Letters for July 15, 2004

Hunting for a safe neighborhood

Re “Manhunt: the sequel” by Joe Dignan (SN&R News, July 8):

The Capitol Station District board of directors has been active in creating a clean, safe atmosphere in the Richards Boulevard/rail yards redevelopment area, working closely with the Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County park rangers and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to enforce public health and safety regulations. Our efforts to allay blight and create a safe neighborhood cover a range of issues, from serious to nuisance crimes.

In both this follow-up and the original article (“Manhunt,” SN&R Cover, April 29), you mentioned that there had been no citizen complaints to police about sexual activity in the levee area. While the police may have not produced any citizen complaints for SN&R’s reporter, this community has not only complained about the prostitution, public sex acts and public exposure (as well as the related drug activity, vandalism and property damage to neighboring businesses) at the North 10th Street levee, but also has asked the police department to make enforcement a priority at that location. This was one of the earliest projects we worked on with our Problem Oriented Policing (POP) officers when we formed this organization in the late 1990s.

In our view, public sex acts, prostitution, indecent exposure and other similar activities fall in the “serious crime” category, particularly in a location such as the North 10th Street levee that is in close proximity to an elementary school. I have heard reports from the Dos Rios Elementary School and the local POP officers that used condoms, pornography and other paraphernalia were found on or near school grounds. In addition, there are many local people who use the levee trail for recreation and who would prefer not to witness sexual activity or exposure. This is not a victimless crime.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that the gender or sexual orientation of the perpetrators are not pertinent issues for this neighborhood, and nor is the question of whether the public sex is consensual. We would oppose this unacceptable behavior no matter how consensual or what the gender or orientation.

We support the police department’s commitment to enforcement of local regulations and to preserve the community’s safety, and we thank the department for its ongoing efforts to help resolve the problem at the North 10th Street levee.

Connie Miottel
executive director,
Capitol Station District

He’s added it up

Re “Do the math” (SN&R Editorial, July 1):

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

In 1968, many supporters of Senator Eugene McCarthy refused to support Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey in the election, claiming that “there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Humphrey and [Richard] Nixon.” Nixon wound up winning a very close race. The results: Watergate, etc.

We are in an even more dangerous situation today. As bad as four more years of George W. Bush would be, can you imagine a Supreme Court with a majority of Antonin Scalias and Clarence Thomases for the next 20 years?

Ralph Nader is willing to risk that just to make a political point. Your editorial was right on target.

Steve Mehlman

Not going to two parties

Re “Do the math” (SN&R Editorial, July 1):

It’s hypocritical to cry, “Anyone but Bush!” and then attack someone who offers a real alternative.

For the record, I don’t share Ralph Nader’s politics, but I admire his willingness to do what he thinks is right, in the face of vilification from those whom he once could count as allies. Politics is fickle indeed.

If I vote for someone with integrity, honor and values who can’t get elected, and you vote for the lesser of two evils who could be president, which one of us has really “thrown his vote away”? Does a choice between Benito Mussolini or Fidel Castro really offer much of a choice at all?

And, if numbers are all you care about, consider this: Many on the right aren’t exactly thrilled with George W. Bush, either. Contributions to the Libertarian, Patriot and Constitution Parties are way up, and the GOP is as worried about Michael Badnarik as the Dems are about Nader. All over the spectrum, “the lesser of two evils” is becoming unpalatable.

The best message that we can send on November 2 is: “We are tired of politics as usual. We want real choices. We want integrity.” Vote your conscience. You may never get a political leader you completely like, but you’ll still have your self-respect.

David Zinner

Mayor made it, but bikers were late

Re “The path less traveled” by Suzanne Hurt (SN&R News, July 1):

As a member of the group on the June 14 Davis-to-Folsom bicycle ride, I feel it is important to clarify a couple of points in the article.

First, and most importantly, Folsom Mayor Steve Miklos did meet us (myself and Mike Damon) at the Walker Bridge in Folsom, promptly at 2:30 p.m. Furthermore, Mayor Miklos graciously arranged for a follow-up photo op at 4:30 p.m., when he was informed the rest of the group would be late. When they were unable to even make it by 5:30, he had the director of parks and recreation stand in for him.

Second, as much as I am a bicycle enthusiast and support Martin Krieg and the National Bicycle Greenway, I do not in any way support something as senseless and destructive as those Critical Mass bicycle rallies to which the article light-heartedly referred. There can be balance between automotive and pedestrian modes of travel, but that will be obtained through people working together for a common purpose, and not by a bunch of two-wheeled hooligans who take it upon themselves to snarl city traffic.

Still, the article was well-written, represented the diversity of the group and its goal, and talked about how much fun we had doing it. Thanks for the coverage.

Jack Martin

What counts as a strike?

Re “Second thoughts on three strikes” by Vince Beiser (SN&R News, June 24):

I found it revealing that the article stated Teddy Baldwin was sent to prison for convictions of residential burglary and breaking into a car, and then sentenced to 25 years to life after being arrested on drug charges. Auto burglary and even car theft are not qualifying strikes under the law. Mr. Baldwin must have another serious felony conviction that your article did not reveal.

The article also claimed that Mr. Baldwin “learned his lesson” after being released from prison. Says who? How do we know? What was the nature of his drug charges? Was he dealing in narcotics? After being released from prison, what crimes did he commit to support his addiction? Did you research the case and Mr. Baldwin’s background, or did you just take his fiancée’s comments at face value?

David Brown

Vince Beiser replies: Prosecutors have a world of discretion when it comes to deciding what charges to bring for an offense. An argument with some guy in a bar in which you throw an ashtray at him could result in charges ranging from disorderly conduct to simple assault to assault with a weapon, depending on how the prosecutor decides to frame the case. Thus, breaking into a car can indeed become a felony strike.

Resuscitating privacy

Re “Privacy on life support” (SN&R Guest Comment, June 17):

I work at The Studio Theatre, so when I saw the article by John Connelly and was told the “cashier” he was referring to was, in fact, me, the memory came to me like a bad ’Nam flashback. He wanted a ticket, true, but I never asked for his phone number, address or exact age during our three-minute conversation. I only asked for his name and if he was over 55 (for the senior discount). Oddly, it wasn’t until he had to pay for his ticket that he suddenly had a problem and walked out of the theater.

We ask for addresses when we send gift certificates. We have an e-mail list where patrons voluntarily leave their e-mail for updates. For phone reservations, we take more information, but we never ask for addresses or subject people to a “real-time interrogation.” We never sell any customer information to “venues peddling the same stuff,” and we don’t “con” our audiences.

We don’t appreciate John Connelly substantially stretching the truth about what happened. Not only did he put Six Women and The Studio Theatre in a bad light, but he also brought me into it. I don’t know him—I’ve met him once—so I don’t know where he’s coming from. He sounds like a “docile gray male” on a soapbox to me.

Nobody made him say anything. I’m not that intimidating. In spite of his highly fabricated conspiracy-theory article, we are offering him a “freebie” ticket to Six Women with Brain Death so he can actually see the show instead of assuming and fabricating in order to make a point.

Bethany Hidden
manager, The Studio Theatre