Sedona, Arizona
October 21, 2007

Stop feeding the health industry


What if they gave a war and nobody came?     1960's slogan

We have all shown up for the war that's taking place right now on American soil - the health industry battle against humanity.

We support it every time we make a payment to this gluttonous monster with its insatiable appetite. Still, we can never seem to please its ravenous desire for more.

Is there any way to end the vicious feeding frenzy? Contrary to what people may think, we have the power to starve it to death.

War versus well-being

Seeing how our nation just spent $100 billion on the war in Iraq during the last nine months, I wonder: What if we all just STOPPED paying those outrageous premiums?

And what if we boycotted the kowtowing and emptying of our wallets to the hospitals and collection agency Gestapo that have sold Americans into a new form of slavery?

I can already hear people shouting: I'll lose my house! I won't be able to afford my medications! If I lose my credit, I'll lose everything!

Isn't that what's already happening to us now? Where is our fear getting us? It keeps us imprisoned in a limbo of quiet desperation.

Comfort or 'discomfort' zone?

It's time to step out of our familiar comfort zones and fear-based operating systems and change the system now - ourselves. Because people are running out of options.

Is our so-called "comfort zone" really that comfortable when we live in terror of losing it all the time to the medical industry, the end of a job and the loss of a partner or breadwinner?

When comfort zones force us into financial slavery, they then become downright uncomfortable and miserable.

False security

How many of us cling to jobs we hate just so we can tap those benefits "when the time comes"?

And when disaster strikes, just how well does that insurance really cover you? Is the deductible so high that you end up paying for most of your medical needs anyway?

Many have found out the hard way that their plans are nothing to boast about. And they've got the staggering bills to prove it.

This combination of high deductibles and premiums, denied claims and other out-of-pocket costs suggests two things: first, that health insurance offers a false sense of security; and second, that it represents the greatest hoax and rip-off in American history.

Fear's tenacious grip

The health-care industry thrives  by preying on fear: What if some catastrophic accident befalls you? What if you discover a lump and are diagnosed with cancer? What if you get sick and need medication? What if, what if.

The fact remains that, in a democratic society and one of the wealthiest nations in the world, such calamities should already be addressed by our social systems the way they are in the rest of the Western world - where people still enjoy real vacations, sick time, shorter work weeks, longer lunches and health coverage.

False Evidence Appearing Real

But Americans cower to those in power out of fear - of losing their jobs, health coverage and material possessions. And then they fear government -managed health care.

Perhaps the only real fear we should have is for the way that corporate health care has managed to corrupt our well -being and peace of mind.

What is fear other than an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real, which has become the calling card of the health insurance industry and the opiate for keeping the us herded in the corral of debt.

Wondering why

Anyone who has seen SiCKO or read the health-care horror  stories in this newspaper will notice a common refrain: "What went wrong? We worked hard all our lives. How could this happen to us? What's wrong with America?"

Michael Moore sums it up this way: "Who are we?"

While his film tracks the history of health care's decline and the decisions made by our political and corporate powers that sold us out, the inherent problem really lies in some popular American presumptions: that most of our social institutions, political leaders, hospitals, state agencies and insurance companies have a conscience.

Pro-life or anti-life?

If we sit back and wait for our "leaders" to create change, we all know it won't happen - at least not until a new administration steps into the Oval Office in 2009. After all, look at what President Bush just did to America's kids.

On October 3, our "pro-life" president fulfilled his threat to veto the children's health-care bill (SCHIP), thereby denying coverage to 10 million of the nation's uninsured children.

The Sedona Observer does not see anything "pro-life," moral or pro-family about that.

Morals, not politics

Health care should not be a political issue, especially where our children are concerned.

A bipartisan majority in Congress already approved health-care legislation for children. Congress will decide whether or not to override the Bush veto any day now.

So we urge you to call 1-866-544-7573 and ask to speak with Rep. Rick Renzi. As the father of nine children, bend Renzi's ear to the plight of America's kids.

Mixed-up priorities?

Bush said the children's health-care bill was simply "too expensive" and "feared" that it would move people toward the "federalization of health care."

He added: "The policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage."

One does not need to read far in between the lines to see what is really going on here.

Obviously, Bush is not only protecting health insurance industry interests, but also his preference for spending those billions on the war in Iraq.

The paradox of this veto is that, while Bush remains staunchly opposed to HR676 and government-subsidized health care, he reaps all the benefits of such a system.

