Letters for February 3, 2011

299 days to beat $49.50

Re “Hot ticket” by Jimmy Spencer (SN&R Frontlines, January 20):

Without question, the city has demonstrated a predatory nature regarding [the] issuing of parking tickets. With 235,196 tickets issued in 2009-10, almost everyone knows a person with a story. The city’s predatory approach does not stop at the ticket issuing. If the city makes a mistake in issuing a ticket, the city has established a system where you are far better off paying the ticket than fighting it.

Last March 11, I received a parking ticket that was completely unwarranted. That day, I submitted all required paperwork (including pictures) for an administrative review. No surprise; on July 28, the city determined I was liable. The day I received this information, I resubmitted all paperwork and pictures for appeal to attend an administrative hearing. On August 10, the city informed me that my hearing was scheduled for the afternoon of October 29. Most people would have to take time off work to attend the administrative hearing. I attended and spoke at the hearing, and on January 4, I was informed that the ticket was dismissed.

I drove the appeal process as fast as it could be driven. The process from ticket issue to dismissal took 299 days. In that time, I spent five hours preparing paperwork and attending the hearing, all for a $49.50 ticket dismissal.

Clearly, the city has established a process where almost anyone would be far better off just paying the ticket, even when you are completely, unquestionably in the right. That’s predatory; it’s extortion. The really sad question is: How much money—your tax dollars—does the city spend to extort the public they are paid to serve?

Larry T. Buckle

Public money, everybody gets in

Re “School-house blues” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 27):

I hate to sound like the “devil’s advocate” when it comes to the Sacramento [County] Board of Education conditions (the hearing will be February 1) to approve [Margaret] Fortune’s building a charter school as a repeat of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s using public education funding to profit from his St. Hope project. Indeed, our urban public schools are an appalling shame.

As I said to advocates of Fortune schools at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at the Convention Center: Our public schools’ present inadequacy cannot be an excuse for charter schools that receive tax funding to then discriminate and decide enrollment based on whom they think they can profit from. I can understand, because I was rejected by my brother’s private school due to my learning and emotional disabilities. That’s why I’m among those whom don’t want to hear of any more publicly funded schools being able to reject students that a public school would enroll by law.

Michelle Kunert

There’s a reason for the rule

Re “Unhappy meal” by Jimmy Spencer (SN&R Frontlines, January 27):

I work in downtown and visit this McDonald’s every week. It’s actually very clean and well-run. I have overheard other customers complain to employees about aggressive panhandlers in the drive-through and by the front door. They do serve customers that appear to be homeless, but they have also turned away others (could be at the request of other customers). I have nothing against homeless people, but the truth is that some people do loiter, vandalize and abuse the restrooms.

Judy Carter

Not medicine, no matter what

Re “Puff piece” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, January 20):

After reading Nick Miller’s take on so-called medical marijuana, I felt compelled to ask: Why is it so all-important to alter one’s God-given ability to be of normal mind? Why do these stoners believe that they are doing themselves good? I am not convinced that its use is the way to medicate yourself.

What cannabis does do is make you forget your pain while you are stoned out of your mind! How can these folks explain to their children the false benefits of using an illegal drug to cope with life? If it’s so harmless, why not get your kids started early? Then they won’t “suffer” as much as you do! Stoners are stoners. They stand out and can be smelled a mile away. It really is a shame and embarrassment to our society and our communities to see people under the influence.

It’s not a rosy picture to know that not only do we have drunks committing crimes, but some of these folks are also under the influence of marijuana as well. No matter how much I read about this topic, I cannot accept or believe that marijuana is [anything] more than a mind-altering party drug. It has no other benefit than to put one in another frame of mind.

Rudy Venegas
Citrus Heights

Lose the ‘hippie lettuce’ language

Re “Puff piece” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, January 20):

If your intention when writing this article was to further “muddy” the waters around the legitimacy of medical-cannabis patients’ rights, then bravo. As local jurisdictions continue to impede the access to cannabis of those real patients who receive relief from genuine medical conditions and knowledgeable medical professionals make informed recommendations based on familiarity with patient histories, your “myths” piece undermines our efforts.

Myth No. 11: Responsible professional journalist reports on medical cannabis issue. “Pot shops,” “hippie lettuce,” “stoners”? Did the supporters of Proposition 19 put you up to this?

Thomas Ansbach

Taxes on donations?

Re “Puff piece” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, January 20):

It depends greatly on the amount of patients the collective is seeing a day, but the average patient “donation” (that, for some reason, a retail tax is charged on) is roughly $55. That is also the usual price of “top shelf.”

K.S. Casanova
West Sacramento

Drug war is a war on pot smokers

Re “Puff piece” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, January 20):

The drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2009, there were 858,405 marijuana arrests in the United States, almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend enormous public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis. The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use.

The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. Decriminalization is a long overdue step in the right direction. Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the drug war obsolete. As long as organized crime controls distribution, marijuana consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe
policy analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy

City, Sac State should work together

Re “No love for Natomas?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 20):

All this talk of an arena is tiring me out.

I never even thought to juxtapose the arena with downtown residences, but it is a very good point. One thing I have never heard is: Why don’t the city and [Sacramento State] build an arena together? You have land, two tenants, parking, light rail, the freeway. Is there just no way arena folk want to share the load or gold with the [Sacramento State] folks? Just wondering; it seems like a no-brainer. Have you ever seen the [Sacramento State] facility? I’ve been to better high-school gyms.

