up. The opposition is banking on the two camps doing what we have always done: dividing ourselves and making us easier to conquer. That's why we have lost almost every major race in longer than I want to think back.

So here's my proposal: I ask the two of them to sit in a room alone and chat about this. I hope the candidates will lay down their swords and decide between them who stands as the better chance. Then, that the choice would publicly acknowledge the appointment of the other as his/her chief advisor, and if you will, running mate. Show that progressives are finally able to band together to start the long, hard process of political reform, forgoing the possibility of an idealistic victory for a sure win and, even better, a newly energized political force. Really, when you get down to it, can you think of anything the opposition would like to see less?

Anthony Novelli

Props to Props for Auslander

Kudos to The Skinny for recognizing the true excellence of Steve Auslander's contributions to the Star for more than three decades ("Outlander," The Skinny, Aug. 4). Few know the behind-the-scenes stories of his dedication to the staff, his belief in the crucial importance of unbiased and fact-based reporting and editing, and his love of the craft.

In 1986, after a disturbing trip to Pulitzer headquarters in St. Louis, we were given marching orders to make Draconian cuts. The easy tactic, and one which was discussed, would have involved immediate personnel cuts and a relatively quick achievement of the corporate goal. Steve, instead, chose the far more difficult strategy of decreasing staff size by natural attrition during a four-year period and working with department editors to consensually rein in budgets. This was decidedly not popular with an already hardworking staff asked to do more with less, and it was a very trying four years. But no one was terminated in order to meet corporate budget goals.

Steve never retreated from his insistence on integrity and accuracy. He never asked more of anyone than he was willing to give. Yes, he was a tough and demanding curmudgeon of an editor and a boss, and we had our share of knockdown arguments and very frank and candid discussions. Once, in an evaluation, he faulted me "for not suffering fools gladly." I argued, of course, but coming from him, I was sure it was a compliment.

His love of the written word and his glee in exploring the marketplace of ideas was and is inspiring. He is one of the most challenging and finest persons I have ever worked with and for, and I'm delighted The Skinny shed a little light on some of the "rest of the story."

John Peck
Former managing editor, Arizona Daily Star

Unions End Up Curtailing Progress

It should be noted that unions have never had the workers' interests at heart. I say this because unions say their main objectives are higher wages, better working conditions and better pensions. However, when you look at the actions taken and policies supported by unions, they are hardly ever in the interests of workers, but rather, they are in the interest of greater political clout.

The only way a business can pay labor higher wages is if the business enjoys higher productivity. A business that pays labor more than that labor produces is on the road to bankruptcy. I trust this is self-evident to reporter Aubin Tyler as well as your readers ("Mine Shaft," July 14). Take better pensions. If the average Asarco worker could take the 15.65 percent of his wages that are forcibly confiscated by the feds to pay for Social Security and Medicare and put those funds in a mutual fund, he would have well in excess of $1.2 million!

Unions, along with their tacit supporters in the media, have been singular in their support for policies that have been a clear detriment to working people. It's a shame that reporters such as Aubin Tyler don't do the research to "get it."

Vince Joy

A Call to Put Astronomers to Work Installing Lights

Regarding the article about light pollution frustrating astronomers ("Night Light," April 28). There is a simple solution: All these parasites of society who have been sleeping all day and gazing at the sky all night should finally be put to work, earning a living. Doing what, you ask? Simple: We will teach them to install street lights.

What to do with the observatory buildings? They can become mountaintop sanatoriums for people suffering from lung aliments. This will never happen, but just think how much less crime and accidents we would have if good old dark-town Tucson was lit up at night.

Albert Vetter

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