Letters for February 3, 2005

Water, water everywhere, but how about some scenery?

Re “Bringing down a dam” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, January 20):

I just ran across the excellent article about Hetch Hetchy. It came up as a link on an NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council] Web site.

As a resident of San Francisco now, who enjoys the water from Hetch Hetchy (it really is the very best tasting water anywhere), I’d gladly relinquish my current water supply in favor of a restored cousin of the Yosemite Valley.

Thanks for publishing the story.

Karen Johnson-McKewan
via e-mail

Living and dying on their feet

Re “Everybody KNOZ” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 20):

It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me when I read that 103.5 KBMB’s station manager, Larry Lemanski, was behind the FCC’s harassment of KNOZ-LP 96.5 FM.

Naturally, anyone would expect that your competition would sink to any level to crush you. But 103.5 calling the FCC on us? I had nothing but respect and admiration for 103.5 KBMB’s operation. I admired their business so much; I patterned my start-up radio station after theirs.

Why does this self-proclaimed federal informant care about Sacramento hip-hop? It’s no secret that 103.5 KBMB does not play any local artists, so we are not a threat to their ability to break new music. We don’t sell on-air commercial spots, so we’re no profit threat.

So, I am trying to catch my breath. But I flat out refuse to stoop to their level. There are some things that I just won’t do. I would never use state or federal authorities to keep a man from feeding his family. In the world of hip-hop and rap, a federal informant or “snitch” is the lowest form of life. Andre “Mac Dre” Hicks taught us all that, in the rap game, it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

Will Major

Hey, we feed the economy too

Re “Look for the union label …” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, January 20):

It’s too easy to say, “Look at the powerful union.” The union represents people; these people feed private industry.

I worked for the state of California for 14 years. My gross in the year 2001 was $37,000. This is with a four-year degree. My gross in the year 2004 in private industry is over $100,000, so it can safely be said that I gave up some major money to work for the state.

There are many people who work for the state that have the ability to make at least double—if not triple—what they make, yet they stay at the state for the benefits. The most effective state workers are trading a high salary for the good benefit package. I build fences and gates, and I have done thousands of dollars’ worth of work for people who work for the state. If Arnold dips into their pockets, and into the pockets of people who work for the school districts, this will affect my bottom line.

Who else will this have an impact on? In 2004, I put $30,000 in Home Depot’s pocket. Home Depot hires workers. I put $3,000 in Berco Redwood’s pocket; Berco Redwood also has workers. Workers for one sector, public or private, do not exist in isolation from all other workers; nor are they distinct from the rest of the economy.

Kevin Lee Kallvet

Dueling pensions

Re “Look for the union label …” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, January 20):

I usually don’t read your resident hysterical, vicious right-winger, Jill Stewart, but my eye happened to fall on a phony statistic in her January 20 column. She says the average secretary in state service will get a pension worth nearly a million dollars after working 20 years. Anyone not running on a tank full of hatred for working people would instantly know this is nonsense.

The top salary for Office Technician (Typing) is $36,600 a year. If the employee retired at the minimum retirement age of 50, with 20 years’ service, he would receive 22 percent of his salary as a pension, or $8,052 a year. It would take him more than 124 years (in other words, he’d have to live to 174) to receive a million dollars.

Stewart’s constant bile is despicable and doesn’t belong in your otherwise progressive paper.

Charlie Klein

Jill Stewart replies: An office worker who retires before 55 voluntarily gives up a fatter pension. A $36,600-a-year worker in 20 years will make about $60,000 because of state raises. (State salaries now average $57,000.) At 55, the employee gets 40 percent of his or her final year’s salary as pension—a cushy proviso that, as of 2002, was unique to California. Most states wait until 60 or 65, but California’s standard pension goes to 55-year-olds, and life expectancy is 87. Thus, a 20-year office employee who made $60,000 in the last year gets a $24,000 pension. It grows steadily, to $43,000 by age 87, thanks to a sweet cost-of-living deal. That employee’s pension payout from age 55 to age 87, according to the state Department of Finance, totals $1 million.

Judge Baker for yourself—on Thursdays

Re “A sometimes dangerous Baker” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Clubber, January 13):

Christian Kiefer’s review of Sherman Baker got a few things wrong.

First of all, Sherman has a regular gig at the Torch Club on Thursdays, not Wednesdays, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Second, Kiefer can only explain Baker’s popularity by making the absurd statement that Baker’s success is due to an association with Jackie Greene and Dig Music. Then he follows with the equally inane comment that Baker “has grown to sound increasingly like Greene.”

If your music critic doesn’t know Thursday from Wednesday and can’t see and hear the obvious differences between Sherman Baker and Jackie Greene, perhaps he should find a new line of work. In the absence of an adequate assessment, folks should just come out and see Sherman Baker and judge for themselves if this talented young musician knows how to entertain an audience.

Jeff Ellis

Cover issues

Re “Entertainment and damnation” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Clubber, January 27):

After reading this article and after receiving many calls and e-mails from my fans, I thought I’d write a note in response to Mr. Kiefer’s review and comments.

It’s apparent that Mr. Kiefer wasn’t impressed with me and my band and has an issue with “cover bands” and us not being “remarkable.” As my late grandmother used to say, “There’s one true thing in life: Some people are going to love you, and some aren’t.” To those of my fans and folks who hear us perform and love/like us, I say thank you for your support and the enjoyment that you tell us over and over again that we give you when you come out to have a great evening. That means we have done our job for that night.

To those who also like my original material, who buy my CDs and who come to different venues that I play at, where I perform my original material, I say thank you to you, also.

For me, music is about connecting with the people, and I do that in numerous ways, musically. To Mr. Kiefer—who doesn’t particularly like me, my band or cover bands in general, and finds us unremarkable—I say stay home; don’t come out to see or hear us, or go hear a band that you find “remarkable.” Why waste your time and evening on something you don’t like?

I do also want to note that there are some excellent “cover” bands that play around town—and who also happen to be excellent songwriters. For example, Roni and the Flight will be playing at Yager’s in Folsom on Friday, March 4. This is one of the best bands in Northern California, and they do not get enough recognition. Check them out.

Melonnee Desiree


Re “Eastern star” (SN&R Theater, January 27):

In last week’s review of Tibet Through the Red Box, actress Wanda Shiotsuka’s first name was incorrectly printed as Wendy. It has been corrected online.