Letters for March 28, 2002

Mother knows biased

Re “Mothers, Interrupted” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, March 21):

Thank God that our family court is finally realizing that false accusations in divorce are emotionally abusive to children.

Perhaps the mothers in your stories might begin to comprehend the long-standing tragedies of fathers over the past 20 years who have lost homes, jobs, reputations and relationships with their children because psychologically unfit mothers have exploited false abuse charges in high-conflict divorces to gain exclusive parenting time and exorbitant child-support amounts.

After all, mother knows best, and if she’s crying abuse there must be abuse. It’s high time mothers were held accountable for visitation interference and alienation tactics … this paragraph in your story says it all:

“Two previous mediator reports had recommended Vorce retain primary custody, but she chose to go back to mediation in order to argue for an additional weekend with her children each month in exchange for less parenting time in the summer.”

Punishing the other parent, at all costs, would finally have to motivate any officer of the court to do the right thing and get the kids out of the crossfire. Enough is enough.

Mariellen Layne

Dead wrong indeed

Re “Dead Wrong” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 14):

I had to keep reminding myself that, as Rush Limbaugh is wont to state when cornered or caught, “Hey, folks, it’s only entertainment!” as I read the article about the coroner and the coroner’s office. Please consider:

1. Do not confuse “coroner” with “medical examiner.” A coroner needs to be an MD the way a governor has to have worked his way up through the ranks of every branch of government; he is an executive who has to be able to administer his programs and maneuver through the mazes of government. (Read Thomas Noguchi’s memoirs as to why you don’t necessarily want a medical person running things.)

2. I have heard that the private pathology workers’ results may have been to the utmost of their capability, but were not perfect, to say the very least. These private contract workers are alleged to have done all they could to make the transition to a county operation a difficult one; I dare say their input into your article fit that bill to a “T”.

3. Deputy coroners can find themselves without law enforcement backup on crime scenes resulting from varying degrees of unpleasantness, and the perpetrators may still be there; bystanders unsympathetic to authority figures are likely to be there. A prompt and assertive presence can make the difference between forensically important evidence being lost or properly found, cataloged and recovered. The deterrent value of a badge, gun, and arrest powers keep their job from being a dangerous joke, or tying up uniformed officers to watch their back and having the higher likelihood of igniting public passions around a death.

4. The Coroner currently is trying to run his refurbished department and the correctional health branch in the face of a nursing shortage and the possibility of reduced tax inflow from the state and from local revenues.

5. As for the cheap shots about Dr. Rollins, how many of your subordinates would pass a urinalysis or hair test for chemicals, not to mention a background check for DUIs or polygraphic examination about medical treatment for addiction? How about gambling? The public doesn’t wonder if the shapers of public opinion have been, or even are currently, using illegal substances or alcohol to inebriation. They shouldn’t; it is between you and your subordinates.

Your article is well constructed, for the work of a vindictive junior college student short on time before a Journalism 101 final. It focuses attention away from the true critical aspects, focuses in on individuals with an ax to grind and a sensational line to say, and the photo must have been shot right after your camera man called Smith a particularly offensive name. Either your writer was given a mission to get something juicy, or he went out and did it on his own hook and you failed editorially to figure out what happened. If he had dug a little deeper and done his homework, another (less sensational) story would have emerged. Sorry.

C’mon, the story is about shrinking revenues and daunting tasks in the face of vindictive former contractors and a sensation-seeking reporter. Nice slick cover, but a blown story due to ignorance and being misguided. But the public won’t ever know the unvarnished truth now, will we?

Roger C. Delight
via e-mail

Take five to get dressed up

Re “Feeling Kind of Blue” by Doug Watkins, (SN&R Arts&Culture, March 14):

My compliments to SN&R writer Doug Watkins for his article. One, Mr. Watkins did his homework. Two, Mr. Watkins gets straight to the point(s) with none of the usual: “He was lounging and dressed with an open-collared sports shirt, while blowing smoke rings out into the afternoon air—looking ever so cool (and jazzy).” Three, Mr. Watkins is very informative.

As a 20-plus-year resident of Sacramento and local musician, I have observed the local jazz scene come and go. The “Whys?” are as numerous as noses, however one fact remains: Who wants to pay a Friday or Saturday night jazz club cover charge plus a drink minimum to see a band that dresses like they just got through cleaning their garage, reading music from a music stand, performing music that, for the most part, is in desperate need of polish? Would you go to a joint that featured a too-casually clad string quartet playing Bach badly? Not for my buck!

Come on girls and guys, jazz music is fun, glitzy, glamorous and sophisticated. My old friend, multi-instrumentalist Barry Ghezzi, once stated: “People hear music with their eyeballs and the soles of their feet.” Tell me folks, is there anything more boring than walking into a jazz club and seeing a jazz guitarist performing while seated on a dining table chair, a fold-up music stand in front of him, reading from The Real Book (a compilation of modern jazz music)? How about Sacramento’s world-class jazz guitarist who use to perform while sitting on a stool and barefooted? Or, my favorite, the local smooth jazz group who opened for Cosumnes River College site summer jazz festival. The instrumentation was two electronic keyboardists, one performing the bass parts, a guitarist, a saxophonist and a drummer. The bass parts sounded muddy and the local saxophonist sounded like he was a pick-up musician as they played Grover Washington’s composition “Mister Magic” very sophomorically.

Sacramento used to have John Heartsman, Claudette Stone, Boyd Phelps’ Sax Attack, Dave Bond’s Blues Band—musician entertainers who knew how to work a crowd and keep ’em all coming back regardless of the venue. My personal message to Tom-Cat, Mike, Joe, and all the rest of you fine modern jazz musicians: Ya gotta start putting the “Zazz” back into jazz!

R.D. Martin

Unspoken intentions revealed

Re “When a Shell is More Than a Shell” by David A. Kulczyk (SN&R News, March 14):

I thoroughly enjoy the News & Review and have been a loyal reader for 15 years. However, I’ve noticed two recent articles that bash university professors, and I’m wondering what’s up? Kulczyk writes about a professor at CSUS: “Approaching the incident like it wasn’t a big deal, she rambled nonstop like academics do when they are trying to get out of a sticky situation, trying to explain away the flap and prevent a story.”

Huh? This is appropriate in a news article? Can David somehow “get inside” a person’s head and determine their unspoken intentions? Does he have something against academics? This is such overt stereotyping in an otherwise wonderfully informative article about an important issue, that I don’t know how to interpret the rest of the article.

If I had not already recycled my old editions of the News & Review, I could refer to a recent article that was initially supportive of the CSUS faculty during union negotiations. In that piece the writer makes unsubstantiated judgments about the work-load and quality of professors’ work. If I remember correctly, the writer referred to old outdated stereotypes of the professor who does not care about his or her students; who would rather publish academic articles than work closely with students; who is unapproachable or incompetent or just plain lazy.

I am a professor at California State University, Sacramento. I care deeply about my students. I spend well over 40 hours per week working for and with them. At CSUS the primary focus is on the quality of our teaching. If our teaching is not effective and valued by students, we are not retained at the university. I’m flummoxed.

Deidre Sessoms
Assistant Professor, CSUS