Recently, you published an article regarding my efforts to make Irvine a more romantic city (Matt Coker's A Clockwork Orange, Feb. 19). The following will help clarify the genesis of my efforts and give you some additional background information.

Last year, Irvine was designated the fourth most "female-friendly" city in the U.S. by The Ladies Home Journal. The same story featured other categories, including the most romantic cities-of which Irvine was not one. When this was brought to my attention by the local media, I agreed to appear in an article for the Valentine's Day holiday. This tongue-in-cheek article discussed Irvine's dilemma: a city lacking romance. The response to this article from the public was so great that I decided to take this issue seriously and form a committee of local individuals-both men and women-to develop a more romantic identity for our city.

In response to the letters and phone calls I received, I created a list of individuals who had expressed interest in serving on the romance committee and sent them an invitation to discuss the issue. I sent these letters at my own expense and asked each individual to pay for their own lunch. The task force includes the business community, school-district officials, members of the local media, men, women, young and old-truly a cross section of our community. We held our first meeting on March 8 at Vessia Ristorante in Irvine and made significant progress. We will have follow-up meetings that will cost taxpayers nothing but could potentially provide an economic benefit to the city.

With the weight of the extremely controversial issues-such as the proposed El Toro International Airport and a proposed jail in Irvine-I find this lighthearted issue a refreshing and positive topic. I have had overwhelming community support and am pleased to be involved in an issue that is bringing our community together rather than tearing us apart-the economic benefit that will certainly ensue will serve as the icing on the cake.

Affectionately yours,

-Christina Shea, Mayor of Irvine


To unmask the mystical figure Ho Chi Minh/Nguyen Tat Thanh/Nguyen Ai Quoc, whom Nick Schou depicts as "first and foremost a nationalist" ("The Ho Story," Feb. 19), please check the French National Archive, Foreign Archive Center (Centre d'Archives d'Outre-Mer) in Aix-en-Provence, France. There is a material box on Nguyen Ai Quoc (call number INDO-HCI-SPCE //1116). There are letters written by Ho Chi Minh in 1911, begging a French official for admission to Ecole Colonial. Ho indicated that he wanted to be trained at this Colonial College and become administrator in the French-colonial government in Vietnam in order for him "to serve the interest of France in Vietnam." A true nationalist would never beg to become a lackey of foreign government!

Schou states that Vietnamese refugees were "fleeing the economic hardship [in Vietnam]." In reality, the refugees were fleeing a totalitarian society in which a security apparatus monitors people's thoughts and conduct; travel must be approved by the local security-apparatus office; overstay after curfew must be declared and approved; default of this would lead to automatic arrest; food was rationed by the government; admittance to college was based on the student family record of political association instead of merit; the Communist Party solely had the right to govern; there was no freedom of speech, religion and press; middle- and upper-class belongings were confiscated and nationalized, sometimes at gunpoint; religious and political dissidents spent 10 to 15 years of hard labor in gulags; and people were exiled to the New Economic Zone (which is primitive wild land) with neither a plan nor help to survive. It is appalling to make such a statement about refugees without all the known facts.

-L. Nguyen, Irvine

Nick Schou responds: I have no quarrel with your remarks about why people have fled Vietnam. However, my story simply pointed out that some refugees fled for political reasons, in many cases after being released from Communist re-education camps. Others fled for chiefly economic reasons. How that remark could be categorized as "appalling" is beyond me. What is appalling is your attempt to cast doubt on the fact that Ho Chi Minh was a dedicated nationalist who despised French rule. I am not familiar with the tidbit you provide about Ho seeking to become a French lackey by attending the Ecole Colonial. Assuming it to be true, what does that really say? Since Ho had been working for the underground resistance as a messenger since he was 15 years old, perhaps Ho simply hoped to join the French-colonial regime to subvert the system from the inside. Isn't that a typical commie tactic? Either way, the fact that Ho and the rest of the Vietminh leadership were educated at elite French schools is quite well-known-as is the fact that almost all of them spent years in French-colonial prisons on subversion charges in the first half of the 20th century. Ho was an exception: he avoided ending up in prison by leaving Vietnam in 1911. Instead of serving the interest of the French in Vietnam, Ho worked his way to Europe by serving French people their dinner as a lowly messboy on a Haiphong-Marseilles ocean liner.

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