Letters for December 25, 2008

Letter of the week
Urban Foresters make the call

Re “They speak for the trees” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, December 18):

The city of Sacramento’s Urban Forest division hopes to clear up misunderstandings conveyed by this column. The matter will come before the full Parks and Recreation Commission in January.

The Parks and Recreation committee recently held its first discussion this month on whether or not it makes sense to shift responsibility for hearing appeals on applications to remove heritage trees or other trees to the city of Sacramento Planning [Department] from the Parks Commission. The discussion is the first and not the only opportunity for the public to learn more about the idea and to weigh in. The outcome of the December 19 committee meeting will be presented early next year to the Parks and Rec Commission, and then if necessary to the Law and Legislation Committee and on to city council.

There are multiple opportunities to be heard.

The idea arose from some members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, not Development Services, because decisions regarding development projects tend to be separated from the project’s impacts to heritage or street trees, when two different bodies are weighing in. Appeals heard by the Planning Commission may be in a better position to make decisions based on the big picture and not just on the tree or trees.

What’s important to note is that neither the Parks and Recreation Commission nor the Planning Commission have certified arborists as members, so neither group is necessarily more knowledgeable about trees than the other. Members of both commissions, regardless of what body hears the appeals, will always continue to uphold or deny an appeal based upon the expertise of the city’s arborists in Urban Forest [Services]. And those arborists will continue to generate their findings, which will be posted on the city’s Urban Forestry Web page, before the first tree hearing. This process will not change.

While we encourage the public to learn more about the idea, we want to assure the public that there will be opportunities for the public to get involved and gain a greater understanding of why the idea is being discussed and its merits.

Linda Tucker
public information officer
City of Sacramento Department of Transportation

Just like rock ‘n’ roll

Re “I was a video-game addict” by Gabriel Francisco (SN&R Feature, December 18):

It may be difficult to wrap your mind around this concept, but bear with me. I’m a high-school student who avidly plays online games. I get solid grades, have an active social life in the real world, have various other hobbies and aspirations, and am on very good terms with my family. I don’t take pleasure in “owning” others.

All this is quite shocking, I know.

All the same, it’s kind of depressing to be a participant in something that the public decries as the latest evil, valueless “menace to today’s youth.” I know rock music had this phase, too; still, this sort of prejudice ain’t fun.

This entire article reeks to me of the desperate attempts of an addict to shift the blame for their plight to someone or something else. When a simple hobby dominates you to the point of unhealthiness, please at least have the courage to recognize that your problems were caused by your own weakness.

Kai Kemmerling

Did R.V. wimp out?

Re “Kevin Johnson wants the ball” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Frontlines, December 18):

What happened to R.V. [Scheide’s] usual keen eye and reporter’s instinct? He did a horrible job of interviewing and reporting on [Mayor Kevin] Johnson, basically reiterating the puff pieces that The [Sacramento] Bee pumps out. “There is no ‘there’ there” in this article, except for a very flattering look at this profoundly flawed charlatan.

I suspect there were ground rules before the interview that kept “certain subjects” off-limits. But [Scheide] began and ended the interview with silly basketball pabulum and did little else to penetrate the glaring inadequacies of Johnson, his “kitchen Cabinet,” his power-grabbing proposal (for which he is stunningly underqualified) and his sordid and questionable history with his own organizations and companies.

What gives? Have R.V. and SN&R gone over to the “dark side” to curry favor with advertisers and/or K.J.’s handlers? This was nauseating!

Alex Berg

Sign o’ the times

Re “Grave concerns” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, December 11):

As a graphic artist and Web developer, I applaud the creator of the graveyard anti-gang billboards. They target their audience well, and the message is simple, stark and easy to grasp.

The kinder, gentler approach to advertising went out back in the early days of advertising, when you could appeal to the rationality of man. Thanks to the brilliant (if misguided) public-relations work of Edward Bernays, we no longer see such ads, because a more effective technique has been developed: appealing to man’s subconscious, be it sex, fear or whatever other instinct is applicable.

So we have ads like this that are more effective than its “kinder, gentler” counterparts.

That said, I would like to suggest that the primary cause of the behavior of at-risk youth is more complicated than the reductionist view Scheide suggests to make his point. Opportunity is not a substitute for the values a good upbringing imparts; you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. Yet ample opportunity is interconnected with a good upbringing; it is much harder for a parent working retail jobs to attend to their parental duties than it is for a parent working a white-collar job that pays well.

Other factors to consider include poor nutrition; a media that idolizes unethical behavior; a selfish, wasteful culture that prioritizes pleasure over happiness; and constant distractions.

The signs may not go far enough, but they are a good start. If you want to improve the world around you, start by improving yourself and your family.

Brad Carps

Not so fast, Mr. Sun

Re “Cars of the future?” by Emily Scott (SN&R Green Days, December 11):

Emily Scott has spun a great green dream for us to wait longer by dangling the statement, “Well, good green things may come to those who wait just a little bit longer,” at the end of her story.

This retired chemistry professor, however, must ask: Why no mention as to how the elemental hydrogen is to be harnessed? Are we going to have the siphoning of the sun to get us the monumental supplies of elemental hydrogen? Even if we could, poor Sun is likely to be of no use to keep the planet Earth going around it to give us the highs; as put by Scott, “Californians love their cars, and this mode of transportation is not going away any time soon. After all, what’s better than feeling that rush of adrenaline while hugging the corners of the state’s scenic highways?”

It suffices to state [that the] “hydrogen highway” is a pipe dream never likely to be a reality without the path to oblivion of all life as we know it. The knowledge [required to get] elemental hydrogen in the staggering amounts needed to avoid the continued pollution from fossil fuels … simply stated is very unlikely. [The] only sensible alternative is to invest in mass transportation and become a community of commuters, doing community service.

Brahama D. Sharma