Letters for August 4, 2005

SN&R supports the FBI?

Re “Standing up to corruption” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, July 21):

I was somewhat pleased to read this article. It is a rare occurrence when SN&R actually praises the efforts of law enforcement for trying to convict an innocent person. I was a bit confused, however, about SN&R’s sudden turn from being a champion of the underdog and downtrodden to being a supporter of the FBI. I have read enough articles in your “newspaper” favoring the convicted felon to know your usual stance.

With this in mind, I had to read this article twice. Officer Lewis’ initial conviction was overturned by the ultra-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and his second jury trial actually resulted in a finding of not guilty. Wow!

But wait; an innocent man going free wasn’t what this article was about. Nor was this an article in praise of Mr. Reynoso “fighting the good fight.” It was a poorly veiled attempt to cast the California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) in a negative light.

It seems ironic that in both officer Lewis’ case and the one cited from the California State Prison at Corcoran, the issue boiled down to “bad guards” and a “code of silence,” and in both cases, after years of investigations by the country’s top law-enforcement agencies, both juries found the officers not guilty.

During my 17-year tenure in corrections, I worked at eight different prisons, and, while I am not saying that in every instance staff were entirely forthcoming, for the most part, the men and women who work in the CDC were some of the finest and most honest people I have ever dealt with.

P.W. Perkins
via e-mail

Don’t let politics compromise care

Re “Laws of unintended consequences” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, July 21):

Jill Stewart wrongly tagged Senate Bill 573, authored by state Senator Gloria Romero, as “the Alcoholics Bill of Rights.” That bill did not mandate alcohol treatment for anyone. It would have removed an arcane provision from California law allowing insurers to deny payment to care providers if they treat any injury related to alcohol use.

The perilous consequence of that provision: Doctors are deterred from screening their patients for alcohol abuse, as detection may result in the denial of reimbursement. Intoxicated patients do get needed medical attention, but underlying issues related to alcohol consumption are not addressed. Because of this, problem drinkers are likely to re-injure themselves or others—ultimately costing insurers more money and placing innocent lives at potential risk.

S.B. 573 was sponsored by the California Society of Addiction Medicine and received broad support from other medical professionals, including the California Medical Association. These voices must be listened to when promulgating sound health policy.

Doctors should be able to do what is right by their patients and their professional duty. It’s too bad that politics forces them to keep alcohol problems under wraps, especially as they are confronted with the adverse consequences of alcohol use on a daily basis.

Nikos A. Leverenz
associate director, Drug Policy Alliance of Sacramento

Don’t take the Orwellian bait

Re “Guilt by association” by Jeffrey M. Barker (SN&R News, July 21):

The intellectually dishonest words of GOP operatives Matt Rexroad and Karen Hanretty are exactly what I’ve come to expect from Republicans and from the biased pundits who dominate the so-called liberal media. They are using the same strategy against [Phil] Angelides that was used against [Howard] Dean: tricking Democrats into shooting themselves in the foot by defeating their strongest and most honest candidate in the primary.

Republicans and right-wing fund-raisers knew (and now some have admitted it after the fact) that Dean was the kind of straight-shooting, brave, principled, captivating candidate who could have been the Democrats’ Reagan if given a chance to be the nominee. This is why the pro-GOP corporate national media intentionally portrayed Dean as unelectable and radical—they knew they could get Iowa caucus-goers to take the Orwellian bait and destroy this strong candidate.

I lived in Iowa during the caucuses and attended one; I know that many people who caucused for [John] Kerry or [John] Edwards preferred Dean’s ideas but had been convinced by the media that he was unelectable.

This is where Angelides’ chances are different than Dean’s. Californians are better educated, more savvy and more liberal than Iowans, or America as a whole. Schwarzenegger is less popular than Bush has ever been, especially in his first term. Angelides tends to phrase his truths more carefully than Dean does, and doesn’t sound angry the way Dean can, and the California media don’t seem to be controlled by the right wing to quite the extreme that the national media are.

It will be a bit harder for the media and Republicans to trick Californians into rejecting Angelides the way they tricked voters elsewhere into rejecting Dean and then Kerry.

Tom Soppe
Fair Oaks

Where’s the substance?

Re “Guilt by association” by Jeffrey M. Barker (SN&R News, July 21):

Here I thought Phil Angelides was the second coming of Gray Davis, a bland career bureaucrat only looking to move up the political ladder to further his career and take care of his wealthy real-estate pals.

Now I find out in your article that he is really Howard Dean!

Regardless of which politician he emulates best, I think your article highlighted one very salient point about Phil, and that is: He is bereft of any real ideas about how to fix California. He is simply hoping to ride the anti-Arnold crusade into office and praying we won’t look for substance.

In the time that he has been running, I have not heard one creative idea come out of his mouth. It is definitely time to take a closer look at his challenger, Steve Westly.

Glenn Benson
Fair Oaks

Joyful noise

Re “Outside noise” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Cover, July 14):

Christian Kiefer should be praised for giving some attention to the improvised/noise scene in Sacramento. Chad Stockdale is a great improviser, a student of the genre, and he works hard to promote the music he loves. He is very deserving of the cover story.

Great job.

Ross Hammond

Where’s the outrage over inadequate housing?

Re “Room and board, blood and glass” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, July 14):

I hope my sitting quietly reading this article didn’t disturb the staff at SN&R. When is SN&R going to start really engaging the issues it reports?

I don’t want descriptive detail about how Lee Davis has a slight accent or a skewed perspective on American values. I want to know why no one is reporting her to Adult Protective Services. What the Weems family, and other developmentally disabled tenants, are going through is not a mixed blessing; it’s criminal.

I’m a little tired of the slightly oblique, isn’t-it-ironic, trite version of human affairs I’m getting from SN&R. It’s a slap in the face to those of us who are living with inadequate housing.

Part of me is outraged about what the Weems family is going through. But another, more seasoned, part is a little surprised Jeff Weems got as far as he did. And while I really want to be angry at Lee Davis, I know she is just playing the game the way the system lets her.

We all learn to play the same game if we want to be provided social services. Learn the rhetoric (mostly religious), say what the service providers want to hear and jump through one hoop after another; and they might slip you a little information (with a wink and a nod).

These things go on because there are prominent, powerful public entities and officials lurking in the backdrop who let them go on. It wouldn’t matter if the room-and-boards were regulated any more than they already are, because no one seems inclined to pursue that sort of remedy.

So long as we have smiling faces putting their standing in the system before respect for the innate dignity of individual human life, we’re going to have to keep reading about stories like this.

Curtis Hill
via e-mail