Letters for August 28, 2003

Dear Clueless in Sacramento

Re “America’s next top super governor” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, August 21):

If the casting director for the next Clueless sequel needs a star, she ought to cast Jill Stewart in the leading role. As usual, her whiney Capitol Punishment column is short on facts, showcasing her typical ignorance about policy and the legislative process.

Contrary to Ms. Stewart’s report that the governor is rushing to name judges because of the recall, the facts show that the governor has made 45 judicial appointments this year, compared with 90 last year (an average of 5.3 per month in 2003 vs. 7.3 per month in 2002). So much for trying to stack the deck at the last minute.

Leave it to Stewart to quote the campaign manager for right-wing Senator Tom McClintock to make her case for her by charging there is some type of quid pro quo for an appointment—a pretty bold charge made without any evidence whatsoever. But hey, when did the facts get in the way of one of her stories?

Stewart also claims that the governor has made “rushed deals” on two major pieces of legislation, the financial-privacy bill and legislation that would allow undocumented workers to apply for driver’s licenses. The governor has indicated for more than two years that he would sign both pieces of legislation. Now, after years of negotiation, balanced legislation on both subjects is on its way to becoming law with his signature.

Lastly, Stewart also doesn’t seem to get that the vehicle-license fee increase was triggered automatically. In 1998, Governor Pete Wilson signed the law that automatically triggers the restoration of fees back to 1998 levels. This isn’t an act by the current governor or the Legislature.

And in no case is the fee being tripled; fees are being restored to the same rates that motorists paid five years ago. Nearly all of the revenue from this tax increase goes back to our communities for firefighting, libraries, police and other local services.

Steven Maviglio
press secretary for Governor Gray Davis

Registering nurses

Re “Doctors on the fly” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, August 14):

I read your article with great interest. It was a good article, which portrayed the doctors involved in a very good light.

I have worked with Dr. [Mary Cunningham-Lusby], and I will tell you she is well-loved by her patients and co-workers. She, being an emergency department physician, only worked in the emergency room, but patients would frequently ask if she also did clinic. They wanted her as their private physician. What a blessing she is to mankind.

I did have one complaint about your article. I understand that the title is, “Doctors on the fly.” It could be more appropriately titled, “Volunteers on the Fly.” The only other people you mentioned by name were Alfredo and the nursing assistant who had been tragically killed in the accident in 1999.

I don’t feel a nurse should have to die to get his or her name in print. All of the volunteers risk their lives going to these remote areas to help people. I feel it would show greater respect to them and their efforts to use their names when referring to them.

Again, thank you for the article. It is a motivating article in a time when too many people do not take the time to help their fellow man.

Teresa Jones, registered nurse
via e-mail

Paranoids are paying attention

Re “It’s not paranoia if they’re watching” (SN&R Letters, August 14):

In Lewis Green’s letter about the story “FBI nabs suspected bookworm” (SN&R Essay, July 31), he says he’d like to see more “objective articles” in SN&R. My question to him is: Why? The corporate-controlled media give him that on a daily basis, or as near to it as the daily sanitized news will deliver.

SN&R gives us a glimpse at the failings of our government and its agencies in the form of this article that we won’t find anywhere in the mainstream outside of the Internet or non-U.S. media, and I applaud them for it.

If you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention!

Bob Kampmann

Keep America safe and free

Re “Repudiate the Patriot” (SN&R Editorial, August 7):

Thank you for helping keep this all-important issue in the forefront. What could be more important than keeping America free? Relinquishing any aspect of our freedom would not make us more secure, but less. Ben Franklin once said that those who would trade their liberty for more security deserved neither.

In my opinion, the “Patriot” Act—and other related executive orders, laws and fiats enacted since 9/11—attack the very essences of democracy and freedom. It’s difficult for many of us to even begin to imagine what life would be like without the freedoms we take for granted. And we’ve come to think of freedom as somehow inviolable. It isn’t; it can be taken away. The old expression goes, “You don’t know what you have until you lose it.” Well, let’s not lose it.

Let’s persuade our community to officially come out in opposition to these erosions of our Bill of Rights. Let’s remind the Sacramento City Council of the oath that each of them swore to when they took office: to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.” Let’s hold them to that oath and urge them to pass a resolution in opposition to the “Patriot” Act.

Let’s keep America safe and free.

David R. Kimball

Immigrants Patriot-ically detained

Re “Repudiate the Patriot” (SN&R Editorial, August 7):

The SN&R editorial was correct about the dangers posed by the Patriot Act when it noted that the law includes “the detention of immigrants without probable cause.” As reported in In These Times and The Progressive, legal immigrants in California are already feeling the effects of this legislation.

Cerritos College math instructor Hasan Hasan, a Kuwaiti immigrant, was twice arrested by the FBI and Long Beach police simply because his ex-roommate told a lie to the police: that Hasan was a member of the terrorist organization Fatah. Hasan is waiting for an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) deportation hearing.

Another Middle Eastern immigrant who was targeted was Iranian Behrooz Arshadi. Arshadi works in marketing with his wife in Los Angeles. When the INS ordered all immigrants to report in by December 16, 2002, Arshadi showed up to report and subsequently was arrested and held in a holding tank for three days without any charges brought against him.

These are just two examples I have seen of Middle Eastern immigrants who have been detained and harassed and have had their spirits broken. Believe me, there are more immigrants out there who will be, or are currently being, targeted by the FBI, INS and local police for no reason.

This is why the Sacramento City Council should pass a resolution condemning the Patriot Act and urge local police not to cooperate with federal authorities when they conduct their investigations.

Nigel Nieva

City hasn’t repealed First and Fourth amendments … yet

Re “Repudiate the Patriot” (SN&R Editorial, August 7):

Bravo for your concise editorial summarizing content of Patriot and Patriot II and the rising public backlash to these abominable attacks on our constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. The authorities in our city seem to believe that the First and Fourth amendments have been repealed by passage of the Patriot Act.

For those who watched or participated in the permitted march to protest the U.S. government’s invitation-only agricultural summit, the chilling tactics of intimidation and “overwhelming force” used on the marchers and endorsed in public the next day by the mayor and the chief of police infringed upon the people’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest.

As one of the marchers at the front, I was staring into multiple camera lenses pointed by people with police-issued identification. This act of intimidation had the desired effect, as I found it unnerving. Watching the moving phalanx of California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers in riot-gear surrounding us, I was reminded of those grainy film clips taken in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. I also observed pedestrians subject to unwarranted search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

I, a 60-year-old wearing a small sign stating “no violence to people, property or nature,” was shoved roughly in the back and into the street at the end of the march by a CHP officer. After I had a chance to turn around to see my assailant, the CHP officer ordered me to “get back in the street.” So, at least, after the fact, I was given a reason for being attacked.

Several of the restrictions placed on the marchers resulted from an emergency temporary ordinance passed shortly before by the city council. It appears that the city mothers and fathers have the impression that passage of the USA Patriot Act has somehow repealed the First and Fourth amendments. No matter what members of the city council think, the methods of overwhelming force used by the military in Iraq, justified or not, are not appropriate for use on peaceful American civilians legally expressing their right to protest.

In the name of liberty and freedom, we must not allow our liberties to be so easily stripped away. This sort of outrageous attack on our basic rights must be stopped now. I want my country back!

Francis Palmer