Letters

WE'RE HOSTILE

I read with both amusement and irritation the report that the pro-airport boosters are "losing" (Anthony Pignataro's El Toro Airport Watch No. 125, Nov. 26). The Weekly's hostility for the airport and its reverence for Irvine City Council Member Larry Agran has caused it to confuse a shift of momentum for success. Reality is that Measure A is the law of the land, the county continues to spend public money to plan and promote an airport at El Toro, and the anti-airport forces have yet to win a major battle. I suggest that the Weekly not celebrate until their team enters the end zone.

William R. Mitchell Tustin Anthony Pignataro responds: You and I disagree on a number of facts here (including your claim that airport opponents have yet to win a major battle), but let's address your main point: as you yourself point out, I never said anti-airport forces had won the war over El Toro, just that the airport's backers were losing it, or (as I so inelegantly put it), "They're steadily losing, and (I swear this is true) you can smell the stink of their desperation." Your letter confirms the part about the desperation of losing, but not the stink: you've always been very clean.

WE'RE LOVING

Thanks so much for covering our protest against the Georgia-based School of the Americas (SOA), where the U.S. military trains soldiers from Third World countries (Commie Girl, Nov. 26). Since we made a bit of a boo-boo in our press release (who knew there was more than one Federal Building in Santa Ana?), a number of reporters were unable to find us, and our lack of broader coverage was disappointing.

I suppose it's all water under the bridge anyway, with the School of the Americas having shuffled the deck by making its big announcement that it is going to revamp its entire curriculum. Those of us familiar with the lies that the Defense Department has handed the public concerning this issue know that, while they will change the name of the school, change some of the courses, and get more civilian input, they will alter little the purposes of the SOA.

The Amnesty International Web page describes what happened when a couple of environmentalist Indians encountered SOA graduates, and it's pretty hard to read. I wish that Dana Rohrabacher's staffer—the one who told you, "I think it's pretty safe to say we're not down with death squads"—had explained why the congressman is down with funding training that results in such outcomes.

Todd Howard via e-mail

WE'RE DESPERATE—GET USED TO IT

Since when does Crest View United represent the conscience of Huntington Beach ("Discount Democracy," Nov. 5)? Yes, there were a lot of signatures collected for the initiative to stop Wal-Mart from entering the city, but the truth is: 1) a lot of money was paid to professional signature gatherers for those petitions; 2) those same people represented the initiative as Save Open Space (they get paid by the signature, after all); 3) in actuality, the abandoned site at Beach and Talbert where Wal-Mart plans to build will be developed no matter what. The only question is, will there be a housing development (which sucks city resources) or a retail project that may actually bring money into the community?

If the OC Weekly wants to present the facts on an issue, then you should present all the facts, not just pick and choose those that fit a particular agenda.

Angela Lockhart Huntington Beach Chronic Finger-Sniffing Employee No. 535 responds: In its effort to block the construction of a Wal-Mart in their back yards, members of Crest View United didn't just gather "a lot" of signatures; they gathered 22,000—7,000 more than necessary to qualify their initiative for the city's March ballot. Some 6,000 of those signatures were gathered by paid gatherers, but that's legal, so it's not clear what you mean to imply by that fact—that Wal-Mart and project developer George Argyros haven't resorted to money to win this campaign? What is clear is this: first, when it became evident that the initiative had qualified for the ballot, Argyros threatened the citizens group with a lawsuit. Second, the City Council voted to place on the same ballot a countermeasure—no signatures, no standing outside shopping centers, no sweat, just a majority vote that the citizens' work could be undermined in any number of bureaucratic ways.

WE'RE GRATEFUL

I was disappointed to read Roger Butow's letter critical of my administration of the Surfrider Foundation (Letters, Dec. 3). Environmental organizations face enough opposition without turning against one another. The Surfrider Foundation has a successful 15-year history of cooperating with many other environmental organizations achieving positive results all over the world for the benefit of the coast. After all, we all want the same thing: clean water and a healthy beach.

Christopher J. Evans executive director Surfrider Foundation
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