Corporate campaign spending; Sandy Banks on idealism among young people; David Lazarus on taxes on cellphones

Proposition 19 is the answer

Re “Marijuana profiling,” Editorial, Oct. 27

California has the chance to fix a broken system of marijuana laws that disproportionally impact Latinos. I am disappointed that The Times acknowledges this discrimination but still concludes that Proposition 19 is not the answer.

Latinos are two to three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession even though studies consistently find that young Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than whites. Voting yes on Proposition 19 is a vote to challenge this status quo.


Imagine how many violent crimes could be prevented if we freed up public safety resources to focus on serious, violent offenses. Proposition 19 would simply treat adult marijuana use like alcohol or tobacco use. It would move us toward a more fair and effective approach to drug laws. And Latinos have a stake in it passing.

Hector Villagra

Los Angeles

The writer is legal director for the ACLU of Southern California.


Business, money and politics

Re “Corporate campaign spending still murky,” Oct. 27

This article misses the point. When corporations and unions can contribute to a political cause or candidate, those who wish to participate in our economy — either through their investments or their employment — must give up their right to determine what causes and candidates they support. The decision will be made for them.

The Constitution was written to protect individual rights. No good can come of giving those rights and protections to corporations and unions.


Adrian Maaskant


There seems to be some unwritten rule in the media that there are two sides to almost every issue. Here, The Times forces the reader to weigh two differing statements without enough facts to help determine which is true.

Robert Weissman of Public Citizen says the public needs “to know which corporations and billionaires are behind the attack ads.” Following that is a quote from Bradley A. Smith, the conservative former Federal Election Commission chairman, who says, “Voters do know who is funding the ads — every single one of them.”


Both of these statements can’t be true, and the media should dig a bit deeper to provide an answer.

Robert Magruder


Getting young people involved


Re “Idealism’s next generation,” Column, Oct. 26

Sandy Banks’ story about her daughter’s political awakening was wonderful. But it’s disturbing to see that young people are still less politically engaged than their elders.

Part of the problem is that civics education in this country is mediocre. Too many Americans don’t fully understand how their government works. Students aren’t taught to regard political participation as a civic responsibility.

Because young people don’t vote as frequently as older people, politicians don’t pay as much attention to the issues young voters care about. Then young people become less interested in politics and so don’t vote regularly. It’s a vicious cycle.


Sylvia Moore

Los Angeles

For Banks to call San Francisco’s bus drivers “fat cats” because they earn a living wage that affords them an opportunity to send their children to college betrays her own bias against California’s working class. Banks has much to learn from her wonderful daughter.

Daughters, teach your mothers well.


Gregory Hinton

Los Angeles

It’s over for Aziz

Re “Ex-Baath official to be executed,” Oct. 27


It’s more than merely regrettable that Tarik Aziz obviously didn’t know that an Iraqi expatriate, codenamed Curveball, had been lying to the West about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. On one of his calmer, widely aired, pre-invasion television interviews, I, for one, was impressed — but not quite convinced — when Aziz stated, “There are no weapons of mass destruction” and that many American soldiers would be killed for nothing.

If Aziz had any insider’s knowledge about Curveball’s sullied background, he could have thoroughly discredited this particular fabricator in prewar interviews. Not only I but many more members of Congress, along with the public at large — and perhaps even President Bush himself — would probably have withdrawn their support for the invasion.

Harvey Pearson

Los Angeles


She’s insulted

Re “Gender hasn’t swayed women voters,” Oct. 26

Of the innumerable offensive arguments put forth during this election, the article about gender as a decisive factor in voting is the most disgusting.

The fact that pollsters are still, in this day and age, regarding women as some conglomerate that makes decisions based on genitalia is outrageous, debasing and highly inflammatory.


It is about time pollsters, candidates and journalists recognize that women are individuals, capable of forming opinions based on evidence and thought. To suggest anything less is misogyny.

Jaime Marshall

Santa Monica

Bad connection


Re “Discount on phone but not on tax,” Business, Oct. 26

David Lazarus did well exposing the irrationality and the questionable legality of the current regulation by the State Board of Equalization on the sales tax for discounted cellphones bundled with service agreements. Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky that the whole service agreement itself is not subject to sales tax.

But the real culprits are the cellphone companies. They list the phones at exorbitant prices to pretend that they are giving us a discount and to justify exorbitant early service termination penalties.

D.A. Papanastassiou


San Marino

Not surprising

Re “A Latino midterm surprise,” Opinion, Oct. 26

In addition to the Latino candidates Luisita Lopez Torregrosa mentions, there is lieutenant governor hopeful Abel Maldonado here in California, black congressional candidates in Florida and South Carolina, and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, a child of Sikh immigrants, also in South Carolina.


The number of minority Republicans will grow as the various ethnic communities become more business-minded and less concerned with issues such as immigration.

The Democrats assume that they will gain the votes of the Latino, Asian and other nonwhite communities by insinuating that Republicans are racists.

When significant numbers of Republican candidates are themselves people of color, that tactic will become less and less effective.

Mike Burns