Letters

'Dude, what were you thinking?'

Letters may be edited for clarity and length. E-mail to letters@ocweekly.com, or send to Letters to the Editor, c/o OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or fax to (714) 550-5908.

DUUUUUUUUDE . . .
Nick Schou's May 18 piece, "Dude, Where's My Pot?" left me flabbergasted, asking, "Dude, where was my call?"

I thought I had worked out my problems in dealing with Schou's lack of journalistic etiquette—the last-minute calls claiming he had just a few hours left on his so-called deadline when he had been working on the story for days or not calling me for verification of facts. We had many conversations about these problems, and I thought we had resolved them and left them in the past.

When Schou contacted me stating he was doing a pro-medical-marijuana story, I helped him and answered all his questions. Schou and I exchanged several calls and e-mails about medical marijuana. Curiously, Schou never mentioned the name Josue Lopez nor Lopez's absurd contention that he was prosecuted and convicted because he harassed District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and not because he was in fact guilty of transporting marijuana, possessing marijuana with the intent to sell while armed with a firearm, and cultivating marijuana while armed with a firearm.

Here is the pertinent part of Schou's article containing Lopez's incredible tale:

Lopez got angry and started calling the DA's office, demanding to speak to Orange County's top prosecutor, Tony Rackauckas.

"I started calling the DA's office and told them off," Lopez says. "I kept calling every 30 minutes, pestering him until I got a hold of him. I told Rackauckas, 'You are not looking out for the best interest of the people. You are just about getting rich, and maybe one day, someone will get in there that knows what they are doing.'" Lopez says Rackauckas informed him that his office felt it couldn't obtain a favorable jury verdict.

Lopez grew to regret harassing Rackauckas on the telephone. On Aug. 4, 2005, sheriff's detectives arrested Lopez for cultivating and possessing marijuana with the intent to sell. While Lopez claims he was a "caregiver" to six people, the DA's office evidently thought—given that he was not primarily responsible for housing, feeding and clothing the patients he was supplying with cannabis—that he wasn't a caregiver under the law. Facing three years in prison, Lopez ultimately took a deal that put him in jail for six months.

Dude, why didn't Schou just ask what "the DA's office evidently thought" instead of guessing?

Why would Schou call and e-mail me about other parts of his story yet fail to confirm such serious allegations against the district attorney? If Schou had actually cared about the truth rather than relying on the words of a convicted felon, Schou would have learned that no such phone calls ever took place and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has never spoken to Lopez.

Schou would have learned that Lopez's tale was sanitized. Lopez failed to mention other evidence that lead investigators to believe Lopez was a drug dealer. Lopez's exposure actually was six years and six months due to the firearms allegation, but the offer by the district attorney's office was always 180 days in jail. Perhaps medical marijuana makes you forget small details such as firearms and knives. . . .

Dude, why didn't you call the Orange County Sheriff's Department and ask them why they started investigating Lopez?

Orange County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Mark Bailey told me, "The sheriff's department began investigating Mr. Lopez after receiving information that he was engaged in drug sales in July and August 2005. This information did not come from anyone in the Orange County district attorney's office. The district attorney's office did not get involved in the handling of this case until we submitted the case for criminal filing."

Dude, why didn't you look up the public records?

The court records, available to any member of the public including reporters, contain a search-warrant affidavit and the preliminary transcript regarding this case. These court documents directly contradict Lopez's claim that he is being harassed by law enforcement by orders of the district attorney or that Lopez is a compassionate marijuana "caregiver."

During the month of August 2005, the sheriff's department received information that Lopez was cultivating and selling marijuana in his Lake Forest residence, where he was living with parents.

On Aug. 4, 2005, deputy sheriffs searched Lopez's car and found six Ziploc baggies containing various amounts of marijuana (ranging from 1.0 to 3.5 grams), 63 growing cubes to cultivate marijuana, one water pump, 20 rounds of rifle ammunition, and a physician's statement stating he was allowed to consume marijuana. Apparently, the "caregiver" also needed to carry two folding knives clipped to his pants and another knife between the front consoles of his truck.

Dude, why did Lopez lie? Why didn't he just say he was cultivating marijuana as a "caregiver"?

When confronted with growing cubes by the police, Lopez stated he was planning to grow marijuana for himself but had not started growing yet. Asked specifically whether he was a caregiver for others, he said "no."

Dude, a judge denied his medical-marijuana defense.

Lopez was defended by William McPike, a self-proclaimed "medical-marijuana defense" specialist. McPike's business card even shows a large five-point leaf. Lopez's doctor (who "diagnosed" Lopez's medical-marijuana "need" over the phone) even took the stand to help Lopez's medical-marijuana defense. During the hearing, the defense raised that Lopez had a "status as a patient" to consume marijuana. Again, no claim by Lopez that he was a "caregiver."

Dude, where is your investigative journalism?

Even if Schou were to ignore the DA's office, the sheriff's department and public records, did Schou ask for any proof such as phone records from Lopez's home in Lake Forest to the district attorney's office in Santa Ana to support such a patently absurd claim by Lopez?

Dude, what were you thinking?
Susan Kang Schroeder, public affairs counsel
Orange County district attorney's office
via e-mail

OKAY, SHE LOST THE ARGUMENT
The following letter addresses R. Scott Moxley's May 25 "Kissing the Pinky Ring," about Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo's pre-prison barbecue.

What is [Rizzolo]? Another Paris Hilton? He isn't blond enough, but he is stupid enough—along with the Orange County Sheriff's Department's fine and upstanding [Sheriff Mike] Carona. Unfortunately, he and his followers are a disgrace to humanity. People say he is another Hitler—think about it!
Joyce Miller
via e-mail

DO ME A FAVOR, STAY OFF MY SIDE
The following letter is in regards to Vickie Chang's March 29 Trendzilla, in which she describes the proper way to pull off shorts without looking "hooker-y."

Thank God somebody finally pointed this out. Girls try to look like hookers and get mad when guys make them offers or gawk at them. They are totally dressing the part and deserve to have $20 bills waved in their face or called "putas." Great article. I love you, Vickie Chang!!!!
Efren
via e-mail

Vickie Chang responds: No. 1, you missed the point. No. 2, ew.

POKER FACE
I just read your column about pirated images [Gustavo Arellano's "The Perils of Piraterķa ," May 25], specifically the ”Ask a Mexican! character being used for a phone card. I have decided I need to come clean. I too have had occasion to use the ”Ask a Mexican! logo as my screen image on my favorite online-poker site. You get to pick your own image—and what better sight to show than the shifty eyes of the Mexican bandit! Not giving a clue as to the pocket aces being held as hole cards or a 2-7 off-suite and a face that seems to say, "I got across the border and am doing fine, mamacita" to bluff with and a crooked-toothed grin that mocks when you hit the flush on the river. Perfect. However, due to the limit of only one account per IP address, I had to change it back to the lame riverboat gambler—who, by the way, almost looks Hispanic. Any chance there were notorious and famous Mexican gamblers back on the paddle-wheel steamers?
Tobin Cross
via e-mail

MEXICANNNS! INNNN! SPAAAACE!
The following letter is in response to the question posed in the online ad for Gustavo Arellano's ”Ask a Mexican!

"Why are there no Mexicans onStar Trek?" On the original series, crewman Rodrigues is both heard and seen in the episode "Shore Leave." If he wasn't seen from then on, perhaps his 'do wasn't as good as Chekhov's, Uhura's, or Kirk's. All wore hairpieces.
Trek Freak
via e-mail

Editor's note: And don't forget Commodore Mendez from "The Menagerie"—he outranked Kirk. And of course, KHAAAAN!

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