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Bravo to Michael Collins for his exposé of Aerojet’s toxic dumping at Chino Hills [“Living Next to a War Factory,” May 5–11]. Just before they filed suit in the similar Rocketdyne case in Simi Hills, Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry came to our Sacramento neighborhood asserting that Aerojet’s contamination of our water supply with the rocket-fuel ingredient perchlorate had caused people to get autoimmune thyroid disease. Given that millions of persons in Southern California and Arizona are drinking perchlorate-tainted water from the Colorado River, that is quite an explosive claim.
I don’t want to sound inflammatory, but if the lawyers can link perchlorate with Southern California’s increase in thyroid birth defects (via autoimmune reaction to the thyroid peroxidase enzyme) and Arizona’s increase in opportunistic fungal infections of the lung (via autoimmune reaction to the similar myeloperoxidase enzyme in the bone marrow), then the litigation over the contaminants found at Chino Hills will just be the beginning. Erin Brockovich’s famous PG&E vs. Hinkley case could be like toddlers playing with sparklers at dusk before the real fireworks begin.
I applaud the courage and forthrightness of your newspaper in printing the disturbing, gritty accounts by investigative journalist Michael Collins, first on the pollution of the Santa Susanna mountains and Simi Valley by Rocketdyne, and now on the devastation in Chino and Chino Hills by Aerojet. Were it not for Collins’ persistence in flushing out the facts and presenting them in the proper context, the affected children and adults, and their heart-wrenching situations, would just be statistics in medical journals and entries on court dockets.
What I find most disturbing is the lack of focus on these poison pits by our elected representatives. Barbara Boxer’s comments sounded just like the ones from the Aerojet spokeswoman: the oh-so-trite “We’re not leaving until this is cleaned up” that we are hearing from Simi Valley, Chino Hills — and, if Michael Collins can discover them, probably another dozen or so sites between Point Concepción and the Mexican border.
Thanks for the information, and keep it coming.
—Sharon L. Thompson
L. RON AND FRIENDS
Christine Pelisek’s attempt to create a wave of controversy with her OffBeat article “Surf’s Up for Scientologists” [May 26–June 1] is a definite wipeout as far as fair and unbiased journalism is concerned. She states that we (Scientologists involved in beach-cleanup activities) have been less than forthcoming about our ties to the Church of Scientology — a complete fabrication of Christine’s own making. On March 13, I introduced myself before the Malibu City Council and Malibu City TV as president of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center International Surf Club. In my initial letter to Encinitas Mayor James Bond (January 11, 2000), written on Church of Scientology 20-point letterhead, I said to him, “Well, I am writing you as I would like to share some interesting information with regards to Encinitas and L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of our church.”
With regards to my withdrawing the Malibu proclamation, Christine omitted facts to create a false impression. During my interview with her, I specifically told her that my proposal was made to the City Council on March 13. Being unfamiliar with City Council procedures, I requested that they vote on it then and there, as the proclamation was to celebrate L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday on March 13. I was informed that it could not be put to a vote until after it was added to the agenda for the next council meeting, two weeks hence — according to regular City Council procedures. I opted to try for the next meeting anyway, but that ended up being canceled due to the death of a councilman. Finally I just withdrew the proposal altogether, as a month had gone by since his birthday and it was no longer appropriate.
Christine then tops off her offensive piece by insinuating that Maria Ferrara, who was given a photo credit for her picture of our kids cleaning up Zuma Creek in the April 27 Malibu Times, was doing something underhanded because the photo credit did not say “photo by Maria Ferrara, Scientologist.” (The photo caption provided by Maria did say “Church of Scientology.”) Give me a break! When and where — with the possible exception of Nazi Germany — have newspaper photo credits required one to include one’s religious affiliation?
