By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Contact us via voice mail at (714) 825-8432, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.INJUSTICE FOR ALL?
My thanks to Bob Emmers for providing the first comprehensive account of the horrible injustices suffered by 17-year-old Arthur Paul Carmona at the hands of our corrupt "justice" system ("The Kid Is Innocent," Sept. 17). But I would like to challenge the childlike innocence the article attributes to private investigator Dave Marshall, regarding police who prejudiced eyewitnesses and destroyed evidence in the case. "Never in all his time as a police officer," Emmers writes, "had he [Marshall] seen such a flouting of the principal that the chain of evidence must be maintained inviolate."
That unbelievable statement by Marshall dovetails with the impression given by most of the media that misconduct by law-enforcement officials is a shocking anomaly. It is shocking to most people, but only because this common behavior is largely ignored by the mainstream media, whose members—hand-fed hot crime stories by police and district attorneys—find it easier and more profitable (both economically and politically) to accept those stories than challenge them. The proof of this is in the countless thousands of documented cases across the country of people who have been falsely accused and convicted of crimes related to sex, drugs, robbery or murder, or who have been beaten or killed by police before receiving a fair trial.
Police and prosecutors, backed by crime hysteria whipped up by special-interest groups and the media for public consumption, enjoy an undeserved reputation of moral infallibility along with nearly absolute political power. Add to that an appalling lack of training in basic science and democratic principles, and you get ridiculous laws, no real accountability and a growing prosecution-police state. So it should be expected that police and prosecutors will often lie about, destroy or fabricate evidence; manipulate, trick, coerce, or bribe witnesses and suspects; and usually get away with damaging or destroying innocent lives.
People can come up with many good solutions to this problem, I am sure. But I suggest that, for a start, we give the police and prosecutors a bit of their own medicine. Police and prosecutors who put innocent people behind bars should have to serve out the sentences given their victims.—John Earl, Huntington Beach
Emmers' article has left me feeling angry—and not only at immoral cops and judges who are indifferent to justice. Why take the trouble—with dramatic details and careful juxtaposition of events—to get the reader's indignation worked up, to lay out the facts in a dramatic fashion, to impugn our court system for not caring if it grinds up the life of an innocent young man, to get our energies inspired, and then give us no proposal for what we might do to help? I couldn't believe it when I finished the article and not one word had been spoken about where I might send a contribution or what other strategy I might engage in to bring pressure to bear on the powers that are determining and then ignoring this blatant injustice. Would a letter-writing campaign to Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey help? Is there a fund where the readers who Emmers got worked-up can send donations to help the family with legal costs?
I was also puzzled by a certain "ambivalence" in Emmers' characterization of his own point of view. After all the evidence he presents, he only thinks it "unlikely" that Arthur Carmona committed these burglaries? That's not much of a commitment to innocence. Also, regarding the blurb on the front page saying that it would take a "cynic" to think Carmona got 12 years for being a Latino: if Emmers' account is not omitting relevant information, then a person would not need to be a cynic at all—just an objective observer. It's not cynical to see the facts for what they are.—Carla Copenhaven, Newport Beach The editors respond: Good point. Read on.
I am the mother of Arthur Carmona. I delivered a copy of your article to Arthur, and we would like to thank you. This is a very hard time for us. We do feel alone at times, and the heartache we both feel is very painful. I was overwhelmed with all of the calls from your readers; they had me in tears.
To the readers of the OC Weekly:
Thank you for your concerns and for all the inquiries as to how you can help. I was deeply touched, and so was my son. We have a long, hard fight ahead, and if you would like to help in any way, please continue to call Nadia Maria Davis at (714) 740-4099 or my voice mail at (714) 297-3662.
Some people have wanted to send donations for Arthur's legal defense. Send them in care of Nadia Maria Davis, 621 N. Linwood, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
You are welcome to write Arthur with any words of encouragement. Letters can be forwarded through his attorney at: Arthur Carmona #MD086, c/o Deborah Muns-Park, Sidley & Austin, 555 W. 5th St., Ste. 4000, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
I will share a thought: the district attorney is supposed to represent the state of California in criminal matters. Arthur and I are part of that group, and so are you. We are trying to let them know they made a big mistake and something needs to get done, but it is up to you to let the district attorney know that you were not represented in this case. Write to: District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas, 700 Civic Center Dr. W., Santa Ana, CA 92701, or call (714) 834-3600.
Hopefully, very soon, they will undo the damage that has been done to my son. He has been robbed of something that can not be replaced: his youth. Arthur would like to graduate from high school with the rest of his classmates, and maybe together, we can accomplish this. Thank you for helping us fight for justice.—Ronnie Carmona, Costa Mesa
I believe a true cynic would say that Carmona got 12 years in prison not because he lives in Costa Mesa, but rather because he is Latino and the crime was committed in Irvine. After all, it was the Irvine Police Department that investigated the crime and submitted it to the district attorney's office.
