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.
--Captain Greg Meyer
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 News noted 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.
--Joel P. Ritz
. . . AND THE FAN HITS IT
To Manohla Dargis: Your review of Big Daddy ["Lazy Boy," June 25July 21] is poop. Adam Sandler is funny. Chris Farley was funny. What exactly do you laugh at? Your face when you look in the mirror?
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.
EDITOR REPLIES: A Drug Enforcement Agency spokesperson said poppy seeds are legal, the plant is not. She was still checking about seed pods (what Angel referred to) at press time.
VOTE OF NOTE
I'm not complaining at all, but don't you think that it could be thought of as a conflict of interest that the Leaving Trains won Best Punk Band ["L.A. Weekly Music Awards," July 28] when Falling James, founder and leader of said group, is one of the voters? Just something to think about . . .
EDITOR REPLIES: As a regular music reviewer, Falling James was an eligible voter. He did not vote in the Best Punk Band category, however.
This is in response to your "Box Busters" [July 28] news feature: I am a small, one-location CMRA (commercial mail receiving agent) doing business in Mill Valley, California. The majority of my clients are home-based businesses who use my service to receive inventory, drop off items for their clients, and receive Federal Express from their home offices. With this new PMB regulation in place, I stand the chance of losing 25 to 35 percent of those clients. I have been hearing the same statement over and over: "If this [PMB regulation] takes effect, there will be no reason for me to have a box here anymore." I feel the post office has always looked upon CMRA operators as competition. If the post office offered a comparable service to ours, there would be no need for us, but they don't and they won't. If my clients wanted a "P.O. Box," they would have gone to the post office in the first place. The seriousness of this regulation will be felt by all. Battered wives will no longer be safe from abusive husbands, stalkers will be able to find their victims just by walking into the post office and asking for the information. Mail fraud, the ostensible reason the post office wrote this regulation, will continue whether criminals have to use the PMB designation or not.
--Carol M. Thoney
The Mail Center
Mill Valley, California
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In regards to the article "¡Échale Salsita!" [June 25July 1], I do agree that there are plenty of "awful" roc en español bands and solo artists. That merely reflects the state of musical commerce in L.A., and that, at least for the local bands who are trying to get noticed, it is not all that easy. Just take a look at how many bands with Spanish names are in the club listings in this paper, compared with the number of band names in English. It is definitely not for lack of availability.
guitarist for Misterioso