Letters to the Editor

Child Wonder

Tough love: "For the Love of Jamie" (Amy Silverman, December 6) has got to be the best story I have read in New Times in years. Your article was insightful, moving, and a real eye-opener for those of us who think we have it rough in life. Congratulations on an excellent piece.

Thomas M. McNabb

Dream on: Initially, I was humbled by Amy Silverman's composition abilities while reading "For the Love of Jamie." She was able to evoke feelings not only of empathy and respect for Cheryl Moore, but a yearning to ally myself with her in any manner that could assist. In fact, I perceived Silverman to be a major supporter of this brave soul until the last paragraph:

"Only that Jamie acts like a typical 2-year-old. And that Cheryl Moore is in for a lifetime of Barney."

I pray to God that I am misperceiving what I view as a cynical castigation of Ms. Moore's dreams and hopes for her son. Whether there was an ulterior motive to exercise Silverman's feelings on Jamie's future, or she was being overtly realistic with the inclusion of this closing dissemination, it makes me believe that Silverman is a pompous ass.

How does she think Ms. Moore feels after reading that final paragraph? Obviously, there was no way that Silverman momentarily envisioned herself in Moore's position. How do I know that? Because, if Silverman had attempted such a role-playing exercise, she would have ended the article with Moore's final diatribe concerning McDonald's.

Silverman needs to realize that she may have inadvertently destroyed someone's unanswered prayers.

Michael S. Schwinn
via Internet

Thar She Blows

We are the world: The Natural Resources Defense Council and its members are proud of the successful campaign against Mitsubishi Corporation's plan to industrialize the World Heritage Site, Biosphere Reserve, Whale Sanctuary and Migratory Bird Refuge at Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California Sur ("Crying Whale," Jill Stewart and Michael Lacey, November 22). NRDC got involved in 1996 at the request of leading Mexican environmentalists -- including Homero Aridjis -- and worked closely for five years with an unprecedented coalition of more than 50 environmental groups in Mexico. The Mitsubishi project was condemned as a "reasonable risk" both to gray whales and the entire lagoon ecosystem by leading international scientists, including nine Nobel laureates, the president-elect of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and renowned whale scientist Dr. Roger Payne, who, in contrast to Mitsubishi's experts, donated virtually all of his time. The project generated an extraordinary level of public activism, including more than a million letters of opposition to Mitsubishi from people around the world and formal resolutions of condemnation from mutual fund managers and every major city and country in California as well as the California Coastal Commission.

If Mitsubishi (one of the world's wealthiest corporations) was "hopelessly outfoxed" by this campaign -- as New Times now concludes -- it was accomplished not by "glossy mailers" or "campaign rhetoric" but by an overwhelming public and scientific consensus that World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Whale Sanctuaries must be protected, not industrialized as Mitsubishi and its Mexican government partners proposed. New Times may believe that the Mexican government would itself ultimately have rejected the venture, but Mexican environmentalists, with a far better understanding of the intense domestic political and economic pressures, wisely chose not to take any chances. And when they requested international support, NRDC and millions of people around the globe responded. President Zedillo's courageous decision in March 200 to cancel the project was an act of global leadership and a triumph for the Earth.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Joel R. Reynolds
S. Jacob Scherr
Senior Attorneys, NRDC
Los Angeles

Ahoy the mothership: When one has just written a three-page single-spaced point-by-point refutation of "Crying Whale," the pièce de résistance (we hope) of New Times' "Shades of Gray" series, and knows there is no point in sending it to a publication whose letters page would have to be twice its normal size to accommodate it in any coherent fashion, one must settle for pragmatism.

So let's just say instead that New Times' Executive Editor Mike Lacey -- hell-bent on proving his premise that environmentalists were lying when they said there was a good chance that gray whales would be negatively impacted if Mitsubishi and ESSA went ahead with their joint venture to build the world's largest saltworks on the shores of the whales' last undeveloped calving lagoon -- ignored the most telling quote of all the subjects interviewed, a veteran Natural Resources Defense Council campaigner who said: "I have never seen an environmental impact assessment that did not conclude that the project should go forward. They always conclude it can be mitigated." Instead of contemplating the wisdom of these words, Lacey goes on to trumpet the "no adverse affect" conclusion of the EIA for the San Ignacio saltworks. Vast fields of spin, distortion and minimization spread out from there, based on Lacey's evident inability to grasp the fact that bad projects get turned into better projects -- and sometimes, thankfully, even canceled projects -- solely and only due to outside pressure.