Bush: proof that socialized medicine works

As a government employee, the president receives low-cost, superior health-care privileges provided by federal insurance programs. This "socialized" and federally managed medicine is positive proof that this kind of health care does indeed work. 

(How about changing it to "moralized" medicine so we can get over the "socialized" word hang-up?)

Of course, such programs that remain so desperately needed in this country, especially by the growing numbers of the working poor, are reserved for an exclusive minority of the elite in Washington who decry them and deny them to the American people.

Worst-case scenario

What's the worst that could happen if you cut off the health insurance thugs?

Sure, they'll turn their collection fox hounds on you and make every effort to bully and harass you. But there are ways to fight them off.

Change your number and say adios to a credit bureau reporting system that is as equally corrupt as its health -care cousin.

We predict this is another paradigm that will eventually disintegrate, along with our bankrupt economic and health systems. It just can't happen soon enough.

Out for blood

What happens if you get sick or diagnosed with a serious medical condition? Consider the alternatives, choose your treatment and let the industry send its vicious flurry of ominous invoices.

Don't let them intimidate you. And, whatever you do, don't pay those criminal bills anymore.

Credit bureaus may be the modern form of debtors prison by condemning us with their oppressive numbering system. But, if they had to face mass numbers of people bucking the system, it would eventually halt this cruel and merciless tribunal.

According to Moore, $800 billion of our tax dollars goes to insurance companies. So put your money back in your wallet where it belongs and not in the hands of thieves.

Are we the new refugees?

Have the tides of immigration turned? Are we now destined to become the new immigrants, fleeing the U.S. to find health-care freedom in other lands?

If you have a serious illness or life-threatening disease, you may want to consider becoming a refugee and seek healing sanctuary in another country where citizens enjoy free access to medical care.

The American people continue to suffer needlessly and yet we allow ourselves to be herded like sheep through the health-care slaughterhouse, paying unfair debts with monies that should be used to save for retirement, pay off mortgages and credit cards, or at least to take a vacation after working 51 long weeks.

The feds already have it

The rising cost of premiums, already outrageously priced for most people, insures only one thing: industry profits.

But the real enemy is not the medical system - it is those of us who insist that government-funded health care would be a disaster.

Just take a look at the one that's already in place - the health insurance program for federal employees that's managed and funded by the government. It would seem that those at the top want to keep this fantastic program Top Secret from the rest of us.

Civil disobedience

How much more death, disaster, pain, suffering anguish and oppression will we endure before fighting back? In order to stop the insanity of a corrupt system, we must, individually and collectively,  STOP feeding the gremlins that torture and devour us.

STOP paying those outrageous bills. STOP paying those premiums. STOP buying into a system that leaves us holding the enema bag and that will put us on the street in a heartbeat.

STOP making the yacht payments and golf club membership fees for hospital and insurance company CEOs and other industry executives.

The time is long overdue for some civil disobedience or at least a march on Washington. Even our Mexican neighbors succeeded in pulling off "A Day Without Immigrants."

How about a national "Day without Premiums and Deductibles"? It appears that America needs a new Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead a long overdue march on the Capitol.

Boycott the system

The latest report states that medical bills are the leading cause of homelessness and bankruptcies, which remain at an all-time high.

In addition, more than half of them are filed by college- educated and professional women due to a serious medical condition, such as breast cancer, that inevitably leaves them with insurmountable medical bills. 

Of that half, 75 percent of those filing bankruptcy already have medical insurance.

What if everyone filed?

We say: What if everyone indebted to the corrupt system went on strike and refused to pay their bills? What if everyone filed bankruptcy?

The system would collapse while the collection jackals and hospital barracudas just might encounter a fate much like that of the millions of Americans whose lives they have destroyed.

The only real future

What is the future of a nation that thrives on the sickness and debt of its citizens? If it abandons their health needs and renders them bankrupt, then it is negating its own future.

That’s why the only future for this country is universal health care.

We must ask: What is the lesser of two evils: government incompetence or rogue bandits with no morals or ethics whatsoever? One of the two is going to be in charge of your health.

Starve the fever

American health care remains in a state of spiritual crisis for which there is no emergency room fix - because its people live in fear, yet another form of bankruptcy.

Our systems are sinking but we can't create life preservers out of archaic paradigms that only drag people down to the bottom.

Industrialized health care's feverish greed has been sustained far too long at the expense of too many decent human beings. Local people, right here in our very own back yard.

