Letters for December 14, 2006

Carter babies the Palestinians

Re “Mr. President: ‘Tear down this wall,’ ” by John Freeman (SN&R News, December 7):

When will President Carter and his ilk cease their endless infantilizing of the Palestinian people? Rather than holding them in any way responsible for their own situation, after decades of terrorism, suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and unwillingness to compromise, Carter still wishes to place the blame solely on the Jewish state.

Instead of parroting their maximal demands, he would do them far more good if he urged a renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel and compromise. Before the current violence, the Palestinians rejected a deal that would give them a state in Gaza, over 90 percent of the West Bank, and a shared Jerusalem. After Israel evacuated Gaza, they turned it into a base from which to kidnap Israelis and to launch daily missile attacks against Israeli civilians.

President Carter’s time would be better spent if he did less pandering and explained to the Palestinians how such behavior only perpetuates their own misery.

Jordan Magill

Question of talent

Re “The agitator” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Feature Story, November 30):

B.L. Kennedy puts one in mind of Lenny Bruce, equally able to enrage large audiences but with one major difference: Lenny Bruce had talent.

Having attended a couple of Kennedy’s performances, I’m reminded fleetingly of a case of Montezuma’s revenge in Ensenada: Quite the experience but definitely not one I would care to repeat. His appearance at a Whole Earth Festival open mic in the mid-90s had the galvanizing effect of clearing an entire quad; not many can alienate college students and hippies alike so quickly.

I have no idea which individuals will be represented in I Began to Speak. But I know who ought to be in it, by right of their own poetic achievements: Michael Pulley, Geoffrey Stockdale, Doug Webber, Susan MacFarland, Margaret Boone, Jim Normington, and the velvet-voiced Arthur Butler.

Most of all there is one figure who deserves footage, who, although short in stature, towered over the early Sacramento poetry scene: Gene Black. He ran the Wordjam series in the late ’80s and early ’90s at (what was at the time) Drago’s Café at 23rd and K streets. At his sudden passing in 1993, he was referred to as “Sacramento’s patron saint of poetry.” Gene was prolific, patient and constantly supportive of fellow poets, who not only owe him a debt of gratitude, but also treasure their memories of time they shared with him.

Candy Tutt

Tweaking in a good way

Re “Flying home” (SN&R Editorial, November 30):

There is no one’s nose I love to “tweak” more than the writers of the “PC” editorials found on SN&R pages.

But I have never read a more engaging story than the “Flying home” editorial in your November 30 issue. Pray tell us, who was the writer? Kudos to her/him for a lovely piece of writing. Thank you.

Rosemary Tanfani
Fair Oaks

Editor’s note: This editorial was the work of Editor-at-large Melinda Welsh.

Could it be … Satan?

Re “Signs of the times” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, November 30):

I was very interested in R.V. Scheide’s article about Benjamin Creme and the Maitreya.

I heard Creme interviewed on Coast to Coast by host George Noory (not Art Bell). He was creepy. Many callers contacted Noory later to say he had a very damaging effect on them, causing illness, headaches and even seizures.

The Maitreya is seen by many to be the antichrist, complete with supernatural powers. Creme claimed that he can appear and disappear at will.

I am a subscriber to the Coast to Coast show and get mp3s of the shows, so I listened to the interview again but did not succumb to any physical ills; Creme did creep me out, however.

I am not a “believer” of anything without checking it out for myself first, but Creme had a very hypnotic voice, and the Maitreya will never replace Jesus, in my opinion.

I personally visited the Vacaville crop circle in 2004 out of curiosity, and I could see it was man-made. The hole in the ground where the center axis stick was placed was clear, as were the beer cans and paths from the road.

Carol McElheney

Sprawl for dollars

Re “None dare call it sprawl” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, November 30):

Your reporter Chrisanne Beckner misses some salient points in describing North Natomas and development in Sacramento in general.

According to your larger rival paper, the most valuable real estate (per square foot) in the region is in the McKinley Park neighborhood—a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use area just east of downtown. Buyers pay premiums for such neighborhoods, whether new or, as in McKinley Park’s case, old. When builders make sprawl, they are doing so out of inertia or ignorance.

Ms. Beckner also gives the impression that developers can “push through” rezones—as though it’s a process that occurs without human intervention. Her account overlooks the history of the human intervention in our most misguided rezone: North Natomas. Before the current development came, this was 20-foot-underwater flood plain surrounded by weak levees. It was land so unsuited for development that a federal grant to increase regional sewer capacity required the city to pay a $6 million penalty if they allowed that capacity to be used in North Natomas.

The land speculators who had controlled this land for a few thousand dollars an acre went all the way to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush to make that penalty pay-as-you-develop rather than a prohibitive up-front fee. For paying that $6 million in installments, the speculators also received $43 million in federal levee improvement money (still not enough, but a darned good deal, paying $6 to get $43.)

After the rezone, the land has become worth literally hundreds of thousands per acre. Meanwhile, the city got chump change for planning fees, but the speculators paid no tax on their rezone windfall. The city even allowed the developers to under-fund North Natomas schools by 10 percent.

The city and county have been corrupt, or at least clueless, in promoting the interests of a small oligarchy of land speculators and commercial interests, and have assiduously concealed the costs of these subsidies. The tax-and-spending debate is misdirection in light of the city (and county’s) enormous subsidies for this oligarchy. Their protestations that they have no choice aren’t credible for an instant.

Mark Dempsey

Westie’s from Oz

Re “Miracle on K Street” by Becca Costello (SN&R Nothing Ever Happens, November 30):

I found your story on the Downtown Plaza tree-lighting enjoyable because I work at the mall. I just wanted to let you know why “Westie” is a kangaroo. Westfield shopping malls were started in Australia and later expanded into North America.

Liz Soto

Bravo for compassion

Re “Local faces of AIDS” by Nancy Brands Ward (SN&R Feature Story, November 22):

Your recent article on the local faces of AIDS was truly excellent! The selection of people to feature was a remarkably good representation of the diversity of faces that the disease presents in Sacramento. The individual pieces your staff prepared on each of those four people are impressive in their insight and candor. And the overall tone of the article is a highly realistic and compassionate reflection of the disease as it exists today in this community.

Kudos to you and your staff!

Marty Keale
former executive director, CARES

Tax cows, not people

Re “Pay up or watch cows” (SN&R Letters, November 22):

This letter writer’s bias for Measures Q and R shows his ignorance when it comes to what truly defines growth. What happens if and when we build a new sports arena and it doesn’t deliver what many of his ilk expect?

Not gonna happen? Ah, yes, the fault lies with me. I guess I just don’t have a “can-do” attitude. Darn that critical part of me that doesn’t wave a rally towel for our “beloved” Kings.

What would be so bad about the Maloofs packing up the Kings and peddling their smut elsewhere? There is something bigger and better coming along after all: the skyscraper condos downtown! What a glorious day it will be when we as Sacramentans can say to Galt, “See, we told you we’re a real city!”

So when the Kings move (yaaaaaaaaaawn)—and I don’t care—maybe we can focus on more important things, like charging non-Sacramentans for each heifer they see. We could set up a pay-per-cow tax. That sounds about as well thought out as Q and R.

Kabir McKitrick