Regarding (July 19), I have been working on a documentary for three years about the child-support system and have found that of the approximately 10,000 known paternity fraud victims in California, less than 10 percent even know about AB 252 [the soon-to-expire bill mentioned in the article].
I interviewed Phillip Browning of the Los Angeles Department of Child Support Services last year, and he said that his department sent notices in every bill, put billboards up around Los Angeles, aired PSAs on cable channels and made every effort. When I spoke to a number of area victims, however, none of them had seen a single announcement.
One thing that is hard to overcome is that many victims who have fallen behind and continue to be harassed by the system might not open their bills every month. It doubtless causes more distress to see a bill jump from $98,000 to $130,000 after an audit has found more arrears, all for a child you didn't father and have never met.
What we need are more articles like this one that spreads the word that time is running out and that pretty soon, even if you can prove you aren't the father, you'll be stuck again. I've heard from many on the other side that there will be no mercy for those who are holding out for restitution and who refuse to accept AB 252's waiver of damages against the state. Because although the bill does end the suffering, it does nothing to repair the damage done to the men who have fallen victim to the system.
One last note not highlighted in the article is that the default rate is in part so high because the county of Los Angeles hired a process-serving company that is known in the industry for less than professional service. Process servers are like roofers; you have some excellent ones and some shabby ones who will do anything to earn the fee, even signing that they served a man in an apartment complex that burned down the month before. Or, as in Taron James' case, served him in a two-story blue house on the corner, when he lives in a one-story white house in the middle of the block. In court, I have seen that evidence not make a bit of difference to the judge.
Adryenn Ashley, Petaluma
Grisly Stories from the e file
I had a friend who had to apply for child welfare when we lived in Long Beach. She didn't know who the father was, so she named a man she had been sleeping with before we left Wisconsin for Long Beach. The problem is that on the Greyhound bus out to California, she met a man and slept with him, too. Well, when the baby finally came, she was the spitting image of the man from the bus. But no will ever know that. [My friend] gave that baby up for adoption, but if the baby ever looks for her parents, she'll never know who her father is.
There are too many problems with a law that allows a woman who is not with the father of her baby to just name names. She needs to produce the father in the flesh and get a test right away. Fathers should not be made responsible for any of the costs unless they are proven to be the actual father. Fathers should also be given the opportunity to give a child up for adoption if it was just a one-night stand and they have no intentions of being in the baby's life or the mother's. A woman should not get to make all of the decisions on abortion, adoption or child support.
There should also be some kind of limit on how much time can elapse before a woman names the father of her baby. At birth, all women should be required to give a name of the father and then that man should be notified right away and tested. None of this waiting two, three or four years and then saying, "Oh, by the way, you owe me back child support." If the woman waits that long, child support should not be retroactive unless the man was in hiding and purposely did not acknowledge the child.
I think we should come out of the dark ages and quit allowing women to act like children and chattel, and rather, encourage them to act like adults.
Kathy Carter, Itasca, Texas
Dept. of Corrections
The lovely yummy ounces of Fume Blanc and the like regularly poured at the Ferrari-Carano Winery are in fact not free, as we airily misreported in last week's winery guide. Rather, we are told, they honor the standard $5-to-$10-refundable-with-purchase fee that generally keeps louts like ourselves out on the curb and not climbing directly over the counter in the tasting room. We must have been dreaming of free F-C and do heartily apologize for the revery.
Furthermore, the reunited Tasmanian Devils are certainly playing several gigs as reported last week in a Critic's Choice, but the dates themselves are not as variable as we intimated, we evidently reaching into a fairy-dusted dates bag and sprinkling numbers casually throughout. (OK, yes--it was an editing error.) Their appearance at the Mystic Theater is scheduled for Aug. 19, not that other thing we said.
Glass Empty, dancing shoes knotted