Starve the cancer of avarice in whatever way you can. Let it die so that we all can live.

Perhaps you have a better idea for how we can put this cancer into remission? We welcome every opinion and will print as many ideas as we can.

So take two aspirin and then e-mail me in the morning.

The Editors


The real cost of gas


                                                                                               Cartoon by Mark Hurwitt

Let the media revolution begin!

The purpose of journalism is to interest the public

in the public interest - John Dewey

The world is changing but journalism has not changed with it.

In his compelling article, "The Unseen Lie," journalist John Pilger writes about the disturbing state of today's media and how "corporate journalism" helped to pave the way to the war in Iraq because it relies primarily on information from government sources.

He further emphasizes that "journalists have betrayed the public by “not doing their job” and failing to challenge the current administration.  He adds: “Had the media exposed the lies, up to a million people might be alive today.”

Even Bill Moyers mirrors many of Pilger's premises in his article, "Journal Bid is Greed, Pure and Simple." He states that journalism has been "shipwrecked" by media monopolies, which should be "checking the excesses of public and private power" instead of thriving on them.

Breaking the silence

What about the excesses of power here in Arizona? Is the media reporting the truth about the political and socioeconomic issues that lurk behind the immigration debacle or about workplace violations, labor struggles and health-care atrocities right here in our own communities?

As a journalist who has worked in Arizona for more than 10 years, seven of them in Sedona, I can tell you that answer: For the most part, NO. While most reporters are making an honest effort, they still face advertiser control of editorial content and the censorship of their publishers.

Pilger says in his article that while Americans have started to wake up since 9/11, “They need truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power.” He urges a media revolution that is “the product of a people’s movement that monitors, deconstructs and counters the corporate media.” Silences, he says, can be broken.

Pilger concludes: “That great whistle blower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth, it was time to storm what he called the ‘Bastille of words.’ That time is now.”

Storming the Bastille of words

So that’s why we’ve created The Sedona Observer. To break the silence. In Sedona and all of Arizona. To report the issues that the others are ignoring and to read in between the lines for our readers about the ones they are reporting by going further beneath the surface to shed light on them.

We believe that, in light of today's overwhelming concerns, many Sedonans and Americans are starving for more analysis than mainstream journalism has to offer.

With so many vital issues neglected on an in-depth level by the media, we are taking the responsibility to address and translate them as we see best to serve the common man instead of the powerful elite.

Knowledge is power

We also feel that the dry copy, body-bag headlines, pyramid-style sentences, generic wire service fillers, regurgitated press releases and the decaffeination of today's news falls short of journalism's original mission.

News briefs and sound bites serve an attention-deficit world but lack substance or inspiring prose. And articles often fail to ask tough questions or dig deep enough to read in between the lines to offer an interpretation of what's really behind many issues.

Knowledge is power, and if we are going to address changes in health care or immigration, we're going to have to do a lot more reading, communicating and thinking before we make any decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. And the media has to pose tough questions and startling concepts that will undoubtedly upset many people.

From corruption to conviction

Gore Vidal said: "We know how false and corrupt the American media is. The people have no voice because they have no real or accurate information." The media, he claims, suppresses information and fails to provide the public with fresh perspectives or even radical approaches on the issues.

Therefore, The Sedona Observer offers immersion journalism combined with well-researched data and editorial commentary. We believe that in order to entice people to sit down and read a newspaper in today's fast-paced world, especially online, the copy had better be stimulating, lively and thought-provoking.

And we feel that if people don't start pausing long enough to read, think, write letters to the editor, engage in community and lively dialogue, then we are to blame for our problems.

The opening of minds and hearts to new possibilities can only begin with an open and heartfelt media. America needs a conscionable, uncorrupt media to report the truth about corrupt systems such as as health care. The revolution of our social systems must start with the revolution of our media since it is the flute through which the music of truth can be played.

18th century principles, 21st century technology

So while we're stepping off the grid of the traditional news story format, we're retaining journalism's time-honored Code of Ethics at the same time.

We're separating the wheat from the chaff to keep everything that's intended for the "truth-telling trade" but doing something a little different: We're restoring the lost art of muckraking in the tradition of our forefathers and the revolutionary 18th century pamphleteers but meshing it with 21st century thought and technology.

Some will mistakenly label this a blog and others may condemn it as radical propaganda or citizen media. However, it differs from those in that it is produced by an award-winning veteran journalist and other media professionals who execute their craft with the highest industry standards - without advertising, government control, business affiliations or any ties to special interest groups.

