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I read your article on former Supervisor Bill Steiner, and I wanted to tell you that this is one of the best articles I have ever read in the OC Weekly (R. Scott Moxley's "Live Like a God! How Supervisor Bill Steiner used a phantom political campaign to fund his lavish lifestyle," April 23). The combination of shrewd investigative reporting and the zingers that only the Weekly can give made it a pleasure to read. I hope that you will go on to investigate this type of abuse that other currently serving elected officials are perpetrating.

-Chris Stanley, Laguna Niguel

While I am in complete agreement with the article on the "late, great Bill Steiner," I still find it frustrating that Big Bad Bill seems to dance better than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly ever could. He has been under investigation for so long by The Orange County Register and the Orange County district attorney's office, and yet I was the only person who publicly challenged him.

Then I found out as soon as I gave the California chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Board of Directors, the DA's office and the Register this information, it came out that I was the bad guy. Of course, I was no match for the Great One, and I just resigned. What I really wanted was the Board of Directors to step forward and support me. Instead, they sided with Bill and treated me like I had a deadly communicable disease.

No, I do not have sour grapes. The children are the ones who have lost in all this. Bill dropped the center as soon as it didn't serve his needs any longer, and without me, the center now has no effective, passionate spokesperson.

-Peter A. Caruso, Irvine

Editor's note: Caruso and Steiner were volunteer directors with the California chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Wow! Thanks for the breath of fresh air (R. Scott Moxley and Victor D. Infante's "Merrill Lynch Mob," April 23). By your next edition, Laguna Beach residents will be stuck with the ultimate "white elephant": the Getaway Resort at Treasure Island in south Laguna. Our City Council sold us out, our city manager [Kenneth Frank] did everything but get out the Chapstick while kissing the developer's ass, and, inexcusably, our two local papers rubber-stamped everything.

Laguna's future looks a lot like every other fucked-up beach community. Before, we could be kinda snobbish . . . you know, like we're better than all those other places. With the hills at our backs, we had that Quasimodo feeling when we came home: "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"

Moxley pegged our City Council on the money (pun intended). Wayne Peterson's "I'll remember you, people" is an example of his vitriolic attitude. An honorable-mention award should go to our Planning Commission, especially Mr. Peterson's counterpart, Greg Vail, who called this project "the goose that lays the golden eggs." Maybe some of those eggs came your way, huh, Greg?

As Matt Coker pointed out last month (A Clockwork Orange, March 26), a few hundred meters away from Treasure Island is the toilet bowl, a.k.a. Aliso Creek Beach, or, as we call it, Cacaville. So we're getting a first-class hotel on a Third World beach. Adding insult to injury, the developer, Kim Richards, lied to me and my Surfrider Foundation friends by claiming that not a drop of sewage or surface runoff would touch this beautiful, pristine beach and extend our southern "dead zone." Frank let it slip at a previous meeting (later confirmed by South Coast Water District officials) that only the driest months would avail themselves to diversion. The rainy season (November to April) will bring a polluted ocean to this resort. Some "getaway," huh?

Greedy, lying, environmentally deaf, dumb and blind-we're on the verge of being raped by our own city fathers. And we still have that first downpour and subsequent six-month beach closing to look forward to. Sanctuary? I don't think so . . . more like insane asylum.

-Roger Butow, Laguna Beach

The reliably snide Moxley and Infante missed all that was interesting in our hometown referendum over Treasure Island. Both sides of this loud, messy, vigorous debate were funded by outside interests-hardly surprising, considering this prime piece of private property (a "little bit of paradise" that had been a guarded, gated trailer park most of us had never seen).

So everyone who voted for the proposed project was fooled, duped or bought by the Great Satan Merrill Lynch? Should we also assume that the No on A and B crowd-who said they could get a better deal from the developer-were fooled, duped or bought by the mobile-home-park owners who financed much of their campaign (a minor detail Moxley and Infante failed to report)?

If Merrill Lynch bought the City Council, by the way, as Moxley and Infante state, they got took. Treasure Island Associates, with Merrill Lynch Hubbard as the general partner, paid $43 million for the property. Assuming the referendum passed, they will sell it to the Athens Group for $37 million. Some deal. And while Moxley and Infante can argue the wisdom of cities making concessions to developers, they might have mentioned that the proposed project would generate several million dollars per year in local taxes-a pretty good return on a "giveaway."

Unfortunately, all that Moxley and Infante revealed in their lazy-minded hit piece was their ignorance of life in Laguna, where tree huggers and troglodytes are on a first-name basis-and sometimes even on the same side.

