Letters for June 21, 2001

Not a trusting soul

Re “Meltdown!” by Bill Bradley (SN&R Cover, June 7):

Governor Davis said on the radio last week, “Trust me,” and I laughed out loud. Thank you for the Bradley series on energy. Having not paid attention all these months, I made myself read it carefully.

The energy crisis highlights the importance of election reform. For instance, last election, if we’d had Preferential Voting—in which voters list all the candidates they can stomach in order of preference—my first choice would have been the Green candidate, Dan Hamburg, with the Democrat, Gray Davis, my second choice.

If we’d had Preferential Voting, it’s likely that many Californians, knowing that their “reasonable” second choice protects their vote from being “wasted,” would have done the same. The Green candidate would have been elected and our energy crisis would have been handled quite differently! Bradley makes it clear that no matter how little “real experience” the Greens have, it could not have been worse than what Davis has done!

Meanwhile, thank goodness consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield is working on an initiative, the last resort for Californians when our corporate-owned Governor and Assembly fail.

Californians got the elected “representatives” we deserve because we haven’t been paying attention. “Meltdown!” will help many of us catch up and start doing something.

Lauren Ayers

Breathing room

Re “Way Cool” (SN&R Editorial, June 7):

Have you been out to the far reaches of the county to see what’s sprouting in fields that formerly grew crops? Huge two-story abominations scarcely 5 feet apart, with yards so small you could never grow a decent tree.

These behemoths, stacked one next to the other, block the Delta breezes and create canyons that hold the heat. What energy consumption can we expect from new developments like this?

In a two-story house, the second floor is always hot in the summer. I suppose a family could live upstairs in winter and move downstairs in the summer to conserve electricity.

Before I read your editorial, I just detested these places because they’re god-awful ugly, cram too many people into areas that already have problems and—dare I say this—attract the loonies from L.A. and S.F. who give developers confidence that people will pay to live like sardines.

The suggestions you made in your editorial are very good, but we need to insist that new developments allow room for trees and other living things.

Jan James

A painful paragraph

Re “Pain and Suffering” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, May 31):

As a lawyer, I read with interest Chrisanne Beckner’s article about Eve Paprocki and her search for justice as the result of alleged veterinary malpractice perpetrated on her poor pooch.

One paragraph, however, stuck in my throat like leftover pizza from Chucky Cheese: In describing Paprocki’s legal options, Beckner writes: “If Paprocki chose small claims court, she’d also have difficulty finding an attorney. Such cases are rarely worth the work, and the vet, who usually has malpractice insurance, hardly feels the sting if he loses.”

As any Joe Blow who watches People’s Court or Judge Judy knows, you don’t need a lawyer to prosecute a small claims suit. Indeed, the whole purpose of small claims court is to provide a forum for people who cannot get an attorney because the amounts at stake are so small. The parties always appear pro per; attorneys are not even allowed.

The absurdity of the paragraph becomes even more apparent when we discover that Paprocki eventually found an attorney to file suit in a conventional civil court, where it is far more expensive to litigate than small claims court and requires a considerable investment of a lawyer’s time and energy.

I actually liked Beckner’s article as a human-interest story. For this one paragraph, however, I needed a plastic bag and pooper-scooper.

Paul Berger

Seeing Rouge

Re “Flaming Low Camp” by Jim Lane (SN&R Film, June 7):

I always like Jim Lane’s movie reviews, but I think the one he gave Moulin Rouge was off.

The movie Moulin Rouge has been out for about two weeks and I have already seen it twice. Luhrmann has created an innovative, inventive, wild ride of a movie. Moulin Rouge is pure art, excitement and enjoyment. I do agree that the movie started too fast and was a little confusing, but it unfolded into an extravaganza. The acting ranged from crazy camp to a serious romantic love story. The musical numbers made people in the movie theater laugh out loud or gave them a lump in their throat.

I seldom write about any reviews or seldom care about what movie critics think, but because I totally enjoyed this movie I want others in the Sacramento area to see this movie for themselves.

I think most people will find that Moulin Rouge has created a totally new concept in movie watching.

Terry Teller

Stats, schmatz

Re “The Right to Just Say No” by Paul Mullinger (SN&R Guest Comment, June 7):

It’s always interesting the way statistics are used to make a point.

In the Guest Comment by Paul Mullinger with the above title, he states that the S.F. police report that “ … only about 5 percent of violent altercations involve the mentally ill.” One’s first impression is that it’s a very small percentage. But a more useful statistic would have answered the question: How many of the mentally ill are involved in violent altercations? The first stat uses all violent altercations, which includes those who are not mentally ill. An answer to my question would most likely provide an entirely different (and much more informative) conclusion.

Bob Fry

Looking inward

Re “Dam the River or Dim the Lights” by state Senator Rico Oller (SN&R Guest Comment, May 31):

I agree with Senator Rico Oller … about one thing. We have problems. But rather than point fingers at those “radical” environmentalists, let’s take a look at ourselves!

The fact we really need to “face” is not a matter of increasing power production. This is not to say we shouldn’t plan wisely to increase supply. Rather, the real problem we face as a society is our shortsightedness. We have separated ourselves from the environment for so long that, despite the growing signs that we are seriously altering the planet, we still do not see ourselves as part of nature!

Senator Oller’s motivation for wanting the Auburn Dam built may be financial, philosophical or a mixture of the two. That’s another can of worms. Either way, he is representative of the “leadership” that looks about as far into the future as a drunk begging change for another drink. He speaks of “shortsighted and selfish politicians” as if all who oppose the dam do it out of fear. Did it occur to him that many might actually oppose damming one of the last outstanding major river stretches in the Sierra on moral grounds? How many canyons, with their unique habitat, scenery and recreation resources, must be sacrificed for our gluttonous power use?

I could easily make the case that the Auburn Dam is not cost-justifiable. I mean, if we’re buying the lowest cost power possible, how can we afford power from a structure that will run into the billions of dollars? But, I’ll leave that argument to the taxpayer leagues. What is the real cost of this mammoth obscenity? I suggest to all who support the Auburn Dam that they visit the natural wonder of these rare free-flowing forks of the American River. Hike the trails, float the rapids or just sit by the fire in silence and wonderment that 1.6 million people live just to your west. Think about how lucky we are to have such a place so close by.

Then ask yourself, could I conserve a bit to save this place for future generations? Can I push my representative to fund truly renewable power sources such as wind and solar? Can I get off my ass long enough to get involved with something that matters a bit more than what type of car I can impress my neighbors with or whether my fantasy baseball team won tonight?

It starts with us, folks. Politicians are never leaders until they’re forced to be. We all need to have the courage to look beyond our consumer-driven economy, beyond our toys and egos, to be caretakers of this little planet for the generations to come. For we are all very much part of her … even Rico.

Neal Bergquist