Your two cents: ‘very misleading’

Our RC Now blogger Wendy Leung used to print the occasional email or voice mail transcript of a reader comment under the heading “Your two cents.” What the heck, I’ll try it too. This was an emailed comment from a Lemon Festival official about my column last Wednesday on an Upland council meeting. The email was also sent to 20 other people, many of them at City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce or Fairplex, which certainly put me in distinguished company.

“Dear Mr. Allen;

“Your article about the Elephant rides and the Upland Lemon Festival was, as usual very misleading. If you had taken the time to read the article in your newspaper in regard to why the elephant rides will not be at the LA County Fair this year, you would have learned that it had nothing to do with safety or any other aspect other than a change up of theming at the fair.

“Have Trunk Will Travel has a safety record beyond reproach. They promote the breeding of Asian Elephants and have had elephants give birth at their ranch due to there program, which is privately funded. You try in vain to cast them in villainous role when nothing could be further from the truth.

“Have you seen their facility, or the custom trailers that were made specifically for the elephants, or better yet, taken the time to call them or ask questions? I will venture to say you haven’t, as most journalists would much rather write something without any facts as that is what responsible journalism is all about, is it not?

“How many people were able to see or even ride an elephant at the Lemon Festival? How many people were able to talk to Have Trunk Will Travel and LEARN about the elephants during the festival? Thousands. One person makes a negative comment, and out of nearly 100,000 people that’s what you choose to write about. Amazing. Perhaps we should ban all clowns, balloons, cotton candy, carnival rides, petting zoo’s & pony rides too, as I am sure there is someone that was scared by or doesn’t like them for what ever reason.

“Gary & Kari Johnson have done more and continue to do more for the welfare, preservation & conservation of the Asian elephants than you could ever imagine. If all animals were cared for and provided for as well as their elephants, this world would be a much better place. Next time, please take the time to learn the facts, prior to writing something just to sell news papers.

“Mark Hill
Founder Upland Lemon Festival”

Personally I think Mark read more into what I wrote than was there. I never said anything about “safety,” for instance, and don’t believe I cast anybody in a “villainous role.” (I also doubt that what I wrote sold any newspapers, although the idea that I did is flattering.) But what do you think? Was my commentary misleading or unfair?

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  • Bob House

    Your column, of course, was neither misleading nor unfair. For a civic event “official” to go to this length to defend a commercial entity smells like he’s getting a kick-back. The best part however, is the tone of erudite indignation spiced with delicious mis-spellings and grammatical errors. I guess he’ll never LEARN.

  • Wendy Leung

    The writer is correct. As a journalist, I LOVE writing articles completely absent of facts. And yes, please ban all clowns. Thank you.

  • Ramona

    You said it all, Mr. House.

    No worries, David. As always, the column was for entertainment and informational purposes.

    We should get together to point out and correct the spelling and grammar and send a copy back to him – and maybe the 20 other folks as well.

    I’ll start. “. . . at their ranch due to THEIR program.”

    Next person in line, please!

  • Harold Norheim

    David you really struck a nerve with this guy, sounds like he might have a guilty conscience. I really don’t understand why he pushed so hard to have HTWT work at the Lemon Festival. I would like his response after he views the HTWT abuse video on YouTube. Did HTWT all of a sudden become “saints” ? I do not think so. For some reason Mr Hill thinks these people “walk on water”. Personally, I can’t wait till they sink.

  • Margaret Coffman

    If everyone was so great, why were his thugs out making sure an innocent bystander was accosted while trying to snap a photograph? The video footage of Have Trunk Will Travel speaks volumes on how they “treat” the elephants. It’s a business for them. They’re not providing sanctuary for the elephants!

  • Kathy Ferguson

    Hmmm, I too smell the elephant droppings emanating from his text. Does thou protest too much, Mark? Of course, I’m an animal advocate, so I’m a little tainted in my perspective. It’s too bad we can’t “talk to the elephants” to hear what THEIR perspective is regarding THEIR wonderful life.

  • StupidHappyIdiot

    This is great! You know, I never would’ve cared about the problems and the hows and why’s (sorry, I don’t like mondays) of why the fair stopped with the elephants until this letter.

    Using the ol’ GOOG I got as far as typing “have trunk” and the auto-fill comes up with the following options:

    have trunk will travel
    have trunk will travel abuse
    have trunk will travel address
    have trunk will travel abuse video

    Google is apparently a bigger offender in this whole “misleading” thing. I suggest Mr. Hill send his scathing letter to the search engine giant.

