Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on December 2, 1994 · Page 30
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 30

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Phoenix, Arizona
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Friday, December 2, 1994
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Page 30
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B6 The Arizona Republic Friday, December 2, 1994 s, r5v IT A IT Editor PaullSchatt 271-8475 A13 POLLUTION ADVISORIES Benson's View Caution or jumping the gun? UKlALSi SOMETHING just doesn't seem to add up. On the one hand, Maricopa County earlier this week saw fit to issue what's known as a Stage 1 pollution advisory. It remained in effect for about two days. This meant that residents could not burn wood logs in fireplaces and drivers were encouraged to make only necessary trips and to take the bus or car pool. On the other hand, the visibility didn't seem to be especially bad, at least not on a par with the worst of our "brown cloud" days. A glance at the daily listing of pollution readings showed that carbon monoxide and particulate levels, recorded at a variety of spots in the Valley, were in the good and moderate range. OK, so which was it? Were we truly on the threshold of unhealthy levels of air pollutants that play havoc with those afflicted with respiratory problems, such as asthma and emphysema, or was it a matter of crying wolf? As you probably can guess, the answer isn't a simple yes or no. But it appears that the county jumped the gun, even if it acted with the best of motives. Issuing an advisory is not something td be taken lightly. This first one of the season took on added importance because it triggered the first ban on fireplace usage. Predictably, talk radio was awash with outraged citizens decrying Big Brother and ridiculing the fireplace patrols out sniffing for any telltale signs that fireplaces were in use and in violation of the county ordinance. Though the decision to issue an advisory is the county's call, the process involves consultation with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and weather forecasters. Many factors are taken into account, among them current and historical readings of pollution levels, wind, temperatuTe and humidity, and cloud cover. Traffic patterns also can be a factor, especially during the holiday season when the malls and the streets are overrun with shoppers. Weather forecasting, of course, is an inexact science, and therein lies the problem with declaring a Stage 1 smog advisory this week. The feared prediction that carbon monoxide and particulates may approach harmful levels never materialized. They stayed in the good and moderate range, well below any levels that would cause Maricopa County to run afoul of the Clean Air Act and come under further scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency. Does this mean that the process is fatally flawed? No. Does this mean that refinements are needed? Yes. In making decisions that curtail citizen behavior, it is important that government have the correct data upon which to base its actions. The county's emphasis upon prevention is a good idea, so long as it's implemented reasonably. Bad air is a potential health problem for all of us. More importantly, if Maricopa County can't demonstrate it can keep the number of violations down, it would likely have to formulate a new and tougher plan to control air pollutants. But good intentions are not a substitute for responsible public policy. Vi Brown, the manager of technical services for the county's environmental services agency, puts a positive spin on the decision. "Had we not called the advisory, the numbers would've been higher." She's probably right, because many people heeded the warnings and took precautions. They thought pollution in the county's air was approaching the danger range. And their actions, in turn, likely played some part in keeping readings low and lessening health risks. But that isn't the point. The point is that the county probably jumped the gun in issuing the advisory in the first place. Unquestionably, this is the time of year that air pollution hangs like a plague over the Valley. It is important that the public be made aware of the procedures to take during smog alerts. But it also is ' important that people do not become unduly alarmed without legitimate cause. This week's advisory underscores the need for ihe county to fine-tune its decisionmaking process. CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF PHOENIX 25 years of loving its neighbors THEY say some things are never appreciated until they are gone. It also must be true that certain treasures go unappreciated because they seem always to be there. