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Danehy Was Right When He Criticized Oro Valley Giveaways

I wanted to let you know what a great column Tom Danehy wrote (Aug. 30), highlighting the ignorance of the Oro Valley government in giving away some $50 million of our present and future sales-tax revenues to the big developers, especially the $23.2 million to Vestar.

You might recall a group, SOVOG--Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways. I was one of the grassroots members who were in court six times from 2004-2006 fighting our town and Vestar to allow the citizens to vote on our referendum. We finally prevailed, but, sadly, the citizens voted to give Vestar their "giveaway." That was before most of the folks believed us when we pretty much assured them that Wal-Mart was to be their anchor.

The main point is this: Another senior citizen and I have instituted a Web site and blog we call "LOVE." Let Oro Valley Excel (letorovalleyexcel.com) attempts to inform and educate our neighbors as to the goings-on in Oro Valley, and will hopefully be a factor in our March 2008 election, when three council seats will be available.

Thanks for being "right on the money" when it comes to these giveaways.

Art Segal


Corporate Giveaways and Corruption Run Amok in Tucson

If the Goldwater Institute could be said to have a "love affair," it is with school choice in general, and charter schools and tax credits in particular.

It's either sloppy or disingenuous to confound these with "vouchers" as Tom Danehy did (Aug. 30).

Something that was explicated by Milton Friedman back in the '80s, and that I can explicate in 33 words, is not "inexplicable." School choice programs give parents the power to secure a quality education for their children without having to fight for years in the political arena against inertia, ideologues and rent-seeking interest groups.

Hats off to Danehy for otherwise getting it right. There's no excuse for either transfer payments or special privileges to be given to private businesses, big or small. Since moving to Tucson, I've puzzled over just what it would take for Tucsonans to throw the bums out. Rio Nuevo, the Regional Transportation Authority swindle, the garbage tax that gets your water shut off, election improprieties, lies: We're so mellow out here that nothing sort of child molestation by our public officials will breed sufficient indignation.

Ben Kalafut


The Mexican Needs to Focus More on ... Other People?

The Aug. 30 "Gospel of the Mexican" (City Week), about Gustavo Arellano, was nothing more than ridiculous, prideful, arrogant and nauseous as he tried to be cutesy.

Rather than bragging about his culture, he should have included the contributions of others that also make up the melting pot of "Americanism" that make this country great!

If he wants to debunk people's misconceptions about his culture, he could start with a little humility.

Barbara DeNiro


Greenhouse-Grown Tomatoes Contribute to Planetary Destruction

I like a good tomato as much as anyone, but beneath the figurative topsoil, Eurofresh Farms of Willcox is hardly the controlled-environment agrarian utopia depicted in Jim Nintzel's article "Sweet Tomatoes" (Sept. 6).

The environmental and human costs of sustaining such a massive, self-enclosed production machine are enormous. Consumer demand for foods like tomatoes to be available year-round is a relatively modern phenomenon, and an ever-growing trend. This spurs the construction of more self-enclosed worlds like Eurofresh, a mammoth compound with a huge carbon footprint that produces tomatoes 12 months out of the year.

Creating a culture of season-independent foods threatens the seasons we have by externalizing environmental costs and leaving future generations to pay up.

Part of a cycle of instant gratification and immediacy that so typifies American consumption habits, Eurofresh tomatoes are always beautiful, always fresh. They are products of a system which alienates foods from their native seasons. This alienation, I believe, is at the root of our society's profound problems with food--we are the world leader in obesity and eating disorders.

What I find most unbelievable is that corporations like Eurofresh have university researcher allies and collaborate with government offices like the Arizona Department of Economic Security, offering evidence of "market-driven" privatization and its grip on public institutions. The real "economic security" of Tucson lies in native foods efforts and locally owned farms like San Xavier Co-op Farm. These are the only agricultural projects that will be stable employers and producers over time (they have been for thousands of years), especially with a looming water crisis.

The Department of Economic Security, which helps bus employees out to Eurofresh, may be unwittingly enabling a gravely exploitative situation. The first warning sign should have been that Eurofresh lists "an abundance of labor" as one of its reasons for locating to Willcox on its Web site.

The tomatoes may grow in what company spokesman Bill Mertz calls "perfect conditions," but according to accounts from former and current employees, labor conditions are dismal. In the light of this knowledge, it seems apt that Eurofresh just signed a contract to promote its tomatoes inside Disney family-movie DVDs.

Disney's films are often infused with the "myth of the global village," a representation of rose-colored global-cultural diversity which, in reality, is itself being homogenized by the mono-culture of global superpowers like Disney.

Eurofresh touts its tomatoes as pesticide-free, healthy, made in the U.S.A. and family friendly, but no busy mom will have the time to get out to Willcox and check. Meanwhile, corporate myth-peddling will make Eurofresh executives and investors even richer while refugees toil away harvesting their tomatoes.

As for public institutions, they should focus on real community needs, socio-agricultural issues and sustainable solutions instead of literally shooting for the moon.

Amanda Wilson


In Defense of Rodney Glassman

As a son of a Marine father and immigrant Filipino mother, I learned two important lessons: First, leadership requires action. Second, everyone is born with different endowments, but the measure of a person is what he does with what he has been given. Rodney Glassman, by these two measures, speaks volumes in my book ("Glassman's Just Looking to Pad His Résumé," Mailbag, Aug. 30).

Rodney's leadership is seen by his active involvement in various community organizations. He also demonstrated his commitment to Tucson by accepting only $20 donations per person for his campaign, a symbolic gesture to show that everyone will be treated equally at his table.

Rodney Glassman's character is more apparent considering this: Having a "silver spoon," Rodney could have chosen a mundane lifestyle. Instead, he pursued a doctorate, researching ways to teach water conservation to children. He also started a foundation that raises money from businesses to give back to nonprofits within our community, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Casa de los Niños.

People who question Rodney's intentions should compare the support of his Republican opponent, whose donors include Jim Click, Tom Quebedeaux and Don Mackey, or as I like to call them, "the kings of urban sprawl." Rodney, on the other hand, has received endorsements from organizations such as the Sierra Club Rincon Group and the labor unions.

At a time when the word "sustainability" is being tossed around willy nilly, Rodney has earned the support of groups who fight for livable growth and fair jobs for Tucson.

Edwin Skidmore

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