Letters for June 2, 2011

Kudos for wardens

Re “Riding with the warden” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, May 26):

Excellent article concerning our wardens and the challenges they face protecting our natural resources. Every Californian who enjoys being outdoors and taking advantage of our parks, waterways, wildlife refuges, lakes, etc., should appreciate the work that these wardens do, and push our Legislature to create more funding to hire more wardens. Our natural resources are under assault from poachers, marijuana growers and unsavory folks who don’t care about anyone or anything but themselves. Kudos to the wardens for a job well done and to SN&R for a comprehensive view of a day in the life of a game warden.

Christine Joab

The battle continues

Re “Boycotts, bath salts and brawling” by Raheem Hosseini (SN&R Frontlines, May 19):

Thank you for exposing the Sacramento [Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions] group’s attack on the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op for what it is: a publicity stunt designed to generate media attention for its cause—no matter what the cost to the co-operative.

Since your article was written, the group has threatened legal action against us. This would force our co-operative, one of the most successful in America, to divert funds from our efforts to save farms and promote sustainable agriculture and spend it on lawyers. In addition, some of its members also have written to the board saying they are not just boycotting Israeli products, but are boycotting our store entirely. They have also threatened our suppliers, including the Good Humus Farm, suggesting that the co-operative is discriminating against them because of their political views—never mind that one of the core principles of cooperatives is that anyone can join and enjoy their membership regardless of their political opinion.

We are saddened and disappointed by these actions. The Co-op’s board of directors is committed to democratic member control of our business, respecting the cooperative principles and ensuring that no matter what your political or religious views, our store will continue to provide the benefits of natural foods and products, economic cooperation and sustainable practices to as many people as possible in the communities we serve. If you share this view, please join us at our Owner Meeting on June 7 at 7 p.m. in the Community Learning Center.

Steven Maviglio
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

No name-calling

Re “Boycotts, bath salts and brawling” by Raheem Hosseini (SN&R Frontlines, May 19):

Name-calling seems to be the only arrow in Barry Broad’s quiver. The international BDS movement is not aimed at Israeli Jews, nor at Jews in general (many BDS supporters here and in Israel are Jewish), but at the repressive policies of the state of Israel against Palestinians.

Should gross violations of human rights affect Co-op policies? Wouldn’t a true co-op put such a question to its members?

Debate and discussion would take us further than name-calling.

Jeanie Keltner

Palestinians are a farm issue

Re “Boycotts, bath salts and brawling” by Raheem Hosseini (SN&R Frontlines, May 19):

Thank you for the much-needed article about the controversy at our local food co-op. It’s great to be able to hear about what is happening right here in Sacramento. There were some blatant omissions in the SN&R article, however.

The Co-op’s general manager, Paul Cultrera, has denied the “tabling” privileges (the permission to have a table of information in front of the Co-op) not only to the Sacramento Area Peace Action members who allegedly offended customers, but also to entire groups of people who had never been present during any alleged incidents at the Co-op. The groups Veterans for Peace, Sacramento Coalition for Palestinian Rights, and the [Sacramento] Co-op Owners for Democracy [and Human Rights] all applied for permits to table about the Palestinian-rights issue in February or March; all three groups were told by Mr. Cultrera that they could not table on the pro-Palestinian-rights issue. SAPA was told that they could table on any issue they desire except the pro-Palestinian-rights issue. …

The Co-op board has said that they don’t want to become involved in politics; that the purpose of the Co-op is to provide healthy food. But the Co-op is very involved in many political issues, especially the saving of local farms. If you read their quarterly newsletter or go by the store, you see much about “One Farm at a Time” and other farming-related political issues. The proposed boycott is no different; we are talking about saving the old farms of indigenous people in the Middle East.

As you read these words, quite unfortunately, old Palestinian olive groves or pomegranate orchards are being bulldozed down, using bulldozers made by U.S. companies and protected by guns provided with U.S. taxpayer money, so that Israeli settlers can take over the land. The proposed boycott does address the local farms issue, that we as taxpayers and consumers are intertwined with, like it or not. We Co-op members who care about our sisters and brothers, the local farmers anywhere, need to pay attention to what we buy and where it comes from.

And finally: We are petitioning the Co-op not “because they’ll listen” as the article said. We are petitioning the Co-op because it purports to be a democratic institution where members can vote on issues about products carried in the store. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s don’t pretend to be democratic. We love our local food Co-op because, according to its bylaws and its overriding principles, the Co-op is meant to be controlled by its members. We sincerely want the Co-op to flourish both economically and democratically. Suppressing a vote on an issue that concerns us all is severely compromising our important local institution, the Sacramento Natural Foods Cooperative.

Robin Weld

Costs of cars

Re “Low-Car Diet” by Melody Stone (SN&R Green Days, May 19):

Biking is often more time-efficient than transit and certainly cheaper and healthier than driving. However, in the cost comparison between using her own car and using a Zipcar, Ms. Stone fails to account for the ownership costs of her car. It also appears likely she’s underestimated the costs of her own car maintenance, including tire replacement.

Depreciation is an expense that can be quite significant, amounting to thousands of dollars a year. AAA says that average depreciations costs in 2010 were $3,554. If she bought her Civic used and plans to keep it for a while, the depreciation might be less, but it should not be overlooked, nor should the costs of financing, “garaging,” license, registration and taxes, which add even more to ownership costs.

Walt Seifert