Letters for February 1, 2007

Twelve-seven ghost town

Re “A man and his city” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, January 18):

Ray Kerridge’s vision of Sacramento as a 24-seven city is almost laughable. Anyone who has spent time in the central business district after 6 p.m. or on any weekend knows that creepy, ghost-town feeling. A good example is the state’s East End project, which turned four city blocks into a dead zone at night. What a great opportunity that would have been to help revitalize the downtown if just half of the first-floor space of the East End project were reserved for retail.

Families are not going to move downtown until they can feel safe to be on the streets at night. You need only spend 10 minutes at the Alkali Flat light-rail station to realize that we are a long way from that reality.

Portland struggles with the same issues as Sacramento: large numbers of homeless citizens, and lack of decent affordable housing in the downtown area. But Portland views itself as a city and conducts itself accordingly. Sacramento is still just a town halfway between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. And just maybe Kerridge can help change that. However, Bob Waste has it right when he proposes an Exploritorium for the rail-yard site rather than a Bass Pro Shop. Maybe he should be the next mayor.

Michael Irwin

Government for the people, not the customers

Re “A man and his city” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, January 18):

Once again, City Manager Kerridge got his “customer service is my passion” bite into the media. Unfortunately, his customers seem to be developers only.

In the second week of December, I called him for our neighborhood group about a problem with a city department. I left a message requesting a callback to explain our concern. It’s over four weeks later and we are still waiting. With Bob Thomas, the last city manager, if he didn’t call back, he had someone else call.

Kerridge wants the city to work like a business. If this is the way he operates, that business would wind up like Montgomery Ward or Trans World Airlines. But, of course, the bottom line is it really is government, and so it will never go out of business, whatever kind of service he delivers.

Paul Tsamtsis

Stop funding now!

Re “Too little, too late” (SN&R Editorial, January 18):

While this editorial about the occupation of Iraq comes to the right conclusion—that Congress needs to stop funding it—there are some inaccuracies. This is not a case of “too little, too late”; it is a case of “never should have happened.” There are no legal or moral justifications for this war and its execution is a war crime.

Sending huge numbers of troops will not change the outcome, only the death tolls. A half-million U.S. soldiers could not stop the Vietnamese resistance to our brutalization of their nation and a half-million soldiers will not stop the Iraqi resistance.

Congress could have stopped Bush from sending in more troops had they started impeachment proceedings. Congress also controls more than the purse strings: Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that Congress has the authority to declare war and gives it other controls over the military. Congress needs to take this control back by revoking the power it gave Bush in October of 2002 to use military force against Iraq. Two pending bills, HR 413 and HR 508, would revoke that power.

Copies of the U.S. Constitution are available in U.S. Representative Doris Matsui’s Sacramento office. I urge readers to come and get one when they join the “peace-in,” urging Representative Matsui to commit to vote against more funding for the occupation.

Maggie Coulter

Ensure access

Re “Guard reproductive rights” (SN&R Guest Comment, January 18):

I wish to thank Shauna Heckert for speaking out in her guest comment, for her call to guard reproductive rights, and for highlighting one obstacle that has for long time been overlooked has come due.

While Planned Parenthood applauds the governor’s recent efforts to increase health-care access for all Californians, expanding health coverage does not guarantee access to care. Meaningful health-care reform must include providing reimbursements adequate to cover the costs of caring for patients.

In California, the rate at which “safety net” clinics are reimbursed for services to the community has increased only once in the last 20 years while the cost of providing patient care has increased by as much as 300 percent over the same time period. California has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation: 50 cents for every dollar spent on patient services. Every year that rates for clinics remain static translates into a budget cut for clinics, including Planned Parenthood. Providers who can’t absorb cost increases have stopped taking new patients and/or have reduced services, while others stop providing “safety net” services all together.

Last year, California was recognized as a national leader in its efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies and for significant state cost savings by providing comprehensive, accessible and effective reproductive-health services. Money spent on prevention saves the state money both today and tomorrow. For instance, every dollar California spends preventing unintended pregnancy saves an additional $5.33 in future medical and social-services costs.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is proud to be a major partner in the Sacramento area, with seven health centers. We provide basic health care like well-baby checkups, prenatal care, mammograms and cancer screenings, along with the full range of reproductive-health services, including new technologies. We look forward to working with the governor’s administration to ensure that we continue to provide preventive health care for all who may need it. For more information or to access services, visit www.ppmarmonte.org.

Katharyn McLearan
director of public affairs
Sacramento Sierra region
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

Fair to CAIR

Re “CAIR defends its honor” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, January 18):

I wish to express my thanks to Chrisanne Beckner and to you for this beautiful article. SN&R has been known for its fairness in covering issues, and this article is no different.

Hamza El-Nakhal, president Sacramento Valley Chapter Council on American-Islamic Relations

More efficient, but still killing

Re “The perfect execution” by Stephen James (SN&R News, January 18):

In reading about the surreal efforts of a group of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees who are working to develop a more efficacious method of executing prisoners, I do have a couple of questions.

For those employees who profess to be religious: How do they reconcile their work with their faith? For those Christians in California who support the death penalty, can they truly follow the teachings of Jesus and yet condone state-sanctioned killings?

James G. Updegraff III

Gotta pass that test to avoid combat

Re “Tug of war” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, January 11):

As a military veteran and executive officer of a nonprofit that exists to provide career opportunities for options like the military, it is my profession to understand the process of enlistment and its ongoing changes. In fact, my relationship with the military allows me to understand the Department of Defense strength-management areas of interest and provides me with ongoing levels of jobs availabilities to the youth interested in enlisting.

Now, this information is futile, because regardless of my existence or any other program that works with the military, a person that enlists in the military has sole control of what he or she chooses to do upon committing their term to serve their country, simply by understanding their options.

Most people do not realize this, but if Joe Smith from Elk Grove chooses to gain training as a dental hygienist by enlisting in the Air Force, the military will honor that training under the agreement, provided that Mr. Smith scores high enough on his Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam that pre-selects categories of jobs available in the branch of his choosing.

Despite most rumors, the military does maintain an honor system that ensures enlistee’s job choice. In fact, many civilian jobs can be learned within the military for free and with better medical benefits than most acquire as a civilian.

Now, I am not an advocate for or against the military, just as I will not comment on my position regarding the Iraq war. I will say that if you earn your selection of career choice and it involves a non-combative job within any selective branch, the military will not remove you from your current training simply to fill a personnel shortage during combat.

Besides, there are enough “combat hungry” soldiers that want to fight—or who cannot score high enough on the entrance exam and are left with no choice but to carry a weapon. Regardless of the low enlistment rate at this time, the military still needs to maintain operations on bases and in the rear, where combat is not relevant.

Aaron P. Bryant, CEO Armed Services Alliance Program