Letters for June 9, 2005

So much for your ‘facts’

Re “Sex and the facts” (SN&R Editorial, June 2):

It was good to see your editorial included exactly what it claimed to: facts. For instance, I never knew that most people supporting an amendment to ban gay marriage believe homosexuality is “a choice gay people make, presumably, just to annoy them.” Or that “they prefer highhanded moral judgments and selective reading of the Bible to make their case.”

I was impressed with your grasp of the essentials of the debate. Misstating and mocking the views of (according the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll) the 53 percent of the nation that supports a constitutional amendment is absolutely the best possible use of your editorial space.

However, if you do decide to clutter up your pages with some of those highhanded moral judgments, you might have noticed that a high percentage of homosexuals come from similar upbringings, which might indicate an acquired aspect to their sexuality. But I guess acknowledging that human sexuality is too complicated and fluid an issue to be narrowed down to being simply A or B would spoil SN&R’s fun. After all, there’s much less room for snarky comments when you aren’t misstating your opponent’s position.

Josh Speaks

More than one way to rig an election

Re “Democracy, not Dieboldocracy” (SN&R Guest comment, June 2):

I won’t argue with Jim March’s comments about the electronic voting machines. But the common alternative to these questionable machines is the absentee ballot, which opens a whole ’nother can of corrupt worms.

With the nation’s leading population of non-citizens, California’s election officials universally claim that there is “no evidence” of widespread voting by noncitizens. That’s like the cuckolded husband who determinedly sees “no evidence” of his mate’s straying in her long hours at work or visiting a sick friend.

In John Fund’s book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, he reports on the 2004 test of the Diebold machines in Maryland, in which a security expert was able to alter a test election’s outcome and erase the electronic trail in less than five minutes. Fund also claims that 1993’s Motor Voter law allowed Californians to use mail-in forms to get absentee ballots for fictitious people, pets and noncitizens.

Programmable voting machines are just one of many threats to our franchise.

B.E. Vickroy

‘Outside in’ solutions won’t work

Re “This property condemned” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, May 26):

This is another example of desperate city-council members getting authority-drunk and doing stupid things. Are we really to believe closing these stores will solve the longstanding problems facing these communities?

I grew up in Del Paso Heights; I remember similar stores selling alcohol to the same criminal element. All low-income areas have the same problem. What is unique about Oak Park’s problem is the large amount of higher income brackets moving in.

I wish the bulk of these folks had a desire to live among diversity and simultaneously invest in a long-forgotten community. But the truth is that they were priced out of their home market of choice and decided to make the best of it across the tracks. Now this new populace is waking to problems minorities in the area have been plagued with for generations. As can be expected, this newfound community is “solving” problems from the top down, outside in.

Blighted areas need real solutions. Shifting blame away from the community as a whole and placing it on one business is shameful. If you’re afraid of a group of ghetto blacks (the unspoken truth in this entire article), then remove what attracts them? Yuppies make me uneasy; can we shut down the Starbucks in my area?

Loitering exists when people have too much free time (no jobs), abusive homes, no money for entertainment and, yes, a need to sell drugs away from home. Communities gather to visit, share resources and—get this wild notion—commune with other humans.

Instead of tearing down a gathering place, why not build new ones? Places like job-resource centers, drug-rehabilitation centers, after-school arts and music programs. Build alliances between health advocates and stores, so the store may provide brochures that advocate against bad habits. How about anti-drug murals for dealers to stand in front of?

There are so many solutions to explore. Removing a store will only shift the problem elsewhere. Our current city council needs to start digging at the root of city problems (crime, homelessness, traffic, low-income housing, open space, air pollution, etc.) instead of clipping the leaves while announcing grand new openings of government buildings.

Rita Oden-Gonzales

Maturity needed for mixed-use

Re “This property condemned” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, May 26):

I live in the house directly next-door to the Days Market. I moved there just a few months ago with my two small children.

Originally, when I looked at the apartment, the landlord actually used the Days Market as a selling point: “If you ever need milk …” What he failed to mention at the time was that my children would be too afraid to play in the yard because there are no fewer than three very drunk people loitering on the sidewalk in front of my house at any given moment.

The owner of the store asks people to leave if they stay inside too long, and all they do is go stand in the street. The people who loiter here are always belligerent. My 9-year-old daughter called me to her bedroom window once because a man was standing in front of the store selling drugs and she was able to see the whole thing.

Beyond all that, the market is a huge eyesore. If this area is indeed zoned just for residential, then that is all that should be here. I am normally all for mixed-use buildings, but it takes a certain amount of maturity that south Oak Park still doesn’t have.

Stephanie Buck

Permits aren’t infringement on rights

Re “Pot in the public square” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R 15 minutes, May 26):

I nearly fell off my chair laughing so hard my stomach hurt when I read this column. Jolie Perea erroneously stated that “because of the Patriot Act, you’re not even allowed to protest now … without a permit. So, you don’t have your First Amendment right.”

The photo of Jolie Perea placing a political poster publicizing her rally on a tree in a local park shows her actively engaging in First Amendment freedom of speech. She needs to quit bellyaching and whining about her civil liberties being impinged. If she spent more time reading the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, she would be better served.

The requirement for a parade permit for large groups to assemble and demonstrate has always been a requirement in our republic. Having helped organize a plethora of rallies, strikes, picket lines, blockades and mass mobilizations on a national level, I can assure you there is a long-standing precedent that requires filing for a permit to demonstrate in large numbers.

If fewer than 10 citizens want to picket on the sidewalk with signs—as long as they don’t block pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk—they do not need a permit. The permit requirement for large rallies ensures public safety. It alerts traffic-department staffers and public-works departments to re-route automobile traffic and ensures that public transit agencies have time to re-route bus lines if the street will be filled with parading demonstrators.

Parade permits are also needed to adequately inform the police department to assign enough officers to deal with crowd control. Police presence at demonstrations/parades ensures counter-demonstrators /provocateurs who are hell-bent on creating violence are separated from the ranks of the demonstrators who organize a protest event using nonviolence. Work with the police in good faith, have trained monitors, and you will probably enjoy a great event.

Colleen Marie-Blanchefleur Whalen

Where Bee the editors?

Re “Scandal-stung Bee columnist talks to SN&R” by Jeffrey M. Barker (SN&R News, May 19):

Sacramento Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin says her habitual use of unnamed sources was “never a big deal.” It should have been.

Bee editors could have protected themselves, the writer and the newspaper by insisting that any anonymous source be identified—not necessarily in print, if that would prevent the source from speaking freely, but to Griego Erwin’s editor. That editor should be just as able to keep a professional confidence as she.

If her supervisor had a name and contact number on file for every person quoted in every column, the bond of trust which she speaks of between reporter and publication would be strengthened rather than weakened. The Bee and journalism at large could have been saved another embarrassment. Lacking such an arrangement, is it unreasonable to expect the columnist herself to keep such information on file, just in case?

Perhaps the saddest thing about this case is that Griego Erwin has refused to take responsibility, preferring instead to portray herself as the victim of a “witch hunt.”

Peter Haugen
via e-mail