    In case people don’t wish to do the goog exercise themselves, here are a couple of links — video of the alleged abuse and the published rebuttal.

    “Have Trunk Will Travel elephant abuse”

    Rebuttal here:

    Incidentally, typing in “mark hill upland lemon festival” comes up with his linkedin profile among other informative bits.

  • Lillian Kunz

    Be kind to all animals and they will always love you! And an Elephant always remembers! Save them from harm please!

  • Brian Brownbridge

    I felt sad for those mammals. I did not have my grand-kids “ride” them. Pachyderms are intelligent, nurse their offspring, care for their toddlers and should roam free in the wild. The ability to breed them in captivity, chain them to a wheel and trailer them all over the country is not necessarily a good thing. It is my hope that we are getting to a point in social evolution where animal parks and circuses disappear.

  • Harold Norheim

    It makes me smile to see how people want to voice their opinions over this very sensitive issue. To those of you with “big hearts” now is the time to help put a stop to companies, such as Have Trunk Will Travel, from exploiting these animals for profit. Would someone please forward this blog to the City Council.

  • When I heard that a statement in the article was “very misleading,” I assumed that Ray Musser had taken offense to your timeline related to his air conditioner acquisition.

    (Actually I didn’t. But sometimes I can’t resist.)

    I did re-read the article, and didn’t see any evidence that you had stated that FAIRPLEX believed the attraction to be controversial. The attraction certainly is controversial, based upon the third through fifth paragraphs of your article as well as all of the comments here (an unintended consequence of Mark Hill’s letter).

  • Christine Haro

    Someone is abusing the clowns? Balloons are bad for the environment and cotton candy is too much fun, yup ban it all.

    Now, who’s going to stand up for the clowns?


  • Allan

    I guess your coverage of Upland quickly went downhill when your Lemon Festival article turned sour.

    After reading this letter, I think maybe Mr. Hill can found a Bully Expo in Upland as his next endeavor.

  • Christine Haro

    If Mark thinks that the elephants aren’t being abused and are so well cared for perhaps they should use that stick on him just to see how it feels.

    Oh wait, perhaps he didn’t actually watch the video and is just commenting on assumptions that the grass is always green.

  • Harold Norheim

    I would like to also comment on this quote –

    “Gary & Kari Johnson have done more and continue to do more for the welfare, preservation & conservation of the Asian elephants than you could ever imagine. If all animals were cared for and provided for as well as their elephants, this world would be a much better place. Next time, please take the time to learn the facts, prior to writing something just to sell news papers”.

    I am so glad HTWT has made the world a better place, but will someone please answer one question for me.

    Is beating the crap out of a creature with a bullhook, considered welfare, preservation or conservation?

    And David Allen, shame on you for “stooping” this low just to sell a newspaper. Sorry David, couldn’t pass that one up.

  • Elaine

    Your column wasn’t misleading. Plus, it’s under the “opinion” section. Perhaps he didn’t see that. He does seem a bit too bent out of shape.

    I do have a complaint for him, though, if he wants to talk about being “misleading.” I went to the Lemon Festival for the first time this year, and was very disappointed. I don’t plan to go again. Perhaps he should just call it the “Upland Street Festival” or something more appropriate. The only lemons I saw were on the festival sign, and at lemonade stands (only *some* – shouldn’t that be a requirement? – that those who sell lemonade at the Lemon Festival should make it fresh, instead of from a powdered mix?!).

    Maybe I was expecting too much. Or maybe the name is misleading! He should watch “Water for Elephants,” too. Perhaps that would give him more compassion for them.

  • Tablet Bott

    This is some sort of a political conspiracy. You were obviously expressing your bias against the Republican party by casting elephants in a bad light. There was nothing mentioned in your “slanted” article that was critical of donkey rides. This typical of the liberal press.

  • Talbert Bott

    This whole thing smells of political conspiracy. Your article regarding elephant rides is a yet another rather obvious attempt at defaming the Republicans. Why was there nothing written about donkey abuse. This is just another blatant example of the pinko press attempting to subvert America.

  • “Your article about the Elephant rides and the Upland Lemon Festival was, as usual very misleading.”

