Fast and Furious
Regarding Tony Perez-Giese's "Pulling a Fast One," in the September 3 issue:
George Orwell, here we come! It's not enough that local and state governments in many cities around the country feel the need to put cameras in public areas to "protect" us. Now they want to put them on the roadside as well, with a private contractor--who has a definite motive of profit--operating the entire system. How long before they place them on all street corners, places of work and schools?

Big brother is watching you, and he is money-hungry!
Keith Privette
via the Internet

I'm still waiting for the last straw.
People have become so complacent about the sub-threshold, incremental steps toward a total police state that I am no longer surprised when yet another enforcement boondoggle is foisted upon us. Perhaps Westword's article on photo radar will make people a little more aware of the oncological growth of police power and its effect on our daily lives.

My personal feeling is that any enforcement procedure such as this ought to be crushed by a mass of citizens pleading "not guilty" anytime they get cited and thereby clogging the court system by sheer weight of numbers.

Well, next week or next month, after we become duly pacified about photo radar, yet another outrage will be perpetrated against us. And, of course, we will soon become accustomed to that one, and I won't be surprised. Maybe the one after that will finally be the last straw.

Dick Valentine

In Multnomah County Circuit Court on August 26, 1998, I challenged the constitutional basis of Oregon's photo radar law and won. At trial I presented the judge with a memo laying out my two reasons to dismiss the case. The first was that the private contractor running the photo radar had failed to register with the state. I argued that this made their equipment illegal and the contract with the City of Portland null and void. Thus photo radar from May 23, 1997, until they registered hours after trial, was illegal in Oregon.

The second, more serious challenge was on the basis of equal protection as stated in the 14th Amendment. Oregon's law gives citations to people who drive their own vehicles but takes no action against drivers of government or business autos and trucks. I argued that it was discrimination.

When the police officer introduced the photo-radar evidence, I objected and proved that the contractor was not registered. The judge said he couldn't decide the case in the time allowed and dismissed my case out of hand; he also dismissed the man in line behind me without even hearing his case.

The judge said photo radar is here to stay and didn't want a challenge, so he let me go. I won, but the state can still ticket thousands of innocent Oregonians.

Dan Dolan
via the Internet

A House Divided
Thank you to Westword and Alan Prendergast for "Dismal House," in the September 3 issue. All of us have been haunted by these truths for years, and now everything is out in the open and we can move forward to create the program we thought Dismas was going to be when we began nine years ago. Alan brought the truth out of the shadows, finally, and we are grateful.

Anne Catto
and many others

Crime and Punishment
Hello. My name is Christopher Saleh, and I am an inmate in the Denver County Jail. I am writing you in regard to Alan Prendergast's August 20 "Hard Cell" article, concerning Colorado supermax prison's forced cell entries.

I myself am an ex-convict, and I myself have done time in CSP and have experienced a forced cell extraction on two separate occasions. I must say that they are not nothing nice!

Christopher Saleh
Denver County Jail
Keeping Up With the Jones

Keeping Up With the Jones
I thoroughly enjoy the Marty Jones articles. Outstanding writer.
Mark Woolsey
via the Internet

Lies! Dam Lies!
In the August 20 Off Limits column, you once again chose to publish information about the Animas-La Plata water project without talking to both sides. By doing so, you established the precise reason the proponents of the Animas-La Plata project and the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act embarked on a public-relations campaign in 1997 when they agreed to reduce the size of the project, cutting total costs by $400 million.

Proponents, not their former public-relations firm, should be credited with "reviving the dam thing," in your malicious words. They gave up a lot to respond to concerns raised by project critics.

But let me set the record straight on the proponents' hiring of Hill & Knowlton. The team, including former Colorado congressional staffers familiar with the issue and its history, began work in May of 1997. Their work concluded in January of 1998, so Westword's statement about the company "flacking for the project" is more than a little outdated: The firm ended its work eight months ago. Hill & Knowlton was not paid $40,000 a month for its services. In only one month of its performance did the firm's bill even approach $40,000. Several other months' bills were less than $5,000.

I find it interesting that you criticized the "tactics" of the public-relations firm, including "using the media to influence people." Exactly what do you think project opponents are doing when they provide Westword with the kind of misleading information you printed? Unfortunately for readers, you've fallen for their trap, and coverage of both positions on Animas-La Plata has escaped you yet again.

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