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Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11:00 pm

Letters to the editor published in the May 20, 2009, edition of The Explorer.

Jump on Sun Shuttle; drivers are very lonely

On May 6, you published a couple of articles about the new Sun Shuttle buses. Somehow I missed those print articles, but found them online.

I've been saying for years that we need public transportation in Oro Valley beyond the one or two express routes provided by SunTran. Over the last couple of weeks I have been seeing some blue buses labeled "Sun Shuttle." I looked it up online, and public transit has arrived with a community bus service in Oro Valley, Marana, Green Valley, Catalina, and Sahuarita. I also found out that it's free during the month of May.

This morning I decided to ride the Oro Valley route just to see what it was like. The bus is clean, cool, and the driver was an exceedingly nice fellow who actually waves at people walking on the streets. I took the opportunity of being the only person on the bus to question him, and he was very positive and willing to answer all of my questions. Unfortunately, in the two and half weeks the line has been in operation he has only had about eight passengers.

This is a great service and I hope it catches on. I would hate to see it discontinued. I just wonder if people know about it -- I only found out by way of curiosity. I encourage everyone to check it out and make use of this service. Public transportation can solve a lot of problems, but only if it is used.

Save gas and get out there and check out the Sun Shuttle -- the drivers are lonely.

Chris Kmotorka, Tucson

With regard to torture, please consider facts

One far right-wing weekly columnist seems to have become so frenzied over the restoration of human rights as White House policy as to be in need of a bib to catch the hydrophobical slobberings that are by-product of his ravings.

Maybe I can at least partially restore him to possession of his faculties by considering three simple and indubitable facts. First, waterboarding is torture and a serious crime. Second, former Vice President Dick Cheney unabashedly broadcasts the fact that he and his former assistant George W. Bush approved waterboarding detainees at Guantanamo. Third, criminals should be prosecuted.

Waterboarding is a crime under the Geneva Conventions, and the Convention Against Torture, which are signed and adopted by the United States. Waterboarding is a crime under the federal torture statutes. The United States Supreme Court held in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions apply even to Al Qaeda detainees.

The United States prosecuted Japanese in the 1945 Tokyo War Crimes Trials for waterboarding our military personnel. The United States government prosecuted a U.S. Soldier in Viet Nam in 1968 for waterboarding a North Vietnamese soldier, and booted him out of the Army. President Reagan's Justice Department prosecuted the San Jacinto (Tex.) County Sheriff and three of his deputies in 1983 for waterboarding a prisoner, convicted them, and they served four-year prison terms.

Ergo, war crimes were repeatedly committed by Cheney-Bush government officials. In the case of Khaled Sheik Mohammed they authorized his waterboarding 183 times in one month. Query: if waterboarding is so doggone effective, why did they have to do it to the same person 183 times?

It is amusing that the far right-wing pundits, ordinarily such law-and-order enthusiasts who criticize liberals for being "soft on crime," have such sympathy for those who violate some of the most heinous crimes on the book – crimes that when found out must be prosecuted because we are proud to be Americans, and wish to remain so. As Albert Camus famously wrote: "I should be able to love my country and still love justice."

Respectfully Submitted,

Grant Winston, Marana

Trooper, former deputy believes Franzi 'bankrupt'

Emil Franzi writes in his op-ed "No moral ambiguity in certain torture" (Explorer, May 13th) that those he decries as "morally bankrupt" would "not torture or even discomfort a battlefield pick-up 9th Century thug not covered by any rational POW code and eligible for instant dispatch…"

Well excuse me, but this former 82nd Airborne Division trooper and former federal deputy thinks that Mr. Franzi is the party who is morally bankrupt – no ambiguity whatsoever.

What he seems to advocate is nothing less than a high crime if the individual has already been taken safely into custody. I understand that there is an argument to be made that the United States' treatment of detainees was perfectly legal and I'm not one who finds many of the situations we've had detailed for us to be perfectly black or white. On the other hand, I don't understand how anyone who is even remotely familiar with the U.S. Constitution or the Uniform Code of Military Justice can fail to understand that those American institutions are supposed to stand for something. They embody ideals that are supposed to set The United States apart and, yes, above nations that have gone before and many of those around us today.

