Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Pubdate: Tue, 31 Mar 1998


Re:  "Much ado about Alka-Seltzer," Diana Griego Erwin, March 12: Since the
senior administration of the San Juan Unified School District, except for
Superintendent Ray Tolleson himself, is not especially known for its
humility, it should come as no surprise that Lee Negri, director of middle
schools, would rather make a complete fool of himself publicly rather than
admit to the possibility that he is wrong.

Alka-Seltzer is an over-the-counter pharmaceutical with a high margin of
safety. It is not a street drug. While I am certain that most parents fully
support the district's zero-tolerance policy with respect to alcohol,
illegal street drugs and weapons, the extension of this policy as a basis
for a student's two-day suspension thoroughly undermines the effectiveness
of the policy.

- --Scott J. Rose, Fair Oaks

As usual, Erwin just does not seem to get it. She contends that a
zero-tolerance drug rule should not apply to honor students. This student
was suspended for two days for picking up a dirty white tablet (purportedly
Alka-Seltzer) and giving this contaminated tablet to two buddies, who
ingested it. This white tablet could just as easily have been something

Erwin's slant on this reminds me of the small rural town in which I grew
up. Latino kids were routinely jailed for violating pot laws. They were
also expelled from school. However, when the principal's son and the sons
of several prominent people were caught smoking pot, all of a sudden there
was a "drug problem." PTA meetings were held. The principal's wife chaired
many of the meetings.

What Erwin is saying is that it does not matter what the infraction is. It
matters who did it. Her prejudice is showing (again).

- --Carlos Zaragoza, Sacramento

"A big zero -- how intolerant we've become," Forum, March 22: That was a
prime example of just how screwed up this country has become. Suspension
for gifts? Beepers? Cough drops? You have the entire adult world telling
kids, you have a headache, take an Advil. Cramps? Midol will help. Parents
go out to purchase these items, give them to their children to help them
feel better, to look better, to get healthier to go to school. And along
comes some idiot school administrator with no common sense who contradicts
everything that the parents have reinforced.

Did President Clinton's support for "zero tolerance" really mean to punish
a 5-year-old for carrying a beeper or an 11-year-old for bringing a chili
pepper to school? Just what do you think would happen if these same
administrators attempted to impose these very same zero tolerance standards
to the faculty members of these schools?

- --John V. Shepherd Sr., Elverta

Today, we have zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, weapons and gangs in
school, and zero tolerance for sexual harassment and racial discrimination
in society. Fine, but who oversees and administers these activities? None
other than law enforcement, government and those groups closely associated
with them. Zero tolerance is a popular means to stop repugnant and criminal
activities, but what happens when this same safety net is the cause of new
and more repugnant activities?

- --Ron Lowe, Nevada City

Getting Tough on Drinking, Driving

Re "0.10 vs. 0.08," editorial, March 7: Do we really think lowering the
limit 0.02 points makes a difference? What we are forgetting is that the
blood-alcohol level of people who are driving is entirely unknown until
they are tested. This is unlike the speed limit, where the police can shine
a radar gun at your car and quickly determine whether or not you are
violating the law. With drinking and driving, if they can tell you are
drunk -- by swerving or whatever -- you are probably way over the limit

The reason deaths are down today is that society has gotten conscious of
these dangers. Bartenders are calling cabs for people, groups are assigning
designated drivers and society is less tolerant. As such, deaths are being
reduced by action, not by legal technicalities.

What we really need to do if we are so scared of drunken drivers is to drop
the limit to zero. Let all drivers know that a sip of beer is too much.

- --Rich Wolf, Sacramento

Drug War Casualties

The Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement provided 102 pounds of ephedrine to
dealers. Of the 66 pounds of pure crank produced by the chemicals, almost
58 pounds was never recovered. Could this be a typical occurrence? We are
reminded by federal prosecutor Nancy Simpson, "The agents followed the law
and the bureau's written protocol and acted for the greater good of

Prohibition creates fiscal incentive for drug dealers. Hard drugs continue
to destroy lives. And fighting their presence is a government industry
supported by tax dollars.Anyone sincerely interested in alleviating the
drug problem recognizes that education and economics are the keys.

- --Scott S. Johnson, Dobbins