-Christopher Quilter, Laguna Beach

R. Scott Moxley responds: Like many Merrill Lynch supporters, Quilter is long on assertions and short on specifics. His claim that Lynch's project will generate "several million dollars per year in local taxes" is vague enough to conveniently elude proof; ignores the fact that many projects on prime beachfront property could produce similar revenue; and credulously ignores the cost to the city in traffic, congestion, water, sewage and the like. Quilter's credulity doesn't end there: he ought to be embarrassed to announce that he believes Merrill Lynch has spent years fighting for Treasure Island, all so that the Wall Street firm can ultimately lose $6 million.


Folks, your credibility gap is showing again. In Anthony Pignataro's "Power Play" (The County, April 23), the Weekly characterizes California's deregulated electricity market as a failure. At least one new competitor sees it differently. Commonwealth Energy (an electric utility from New England) proclaims in an April 7 press release that "deregulation has proven to be well-accepted and an overall success for consumers." The company further states, "Now other companies are lowering their prices in order to compete. That proves deregulation is working," and "This is a trend that's going to sweep the nation, and California is the model for everyone else to follow."

Elsewhere in the article, you claim that $40 million was collected from ratepayers to fight the ill-considered Proposition 9, which would have thrown the electricity market into chaos by dismantling California's carefully crafted restructuring legislation. It's hard to believe that the utilities would leave themselves open to possible legal action by collecting money from ratepayers to fund political causes. If that actually happened, why haven't we heard about the lawsuit?

Finally, your portrayal of nuclear power as "obsolete and dirty" is wildly inaccurate. As someone who is concerned about the environment, I'm compelled to point out a few facts.

*At 20 percent of U.S. generating capacity, nuclear power is the nation's largest source of emission-free energy.

*Nuclear-power plants reduce U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions by 133 million tons of carbon each year (and by 500 million tons worldwide).

*The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has stated that nuclear power is an "essential" part of any attempt to meet the carbon-emission reduction goals set by the Kyoto Protocol.

Wind and solar power may one day be viable alternatives, but we're dealing in realities, and the reality is that we need nuclear power. Remarkably, we've found a way to enjoy both clean power and lower electricity rates. Rather than complain, we should look forward to a future in which there will be even more of both.

-Richard Boyer, via e-mail


Since it has come to light that the Irvine Co. has historically opposed civilian aviation reuse at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (Anthony Pignataro's El Toro Watch No. 102, April 23), do you feel that their current waffling could expose them to liability should they fail to actively oppose county plans?

-Matt Ruiz, Tustin

The editors respond: As our great mentor Richard M. Nixon once said, "Get down on your knees and pray with me, Henry."


I would like to thank Mr. Pignataro for his insightful articles on the proposed El Toro International Airport. I especially enjoyed El Toro Airport Watch No. 100 (The County, April 2), which summarized how the county has attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of the entire county time and again. While many of the facts in the article seem painfully obvious to me, I think that there are many folks out there who are not paying attention to what a debacle the county is thrusting upon its citizens.

While the OC Weekly is a fine publication, one must admit that it has a limited circulation. I was wondering whether Mr. Pignataro had considered submitting any of his articles, specifically Watch No. 100, to the LA Times and The Orange County Register editorial pages. Just a suggestion.

-Michael Hallisy, Foothill Ranch

The editors respond: Thanks for the tip, Michael. We did as you said and submitted Watch No. 100 to the Times and Register. Thanks to genetic engineering and the effects of global warming, we're confident pigs will be flying and hell will be freezing over any day now, so keep your eyes posted in those papers for Anthony's story.


Thank you for Randy Pesqueira's interview with the ever-prickly Cathy Curtis (Art, April 2). It is shocking to me that the Los Angeles Times could let her go and not even mention it! I am really disgusted with the fact that they have no intention of replacing her.

As a professional artist living and working in Irvine, I get more and more despondent about how undervalued the visual arts are here. I can only hope that this will put pressure on you folks at the OC Weekly to pick up the Times' slack and start really putting some serious energy and commitment into reviews, interviews and other articles revolving around things that are worthwhile in the visual arts around here.

I am really tired of having the thing I most care about turned into some kind of hobby, feel-good experience or cynical commercial enterprise. I long for some thought-provoking, intellectually charged art journalism. Pesqueira's interview was a move in the right direction-I look forward to more!

-Martha Lewis, Irvine

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