    First off Mark Hill there is nothing misleading about the Elephants rides at the Upland Lemon Festival, you obviously are in denial that the Elephants are being abused and mistreated at Have Trunks Will Travel and as I can see it is because you know the people at HTWT and clearly only care about the revenue it will bring to the Lemon Festival. Such cruelty suffered by these animals in the name of human entertainment is blight on our society. These performing elephants are rented out like any other product, and to support sales of the product, HTWT falsely claims that the elephants have been trained with kindness.

    Please explain to me how when you watch the videos posted of HTWT Elephants being beaten, electric shocked, and are screaming and shouting in pain during training and daily handling that you can have the audacity to say they are treated with kindness. They even go as far as to hurting the baby Elephants, I could go on and on with the abuse. So once again how is it that you can say without shame and guilt that they are being cared for properly and not ABUSED!!!

    In regards to your quote You try in vain to cast them in villainous role when nothing could be further from the truth Is a complete LIE! All the things you mention that HTWT is doing for the welfare of these animals are a bunch of lies. The Elephant rides have been banned from the Santa Ana Zoo, Orange County and LA County Fair and even from the Sierra Madre 4th of July parade because of the abuse that has been brought to their attention. This isnt all just a coincidence and because of change of themes at the fair, really it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

    And who cares “How many people were able to see or even ride an elephant at the Lemon Festival? How many people were able to talk to Have Trunk Will Travel and LEARN about the elephants during the festival? Thousands.” What does that have to do with anything Mark Hill except that the people that did go on the rides and talked with them were mislead and didnt even think that such abuse could be happening to such innocent kind creatures. But I will tell you if they did know how the Elephant’s were being abused they would have headed the other way.

    And yes the one person that made a negative comment, and out of nearly 100,000 people that David choose to write about is a person that is a kind hearted person and chosen to be the voice for these animals because they have no voice and we are their voice and we will speak LOUD AND CLEAR FOR THEM!!!!!

    And in regards to your last quote: “Next time, please take the time to learn the facts, prior to writing something just to sell news papers.” Maybe you should take your own advice Mark Hill and take the time to learn the facts before writing something!

    Kimberly Saxelby
    The Voice for the animals and The girl you harassed with her little girl at the Lemon Festival

  • Lillian Kunz

    Thank you Kimberly for speaking up for all of us! I couldn’t have said it any better than you did! After looking at the videos of how the Elephants are prodded and the babies pushed around forced to do things they can’t do, taken from their mothers is very inhumane. It has been a long time since I was at a circus and never realized what went on for my entertainment! I am so sorry for them being treated this way.

    Thank you for being an advocate for all the animals!


  • Ann-Marie

    Mr. Hill says there was ONE negative comment…I can assure you there were MANY, MANY negative comments from all sorts of people who voiced their shame that our city allowed this to be part of our festival. Yes, there was only one person protesting, but she represented hundreds if not more who found this abominable!

  • Nicole Myerchin

    David, I always enjoy reading your column. You are intelligent and witty.

    I watched the video of Have Trunks Will Travel, and can only conclude that Mr. Hill has a perverse sense of what constitutes treating an animal well. Beating elephants with bullhooks and using stun guns on their under bellies is abuse, and the city of Upland should not support such brutality. I believe and hope the city of Upland is moving in a more progressive direction.

  • Beyond reproach?!?!?!! Animal Defenders International took the under cover videos of HTWT listed in the comments. The trainers might fool the public that bullhooks are “guides” (not – hooked into ears and mouths), but the public will not be fooled that tazers are “training” tools. If the ethical part of abuse does not make Upland want to stop HTWT from being in their area, HTWT elephants have been exposed to TB and should not be in contact w/humans. The state of GA has banned elephant rides because the state legislature listened to the CDC. The state of California should do the same and end this city by city charade.

  • Kelly S.

    Please Cancel The Elephant Rides At The Lemon Festival!! Upland residents don’t support animal abuse!!

    The Have Trunk Will Travel Company is receiving universal condemnation around the world from vets, elephant experts, zoo industry insiders, and the public and have been cancelled from many city events in Southern California.

    LOS ANGELES, May 11, 2011 — Wildlife vet describes training at elephant suppliers for Water for elephants: Nothing rivals the cruelty I have witnessed over the last few days. See video:

  • Harold Norheim

    Mr Hill talks so highly about HTWT’s conservation and their breeding program. Here’s the facts, out of 4 babies born, 3 have died. I would not consider this a successful breeding program. Please view this page, to see the facts about all their elephants –