Photo by Paul Simpson via Flickr Creative Commons

Letters to the Editor

I’ve just finished reading the article, “Down Prison Road,” by David Bacon in the Community Alliance. What an engaging, informative, well-researched and thought-out piece. I like the way he introduces the interesting tidbits of history along the way as the marchers weave through the San Joaquin Valley. I like the way he sharpens the focus, dropping the reader deeper into the story. Wonderful stuff! Another great article in my favorite newspaper! Congratulations again on your Peace Award.

Right on Mike, looking forward to the next issue.

Agustin Lira
Fresno
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This article, titled “When the Smoke Clears (It’s Just Medicine),” by California Correctional Center inmate/journalist Boston Woodard, at Susanville, is very disturbing. As a Native American, an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe of Washington State, I find the actions apparently taken by the officials of the California Department of Corrections to be a gross travesty against all Native Americans and our spiritual/religious beliefs. We have suffered many major losses and injustices, carried out by representatives of the federal and state governments. For such prison officials to have shown such utter disrespect for our sacred ceremonies is intolerable, to say the least.

Our spirit and our medicine is strong. Although many people may not understand it, we deserve to be able to participate in the spiritual and physical cleansing which the sacred sweat ceremonies afford to participants. For ignorant individuals to disrupt such a sacred event, subject the willing participants in the sacred ceremonies to harassment and other unacceptable actions is a major blunder. It is a slap in the face of the people who hold life to be sacred. It will not stand in the court of the highest dimension, which is far superior to any court on this planet. Such actions must be rectified, as much as is possible, under the temporary judicial system which currently rules this land. Spiritual beings of the highest power know what has happened and will be watching. Give us back our respect and honor, that we may again pursue peace. Aho.

Richard D. Iyall
Cowlitz

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We have freedom of speech, all speech. We could turn it around on you and allege that KFCF “damages the social fabric of community” as well as wasting listeners’ precious time and brain cells. They spend hours supposedly leading up to some expected point of interest, and then the show is over, without the payoff. They refuse to discuss anything that’s in their own words, “too controversial.”

So then my questions are: What good are they and what good do they do, really? How can they resolve anything, when they won’t even discuss issues, issues that you want banned from KMJ? Moreover, sponsors want ratings, ratings sell airtime. You can’t argue with success. Do you really want to deprive 80,000 people of a place to vent? Sounds pretty risky to me? And you, indeed, have control of the on and off switch. Do not listen if you don’t like it. We don’t listen to the “what time tomorrow” programming on KFCF. What’s next? Are you going to seek legislation requiring that we listen to so-called “All Things Considered”?

Steve Shelton

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My name is Karter. I am 19 years old and have lived in Fresno my whole life. In January of this year, I left Fresno to go to Washington, D.C., to be a part of the Greenpeace Organizing Term, which is a three-month program for student activists who are interested in the environment, or who just want to learn how to be effective organizers. I got back about a month ago, and since I’ve been home I have been looking for ways to get involved with the community here in Fresno. I picked up the May issue of the Community Alliance, and read it cover to cover. I found it so encouraging to be able to read a newspaper that spoke to, what seems to me like, the real issues, and news that everybody should be reading.

I really enjoy how it includes the music and art events, as well as the events with the Center for Nonviolence, and other organizations throughout the valley. As I said, I am really interested in becoming involved and educated, as much as I can, with environmental and social justice issues. The Community Alliance provides me with the information to keep up with what’s going on in the area and also encourages me to look further into these issues on my own. I just wanted to thank everyone who is involved in providing this wonderful newspaper. Please keep up the great work! If there is ever any volunteer work that is needed, I would be very interested in getting involved.

Thanks again!

Karter Ruud
Fresno
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I admire your courage and uncensored truthfulness to publish what your regular newspaper (Fresno Bee) is scared to cover, real issues that affect us all. I can count on the Community Alliance to be objective and honest. Plus, this system tries so hard to silence us. But, through the Community Alliance I, we, will always have a voice. Thank you. “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Ayanna Green
Chowchilla
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A friend from Fresno gave me your newspaper and I read the article “A Walk Through Fresno’s Downtown Homeless Encampments.” I was shocked and saddened by how the city I love was treating its poor, homeless and downtrodden people. I was equally embarrassed by the outdoor drunk tank you mentioned and how the police take homeless men to this outdoor drunk tank as a way to avoid booking fees at the jail.

It is not hard to imagine what the whole situation is like, for the picture of what is going on with the homeless and the “Downtown Encampments” is clear. By the same token, I ask myself: Is what you describe an individual problem? A city problem? Or all of our problem? I would like to think it’s all of our problem, for when one suffers we all suffer. That is what 46 years of living on earth has taught me.

Empathy is not enough, for the homeless need more than empathy; they need compassion because compassion is not just being aware and feeling the pain and suffering of the homeless, but it is together with the desire to alleviate it.

I hope that good human beings like yourself and all the progressive activists of Fresno gain the momentum and support needed to facilitate social change and economic justice.

Johnny “Imari” Smith
San Quentin
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Meg Whitman seeks to bring a business approach to the Governor’s mansion in order to fix California’s many problems. Perhaps this would go far toward accomplishing that goal, but her nearly 50-page policy agenda does not tell us how.

Whitman wants to “reduce the costs of providing health care to prisoners” (Meg 2010 – Building a New California, page 25). She compares California’s average prisoner healthcare expense to that of three other states. She does not, however, divulge that California pays its prison doctors and nurses exorbitant salaries to treat old and infirm prisoners until death. Other states would have long ago released these feeble offenders and certainly would not pay medical staff upward of $100,000 per year for their services, as is common in California’s prison system. Considering that federal courts have declared that California’s prison healthcare amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution, one must ask why this is so despite such expense.

If there is one area where the Golden State surpasses all others in business, it is corrections. California is home to 33 state prisons filled to nearly 200% capacity. Recently, in the true spirit of big business, the corrections department has grown into a nationwide enterprise, franchising its human warehousing operations to several other states. And while Whitman admits this expensive expansion is not a long-term solution, the prisons she wants to build will be overcrowded before the concrete dries. The solution, then, is not to create more space; it is to bring California’s barbaric sentencing laws in line with those of other states. It is noteworthy that many states are able to pay their bills and avoid constitutional violations, all while not suffering the huge increase in crime that so many California fear-mongers warn will occur if they are not elected.

Allegedly, it costs nearly $50,000 per year to incarcerate each inmate. This is an astounding figure considering an income of that amount puts a person in the upper middle class. Prisoners share concrete and steel cells smaller than the average bathroom and are fed for less than $2 a day. Fifty thousand dollars a year suggests a pretty comfortable lifestyle for the prisoner, but it really reflects the $100,000 per year paid to many rank-and-file prison guards. If California is to regain its solvency, it must rethink its policy of overpaying unskilled laborers.

Daniel Womack
Corcoran

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Steve Morse, of the GI Hot Line in the Berkeley-San Francisco area, sees the need for a similar GI Hot Line in Fresno. Volunteers would be requested to become knowledgeable on the various regulations affecting those persons considering recruitment, those already enlisted, those already active in the military and as those desiring to separate from the military.

Steve indicated that he or a representative of the Bay Area GI Hot Line will come to Fresno if there are at least 10-15 volunteers. Such persons should be willing to be available on a rotating basis day and/or night seven days a week. He is experienced in the regulations, laws, and possible qualifications of such counseling requests.

Persons interested in volunteering should contact Vic McLane: at 559-288 7913 or e-mail: m-v-mclane@sbcglobal.net.

Vic McLane
Fresno

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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