No More Sobs

My wife just brought home the Reader, and I’m looking at your cover story “Go Directly to Jail…and Die” (December 11). I’ve read the first paragraph of the darn thing, and I see it’s an illegal alien juvenile delinquent that went to jail, and that’s as far as I’ve read. And I don’t give a s*** if he died in jail. He’s an illegal alien, should have been deported, and I don’t want any more sob stories about illegal aliens. I’ve heard enough sob stories about illegal aliens. And with the damn Obama in the White House we’re probably going to have them crammed down our throat. The worthless Bush did nothing to get them out of here. The damned Obama’s not going to do anything, and that old clown McCain wouldn’t have done anything either if he’d been elected. I’m sick to death of illegal aliens. They’re all over the place here. I don’t want any more sob stories about them. Thank you very much. Good-bye. And if he died in jail, f*** him. I don’t give a s***.

Name Withheld
via voicemail

That Darn State

This is about your Reader, December 11, “Go Directly to Jail…and Die” (Cover Story). I really don’t like the way you or the San Diego Union-Tribune make the illegal immigrants look like they’re victims. You know, they’re up here and they’re on our welfare system — because we are a welfare state — and they and their kids and their wives are on damn welfare here. That’s why the darn state is in the problem that it’s in now is because we’re a welfare state and we’re providing welfare for all Mexicans, legal and illegal. I mean, even the legal ones get on welfare. They got it down. They get their girlfriends pregnant, and then they stay in the background and then get on welfare for one kid, for two kids, for three kids. “Who’s the dad?” “I don’t know.” Hey, you know. I just don’t like the way you make the illegal immigrants look like victims. They’re the problems, you know? And the welfare system supporting Mexicans, legal or illegal, is the problem.

Name Withheld
via voicemail

View From The Inside

I am sorry to say that I once worked at Corrections Corporation of America in Otay Mesa (“Go Directly to Jail… and Die,” Cover Story, December 11). It was time someone exposed these inhumanities. What this article has stated is fact! One hundred percent accurate. I understand inmates and detainees have broken the law, but in that facility only 10 percent of those housed there are level III inmates; the majority are illegal aliens. These inmates have been violated to such extreme that I believe this facility should be closed and their ICE and USM contract revoked.

Corrections Corporation of America is just there for the money. Qualified officers and staff at that facility are lacking. Half if not more of the detention officers could not pass a psychological evaluation. They are not even required to have a CORE certification by the State of California; all they are required to have is a California Guard Card. A monkey can get that. How can you be a first responder to an emergency if you do not have adequate training? There go our tax dollars.

As to the Castaneda family, my deepest apologies. His death was not necessary nor warranted, at least here in the United States.

Name Withheld
via email


The “Canyon Trails Traffic Jam” (“City Lights,” December 11) piece would have the reader thinking that Del Mar Mesa is a recreational-user mecca, with the inevitable multiple-use conflicts that arise in such locales. But the Del Mar Mesa habitat preserve is so much more than a recreation destination. The Del Mar Mesa Preserve consists of sensitive lands that have been set aside for protection as mitigation (“to make up for”) resource damage in other nearby areas such as the Mira Mesa Marketplace development, which destroyed a large vernal pool habitat in violation of federal law, and the SR-56 project. Protected lands on Del Mar Mesa are managed by the City of San Diego, State of California, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The overriding mandate for the protection of these lands is the MSCP, or Multiple Species Conservation Program, to which all the above-listed parties subscribe, in addition to other stakeholders, including the development industry and environmental and recreational-user constituencies. It is absolutely critical to the success of the MSCP, and to future growth in our region, that these highly sensitive MSCP lands be protected. Once damaged or destroyed, whether it be by one or a hundred willful or unwitting actions on the part of preserve users, these sensitive resources will not bounce back.

We support the recent administrative actions by the resource agencies to safeguard the Del Mar Mesa Preserve through a temporary administrative closure to recreational uses, at least until the publication and adoption of the Resource Management Plan, which is currently under development and scheduled for review by the advisory committee in March 2009.

Geoffrey D. Smith
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee

R.I.P. Ticketmaster

Finally some smart concert promoter has seen the light by dumping Ticketmaster and their excessive “convenience” fees (“Blurt,” December 11). I refuse to pay Ticketmaster fees. Recently Pala Casino hosted a special $12 concert by talk-show host Glenn Beck. Ticketmaster wanted a $10 fee for each $12 ticket. I instead drove to the casino box office, bought several $12 tickets, had a nice buffet lunch, and dropped what would have gone into Ticketmaster’s greedy pockets into a one-dollar slot instead and came out ahead of the game. Sorry, Ticketmaster, you lose!

