By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM
Although the public seems to have accepted that journalists these days spend more ink on their personal biases than on the facts, please inform writer Bobbi Murray and her editor ["Cops Foiled by Computer Mandate" and "Hit Parade," July 28] that careless distortions of facts in a story would still generate an "F" at any reputable journalism school. The Christopher Commission report was issued in July 1991. Thus, this month it has been eight years, not "nearly a decade ago"; that event is not scheduled until the spring of 2001. Also, January 1997 occurred five and half years after the report, not "almost five years."
More importantly, there were three Los Angeles Police Department officers murdered in 1998 (all three by gang members, incidentally), not two. Ms. Murray devoted one sentence to two of the killings without mentioning slain Officers Steve Gajda and Fil Cuesta. And she completely disrespected by omission the memory of Officer Brian Brown, murdered last Thanksgiving weekend. Finally, in her haste to gloss over the Hoover Institution's Joseph MacNamara's observation that Los Angeles has a relatively low shooting rate for a city its size, Ms. Murray failed to provide context; any long-term look at shootings by Los Angeles police would show that the numbers are down, down and down. But the danger to working police officers is not.
EDITOR REPLIES: The incorrect information about the number of officers killed last year was supplied in writing by the LAPD.
EXCREMENT HAPPENS . . .
Regarding the sewage spill at the Valley treatment plant ["OffBeat: Y2Kaos," June 25July 1], you got it right: Nowadays computer error is often used by industrial operators when, having fallen asleep at the wheel, they cause an environmental disaster such as this. Having worked in one of the city's other treatment plants, I can probably help you see through the muck contained in the plant operators' explanation, as reported in the Daily News.
For starters, the inlet valve closed at the headworks (raw-sewage inlet), either by the computer system or by human action -- whatever, the closure of the valve is irrelevant. Every plant has influent speed and volume sensors so that the plant equipment can adjust to the constantly varying influent loads. Again, accounts of the story in the Daily Newsnoted that two hours transpired before some park ranger discovered the very odorous liquid flooding the adjacent park and proceeded to alert the plant operators.
Great God! For two hours all flow charts and instruments in the control room show no sewage input to the plant -- and, mind you, this is a very special test, so there was probably a larger than usual number of operators, technicians and supervisory staff on site. So what were they doing? Did they think that the reason for the zero flow drop to the plant was because 3 million or 4 million people in the Valley suddenly decided to take water conservation to the utmost extreme and relieve themselves on their front lawns?
What will really happen when the old clock ticks off into the new millennium? God help us all.
. . . AND THE FAN HITS IT
You're a big fat poop face.
Johnny Angel's "Poppycock" [OffBeat, June 25July 1] was an interesting read but betrays some serious misconceptions about the ancient medicine papaver somnif- erum. First and foremost, there is no "legal" source of opium in the United States of America. The federal law surrounding the use, sale, distribution and possession of the poppy is dreadfully clear. Never mind that they are sold by many flower shops, that it is the state flower of California, that there are fields of poppies throughout the U.S., and never mind the poppies growing in Grandma's garden. These are all illegal, thanks to America's idiotic and counterproductive "war on drugs."
It is true that you can make a mean tea by crushing up the pods and steeping them in hot water (though you should use grain alcohol for that authentic laudanum spirit), but poppy tea is no less addictive than any other opiate, and one and a half months of daily usage certainly qualifies as a "long time." Sasha and anyone else who thinks they can take any form of opium on a daily basis for that long â without consequences is deluding themselves, no matter what they read in Jim Hogshire's book.
The poppy is a beautiful and mysterious flower, and its medicine is powerful. It has been used in various forms for centuries as a painkiller and a spiritual aid. Sasha's story is yet another tragedy in a hypocritical drug war. We should practice a healthy respect for the gifts and dangers of our natural world, rather than perpetuating fear and ignorance through the blanket prohibition of certain plants and chemicals.