Letters for February 5, 2009

Letter of the week
Triple-header letter

Re “What are you sacrificing because of the economy?” (SN&R Streetalk, January 22); “Sue the state!” (SN&R Letters, January 22); and “Imagineering Sacramento” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 22):

The Streetalk comment that the 10 percent state-employee pay cut means state workers won’t be able to save as much: I am new to state service, and even though I was a well-paid project manager at Intel (before their massive layoffs two years ago), the best I could find with the state is a little over half of what I made in the private sector. That’s right; although the [media] portray state workers as overpaid and underworked, the truth is state service pays far less than the private sector pays when you start out. On my current salary, I can barely pay my bills. So a 10 percent cut for me doesn’t mean not saving; it means not paying my mortgage and becoming homeless.

But the Legislature got its pay raise this year, and the top political appointments get to keep their six-figure salaries, plus perks. At least I have enough income that I’ll be able to buy groceries, even if I’ll have no home and no kitchen to cook meals in.

The letter from Denise Langley suggests that inmates should sue the state over inadequate medical care in the prisons. They have, in Plata v. Schwarzenegger; Coleman v. Schwarzenegger; Perez v. Tilton. Three federal courts have ordered the state to provide levels of inmate medical care that complies with the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution banning “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Plata resulted in a massive bureaucracy under Clark Kelso to fix inmate medical problems, and Attorney General Jerry Brown has this week petitioned the court to dismantle the receivership, but he has no proposal on how we’ll fix the problem without Kelso and without reverting to the “deliberate indifference” that previously characterized inmate health care.

Coleman and Perez resulted in a much smaller organization that provides for inmate mental-health care and dental care, and I am part of that organization.

In Cosmo Garvin’s column, I was happy to see the item about the J-Pod. I saw this vehicle demonstrated at the Government Technology Conference in the Sacramento Convention Center almost a year ago.

The J-Pod is a lightweight monorail passenger car. Stations would be set up every couple of blocks, just like light rail, but being smaller and lighter, would take much less energy to run. It is computer-programmed, so when you get in, you just enter the station closest to your destination and off you go, like having a car but without having to drive or face traffic congestion. It’s all solar powered, so clean renewable energy and the excess solar power not used to run the cars would be sold back into the electric power grid.

I got to ride a short way across the convention center in it, and I would have thought it was the solution to pollution and traffic congestion. But alas, given the power of the auto and oil industries, I suspect this will never be more than a curious novelty in the handful of small towns that have so far been brave enough to try it (no major city that I know of has yet bucked the tide of the rich and powerful oil and auto interests to try this system).

It would be great if Sacramento could be the first. Where’s your courage to support this, Kevin Johnson? Make Sac the “clean, green energy” capital of the world!

Edward Hass
via e-mail

Watch that language

Re “Change of heart” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, January 29):

As a mother, child advocate and outraged reader, I must challenge Ms. Yannello’s choice of words in describing the incidents leading up to LaVette Columbo’s son’s incarceration for abusing an underage boy.

In her piece, Ms. Yannello describes when Ms. Columbo first became aware that her son David was a pedophile: “The local paper that morning had splashed the story of David’s arrest and confession to a 10-year-long relationship with an underage boy.” While I will reserve my judgment and sentiments toward Ms. Columbo’s son’s actions for the moment, I must underscore the importance of ethics and semantics on the part of the journalist. No matter what your story’s angle is, child-abusing adults and their underage victims do not have “relationships.”

The use of the word relationship in this context is abhorrent and inappropriate in that it implies consent on the part of the blameless child victim, at worst, and that there is compassion and appropriate interest and engagement on the part of the abusing adult, at best.

I implore the editors of SN&R to have your own change of heart. The next time a proposed article comes across your desk, consider the context and implications of words and not just the grammatical use of them.

Camille Wise

Justify and honor Providence

Re “Walking the map” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Feature, January 22):

If ever a story of any private man’s adventure in the world of walking was worth making public (and acceptable to be published), it is this one.

The wonders and horrors of this man’s life exceed all that is to be found extant. The story of his walk is told with modesty, with seriousness and with a certain religious application of events applied to the uses of a wise man, namely, to the instruction of others by his example to justify and honor Providence in all the variety of the walk’s circumstance. Let it happen as it will.

