Letters

Contact us via voice mail at (714) 825-8432, or by e-mail: letters@ocweekly.com. Or write to Letters to the Editor, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Or fax: (714) 708-8410. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. All correspondence must include your home city or service provider and a daytime phone number.NOT GUILTLESSThank you for bringing attention to the issue of using juveniles to fight the "war on drugs" and the legislation dealing with this issue ("Cops: 'Hooray for Child Labor!'" Sept. 18). You correctly mentioned that AB 2816, the Juvenile Informants Bill, was a result of the torture and murder of 17-year-old Chad MacDonald, who had served as an informant for the Brea Police Department.While you correctly pointed out the bill was altered from its original language, your characterizations that law-enforcement officials gutted Chad's Law and that "the bill now facing Wilson would likely have no effect on MacDonald's case" are incorrect.There were four key issues in the MacDonald case that were considered in drafting the final version of the bill, which would have precluded MacDonald from being used as an informant. First, AB 2816 requires, among other things, that a judge inform the minor and the parent of the mandatory minimum and maximum consequence for the underlying offense. MacDonald's mother related to me that she was told her son would have to serve hard time in prison for his offense, but the juvenile court's presiding judge said the worst punishment for MacDonald would have been six months in a drug-diversion program. Mrs. MacDonald told me she would have never consented to her son being used as an informant had she known what his real punishment would have been.Second, Mrs. MacDonald was told her son was caught with "a lot" of drugs at the time of his arrest. She was not given a precise amount, which left her with the impression that MacDonald had a very large quantity of drugs. We know that the drugs in question were about 11 grams of methamphetamine. A judge would have taken the time to properly explain to Mrs. MacDonald that 11 grams is, in fact, not a large quantity of drugs.Third, Mrs. MacDonald related to me that the police discouraged and/or prohibited her from consulting her friends and family as to whether she was doing the right thing. In fact, she indicated that the police told her the "deal" was only good for a short time that day. Mrs. MacDonald appears to have been under a great deal of pressure to make a very serious decision quickly, with little and/or false information. A judge would not only have clarified the false information, but the court process itself would also have provided Mrs. MacDonald with ample time to evaluate her options. While the police assert that they have no responsibility for MacDonald's death because he and his mother signed a consent form, it appears that the "consent" was not "informed consent."Finally, I spoke to several judges and narcotics officers about whether a judge would authorize putting the life of a young person like MacDonald in jeopardy. They all said no. While MacDonald was probably not a model citizen, no judge would have authorized sending a kid into harm's way.Based on the foregoing factors, it is clear MacDonald would not have ever been used as an informant if AB 2816 was in effect at the time of his death. While it is my belief that law enforcement should not use juveniles as informants at all, we didn't have the votes in the state legislature to obtain a complete ban. Instead, we have crafted a law that pragmatically stops law enforcement from using juveniles in the so-called war on drugs. This approach was far superior to seeing a complete ban die in committee.-Scott Baugh
Member of the Assembly
Huntington Beach

Nick Schou responds: I commend you for your leadership on the issue of police use of juvenile informants; you took a tough stand against a bad policy. But nothing in AB 2816 would actually prohibit someone like MacDonald from becoming a police informant in the future-unless, of course, we share your faith in the judiciary. I don't. Given your own rough treatment in the legal system, I find it heartening that you think any judge would stand in the way of a police department eager to enlist the service of a child in the all-consuming war on drugs.THE DEAD POOLI go away for two weeks, and your paper goes to hell. Literally. First, there's the hit piece on Harold Ezell, a man who, whatever his shortcomings, is dead ("Adios, Hypocrita," Sept. 4). And you have the temerity to: (a) call him an idiot (in Spanish), and (b) break in on his funeral and brag about it (Commie Girl, Sept. 4). Reminds me of the time another Orange County newspaper picked on Tom Riley while his corpse was still warm. Wait a minute-that was you guys, too. And there's your bizarre story about demons at the Irvine Spectrum (Fine Print, Sept. 11). Thanks for the warning, but I think you've got your iconography wrong. You see, the left hand (which you say has satanic resonance) is also featured in the title of a profound book of sociology and science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. The title has 18 words, divided over three main words (not counting the preposition), which equals six times three, or 666. You see, two (or 666) can play this game.-L. Hilger
Orange

The editors respond: No, we had the temerity to: (a) call Ezell a hypocrite (in Spanish), and (b) wait for you to leave town again before we respond to your letter so that we can be really nasty without you being around to do anything about it-just like Ezell!CLINTON'S PHALLUS FALLACYIf the "OC Weakly" can pause a moment in its celebration of President Bill Clinton's violation of the 11th Commandment, surf uncleal.within.net/ to view 47 wrongful deaths of remarkable convenience to Clinton ("Starr F*cker," Sept. 18). With Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr reaching out to indict the whole rat's nest of White House operatives, one anticipates a remarkable incidence of Arkancides forthcoming. Is Clinton limber enough to point a shotgun at the back of his own head and fire-twice?-Uncle Al Schwartz
via e-mail