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix is one of those treasures, an Arizona jewel that shines in the often grimy pursuit of universal social justice and human dignity. The diocese celebrates its 25th anniversary today, and the occasion gives a convenient opportunity to praise its remarkable community service in a large swath of Arizona, some 44,000 square miles. It's not enough to speak of the $63 million Catholic faithful have donated since 1969 to diocese social service agencies. Dollars can't measure the true impact of the good for Arizona communities brought by those contributions. What's the worth of a place that provides clean clothes for homeless and penniless people on their way to job interviews? How do you measure guidance and shelter, if necessary, for unwed pregnant teen-agers who have nowhere else to go? What's the value of offering good educational beginnings for at-risk pre schoolers or giving a helping hand toward continued independent living for senior citizens? Catholic generosity has done all these things and more to improve the human condition. Sixty agencies and ministries serving Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai and part of Coconino counties implement programs that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, protect the abused and most anything else necessary to aid society's needy, vulnerable people regardless of religious faith. And it's more than money. It's the people themselves. The diocese helps coordinate the time and talent of its members. The volunteerism based in 87 parishes and 30 missions keeps in mind the church's social teachings and makes them fine partners in their communities. Without diocese programs in some Arizona communities, there would be virtually no services to meet vexing social problems, which simply are neighbors' problems all rolled together. For 25 years, the Phoenix diocese, through generous support of its members, has had an ongoing dedication to taking-care of its neighbors, a living testament to a holy commandment. Letters Scam reports cast legitimate telemarketers in bad light This letter is in response to the story "Scams prey on greed, generosity," by Jerry Kamtner (Republic, Nov. 14). This is the second such article I've read that characterizes the telemarketing industry as rip-offs and cons aimed primarily at the elderly and the gullible, and that is where I have a problem. You fail to mention that there are legitimate, honest, hard-working telemarketers out here, trying to raise funds and support for some very good and deserving causes. I work for a professional telemarketing fund-raising company with over 175 offices nationwide, including here in Phoenix. We do not raise funds for just any cause, trying to make a quick buck and then disappearing. On the contrary, we have established offices (four years here) and work exclusively with one client, the local Firefighters Association. We book and sell tickets to two concerts per year, featuring top entertainment, to help the firefighters raise funds for their local programs. Programs like Just a Few Seconds, Learn Not to Burn and The Children's Urban Life-Safety Program. You have even written up some of these programs. When your story broke regarding the scam on the police charities, it had a temporary negative effect on our ability to get support for the firefighters, due to the close association in people's minds between the two groups, especially those people who are not aware of the programs and the concerts. I would just like to see some equal press on behalf of the legitimate telemarketing organizations out here. I'm proud of the work I do on behalf of the firefighters and my community. The company for which I work operates under the strictest guidelines. We invite potential supporters to check us out before they commit to any support, furnishing them with the names and phone numbers of the firefighters, officials and the appropriate state agency to contact regarding our legitimacy. We send the tickets out to our supporters prior to receiving payment, never accepting or soliciting credit-card numbers over the phone. If a supporter has a complaint, it is always resolved to their satisfaction. Maybe it is time for Arizona to enact legislation to make other telemarketing companies operate as our company does. Those of us trying to make an honest wage in this profession would welcome it. We have families to support too. We're hurt just as much by unscrupulous telemarketers as are their direct victims. Terry J. Gould Phoenix Give us PJ. O'Rourke instead Set record straight on prayer Is there someone in your department who is intensely interested in Texas politics, or someone who loves cruel and nasty wit? There must be someone with one of these characteristics to justify your buying Molly Ivins' column. Here's a suggestion: P.J. O'Rourke is far wittier and far more rational. Why not substitute him for her or run both on the same day? John T. Lindholtz Phoenix Tailgaters are also to blame The car-wreck insurance racket that raises Arizona motorists' insurance premiums is aided by the state sport of tailgating. Motorists maintaining a safe distance behind the car ahead might be able to avoid a set-up collision, whereas tailgaters are doomed. At 60 mph, allowing 2.5 seconds for reaction time and braking to stop, you need a 70-yard distance between yourself and the car ahead. Few Arizonans allow more than one-third of that safe distance. In addition to a crackdown on the despicable racketeers (who should face deportation as the least of their punishments), a police crackdown on the more reckless tailgaters in Phoenix would help drive down our insurance costs. C.W. Griffin Phoenix Jeff Barker's Oct. 5 story contains a claim that, while common in The Republic's news pages, is nonetheless false. Barker says prayer in schools has been "banned" since 1962. That is not true. Prayer in schools has never been banned. Children may pray at will anytime as even The Republic's editorialists acknowledged only last week. The 1962 Supreme Court ruling recognized that government-sponsored prayer in schools is an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Among other things, it coerces children toward a certain religious view, sometimes against their parent's wishes and always against their right to develop their