Mailbag: Heavy fines do more than bunny costumes

Regarding Maria Smart's Aug. 9 letter, "Drivers must be slowed," we should all be saddened by the actions of a reckless driver who struck and injured her mother on Glendale roads. However, apparently, Smart did not actually read the two articles in the Glendale News-Press that she sites as she criticizes Councilman John Drayman in her anger at the driver who struck her mother.

In the first article, Drayman stated that police resources should be placed out in the community busting speeders and reckless drivers rather than dressing police personnel in rabbit costumes ("Sting like a bunny, April 1) to see how drivers will react.

The anomaly to which Smart refers, and Drayman pointed out, was in creating a road condition that is not in any driver's normal experience and then drawing conclusions from this as though the situation is typical of what someone like Smart's mother might encounter.

The second article in the News-Press ("Stings go on, sans bunny," April 2) indicated that the Glendale police chief must have agreed with Drayman because he immediately discontinued the bunny sting in favor of the same pedestrian sting carried out in plain clothes, which is what Drayman advocated.

By the way, according to that article, the plain clothes sting was just as, if not more, effective.

There are those who seem to have not gotten the memo on the second Glendale News-Press article on this topic who want to ignore the reporting of the success of the plain clothes sting advocated by both Drayman and the police chief — either because they didn't read the article, because of politics, because they believe no one should ever disagree with police policy or, as in the case of Smart, because she is grieving over the reckless and thoughtless acts of a dangerous driver who injured her mother.

The point here is not whether the police should dress officers as bunnies, Santa Claus, Abe Lincoln or leprechauns to attract attention, teach a lesson or create news.

The point is that Glendale residents deserve better, more effective motor vehicle enforcement on our streets. We are constantly told that there are not the resources to effectively stop speeders and reckless drivers.

Some of us believe, in light of this constant excuse from our city management, that what resources we do have should be spent on catching actual bad drivers in real situations and fining them so severely that it makes an impression on their pocketbooks.

As for pedestrian stings, I agree with the councilman and the police chief. These should be carried out as plain clothes actions.

Mark Lassiter


Dictionary, Bible frown upon prejudice

Like others who have written to this paper before, I often shake my head in bemusement at the theological positions taken by Pastor Bryan Griem. His latest response to the Living Library question ("In Theory: Reading into the Living Library idea," Aug. 7) could not go without comment.

The good pastor wrote: "if the prejudice is informed and justified?" and "(prejudice) being simply a preconceived opinion." It strikes me that the pastor may believe a prejudice is not a bad thing if it is informed and justified. Unfortunately, neither the dictionary nor the Bible supports any prejudice as justified.

Merriam Webster cites three definitions: Injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds and an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.

And having scoured through five Bibles, from the King James Version to the New Living Translation, there is no biblical agreement with Griem that prejudice is ever justified. In fact, just the opposite is stated in James 2:1, which contains a warning against prejudice.

Here is the New Living Translation: "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?"

Peter Morris


It's no secret that foster kids have it tough.

First, they are victims of abuse or neglect by the people who are supposed to care about them most. Then they have to leave behind everything they've ever known — home is home, even if it's a bad one — to live with strangers in a strange place.

Family reunification or adoption can make for happy endings, but in all too many cases kids stay with foster families or in group homes until they emancipate, or "age out," of the child welfare system at 18, suddenly forced to care for themselves with few resources and no family to help them.

That's the side of foster care people don't often think about: what comes after. While child welfare officials operate a range of programs to address young people's basic needs after foster care and to help them attain skills needed for adulthood, there just aren't enough resources to make sure all of them get everything they need to become successful adults.

Education and employment are the roots of success, but neither is attainable without a secure place to live.

Transitional housing programs help foster kids find their feet and sort out their futures, but there are far too few of them — maybe half of what's needed, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the agency in charge of more than 15,000 kids in foster care.

And though various studies report that as many as one-third of those who emancipate from foster care can expect to become homeless at some point in their lives, state budget cutbacks threaten to reduce the amount of transitional housing available to those who grew up in the system.

In March, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered an ongoing special review of programs affecting the ability of kids in foster care to develop into self-sufficient adults.

The review was initiated by county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who supports this and other local-level efforts to stabilize the lives of youth leaving foster care.

Preventing teen homelessness is an equally worthy cause because foster youth aren't someone else's kids, they're everyone's.

Joe Piasecki


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