Letters for January 24, 2002

Murder remembered

Re “Obstruction of Justice” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, January 10):

Just a quick note about how impressed I was with the article on the Myrna Opsahl murder.

I have been living in Los Angeles for years, but at the time of the tragedy I was an 8th-grader living near Carmichael. I recall Mrs. Opsahl’s tombstone at the local cemetery. Not long after burial, her marker (featuring a picture of Mrs. Opsahl) was vandalized. Somehow this act seemed emblematic of the pitiful inaction toward the case.

The article capably explored many areas of the crime, and expertly reported facts previously unreported. I was dismayed to read that Steven Soliah and Wendy Yoshimura were granted immunity in the case, and then showed their appreciation with meager, useless testimony. On the other hand, I have great respect for Patricia Hearst for her willingness to spare no detail.

My father sent me this article just the other day. Less than 24 hours after reading it, I hear the news that the dirt has hit the fan and the criminals have finally been arrested for the murder!

Again, congratulations on writing one of the better articles in existence on the Crocker Bank murder.

Will Pettite
Los Angeles

Redirect the anger

Re “Zero Tolerance” by Melissa Merrill (SN&R Guest Comment, January 10):

As I read Merrill’s comment about the convicted sex offender, I was confused by one of her points: “It is a slap in the face to people who don’t realize that the vast majority of rapists and child molesters go uncaught, unconvicted and therefore unannounced and continue to live right where they always have: amongst everybody else.” It is because this is true that people should be glad that Megan’s Law makes the convicted offenders known.

Also, for someone enlightened enough not to want to tell people where they can and can’t live, I was surprised that her alternative was the death penalty. As for her suggestion that, “Maybe if they were routinely executed the people that perpetrate these crimes would think twice,” studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime.

The personal reasons that she cites for her strong feelings are understandable. But perhaps her and her friends’ anger would be better channeled into volunteering at agencies that assist child victims or joining support groups for adult victims of sexual crimes.

Cathy Young
via e-mail

“F” the SN&R!

Re “3 Lines: $10,000” (SN&R Capital Bites, January 10):

You ran a piece expressing outrage that allegedly the Sacramento Police would “use” the SN&R to run a prostitution sting operation by placing a personals ad, and endorsing a hypothetical proposal of charging the police an exorbitantly higher “want ad/per line” rate to discourage such use. First, what happened to free speech—isn’t it hypocritical for the SN&R to suggest charging a higher rate based on the content/subject of the speech?

Second, since when did the SN&R question the motives behind an ad? What about the ads taken out seeking sexual relations that could turn abusive? What about the ads taken out for greed? Are you proposing to charge these people higher rates for their offensive motives? Your piece certainly didn’t criticize the motives for these types of ads—which, I am sure, are far more common in the SN&R than police stings. What if the SN&R had been ripped off and the ad taken out by the police was a sting to catch the bastard? What if the ad was taken out to catch a child molester? Would you still charge the police a higher rate?

So you are now the free speech police. You give new meaning to “F the police.”

Ryan T.
via e-mail

The county’s indentured servants

Re “Driving In Circles” by Chuck Seidel (SN&R News, January 17, 2002):

Thank you, thank you, thank you—for a job well done!

This is an excellent exposé on the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Work Project. Well covered and well written. I’m sure there will be those reading it of the mindset that say: “Serves them right.” However, as Mr. Seidel points out, there are those like Dean Martin, who for all intents and purposes are hard-working, law-abiding individuals with families to support that find themselves caught up in a cycle that is quite reluctant to allow them to escape, even if it’s their first and only offense.

It’s all about revenue generation. A cash cow. And it ensnares those who are the least likely to afford the fines and fees imposed upon them. Of course, there are those who just don’t learn the lesson who may have deeper problems for which jail, fines, etc. will not resolve their issues or allow them to escape their self-imposed cycle.

Did the Sheriff’s Department or court representative happen to mention to you that if you’re unfortunate enough to get arrested for a DUI, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department will also bill you for the arresting deputies time to the tune of $300, even though the deputy is simply performing his assigned duties? Oh, and that DUI carries with it a $2,500 fine—minimum. And that doesn’t include all the other court-imposed fines, or the DMV suspending your driver’s license (which the court has no control over).

The idea of holding offenders accountable for their actions, and sending a strong message, is one thing, but creating financial hardship for people while at the same time creating and maintaining a vicious cycle is exploitation. The fact that Captain Wayne Ikeuchi would find it necessary to create some method to ameliorate its effects is a prime indication that something ain’t quite right. It’s an interesting Catch-22. A system that is fed not only by traffic court, but by criminal court as well.

By the way, the next time you’re out and about the city and you happen upon a white bus with “Sheriff’s Work Project,” and “Working for a better community” in bold letters written on its sides, I suggest following it to see for yourselves just how menial, and I might add thankless, those tasks can be.

Dwain Barefield
via e-mail

Up against the wall, Jeffrey

Re “Sting the Taxpayers,” by Jeffrey Greer (SN&R Letters, January 10):

If, Mr. Greer, you do indeed live in Oak Park, and can readily identify johns (of course junkies too), not to mention the cadre of pushers, pimps and prostitutes, boy, Sacramento PD could sure use you. Oh, but then, the ACLU would probably sue you because you probably wouldn’t be able to meet all the elements of the various code sections (soliciting a lewd act, possession of a controlled substance, transportation of same, etc.) and the case(s) would be thrown out.

But, if you only want to legalize the aforementioned indiscretion(s), well, next time just go ahead and say that … don’t waste our time putting down the Sac PD officers who are only trying to do their jobs. Or better yet, don’t sound like those whose objective appears to be one of obstructing justice.

Richard Copp
via e-mail

Love not bombs

Re “Why They Hate Us” by Dennis McMurray (SN&R Letters, January 10):

Mr. McMurray states, “They hate people who talk, dress, look and worship differently and have been doing this long before America was a nation.” This is intelligent thinking, but it is incomplete.

Continuing to think intelligently, one realizes that these same people moved, and founded America and continue to practice hate. I heard that thought of denial, Mr. McMurray. We, the Human Race, love to deny in ourselves what we don’t like in others. Yes, the rest of the world may hate us because America makes it extremely clear, that we will push the nuclear button. Continuing intelligent thinking, we see that some in America want to have world peace, by wiping out the entire Human Race.

For myself, I choose a world peace, in which the Human Race is not wiped out.

James Logan

Microsoft is to A.A. …

Re “Stepping Out” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, January 3):

Thanks so much for R.V. Scheide’s “Stepping Out,” which not only dares to point out that there are Alcoholics Anonymous dropouts (myself being one), but that there is an alternative—Rational Recovery.

A.A. is an 800-pound gorilla with market domination and a product that works reasonably well for many people. Unfortunately, much as is the case in the software arena, the dominant product is not necessarily the best product, yet most people are unaware that there are alternatives. Instead, they struggle along with a product that’s a poor fit—or doesn’t work at all.

A.A. is the Microsoft of recovery; R.R. is alternative software. And A.A. and its followers are about as friendly to “competition” as Microsoft is.

Walter L. Bazzini
via e-mail