Letters to the Editor

Death penalty case: Letters to the editor, April 28, 2019

Douglas Stankewitz, 60, is the longest tenured condemned inmate at San Quentin State Prison. His case has returned to Fresno Superior Court for a third retrial of his death sentence. But he and his lawyers are seeking his freedom.
Douglas Stankewitz, 60, is the longest tenured condemned inmate at San Quentin State Prison. His case has returned to Fresno Superior Court for a third retrial of his death sentence. But he and his lawyers are seeking his freedom. Fresno Bee file

Case reveals death-penalty absurdity

Now, they tell us. District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp’s office has announced that it will no longer pursue the death penalty for Douglas Stankewitz. Her office’s statement amounted to the most lavish explanation (apology?) for prosecutorial overreach I have ever seen. The DA's account of Stankewitz’s unbelievably wretched childhood was beyond anything I’d ever heard of.

Unfortunately, jurors at his various trials never heard of it, either. Defense lawyers failed; prosecutors withheld; judges looked away. Otherwise, his punishment could have been much different.

Stankewitz was sentenced to death for murder committed in 1978 when he was 19. He arrived at San Quentin’s death row when he was 20. He is now 60. For 40 years his case has been in and out of court, with prosecutors vigorously pursuing his execution. Judges skittish about executing teenagers overturned two death verdicts. Hard to believe, but after 40 years a third punishment trial was pending, until now.

So goes the theater of the absurd called the California death penalty.

Donald R. Slinkard, Fresno

Higher minimum wage, fewer jobs

A study just released by the University of California-Riverside, has found that the state’s restaurants are creating fewer jobs because of the rising minimum wage. Those most impacted by the lost opportunities are part-time workers, low-skilled workers, and the disabled.

The regions of the state most impacted are the ones with higher unemployment rates, historically. That includes the Central Valley. When I say they, I mean conservatives told us this would happen.

California needs better Democrats and more Conservatives. Is it too much to ask for economic solutions for economic problems instead of political solutions that don't work for economic problems?

Bill Riggs, Clovis

Trump memory, his fitness for job

We as a country have a larger problem than Russia: our president’s memory is dangerously compromised. He used to have “one of the great memories of all time,” he told us dozens of times. And yet, in depositions for lawsuits against Trump University, Donald Trump had to answer he couldn’t remember a total of 59 times, a memory loss which cost him a huge settlement just one week after his election.

If he couldn’t remember enough to save himself $25 million, what does that portend for our country?

Later, in written responses to Mueller’s questions that the president could study over, review his documents, and take all the time he needed to jog his memory, Trump couldn’t remember 37 times. Without a declining memory, our long national nightmare could have ended a year earlier. His memory failures point to a dangerously disabled president. Sad!

In any normal White House, the vice president and the cabinet would remove a disabled president from office using the 25th Amendment’s Section 4. Why this hasn’t happened is documented in the Mueller report and elsewhere: White House staff ignore the president’s orders, snatch documents off his desk they don’t want signed, and run their departments without supervision. Removing the president would ruin their sweet deal. The question is: can Trump remember on Tuesday who didn’t follow his orders on Monday to fire the carpetbaggers on Wednesday?

Don Smith, Fresno

Determining what real crisis is

Is it “really” an equitable solution that President Trump is considering disseminating thousands of illegal immigrants into Democratic “sanctuary cities” just to spite them? I just have a few questions. Where do they think the people assaulting and invading our southern borders “really” end up? Do we “really” assume they are being detained at the U.S. border awaiting asylum? Is Mexico “really” aiding the U.S. by embracing them at their borders? Are all of these immigrants “really” entering in a systematic and elicit fashion? Are the southern border cities of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas “really not” accepting the influx of these new illegal entry arrivals? Do Democrats “really” surmise, just because their "sanctuary cities" are not inundated with thousands of immigrants crossing our borders daily, that there is not a crisis? I don't think so.

Why should all the cities along our southern border be burdened (alone) with the incursion of thousands of illegal immigrants who are precipitating chaos by impacting their communities? If the Democrats want open borders without any scrutiny of who is entering, then it’s a definite yes; they should apportion hardship and responsibility by accepting those who are here illegally.

But the real irony and problem is ... the Democrats in Congress, who are sacrificing the lives of all American citizens by allowing nefarious characters to permeate undetected through our southern borders.

Hmm … maybe there “really” is a crisis?

Robert Virden, Sanger

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