To change America, change its media

We believe that, in order for health care and other social structures to change, we must reform the media first. Because that is what influences public opinion. Indeed, great writing has always served as the catalyst for revolutions and positive social reform.

So we offer full-length narrative or literary journalism instead of shallow pyramid sentences and sound bites. We present unbridled editorial commentaries that blatantly question commonly held beliefs to look at how we might our own worst enemy.

We present controversial ideas and skewer our socioeconomic structures because we think the American public needs it now more than ever in the face of anti-human and anti-family business and government practices.

Unbridled and unprecedented

We make no bones about what we consider the truth, even if it is an editorial opinion, because we are dedicated to the common good, as John Dewey strongly advised.

We also offer something unprecedented - at least for Arizona: an entire page devoted to labor and workplace issues.

But you won't find what most newspapers designate as workplace pages with tips for writing a resume, negotiating a raise or Help Wanted classifieds. Instead, we present in-depth articles about the challenges facing today's workforce with tools to empower people on the job in an anti-worker climate.

No hidden affiliations

We have no political or corporate affiliations, nor do we represent some secret cult or spiritual group. We are not making one penny from this publication, and the site was paid for by an 86-year-old woman in New York who is battling cancer and Medicare on a fixed income (and who has never stepped foot in Sedona) - because she passionately supports both a media and health-care revolution.

We have no health insurance either.

We are journalists pure and simple who are appalled with the profit-obsessed agendas of modern media - no different than those of America's disgraceful health-care industry. (Visit our WHO page to read our bios and find out more about us.)

Still, we realize we may receive a lot of inflammatory e-mails for our stand. We also realize that is to be expected when taking the risk to publish our interpretation of the truth.

A paper for the people, by the people

The Sedona Observer is your paper. We will publish all thoughts and opinions even if they differ from ours. Because we believe every voice has the right to be heard.

Someone asked us if we were a liberal paper. Our answer is that we represent a vehicle for ALL VOICES even if our editorial commentary leans to the left. As such, we remain non-partisan and have no affiliation with any political group or party.

Our philosophy reflects the one Michael Moore demonstrates in his film SiCKO. Upon learning that a Web site devoted to attacking him was about to be dismantled because the blogger's wife needed expensive surgery, Moore anonymously covered the medical bills so the site could continue running. "He should have the right to say whatever he wants," Moore concluded.

Obviously, this newspaper is not for everyone, and we do not aspire to appeal to all tastes. If you like to read and digest deeper perspectives, than this is for you. If you're fed up with the current media, then you've come to the right place. Read it, respond to it and engage in it.

But if you prefer short, surface-scratching sound bites, sports, celebrity scandals, police blotters and obituaries, then there are thousands of other publications to satisfy your needs.

Opening our hearts

It's worth it us to stir up the controversial kettle of fish that has been simmering and boiling over way too long. Isn't that what our forefathers did? Look at the legacy they created by having the courage to take by stand for what they felt was the truth (even though most of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were either killed or had their property seized).

At the very least, we hope this paper will help to end the silence that has paralyzed America and its media. We hope it will ignite the pro-active dialogue necessary for the inevitable but positive change that must occur if we are to restore America's sense of dignity and democracy, as well as its sacred trust in journalism.

We are a nation in the midst of terrible denial. The media must resume the moral responsibility for which it was originally vested to address the difficult truths Americans dread to face: about 9/11, about the hidden agendas of the current administration, about corporate crime and most of all about the capitalistic system of health care that hangs us out to dry or leaves us six feet under.

We the people and all of our structures - the media, health care, government, economy, education, social services, business and so on - remain in desperate need of open-heart surgery. We need a biopsy of all our socioeconomic systems, putting our cancers under the microscope to determine the proper treatment.

The massive transformation of the collective consciousness and the healing of America must be rooted in compassion and wisdom and supported by a media dedicated to service, justice and truth. We hope to fill those shoes and encourage our fellow media to do likewise.

Meanwhile, what do you think? We can't wait to hear from you!

The Editors

October 21, 2007


Guest Perspective                            by Tarri Otterlee

Let's put some "care" back into our failing health-care system

How do we the people help change our “SiCKO” health-care system from big profits back to the Hippocratic Oath that each doctor took to practice by? That is the question many people are asking now.

