Letters for April 14, 2011

NPR can support itself

Re “Note about NPR” (SN&R Editorial, March 31):

I thoroughly enjoy your paper and rarely miss a week; it’s entertaining, informative and keeps me au courant with all things Sacramento. So it seems a bit disingenuous that my first letter should be a bash, but your editorial “Note about NPR” just pushed my buttons. I enjoy NPR coverage, though as a worker bee, can’t listen to the weekday programs. Why the crusade to spare NPR from the public-funding chopping block?

By their own admission, they can do well enough without the fed support. And what pure sophistry to bolster the argument by saying NPR’s popularity is soaring—all the more listeners to put their money where their ears are come pledge time! And saying a 15 percent cut will “dismantle” NPR? Puh-lease, state workers having been belt-tightening to the tune of 15 percent pay cuts for two years. We’ve got a national fiscal crisis of epic proportions, we can’t save every program and NPR doesn’t even want the money. So a write-in campaign? I think not.

Set their journalistic standards free from government oversight and let their listeners pick up the tab.

Janet Spencer

She’s unplugged

Re “Me and my Kindle” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, April 7):

Like Kel Munger, I was looking forward to a sustainable, low-cost alternative to carrying books. I’m a frequent flyer, and read in airports and on planes, so I thought a Kindle would also help keep carry-on weight under control.

Unfortunately, I ran smack-dab into a glitch Munger didn’t mention—the need to recharge a Kindle. In fact, I discovered this problem while en route to New York with six new books on a Kindle that shut down because it was out of juice.

I’ve never had to plug in a paperback!

Laura McCaffrey
via email

Bravo for Boulevard Court!

Re “From blight to might” by Jimmy Spencer (SN&R Frontlines, April 7):

I’m really proud of Turning Point, The Effort, Mercy Housing, the Sacramento community (especially Oak Park), the Sacramento City Council, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Mental Health Services Act Steering Committee right now.

Having been a satellite distributor for Sacramento Area Needle Exchange & Harm Reduction Services for many years, I can tell you from street experience that this will not only save lives—it will result in actually rebuilding so many. I can’t wait for the success stories coming out of Boulevard Court, Cost savings from this program will be astounding, too, as emergency room visits and incarcerations plummet. The savings will be phenomenal!

Frank L. Topping
Rancho Cordova

It would be cheap if it were legal

Re “One to grow on” by Meredith J. Graham (SN&R The 420, April 7):

Marijuana eradication efforts only serve to make illegal marijuana cultivation more profitable. If legal, an easily grown weed like marijuana would be virtually worthless. The drug war’s distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand causes big money to grow on little trees. As long as criminals control marijuana distribution, consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use should be regulated, too. Marijuana prohibition has failed. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. We’re wasting tax dollars on failed marijuana policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. It’s time to end this madness. Tax and regulate marijuana in 2012!

Robert Sharpe
policy analyst
Commons Sense for Drug Policy

Scrip for Vina: a dose of humility

Re “One and done” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, March 31):

Aside from the editorial board of The Sacramento Bee and Mayor [Kevin] Johnson, I don’t think any one else will lament the departure of Interim City Manager [Gus] Vina.

His pay raises to Police Chief [Rick] Braziel and some city department heads displayed a total lack of sensitivity to the financial problems of the city. The chief and the department heads are not indispensable, and if they were unhappy with their pay before the raises, they need to remember the door swings both ways. There are ample qualified people to take their place.

As for the Bee’s comments about the city council, that was just a bunch of sour grapes. They are unhappy because the city council doesn’t always follow their advice. The days are gone when an editorial from the Bee could sway the local politicians on an issue. As for Mayor Johnson, having been the chair of an organization that had dealings with the mayor and his staff, I would suggest a good dose of humility might help him accomplish some of his goals.

James G. Updegraff

Rancho Seco shutdown a waste

Re “Radioactive cocktail” by Ed Smeloff (SN&R Essay, March 31):

It is fitting that Smeloff wrote this article. I remember the hysteria and fear he generated 22 years ago to shut [Rancho] Seco down. I wouldn’t expect him to get the science right now, either.

A few facts he neglected to mention: Yes, the plant was shut down by a vote of the people—but with less than a 1 percent margin. The first vote had been not to shut down. Rancho Seco was worth $1 billion at the time of the shutdown. Its replacement cost today would be about $10 billion. The decommissioning cost has been over $300 million to date and counting.

SMUD, and all of California, are net importers of electricity. Import the power, export the pollution. At the time of the vote, SMUD had spent around $100 million to update and refurbish the plant. Then they just shut it down. It was like taking your car in for an engine overhaul and then immediately parking it in a very expensive garage, never to drive it again. It was a very clear lack of leadership on the part of the SMUD board.

Yes, nuclear [power] has its problems. I am not an advocate, but look at the alternatives. Currently, 50 percent of the [United States’] electric power comes from coal, about the dirtiest source possible, and a deadly one for both miners and people who breathe its particulate emissions, never mind climate change.

Jim Daley
Citrus Heights