Letters for January 22, 2004

All aboard the 21st Century

Re “Sacramento 2025” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, January 8):

Thanks for the article about the redevelopment of the rail yards. Anyone with a vision, like Joe Genshlea, deserves credit. Here’s a very different vision which, if pursued, will bring great things to all Sacramentans.

The expanded railroad museum is nice, but one can only use so many lovingly restored old trains. How about we build new ones? I propose we create something called the “Center for 21st Century Rail” and locate it in the Richards Boulevard area.

At first, it might only be a think tank—host an annual conference and maybe act as a springboard to get young engineers interested in designing new trains. But as it gathers steam, we can press for conversion of the old locomotive works into, well, new locomotive works.

The flat Central Valley is a great place to run a magnetic-levitation train. Maybe that’s feasible, maybe not. But whatever kind of trains we ultimately decide to build, we should make sure they are built right here. Building tomorrow’s trains will create thousands of high-paying jobs that will transport Sacramento into the 22nd century as one of the world’s great cities.

As for a downtown arena, forget about it. Can anyone name even one arena in a good neighborhood? Think Staples Center, Oakland, Boston or Madison Square Garden. Do you want to live next to one? Even if the neighborhood starts off good, an arena is a sure-fire bet to drag it down. Basketball is fun, but it is not a basis for economic growth. Building trains is a better solution.

Robert Horowitz

Can’t get past the shopping carts

Re “Sacramento 2025” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, January 8):

The article on Sacramento’s future missed the main problem with building and maintaining vibrant walking and biking communities.

I live, bike and walk in the Midtown Sacramento area. I cannot walk two blocks from my apartment without being harassed by the army of homeless beggars who inhabit all major cities in the United States.

From overpowering stench, angry glares and insults to physical intimidation, these beggars make pleasant urban strolls a teeth-clenching ordeal. But this article concentrates on “gentrification” and a lack of affordable housing for the poor.

The only affordable housing option appealing to most of these street bums would include free rent and a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Well-scrubbed yuppies paying taxes and increasing property values and rents are not the problem.

Name withheld by request

Feral clones rule

Re “Sacramento 2025” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, January 8):

Ah, 2025 … I remember it well. The year the Railyards Wal-Mart finally went under, having sucked the vitality out of Downtown Plaza. That was also the year the robot mayor started trying to drum up support for a new arena out in the decaying suburbs of Old North Natomas. Like anyone would go to a jai alai game in that neighborhood. Not until all the feral clones are rounded up, anyway.

Aaron McKeon

Don’t bother with Jill, ferheavensake

Re “In the spirit of détente” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, January 8):

I’m almost as bored with the letters condemning Jill Stewart as I am with Stewart’s opinions. She’s getting her stuff from the California Taxpayers Association, ferheavensake.

Just read the headline and the pull quote, and you’ve got enough of the idea to go on to the restaurant and film reviews. No irritation, no high blood pressure and no need to write a letter to the editor.

And besides, folks, this is the paper that replaced its Bites writer, who sometimes wrote with the tartness of Molly Ivins, with someone whose prose most resembles that of R.E. Graswich. What do you expect?

Alison Brennan

… unless you agree with her

Re “In the spirit of détente” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, January 8):

I am a correctional officer at California State Prison Solano in Vacaville.

A fellow officer read portions of Jill Stewart’s column regarding state spending and the fines the state paid for mismanaging the welfare system and food-stamp program to me.

I certainly agree with her, and it makes me mad to hear of this, although it was published in The Sacramento Bee some time ago. The politicians don’t like for us to know these facts. I’ve worked for the state for almost 20 years in the California Department of Corrections, so I’ve seen money wasted.

Concerning the release of “nonviolent drug offenders,” I would add some caution to this proposal. Anytime these felons are turned loose, other costs will arise in place of their incarceration. As they re-offend, there will be legal costs, victim costs, law-enforcement costs, etc. However, the state could claim that it saved money by releasing them and get away with it.

T.E. Hile
correctional officer, Roofgun #7, California State Prison Solano

McBurger shills

Re “Burgers to die for” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, January 8):

Like Ann Veneman’s public disclaimer about serving her family beef despite the mad-cow epidemic, I found Bill Forman’s article equally misleading and dripping with special interests, from both the University of California, Davis, agricultural department (heavily subsidized, I’m sure, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, being “one of the nation’s most prestigious ag schools” and all), as well as the predominant culture of Americans (including these professors) who refuse to acknowledge what their food actually is or where it comes from.

The problem is not how many cows are infected in which countries, just as the solution is not to simply kill the infected cows, who can only be identified after they are keeling over from the disease.

The real problem is that most U.S. cow farmers feed their cows other cows—not exactly their natural diet. If we are to find a real solution to mad-cow disease, and since Americans are obviously not giving up their beef or any other environmentally degrading consumption patterns any time soon, this practice of forced animal cannibalism needs to be abolished.

Dedicated meat eaters should buy organic, free-range, grass-fed animals and not support multi-million-dollar chain restaurants that are spreading on the planet like a plague. I would hope our esteemed university professors would at least realize something this simple.

Becky Allen

Politico power outage

Re “Tax the political circus” (SN&R Guest Comment, January 8):

Guest commentator Doug Link believes that “too much money is being directed toward candidates by special interests” in today’s elections. He therefore recommends a 50-percent tax on such contributions to curb the practice. Unfortunately, his proposal, like the new campaign-finance “reform” law, treats the symptoms and not the disease.

Campaign contributions are high because our public officials have immense power. Almost every field of human endeavor today—health care, transportation, education and nutrition, to name a few—is directly affected by politicians’ decisions. Those who would use—or want to avoid—such power have an incentive to contribute. Donations either secure a politician’s loyalty or his inaction, and, with so many groups competing for his attention, his price gets bid up. Legal limits on contributions are therefore merely price caps by another name.

The real solution arises from simple “supply and demand” economics: Reduce the power of our public officials, and their price will drop. No one seeks to bribe an unimportant man. A limited government, as envisioned by the founders, would need no campaign-finance reform.

Michael Mirmak

Lose the culture lens

Re “Mexifornia” by Kel Munger (SN&R In the Mix, January 8):

What Kel Munger didn’t mention in her review of Victor Davis Hanson’s book, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, is that Mexican immigration is an unending thing with no controls.

This isn’t about culture or the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It’s about the social cost of the state going broke, and I don’t have a problem with taxes. For the grocery clerk with no college education, it’s going to be the difference between working at Raley’s or working for a company like Wal-Mart.

Immigration is an explosive issue and part of the reason why Arnie got elected. Hanson can follow this book up with a sequel titled Nevada West.

And Kel, would you please take off the culture lens?

Rich Davis
Citrus Heights


Re “Nuggets and streaks” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Clubber, January 15): The band pictured in Clubber on January 15 was mislabeled. It was Th’ Losin Streaks, not the Shruggs. This correction has been made to the Web site.