Leaving behind Mr. Franzi's poor (and perfectly immoral) example for a moment, I just don't see how can anyone fail to understand that the United States was founded on exactly the opposite of the might-makes-right / whatever-it-takes mentality he so eagerly holds up. If the best he can come up with is that on occasion torture does indeed produce results then I guess I'd offer that while WWII Nazi doctor experiments may have produced findings I'm certainly not having any of it. Is Mr. Franzi himself a citizen of the 9th Century?

It doesn't take a "blind hatred of the Bush Administration" nor certainly any "hate-filled desire" for any American to come to the decision that torture ("certain" or otherwise) is not a method or act that reflects the highest ideals of our great nation. Far from it.

Mr. Franzi should be ashamed.

Matthew Olson, Oro Valley

Snider would do much on OV council

Anyone interested in effective and responsive government should have been delighted to read in the May 13th Explorer that Mary Snider has decided to seek a seat on the Oro Valley Town Council.

I have known Mary for five years and, as someone who works in the Amphitheater Public Schools, can attest to all the selfless work she did to bring Project Graduation to Ironwood Ridge High School.

Each year, our parents and students can rest easy knowing that there is a safe and fun place for seniors to celebrate on their graduation night. Although many parents and community members contribute to this important project, it was Mary's vision and leadership that made the event a reality.

Mary Snider's intellect, work ethic and focus on building and sustaining effective relationships throughout our community all contributed to the success of Project Graduation.

It's exciting to consider all that she could accomplish if elected to the Oro Valley Town Council. I encourage all your readers to give her candidacy strong consideration.

Rex Scott, Tucson

Pinal supes give the go-ahead to Oracle 'dump'

Those darn Pinal County supervisors! Last week, they upped and granted Waste Management Inc., a "spot" rezoning to intensive Industrial so the waste giant can continue growing its regional transfer station operation in picturesque, unincorporated (and un-industrial) Oracle.

Not that dozens of Oracle residents attending the supes' meeting in Florence, or writing letters in advance of it, didn't try to convince Pete Rios, David Snider, and Bryan Martyn otherwise.

Residents declared their concern that the garbage from nearly 10,000 households (SaddleBrooke I and II, Eagle Crest, SaddleBrooke Ranch, Oracle Junction, Mammoth, San Manuel) plus home construction and commercial "dumpster" stuff from throughout southeastern Pinal will continue to foul the air, and, because everything is dumped on the ground, possibly contaminate the entire Oracle aquifer.

They articulated a clear fire danger for the community, not only from fires starting in the trash trucks at night when no one is around, but from Waste Management's refusal to install a water line and hydrant, as requested by the Oracle Fire Department, to help in possible wildfire control on the hilly oak/manzanita woodlands surrounding the site.

They reminded the supes the site is immediately adjacent to quality residential properties, and that these families are forced to endure noise, flies, flyaway trash, rot odor, diesel truck fumes, and dust six days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

They argued that Industrial zoning placed no restrictions on trash volume as new housing developments start up (Biosphere, Copper Crest, Willow Springs, Cielo), and no term limit on how long Waste Management can keep operating the tiny site (less than 3 acres located just off American Avenue, east end of Oracle's main street).

The supervisors listened politely enough. But voted unanimously based on the number of phone calls Mister Rios said he received from Oracle and San Manuel "folks" who wanted that transfer station just where it is so they can continue to haul their occasional pickup truck loads of yard and house trash there. That's democracy, after all. Why force Waste Management to re-locate the transfer station 12 miles down the road to a perfectly appropriate site, when it's so convenient right where it is. Convenient maybe (for a few), but hardly right or reasonable, given its size and hazards.

If you have an opinion about the county supervisors' unanimous vote, "call" them out by e-mail or phone. Pete Rios (pete.rios@pinalcountyaz.gov (520) 866-7830; David Snider (david.snider@pinalcountyaz.gov (520) 866-7401; and Bryan Martyn (bryan.martyn@pinalcountyaz.gov (520) 866-6104).

Thank you.

Val Bembenek, Oracle

OV licensing would help NW's animals

I, as a concerned citizen and a member of the community of Oro Valley, wish to add a thought about helping the animal community of our valley.

If we were to license a dog or cat or even a horse, to Oro Valley rather than to Pima County, we could raise revenue that would be needed to direct these animals to their owners rather than to their demise.

This should be studied in council and done ASAP. I for one am on the side of the animals and I think you will find I am not alone.

Shirley M. Johnson, Oro Valley

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