Letters for March 26, 2015

Feed the trees

Re “Algae blues” (Green, Feb. 26):

The funny thing with the Virginia Lake problem is that the chemicals in the bird waste are a gardener’s dream and as long as the water is circulated and the chemicals head down stream fast enough, the water will be perfect for farms and gardens. If the water sits anywhere without a healthy biome to consume the chemicals, the algae will grow. Ironically, the core problem is probably that there isn’t enough biology to deal with the sudden burst of biological inputs from the birds. There are plants which can be added to the lake and shore which will uptake a lot of these chemicals … and if we’re smart they could also produce food for humans, fish and birds in the process.

Scott Reimers


Smart water

When it comes to conserving and managing water—our most precious resource—it is imperative that our elected officials exercise greater foresight. Consider flood control. The preferred downtown flood plan—fixated on trapped debris—recommends replacing five bridges for $100 million. What would we get? The Center Street Bridge, replaced in 1998, would be replaced again. So would the bridges at Sierra and Lake Streets. A new Virginia Street Bridge would have a disappointing design. And Booth Street Bridge would become a pedestrian bridge. There goes $100 million down the drain! Yet sensible solutions exist at a lower cost, including:

• Creating more upstream storage. Look at Lake Tahoe (perhaps one inch higher for 24 hours, to start with) and then move on downstream with more ideas.

• Implementing a debris sweep (to get rid of that problematic debris) perhaps at Mayberry Park.

• Lengthening the Riverwalk by extending it under Virginia Street and beyond, as intended—boosting recreation and allowing more flow in times of flood. I call on Mayor Schieve and members of the City Council to be part of a wise and fiscally responsible water conservation and flood control solution.

Toni Harsh


Extrajudicial executions

Re “Priests and cops” (Notes from the Neon Babylon, Feb. 26):

It’s too bad you couldn’t have been there to reel in those lawless cops when they confronted the suspect throwing rocks at cars in an intersection. I also wish you could have been there after the officers “tased the guy,” because, well, you knew they must have missed since it “didn’t seem to have much effect.” Maybe, you could have tackled the guy while effortlessly dodging rocks being thrown at you. (Everyone knows rocks thrown at shorter distances hurt less than rocks thrown from farther away.) Or if he was already running away, maybe you could have fired your gun into the air—those bullets never return to earth—to, you know, scare him into surrendering … or if that didn’t work, you could shoot at the guy’s legs—they do that in cartoons all the time, because bullets never ricochet. On second thought, I guess we should all be thankful that newspaper columnists aren’t answering those calls and causing even more collateral damage.

Richard Copp


Government’s job

Re “Harry brings home the green bacon” (Let Freedom Ring, Feb. 26):

Two problems with “Harry brings home the green bacon.” First, “let the markets work” for blue jeans or consumer electronics, but in matters critical to our survival we cannot depend on industries whose mandate is maximizing quarterly profits, rather than planning for the next 100 years. Free-marketer Adam Smith writes in Wealth of Nations that government has “the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works … because the profit could never repay the expense, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society.” Hence we have, for example, the transcontinental railroad, public higher education, Hoover Dam, BART, and Medicare—all essential to modern society and pushed forward by elected leaders who, like Kitzhaber and Reid, had their flaws and helped their friends, no differently from any Republican, and who were criticized in their day for pork-barrel politics even as they planned for our future. Secondly, the columnist shows unfamiliarity with science by confusing weather with climate. The East Coast may experience record cold in February, but annual global temperature averages continue to climb. It’s like arguing that I-95 has no traffic problems because U.S. 395 in Reno was flowing freely one day.

David Fenimore


Don’t change PERS

I am a Washoe County employee with concerns about Assembly Bill 190. I don’t support its proposed changes to Nevada’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Bringing retirement money with us between employers sounds nice. In reality, most of us joined government for stability. PERS is solvent. Steps were taken to ensure its future. The fact that this bill makes it easier to change jobs will hurt the county. With retirement attrition high, we’ve lost knowledge for how the government works. Bringing in new employees would be great if they’d stay. Training new employees regarding statutes that we need to follow to make sure we satisfy our responsibilities as a county is already challenging. The proposed bill will make it more daunting and more expensive for us all. By getting rid of the primary lure for people to work for government with AB 190, you are helping to dismantle the government from the inside. That does not help the people who depend on us for everything from meals to safety. Helping one another is what employees at Washoe County do. We are “do-gooders,” but need to live. We are not the bad guys. We seek to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity.

Barbara Arbogast


Park place

Re “Algae blues” (Green, Feb. 26):

I would like to see more and broader research about Virginia Lake Park. In the 15 years I have lived one-half a block away, I have watched the entire park deteriorate. The lake’s health is not separate from its surroundings and its human, canine and avian users.

The island used to have large trees! The park covers nearly 32 acres, about 90 percent of which are water, leaving only three acres of dry land for walking and playing. I suspect that this means that this park has more people per square foot of dry land than any other in Reno. Projects to restore eroded paths were never completed. Redesigning and replanting the southwest open area created less public space than before, over citizens’ objections.

I have often suggested to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department that public input be sought and advertised in Spanish as well as in English, to reflect the cultural makeup of groups who use the park. I have been ignored.

As for the lake itself, is there less water inflow due only to drought, or has water been diverted to more favored parks, such as Idlewild and others (all with their huge wet lawns) up along the Truckee?

Are fewer resources given to Virginia Lake Park, because of the demographics (low income) of its users? Will the park deteriorate faster when that gigantic housing complex is occupied? (That project removed a huge number of healthy trees.)

Once I met an old man who grew up around here, who told me that when he was younger, Virginia Lake was emptied every year, and cleaned of what lay beneath: trash, pollutants, garbage, shopping carts, cars.

Valerie P. Cohen