Every American should be grateful to Michael Moore for having the courage to film the truth and show us that, even as a great nation, we lack much caring for the people who live and work here. Thank you, Michael, for your efforts on behalf of your fellow Americans, helping them to see and hear how they are really being "cared" for in their time of need and illness.

How did this happen?

In the 1970s, medical doctors and dentists condemned the idea of socialized medicine because they feared the loss of their income and lifestyles. So, in reality, they gave their power away to the insurance companies to dictate their style of practice and new income structure.  


Now we have managed care to treat the symptoms with the high usage of pharmaceutical “designer” drugs, creating overuse without healing the body as a whole.  


The HMO "M.O."

Who owns your HMO? Insurance companies now own many of these, so they are making big profits not only from your premiums, but also by serving you as a patient in their facilities and giving them total control of your health and their profit margin.


In HMOs and the majority of PPO medical practices today, doctors are told how much time a patient receives for diagnosis and treatment. Are you aware they schedule patients every 10 minutes?  If doctors give you more time, they end up running late and work very long days. In the end they experience burnout, so it does affect them as well as their patients.

In the current medical system, more than one doctor is involved in your health and they all prescribe more drugs for you, often without knowing what you are already taking.

Who pays the tab?

The drug companies wine and dine doctors just as the lobbyists wine and dine our senators, congressmen and the White House at your expense for higher profits for their corporations. The insurance and pharmaceutical industry controls your health-care options for big profit at your expense.  


Are these people declaring this as income and paying taxes on it? Everyone is getting the pay-off except you, the patient.


Steps you can take

What can you do as a patient in this uncaring system? Become pro-active in your own health care. And, before your medical appointment, write down all your symptoms, your questions and an updated list of all the medications you are taking. Take charge of your health by doing your own research and educating your doctors as well as yourself.

For your health and well-being, start looking toward alternative holistic approaches to heal the whole you, not just your symptoms. Trust the natural wisdom of your own body.

This is not to totally disregard American Western medicine and its many successes. But our system has and is failing us; as such, it can be hazardous to your health.

Change is needed. Will you help your fellow American? Let's put the care back in a "care-less" health-care system.

After 22 years in health care, Tarri Otterlee now works as an alternative health-care professional. She is an energy therapist Certified in Healing Touch from the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing, a Traditional Usui Reiki Master and a Medical Intuitive who practices in Sedona, Arizona. E-mail totterlee@aol.com.  

        In My Humble Opinion             Special Letters to the Editor  

Observations on National Health Care

I saw SiCKO. Indeed, it is quite powerful, and I would love to see health care like that. Certainly that is the way it should be. Having said that, however, I have a few concerns.


1.  How will it be paid for it?  Exactly what is the mechanism?

I notice in the movie that Moore never discusses how all those wonderful countries, whose health care he raves about, pay for it. I'm guessing it will have to do with the personal income tax.


I have been in involved with the Patriot Movement (often referred to as the honesty-in-taxation movement) for 28 years. I also spent a year in prison for willful failure to file. I have been dealing with recalcitrant employers for some time who swear up and down that they are just obeying the law when they "demand" I disclose my Social Security number and while they force me to submit Forms W-4 and I-9.


Unfortunately, federal law clearly shows that these "well-intending," law-abiding, non-federal employers haven't a clue what they are talking about. But that doesn't stop them from raining on my parade, with all the best of intentions.


It is important to take cognizance of the illegality of IRS collection practices and non-federal-employer hiring practices relative to the income tax because it is clear to those of us in the know (who have followed this battle religiously for years) that the IRS and the income tax are on their last legs.


So if the income tax is on a short leash and getting shorter, how do we pay for this health-care plan?


2.  Federal Jurisdiction

Most folks don't realize that the federal government has no authority to run a Social Security program in the states of the Union. So how does one get benefits?  By volunteering into "national" jurisdiction, wherein they can be tagged with the income tax. 


Byron Beers wrote a treatise entitled, “America: National or Federal?”  He points out that the core issue of the Civil War was the conflict between federal (represented by the South) and the national (represented by the North) "characters" of government.


The little known fact is that the nation (or national character of government) is in the District of Columbia, the enclaves and the territories where the U.S. government has essentially dictatorial powers. The federation (federal character of government) is in the states where the U.S. government has very limited powers (to do only certain things, and no others).

The national character won and subsequently escaped the national jurisdiction into the states of the Union; we see the results of that today with Bush looking more like Hitler every day.


