Letters to the Editor – March 2014

Letter Read at Rhodes Farewell Dinner

I am sorry that I could not be at this event (see above) to honor Mike Rhodes, but I did want to send a few words about him and what he has meant for journalism. You notice I do not say “Fresno journalism” because the waves that Mike makes spread up and down the state of California, and even across the nation.

In many ways, Mike is a throwback to journalists like Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Stephens, when journalism wasn’t the words you wrapped around ads, but the stuff that made corrupt politicians, rapacious corporations and brutal police departments tremble. It comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Ask homeless people in Fresno what they think of Mike Rhodes, and then ask the police and sheriff’s departments the same question. The answers you get are all you need to know about Mike Rhodes as a journalist.

But Mike has done something that transcends any particular story. He has created a newspaper in which every-day humanity has a voice. At a time when more and more media outlets are owned by fewer and fewer rich people, a newspaper like the Community Alliance stands like Horatius at the Bridge, my father’s favorite metaphor for describing those who exhibit singular courage in the face of overwhelming odds. The Community Alliance is a people’s newspaper in the old school sense: one that covers the news the mainstream media doesn’t—or distorts so badly you can barely recognize it. But it also has space for culture, for church news, for a community bulletin board. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Well, it sort of does, but it has been Mike’s arms and legs, and those of the dedicated people around him who produce stories on their spare time, write up calendars, distribute the Alliance and scrounge for money. I am sure you will hear a lot of high-flying praise for Mike tonight—he deserves every bit of it—but if we want to honor what he has done for this community, we will need to keep the Community Alliance up and running month after month. That will take sweat, but it will also take money.

I write a check every month to the Community Alliance for less than I pay for coffee each month. Don’t get me wrong, coffee is important, but so is the Community Alliance. Do both. That way you not only honor this wonderful man, you celebrate what he has done.

Mike Rhodes has set the bar high. We honor him and ourselves by clearing it.

Conn Hallinan
Berkeley

Found Money!

I attended a presentation by State Controller John Chiang some time ago and learned that nearly $7 billion in unclaimed property belonging to nearly 25 million individuals and organizations is held by the State of California.

I had thought only an older person might have lost track of a bank account, a pension or a deposit made several years ago. However, when I mentioned it to a few family members, one 30-something member who had held several jobs over the past decade followed up and was able to recover in excess of $400 that financial institutions had sent to the State of California as “unclaimed property.”

You may be owed money by the state! Go to http://www.sco.ca.gov/upd.html to find out.

A suggestion: If you do recover your own money, it would be a great gesture on your part if you would share a few dollars with the Community Alliance.

Good luck!

Yezdyar Kaoosji
Fresno

What’s in Your Seafood?

For almost three years, the damaged Fukushima reactors in Japan contaminated the Pacific waters and fish with radioactive cesium, strontium and other elements, partly because of mistakes, neglect or cost-saving by a managing corporation.

This year, Mike Adams (from Natural News) published the results of his food testing for toxic metal contamination. About half of the U.S.-available foods that he tested were contaminated with one or more metals. The concentration of toxic metals was found higher than the maximum contaminant level (MCL) allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water.

Such levels could potentially cause disease, affecting kidneys, liver, skin or the circulatory system. Many more product test results will be shown in the future at www.labs.naturalnews.com.

To save us from the toxic effects of corporate greed that allows substandard food to be sold in the United States, we urge you to protest in writing to your elected officials and avoid buying from companies that pollute or sell polluted food.

Laura Rosenberger
Fresno

Campaign Finance Reform

What does a politician hate? Taxes? Gay sex? Tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations? Citizens who ask questions?

How about being a scapegoat, the object of irrational hostility that bears the blame for others? Superstitious people used to symbolically place the sins of the people upon a goat’s head after which he is sent into the wilderness. Now they blame the Black guy in the White House.

When a politician sets out to take money from the rich and ignore the majority, then he or she favors the elimination of democracy, a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting for their best interests. Then the wealthy one percent, not the majority, wins. When brainwashing the electorate with expensive propaganda (Fox Noose) takes the highest priority, then the rich win. When the majority realizes this, the politicians turn the military, or spying technology, against them.

We can choose constitutionally to eliminate privately financed elections, the source of our misfortune, and publicly finance them. Or, we can blame politicians instead of ourselves, the cause of the problem. Or we can blame the devil and place our sins upon a goat’s head after which he is sent into the wilderness.

Mike Starry
Fresno

Cry Me a River

I had a chance to read the article by David Bacon (“The Bitter Reality for Farmworkers,” Community Alliance, January 2014) last weekend when I picked up your newspaper at the Tower District.

Mr. Bacon’s presentation of the plight by Jose Lopez screams “Cry me a river.” This young man left his country to come here looking for a source of income to help his family in Guerrero. However, during the 10-year period, he married and became the father of three children. Then he finds himself unable to send money back to his relatives left behind in Mexico.

First of all, farmworkers here and everywhere else in the world are paid low wages due to their lack of any other skill. Yes, I agree their work is hard and in our area very hostile during the summer months. However, has Mr. Lopez learned any English in order to move up from the fieldwork to a better paying job? It doesn’t appear [to be] the case since he continues laboring in the fields.

Second, his wife stays home to take care of the family, which I find laudable. Then Mr. Lopez complains he finds himself at times unable to cover expenses at the end of the month but still manages to send some money back home.

I remember talking to a Mexican young man and his wife over 10 years ago who were sending money to Mexico. Their family thought these folks should be sending money for Quinceañera parties, weddings, etc.

Hey, his family comes first. And Mr. Bacon’s article certainly doesn’t make me feel sorry for this man.

Perhaps he needs a financial counselor and some advice regarding his remittances to Mexico.

A. E. Prendell

 

  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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