Letters for August 9, 2001

Basketball, shmasketball

Re “Game Plan for C-Webb” (SN&R Editorial, July 26):

It is nice to see a return to reasonableness after hearing all the concerns by the sports writers in the Daily Blah and hearing the newscasters on TV talk about the cultural and intellectual wants of Mr. Webber.

All this fuss about a self-centered jock who runs around in his underwear playing a kid’s game. Truly much ado about nothing.

James G. Updegraff

Revitalized by the story

Re “Not a Pretty Picture” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, July 26):

I was shocked to read SN&R’s (while eating at the Uptown Café myself) feature article “Not a Pretty Picture” this past week. Has SN&R gone conservative? Why do a hit piece on one of Sacramento’s best revitalization examples, and insult Rob Kerth?

Mr. Scheide, your hypothesis doesn’t hold up to the facts or your own article. Uptown is delivering on its vision.

As a councilmember, Rob Kerth worked hard to redevelop Del Paso Boulevard using arts-related development—directing $1,715,589 in redevelopment financing to make the following projects a reality: Sacramento Musician’s Hall (includes a spring-board floor for ballet and acoustics room for symphony and music practice); the Himovitz Gallery (including Actor’s Workshop Theatre); LIMN Furniture Gallery; SurrealEstates Ink (to provide 11 detached artist live/work units designed for individual ownership; 1001 Del Paso Works (providing 13 artist studios—including Sol Ceramica); Artisan Square (3 artist studios, and 6 low-income lofts). Important projects to revitalization of the community, but also innovative and important in that artists and creative users are being put in equity and ownership positions, so they will not be put out as rents rise, but will benefit from the revitalization they are a part of (as opposed to SOHO). These investments attracted many private galleries and arts-related uses: Doiron Gallery, Woodson Photography Studio, Austin’s Uptown Studio, Horse Cow Gallery, Beyond the Proscenium Productions (Theatre Company), MatrixARTS, and the Center for Contemporary Art. Himovitz Gallery is the only one of these to close, and three moved from Downtown/Midtown to Uptown.

Next year, you will also see construction begin on a $1.7 million Streetscape Improvement Plan on Del Paso Boulevard, the result of a community process over the last 18 months to improve pedestrian access, parking, and further beautify the Uptown district. The community, Mr. Kerth, the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, Uptown Arts, the Uptown Community Development Corp, and, in particular, the artists in Uptown, await your apology, Mr. Scheide.

Franklin Burris

Praise the revival

Re “Not a Pretty Picture” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, July 26):

As a resident in “Uptown,” I was deeply disappointed in Scheide’s “Not a Pretty Picture” story last week.

We are an Arts District, we are successful, and Kerth and that Chamber have done great against the odds of media rock throwers like Scheide.

Momentum gone? Yes. New Councilmember Sheedy has no vision and no plan. The new Community Development Corporation guy is weak, too. Kerth’s loss in the mayor’s race allowed City Hall to turn its back to us again. Since that election, Himovitz tanked, and the gallery scene has declined.

But residents like me are committed to our homes and we shall overcome, with God’s blessing.

G. Smith
via e-mail

Warning: angry lawyer

Re “Not a Pretty Picture” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, July 26):

I witnessed R.V. Scheide eating an omelet at the Uptown Café recently, so he must have spent at least an hour in the Uptown Arts District. I can’t imagine he spent any more time there, or talked to even a handful of the area’s 20-some art studios and arts-related businesses. The picture he paints in his recent article definitely is not the one I see daily from my new Uptown law offices. Or maybe Scheide—who I hear fancies himself an artist—has taken up fiction? Either way, for those not already in the know, his articles ought to carry a big disclaimer right upfront warning readers that what follows is not the result of rigorous or thoughtful investigative reporting, or an unvarnished search for the truth.

What is true is that economic revitalization in the urban core takes time. And the revitalization of the Uptown area is moving steadily and overall in the right direction.

Kim Mueller
via e-mail

A lesson in conservation

Re “Schindler’s List” by Mark Schindler (SN&R Letters, July 26):

Mr. Schindler provided some good energy conservation ideas but clearly did not think through the consequences of his proposal for a new PG&E rate structure. He suggested that consumption be discouraged through a ‘stick’ approach, introducing rates that “increase sharply just below last year’s use of energy.”

His proposal and Gray Davis’s ‘20/20’ plan share a glaring flaw: they punish those of us who already conserve resources because we think it is a good idea, not needing added economic incentive. Let’s use a real-life example: my neighbor uses four times the electricity I do. Other things being equal, he is obviously going to have a much easier time than I would in meeting either Mr. Davis’ target or avoiding Mr. Schindler’s stick. I would have to get very creative to reduce my consumption by 20 percent; my neighbor can do so by doing even a small part of what he should have been doing all along. He would still be using over three times more electricity than I do, yet he is the one who gets a reward courtesy of the taxpayer!

Both approaches are counterproductive in the long run because they actually discourage conservation: consumers eventually figure out that the way to maintain a generous future allotment is to use more resources now. I saw this phenomenon at work with water playing the part of the scarce resource during an ’80s drought in San Jose. The local water department set rations at 80 percent of previous usage. First, I faced watching my yard die while relatively wasteful neighbors coasted through by implementing the most basic conservation measures. After the emergency passed, I knew people who were intentionally using extra water in order to pad their allocation during the next drought.

The current rate structure provides economic incentive for conservation, whether or not usage is near a rate borderline: we can all save at least 20 percent on our electricity bills simply by using 20 percent less electricity. Changes to the rate structure should concentrate on providing incentive for the wasteful to conserve while avoiding punishment for those who already do. The best way to do that is to graduate the rates more steeply, introducing new rate tiers with increasingly punitive rates for those who use far above ‘baseline’ allowances.

Mark Willstatter
via e-mail

Jumping at chump change

Re “Bits and Pieces” (SN&R Capital Bites, July 26):

The “Capital Bites” columnist is a chump. I must say that I am amazed at all of the chumps foaming at the mouth over “chump” change.

Out of $1.35 trillion in tax cuts, America’s top 10 percent will share in 80 percent of this astronomical amount. The middle class will share a whopping 20 percent! 34 million Americans at the lowest economic class qualify for nothing, no tax breaks at all.

But I guess the Republican and Democratic whores had to pay back their wealthy campaign donors. Free speech is not free anymore. It’s money pretending to be free speech. I expect political whores to do the bidding of the wealthy. But it makes me puke to hear all poor chumps being so happy over chump change. We are a country of sheep, being lead off to slaughter. And all we can do about it is baaa! about it with absent-minded joy.

John Pitocco
West Sacramento

Free the market

Re “Chipping Away” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Editor’s Note, July 19):

No matter what our respective politics, I think we can agree on the importance of method in trying to express the truth.

You reiterate the evils of deregulation, specifically in the California energy industry. Somehow you completely ignore the fact the energy industry was never deregulated—it was simply called deregulation. Even worse, you have never commented on how it is possible to regulate an industry, and then blame the industry for anything! In a regulated industry, the businessman can do nothing. He can only propose and receive permission or denial from the bureaucrats. Shortage—it can only be the fault of the regulators. Excess—likewise.

But the real mistake you make is your long, convoluted arguments. Why don’t you take the easy route and answer the question? Look at the stock price for the various involved companies. If profits double then the stock price should double. Has it?

I know from experience in Berkeley that such easy answers kill all the fun of being a radical and leave the bull session hemming and looking for another topic. But it does answer the question.

Rudy Iwasko
via e-mail