Contrary to the way the federal government is operating these days, the federal government constitutionally has very limited jurisdiction in the states. Lawfully speaking, it cannot do just anything it wants to do. Never mind how it actually functions today.


Returning to Social Security, one must volunteer into the national jurisdiction, the dictatorship, to obtain those benefits. Likewise, if we have a "national" health care system, do you see the problem?  It is likely that one will be forced to volunteer into the national dictatorship to obtain this care. One has no rights in a dictatorship. Or, rather, one has only those rights the dictator chooses to bestow.


3.  North American Union

Recently, Bush has joined with the Mexican president and the Canadian prime minister to ensnare us into a North American Union via treaty, which is to be very similar to the European Union. When that actually takes effect, the constitution will be out the window, and Bush and company, the American Nazis, can do anything they want.


We would then be totally ensnared in that "national" dictatorship. That is, they can force the income tax, at whatever rates they wish, and give us "national" health care in a totally socialistic/fascistic system.


Notice that Moore talks about the other socialistic functions that society carries out. Interestingly, most of those functions are instituted by the states, not the "national" government. And the other one, the postal function, is one of those "federal" powers to be implemented in the states. No constitutional violations there. However, it is clear from its title that the health-care system he advocates is "national."


I find it interesting that Michael Moore's movie was released not long after Bush signed us into the North American Union without any congressional discussion whatever and without the mass of American people knowing that he was doing it.


Is this timing coincidental?  Are we to rally round national health care and swallow the North American Union hook, line and sinker?  Is that the reason for the current hue and cry for national health care?  Is it a diversionary tactic? 


In his movie, Moore studiously stays away from discussion of how this health-care system will be funded. Is that an accident?  I doubt it. Dictatorships tend to give the people something with one hand to placate them while they take what they want with the other hand. I suspect that is what is happening.


The IRS and the income tax are coming unglued as they are beginning to lose the conventional legal battle to shore them up. To those of us paying attention to this epic struggle, clearly they are losing, and they will go down in flames – if they don't take an entirely different tack (other than the legal one).


Additionally, I recall Moore's movie about the Columbine massacre. His approach was a clear attack on the right to bear arms that aimed us at gun confiscation, a socialistic/fascistic tool. Was that a precursor to where he is aiming with his current venture? Is Michael Moore a wolf in sheep's clothing?  Is he a tool of the Neo cons?


Granted, the "national" health-care system looks great. I would love to have that kind of health care. In an ideal world, that is the way health care should be. No doubt. But I ask again: How will it be funded?  Will we have to resign ourselves to the income tax and the North American Union to get it?


We need to look at this proposed health-care system very closely to make certain that it isn't masking something else.


Alan Painter, Sedona  


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Vox Populi

Let the voice of the

people be heard!

-- Albert Parsons, May Day uprising in Haymarket Square, Chicago, 1886

Letters to the Editor

Sedona Verde Valley Times welcomes the Observer


As a journalist with 30-years experience, I learned the more eyes you have looking at an issue, the more information we have to better understand it.

Living in Sedona for two years, I have found a myriad of issues and challenges affecting us that need coverage, understanding, action and solution.

Soon Sedona will have two more news portals providing community members additional perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of our city’s needs and problems.

We of the Sedona Verde Valley Times welcome the publication of The Sedona Observer and firmly believe in the power of the press and the need for expanded coverage of issues at hand.

More news publications can only enhance the quality of news reporting and increase public awareness of vital issues affecting us now, which will impact us even more so in the future.

I met TSO founder and editor Catherine Rourke before I moved to Sedona and came away from our first meeting profoundly impressed by her journalistic fervor, honesty, professionalism, passion for righteousness, fairness and equality.

I look forward to reading her cyber publication and contributing as well to a news portal I believe will set a new standard for journalism in our community.

There are great challenges facing Sedona, our county, state and nation. A united Fifth Estate can help us better prepare to meet these challenges and aspire to a more informed, involved and active community.

I encourage everyone to read The Sedona Observer on a regular basis. I know I will.

Tommy Acosta


Sedona Verde Valley Times


[Editor’s Note: We commend the Sedona Verde Valley Times for taking the initiative to extend this gracious gesture toward its fellow media. This represents the highest essence of journalism integrity and a leading example of the kind of media alliance we advocate on our JUST for Journalists page. Likewise, we salute the Sedona Verde Valley Times as a much needed vehicle to serve all voices in the Sedona and look forward to its next issue. We hope other media will follow their exemplary manner of forging journalism unity on behalf of the community.


