Letters for June 10, 2010

Election reform worth supporting

Re “Vote with us!” (SN&R Opinion, May 27):

I agree with the SN&R endorsement of “no” on Proposition 14, but I disagree with much of the paragraph.

First, I do not think the intent of the measure is anything to be appreciated. Election laws should not be written in such a way as to predetermine the outcome of the election. That is just evil.

Your second point was that you wanted to see reform that involves instant runoff voting. I would, too, but IRV should only be used for executive positions (president, governor, other constitutional offices, and mayors and U.S. senators)—offices where only one person will be elected.

On the other hand, the purpose of legislative bodies is to represent the various constituencies in society. That can not be accomplished in single-member districts. As a result, members of legislative bodies; state Assembly, state Senate, city councils and U.S. House of Representatives should be elected from districts where several members are elected. For example, in a district electing 10 members, if a party receives 50 percent of the vote, it would receive 50 percent of the legislative seats; and if a party received 10 percent of the vote, it would receive 10 percent of the legislative seats. That way, majorities are maintained and minorities would have a voice. Everyone would have their votes count. That would be a win-win situation. This is “proportional representation.”

C.T. Weber

More barter, less Craigslist

Re “Barter town” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Feature, June 3):

Craigslist is not the only place where things can be bartered. I actually prefer BarterQuest. There is a lot of more choice and not so many scams as I experienced with Craigslist.

I totally approve of this new trend (or old-fashioned way) of trading. Selling stuff on eBay will soon be out of fashion, just wait. And with the recent economy, the numbers of people that want to barter will grow.

Lindon Baker
Via e-mail

Yep, cell phones are killing us

Re “Are cell phones killing us?” by Nancy Brands Ward (SN&R Frontlines, June 3):

I pretty much agree with what Nancy Brands Ward says in this article. One thing I would like to add is the fact that the science is being completely spun to maintain the cell-phone industry’s position.

There are studies that point clearly to the link between cell-phone radiation and cancer; for instance, the 2008 Hardell study found using a cell phone doubles your risk of malignant brain tumors. And there are lots more, but thanks to cell phone industry’s dirty tricks campaign, we are lead to believe that cell phones are safe (see http://electricsense.com/359/s-a-r-specific-absorption-rate-radiation-in-your-body).

If you are you determined about wanting to carry on using your cell phone, then it’s important to use the cell phone with the lowest SAR level. The value of knowledge about things like SAR readings and ways to protect yourself may prove literally vital to you.

So to answer your question, yes, I think cell phones are killing us, but so slowly the science has not been able to prove it yet by 110 percent (think tobacco). It’s slow, but sure.

Lloyd Burrell
via e-mail

He sez Cosmo doesn’t know his own tone

Re “Chris Garland makes me feel so dirty” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cut&Paste, June 3):

I was disgusted and sickened by Cosmo [Garvin’s] dangerous and irresponsible allegation that the Garland campaign had some semblance of control over the independent expenditures of the California Faculty Association. There’s no shower in the world that will cleanse your credibility after making those accusations, Cosmo.

Cosmo said that the CFA took his words out of context. Really? He wrote, “We’ve highlighted the [discretionary spending] that we thought seemed particularly worthy … even a little dubious” in his article “They spent our money on what?” (SN&R Feature; November 19, 2009). Those are his words, my friends; they aren’t those of the CFA.

He set the tone of the article—some council members were using their discretionary funds in a nefarious manner. The CFA didn’t have to distort anything.

Also, I find it interesting that you use the word “dirty” in reference to the Chris Garland campaign when, in this current BP environmental meltdown, you decide to ignore the fact that Kevin McCarty has received more than $6,500 from oil special interests and Chris Garland hasn’t taken any money from Big Oil. That doesn’t make you feel greasy?

Brandon Sisk

SN&R wrong on Romero

Re “Vote with us!” (SN&R Opinion, May 27):

I could not believe it when I read your endorsements and they included Gloria Romero for state superintendent of public instruction. Ms. Romero stands for everything that would destroy our system of public education.

Contrary to what the right-wing press has been pushing for decades, public schools in California are doing a remarkable job considering what they are contending with. [Taking into account] the roadblocks that have been thrown up, including declining funding, rising numbers of children entering school unable to speak English, rising poverty among the families that have school-age children and constant attacks from politicians and the press, the people that work in traditional public schools and the children that attend are working harder and accomplishing better results every year.