Investigators assisting the Carmona family should think about looking into other crimes investigated by the department involving other minorities. In the Sept. 16 Times Orange County, Irvine Mayor Christina Shea states, "The Police Department and how they deal with people is really pathetic," and, "If they lie about this, they'll certainly lie about everybody else over there."—Jose Ixmay, Irvine RAISING A STINK
Re: R. Scott Moxley's "Money Talks, Feces Disappear" (The County, Sept. 17): Thank you for the admirable article on the staggering pollution situation in Huntington Beach. It is disgraceful that political agendas are put ahead of public health ("After Labor Day, officials reluctantly confessed they had lowered health standards."). Also, in Matt Coker's related A Clockwork Orange article, to read Sanitation Districts spokeswoman Michelle Tuchman say, "Fish are loving it out [by the sewage pipe]"—what a load of lies! Who are we voting for? These people are ignominious!
I am originally from New Zealand and am an avid surfer. I am simply horrified at the water quality here, and I had to have sinus surgery to get rid of an infection caught at River Jetties a couple of years ago. I now would not consider bringing my children up in Orange County, as the ocean is disgusting here and political agendas are worse. I wish more people would join the Surfrider Foundation (it is only $40 for a family) so we can stand up to this situation and control the polluters and their protectors.—Jason Wallis, via e-mail
The feces in Huntington Beach waters didn't just disappear—it looks like it just resurfaced in the pages of the OC Weekly. R. Scott Moxley's article on our beach-water contamination problem claimed that I "slammed the scientists and health experts who had closed unsafe beaches." What?! As with other posturing that was done on this issue, the OC Weekly neglected to pinpoint the central issue that was causing friction between myself/Assemblyman Scott Baugh on one side and unelected county health officials on the other. No one advocated opening or keeping open "unsafe beaches." The conflict centered on whether the public should be barred from beaches whose waters are found to be safe and healthy according to recognized scientific standards. One can cloud the waters or cloud the issue, as the OC Weekly and the Surfrider Foundation did by implying otherwise, but no one recommended opening unsafe beaches.
Whether it's bacteria levels or needles, taking care of our coastal waters is vitally important. But if the water is clean and healthy, keeping surfers and others in the public out of the water is indefensible. Baugh and I are proud to have fought against the bureaucratic inertia that would have prevented the public from using their coastal waters when it's safe and healthy to do so.—Dana Rohrabacher, member of Congress, Huntington Beach
Re: Nick Schou's "A Sewer Runs Through It" (The County, Sept. 17): Whether Gordon LaBedz from the Surfrider Foundation feels it is "inappropriate," we all live in river drainages. Everything that falls to the ground and is not picked up eventually makes its way to the ocean, whether it is asbestos fibers from your brakes, oil or coolant that dripped from your engine, fertilizers or herbicides from your lawn, or dog droppings. When the Santa Ana River was in its natural state, the silts and clays could filter out and decompose all of the organic matter left by all of the humans and animals in the drainage.
Today, there are several million people living in the drainage rather than a few thousand. That's a thousand times the waste, not taking into account that we are using resources at a much greater rate than the few natives and Europeans who lived here 200 years ago. If we return the river to its natural state, I guarantee it will more closely resemble a sewer than it does today.
If we want the runoff entering the ocean to be clean, we need to: 1) be more aware of what organic and inorganic chemicals we are dumping in the gutter and 2) treat all storm-drain runoff. The latter will be expensive, but if you want the runoff to be clean, you have to clean the runoff.
In the same issue, Matt Coker's A Clockwork Orange highlights a county plan to dump a higher percentage of primary-treated water—an undesirable proposal, to say the least. The problem is that growth has outstripped the size of the plants. Treatment plants in LA and San Diego have dumped untreated sludge offshore for years, on permit waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency; Orange County generally does a much better job.
Just to clarify, primary treatment is simply skimming the floating materials from the top (despite what you may think, this mostly includes paper, rags, grease and even accidentally flushed money). Secondary treatment involves introducing oxygen into the water, creating an environment where aerobic bacteria will flourish and eat most of the "nutrients" in the water. If processing is done right, secondary water dumped offshore will be much cleaner than the ocean water into which it is being dumped. These processes do not involve adding "chemicals," unless Coker counts oxygen as a chemical.
Water from the Colorado River is treated like this as it moves toward Southern California, passing through an average of six to seven human bodies before it reaches your tap.—James Repka, geology department, Saddleback College, Mission Viejo