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Straighten Those Facts

It’s always good to get media attention for the plight of 50,000 seniors that live in poverty in San Diego County and the Angel’s Depot mission to feed them. However, Matt Potter in his November 18 article (“Under the Radar”) did not do his homework, and his facts are simply not accurate. While state assemblyman Martin Garrick has been an honorary boardmember of the Angel’s Depot for approximately one year, and he personally makes contributions, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the donor contributions listed in Matt Potter’s article.

Donors such as the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and Harrah’s Foundation are founding partners who gave start-up funds as early as 2005 and continue to provide support. The other donors listed came as a result of very competitive grant requests totaling over $1,000,000 in grant submissions each year and started donating long before Martin Garrick had the Angel’s Depot on his radar screen. Martin is our friend, but he did not generate any of the donations listed in Matt’s article. We are required to make Martin aware of any contribution of $5000 or greater because he does hold an honorary board position. We love the press, but please, in fairness to all concerned, get the facts straight.

Susan Hall
Founder and
Executive Director
The Angel’s Depot

Matt Potter responds: The contributions noted in the item were reported to the state Fair Political Practices Commission as “behested payments,” as reported. This requirement is explained as follows on the commission’s website:

“Below are links to reported contributions solicited by members of the Assembly, Senate and statewide elected officers. These payments are not considered campaign contributions or gifts but are payments made at the ‘behest’ of elected officials to be used for legislative, governmental or charitable purposes. While state law limits the amount of campaign contributions and gifts, there are no limits on these so-called ‘behested’ payments.

“State law only requires the reporting of ‘behested’ payments if they total $5,000 or more per calendar year from a single source. There are no reporting requirements for payments up to $4,999.99.

“Officials must report the ‘behested’ payments within 30 days of the date they are made. This information is updated on a regular basis. Copies of the full reports are available at the FPPC office in Sacramento, 428 J Street, Suite 600. For additional information please contact Roman Porter at 916-322-7761.”

Let Me Pick Up That Tab

I read your article, “What do you wish you could afford?” (“Off the Cuff,” November 18).

I want to remain anonymous, but it appears I can afford to give Kenyatta Smith a full day at the spa and possibly give Val Buss a marimba. I’m not rich, but I’d like to give it a try if you’re up for it. I’m retired and like to find ways to help people with my money. This seems like a fun way.

Lake Murray

Guidance Gone

The “Stringer” item from Gail Powell about the disabled cruise ship that was towed into San Diego last week (“Fun Ship?” November 18) had little new information other than the insult to the Chilean miners (bystanders comparing a month underground to a few days on a luxury boat!). Has anyone looked into the possibility that this minor inconvenience could have turned into a major catastrophe? My questions will reveal that I am no expert on modern ship design, but it is interesting that no one else seems to be even asking the questions or major media outlets are declining to consider them.

I was amazed to realize that a large modern cruise ship could be out there on the open ocean with no emergency backup power system! The main engine(s) dead due to a fire, and the ship is reduced to the status of a huge top-heavy barge? The vessel stabilization system and rudder control were probably disabled if both depend on power from the engine room; what if a storm had blown in with high winds, waves, and currents? There would have been injuries as people were tossed about in their cabins and the passageways and, of course, hundreds of seasick passengers. Without rudder control, the ship could not even be turned to face the waves head-on. Would this giant boat have been quickly pushed onto the beach or on a reef? You say the 4000-plus on board could have taken to the lifeboats?; does the lowering of those escape capsules require power from the engine room? Was there any way to operate the elevators, or were several hundred of those who are unable to climb stairs and/or are in wheelchairs left to fend for themselves? Were any passengers caught in disabled elevators? Lower-deck cabins and passageways can be as dark as a coal mine when there is no power, since the battery-powered emergency lights have a limited duration span. Were flashlights readily available to all on board? What are the relevant rules in Panama (please, hold down the laughter) where this ship is registered?

Are the cruise ships that go to Alaska similarly ill-equipped? Suppose we find ourselves so close to that calving glacier that we are tingling with excitement even though we know that the experienced crew knows better than to let us drift under the tons of ice falling from the face of the glacier, and then suddenly the engines fail?

Many large cruise ships have side-thrusters of various designs (mostly water jets) to allow maneuvering into and away from mooring places without the help of tugboats. Would it not be a good idea to have those systems independently powered with diesel-electric systems installed far removed from the main engine room and modified to provide at least a bit of forward propulsion? Large cruise ships have enough topside area to accommodate a landing platform for helicopters, which might be needed for emergency evacuations, not to mention solar panels that could keep batteries charged up for emergency use.

My wife lost interest in cruises (for other reasons), and now I would agree with her, but for the reasons cited above.

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