religious beliefs free of government or majoritarian coercion. As I said, Barker's false claim is common in The Republic. This is no trivial error. It feeds the myth that a "voluntary" school-prayer amendment is necessary, since prayer is "banned" from schools. William Harwood's column (Republic, Nov. 22) has an appropriate comment. He says, "Newspapers are firm believers in correcting small errors: 'Will E. Jones was incorrectly referred to as Will F. Jones. We regret the error.' This sort of thing is supposed to protect our credibility. But the huge blunders we make, as often as not, are not only not corrected but are never acknowledged." So what is it going to be? Will you acknowledge and correct this error, or just shirk your responsibility now and in the future? Rick Shumaker Glendale The Arizona Republic Founded In 1890 120 E. Van Buren, phoenix AZ 89004 Phoenix Newspaper Inc. EUGENE C. PULLIAM 18891979 Publisher, 1946-1975 EUGENE S. PULLIAM President LOUIS A. WEIL III Publisher and C.E.O. JOHN F. OPPEDAHL Executive Editor PAUL J. SCHATT Editor of the Editorial Pages PAM JOHNSON . Managing Editor BILLSHOVER Director of Public Affairs Where The Spirit Of the Lord Is, There Is Liberty - Corinthians 3:1 7 Committee on environmental education is off to a curious start The Environmental Education Curriculum Review Committee was created to correct a perceived imbalance in the state's voluntary guidelines on how environmental education is taught. . The key word is perceived. Sen. Tom Patterson, who championed legislation to create the committee, says the evidence of a problem "was anecdotal." ... ,11c says it was business groups like "agriculture, mining, ranching and all that who were aware of the problem." For himself: "I don't know that I can even argue that there is a huge problem rather than a medium-sized problem." ,Or any problem at all. ' No survey was done of how environmental education is being taught in the state. Such a move would have been premature, anyway. Superintendent of Public Instruction C. Diane Bishop says the program, -,- ft I -J (J LINDA VALDEZ Editorial Writer The Arizona Republic which was established in 1990, is so new that she doubts much environmental education is being taught. Yet lawmakers created a committee to look at the guidelines because "information taught in many environmental education programs . represented theory as fact and encouraged political activism." Those are the words of committee chairman Rep. Rusty Bowers in a cover letter that accompanies a request for public comment on changes the committee is considering. Bowers says current guidelines don't require costbenefit analyses of environmental issues and lack a scientific base. I asked him for an example of what he doesn't like. He said his son came home from school and told Bowers that the teacher said feral dogs, not coyotes, kill sheep. Which is not a bad example. Then I asked Bowers if he had gone to the teacher to ask about the context of this piece of misinformation? No, he says, he didn't. Which is not a good approach to getting to the truth of a matter. Bowers has other problems with curriculum guidelines. For instance, he doesn't like the idea of second-graders dancing to the music of whale songs and wolf howls. That may sound more charming , than sinister to you, but Bowers says it shows that "every issue important ' to environmentalists was in" the guidelines. Which sounds like an "us vs. them" mentality that undermines his claim that he is seeking only to inject fairness into something he ' thinks is out of balance. Bowers doesn't like sixth-graders discussing the complex issue of how water released from Glen Canyon Dam affects the Grand Canyon. He's also troubled by letters he received from students in a fourth-grade class in Tucson who criticized a development project. "That's political socialization," he said. Sounds more like civics. Kristina Allen, environmental education specialist at the Department of Education, says she has had no complaints on the current guidelines under which districts develop environmental education programs. None. The current guidelines are based on "Framework for Environmental Literacy," which was developed by the (Fife Symington's) governor's task force on environmental education. But they were written before environmentalism became a dirty word in Arizona. . Bishop says the stated goal of the 1990 law to teach children the importance of the environment might lead to a pro-environment curriculum. But it doesn't preclude teaching both sides of the issue, and she doesn't see much evidence that it has precluded such an approach. In fact, you could hardly engage in a discussion of the Glen Canyon Dam issue without discussing the purpose and benefits of the dam. Rep. Chris Cummiskey, who is a member of the environmental education review committee, says he spends a lot of time in classrooms observing and talking to teachers, students and parents. He's "never heard anything to indicate there was a problem with environmental education." But he's willing to compromise. He says the original bill may have been "a little soft and flowery." It wouldn't hurt if the guidelines clearly called for a presentation of all sides of every issue. But he says that's not what's going on. "There's no interest in striking a realistic balance." The committee has "really become a platform for people who want to erode environmental education." Which makes as much sense as deciding to solve a problem you're not sure exists. T

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