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Comments on Local Endorsements

May 31, 1998

* Your May 24 endorsement of Superior Court Judge Tony Rackauckas for district attorney left me wondering if perhaps your collective judgment and research abilities had taken the Memorial Day holiday off.

For starters, I am the candidate for district attorney, not Mike Capizzi. Either you haven't read your sample ballot or you just forgot who was running, since most of your editorial focused on outgoing district attorney Capizzi (mentioned six times), with not one word about my qualifications, which you ignored completely.

Those qualifications include the fact that I have 12 years management experience in the district attorney's office and my opponent has none. They include the fact that my efforts to improve our Family Support Division have helped double payments to needy children. They include the fact that I have implemented and supervised the district attorney's innovative programs to combat family violence and elder and child abuse.

Your editorial ignored my opponent's refusal to apply the three-strikes law (which The Times opposed, but the voters enthusiastically approved) and his shameless exaggeration of his accomplishments.

You applaud my opponent's stated desire to change the office by allowing deputies more "freedom" to cut deals with defendants. Since crime is falling in Orange County at three times the national average and violent gang crime has been reduced by 60% in our targeted areas, I doubt the public shares your affection for plea bargaining.

I am not surprised that a newspaper that criticizes the district attorney (and by implication the grand jury) for trying to hold negligent supervisors and corrupt politicians accountable would support someone who hints that he will de-emphasize such investigations.

But I will be surprised if such official indifference is what Orange Countians desire and expect from their top advocate against crime and criminals when they vote on June 2.

WALLACE WADE

San Juan Capistrano

* Assistant Dist. Atty. Wally Wade is the best candidate to supersede outgoing Dist. Atty. Mike Capizzi. The biggest reason for this is that Wade has the better policy on enforcement of the "three strikes" law. (It is curious that in a recent editorial The Times endorsed Rackauckas, but failed to mention the three strikes issue.)

Wade is a hard-charging prosecutor who has always advocated vigorous prosecution of the three strikes law, and he has recently been endorsed by Mike Reynolds, who drafted the law. As a judge, however, Rackauckas has been too willing to reduce the third strike on cases that have come before him. Yes, there are some cases where justice dictates that a defendant's third strike should be reduced. But reducing so many is just too much.

Moreover, a Rackauckas win would likely impact the attitude of the entire bench in sentencing matters. One of the strongest incentives for judges to dish out stiff sentences is that they are elected officials, and hence responsive to public opinion. Obviously, being labeled soft on crime is a pretty big negative. But if Rackauckas wins the election, judges reviewing third strike cases may conclude (quite logically) that reducing those strikes is not really a political liability after all. You can almost hear them thinking out loud: "Hey, Rackauckas reduced 65% of his third strike cases when he was a judge, and he was still elected district attorney."

As noted in the news lately, the crime rate in Orange County has been falling, and doing so even faster than the national average. At least one of the reasons for this is that the district attorney's office has made vigorous efforts to enforce the three strikes law. Such efforts should continue, and Wade has the right policy to make that happen.

CAMERON J. TALLEY

Deputy District Attorney

Santa Ana

* I am amazed at the editorial May 24 regarding the 4th District supervisor's race. The Times states that the most promising candidate is Cynthia Coad. There are a couple of issues where I believe that both The Times and Coad miss the mark.

She states that Orange County needs a commercial airport to become an industrial competitor on the Pacific Rim. She uses an analogy of the towns that dried up along Route 66 when I-40 was created.

Those of us who remember traveling Route 66 (without nostalgia) from Los Angeles to Albuquerque remember being forced to go slowly from stoplight to stoplight through speed traps at every town in order to get to our final destination. Those towns grew up around the highway, not the other way around.

Also, there are quite a few of us who moved to Orange County to get away from an industrialized metropolis that she feels should be part of Orange County's future.

The other issue I have is the $250,000 loan she took out to fund her campaign. How does she intend to pay it back? That figure is approximately the net combined salary for her first four-year term. If she is dependent upon contributions, what group is she going to be beholden?

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