Letters to the Editor – July 2013

Letters to the Editor – July 2013
Photo by Mariya Chorna via Flickr Creative Commons

Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable

Bravo for the riveting Special Edition of the Community Alliance, and hats off to Mark Arax and his students for muckraking work of the highest order! This is journalism at its best: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

This report pulled no punches and should be an impetus to the Fresno County Jail to get its act together.

It appears to me that major human rights violations are occurring daily at the jail against the mentally ill in the name of “saving money” and arrogantly disregarding inmates’ true needs and their private doctors’ meds prescriptions.

This documentation of the “hell of barbaric treatment” by the county almost seems like a job-protection program for the jailers: Keep the inmates crazy by denying their medical needs and then more jailers and money are needed to keep the cycle going.

The Community Alliance is truly a beacon of sanity in Central California. Thank you!

Gene Tuck

The ACLU’s Role in the “Freefall into Madness” Story

While [Mark] Arax’s story is compelling, it leaves out some important preliminary work done by the Greater Fresno ACLU in amassing family and inmate testimonials to this horrible treatment. Many of these same activists went and testified before the Fresno Grand Jury before they responded with a basic whitewash report saying there was no problem. But it is to Arax’s credit (and his students) that they did come out with such a detailed report of the suffering going on at the Fresno jail. I hope it will open the eyes of many in power and the community itself.

Steve Malm

Mentally Ill People Do Not Belong in Jail

First, most people with these mental problems quit their own meds and thus ended up in jail or homeless. Second, if we find they need these medications they should be moved from the jail to a mental patient facility!

Mistakes are made when we assume all mental patients have someone to watch over them. Living like animals as a homeless person in itself is tragically “mental.” But putting the mentally ill in jail? Never! Even on their meds they have a tendency to rebel against simple care. Build the asylums; it’s obvious people are tired of taking care of their own family crazies unless they are the cute docile kind.

Sharee Z-Garrison

How Do You Define Fascism?

More and more brave “whistleblowers” are exposing government practices that infringe on citizens’ constitutionally protected rights. Now we have an expose by Edward Snowden of the National Security Agency (NSA), in cooperation with private corporate contractors, collecting information from several Internet and telephone companies about your and my personal communications. The NSA programs are called Prism and Boundless Information. How vast does that sound? It certainly includes Fresno and the Central Valley.

The cooperation of government and business on a large scale to create a system of repression through surveillance is one of the characteristics of fascism. Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges and Glen Greenwald have been warning us about creeping fascism in the United States for 10 years already.

Two years ago, the People’s Education Project (PEP) of Fresno/Madera started researching examples of U.S. activists that could be considered fascist. The report is structured through the “14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism” format found on the Internet: http://rense.com/general37/char.htm. The PEP findings can be found on its Web site blog: http://peopleseducationproject.org/.

Now that some brave souls have given the public information that proves intrusive surveillance, it is up to the public to start shouting and writing and doing something about creeping fascism in their own country. At the least, check out the two Web sites and add your comments to PEP’s blog on fascist characteristics and examples.

Diane Marks
Bass Lake

Who Are the Immigrants?

This continent was taken over by force, by immigrants from Europe. Genocide and many injustices have been perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of the continent. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce reportedly said: “The earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was…The country was made without lines of demarcation, and it is no man’s business to divide it.” The artificial boundaries which divide the nations of the Americas primarily help the cabal, which has made great progress in gaining forceful control of the lands of this planet. Let us learn to be free of the indoctrinations of those who have gained centralized control of things, including mainstream media and governments who serve the cabal instead of the people.

Richard Iyall

The Irrationality of Politics

It’s hard to understand the rationale of Council Member [Steve] Brandau’s thinking when he went out of his way to pull the Fruit Avenue bike lanes off the Fresno City Council’s Consent Calendar (broad approval without debate for certain items staff feel have little controversy) and then argued against the entire street improvement project—street repair and new slurry coating on Fruit Avenue from Shaw to Herndon, travel lane reduction from 4 to 2, including a continuous left turn lane, street parking to continue and bike lanes in both directions, which is what Brandau was against.

It was being paid for mainly by Fresno County, and only a small fraction by the City, coming out of Measure C funds in any case. (Measure C several years ago renewed the Fresno County sales tax increase to be spent only on local transportation projects.) Just to fill you in, the county and city staffs had already designed and engineered the project, studied the benefits and costs, including better traffic flow and safety for all road users, and recommended completion. It was also a nice example of the two bodies working together for once. Except Brandau disagreed. Why?

He claims to have sat in his car on that section of Fruit for an hour and counted not a single cyclist, therefore he would not vote for the entire road improvement project, and he got the support of the three other conservative Council members—[Paul] Caprioglio, [Lee] Brand and [Clint] Olivier. However, Council Members [Oliver] Baines, [Blong] Xiong and [Sal] Quintero voted for the project. Please, I beg you to correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the idea behind bike lanes to encourage cyclists to use a certain section of roadway, as well as encourage cycling in our city generally? That is, create a continuous network of bike lanes and paths that make cycling safe, healthy and fun?

So, it wouldn’t be unusual to not find cyclists using a section of road without bike lanes. After all, they’re concerned for their safety, just as anyone would be. And bike lanes save lives. In fact, given the monetary constraints on government spending, they are an efficient and economical way to support safe cycling. There isn’t one major cycling organization I’m aware of that doesn’t think we should spend more money on bike lanes for safety and encouragement.

But not Council Member Brandau and his cohorts. In his infinite wisdom and astute political judgment, he singlehandedly nixed a project with very little downside, that would have benefitted cyclists, residents and motorists. Maybe it’s time to do as the famous activist said: Vote the bums out.

You can contact your Council member to ask why he voted the way he did by going to www.fresno.gov/government/citycouncil/councillocator.htm. Or contact some local cycling organizations that are active in advocacy: the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition (www.fresnobike.org/), I Bike Fresno (http://ibikefresno.org/) or the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (City Hall; http://ibikefresno.org/resources/bpac).

Rob Gibeau


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    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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