I believe this walk to be a just history of fact; neither is there any appearance of B.L. Kennedy in it. And because all things are disputed, whether the improvement as well as the diversion and instruction of the reader, so without further compliment to the world, he has done a great service in this publication.

Alan N. Satow

In it for the journey

Re “Walking the map” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Feature, January 22):

I loved this story; I love the writing. My thoughts about the destinations before the trip didn’t change after reading this, but the journey was delightful.

Angela Ramirez

Trespassing stupidity

Re “Walking the map” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Feature, January 22):

Josh Fernandez’s article about his hike through Sacramento includes a segment on walking across a railroad bridge along with a snide editorial comment about Amtrak. The author ignored the fact that all kinds of railroad traffic uses that bridge, but that’s a fact that probably isn’t important to his rant. Fernandez says, referencing Amtrak, “The company’s track record with, you know, killing people, isn’t exactly gleaming.”

Here’s a news flash for you, Scooter: Trains of all kinds kill people. And that, of course, is because those people are stupid enough to walk on railroad tracks. The trains don’t leave the rails and hunt people down to kill them.

Railroad tracks are private property and walking on those tracks is trespassing. Doing so can get you ticketed or arrested. The railroad police force works closely with local police agencies, and given the current often-extreme nature of national security laws, they take trespassers seriously. Quite apart from Fernandez voluntarily placing himself in extreme danger and then trying to place the responsibility on someone else, he broke the law by walking on that bridge.

Unlike automobiles, trains have to follow the tracks. They can’t swerve out of the way when you occupy a space where the train is going to be. A train also can’t stop in a short distance, as it can require a half mile or more to stop, depending on its speed when it applies its brakes after seeing a moron trespasser ahead.

Fernandez likely needs to have this spelled out for him, so here it is. If you trespass on private property and walk on railroad tracks and ignore the presence of the trains, there’s a good chance that sooner or later you are going to be hurt or killed because of your own actions and poor judgment. It’s not the train’s fault.

Jeff Johnston
via e-mail

Sorry, Cosmo, J-Pods won’t work

Re “Imagineering Sacramento” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 22):

As part of my final class in undergraduate school, I delved into and became enthralled with the concept of Personal Rapid Transit. It became the subject of my quarter-long project, applied to the urban core of Los Angeles.

My instructor in landscape architecture couldn’t dissuade me. I became a veritable propeller head on the subject. It took me a few years to wake up to the full array of consequences of elevated modes of transit as applied to dense urban settings. People movers may be fine for theme parks and airports, but within the central business district of any city, they become a blight upon the urban setting.

PRT is the most problematic with the constant necessity of cleaning up the trash, human feces, urine, vomit, grime and dust, not to mention pigeon shit. Automated vehicles and support structures become billboards for graffiti. These structures overwhelm and shadow the street scene. They would create a nightmare right out of Blade Runner and Metropolis.

As well, such long, linear structures are particularly subject to damage wrought by seismic waves. Enough of such absurd notions.

John Crandell

Don’t disrespect God

Re “Why I go to church” by Ted Cox (SN&R Sacreligious!, January 22):

What [Ted Cox] says in [his] essay reminds me of a parable Jesus taught, but I will put it in more “modern” terms so you’ll see what I mean:

Imagine you “crash” one of the most prestigious weddings in your community because you want to socialize with the famous people there and eat the food, even though you didn’t pay into its gift registry or have anything else to do with it. Suddenly, you get caught while trying to pick up a sister of the bridegroom, and you’re told, “You are being rude and embarrassing, but we will forgive you if you do as we say at our wedding. Take this suit jacket with two roses to wear in honor of the bride and groom like every man here, and please consider it as a gift from us.”

But you arrogantly refuse, saying, “Hell no. I’m fine. I’ll wear and do here as I please.”

For this, they decide then you must be escorted out by a bouncer in the sight of all those prominent people you had come wanting to impress.

Yes, God is loving and merciful, but what happens to the rude wedding “crasher” in this scenario will happen when the Lord returns, if [Cox] continues to desire what the “religious” have, but then refuses to receive the Lord who has given them eternal salvation as well.

Michelle Kunert