Ken Harrison

A Dose Of Science

In response to “The Present Craziness” letter by Pat Palmer (December 4), I think a good dose of factual scientific information would be appropriate.

Pat said, “When we eat, we accept and integrate that information via our messenger RNA into our own DNA and are so modified. Genetic engineering tricks our cells into accepting new, unnatural information as if it were the familiar natural information.”

This is not true in the slightest. During digestion, our bodies break down whatever DNA is in our food into its individual building blocks, destroying whatever genetic information was present. It doesn’t matter whether you think that DNA is “natural” or not, it all gets broken down the same way. And the part about messenger RNA is completely backwards. Messenger RNA carries the information from our own genes to a structure called the ribosome that translates the code into a sequence of amino acids for making a protein. It does not incorporate new genetic information into our DNA, least of all from our food!

The genetics of our food crops have been in constant change with and without human intervention. The kinds of changes occurring with genetic engineering are far less drastic than the majority of genetic changes that have been made through the history of these plants. Whole chromosomes have been duplicated, recombined, mutated, inserted, and deleted. Adding one or two new genes pales in comparison.

There are real issues and challenges facing our species as we figure out how to use genetic engineering to benefit us and the environment, but in order to properly address these questions, we need to educate ourselves about what is actually going on. Comparing genetic engineering to radiation poisoning is a form of hyperbole the likes of which I have never seen before. In the absence of knowledge about a new and complicated issue, people will often come up with ideas that speak of impending and widespread destruction rather than address those issues rationally. That’s “the present craziness.”

P.S. I’m a plant genetics grad student. Our website, biofortified.org, is a group blog that I write with another grad student and two professors, where we try to educate people about plant genetics, including genetic engineering.

Karl Haro von Mogel
Madison, WI

Criminals’ Hideout

Yes, downtown San Diego is getting ugly (“It’s Getting Ugly Downtown,” Cover Story, December 4). And so is all of San Diego, with the traffic, high cost of living, gangs, crime, corruption in city hall, and the immense flow of gangsters and undesirables. About the criminals, as long as they have the money, they can live here.

All sorts of seedy and bad elements are moving in (just check who owns the Coronado properties), since they have the lawyers and the dirty cash.

No better place for corrupt politicians from Mexico to hide than in the Cays or the Taco towers or the huge homes. Does anybody care about quality, or is it just the buck?

The quality of life certainly has gone down, and soon enough this lovely city will be no more. No more “America’s finest city.”

Charles Borsuk
via email

The Media Makes It Worse

If slanted, misleading, and superficial journalism is all you feel is necessary to consider an article for publication, then you have achieved your limited goals with the cover article in the December 4 edition (“It’s Getting Ugly Downtown”). Please! There is too much at stake here and no room for error in reporting on the financial conditions of the downtown market and on people’s financial lives. Of course, some of the truths I am about to reveal may not sell as many advertising spots, but they need to be told to balance out the limited and shoddy reporting of your article.

First, there are actually seven distinct neighborhoods downtown, and each supports a different quality, price point, and style of living. To use a broad brush and proclaim it is “getting ugly downtown” does a disservice to the areas that are actually doing quite well and to the future of the projects under construction.

Take a look at the Marina District, for instance. While there has been a reduction in the overall price per square foot in most buildings, the actual percentage is quite small compared to other areas of the county. And inventory is hardly overwhelming. The Pinnacle has 202 units with only 10 units on the market for sale. CityFront Terrace has 320 units and only 14 on the market. Inventory needs to be about 10 percent of the building’s total units to equal a three- to four-month supply. These particular examples (and there are many more like this) represent a far less hysterical picture than your article. The number of units under construction and due to be delivered in the next six months will be all that is available until at least 2012. With the increasing interest from a broader national and international market and actual purchases that are happening every day, despite the skeptics’ interpretation, we may very well experience a shortage of units in the not-too-distant future which will drive prices back up to 2006 numbers and beyond.

In regards to the specific examples of individuals caught between their lenders, mortgage/HOA/taxes, and descending values, these stories are not unique nor are they the majority. Many owners bought with 20 percent or more down payment, many had good credit, did not overextend themselves on the purchase, and will weather the storm until prices rebound on the upswing of the cycle. Yes, it has been an unusually deeper and longer cycle than anyone could have predicted, but real estate led the country into this recession and real estate will lead it out.

