Letters for March 4, 2004

Jonesin’ for Hernandez

Re “Got a Jones” (SN&R Editorial, February 26):

As a loyal reader of SN&R, I am frankly disappointed that you failed to take a long view of the implications of this election, and in so doing, failed to endorse this assembly district’s most qualified candidate, Manny Hernandez.

It’s time to step away from supporting the “usual suspects” and elect a real man of the people. Manny Hernandez has contributed to the well-being of this city and state for over 27 years.

I appeal to your readership: Do not allow yourself to be “dazzled” by the glitz and marketing of the “frontrunners.” Sacramento has the distinction of being one of this country’s most diverse cities. Our representative has to have indisputable insight into the needs and strengths that this diversity brings to Sacramento. Just check out his volunteer corps. The real people who stand with Manny are as diverse as this city, representing all ethnic and language groups, ages, professions and economic strata.

Manny’s motto, “People Matter First,” is not an empty refrain. His seven years on the Sacramento school board has demonstrated that, on issue after issue, students, teachers and parents have always mattered first.

Antonia Lopez

Less sanctimony, more science

Re “Abortion is unhealthy for everyone” (SN&R Letters, February 19):

I read the letter pointing to a link between cancer and abortion with alarm. Allegedly, abortion leaves unused pregnancy hormones circulating in the body, which then, somehow, causes cancer in some unfortunate women.

Egad, I thought to myself, what if this is true? It sounds like a load of crap, but stranger things have happened. I decided to investigate further by turning to the primary medical literature.

I searched the PubMed database, which contains articles from many thousands of biological and medical peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association. I found that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded in August 2003 that “early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk have been inconsistent and are difficult to interpret because of methodologic considerations. More rigorous recent studies argue against a causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.” This was just one of many articles that reported no link between abortion and cancer.

But what about the letter writer’s claim that this same cancer risk was not associated with “natural” miscarriages (or “spontaneous abortion,” as clinicians term it)? An article in the August 2003 International Journal of Cancer reported the results of an ongoing study that has been following 100,000 women since 1990. This is what they had to say: “We conclude that there is no relationship between breast cancer and induced abortion but that an association with spontaneous abortion is possible and may depend on menopausal status.”

Wait—so abortion doesn’t cause cancer, but repeated miscarriages might?

The woman who wrote this letter should stay away from science and stick to what she knows, which is, perhaps, passing judgment on others. Or maybe feeling smug and sanctimonious.

Becky Abigail
via e-mail

Stewart shouldn’t pick on TAs

Re “Multiplication fables” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, February 19):

Bravo to most of what Jill Stewart said about our broken system of education. I must take exception, though, to one of her points about the University of California regents agreeing to provide health coverage for student teaching assistants (TAs).

Even TAs who work minimal hours may have no other health care. Most of them are graduate students who are not in the full-time workforce. While some have spouses with benefits, most are either the very young and/or middle-aged or younger singles, often single parents who want a better life for their families.

Despite their titles, most TAs don’t truly “assist” any professor, but in fact are teaching their own classes for tuition waivers/reductions and low salaries. Some work other jobs and study. Because they cover high-contact classes (composition, math, speech and science labs) and enroll in highly specialized courses, they free up professors to do higher-level work and boast of the many new professionals they have brought into their field.

In short, this is hardly “lavish” spending: Teaching assistants are highly cost-effective, and offering them health care is a bargain, one of the few left in higher education.

Keep finding the waste, Jill, but don’t pick on a bunch of poverty-stricken graduate students.

John Bell

Time for students to get dirty

Re “Multiplication fables” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, February 19, 2004):

This state was once the envy of all education systems. We have traded geography, science, English, math and shop classes for classes on filling out welfare forms, diversity and self-esteem.

For the past 15 years, the state has promised an exit exam for each high-school graduate. Every year, a new excuse slips back the exit exam to avoid embarrassing the local board of education, teachers unions and department of education.

Shop—industrial education—has been decimated in California, with the belief that getting one’s hands dirty spoils the high-tech image. In the same breath, art funding has tripled. Students fail to understand that the only people supporting themselves with art are the art consultants working for the state. Businesses relocate to find qualified employees.

The largest “education” organizations in the state depend financially on the number of students, not the quality of education. The education organizations spent taxpayer dollars on suing those same taxpayers to overturn Proposition 187, which would have saved the state an estimated $15 billion a year.

Meanwhile, students receiving high-school diplomas can’t read, balance a checkbook, count change or name the capital of California.

Can we provide a productive education? The big question is: Does anyone want to?

Lou Meyer

History lesson

Re “High-stakes standoff” by Robert Speer (SN&R Cover, February 19):

Many of my relations would take issue with the statement that there were only “four Indians alive in the Feather Falls area in the first half of the 20th century.”

Among those relations would be my great-grandmother, Ellen McCauley (pictured in your story); my great-grandfather, Fry Creek Jack, chief of the Mooretown Band of Indians at the time of its initial federal recognition; and my father, Dan K. Williams, who lived on the Mooretown Indian Reservation for most of the first half of the 20th century.

The reservation was set aside by executive order in 1894, and the rancheria was purchased in 1916, for the benefit of the 73 members of the tribe as enumerated in a federal census.

Growing up as a tribal member in Feather Falls, I do not remember us as being “loose-knit,” as stated in your story. We lived close together and always took care of one another. And from long before I can remember, up to the present, members of the tribe have come together for the Big Time that is held at the Hand Game Ground in Feather Falls each spring and fall.

Furthermore, the reservation and the rancheria were terminated pursuant to the Rancheria Act, which was enacted during the Eisenhower administration, not the Kennedy administration. Also, only four Indians from Mooretown voluntarily surrendered their federal status as Indians. The rest of the Indians at Mooretown retained their status as Indians in the eyes of the federal government.

Danny Lee Williams

Editor’s response: The reservation and rancheria Mr. Williams mentions were located in the Feather Falls area and should not be confused with the present 300-acre rancheria site in Oroville. According to Gary Archuleta and Alan Archuleta, the current tribal chairman and treasurer, respectively, Mr. Williams is correct that the rancheria-termination process began under the Eisenhower administration, but it officially concluded in 1961, during the Kennedy administration, with passage of the Indian Termination Act. Our article’s account of the tribe’s re-recognition during the 1980s is correct, they say. Current lineal tribal members as recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. government in general are those described in the article, which is why they have been able to construct and operate a casino.


Re “A good soul” (SN&R 15 minutes, February 26):

Anneke Vos lost members of her family during the Nazi occupation, but not her parents, as indicated in the story.

Re “Vehicle fees by the pound” by Don Petron (SN&R Guest comment, February 26):

The photo accompanying last week’s Guest comment was of Sean South, not Don Petron as stated.