I applaud Michael Collins for the fine article he wrote describing the problems and pollution at the Santa Susana Field Lab ["Rocketdyne's Red Glare," December 1117]. Collins has the rare ability to zone in on the truth, to see the big picture with all its ramifications. This is indeed a story that needed to be told. The article strengthens the case that there must be oversight for the cleanup. With our public agencies showing more concern about the polluter than the public, we must depend on papers like the L.A. Weekly to inform the public accurately, with no hidden agenda.
Re: Michael Collins' Rocketdyne article, our laws, which so resolutely punish smalltime criminals after three strikes, become less decisive when faced with rogue corporations that blight our valleys with stealth toxins and promote carcinogenesis among our children. Such aberrant behavior is no more representative of American business than gang activity is representative of neighborhood charity. Rocketdyne's management and major shareholders may not wear the baggy insignia of gang affiliation, but their deeds make them equally dishonorable.
--Ali J. Naini, M.D.
It's a pity that Rocketdyne is not an isolated case. At Midway Village in South San Francisco, where residents living on top of toxic waste were given patios as a cleanup remedy, to Jefferson Middle School in the heart of L.A., where children attend school on top of toxic waste, certain elements in our society are all too willing to sacrifice the public's health for a fast buck.
This must stop, and it is citizens, organized and informed, who can, will and must stop it. The movie A Civil Action tells the real-life story of Woburn, Massachusetts, where children who drank water contaminated with TCE (a solvent) after it was carelessly discarded by yet another "fast buck" industrial polluter, contracted leukemia and died. This terrible tragedy must be redeemed by our collective vow to not let this happen again. We must all demand accountability for these acts from our government and corporate America. It is up to us, those who place public health over the almighty buck, to dig in our heels and say, "Enough!"
California Communities Against Toxics
Michael Collins' Rocketdyne article attributed a disrespectful quote to me about former Assemblyman Richard Katz that I neither said nor believe. To the contrary, I have great respect for the contribution that Mr. Katz made through his efforts to initiate the investigation into the effect that Rocketdyne's activities have had on the workers at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The people of California are fortunate to have benefited from his years of dedicated public service.
Public Health Institute
I read with interest Erin Aubry's article "Lost Soul" [December 410], and it prompted some contemplation of what I noted as a disturbing nostalgia for the "bad old days." It seems that we are expected to lament the fact that so many Af-Ams have found the means to depart "the ghetto" and improve their circumstances, improvements that in my view were originally motivated by a desire to escape the crappy "hood" and its concomitant social and economic problems. And it seems that there are those who would welcome a bizarre neocolonial reoccupation of territory now populated by the "other." This is as hopeless a task as halting evolution.
Persons who improve their lot are often assailed by those they left behind as trying to "act white" (this regardless of ethnic origin), as if being white were all that desirable. To me this is a phenomenon like trying to close a military base: There will always be those -- especially the professional "activists" -- who have a vested interest in things remaining as they were in the glory days of the struggle.
I applaud those who have remained and are organizing within the realities of their demographics. But I feel a painful regret when confronted by others who believe that their race cannot function except in isolation from the society at large. Human contact is a very subversive force. It eventually and inexorably killed apartheid.
Erin Aubry's well-written, thought-provoking article spoke of the Crenshaw District (I grew up not far from there)ä as being the last stronghold of "black L.A." I agree, and if we as African-Americans are to have a point of strength in L.A., I can think of no better place. However, in order for this to happen, we need to reverse the trend of future black Angelenos leaving and never looking to come back. How do we do that? Well, not by bashing other cultures for doing what we ourselves did in the '40s, '50s and '60s, but by continuing as a unified people to fight gangs, graffiti, poor education and drugs in the community.
Of course, none of our efforts will work until the re-ignition of positive black images and spirit everywhere can be achieved. It was alluded to in the article that a fading mural was found showing black power. More such images are needed now, more than those of Michael Jordan or Shaq O'Neal. We need to see black families and executives on billboards more than we need to see the latest shoe by Nike.
--Lloyd L. Walker
Your December 11 issue carried a letter by John Muir Sierran Marcia Hanscom, who attempts to spin her faction's resounding defeat in the Sierra Club elections into some sort of "grassroots movement." I have seen grassroots movements, and the John Muir Sierrans is not one of them. L.A. Weekly readers are entitled to know that the John Muir Sierrans have not, to my knowledge, ever held a publicly announced meeting, open to other Sierrans, to allow us to find out who they are or to discuss what they stand for. Nor have they ever announced to the membership at large how they make their decisions or who their leaders actually are. To my eye, the John Muir Sierrans group more closely resembles the old John Birch Society or the Lyndon LaRouche faction within the Democratic Party. Perhaps this will not turn out to be the case, but until they are less secretive, many of us will continue to remain skeptical of their approach.
Angeles Chapter Executive Committee
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Re: Marc Haefele's "Playa Vista Revisionism" [City Limits, December 410], by attacking Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks, Marcia Hanscom almost derailed a project that would be both environmentally sound and economically beneficial. This is a project that will bring our community new jobs and new wildlife -- but some people in the community, and some people in the media, have spent years listening to, and printing, what Marcia has said. Now, after all this time, she does an about-face and no longer opposes the project? Gee, thanks, Marcia. I congratulate the L.A. Weekly for doing what other newspapers have not had the guts to do: challenge the opponents of DreamWorks to finally tell the truth and come clean. Keep up the good work!
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