In response to Mr. Masi's response [“Letters,” April 9] to Carl Luna's “Political Lunacy” piece [“The Front Lines,” April 9] (which I did not read), I would suggest Mr. Masi see the brilliant documentary No End in Sight. To suggest that the war (as Masi has) in Iraq is “the cleanest and most well-executed operation in history [WWII?]. More attention was paid to the safety of the civilian population and the well-being of enemy POWs [Abu Ghraib?]. We are rebuilding faster and stronger than we did for Japan and Germany [no, we are not]” is absurd.
I have a friend who lost a brother during the first year of the war as well as dear friends whose son thankfully survived while serving in Iraq (unlike the decision makers who never served and sent them there).
Our troops, despite the brave sacrifice they have made and are currently making, deserve better. They deserve (whether Democrat or Republican) the truth, leadership and competence. We have not had this over many a useless conflict since WWII regardless of the part in power.
Mr. Masi, I hope your family serving in Iraq is kept safe and they make a difference and ultimately come home intact to you, despite Washington.
Steven J. Warner,University Heights
Re: “American history X” [“Music,” April 9]. The punk club in China Town was the Hong Kong Café. Punks were not allowed in or near Madam Wong's. Esther Wong crusaded to get Punk Rock banned from China Town. This was the subject of a documentary by Penelope Spheeris titled The China Town Punk Wars.The Wong's thing has long been a pet peeve amongst the original L.A. punkers. It's annoying to see Esther so frequently praised by the media when she worked so hard to destroy the L.A. punk scene.
The Hong Kong was a great place that gets little recognition. We played there many times, and Esther Wong was always visible, peering through binoculars from her second-floor office window a few doors away. She would count each person entering the Hong Kong and would call the fire marshal if they went a single person over their limit.
Billy Zoom,Guitar player, X
Hold the hysteria
Re: “Sex offenders!!!” [“Cover Story,” April 16]. This was an excellent piece. I commend you for the way you presented the truth. I hope that many more journalists will follow your lead and begin to dispel the hysteria and lack of truth in many ideas the public has been given by reporters and legislators regarding this issue. Thank you for the integrity you exhibited by reporting the facts.
Thank you so much for having the courage to write the article you did regarding the myths and misconceptions surrounding sex offenders [“Cover Story,” April 16].I made a wrong choice eight years ago for which I have been paying for ever since. I am currently on parole and GPSed, even though I am not classified as “high risk.” Finding a place to live was a nightmare—I actually went on “homeless” status for four months in order to be “compliant” with Jessica's Law. Fortunately, I seem to have a pretty decent parole officer who pointed me in some right directions.
Currently, I have a decent job at a company Downtown. My employers know my status and still treat me normally—even recently promoting me. I am lucky.
I represent the majority of convicted sex offenders out there—I have taken responsibility for my offense, taken steps to ensure it never happens again and desire to be a hard-working, contributing member of society. I can really empathize with the man in your article you quoted who wanted to write a letter. I sometimes have that desire as well, since I find myself getting frustrated at the ignorant attitudes of society in general. They want to banish us from society and think they are succeeding, but what they don't realize is that they are around sex offenders (convicted and yet-to-be convicted) every day.
To look at me, you would think I was a “normal” businessman. I'm well-dressed, not bad looking and highly educated. I'm the guy that helped the mom struggling up the steps with her stroller—simply for no other reason than she was a fellow citizen needing assistance. She smiled at me and thanked me and I continued my day. I'm the guy on the bus going to work who sits next to you and your kids. I'm the guy sitting in the restaurant with his date while your kids run around the tables. I'm the guy who was sitting in the neighborhood barbershop last weekend chatting with the barber and a military family, thanking the dad for his service. My point is not to frighten—my point is that we're here—everywhere. Ninety-nine percent of us look normal and are participating in society, largely with no problems. It is unfortunate that a small percentage of offenders make it difficult for those of us who have changed and sincerely desire to move forward with a positive life.
I applaud your efforts to bring the truth into the open and challenging people to think through these issues rather than making decisions—passing laws—based on emotion and hype.
Barrio Logan's vision
Re: “‘That area is going to go off'” [“Cover Story,” April 9]. The Barrio Logan Community Plan update will indeed change people's lives for the better, as long as the plan adopts the community's vision and resists outsider development interests as described in Eric Wolff's excellent article.
Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) has fought for more than two decades to reduce pollution, improve public health and empower Barrio Logan residents to shape their own future. Four years ago, when an initial plan update effort failed, EHC's leaders—including Maria Martinez—continued the process on their own and developed the Barrio Logan Vision, now supported by hundreds of residents, businesses and organizations.This is the good news for Barrio Logan: We have a vision. Now we need a community plan to implement that vision for a neighborhood where development serves current residents with affordable housing and pollution reduction and respects the history and character of the community. As always, through its organizing and advocacy efforts, EHC will be at the forefront of the fight to make the community's vision a reality.
Laura Benson,Director, Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign, Environmental Health Coalition
I want to thank you so much for your recent article regarding sex offender laws [“Cover Story,” April 16]. I admire you for your courage and strength to write an unbiased article.
As the wife of a low/no-risk offender in Northern California, I know first-hand the affect of these laws. My husband's crime was 15 years ago. He served a year in county jail, completed five years probation in 2000 and was (even in all court and probation documents) rated as low risk to re-offend. He hasn't re-offended. In fact he has been married to me 10 years today, has had the same job for more than 10 years and we don't move from place to place. (Pretty much goes against all the stereotypes of the “stranger down the street” lurking in the bushes.)
But the release of the Megan's Law database to the Internet in 2004 nearly destroyed us. We were harassed by the other tenants in our apartment building, and we're scared every day of losing our jobs and having our families face further humiliation. He was granted an exclusion from Internet disclosure in July 2005—long after the damage was done, but he received a letter from the DOJ last month (as did “Lisa” from your article) saying the exclusion was being rescinded. So we are fighting the battle again. We have to pay thousands in legal fees to fight a battle we may not win and he will be back on the Internet.
I know you'll probably receive hate mail from people who believe no punishment is enough for a sex offender. I hope you'll believe that the article you wrote continues to be what should be talked about in a fair, unbiased manner. I don't believe sex offenders shouldn't be punished for their crimes. But I don't believe in all these retroactive laws being applied to offenders who have long ago served their sentences and have gone on to attempt to be contributing members of society.
Thanks again for your courage.
Re: “Spin Cycle” [April 23]. I attended the debate among the mayoral candidates at Earth Day in Balboa Park on April 20, but I came with a quite different take-away from the event than your reporter, John Lamb. When Jerry Sanders' opening statement was picketed by members of Local 127 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, he may have been impressed by the way the workers were embarrassing Sanders. All I could think of was that this was yet another example of the abysmal short-sightedness and counterproductive strategic sense of Local 127 and the union movement in San Diego in general.
First, way back in the 1990s, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council endorsed in favor of the convention center expansion and the sweetheart deal the San Diego Padres got to build Petco Park—the schemes that led then-Mayor Susan Golding and the Republican establishment she represented to short-fund the workers' pension system and create the current crisis.
Then, more recently, the Labor Council and the municipal employees have joined the Downtown establishment's jihad against City Attorney Mike Aguirre, denying him the Democratic Party's endorsement for reelection and getting the San Diego Democratic Club to endorse his Democrat-in-name-only opponent, Scott Peters. (At the club's meeting, Peters established his “pro-labor” credentials by saying he'd helped “solve” the pension crisis by pushing through an ordinance for a 6.5-percent pay cut and lower benefits for new city hires.)
City workers have shown up at meetings wearing buttons reading, “Mike Aguirre must go”—displaying a profound indifference to just who replaces him and targeting a man who, despite his missteps, has proven a tireless battler of civic corruption—just to protect the sweetheart pension deals with which Golding and the City Council of her era bribed them in the first place.
And now they're targeting Sanders, handing out expensive leaflets and leaving me to wonder why once again they're cutting off their noses to spite their faces. The bottom line is that after this year's election either Jerry Sanders or Steve Francis will be mayor. There's a nominal Democrat in the race, Floyd Morrow, but he last served in elective office five years before “revolutionary” candidate Eric Bidwell was born, and he has about as much chance of getting elected as Bidwell (probably less, given how your reporter mentioned Bidwell's presence at the Earth Day event but ignored Morrow's).
What makes this ironic is that, while both Sanders and Francis supported the so-called “managed competition” campaign to privatize city workers' jobs, Francis announced his mayoral campaign by criticizing Sanders for not privatizing fast enough. So in the interest of defeating Sanders, the city workers' unions are in effect promoting a candidate who promises to put them out of work that much sooner. With “labor leaders” like these, San Diego's city workers don't need enemies.
Mark Gabrish Conlan,North Park