Tommy Acosta happens to be a fellow alumni from the City University of New York where we were in the same graduating class; yet we didn’t cross paths until recently in Sedona. He is a dedicated journalist who will enhance Sedona media with his insightful prose. We look forward to working together as media allies on behalf of the common good for all of Sedona and America.]


Northern Arizona needs a newspaper with substance

We live in a time when many newspapers fail to report the underlying truth about today's political and socioeconomic issues that affect working people – issues that all people need to read about.

It would be great if the Verde Valley and Prescott area communities could have a newspaper that offers more analytical perspectives regarding the critical issues that impact us all – health care, education, civil rights, seniors, the economy, the war, real tax reform, environmental protection and a comprehensive overhaul of our immigration laws.

It would also be refreshing to read interesting articles that offer a broader perspective – not just locally but nationally as well.

We rarely read about labor and the serious workplace matters of concern to Arizona’s workers, and we seldom hear about the national decisions that influence them.

With the upcoming elections, a newspaper that translates the propositions and explains the candidates’ platforms in greater detail questions would really benefit all voters. As a former candidate for state representative, I am certainly aware of the lack of in-depth reporting on electoral issues.

The citizens of Arizona should have a greater voice in their media – one that takes the responsibility to focus on the concerns of middle-class families, seniors and the poor. 

I am confident that The Sedona Observer will pave the way to greater freedom of speech for all Arizonans in these critical times. I applaud your efforts and wish you much success.


James Kimes

Prescott Valley  

2004 Democratic candidate, District

1, Arizona House of Representatives


Join in the discussion

on America's health care 

I wanted to let you know about a national grass-roots dialogue on American health care taking place right now and up through the presidential primaries in February 2008 that may be of interest to your readers.

It is called America’s Dialogue, and the Web site can be viewed at:

The centerpiece of these national discussions is a new 27-minute video, titled “Americas Dialogue I,” which is already freely available on our Web site, YouTube and on Google Video.  It is also available as a DVD.

People all over America will be viewing the video and conducting grass-roots discussion meetings during these months. America’s Dialogue is an opportunity to learn what is really going on in health care and also where our candidates stand on the issues. It is a call to action.

I would appreciate it if you could let your readers know about this, and I hope they can tell all their friends across the country.

Jim Hilgendorf
America's Dialogue
P.O. Box 12144
Eugene, OR  97440
Phone: 541-484-7529



Papers see no profit in reporting SiCKO stories

A friend forwarded your original announcements back in early July calling for health-care horror story submissions. Then my husband and I saw SiCKO later that month when it came to Sedona.

We were so moved by the film as well as your effort to document local stories. What a great idea to know what's going on around here! We figured there would be a similar request from other local papers to gather such testimonials but were surprised to find not a single one.

Then we were looking through some papers and noticed all the ads and announcements for local clinics and hospitals. That's when we realized that the papers could lose these medical advertisements if they ran a story about some of the questionable practices going on at these institutions.

Our neighbor is a nurse and she has told us how the hospital is so understaffed that nurses simply can't take proper care of their patients. Yet this facility seems very profitable, especially seeing how it cost us nearly $1,000 to walk into its emergency room doors last year.

We commend you on your visionary approach to report these local stories for the benefit of everyone in the Verde Valley — and apparently without any profit in it for yourself. We hope our city leaders will read them with open eyes so that they can see how many people are actually suffering behind the gilded fronts of this affluent community.

At the very least you are putting out a very important reminder to all of us about what we need to be looking at. It's time we all woke up and took off our rose-colored glasses for a good hard look at what's lurking behind the deceiving beauty of the red rocks. Way to go!

Carol Anne Harrison



Local merchants need to learn customer service

A friend forwarded a copy of your announcement stating that you are a new paper looking for health-care stories. I am actually writing to express my concern about another horrible situation in this town - the poor customer service exhibited by many of our local merchants.

Don't get me wrong. There are a few shopkeepers who, along with their employees, are always very friendly and cordial. But I am appalled by the large number of businesses where the service is either awful or nonexistent.

Why is this so in a community that is supposed to be all about "small-town character" and supporting its local merchants? Very often the service is so bad that I leave in frustration. I can't even get a friendly smile or greeting from some front counter people, including the store managers themselves.