It is disingenuous and sleazy tabloid journalism to smear the newsstands with an article that had so little research behind it and made absolutely no attempt to present any information to balance the flimsy assertions it did present. I know the old media adage “If it bleeds, it leads” is enticing and sells papers, but honestly, when did we lose the passion for truth and nonbiased investigative journalism? Isn’t it possible that the current economic conditions of our country were exacerbated by the way the media has researched and reported the news? And if that is true, couldn’t the media become part of the solution as we move forward rather than the continuous problem? It’s time for the media to take responsibility and to take a stand to help highlight the good, not just the “ugly downtown.”

Raye Scott

Appalled, Simply Appalled

I picked up a copy of the Reader yesterday and read your “SDPD — Got an Attitude?” story (“City Lights,” December 4). I am outraged by the behavior of the two police officers that handled Mr. Vegas’s case. I perceive the police officers as callous, and it bothers me, and it should bother every other San Diegan in several different ways. Part of the police job is to help and to protect us. Better said, here’s what the San Diego Police Department’s mission is:

Vision: We are committed to working together, within the department, in a problem-solving partnership with communities, government agencies, private groups and individuals to fight crime and improve the quality of life for the people of San Diego.

Values: The principles upon which we base our policing are:

Human Life — The protection of human life is our highest priority.

Ethics — We will demonstrate integrity and honor in all our actions.

Crime Fighting — Our efforts to address neighborhood problems will be based on a partnership with the community.

Valuing People — We will treat each other with dignity and respect, protecting the rights and well-being of all individuals.

Loyalty — We will be loyal to the community, to the department and its members, and to the standards of our profession.

Open Communication — We will listen to one another’s opinions and concerns.

Fairness — Our decisions will be based on common sense and will be balanced, moral, legal, and without personal favoritism.

Diversity — We appreciate one another’s differences and recognize that our unique skills, knowledge, abilities, and backgrounds bring strength and caring to our organization.

Mission: Our mission is to maintain peace and order by providing the highest-quality police services in response to community needs by apprehending criminals, developing partnerships, respecting individuals.

It seems that those two officers failed miserably upholding the values of the department: ethics, human life, crime fighting, valuing people, open communication, fairness, and diversity. They didn’t treat Mr. Vega with respect, they didn’t apprehend the person who assaulted him, and one of them intimidated Mr. Vega — the victim — by threatening to put him in jail.

In addition, the first police officer passed judgment on Mr. Vega — according to your story — by saying, “What did you expect?” and “What do you want me to do about it?” and “Here’s what I’m going to do: I am going to take you to jail, take him to jail, or you can forget about it, go to the hospital, and get it stitched up.”

That officer lacks the morality, compassion, sensitivity, and humanity to wear the police uniform. It is hard to believe that he was not impartial, that he took the incident so lightly, especially when Vegas was in pain and bleeding. And not even to offer to call an ambulance?

What is as appalling is that the officer that showed up at the hospital hours later to take the criminal report comes with a bias toward Critical Mass already by saying, “ ‘Yeah, I know Critical Mass, I know what Critical Mass is all about.… Why did you participate in Critical Mass?’ And I said, ‘For the exercise. I have friends that ride, and they invited me.’ So he says, ‘Well, the next time you might want to do a little more research before you go out and just join up with a group of people. Critical Mass is an anarchist organization.’ ”

The police officer’s job is not to judge or to ask why Vegas participated in the Critical Mass ride. In fact, that is none of his business. I might be wrong, but my understanding is that the police officer is there to write a report, to take the account of the victim, not to judge or to make any comments about it.

I am disgusted by those two officers’ behavior and biases but not surprised. I am afraid that the police department here in San Diego has not changed at all and definitely not since the publication of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing by former assistant chief Norm Stamper and Kevin M. LaChapelle’s Please God, Don’t Let My Badge Tarnish.

The following assertion about policing made by Norm Stamper might help illustrate why such police misconduct still exists. In his book, Stamper writes, “Even today, policing serves the interests of politicians over ‘the people,’ landlords over tenants, merchants over consumers, whites over blacks, husbands over wives, management over labor, except when ‘labor’ is the police union.”

