Jennifer Barrios had a difficult story to write about at the "Heartbreak Hotel" (August 29). This story, as painful as it is, is a story about us and our community and the people who suffer in it because we are not able to do better as a community of providers, funders, police officers, policy makers, press, tenants -- all of us.
The darkness of the article was piercing. There was such an opportunity for Jennifer to write a stellar piece, but she got stuck on the negative and couldn't let go.
As the executive director of BOSS I would like to salute the unsung heroes of UA Homes -- those tenants who battle drug addiction, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS; those who want to work and often do; those who need treatment and have to live without it; those who write incredible songs, poetry, and stories; those who use the services inside and outside in the community, when available; the quiet ones especially; the ones who lived there and will continue to live there and all the service providers who are still hanging in, including BOSS -- for coming through this crisis with a higher commitment to this home for many.
Jennifer as a journalist has written what newspaper readers love to read, the stuff that makes you grab for the paper, an almost-scandal. Because of this style of writing, or maybe due to lack of space or editorial advice, she left out the hope, the possibilities, the ongoing commitment to UA Homes.
The biggest success at UA Homes is that all of us are participating in the struggle to make life better at UA Homes, that no one has given up or abandoned the great effort it has taken to keep this housing viable for 72 people. Our greatest challenge is the continued availability of drugs in our community and the lack of treatment for those who are addicted. Many more millions need to be spent on this public health issue, or this story will continue to repeat itself, heartbreakingly and tragically.
It is my hope that policy makers and funders will look more closely at the harm-reduction model. It is my opinion that in this particular housing model it is the only choice -- the other is homelessness. For me the jury is still out on harm-reduction. Until something better shows up, let's give it a chance and let's fund it adequately. Let's continue to learn and make progress. There is no choice but to move forward with hope and light. There is enough darkness in our communities.
boona cheema, Executive Director, Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency, Berkeley
I've just finished reading Kara Platoni's article titled "War of the Words" (September 5).
Ms Platoni characterized me (Tim Bolen) as the type of person who: "Let's say you dislike Mr. Smith so much that you want to torpedo his career by spreading untrue and defamatory rumors about him -- that he cheats on his taxes, say, or sniffs rubber cement. Let's say you write these accusations up and send them to a newspaper, which reprints your allegations without bothering to fact-check them."
I did no such thing... and Judge Richman, in his decision regarding Rosenthal, verified that.
The fact that I consider Stephen Barrett to be "a toad," and question his motivations for his so-called "health fraud" interests publicly, is not actionable.
Ms. Platoni made the statement: "Hulda Clark, a woman who has written a book claiming that all cancers are caused by an intestinal fluke that can be removed with the help of herbal medicine and self-administered low-voltage shocks from a battery-operated 'zapper' (both of which she is conveniently willing to sell you). Clark operates a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, and also sells her products and books over the Internet."
This is not true. Hulda Clark PhD, ND has never written a statement anywhere, nor has she ever said that "all cancers are caused by an intestinal fluke."
Hulda Clark's income is only from her books, and a salary from the Mexican clinic. She does not sell herbs or a zapper, or anything else, for that matter, on the Internet, or anywhere else. Period.
Others, not affiliated with Clark, have taken her plans (from her books) on "how to build your own zapper," and have made a commercial product for sale. Others sell "Clark approved" herbs that meet her guidelines for cleanliness.
Platoni's statement: "In fact, because the plaintiffs' attorneys were unable to track down either Clark or Bolen to serve them with the suit, Rosenthal became the only defendant available for trial." This is not factual. Both Clark, and I, were "served" -- sort of.
The court ruled, in an earlier action, that the so-called original "services" against myself and Dr. Clark were inappropriate and would have to be properly done. In my case, a friend of Barrett's handed me a copy of a Download of Barrett's Websites (partial) version of the lawsuit, in a hallway, in a courthouse, in Florida. I challenged it, and Judge Richman ruled it an improper service.
I'm still waiting. They know exactly how to find me. I believe that they haven't re-served me because of the words in Judge Richman's decision -- which indicate they have no case.
In Dr. Clark's case, the attorney merely mailed a copy of the lawsuit to Clark's clinic in Mexico. Dr. Clark is a resident of Mexico -- consequently there are specific rules that apply on serving defendants who live in foreign countries. The Hague Convention lays out those rules specifically. Grell (Barrett's attorney) didn't follow them -- and Judge Richman also threw out the "service" against Clark. All Grell has to do to properly "serve" Clark is to follow the rules. He seems reluctant, or unable, to do so.
Also, Platoni missed the point of Judge Richman's 27-page decision, entirely. Rosenthal had claimed, correctly, that Barrett had sued her "to shut her up" about significant social issues by filing a lawsuit against her that violated California's anti-SLAPP law.
"SLAPP" is an acronym for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation." Section 425.16 says "The legislature finds and declares that there has been a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances, Etc."
Judge Richman stated clearly that Barrett, et al., violated California's anti-SLAPP law. How did Platoni miss this?
Tim Bolen, JuriMed -- Public Relations and Research Group, Via the internet
In last week's "Cityside" ("War of the Words," September 5, 2001) we incorrectly printed the name of the Web site run by Dr. Stephen Barrett as Quackbusters.com. The correct name of the site is Quackwatch.com. We regret the error
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