Lacey laboriously attempts to spin the environmental violations of Mitsubishi/ESSA at their existing Scammon's Lagoon saltworks -- including battery dumping and spills of diesel fuel and toxic brine -- as simply further evidence of the unfairness and perfidy of environmentalists, who publicized these violations after ESSA asked to be inspected for certification as a "clean" operation, which resulted in the discovery of those violations. (Oh, well, that's okay then.) Lacey accuses environmentalists of lying when they cited the noise of the huge saltwater pumps as potentially disturbing calving grays when in fact the pumps would have been located so far from calving areas as to be barely audible. Just two problems: This concern was raised by a scientific blue-ribbon panel contracted by the Mexican government to assess the project's potential impacts, and Mitsubishi agreed to move back the pumps to those inland locations only after being pressured to do so.

And oh, so much more. But thank you, Mike, for asserting that the dolphin-safe tuna labeling law that has cut dolphin mortalities in commercial fishing operations by 98 percent since 1992 is, in fact, "a ruinous nine-year boycott that targeted Mexico's fishermen." Those who have been following along will recall that New Times previously informed us all that the Makah tribe's Washington state whale hunt, also opposed by activists (those lying, racist bastards), is all about reviving the glorious spiritual tradition of Native American whaling, and has nothing at all to do with the prospect of future millions in profits dangled before the Native American tribe in question by their Japanese business partners.

We trust that New Times readers who have previously professed themselves mystified by the agenda of the "Shades of Gray" series are finally starting to get the picture on New Times' Captain Ahab.
Andrew Christie, Information Director
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society


Hope for a small planet: During the course of researching my book Eye of the Whale (Simon & Schuster, August 2001), an extensive study of the gray whale, I spent considerable time over several years at San Ignacio Lagoon. I also visited the fishing village of Punta Abreojos and the existing saltworks at Guerrero Negro. I conducted extensive interviews with people on both sides of the saltworks expansion controversy. Thus, I read your November 22 articles with keen interest. And, speaking from my journalistic perspective, I found these to be inaccurate, misleading and often reading more like a press release issued by the corporate powers-that-be.

Of course the gray whale -- as the most visible, charismatic inhabitant -- became symbolic of the need to preserve the lagoon's integrity as part of the largest biosphere reserve in Latin America. Would the mullet have captured the imagination of thousands, relative to the impact of development upon this relatively pristine region? As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said at one point, "We preserve wilderness because, ultimately, it enriches us historically, culturally and spiritually." For you to portray the environmental leaders who fought for the sanctity of the lagoon as, basically, fabricating scenarios in order to raise millions is not only unfair, it is unconscionable.

The articles contain too many factual errors to enumerate in a brief letter. Permit me, however, to make a few corrections.

Without outside pressure, as Homero Aridjis will readily attest, the Mexican government would scarcely have been inclined to abandon the saltworks project (the possible "good intentions" of Environment Minister Carabias notwithstanding). Mexico was prepared to quietly railroad the plan through in 1995 -- and would have, if not for Homero's "blowing the whistle" in the press and then enlisting American support.

The industrial salt operation you portray as so environmentally benign is destined, in large part, for use in Japan's chemical industry.

Whale watching in San Ignacio Lagoon is tightly regulated, with no more than 15 small boats allowed in the inlet area at one time. Each skipper is licensed and, in my experience, extremely conscientious in treatment of the whales -- unlike what I have seen in other, unregulated areas such as Magdalena Bay.

It's not the local fishermen of Punta Abreojos who are responsible for overfishing, but poachers from other areas whom the Fishermen's Cooperative is constantly on the alert to stop.

These are perhaps technical points, but are indicative of the articles' misconceived tone and premise, where quotes from an esteemed whale scientist (Dr. Roger Payne) and others whom I've interviewed are clearly taken out of context in order to buttress a misguided theme.

The fact that an aroused citizenry could in fact prevent a government and the world's largest corporation from moving forward at will is, in my view, a rare glimmer of hope for our planet. The fact that gray whales served as the inspiration is a testament to human appreciation of the great creatures we so wantonly killed in the very recent past. Developing the legally protected lagoon area would have set a terrible precedent -- just as the precedent of permitting the Native American Makah tribe to hunt whales again has helped open the door for Japan to undermine global conservation efforts and seek to resume commercial sale of whale products. That is another point the New Times series on the gray whales seems to have missed.

