Letters for June 20, 2002

Smack attack

Re “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, June 13):

I don’t mean to single out this particular person, but it always strikes me as ridiculous to hear the adjectives “bright and talented” used to describe a person addicted to illegal drugs. Just how bright was he when he first gave heroin a try? Please, give me a break.

Bob Fry
via e-mail

Too much information

Re “The Meth Makers” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, June 6):

I am an avid reader and information getter of SN&R. I get anything from show times, concerts and entertaining journalism from this paper, and to be totally honest with you I never thought I would be writing to you in criticism. This article was not only shocking to me but brought a sick feeling to my stomach to think of all the readers who also read this particular article and who might not have such great common sense to read and forget, but read it as a step-by-step process. As I read this article in disbelief of the proximities of making crystal meth and how accurate the formula and process was in this article, I kept in mind that this is a free publication. A free publication that I myself picked up in the entrance of a K-Mart store, next to soda and bubble gum machines, less than a quarter of a mile away from a high school.

I do believe a certain amount of responsibility should have crossed a mind or two before printing such horrendous journalism. As a responsible reader, I will not take this article to heart, but you can imagine the amount of people, young people at that, who will. A step-by step-process of making, smoking, and even how to make glass meth pipes is a gross contribution to a drug problem that is only growing in the Sacramento area, and now you have recklessly added your share.

I know I am only one small voice in this city, but once a fan and reader of the SN&R, I will now be getting my movie times, concert, and classified ads at another disposal just because this particular article has disappointed me to an extent of grotesque irresponsibility that I lay upon you, and I hope many readers will agree.

Jamie Scott
via e-mail

The textbook conspiracy

Re “CTA’s $4.5 Million Lament” by Jeanne Allen (SN&R Guest Comment, June 6):

I was surprised to find that SN&R had published the right-wing rantings of education lobbyist Jeanne Allen, once again vilifying the organization that represents most of California’s hard-working teachers. What Ms. Allen, along with most media coverage of the fall of the California Teachers Association-sponsored legislation, AB 2160, failed to mention is the influence of the large educational publishing houses such as McGraw-Hill on school board members and lawmakers at all levels. It is the publishing companies that financially profit from their lobbying efforts by gaining access to the decision-makers responsible for contracting our state and nation’s schools with core curriculum and testing materials. The philosophy behind the recent federal education legislation known as “Leave No Child Behind” sounds like it came out of a McGraw Hill teacher’s manual.

A savvy media source might investigate the multi-generational relationship between this company and the Bush family. The publishing houses want the multimillion-dollar decisions to purchase textbooks and testing materials left to the manageable group of school board members who often have more political aspirations than they do experience as educators. To think that politically minded school board members and legislators are better equipped to make the decisions on educational materials for America’s children than our teachers and their representatives is ludicrous. Keeping teachers out of the loop in decision-making that directly affects every aspect of our profession is like asking the A.M.A. to be uninvolved in legislation that affects the medical profession. How is it that the media, via union baiting, constantly discredits hard-working, relatively low-paid teachers and our associations? Possibly because we aren’t hiring aggressive public relations firms to manage the spin on our media coverage in the way that for-profit educational interests are. As with nursing, this state is going to have to hire from abroad the number of teachers needed to fill the need in California schools. With the negative perspective on the profession in this country, it is no wonder that recruitment and retention of new teachers is so inadequate. As for accountability, I’d like to see school board members accountable to the public by disclosing in open forums the sources of their current and future campaign funding.

Jennifer Dare Sparks

Great white hope

Re “Stripper’s Last Laugh” (SN&R Capital Bites, June 6):

Walter Mueller and his publication, Community News, have been honorably serving the Sacramento area for over the past 10 years in over 70 different locations. Mr. Mueller has been the recipient of numerous community activist awards, including one from Sacramento’s very own SN&R. When the facts are examined objectively, a far different picture of “Herr” Mueller and his “vile little hatesheet” comes to mind.

At least, the SN&R defends Mr. Mueller’s right to publish, guaranteed by the First Amendment. However, the SN&R’s choice of words when describing Walter Mueller and his publication are irresponsible and dangerous. Community News is not some Nazi rag that “praises the Third Reich.” It represents the voice of millions of middle-class Americans who are tired of more welfare for Mexican immigrants, or more foreign aid to Israel and who want European-Americans to be able to assert their place at the “cultural table” in 21st-century multicultural America.

Robert Lawley
North Highlands

Salvage logging not beneficial

Re “Toasted Trees are Cash Crops” (SN&R Letter, June 6):

There are two incorrect points in this letter that have been repeatedly used in pro-salvage logging arguments: the public will gain from salvage harvests, and salvage logging aids in fire suppression.

Although the U.S. Forest Service is famously inept at balancing its books, most observers agree the amount of money lost on public timber sales in the West is approximately $500 million since 1995. Yes, taxpayers actually fund the Forest Service to lose, not gain, money on public timber sales.

That fire suppression can be attained by salvage logging is patently false. The Forest Service itself found there is no fire suppression benefit from salvage logging. See “Environmental Effects of Postfire Logging: Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography” Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-486, http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/gtr486.pdf, McIver and Starr, eds., available through the Forest Service Web site. The editors found exactly zero studies showing any ecological, fire suppression or silvicultural benefits from salvage logging.

We don’t have “historically high” forest acreage burning. Remember Smokey Bear? We suppressed fire in Western forests during most of the 20th century. Western forests are now burning at about the pre-suppression (natural) rate. Interestingly, it was the Forest Service who found the best way to protect your summer home in the woods is to keep vegetation far away from structures—not to log more trees far away from homes.

Trumpeting fire suppression hysteria and touting salvage logging are just new ways companies have found to circumvent the law, in order to gain access to the cheapest wood around—with full complicity from your Forest Service—and with your taxes.

Dan Staley

Hail to the coach

Re “Phil Jackson for President” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Cover, May 30):

I didn’t know whether to laugh uproariously or seethe in disgust at your suggestion that Phil Jackson should be president of the United States. Just because Jackson can motivate a bunch of physical giants/mental midgets to win basketball games does not mean he would be an effective president. You people need to get your heads out of your asses.

Besides, Jackson has a job for the long-term foreseeable future. That job is coaching the Los Angeles Lakers to several more NBA championships.

Jim Healy
North Hollywood