Reader: Regarding the tendency of theater-goers to occupy seats set aside for disabled customers and their companions ("These movie seats are reserved — until they're not," Jan. 8): What do you expect when drivers who are not handicapped park in handicap spaces and are never ticketed? — I've been told that it's because the money goes to the state rather than to the city — and people can steal up to $950 from stores because of Proposition 47's increase in the monetary-value threshold for felony theft (Vince Fong: "The troubling trend of crime in California," Sept. 13)?
It's called the beginning of the collapse of society. It happens slowly, but it will all end up very badly. Too bad children are not taught about the collapse of Rome in history.
— Anne Grogan
Price: Our society may be collapsing, but it's not because of anyone's failure to enforce unauthorized parking in spaces designated for drivers and passengers who are disabled.
That violation has long been enforced, but DMV launched a specific crackdown on missing or fraudulent use of blue parking placards in March 2017. In fiscal year 2018-19 the state agency carried out 217 enforcement operations in cooperation with local authorities, issuing 1,987 misdemeanor citations. Those tickets carry fines of between $250 and $1,000 — and all the revenue, according to DMV, stays in the jurisdiction where the violations occurred.
"Our goal is not to have to issue one single citation, which would mean we achieved full compliance," DMV spokesman Jaime Garza told me. "We hope that by raising public awareness the past few years through media events, enforcement, information videos, public service announcements, posters and social media reminders, we are achieving more compliance."
I don't think this was a problem in ancient Rome, but I agree that students should indeed be learning about that period of history.
Reader: I have purchased those theater companion seats without giving it much thought. I don't remember ever seeing a warning that I could be asked to move which, of course, I would gladly do. I'll take it more seriously now, same as I do handicapped parking spaces.
Price: I think the general public makes the same assumptions. I understand that theaters want to maximize revenue by selling every available seat, and the spots reserved for wheelchairs very often remain vacant — so why not make companions' seats available? I don't know what the answer is, but the conversation is a worthwhile one.
Reader: Robert, you did a great job on this article about reserved seating for disabled theatergoers. Well-written, to-the-point reporting. Susan Lara is not a “complainer.” Knowing what she does for her son and her family every single minute of each day — my take is that she is entitled to “complain.”
I’m just glad you were able to bring attention to this slight by the movie theater. Hopefully it will send a message to corporate entities, as well as other businesses, that not following the law (Americans with Disabilities Act) is unacceptable.
— Susan Peninger
Price: I'm still looking for guidance on whether this was a per se violation of the ADA, an "in the spirit of" violation, a loophole, an intentional exemption or what. But something's not right.
Reader: I have just completed reading your article, “These movie seats are reserved — until they’re not.” As a brother of a person with a disability, I was glad to see more light shed on an all-too-common issue, but I wanted to share some helpful information.
It’s not an attack on your person, as it is a very common mistake, but oftentimes, when discussing disabilities, we fall into a trap of describing the disability rather than the person, which can be hurtful to those persons with disabilities as they begin to feel their disability is more important than they are.
Within the article, you had several phrases that can unintentionally place importance on the disability rather than the person: “disabled patrons,” “disabled-row,” "disabled companions,” “ lives of the disabled," "disabled drivers.”
As I stated previously, I do not believe this is a reflection on you personally — as evidenced by you choosing to write on an issue that is plaguing people with varying disabilities — but more as to spread information that hopefully helps you view the sentence structure and wording better in future articles.
— Adam Strickland
Price: I find myself doing the same thing with "the homeless." That's not who they are, it's a circumstance. Many times this kind of phrasing is an attempt at shorthand. I understand your point and I'll pay more attention.
Reader: This is belated, but thanks to Steven Mayer for his Christmas Eve coverage at RiverLakes Community Church ("Nativity story retold at Christmas Eve services across Bakersfield," Dec. 25). He wrote like he cared about it.
— Heather Sproul
Reader: Just wanted to say Steven did a fantastic job on the article on RCC for Christmas Eve. Not just because it was here at RiverLakes, but he captured the true meaning of Christmas by quoting what was said about the birth of Jesus. Thank you again.
— Gina Farnsworth
Price: Steve responds: "Any time I do an event story, I strive to capture the atmosphere, the feeling, and of course, what people are saying and doing. My deadline was pretty short on that one, so I didn’t have the luxury of going a little deeper. But I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and that you felt it captured the essence of the Christmas Eve service. Thank you for taking the time to reach out and respond. It’s much appreciated."
Reader: Thanks for taking up a quarter of the Opinion section to let us know what novel Leonard Pitts is going to read next ("Today's the day I say goodbye to Stephen King," Jan. 7).
— Dick Weller
Price: Pitts' Jan. 7 column went a little deeper than that: He vowed to read female authors this year, having noticed, for example, that in 2016 he read or listened to 46 books — and exactly one was written by a woman.
He declared 2020 the Year of Reading Women. "Without realizing it," he wrote, "I had been filtering female authors out of my reading list."
I'm a believer in sampling as many social, cultural and ideological points of view as practicable. This is another meaningful category. Pitts wisely observes that men (and women) do themselves disservice by devaluing, intentionally or not, women's voices.
Reader: In your review of the past decade ("Ten years gone, again: A look back at the 2010s," Jan. 5), you mentioned Bakersfield High School winning the CIF Division I state football title in December 2013 but did not mention Bakersfield Christian High School winning the CIF Division III State football title in December 2019, just a few weeks ago. Why the slight?
— Pat Perri
Price: Fair question. Here was my thinking:
● That summary of stories was conceived as being a list of news events or trends, not sports or entertainment. That's why there was only one obituary out of many worthy possibilities (Merle Haggard), one entertainment story (Haggard again) and one sports story.
● The BHS championship was the school's eighth state title and its first in 80 years. BHS has by far the most alumni in the city. Anyone 60 or older from Bakersfield went to BHS or one of just a few other possibilities, so it was in a sense a championship for the whole city, not just one school. We had some great stories in other sports, too, but had to leave them alone, because:
● At more than 2,700 words, the list was already out-of-control long. I had to make several tough cuts and that one just one of them.
● We covered the BCHS title in our annual sports wrapup as one of the top stories of the year ("Year in Sports: Plenty of memorable performances in 2019," Dec. 29.)
I knew going in that readers would point out perfectly legitimate candidates for the list that I omitted. That's why I dislike writing "list" stories — editors asked me to compile this one — because one man's subjective list will not agree with another's. Does that help?
Reader: Bob, in your review of the top stories of the 2010s, you mention Bakersfield High won the state high school football championship in 2013, their first in more than 80 years. But California had a multi-decade-long span of not having any state champions so the Drillers didn't have a chance to win any.
— D. Kruse
Price: That's not an insignificant detail! The California Interscholastic Federation brought state football championship games in 2006 — the first time those games had been played (in multiple divisions) since 1927. No doubt the Drillers would have 30 or 40 state trophies if they'd had the chance.
And, yes, I'm aware that the 2010s won't technically conclude until Dec. 31, 2020. And the first year of this almost-ended decade was 2011, not 2010. There's just something about that changing third digit that prompts us to both reflect and look ahead.