We encourage readers to submit letters to the editor on issues of interest to East Valley residents. Submissions should be no longer than 300 words, factually accurate and original thoughts of the writer. Please be brief and include name, address, city and phone number for verification. Letters and call-in comments may be edited for clarity and length.
Mitchell vote puts us at risk
Before leaving town for Easter, Congress failed to pass a meaningful update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, effectively dropping the ball when it comes to their most important responsibility — protecting our nation and its citizens.
Instead of ensuring that federal law enforcement has access to the tools to make us safe, Congress passed a partisan bill before recess that not only failed to prevent telecom firms that cooperate with the federal government in terrorist monitoring cases from getting slapped with lawsuits, but that also would surely earn a veto from the president were it to make it to his desk.
In a bipartisan vote, the Senate in February passed a similar bill to give law enforcement the tools they need in the war on terror and provided the telecoms legal immunity. That chamber, recognizing the critical necessity of this legislation, passed their bill with 68 votes in favor, which was preceded by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vote of 13-2 to move their bill forward.
With such an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate and a terrorist threat that is obviously still present, it is unacceptable that Rep. Harry Mitchell and his fellow Democrats decided to leave town before passing the Senate’s version of this critical legislation. It is also unreasonable to expect telecom firms to willingly provide the National Security Agency with their records while fending off real threats of lawsuits posed from trial lawyers.
Mitchell’s vote also flies in the face of the entire premise of his candidacy in 2006 as someone who places sensible policy above partisan politics.
This issue is too important to play politics with.
U.S. not doing that well
It is too bad Byron Schlomach of the Goldwater Institute did not have the integrity to report all his findings in his March 15 letter (“Socialism has heavy price”), but cherry picked many of his statements. His information incorrectly reported the order and benefits of the countries he used as examples.
The U.S. is ranked fourth in the gross domestic product, but is 92nd in the distribution of the wealth. He failed to consider in these ratings in places such as France, which has a total tax burden of 44 percent, what the French receive from this burden, including cradle-to-death health care, education, lifetime college and retirement as a few examples. In my original letter, I was referring to health care only.
Obama gets free publicity
I have just witnessed the most disturbing event of this entire primary season — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., being given an entire half-hour on the cable news networks, commercial-free, to put some distance between himself and his pastor’s racial comments. He also managed to get in a rousing political speech. You can’t buy that kind of face time for any price.
He didn’t even have to say, “I approve this message” at the finish.
I wonder how many cameras would show up if Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., announced “a major speech” to disavow Geraldine Ferraro? Now we get to watch endless replays of the Obama speech and the talking heads gushing over how wonderful it was. The outtakes have already begun and are being presented as news.
Phoenix plans drastic cuts
The popular Arizona Senior Olympics has been a prominent part of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department for 25 years. The department’s funding is being drastically cut back and it is required to find other ways to support their programs.
Politicians have allowed spending to spiral out of control for the initial 20-mile light-rail line which is scheduled to open next year through Phoenix, Tempe and into Mesa. Light rail has cost up to $70 million a mile to build, and will be a multi-billion dollar system to operate. Our state has a large reservoir of senior citizens who have chosen to make Arizona their home and look forward to becoming participants in the Senior Olympics programs. As volunteers, we recognize the value and reward of giving time to others, a spirit of warmth and friendship develops.
Please contact your legislators today and ask them to continue to promote the interests of the Arizona Senior Olympics, which benefits all of Maricopa County and the entire state.
JACK AND NINEVA SALLEY
Zoning board failed residents
Bob Hisserich’s congratulations to the Mesa Planning and Zoning Board is misplaced and in error (“New Lowe’s,” Letters, March 17). The board did not listen to the residents. They were patronizing and arrogant to those present. They conducted the public hearing in a condescending manner that diminishes their credibility and is an embarrassment for Mesa. The board’s behavior raises concerns about their integrity regarding this decision and some of their procedural decisions.
The board recommended approval without rooting a decision in city code requirements or satisfying the required findings necessary for a council use permit. The board permitted itself to be swayed by one member whose sales tax tirade was uninformed. The two neighborhoods affected by this zoning decision voted in favor of, not against, the city sales tax.
Hisserich should know that there are better locations in Mesa for this store. Lowe’s wants this location because it will be much cheaper to buy than commercial property. There is no regard for how Lowe’s will degrade the quality of life for adjacent homeowners. Hisserich applauds the Lowe’s store location on this property, “with landscaping in between to further reduce the impact of the store.” If Lowe’s was a suitable development for this property, there would not be any need for “reducing impact.”
The citizens whose homes border this property are counting on the City Council to do the ethical thing and vote against the use permit.
LAURIE AND STEVE BUCKLES