Dick Russell
Los Angeles

Missing Numbers

Subtraction faction: Contrary to the opinion of Tom Rex, identified by New Times as an economist for Arizona State University, that Arizona must increase taxes to assure a healthy future, the state must do the opposite -- reduce taxes and spending as rapidly as possible ("Fiscal Fissure," John Dougherty, November 29).

Arizona needs to sink to the bottom of every statistical list concocted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the liberalogues, such as Carol Kamin, boss of the Children's Action Alliance.

The quicker the state goes to the end of such lists, and the more national publicity it gets to that effect, the sooner people will stop coming to Arizona. Better yet, some of the people who live here now will pull up stakes and rush to such centers of enlightenment as California and Washington, D.C.

Benefits of fewer people for Arizona will be enormous. Among these will be improved air quality, particularly in Maricopa County; less precious groundwater extracted; fewer crimes committed; fewer dropouts; etc.

It is obvious that Rex, one of those taxpayer-supported academicians, hasn't thought this matter through. Arizona requires more low-wage jobs and all that goes with them so that people will go, go, go.

Earl Zarbin

Ballpark Basics

Armchair quarterback: Count me among those who agree with Name Withheld ("BOB Bailout," Letters, November 29). Bank One Ballpark has indeed shown itself capable of handling football, and the fact that it is already built in a great location should make it an easy decision for its multiple use. However, since there are no peripheral development rights to be garnered by the Bidwills, I'm betting that they'd turn it down flat.

J. Patrick Mertz

Water War

Trading places: How big of an ass is Ken Kendricks?! Don't rich people have any decency? Any shame? Any kindness ("Dry Noon," Jennifer Markley, December 6)? This guy acts like he is a victim. He should step off his soapbox and wise up. Elissa Fulton has every right to the water from the well. Fulton's business has existed longer than Kendricks', so it's basic common sense to share it, but it's apparent that Kendricks lacks common sense and doesn't know what sharing is.

Fulton's trading post is probably what gives Bumble Bee its character and has its regulars who come for some good food and a drink. Small towns like Bumble Bee are all about places like Fulton's trading post: a charming place to get homemade food and unique gifts. Kendricks is just cashing in on more people who have money to throw around and who think camping is spending a few nights in a ranch house.

I am sickened by Kendricks, and he needs to realize he isn't in competition with Fulton, so why does he feel the need to run her out of business? He may not look at it that way, but that's exactly what he is doing. I think Elissa Fulton should keep up the fight and take Kendricks for all of his "deep pockets."

Maggie Courtney-Hubbard

Dead Ahead

Keep on truckin': Sorry to see that Andy Klein is as unoriginal a writer as the rest of the "Dead Dislikers/Haters" ("Jerry Meander," November 22). It really is time to let go and take a breath. The movie Grateful Dawg was about a collaboration. It wasn't a biography. It wasn't intended to be a tell-all. Clearly, Mr. Klein is quite preoccupied with Jerry's death due in part to drug use and, sadly, abuse.

I suggest Andy do his own tell-all and let the world know what a weak and, I guess, talentless guy Jerry Garcia was. I know he is probably champing at the bit to let the world know that Jerry and the "Dead" were just a bunch of lucky chaps who just got onstage and "jammed" (hell, anyone can jam, right?) and somehow made a lot of money and created a lot of fans.

Andy is right. They never showed (in the movie) Jerry shooting heroin, and therefore Grateful Dawg has no credibility. Come on, Andy, you can do better than that! I know there must be something profound within you.

Robert J. Ward
Chaska, Minnesota

Music Man

Missed hits: You missed a couple of albums devoted to being "famous and tired" ("Famous and Tired," Serene Dominic, November 29). One that has probably been mentioned is The Wall by Pink Floyd, which is based in part on the fall of Syd Barrett (original guitarist of the band). The other album is the Kinks' Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Part 1. (Part Two became the Preservation albums.) It is a fierce attack on the music industry, ranging from song publishers ("I hate your music and your hair is too long/But I'll sign you up because I'd hate to be wrong"), unions ("Get Back in Line"), the media ("Top of the Pops"), those who actually make the money off of records ("The Moneygoround" and "Rats"), touring ("This Time Tomorrow," "A Long Way From Home"), trying to cope with it all ("Apeman"), and finally, withdrawing ("Got to Be Free"). Plus, the album contains the megahit "Lola."

Christopher Heckman


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