Letters for February 12, 2004

It takes an accountable cottage

Re “Homeless agency seeks cutback pardon” by Amy Yannello (SN&R News, February 5):

It’s a shame that Sacramento Cottage Housing is facing the threat of drastic cutbacks. Their services have been effective.

A bit of history: Prior to Robert Tobin’s accepting his current job, business and neighborhood representatives on the Sacramento County and Cities Homeless Board (SCCHB) fought hard for the county to install a reliable data-gathering system. We identified an urgent need to monitor nonprofit provider effectiveness of moving homeless through the various programs to enable clients to meet goals of self-sufficiency.

We knew that the 1990s’ best of economic times and plush funding wouldn’t last forever. In 1989, providers received $2 million to provide services, increasing about $2 million each year, through this past year, when the board of supervisors, with [Housing and Urban Development] funding, allocated $22 million. Homeless providers on SCCHB, except the veteran services group, fought bitterly and successfully to stop the county from developing and implementing a system to hold providers accountable.

We also felt that the day may come when the board of supervisors would have to make tough decisions to use limited funds to reward the best-performing nonprofit providers. The lean years have arrived. Now all providers must pay for that shortsighted, self-serving attitude of a few. Unfortunately, the homeless will suffer most.

Dale Kooyman
Sacramento County and Cities Homeless Board member

Tasteless idolatry

Re “Why American Idol sucks” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Arts&culture, January 29):

I thought your article on American Idol was excellent, but I take exception to the critique of Rick Kushman.

Kushman is as dull, fatuous and annoyingly tasteless as they come. But he writes for the Scene section of The Sacramento Bee, a portion of the paper so numbingly trivial it publishes daily articles by high-school guidance counselor Anita Creamer. By focusing on Kushman, it almost undermines the Idol argument and becomes more a critique on an old guy’s bad taste. I realize that, by implication, it becomes a condemnation of an America made of bad taste similar to Kushman’s … and maybe that’s the point, and I’m only now catching it.

Robert Biegler

Difficult and unbiased

Re “Inside the abortion clinic” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, January 29):

This was a great piece of unbiased reporting on a difficult issue. It did a great job dealing with the pull of the decision that women have to make.

Norris Burkes
chaplain, Sutter Medical Center

Equal time for choosing life

Re “Inside the abortion clinic” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, January 29):

Pro-life women who choose not to abort their “unplanned” unborn children belong to every religion and race, and they should be allowed to have more of their voices heard in the mainstream media, which appears to fully support Planned Parenthood and their abortion business.

Please give them equal time and headline the article in your paper, “I chose life rather than abortion.”

M. Kunert

It’s a job, not a conflict of interest

Re “Blowing the cash” (SN&R Bites, January 29):

Note to Bites: The hiring of Republican political strategist Mike Murphy as a consulting producer for Dennis Miller’s new show on CNBC is not a “conflict of interest,” any more than hiring Democratic strategists Paul Begala and James Carville to host CNN’s Crossfire. Thank God it’s still a free country and people can work where they want.

If you disagree with Dennis Miller politically, fine; just say so. When will the left stop trying to criminalize every political difference?

Gregg Wardrip

Know your pubs, bub

Re “Brewing optional” by Lark Park (SN&R Dish, January 29):

Your Dish column usually informs and entertains, but as a beer lover who visits many brewpubs, I find your brewpub reviews to be lacking. The beer is barely acknowledged, which is like reviewing sushi bars and treating sushi as an afterthought.

Brew It Up! pours over 20 diverse beers made on the premises—beer paradise—but columnist Lark Park only briefly mentioned sampling two fairly light beers.

Vanilla Cream Stout, Northern Mild Nutty Brown Ale, Engine #2 Ale, Dunkel Bock, Belgian Tripple, [India Pale Ale], [Extra Strong Bitter], Oatmeal Stout, Czar’s Tar (chocolate taste works, but you have to be in the mood for a really sweet stout) and Big Valley Red (chocolate flavor with pronounced citrus presence—odd but tasty) are very worthy beers, and I can’t even claim to have tried everything they make. Scotch Ale (no smoky taste like such a beer should have) is the only beer that I would recommend to flat out avoid.

Sean Lemar

They’re not guards!

Re “Correct this!” (SN&R Editorial, January 29):

Who in the hell wrote this editorial? He or she does not have a clue what goes on behind the state-prison walls.

Yes, you hear about the incidents of corruption like the one in Corcoran State Prison, but the state-prison system is far from being “out of control.” For the most part, we are trained professionals who take our jobs seriously. I think you just have a personal problem with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) already has put many considerations on the table to make budget cuts; we at least are making an effort. If you are crying over the so-called 37 percent increase in salary over the next five years, we are simply trying to keep up and be competitive with other law-enforcement salaries in the state. CDC salaries are lower than [those at] many state law-enforcement agencies.

Your suggestion about releasing nonviolent offenders won’t work. The majority of these guys are in for something related to violence or sexual misconduct. And do drug rehabs really work? The answer is “rarely.”

We keep offenders where they belong, behind prison walls. That’s where the public wants them. That’s where they belong. OK, this child molester doesn’t have any violent offenses; let’s release him! You’re a moron for even suggesting that.

How about this: Whatever salary you earn for writing these ridiculous articles, let’s cut into that! Maybe you guys are earning too much.

Better yet, why don’t you come inside my prison and try to work an eight-hour shift without a gun surrounded by thousands of murderers, rapists, child molesters, bank robbers, arsonists and drug dealers. If you make it through the shift, I’ll gladly give you my state paycheck. We have the toughest beat in the state. We deserve our pay just like all the other peace officers deserve their pay.

One last thing: Quit calling us guards! You watch way too many old prison movies. We are state correctional peace officers, and don’t you forget it!

J. Gomez
state correctional peace officer
via e-mail

Not hopeful about a correction

Re “Correct this!” (SN&R Editorial, January 29):

I cannot share your optimism that the recent legislative hearings will set the dysfunctional prison and parole systems on the path to reform. The public views the purpose of the system not as rehabilitation, but rather as a vehicle for retribution and punishment accomplished by long prison sentences.

The Legislature, even if it is willing, cannot change the direction of the system without strong leadership from the governor. I do not see that type of effort coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger, particularly taking on the CCPOA and the “lock them up and throw the key away” crowd. What reform will occur will be through actions of the federal courts.

James G. Updegraff III

Twisted envy

Re “Really twisted” (SN&R Letters, January 29):

Come on, you made up that letter from Jay Haggin, didn’t you? No one in 2004 could be like that. He writes hundreds of superfluous words and says absolutely nothing. Whoever this person is, he certainly has a liberal “penis” envy or listens to too much Fox News.

Ron Lowe
Nevada City