Letters for October 7, 2004

Readers miss the best

Re “Best of Sacramento” (SN&R Cover, September 30):

Just when Sacramento starts asserting its rightful status as one of America’s major metropolitan areas, along comes SN&R’s annual “Best of Sacramento” issue to remind us what a hick burg this really is.

The readers’ choice for “Best place to see a concert”: Arco Arena. Arco Arena? Say what? Music lovers would prefer to see a show in a massive gymnasium rather than enjoy the intimate acoustics of, say, the Mondavi Center, or the Crest Theatre, or the Community Center Theater? What am I missing here?

Sigh. We’ve got such a long way to go to shed Sacramento’s cow-town reputation.

Paul Dorn

Editor’s note: Paul should also take a look in the Arts & Entertainment section, under Writers’ choice, for “Best natural acoustics.” The winner is the Mondavi Center.

Osama been forgotten

Re “How long do you expect the U.S. military to stay in Iraq?” (SN&R Streetalk, September 23):

Katherine Jolson’s comment represents the blatant ignorance of the Republican Party. She states that we’ll stay in Iraq “until the job is finished.” When will that be? When hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children are murdered, or when U.S. casualties reach 100,000? Whichever comes first?

She claims Bush is “hard on terrorists.” We all know that he’s hard at work trying to find the culprits who terrorized the World Trade Center. That is why Osama bin Laden’s name was mentioned once during the Republican National Convention. Al Qaeda is an afterthought to this administration. The only “terrorists” this president is fighting are the Iraqi insurgents he incited himself by his foolish war, while the real enemies are rebuilding their core.

Finally, she claims that “otherwise, we’re going to end up like Russia, with our schoolchildren being killed.” Tell me, who was president on 9/11? Keep thinking like you do; if Bush is re-elected, perhaps you’ll find joy in the world’s wrath you and your kind have created.

Lawrence S. DuBois

Food’s not frivolous

Re “The silly season” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 16):

Jill Stewart is off the mark when it comes to Assembly Bill 1796.

Far from being a piece of “feel-good” legislation, AB 1796 represents one of the latest salutary efforts in California to move toward a more measured response to the serious policy problems raised by substance abuse and addiction.

Persons convicted of serious crimes like murder, rape, arson and burglary are currently eligible to receive food stamps. In contrast, any person convicted of a nonviolent drug felony, like simple possession, is prohibited. AB 1796 simply takes advantage of an “opt-out” provision contained in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which otherwise precludes convicted drug felons from receiving food stamps.

Denying an essential commodity like food to those individuals already carrying a lifetime stigma imposed by the criminal-justice system does nothing to solve their underlying problem, namely how best to reintegrate into society. When inmates are released from jail or prison, unemployment is the hard reality for most of them.

This measure may seem trifling when compared with the larger issue of California’s unconscionably high rates of inmate recidivism, not to mention the larger budgetary and management shortcomings of the state’s correctional system. But it certainly does not deserve inclusion in a column that highlights political frivolities like the declawing of exotic cats and purple needlegrass.

Nikos A. Leverenz

Silly columnist, get over it

Re “The silly season” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 16):

I read SN&R frequently. Jill Stewart has failed to establish credibility as an informed political reporter.

In her most recent contribution, she denigrates bill after bill that has been passed on to the governor to sign, apparently dismissing the idea that Californians of various political positions have any business putting issues that are of concern to them forward for their Legislature to consider.

Ms. Stewart’s use of adjectives such as “absurd,” “frivolous,” “awful,” etc. to describe some of these bills conveys to the reader that the citizens who support these bills are less deserving of consideration than the old tried, true and continuing partisan issues of decaying infrastructure, water and economy.

I beg to differ. California is uniquely progressive in its laws. We didn’t get that way by not entertaining different viewpoints. If the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals does not concern Ms. Stewart, that’s too bad. There are large constituencies of people who are concerned about it. We vote, we donate, and we lobby our Legislature. And, if most of the legislators are Democrats, it’s because we, the people of California, elected them. Ms. Stewart needs to get over it.

Shielda Trotter
via e-mail

Arnold should veto silly bills

Re “The silly season” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 16):

Congratulations to Jill Stewart for exposing the stack of ridiculous bills passed by the Legislature this year.

I worked as a legislative coordinator in the 1990s and saw firsthand how these blowhards operate. Much of their time is spent engaging in petty political squabbles and passing mindless legislation. One of my favorites is the naming of every bridge and highway in the state after some political hack or special- interest group.

In the meantime, real work like balancing the budget and reforming costly, inefficient programs remains undone. Let’s hope Arnold makes maximum use of his veto pen this fall.

Gregg M. Wardrip

Not-so-savvy experts

Re “Advice and dissent” by Joe Piasecki (SN&R Cover, September 9):

Richard Dekmejian states, “The number of potential terrorists has dramatically increased around the world.” This is an uneducated statement.

How have “potential” terrorists increased? What data can he provide to prove it? Can a professor stuck in a book world have firsthand knowledge of this? Is he assisting in the terrorist war?

He’s claiming knowledge that terrorists are being manufactured; why not intervene to prevent future attacks? He is not specific about what makes “potential terrorists,” other than exiles or wronged people. Can we conclude that anyone voicing hatred against the United States and its allies are “potential” terrorists?

Columnist Robert Scheer says terrorism “should be thought of as a medical pathology, a form of mental illness.” Why is a columnist diagnosing mental illnesses? Will other writers follow this and judge the mental health of others also? He says, “It’s something we need to root out and treat and examine.” If Mr. Scheer is so smart, I suggest he abandon writing and explore the medical field. Persuade the government to replace soldiers with psychologists. Doctors can convince terrorists and “potential” terrorists that they need a prescription to Prozac and antidepressants.

Susan Block compares the World Trade Center to a penis and makes perversions out of atrocities. Columns like these breed more dumb ideas and add fire to the flames that already divide us! These experts, consumed with their own ideas, become part of the problem.

Many blame [George W.] Bush for our problems, but where is responsibility for what is said and printed? I question the savvy of these “experts” and SN&R writers.

Cynthia Butts

Prop 36 is a fraud on the voters

Re “Behind the prop” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, September 2):

I applaud SN&R’s recent article highlighting the deficiencies of Proposition 36. Until recently, I was a narcotics prosecutor and was appalled at the negative effects Proposition 36 had on individual defendants as well as the judicial system generally.

I have lost count of the number of criminal defendants whom I pleaded to felonies with Proposition 36, only to have them come back for two more felony convictions before the court even had discretion to impose a prison sentence. Unfortunately for those defendants, by the time prison was finally imposed, because they had been doing Proposition 36, they often had few if any custody credits and would serve their full three- year-plus terms with only credits for their conduct while in custody on the new sentence.

In other words, because their probation could never be violated, these defendants never were ordered to do work project or home custody before a prison sentence, thereby reducing their prison exposure.

In any case, I applaud a critical look at what was ultimately a fraud on the voters.

David Akulian
deputy district attorney, Yolo County


Re “Best of Sacramento” (SN&R Cover, September 30):

In the entries for “Best theater company” and “Best revival of a play hardly anyone remembers,” in the Arts & Entertainment section, the River Stage box-office phone number was incorrect. It is (916) 691-7364.