Are they burned out from the constant assault of tourist crowds? Maybe so in Uptown or high-traffic shops. But there are a couple of places that offer services primarily to locals and where you rarely run into tourists. Yet these places treat their own community customers like we're a nuisance - no matter how polite we are.

I have noticed that some of these unpleasant businesses are also the only game in town. That means they treat you poorly because they have no competition for their product or service. And I'm not talking about restaurants, which is another story.

Poor attitudes often go along with poor wages. Yet I'm talking about the business owners themselves, people who have seen me frequent their business for years, who can never say hello or crack a smile.

I sometimes dread going in some of these places because of the "wet blankets." And businesses that have waits often do not take the next customer in line. Instead, the clerks just choose whomever they please to serve next.

There are some businesses where the people are friendly and the service is excellent, like the nail shops. But then look at how many there are.

The Chamber of Commerce says we should all buy local. Between the high prices (due to ridiculously high commercial rents) and the lousy attitudes behind the counters, I'd rather take my money somewhere else.

Maybe the chamber should start hosting customer service workshops for proprietors who have no right to be in business with such poor social graces. It's just bad business.

Rachel Caparella



Media focuses on wrong aspects of global warming

When I was a boy growing up in southern California, all of us kids had trouble breathing on summer days that were exceptionally smoggy. We experienced chest pains, shortness of breath and burning pain in our lungs, whether or not we had asthma, lung or other problems not attributable to the smog.

It is a well-documented and well-accepted medical fact that human-induced pollution is bad for people. That alone is plenty more than enough reason to get rid of as much pollution as possible, as quickly as possible.

Our ever-myopic U.S. media, as usual, is focusing on the wrong thing. Whether or not human pollution is causing global warming is irrelevant to the larger issue of increased lung disease, cancer, liver disease and heart problems that result from human pollution.  It is also very bad for plant and animal food sources that we depend upon to survive.

Such problems are proven to have increased at a significantly greater rate than population growth in both China and India over the past 10 years, since pollution has skyrocketed in their various urban centers along with their surging economies.

There is no legitimate argument that can be made against curbing and eliminating human-induced pollution as quickly as possible. 

Case closed.

And, by the way, Al Gore is absolutely right about human pollution being significantly harmful to our planet and every living thing on it, whether or not he is correct about every detail.

Richard Aberdeen

Nashville, Tenn.


Sedona needs more papers and trees, less development

I saw on the tree blog that you are starting a new paper. I think that’s great because this town has sorely needed one for a long time. As a tourist destination with a reputation for spiritual and creative inhabitants, Sedona lacks an interesting paper that reflects the level of sophistication here.

Some of the smallest towns in the country have high quality publications known around the world for their stimulating content. We should be right up there with the best of them.

I have lived here for many years and am always amazed by the fascinating and accomplished people who have relocated here from big cities. Coming from the Bay area myself, I miss its excellent variety of papers that serve different tastes.

But here we only have one or two bland flavors. We have nothing with top-notch writing and art that shows who we really are here and that’s embarrassing for a city visited by millions from all over the world.

I hope you will be writing something about the trees so we can understand what is really going on. The stories I read so far have only made me more confused. I am very disappointed in the city’s lack of response here. The whole thing has been appalling.

I agree with Jim Law – not one tree should be taken down. That is unthinkable for a community like ours. Didn’t anyone see An Inconvenient Truth? And this road “improvement” should never have happened in the first place. It will destroy businesses and the environment.

It is very sad for me after living here so long to see the rapid deterioration going on due to development. The open spaces I came here for are disappearing along with these magnificent trees. Now I hear they are going to destroy the beauty of Cook’s Hill with buildings and parking lots. What's happening to Sedona?

I have always said that Hwy. 179 should be left alone. The road is not unsafe; we are. The problem is incompetent humans who drive it carelessly. If you can’t drive it fast enough then live someplace else where there are plenty of eight-lane freeways to speed you around. You might find L.A. very appealing.

I came here to slow down and get away from that and to be surrounded by nature. That is why people come to Sedona. But we are now turning it into the places we left behind with strip malls, fast-moving highways, timeshares and chain stores. We have pushed out so many small shops and replaced them with nothing but mortgage title companies. We look like the old Western towns with all their opportunistic storefronts.

My hat’s off to you for giving Sedona a much needed newspaper, hopefully different than the bland diet we are forced to swallow for lack of anything else. Many have tried and been put out of business by the powers that be. Good luck.


Mark Sachowski

Village of Oak Creek