I agree with your decision to exercise restraint regarding the release of immaterial and prejudicial information regarding an electoral candidate ("Town Dandy," June 10). Your argument was well reasoned and well expressed.
My only qualm with your column is the phrase "double the legal limit" in the first graph. This perpetuates the myth that the "legal limit' for a driver's blood alcohol is .08 percent. In fact, in California the legal limit is 0.0. Read California Vehicle Code section 23152 (a) and (b). The (b) section refers to .08 - if proved, it requires the DMV to suspend a driver license.
The (a) section includes the words "under the influence," and that condition can occur at very low BAC for some people. What is the proof of "influence?" Bad driving, crashes, poor performance during field sobriety tests. A low-blow may allow a driver to successfully plea to VC 23103.5, the so-called "wet reckless."
In fact, a driver can be charged with a felony (VC 23153) with a very low BAC if there is a crash and there occurs a consequent injury (even complaint of pain) to any involved party except the driver with the detectable alcohol. Testing equipment can detect alcohol at .01 percent. Alcohol is considered a primary collision factor in a crash.
Please help to squash the myth that a couple of drinks - about .08 for some people - is within a legal limit.
Ted Ostrow, Fortuna
The tortured logic displayed by the editor in his Town Dandy column last week went to great lengths to find reasons for choosing not to bring to voters' attention an important judgment call made by Ryan Sundberg - now headed to a runoff in the Fifth District - to conceal from the electorate a recent 0.16 DUI, for which he failed to appear in court four days after announcing his run for supervisor. At one point in his column, Hank Sims even asks rhetorically whether or not "the Journal's editorial staff plays some sort of curatorial role in what is important and what isn't in an election."
The fact is, Hank, that you choose all the time what merits coverage, and on this one, you really blew it. In the not-so-distant past, you chose to make a giant deal - a cover story, no less - about a guy who personally snookered you with letters to the editor submitted under false names. Now you're actually asking us whether you even decide what's news?
In this regard, I'd like to propose a rule which seems to suggest a pattern I have observed in the Journal of late - I'll call it "The Sims Doctrine." It goes like this: "Events to be considered newsworthy must be sourced from individuals who I vet, even if they are independently verifiable as true. If a newsworthy story seems to further the agenda of the person who brings it to me, then I may decide, for that reason, that it is not news. Because only I decide what is news."
I would suggest the zeal to which you adhere to this filter has begun to compromise the mission of the Journal to cover the first third of your tag line, "Politics, People, and Art." It's true that the Journal has continued to cover investigative stories of importance to the Humboldt community. But at the same time, it has neglected other critical stories that have failed to make it through the Sims Doctrine, newsworthy questions that are at the core of who we are and what direction we proceed in as a community. It is my opinion that the Journal and its readership would be better served by a style of editing with less subjectivity on the part of its editor in this regard, that allowed news to be news, and better saw the forest for the trees.
Neal Latt, Eureka
The recent pre-election disclosure of Ryan Sundberg's DUI arrest and conviction is quite disturbing, not due to the fact that its timing made it appear to be a "dirty trick," but according to a source at the Times-Standard, a series of technical glitches resulted in a two-month lapse of their "on the record" (a compilation of arrests and convictions). So, here is a candidate, seeking an office of great trust and responsibility, who manages to escape public scrutiny (or so it seemed) and does nothing to make public what SHOULD have been a public record.
This DUI would normally have been printed in the Times-Standard over six months ago, giving the electorate plenty of time to ascertain the relevance of these quite serious charges. Mr. Sims questions how this drunk driving conviction "might affect any vote Sundberg might be expected to make." When we elect representatives, do we not attempt to examine the totality of their life experience: education, public service, levels of responsibility and, yes, personal integrity? Do we not vet our candidates to try to determine their judgment so that they will vote responsibly? As reported in the Times-Standard article, Mr. Sundberg evidently shared this criminal record with a choice group of supporters who were quick to "forgive and forget."
What is wrong with that? The rest of the electorate was kept out of the loop.
Elliott Levin, Trinidad