Letters for December 27, 2012

Bases loaded

Re “General fund dollars” (News, Dec. 6):

I applaud the newly elected members of the Reno City Council in their vote to moderate the pace and reflect on the consequences of continued funding of the Reno Aces ballpark from the general fund. It took great courage by the City Council to allow a finally interested public to voice concerns of a business deal obviously gone wrong in which the taxpayers will ultimately have to foot the bill.

The original ballpark debacle epitomizes the incestuous nature of business as usual of Reno politics: political self-interest at the expense of the collective good, opaque and often shadowy dealings with little public input, contrived and unrealistic economic projections and a bureaucratic hubris by current Mayor Cashell and select members of the prior City Council with their respective attitudes that taxpayers can be taken for granted as an unending source of revenue. It is said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, but in this case, it is the overhang shadow of harsh economics that now brings this largely hidden issue to the forefront. Some clouds do have a silver lining.

While anecdotal statements by some in the downtown area romanticize the charm of warm summer nights spent under the ballpark lights while watching the Reno Aces and local business owners speculate to causes and effects of a failed ballpark, it does little to determine if the ballpark was economically viable in the first place. One would think that question would have been posed earlier in the process. Given the well-known and historic boom and bust economic cycles of Reno makes the question even more relevant. Mayor Cashell said he can’t recall why there were no contingencies made for an economic downtown. Instead, he blames the now deceased Bill Raggio for the oversight. The words “convenient,” “callow” and “cynical” ring hollow in the face of such prophylactic behavior. I find it difficult to believe that Mayor Cashell, in his myriad of personal business dealings, would be so cavalier with his own funding as to not ask similar questions when committing to a long term, big budget project. Of course, when one doesn’t have skin or money in the game, why potentially torpedo a legacy project as one comfortably rides off into the sunset?

Even more disappointing is former Washoe County commissioner Bob Rusk’s vehement opposition to the mere possibility of the entire issue decided by a public ballot. Professing the prescient knowledge that taxpayers would not just say, “No, but hell no” begs the question: Why is Mr. Rusk is so fearful of the democratic process? Why does he hold the taxpayers and voters of Reno in such low regard? Mr. Rusk’s “how dare you question us” form of governance does much to feed the justified cynicism felt by citizens toward all levels of government. It would be humorous if it weren’t so pathetic.

Some in the community fear that Reno’s image may be tarnished if the Aces leave town. Maybe. Others believe doubling down on an already poor investment will eventually yield good results. Unlikely.

When the president of the Pacific Coast League, Branch Rickey, opens the dialogue with the threat of moving the Aces unless he gets his way, it undercuts an adult conversation given the current economic climate. Being held hostage by a so-called partner is no way to do business. Does the city of Reno really want to deal with such a retrograde mentality for the next 30 years? Indiana-based billionaire and co-owner of the Reno Aces, real estate mogul Herbert Simon, has no connection to Reno other than allowing taxpayers the privilege of subsidizing his hobby of sports team ownership. He also owns the Indiana Pacers. If the Aces leave Reno, it will be financially consequence-free to Mr. Simon.

The Reno City Council should study the financial impact of the ballpark in an objective, transparent manner, employing generally accepted, yet conservative forecasting techniques, utilizing relevant economic data distant from competing special interests. These results should be widely publicized. If the ball park can pay for itself in spillover economic benefits, keep the Aces here under the original agreement. If the data shows that an opened ended stream of taxpayer subsidies are required, then place the issue on a ballot and let the citizens of Reno decide. Who knows, they may vote to continue the subsidies, but if so, it will have been discussed in the open, voted upon by those ultimately responsible for its funding and at least for this issue, the democratic process, in its own small way will have worked.

Kurt Neathammer

Alternating current

Re “Power brokers” (Feature story, Dec. 6):

I am very unhappy with the way my position on smart meters, as well as the scientific information about them, was presented in your article. I would like to share important, science-based information about the potential health effects of smart meters as well as correct misinformation in the article.

In my interview, I gave several important pieces of information to the RN&R staff, including the article “Smart Meters: Correcting the Gross Misinformation.” This article, written by physician David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany’s School of Public Health, involved the contributions of more than 50 international experts. Regrettably, your reporter failed to provide any of this information, instead focusing on smart meter information provided by the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation website.

I would like to share another document that deserves public attention. It is called the “BioInitiative Report.” It is an analysis of data regarding electromagnetic frequencies and their effect on humans. These are peer-reviewed studies that have been published in numerous medical and scientific journals. I encourage everyone who has interest in this subject to read the report. The report is on the organization’s webpage, www.bioinitiative.org.

Having provided the factual basis for concern about smart meters, I’d like to make specific criticisms of the article itself. Several times, the author quoted “engineering consultant” Joseph Tavormina. Tavormina’s consulting firm serves Lockheed Martin (one of the world’s largest defense contractors), along with PG&E, and Southern California Edison. These two utilities companies have been battling consumers in California over smart meters long before this problem came to Nevada. Non-biased? Hardly. Conflict of interest? Most definitely. Reno News & Review, I expect better from you.

Though I brought this to the author’s attention, the article failed to mention that 11 counties and 45 local governments in California have opposed smart meter programs. Four counties and nine cities have completely banned smart meters. Do you really think representatives of this many local governments are relying on “pseudoscience” and “paranoia” to make decisions on health and safety?

Last, my condition is not psychosomatic. After assessing and helping treat patients for 10-plus years, I can distinguish between psychosomatic and real symptoms, especially my own. Furthermore, many people in other countries including Switzerland, The Netherlands, Canada, and Sweden have been diagnosed with electrohypersensitivity, and the medical communities in other countries, particularly European countries, are recognizing the diagnosis more and more. I have already been marginalized enough because of my symptoms. the last thing I need is for local media to publicly discount my symptoms or diagnosis.

I don’t like my name and photo being displayed alongside information about conspiracy theories, paranoia, pseudoscience, and references to psychosomatic illness. This is not the information that I expected the Reno News & Review to share, but it is information that is out there. Fortunately, I and many others are able to determine the difference between credible and unreliable information that is not based on science. It is unfortunate that the News & Review staff was unable to follow the scientific leads I gave them on this issue and was apparently unable to make the distinction between credibility and unreliability for themselves and the public.

Deirdre Mazzetto