Letters for April 26, 2001

The AG on how much pot is too much

Re “Cannabis Crisis” by Sharon Sharpnack (SN&R Guest Comment, March 22):

I read with great interest Ms. Sharpnack’s guest commentary addressed to me, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, in the Sacramento News & Review of March 22, 2001, regarding Proposition 215. It is true that as a result of Proposition 215’s vague wording, counties are interpreting Proposition 215 in different ways resulting in significant disparity in enforcement policies throughout California.

Foremost among these variations at the local level is the amount of marijuana a person may possess for medicinal purposes. Without adequate scientific research that can serve as the factual basis for determining the amount of marijuana an individual requires, no one can state with any certainty what amount of marijuana is appropriate. This is primarily a medical issue; it is my view that standards for how much a person may possess for medicinal purposes should be determined by the Legislature after consideration of valid medical research. Proposition 215 does not direct my office to develop such standards, as your commentary mistakenly argues.

Senator John Vasconcellos has introduced a bill this current legislative session (Senate Bill 187) that would require the California Department of Health Services to issue emergency regulations setting forth quantity guidelines. Most leaders in the California law enforcement community support this effort, as well as an identification system that would protect patients and caregivers from arrest.Like many initiatives before it, Proposition 215 was poorly drafted. Many of the difficulties in implementing Proposition 215 are a result of the ambiguous language in the measure. Additionally, its implementation has been frustrated by federal law and federal officials who refuse to yield to state law. I assure you that I along with many others in the state government are working to find a way to comply with the voters’ support for medicinal marijuana. Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns.

Bill Lockyer
California Attorney General

Who’s the most maligned?

Re “Ethnic Stereotyping In the Media” by Dr. Fausto Avendaño (SN&R Guest Comment, April 19):

I got a chuckle out of Dr. Avendaño’s whining, halfhearted article. He completely left out one of this country’s most maligned ethnic groups, African-Americans. We have seen these scenes hundreds of times in movies and TV dramas—black pimps, street walkers and criminals. These scenes are used to make an “instant point” and impact.

I disagree with Dr. Avendaño on the issue of foreigners stereotyping Americans. Well, blacks are Americans, and they are stereotyped in foreign media and American publications in foreign countries. Actor Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, made a point of this when their son was murdered by a Russian immigrant. I have traveled to Mexico and other countries, and have experienced hurt on many occasions because of this.

I suggest that Dr. Avendaño broaden his perspective and writings in this area. His students at CSUS could benefit from this approach.

W. Johnsson
via e-mail

State government as unusual

Re “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, April 12):I really appreciated your piece on Mary-Alice. Thanks. I don’t know any of the people involved, yet I was disturbed by the familiarity of it all.

Probably anyone who has worked in government any length of time has experienced something similar in kind, if not degree. This, to be sure, was an extreme case, and with so many of the principals not talking, one can only piece the facts together based on Cosmo Garvin’s careful reporting.

Certainly both my wife and I could find something familiar in our experiences in state government. Office politics are not, of course, limited to the public sector. But as a sometimes student of public management, I think matters do seem to reach unusual extremes in government. Why is this? At the risk of making light of a serious matter, I wonder if it could be because we have too much free time on our hands. The private sector simply could not afford to devote so much of its resources to activities that subtract value from what it must do to survive. Free of any real accountability for results, the bureaucracy grinds on, every man for himself. This is a failure of leadership by our elected managers and their appointees, and the failure is entirely nonpartisan.

Name withheld upon request
via e-mail

Hey SN&R, wrong victim

Re “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, April 12):While I sympathize with Mary-Alice Coleman, the story should have been on Labib Doumit. He is the epitome of what has gone on in the workplace since 1992 to older and minority employees. Mary-Alice Coleman sides with his supervisors only to validate her case in court. Conspiracies in the workplace are of course nothing new. It’s a shame that Ms. Coleman had to show the business as usual in the workplace to get it printed in the News & Review.

Dina Padilla
Citrus Heights

Tax-funded psychodrama

Re “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, April 12):Mary-Alice Coleman is to be commended for taking action to warn Ms. Herold and Ms. Harris of the potential danger to their lives. The actions of Berte and Gomez are incomprehensible. To think an investigation is more important than someone’s well-being is the height of arrogant stupidity.

While I know that department was full of hacks, I did not realize it had amateur psychologists who can determine if an individual is going to carry out his death dreams. I shudder when I think my taxes go to pay the salaries of these people.

James G. Updegraff

Fight the attack

I want to thank Carol Hartman, writer of “Conquering Fear” (SN&R News, April 12). It’s time that women stand up against the fear and violence that we endure everyday. I learned self-defense in the military and had also taken classes such as the ones at “Capital City Model Mugging.” These classes saved my life.

I lived in Chico in 1987 and was working as a volunteer for a nonprofit agency. One day a very deranged man came into the office. I was the only person in the immediate area. He attacked me and tried to rape me, but I fought back with all the strength I had. He didn’t rape me, but he did beat me up pretty badly. But, I was alive and stood up for myself. Because of the excellent training I had in self-defense I was able to determine how to defend myself.

After the attack I contacted Rape Crisis Intervention in Chico. For more than three years I received the best counseling and I was never charged for it. I eventually became a Rape Crisis Counselor and for the past 15 years I have worked with abuse victims, both male and female.

I truly believe that in this violent world both female and male children should be taught self-defense in the schools. They need to know what to do if a perpetrator approaches them. They need to know that it’s all right to say “No” to unwelcome advances from strangers and family members that are trying to abuse them.

I’ve found in my lifetime that women’s intuition is the best deterrent to abusive crime. If you feel fear from anyone, there is a reason; our intuition is protecting you.

Vera Farris
Citrus Heights

Too close to reality TV

Re “Gray’s Flack Attacks” (SN&R Letters, April 5th):

SN&R is doing a great job covering the state’s bailout of PG&E/Edison’s power scam. Steven Maviglio’s attempt to save Gray Davis’ milquetoast leadership is laughable and all too obvious. When I think of the 4-year-old girl on life-sustaining equipment forced into a blackout caused by PG&E (SF Chronicle 3/01) and unable to use her breathing machine, it is at the very least criminal. How about a 90-year-old Sacramento man who had to pay a $400 utility bill when normally they were averaging $120 per month? Or countless disenfranchised elderly people who lost their nest eggs in PG&E utility stocks?

Davis blames Republicans for inheriting the power debacle. Davis-Maviglio are producing their own reality-based TV show, coming to a power switch near you. It’s called “Blackout!” Starring one lame governor, Gray Davis and the $500,000 campaign contribution he took from the utilities along with 140 legislators getting theirs, the 4-year-old girl, the 90-year-old man and a host of angry people in the dark.

Davis’ lack of political fortitude and vision about the power crisis is an embarrassment and he should step down. There are plenty of clean sustainable alternatives to achieving power that he failed to embrace. Bailing out and dealing with companies like PG&E after a $333 million lawsuit (Erin Brockovich) with chromium-6 should be a good spiritual-political barometer and indicator into how a company like PG&E operates. The only thing Davis and the legislators care about is the campaign contributions calling from the loudspeaker in their wallets. Obviously it’s not the people. Looks like the sequel will be “Out of Office.” Citizens have a right to know what scumbags like Davis, Maviglio and all those greedy legislators are up to. It’s not a power crisis but a political one. They are little boys in big suits. SN&R, keep up the good work!

George Holden