2 role models from the news pages

Two items in the Arizona Daily Star this morning reminded me how remarkable human beings can be. The obituary notice for Dan O'Neill represented for me Mo Udall's lesson that we should "leave this place better than we found it".

Dan did exactly that, and Sharon Kha is still doing it! Sharon trekked in Nepal with our UA group years ago - perhaps 14 years ago. At our last-night dinner she was awarded the "Bear Down" award because she had persevered on a difficult trek … and she is still doing it!

I feel privileged to have known Dan and Dee O'Neill and to know Sharon Kha. Wonderful models for all of us.

Donna E. Swaim


Sainthood for Kino comes into view

Re: the March 17 Ernesto Portillo column "Pope Francis? Late scholar might have flipped."

My initial thoughts on hearing that the new Jesuit pope from Latin American chose the name Francis as his namesake was that he was honoring San Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order. Yet in a way it makes sense within context of the folklore of the Pimería Alta, in which we experience the blending of Catholic religious traditions with Native and Mexican belief systems. It was in Magdalena that Kino died on March 15, 1711, after going to celebrate the dedication Mass for the Capilla to San Xavier.

A new chapel to San Xavier was dedicated on March 10 at Magdalena.

Would it not be more than a coincidence that Pope Francis would be the pope who made our beloved Padre Kino into a saint? This could very well happen as the positio, i.e. Kino's defense for sainthood, is in the final stages of completion by the Rev. Dominic Calarco (personal communication). Then it will be forwarded to the Congregation of Saints, which may elevate Padre Kino to the next stage of canonization, that of being venerable.

Raul E. Ramirez

Retired social worker, Tucson

Strengthen background checks

Before her current tragedy, Rep. Gabby Giffords was a firearms supporter and wanted to convey that message in her campaign, i.e., by having her photo taken at a local law enforcement shooting range posing with an AR-15 semiauto rifle.

Now she and her husband Mark Kelly are on a crusade against them and high-capacity magazines. It is ironic that Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner used a Glock 19 9 mm semiauto pistol, the same as owned by Giffords. It comes standard with a 15-round magazine, the same type magazine that they are trying to ban now.

Giffords and Kelly should be supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C. ) proposed legislation strengthening current background checks by including those with mental-health problems into the NCIC federal database system instead of imposing extra burdens on law-abiding folks through their "universal background checks" proposal and bans on tactical rifles and high-capacity magazines.

David Burford

Retired, Oro Valley

Tuition inflation out of whack

Twenty-five out of 27 years. That's how often UA students have experienced tuition (and probably fee) increases.

It's reported that an increase of only 3 percent is requested for the next year with likely inceases of 5 percent in the following years.

In 2000, the tuition was $2,348 (in-state) and will be $10,391 (in-state) for 2013-14. That's a 343 percent increase in 14 years. The Consumer Price Index (urban) rose only 29 percent (177-229) from 2000 to 2012.

Yes, some state funding was reduced, but not only to universities. How about government grants? I bet they're still continuing to flow in. UA has claimed that they have internally instituted efficiencies and cost savings. A good way to get a realistic and unbiased study on how to rein in costs, eliminate waste and institute real efficiencies is for the Arizona Legislature to hire an out-of-state business analysis firm to give the UA a thorough examination with no sacred cows or "special" exemptions.

The investment made by the Legislature would without a doubt produce huge returns, resulting in lower and more realistic costs to students and taxpayers.

Tom Vana

Retired, Marana

Saving city golf actually cost-effective

Re: the March 18 TucsonCitizen.com editorial "Tucson must face facts: City golf cannot be saved."

City golf can be a no-cost community benefit. Three of the five city golf courses are operating at better than 100 percent of full-cost recovery. A fourth, Fred Enke, is close to full recovery. If you aggregate those four courses, they are costing the city nothing.

Finding other uses for all of those properties would face significant, probably insurmountable, deed and use restrictions. If some alternate use were possible, presumably as a variation on a public park, that would probably cost the city $1.5 million or more annually for maintenance, with no revenue.

And you just have abandoned juniors, high school girls and boys teams, winter visitors, retirees and hardworking citizens who look to city golf for quality, affordable recreation.

Tom Flanagan

Certified public accountant, Tucson