I am writing to criticize Vikki Kratz's article "Ethics Board Called Too Lax" (6/15/07). It causes me to recall an Onion headline, "Study: 38% of People Not Actually Entitled to Their Opinion." The article manages to transcribe the uninformed opinion of Ald. Zach Brandon when even a small amount of research would have shown that his claims about the law are flawed at best and deceitful at worst.
Ms. Kratz notes that the Ethics Board "focused only on" my actions "while on duty at the Clerk's Office. It ignored the obvious question of forgery." The Ethics Board focused on that question because it was the only one germane to the ordinance, despite Ald. Brandon's assertions to the contrary.
There is no "obvious" question of "forgery." Ms. Kratz would know this if she had bothered to read the statutes, or consult a legal dictionary. No matter how forcefully Ald. Brandon asserts his uninformed opinion, the law is the actual arbiter.
The second half of the article is even more appalling. Ms. Kratz takes at face value Ald. Brandon's complaint of a "flawed process" in which "you play the role of prosecutor and complainant at the same time." We call this the American legal system. In civil matters, it is up to the aggrieved party to mount a case. Crying foul after the fact is the intellectual refuge of scoundrels or of petulant children who don't get their way.
The city's Ethics Board heard evidence and applied the law in completely exonerating me of any wrongdoing. Brandon's equivocations and insinuations have been proved to be untrue, based on sworn testimony at the Ethics Board hearing, which was not attended by Kratz or any other reporter.
Now Ald. Brandon is casting aspersions on the board members and on the process to blur the fact that he made charges that could not be supported by the facts or the law.
This failure to examine facts result in a poor article that is woefully one-sided. If Ms. Kratz had even bothered to call me, I could have corrected some of the factual errors, and you could have at least run a "he-said, he-said" article that would have required no actual research on her part, but would have been more than an op-ed piece by Zach Brandon legitimized by her byline.
Ald. Brandon's uninformed and misleading statements presented in Ms. Kratz's article truly demonstrate that you are not entitled to your opinion when it is directly contradicted by facts.
The editor replies: Readers should be aware that Mr. Quieto is a political activist with the Teaching Assistants' Association. The group's election arm played a partisan role in the spring election by endorsing candidates. This was during the time that Mr. Quieto also served as an election worker in the City Clerk's office handling campaign reports filed by candidates and political action committees whose efforts the TAA may have opposed.
At issue is the fact that Mr. Quieto signed a TAA election document with the treasurer's name. That officer said that Mr. Quieto had his permission to do so. But the document does not indicate that Mr. Quieto signed the document "on behalf" of or "for" the TAA officer. As Mr. Quieto points out, the Ethics Board thought that his misrepresentation was no big deal. Others consider the board's judgment to be appalling, which was the topic of Vikki Kratz's story.
Dear Mr. Right: As a regular reader of your column, I am usually amused and frequently in agreement with your reasonable and fun-to-read advice. However, your attempt at humor with your "Mother or Smother" column (5/18/07) was way off base and extremely bad news for kids and parents.
I think you blew it by suggesting that "Mommie Fearest" (worried about her "dulled and checked-out" daughter who could have a "crash landing") get stoned herself, mellow out, and ignore the warning signs. You wrote that "there's nothing you can do to keep them from doing things that are unbelievably stupid." WRONG!
There is a great deal parents can do to help their kids do less stupid things. You are correct that teenagers at certain ages will take risks, but many do make smarter choices than "hood-surfing," often due to calm, supportive, and nonjudgmental communication with their parents.
In public health, we talk about "harm reduction" versus "harm elimination" to help teenagers reduce their risks. We might advise this mom to sit down calmly, when it's a good time to talk, and ask her daughter what she likes, and doesn't like, about weed or alcohol; whether anything negative has happened under the influence; what her goals (academic and social) are for the next few months or year; and what her friends and others have experienced, good or bad.
Her daughter might actually think up reasons to minimize her own risks or problems, and everybody wins. And if she rolls her eyes after the conversation, she's at least heard her mom's concern, and it sinks in on some level.
Teenagers, of course, vary in their responses to these kinds of discussions, but all of them need to hear about parental expectations and guidelines, limit-setting and consequences, and figure out their best shot at staying healthy.
Paul Grossberg, M.D. clinical associate professor of pediatrics UW School of Medicine and Public Health