John Navickas
El Dorado Hills

Chickens 1, human 0

Re “Poultry permits” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, January 20):

Oh, honey! You have never, as you said, raised chickens. You’ve not, I surmise, lived within 10 miles of these lovely “chicken keepers”! A dozen great eggs in six months!

The people next door to me have about 10 chickens, now with little chicks. The things get loose and fly—yes, fly—or jump an 8-foot fence. They dig and burrow in the mulch. My little doggie gets out and kills them.

All this, and I was fine until the friggin’ rats came. Rats! Small ones that I thought were mice, then huge ones. We’ve trapped, poisoned, exterminated and prayed for these things to go!

They now live in my attic insulation, burrowing down the wall and outside, coming and going as they pleased. Now, this is just the recent “attack.” We kill them out; they come back. No, there’s no garbage out. No other places they could be coming from. I’m going now to help cut our tree down in backyard so they can’t get in that way.

Chickens 1, Lori 0.

Lori Christian

Nothing humane about death penalty

Re “Mysteries of the death-drug scramble” by Tim Redmond and Rula Al-Nasrawi (SN&R Frontlines, January 20):

The antics of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation personnel in their frenzy search for death drugs so they can resume state-sanctioned killings was grotesque and disturbing behavior. What kind of people do we have working for CDCR? Do they have any conscience or religious beliefs? They seem to have the mentality of World War II death-camp bureaucrats.

We now have over 700 inmates on death row. What do the CDCR bureaucrats and the advocates of the death penalty want, mass executions? This whole exercise brings shame on the state of California.

Remember, there is no humane way to commit an inhumane act.

James G. Updegraff

Bully dogs want to ‘tug’ your face!

Re “Horrific, then lovely” by Nick Miller (SN&R Frontlines, January 13):

Labs and goldens were bred to and love to “retrieve” and carry things around in their mouths. Some beagles don’t even look up; their noses are on the ground, bred to sniff and bark.

Dog people say, “Research the breed; get a breed that suits your lifestyle and activity level.” But then with the bully breeds, “It’s how they are raised and socialized, not the breed.” [That] doesn’t make sense to me.

Watch the videos of the pit/bully types hanging on the rope, swinging for great lengths of time, or tearing a bumper off a police car. No training; this simply feels good to them. That’s what was bred into them: bite and clench, shake and tug. Add the fact that they were bred to not give warning of the intent to … er, ah … tug/attack (surprise attacks helped in fighting), and you get a dog with the ability to quickly do great damage. A dog like that might attack without even being angry or vicious or protective. He just wants to tug on your face!

Linda Bell
via e-mail

We have a right to choose

Re “38 years later” (SN&R Editorial, January 20):

I applaud your editorial in support of women as capable human beings who have the right to make their own health-care decisions.

As you point out, the 1973 Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy in safely accessing abortion services. This right is strengthened by another constitutional right: religious freedom. Many anti-choice decision makers are motivated to ban abortion based on their religious convictions. However, religious liberty means that no one religious viewpoint may be imposed on us all. Other religions value the life of the mother first and foremost.

Some California legislators and congressmen believe they know better than the individual and her physician whether a pregnancy should be carried to term. They are writing legislation that, if enacted, will prohibit the woman or her medical adviser from making this decision. Think about this: Do you want your legislators telling you where to live or what job you will have? If you answered no, then why would you want your legislators to tell you that if you get pregnant, then you must carry that pregnancy to term or be subject to criminal prosecution?

These legislators who are trying to force impregnated women to become mothers are the same people who refuse to provide funding for prenatal care, universal health care for children, supportive services for single mothers and their newborn, child care or other medical and social services.

If you agree that our democracy is worth saving, then please don’t give into religious extremism or other arguments that will take away a woman’s right to choose. Rather, we must insist on legislation that insures access to the full range of reproductive choices for all Americans.

Beryl Michaels

If it looks human, it is human

Re “38 years later” (SN&R Editorial, January 20):

After reading your editorial, I wanted to address a concern. Although I am for a woman’s right to choose and am a woman myself who has had to make the personal choice to abort or keep the … what? What do you keep if you choose not to abort?

According to your article, “An abortion ends the development of cells that have the potential to become a human baby.” Have you ever called a clinic that performs abortions to schedule a procedure? Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, the process takes several weeks. At six weeks in the uterus, the fetus has arm nubs, a heart, ears forming and many other “human baby” features.

Like you stated in your article, “Women are not stupid.” I suggest you adhere to what you promote in your articles and get the facts correct instead of spreading misinformation to suit your own personal beliefs.

Alexandria Zafra

Army’s got no exit now

Re “Out of the khaki closet” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, January 6):

As a lesbian who was never in the military, I didn’t know much about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military that was instituted by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

Justin Blanco admitted that his homosexuality didn’t become an issue for him until the military sent him to Iraq for 14 months where it was hot, dry and for the first four months they were mortared upon daily. What did he expect when he signed up for military duty, a fun-filled vacation at a resort? It also appears that Blanco was never really discriminated against during his tour of duty in Iraq—in fact, he stated that his comrades were supportive and that his commanding officers were reluctant to enforce the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Blanco was eventually dismissed from service, but he left with full military benefits and he’s now attending college on the GI Bill.

It sounds like Blanco wasn’t really a victim of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In fact, he was a willing victim who just didn’t like being in a combat zone and used the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as an excuse to leave the military.

How many others are like Blanco that just want out of the military and use policies like “don’t ask, don’t tell” to get out? Since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is no longer an available option to get out of military service, what other options will be available for those who want to leave combat duty and still receive full military benefits?

Lorrie Layman
via e-mail