Church of Scientology Celebrity Center International Surf Club
Christine Pelisek’s claim that “admirers of L. Ron Hubbard” have been “less than forthcoming about their ties to the Church of Scientology” is utterly false, starting with the title of our surf club, which is called the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center International Surf Club and is stated as such on its logo for its T-shirts and letterhead. Our “less than forthcoming” beach-adoption papers from the California Coastal Commission bear the name Church of Scientology Celebrity Center, as adopting Malibu Surfrider Beach and San Onofre State Beach; we have been listed as a beach adopter for Malibu Surfrider Beach in the quarterly Heal the Bay Newsletter for at least two years; the L.A. Times Metro section printed our name on June 27, 1997, when we helped with a beach cleanup for the Surfrider Foundation; the Malibu Times and the Malibu Surfside News have both published photographs of our beach cleanups that caption “Church of Scientology Celebrity Center”; we were acknowledged as “volunteers of the year” in 1998 by Heal the Bay; we received a Congressional Recognition from Congressman Brad Sherman for service to the community; the Los Angeles Board of Public Works acknowledged our community service and commitment to help environmental groups in a formal proclamation; we received a certificate of outstanding community services from the Malibu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, among others — again, all of these stating the full name of our church or surf club.
Christine was shown these documents, yet she still printed false information in her article. All the environmental groups we work with know who we are and don’t discriminate against minority religions. It seems that the L.A. Weekly does.
Vice President, Public Affairs,
Church of Scientology Celebrity Center
It seems to me that if, as a Scientologist, I do something to help in this society, then there is something wrong, not right, about it. According to this logic, I guess I’d better stop volunteering my time on a weekly basis to tutor children and adults in the inner city. Many of my fellow Scientologists volunteer their time in many capacities, but I guess that, according to your article, we had better stop. Fortunately, I pay little heed to individuals with your obvious prejudices and will continue to help all those that I can in any way I can. I am sorry if you find fault with this.
Is L.A. such a completely fascist utopia that you can’t even clean up a beach without disavowing your religion? Maybe you would prefer that people got tattoos on their foreheads announcing their affiliations. Somehow it appears that being a Scientologist is the ulterior motive if you declare that you like clean beaches. Take a moment and think of how completely ludicrous that sounds. Do all Catholics have an ulterior motive when they run homeless shelters?
. . . AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
Re: Doug Harvey’s “Blacklisted by Metallica” [May 26–June 1]. I am/was a HUGE Metallica fan. I have been following them for 12 years or more. But I see no reason why Mr. Lars Ulrich gets to decide whether I stay on Napster. He has to realize that bootlegging is what made Metallica the phenomenon they are today. It’s neither my fault nor Napster’s fault that the song ended up out there for the whole world to listen to. Upon finding out that I had been banned from using Napster, I deleted the whole thing. James Hetfield has mountains behind his house that he owns — or so I’ve heard. If he does, why in the hell does he want more money? Anyway, it just pisses me off that they can do stuff like this when I helped put them where they are.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
I’m sure there are some unemployed musicians out there who make a thousand times less than Doug Harvey does. Okay, guys, you know who to rip off first!
Stealing is always stealing. Someone worked hard to make that music (or car, or meal, or shirt). Just because it’s easy to steal something doesn’t mean it’s right, no matter how much the owner makes. Rich people aren’t necessarily bad. Neither are poor people. Just people who think like Harvey.
NO MORE TEACHERS’ DIRTY LOOKS
Checked out your letters page two weeks ago. Nice to know where the Weakly stands on freedom of the press. Joe Stalin must be smiling in his grave. Those kids at Palisades High [“Speech — Wild and Free,” May 12–18] deserve support. Instead, you publish some sourpuss letters from some dickhead teachers who probably ran their classrooms like gulags. Keep up the good work.
—Peter Case Jones
Re: “The Latin Explosion Hangover” [Mexiled, May 26–June 1], about certain elements of our Hispanic community and their supposed recent discovery of Lalo Lopez’s column. Lopez is not only a piece of “mierda,” he’s also not funny. He is tacky; he has something to answer for regarding my people, as far as I’m concerned. Just to make myself clear, I’ll add that he totally sucks. But that’s what he probably likes to hear, as it no doubt must feed into his insatiable persecution complex.
I was one of the lucky audience members to witness Re: LAX — Stories From an Airport by Playwrights 6 [New Theater Reviews, May 26–June 1]. May I say I was very shocked and disappointed that your reviewer, Amy Schaumburg, chose to give away the ending of one of the pieces in the two sentences she wrote about it. The joy of theater is to be surprised and taken down a path to conclusion. Perhaps she could simply write what her impressions are rather than spoil the ending for the audience. I was fortunate in that I saw the show prior to this review. Please encourage your critics to take the audience into consideration.