Lastly, I just would like to remind the SDPD that they work for us. They get paid by the City of San Diego with taxpayers’ money. I know that most police officers behave ethically and responsibly, but to those who don’t, please don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

via email

Light Shed By Don

After reading “What We Would Have Asked Andrea” (“City Lights,” December 4), I’d like to tip my hat to Don Bauder and his dogged pursuit of answers from San Diego’s government officials, including independent budget analyst Andrea Tevlin. It’s often tough for laypeople like me to figure out who to believe regarding the trouble at city hall — but when officials like Ms. Tevlin simply refuse to answer fair questions like Mr. Bauder’s, well, that sheds a lot of light.

Shane Finneran
Ocean Beach

Disappearing Dole

Re Don Bauder’s December 4 Reader article (“What We Would Have Asked Andrea”).

Look, most government programs are gold-plated shovels with rope handles. San Diego is not alone in its incompetence, lack of transparency, and greed. For example, American taxpayers just shoveled out about half of the $700 billion requested by Treasury and approved by Congress, but nobody knows where the money went. The dole required but got no accounting.

Roger Newell
College Area

Bell Rings True

Thanks for your article by Commander Bell (RET) (“Saved by Commander Bell,” Feature Story, December 4). I read every word. It brought back memories of my time on the Bainbridge (CGN25) in the South China Seas. And to think there are people today who think we should withdraw from Iraq. Thanks for your service, sir.

John Sadler

There’s More To It

I think it is very sad and presumptuous of civilians to read a book about a military action or mission and merely assume that is all that took place (“What’s That You’re Reading?” November 26). My fiancé was there during the Black Hawk Down “incident.” It took place over more than a couple of days; there were many more involved who were killed and sustained casualties that were never reported because this story focuses on the Rangers.

My fiancé was in the Army during that time, and it was his first mission right after basic training. He sustained broken ribs and a punctured lung the day before the incident and still went back in to lay cover for others who were attempting to extract those Rangers. He had to do unspeakable things and saw unspeakable things. The militia there were using women and children as a human shield while they attempted to kill every one of our military. There is much more behind the politics of why we were there and what we did while we were there. My fiancé and his roommate laid down fire at huge crowds within feet of the military while others of their battalion attempted to take up safer positions. They fought with no helmets while they were barraged with constant fire. No one has any concept of what they saw or experienced. It cannot be written about.

He and many others daily barely live with the PTSD from that incident and so many more problems and health issues. He and others lived through suicide attempts as a result of that “fight,” and some did not live through their attempts. He relives it every day of his life, and he is now 34. He will never be whole, and many of his comrades will not be either. He constantly sees the women and children, the militia, what happened to our soldiers (many not Rangers), and lives with the poor political decisions that affected them all.

The other sad thing is the U.S. continues to make poor military decisions based on poor information and egotistical military seniors who have their own agendas. I love the military and I work for them, but they have the capability, knowledge, and technology to do so much more without the life-altering negative effects to so many military men and women and their families.

We cannot affect the military decisions, but we can be wiser about what we read and realize that we should not do a disservice to many other military men and women by our naïve beliefs that “incidents” and missions that happen and are reported in a story are not more extensive than what we hear. It further damages our proud heroes when we as civilians are so naïve to believe that incidents happen in a “day or two,” that writers are telling the entire story, that nothing is being left out, and that possibly worse things happened to others that no one ever heard about or will ever know. We are also being naïve to think that those incidents are ever over and that somewhere, someplace, our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and other loved ones are not trying to simply get out of bed and live one day without being affected by, constantly thinking about, or feeling like they should not live another day because of what they saw and did. We owe them more respect, more realization, and definitely more appreciation. It is worse than saddening. It breaks my heart for those who are naïve as well as those of our military who are devastated further by narrow descriptions of civilians about what they think happens.

Leigh Ann Bryson
via email

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In response to two letters: Charly, the smashing potatoes sounded great. I wish I could've seen it.

In regards to the police/cyclists...maybe the officer handled the situation that way. Or maybe an angry cyclist said he did. Who knows. But, if this letter writer wants to talk about what a police officers job is, let me add my two cents.

I think if the police see cyclists doing these rides, they should immediately arrest every one that runs a stop sign. Every one that is blocking traffic. Issue hardcore citations, as the riders doing this are engaged in a number of illegal things. Hey, you can even trump up the charges by calling it "intent to incite a riot," because I can easily see how this can become a riot, when people in cars, that did nothing wrong, can't go when the light is green, or whatever.

It's a shame your thumb gotten bitten off. But ya know what? The cyclists should think more about other people, and how determental this crap is. I know some cyclists that say they hate this practice, and they also hate that other motorists will now be angry at ANY bicyclist they see.

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