Ms. Romero calls for expanding charter schools. Charter schools, as a whole, do not perform better than traditional public schools, but they may be a source of future profits for her corporate sponsors. The sponsors of Ms. Romero’s candidacy hide behind the cloak of EdVoice, an organization bought and paid for by big corporate names. EdVoice has expended millions of dollars in its quest to undermine and ultimately dismantle a public-school system that once was the envy of a nation and, due to defunding and right-wing attacks, has been reduced to a shell of its former self.

Ms. Romero wrote and saw enacted legislation than may result in the firing of effective teachers, counselors and principals, regardless of their job performance. Ms. Romero backs legislation that would make it possible for effective, experienced teachers to be fired for nonperformance-based issues. She is in favor of establishing a temporary workforce of inexperienced, low-paid teachers that would negatively affect long-term student learning and create a revolving door of short-term poorly trained school staffs.

To the inexperienced eye, Gloria Romero may appear to be the candidate of reform, but in reality, she is the candidate of destruction.

Ken Poppers

For him, it’s opposite day

Re: “Vote with us!” (SN&R Opinion, May 27):

Thank you so much for your informative and insightful endorsements for the upcoming primary election. I know I’ll be making the correct choice at the ballot box if I just vote opposite of your recommendations.

Jim Peoples

Save money, use shelter volunteers

Re “Save our shelter” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, May 27):

With so many services to so many being cut, some might wonder why we even bother funding animal services. But aside from the pride many of us felt over Sacramento County’s new shelter, there is ample evidence that officers investigating animal cruelty cases often discover indications of other crimes or serious domestic problems taking place.

And of course, a reduction of hours and space at the animal shelter and an increase in the euthanasia rate of shelter animals will mean that more people will be tempted to “dump” animals they cannot keep. Packs of neglected stray dogs represent potential hazards to humans and domestic animals, and rounding more strays up will take money and resources.

One thing I don’t get is why cut volunteer and foster programs? During times like these, wouldn’t expanding these programs be more cost-effective? Keeping more adoptable animals in peoples’ homes would free up shelter space, and having more volunteers working in the shelter would reduce the need for some paid positions at least.

Erica Wagner

Obama: proof the two-party system sucks

Re “As good as it gets” by David Sweet (SN&R Essay, May 20):

I remember thinking during the presidential campaign that [Barack] Obama would be the biggest disappointment since New Coke. I didn’t believe he would deliver on his “change you can believe [in].” And with a few exceptions, he hasn’t.

David Sweet asks us to consider Obama’s “brilliant” appointments. Really? Take the Supreme Court. Republican presidents nominate uncompromising right-wing ideologues. Obama nominates middle-of-the road “compromisers” and “pragmatists.” What’s brilliant about that?

Sweets states that Obama “put our scandalous for-profit system of health insurance on the table.” Say what? The first thing Obama did on health-care reform was cut a deal with Big Pharma. Our health-care system, based on private, for-profit insurance was never on the table; he never even considered a single-payer system. And he flip-flopped on a government option and individual mandate. What he signed into law gave the private, for-profit insurance companies a windfall Washington gravy train of increased taxpayer subsidies, which the overpaid insurance executives will recycle into the campaign funds of their political prostitutes in Washington to ensure the system never changes and the gravy train never ends. This system will never be universal because it is too redundantly inefficient and expensive. …

The vast majority of politicians in the two-party system in Washington are scandalously cozy with big business. We can never root out the culture of corruption in the regulatory system until we root it out in the political system. This means dumping the two-party system because it is one system, the corporate interest system.

How many disasters do you need until you are fed up, realize we need better and stop settling for the corporate prostitutes the two-party system keeps pimping out to you!

I was an independent candidate for Congress in 1992, at the end of the savings-and-loan disaster and taxpayer-funded bailout. I said then that, if you continued to support the two-party corporate interest system, it would happen again. I tell you again: If you continue to support the two-party system, there will be another financial disaster in 10 to 15 years. Bet on it: Your kids’ college fund, your retirement fund, your job.

Jan Bergeron