Nephew Will Swaim responds: Far from celebrating Clinton, we actually suggested that his gravest failure was this: in lying under oath, he lost a terrific opportunity to separate Republicans from their favorite topic of conversation-other peoples' sex lives. Keeping in mind that it's illegal to plead the Fifth in grand jury testimony, Clinton could have refused to answer Starr's questions about his relations with Monica Lewinsky by citing the Fourth Amendment (the one guaranteeing privacy). That might have forced a constitutional showdown over private activities among consenting adults. Instead, of course, Clinton lied. For uttering this truth, we expect the entire staff will end up as amusing footnotes on Uncle Al's conspiracy site. And, by the way, what on Earth is the 11th Commandment?ANARCHO-SYNDICALIST GIRLWe enjoyed meeting Commie Girl at the Jerry Brown event at the Catholic Worker and really liked her review of Brown's speech (Sept. 11). Isn't it amazing that a dyed-in-the-wool Socialist like herself and a couple of dyed-in-the-wool Libertarians like us agreed with almost everything Brown said? I'll bet you and other Socialist folks thought Libertarians were uncaring, extremist, ultraconservative types. But we, like Brown and yourself, think that healing our world depends on caring, compassionate individuals working at a local level. So, how do we create more caring people? With 1,200 new laws per year? With a gigantic bureaucracy that holds a monopoly on police force? That plan, the former governor of California pointed out, has been tried-and it failed. The answer lies in letting people know they are valuable human beings and are able to help themselves and their communities. When free from government coercion, folks will pull together and come up with real solutions to real problems in their local areas-solutions that really work, not revolving-door policies that invent more laws, requiring more police agencies to monitor, catch and penalize more newly created criminals, requiring a huge prison industry to jail the steady stream of government-school graduates who fill them. Brown suggested that people would be better off governing themselves. As evidence, he offered the example of a halfway house that takes no state money and requires the inmates to learn marketable skills (ending the revolving-door syndrome of crime and prison). He also spoke of a school run by parents and the local community. These are examples of giving power to the people-not to the government. Brown bravely acknowledged that, as governor of California, he was wrong for thinking that more laws would help more people. Like Libertarians, he suggests that the best way to really help people is by empowering them to help themselves and their communities. Libertarians don't believe in using force when cooperation, persuasion and incentives work much better. People can best help others when they do it because it is right-not because they are mandated by law. As long as government is controlled by corporations and special interests (and it always will be), community values will be undermined. Yes, Rebecca Schoenkopf, there is an answer to California's problems, and we all admire Brown for talking about it. His answer-and the Libertarian answer-is self-government. So . . . why do you call yourself a Socialist? -Doug Scribner
Mark Hilgenberg
Libertarian Party of Orange County

Rebecca Schoenkopf responds: Because it's trendy?BIGGER MOUSE TRAPSI enjoyed your Disney Spectacular issue (Sept. 11). But Dave Wielenga missed a key point in his case for buying Disney stock rather than Angels season tickets (Sports, Sept. 11). Not only would this have been a wise investment strategy across the board, but stockholders of record also would have received a two-for-one stock split in July. One more benefit: Disney stockholders get a copy of the annual report, which is usually worth $5 at a Disneyana convention a few years later. Hey, it pays for a beer at the Big E.-Steve Smith
Costa Mesa

I commend Steve Lowery for conquering Disneyland in a day (Sept. 11). But any unchaperoned SoCal native Disney aficionado who is 11 years old can tell you that ride cramming is an art. I speak from personal experience, with map memorization and pre-Disneyland anticipation. I've got my sights set on Walt Disney World! -Nani Chen
Berkeley

Steve Lowery responds: I commend your commendation of me, fellow traveler, but I really must protest you lumping my well-considered, surgically executed conquest of every ride at Disneyland with what you so charmingly refer to as "ride cramming." While I do agree that, under proper-heroic-conditions, the stockpiling of rides at Disneyland can amount to art, the fact is that where art is concerned, there remains only one Mona Lisa. Godspeed at Disney World. THE PEOPLE VS. KEN STARRI agree with Wyn Hilty's take on the Starr Report (Machine Age, Sept. 25). I was one of the many who read the report online, and I was appalled by the graphic detail. Did I really want to hear about Bill's cigar fetish or that he didn't ejaculate the first couple of times because he wasn't sure if he could trust Monica? Do I want my 13-year-old daughter to read this crap? The right wingers have once again shown us their stinking hypocrisy by subjecting the American people to this needless pile of smut-filled cow dung. It is pornography that has been bought and paid for by the American people. Now we get to see the video, too. Gee, did the right-wing hypocrites give it the MA [mature audiences] rating it deserves, or did they think the public's "right to know" is more important than protecting them from filth? Shame, shame, shame. After this is all over, Starr should get a job writing for Hustler.-Jeanne Foster-Edwards
Rancho Santa Margarita

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