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Larry Agran has gone over to the Dark Side by accepting tens of thousands of dollars in Newport Beach pro-airport developer money, (R. Scott Moxley's “'Mayor Moonbeam,' Meet Donald Bren,” April 5). Measure W applies only so long as the El Toro Marine base remains unincorporated. There's a big push by the city of Irvine to annex the land. Once that happens, Measure W is irrelevant. Agran says he'll honor the intent of Measure W and build a Great Park. He doesn't say how it will be financed or what favors he'll trade. The Irvine Co., which sponsored Agran's dialing for developer dollars, could buy the land and agree to donate part of it to Irvine for the Great Park.

But what will the Irvine Co. get in return? Maybe rapacious development rights on the rest of the base and elsewhere in Irvine? As a condition of permitting Irvine to annex the land, the county should require Irvine to allow the cities of South County—through the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority (ETRPA)—to review and approve all development plans for the base. This will ensure someone is looking over the shoulders of Irvine politicians who have accepted big bucks from developers.

Stephen C. Smith

Love him or hate him, Larry Agran is probably the most effective progressive politician in Orange County history. That does not entitle him to a pass on public criticism when warranted. However, Moxley's article ignored fundamental facts that provide context and perspective. Agran remains among the nation's most vociferous advocates for true “clean money” campaign-finance reform. But he is not so foolish as to raise the white flag on every cause by unilaterally disarming. Agran is a proven entity with a long track record who at the very least deserves every benefit of doubt unless conclusive evidence of any sort of sellout or double-cross were to surface.

Ken Morrison

I attended the OC Music Awards and was a little disappointed (Rich Kane's “Huzzah! Huzzah!” April 5). Where the hell were the winners? Why send 25 bucks for a nomination and then not show up? My other gripe is that three songs per performer are too many. Plus, they could have mixed in some other types of music. With the exception of Alturas, it was basically a rock show. No rap, R&B or reggae.

Huntington Beach

Not even a month after the passage of Measure W, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are threatening to sue for more slots at Long Beach Airport. They would not be doing this if there was not sufficient “demand.” The underlying problem of Measure W is while it reduces airport supply, it does nothing to reduce airport demand. At the least, the initiative should have offered a solution such as mandating construction of high-speed rail. Mass development on and around the base will only exacerbate the problem of airport demand.

Rex Ricks
Huntington Beach

I always knew Anthony Pignataro would wait for the perfect time to dispense his writing skills onto our V Plan alternative for El Toro (“V For Victory,” April 12). For years, the V Plan was under wraps in the Board of Supervisors' closet. But it's not true that the V Plan was “hated” by virtually everyone. The Irvine Co. has never officially taken a stance against the V Plan, nor has any city in OC passed a resolution to oppose it. Many questioned it, but only Dave Ellis, Tom Naugton, Norma Glover and Larry Agran (any connections here?) really hated it. The Air Line Pilots Association endorsed it to the supervisors. And I can't picture hundreds of thousands of residents under the (former) flight paths opposing the V Plan when they are far removed from “threatening” overflights!

Russ Niewiarowski
The New Millennium Group Anthony Pignataro responds: While Russ is correct that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) endorsed the V Plan last year, he's still clueless about his airport's chances in November. The Navy, which owns the base, and the Irvine Co., which owns all the land around the base, both oppose his plan. That means it ain't gonna happen. Sure, Russ and his buddies came up with an airport plan better than the county's, but the people who live around El Toro don't want ANY airport there. Finally, the county has figured that out. Maybe some day Russ will, too.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to get tough on pretzels, snack bars and veggie burgers made from hemp seems even more absurd when placed in historical context (Jim Washburn's “Felony Foods,” March 15). Prior to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, few Americans had heard of marijuana, despite widespread cultivation of its non-intoxicating cousin, industrial hemp. The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican immigration during the early 1900s after the press reported that incredibly violent acts were allegedly committed by minorities under marijuana's influence. White Americans did not even begin smoking pot until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding “reefer madness propaganda.” An estimated 38 percent of Americans have now smoked pot. The reefer madness myths have long been discredited, forcing the drug war gravy train to spend millions of tax dollars on politicized research, trying to find harm in a relatively benign plant.

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.

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