Backing Jack

Regarding your article about Jack Weiss [“Targeting a Weiss Guy,” March 16–22]: I am an attorney in Los Angeles and the vice president of the Casiano Homeowners Association, and have served as its president on several occasions. In addition, I have acted as the representative in its relations with the city of Los Angeles and the City Council.

During the period of time that Jack Weiss has served as the councilman in our district, I have found him extremely responsible and sensitive to the needs of the association and my clients. Without the efforts of Jack and Fortuna Ippoliti, who was then his chief of staff in the San Fernando Valley, the Casiano Homeowners Association would never have been able to resolve both security and parking issues relating to the area. I can assure you that the members of Casiano Homeowners Association and my clients have nothing but praise for the efforts of Councilman Weiss.

I believe it is important for your readers to obtain a balanced view regarding Jack and his sensitivity to his district.

Gary A. Plotkin, Esq.Plotkin, Rapoport & NahmiasArtist, Spare That Tree

I’m not going to weigh in on Holly Myers’ stance on the differences between the high and low art worlds in “Shooting Low, Aiming High” [March 23–29], as it’s a much more complex subject than the article lets on. But what really jumped out at me was Ryden’s statement that “Some see a tree as a commodity, an inanimate material to use for themselves, or even worse like it’s some kind of heroic thing to cut down this tree that’s taken 2,000, 3,000 years to grow… And it’s mind-boggling that it’s still going on today.” And what are the works in the show? A “7-foot-by-4.5-foot-tall painting encased in an astonishingly intricate wood frame, designed by Ryden, that apparently took four men in Thailand nine months to carve. In addition to the numerous canvas paintings, there are also portraits made on cross sections of tree trunks.” Um, isn’t there some sort of inconsistency between his statement and his work?

Giovanni Garcia-FenechBrooklynSpare a Tree, Spoil the Wild?

Regarding comments on ficus trees in “The Bird Lady vs. the Tree Out­law” [March 30–April 5]: Ficus microcarpa is invasive in the Los Angeles area, at least in the cultivated portions of the region. Its pollinating wasp has been with us since at least 1993. I have located more than 100 instances of the “feral ficus” in the L.A. area, with many seedlings, some plants a lush, vigorous 5 feet in height. It has not yet been seen in wildlands — but can you trust a plant that self-sows in the expansion joints in freeway overpasses?Michael O’BrienLandscape architect, certified arboristLos AngelesHeaven’s Coincidences

Regarding Joshuah Bearman’s article on Heaven’s Gate [“The Gospel According to Rio,” March 23–29]: Oddly enough, the very next article I read online after his was a report on the former governor of Arizona’s recent confirmation that he was witness to one of the most infamous UFO sightings ever, the “Phoenix Lights” — an event that occurred roughly a week prior to the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide, on March 13. [The story ran March 18 in the Prescott Daily Courier.]

This section, in particular, caught my attention: “[Governor] Symington says he saw a triangular ‘craft of unknown origin’ with lights.” According to the article: “People sometimes confuse the sightings of the objects at around 8:30 that evening with the row of lights videotaped at 10 p.m. and shown repeatedly on television news. These later lights most likely were flares, according to video analysts. People who saw the earlier objects were outside watching the Hale-Bopp Comet, and saw something entirely different.” Interesting coincidence, no?

Lee HumphriesAustin, TexasAmong the Finalists

The 2006 winners of the national contest sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors have been announced, and congra­tu­lations are due to Matthew Fleisher, whose story on the true identity of author Nasdijj (“Navahoax,” Jan. 23, 2006) was selected as a certificate finalist in the local-circulation-weeklies category.

In another national contest, the Maggie Awards, sponsored by the Western Publications Association, the Weekly is a finalist in two categories. Sam Slovick’s articles on the problems facing Skid Row residents is nominated in the category “Best Series of Articles,” and the paper as a whole is a finalist in the consumer tabloid category. Winners will be announced at the end of the month.

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