Oh Oh It's Magic

As Zachary Pincus-Roth wrote in last week's cover story, Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães are turning the magic world upside down — and you were as riveted as their audiences (“Truth in Deception,” Nov. 30).

“Great read,” writes Rufo Chan Jr. Adds Leenda Dela Luna, “Thanks for the story. I just bought a VIP ticket to their show at the Geffen, Nothing to Hide, yesterday. Now I'm looking forward to it even more!”

Sanj Singh, an 18-year-old college student and professional magician in Philadelphia, writes, “I just want to thank you for doing such wonderful research and writing a fantastic article on the art of magic. I discuss many of the things in the article — being unique, why magicians are looked at badly, the politics of the Magic Castle, etc. — with many of my other magic friends, and your writing so accurately sums up so many of our thoughts. I also found the backgrounds of Derek and Helder very interesting. The article was informative, accurate, enlightening and entertaining, and I really want to thank you for writing it.”

Judge Not

Readers also enjoyed Beth Barrett's look at Judge Ann I. Jones, a respected jurist who's come under fire after ruling against a new master-planned suburb (“Newhall Ranch vs. Judge Ann I. Jones,” Nov. 30).

Jennifer Kilpatrick writes, “Thanks for spending the time to get such broad-based opinions to illustrate that Judge Jones is not an environmentalist wacko.

“Way back in the late 1980s, Judge Irving Shimer was working in the same department where Judge Jones is now (Writs and Receivers). He was brilliant, funny and caustic. He offended too many of the 'powers that be' with his honest judging, and wound up being demoted in the Superior Court judges' pecking order, and sent to work in Pasadena, even though he lived on the Westside. It took him a good 10-plus years to work himself 'back from Siberia.' Obviously, people who like Judge Jones don't want to see the same thing happen to her, and your story helps create pressure to keep her in Dept. 86.”

David Marcus agrees. “I thought your article on the disqualification dispute with Judge Ann Jones was very good. The one point that I think needs to be made is that judges are precluded from defending themselves or justifying their decisions. That is the reason you have to quote from Fred Bennett rather than have Judge Jones explain herself.

“Again, thanks for the article. We are very fortunate in Los Angeles County that we have three terrific judges handling these matters: Judge James Chalfant, Judge Luis Lavin and Judge Jones. I have practiced for more than 33 years and they are the best (smartest, fairest, and most hardworking) combination of judges in the Writs and Receivers department in my memory.”

Dead Dogs

More controversial was Hillel Aron's Nov. 30 piece about Los Angeles' Animal Services department (“Bad Dogs Die in L.A.'s Pound“). Readers found lots to complain about, starting with the headline.

“Poor choice of headline,” writes severesociety. “They're not bad dogs; they're suffering, innocent dogs. Just because a dog guards their food doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them. And just because a dog was abused in the past and has issues, doesn't mean they don't deserve a chance.”

Dr.BSchueler agrees. “I realize editors select the title, but maybe they should read the article before selecting a title. 'Bad Dogs Die in L.A.'s Pound' makes it sound like the pound is full of bad dogs. People who casually glance at the title may come away with the idea that the pounds only have bad dogs. How many potential adopters will now be turned off to getting a pet from the local pound?

“And then there is the matter of the no-kill versus kill shelters. The only reason the L.A. shelters aren't no-kill is because they are mismanaged. There are close to 100 shelters, across the country, both large and small, that are now no-kill or close to being no-kill because their managers got up off their butts and learned how to become a no-kill shelter.

These shelters have demonstrated over and over how any shelter can become a no-kill shelter, of adoptable animals, with only a little extra effort at the beginning. By pledging to become a no-kill shelter, volunteers will flock to the shelters to make no-kill a reality.

“Shelters have been swindling the public for decades. They are constantly complaining about not having enough money, but when a systems analyst goes in and studies the problem, the answer is almost always going to be poor management.”

We also heard from Marcia Mayeda, director of the L.A. Department of Animal Care and Control. In response to the article's assertion that statistics at county shelters are even worse than at city ones, she writes, “You may be interested to know that euthanasia rates at DACC have dropped steadily over the past 12 years. In 1999, 74 percent of dogs were euthanized. Last year, only 37 percent of dogs were euthanized. We have achieved this result through the tremendous efforts of our dedicated staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to find homes for as many animals as they can. …

We maintained this success even since 2008, when the economy forced thousands of pet owners to surrender their animals to our care. Despite receiving nearly 6,000 more animals per year, we have continued to reduce our euthanasia rate. …

“The County of Los Angeles is working diligently toward the day when all pets are wanted and loved. Until then we will persist in our important work.”

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