Letters for December 20, 2001

Hammerin’ BIG DAVE

Re “Winter Guide” (SN&R Special Section, December 6):

Overall, the 12/06/01 News & Review was excellent. Even your tongue-in-cheek lashing of G.W. on the editorial page was brilliant. You are correct! The “evildoer” talk is getting old and Osama is probably shaking in his sandals, right? But, oil and weapons stocks? Come on! Even I’m not that stupid. Granted, I’m not a Rhodes scholar, and I’ve never banged an intern, but even I understand simple economic theory.

The free flow of Middle Eastern oil only keeps G.W.’s (and his “Texas cronies”) profits down. But that’s another story.

Hammering BIG DAVE of the Bee was awesome. I didn’t think you had it in you … I mean to be placing your satirical support right behind the good ol’ Sacto Bee and its bold attempt to “help the children.” You know, they still haven’t responded to my request for information relative to this question: How is it that lowering bus fares can increase revenue(s), but lowering tax rates does not? Oh well. But I like your idea, McClatchy golden-boy CEO Gary Pruitt can donate last year’s bonus—about the same amount RT claims it will be losing because of their reduced student fares program.

Richard Copp
via e-mail

Leafy and wordy

Re “Autumnal Struggle” by Ching Lee (SN&R News, December 6):

My reflections on the piles of cast-off, desiccated leafy debris that we are annually plagued by, here in the City of Trees, stem from a rather different perspective, usually interpolated through a squinty gaze into early morning darkness on the bicycle I commute to work on. Irrespective of all the other nostalgic considerations and practical street cleaning ruminations catalyzed into being by autumn’s yearly deciduous divestments, to someone on a bicycle trying to precariously navigate the often hazardous bike lanes that link South Land Park to the Capitol Building, these neat piles that evidence the earnestness of assiduous leaf-rakers and noisome blowers are functionally speaking a right royal pain in the nether extremity. Especially so in view of the fact that invariably the many leaf-raking do-gooders manage to plant these orderly piles of leaves smack dab in the middle of the already marginal and barely wide-enough bike lane, where they stupidly lurk like vegetative land-mines to unseat bicyclists who don’t see them in time, or who are forced through them by passing cars that are traveling the streets too fast for basic safety.

There are fewer things that pose greater threat (short of a Lincoln Navigator’s tank-like prow) to bicycle commuters than these slippery and wet piles of bicycle-snagging detritus; sadly, it seems entirely beyond the reflective intelligence capabilities of most homeowners to conceptualize the pressing need to keep their leafy piles out of the bicycle lane-or at least nearer the curb side than the outer limit of the bike lane. I frequently relish a personal fantasy in which Sacramento had a Bicycle Gestapo, with unassailable authority to yank people from their cozy homes and monstrous SUVs in the dead of night and force them to ride a few miles on a bicycle down these same slippery, debris-clogged bike lanes that they insist on blocking-especially right after a heavy rain, through thick fog, and utterly subject to the rude whims of wind, wetness and automobile jerks. It might give them a whole new awareness of the fact that they share this world with other people—grotesque surprise that this may be to some whose monstrously myopic egos entirely extinguish the last remnant of their teeny, tiny sparks of social consciousness!

Chris Carey

Thanks for the memories

Re “Shelter from the Storm” by Emma Nicholas (SN&R Winter Guide, December 6):

Emma Nicholas’ article about the hike to Peter Grubb Hut in the Sierras made me laugh when she said her brochure described the hike as easy.

Having helped chaperone/guide 30 to 35 junior high kids to the hut once a year for six years, it sure seemed a lot more difficult than easy. We’d take both boys and girls. (Girls in the hut, boys in their tents.) We’d spend three days, two nights up there. My part in this, year after year, was to be the last one into camp. I picked up candy wrappers and motivated stragglers.

What she describes as a steep hill onto the ridge was an incredible challenge for these kids. At nearly 45 degrees, the 300-foot “wall” was also a challenge for me. Usually the next day we’d see why it was so difficult for them. Some of the guys would pack two or three cans of chili and enough food for a week, while some of the girls would bring their whole makeup bag. Funny thing was, that as many times as we went, and as difficult as it was to get the stragglers up that hill, it was never the girls that were the last ones into camp with me.

The stories from the trips to the Peter Grubb Hut are perfect memories for sitting around a fire with a hot cup of chocolate and a smile on my face. Thanks for reminding me.

Jerry Rhodd
via e-mail

Crackdown is a crackup

Re “Behind the Crackdown” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Cover/Sidebar, November 29):

Sometimes I think I’m one of the unfortunate ones. I can read, and therefore it seems I constantly confront those who cannot.

Congressman Doug Ose supports the prevailing wisdom that federal drug laws trump state drug laws, as reported in your article, “Behind the Crackdown.” The article cites the U.S. Constitution: “The Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme law of the land.” The quote is accurate. The intended use is not.

I don’t believe that drug laws qualify as the “supreme law of the land.” They are not made in pursuance of the U.S. Constitution. If anyone has any doubts, he or she should check out the 10th Amendment to that supreme law.

Paul Miller
via e-mail

Sharpe comment

Re “Behind the Crackdown” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Cover/Sidebar, November 29):

According to your article, California Congressman Doug Ose urged U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to ignore the will of California voters and crack down on medical marijuana in order to “send a critical anti-drug message to our nation.” Ose seems to think that depriving cancer and AIDS patients of medical marijuana will somehow make up for the drug war’s inherent failure. The tough-on-drugs approach supports a $50 billion prison-industrial complex, with very little to show for it. Despite zero tolerance and perhaps because of forbidden-fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country, a majority of which have decriminalized marijuana.

Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use should be taxed and regulated as well. There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What’s really needed is a regulated market with enforceable age controls. Right now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.

More disturbing is the manner in which marijuana’s black market status exposes users to sellers of hard drugs. Marijuana may be relatively harmless compared to legal alcohol, but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with addictive drugs like meth. Politicians like Ose need to stop worrying about the message that drug policy reform sends to children and start thinking about the children themselves.

Robert Sharpe
via e-mail