NEWSMAKINGNEWS

THE BAYCITIES OBSERVER
Virginia McCullough


"Have I missed the  mark, or, like a true archer,  do I strike my mark?
Or am I a prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?"
                                                     
Cassandra, as reported by Agamemnon

HOW DOES THE WRITTEN WORD AFFECT OUR LIVES?
 

The Bay Area Observer looks at news coverage in four cities(3/9/00).

DATELINE OAKLAND:  Superior Court Judge Race Update

The subject matter in yesterday's newspapers was almost exclusively the results of Tuesday's California primary.  There was more than sufficient information on the national and state wide races but very little coverage on the local races that impact voters on a very personal level.

The Bay Area Observer previously reported on the Alameda County Superior Court race to fill the seat of retiring Judge Benjamin Travis.  In that report it was noted that one of the candidates, Commissioner Mark Kliszewski, had repeatedly lied in a last minute political flyer.

In an article written by staff writer Bonita Brewer on 3-8-2000,  the Valley Times reported the following primary results:  

"Two court commissioners will face a November runoff to fill the Alameda County Superior Court seat of retiring Judge Benjamin Travis.  Mark Kliszewski and David Krashna were the top two vote-getters among three contenders in Tuesday's election.  But neither received the majority needed to avoid a runoff."

Today the Alameda County Registrar reports that all  1,085 precincts were tallied in the race to fill the vacancy in Department 23.  The results show Mark A. Kliszewski leading by 41.2 percent, receiving 89,119 votes.  David M. Krashna is in second place with 33.6 percent, receiving 72,656 votes.  Eliminated from the run off was third place finisher Michael Strimling with 25.1 percent of the vote count.

The Valley Times covers a large circulation area involved in this election.  The written word is still important to a great many readers who are not satisfied with the sound bytes of radio and television.  How much influence does a newspaper have in the outcome of local political elections?   In the case of this particular race to fill a judgeship, the answer is a great deal of influence.

Three separate sources, who wish to remain anonymous, called this reporter following the original article that detailed the lies contained in the the Kliszewski pamphlet.  The complaints addressed the editorial decisions made by the Valley Times preceding the election.  According to these sources a reporter at that paper had submitted an article to his editor addressing the problems with the political flyer prior to the election.  The editor killed the article thereby denying the newspaper's readers the information necessary to make an educated decision when they went to the polls.  The editorial decision is puzzling because the Valley Times had endorsed David Krashna for Superior Court Judge.  Why then did this newspaper kill an essential story about the race?

DATELINE  BERKELEY:  The  Reddy 'Sex-slave' Case Update

Several newspapers in the bay area have published recent developments in the intriguing case of the Berkeley multi-millionaire,  Lakireddy Bali Reddy, 62.  Federal prosecutors claim that Reddy and his son, Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, 30, issued fraudulent high-tech visas to adults and children.  The new immigrants allegedly were employed in menial jobs at low wages and were dependent on Reddy and his son to maintain their residences in the United States.  At stake are millions of dollars in property and businesses owned by father and son that could be seized if the two are convicted.

Reddy is free on a $10 million bond.  He is living under court order with his physician brother in Merced while awaiting trial.  His son, Lakireddy, is free on a $500,000 bond until his trial.  

The case came to light when a young girl using the name Seetha Vemireddy died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an apartment owned by Reddy.  Authorities claim that the dead girl was purchased by Reddy from her poor parents in India for immoral purposes.  It is alleged that Reddy imported several young girls to maintain his apartment complexes and also for sexual purposes. 

Berkeley police have known for months that the beautiful young girl who died was in the early stages of pregnancy.  The Alameda County District Attorney's office enlisted the assistance of Stanford University's lab when the coroner found a small mass growing in the girl's uterus.  Stanford released the test results last week confirming that the girl was pregnant when she died.

Reddy's attorney, Ted Cassman, is convinced that his client is innocent and is demanding a paternity test to prove that Reddy is not the father of the embryo.  In a classic example of victimizing the victim, Cassman is alleging  that such a test would be proof that the girl "had sexual relations with other people during her short time here."

Cassman's law firm has a history of defending many sexual abusers and pedophiles.  Such defendants are a large source of income to Cassman's firm.  Reddi's multi-millionaire status makes him a desirable client.  That same status is also a motive for the prose- cutors to be enthusiastic in their efforts to convict the landlord from Berkeley. 

DATELINE PINOLE:   The Murder of Alice Sin Update

On January 24, 2000, the decaying body of 21-year-old Alice Sin was discovered by miners is a shallow grave off Interstate 80 in Churchill County, Nevada.  Police reported that she was several months pregnant when her bullet-riddled body was discovered.

The pretty young woman had smiled down from the numerous missing person flyers posted by family and friends since her disappearance November 21, 1999.  She was last seen in a Pinole home she shared with her boyfriend, Raymond Wong, 28, and their 1-year-old son.

Police reported that they had issued a search warrant at the house shortly after Sin was found.  Nine days after Sin disappeared, Wong failed a lie detector test, police stated.  Newspapers have also reported that Wong had taken out a large insurance policy on Sin, naming himself as beneficiary. 

When Sin's body was found, Wong was out of town allegedly on a business trip connected with his occupation as a computer consultant.  The police were not been able to contact Wong until Tuesday, 3-7-2000.  Detectives arrested Raymond Wong, on charges unrelated to the murder, at 9:15 a.m. at the home they couple shared on Estates Avenue in Pinole.     
 
It was reported that the charges stemmed from a Justice Department examination of computers seized with a previous search warrant.  When DOJ specialists analyzed the computers it is reported that child pornography was discovered. The  Pinole Police Commander Phil Pollard stated that the pornography consisted of "very young children with adults." The sexually explicit images included both photographs and videos.

At Wong's arraignment in U.S. District Court on two related felony charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch said that Wong is a primary suspect in Sin's murder and should be held without bail as a flight risk.

Donald Buchman, Wong's Sacramento attorney, declared that his client is innocent and is being targeted in the Sin's homicide because of "inept" police work.  "They [police investigators] have already decided who is responsible for Alice Sin's death.  I told him he should get out of Pinole.  There's nothing left for him in that city except cops watching him."

Sometimes the remarks of defense attorneys are more interesting than the charges that are filed against their clients.  Sometimes the actions taken by law enforcement to interview a suspect need careful examination. 

DATELINE  SAN FRANCISCO: Free Speech and the Internet Update

From the citadel of liberalism and free speech comes a curious lawsuit.  College campuses are known to be the protectors of intellectual freedom.

Now San Francisco is the jurisdiction for a lawsuit recently filed by Daniel Curzon-Brown, a 20-year veteran English teacher.  The openly gay teacher/author has been called names that hurt his feelings and this name calling has taken place in cyberspace on the site, Teachereview.com.

Curzon-Brown's employer, City College of San Francisco, is named in the lawsuit with many other co-defendants and 25 other "John Does".  Apparently the college and its student body government links their sites to the offending site where the insults to the teacher were posted.

Internet computer service providers are immune from libel liability.  This lawsuit is apparently an attempt to do an end run around these court rulings.  It should not tolerated because an affirmative ruling would place illogical, emotionally based restrictions on free speech on the internet.

To the plaintiff this advice:  Get over it!  Remember, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, names can never hurt me". 

Virginia McCullough © 2000