Letters for May 2, 2002

Secretary bites back

Re “Considering the Alternatives” (SN&R Capital Bites, April 25) and “Swastika of David” (SN&R Capital Bites, April 18):

C’mon now, Bites. There’s no reason for “progressives to swallow their issues.” Governor Gray Davis has moved the state forward in every major area of public policy. Take your pick: signing the nation’s most progressive domestic partnership laws; enacting America’s toughest gun laws; providing for more urban parks than any other governor in the state’s history; supporting record investments in open space, clean water, and protecting Headwaters old growth; expanding CalGrants, making it the largest college financial aid system in America; giving consumers more rights with their HMOs; increasing the minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and reforming workers comp; signing new protections for farm worker housing and safety; expanding health care to more than 550,000 low-income kids; providing new rights for contraceptive care; expanding privacy rights; providing record funds for child care and homeless protection; and protecting a woman’s right to choose by signing seven key pieces of pro-choice legislation.

And while we’re at it, Bites missed the boat a week earlier when he criticized the governor for holding a “non-news” press conference. While Bites was busy eavesdropping on another reporter’s conversation at the Hart Senior Center (and apparently without his permission, running his words in his column), the governor was announcing his support for another progressive piece of legislation. This one requires pharmacies to post information about the availability of a discount Medicare prescription drug program that only one-third of the state’s seniors are taking advantage of. With many California seniors waking up each day choosing between getting their prescriptions filled or eating, Governor Davis thought it was worthy to bring attention to the program and this new legislation. For SN&R readers who do care, information on the program is available at www.aging.ca.gov.

Steven Maviglio press secretary Governor Gray Davis

No peace by force

Re “Swastika of David” (SN&R Capital Bites, April 18):

While our message of peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis came across generally, and sympathetically, in the report from the Capitol protest, I must add several short comments:

1. The impression is conveyed in Bites’ report that most or many of the several hundred protesters against Israel’s occupation were carrying signs equating the swastika and the Star of David. In fact there were only a few. I and some others from the Middle East Peace Project and Jewish Voice for Peace made a point of speaking calmly to them, and some seemed to understand why such slogans are counterproductive, shutting hearts and minds that need to be reached.

2. That’s not to say that the Israeli occupation is somehow better than others—on the contrary, it has become just about as bad as any, as inevitably happens when a nation is held captive and brutalized if it tries to resist. Of course it’s patently wrong to say that either side has embarked on a course of mass extermination, the horrific end product of Nazism. But the main problem with such a facile equation, and at least as many Sharon supporters often equate Arafat with Hitler, is that Nazism is considered in our political psyche to be the ultimate embodiment of evil. To call your enemies Nazis is to say that they must be destroyed totally, that any means is justified in thwarting them, that there really is nothing to talk about. No peace is possible with Nazis, while negotiation for peace, justice and reconciliation is exactly what is needed between Palestinians and Israelis.

3. It’s an oversimplification to say, as I was indirectly quoted, that there is “no other way” but two separate states, Israel and Palestine. Establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is absolutely necessary today, the immediate alternative to occupation. But it’s important not to foreclose other future options that could go further toward enabling Palestinians and Israeli Jews alike to realize their attachment to all parts of the country. These cannot be imposed by force; they could only evolve under conditions of mutual acceptance and true equality between the two national groups. Palestinians and Israelis need to share the country one way or another; that is truly the only alternative to mutual destruction.

David Mandel via e-mail

Beyond veggies

Re “Mandella’s Last Spring” (SN&R News, April 18):

I ran to the corner SN&R box at 6 a.m. of Thursday 18th, hoping that I’d find a nice article on our beloved Mandella Garden. What I found was the best article I’ve read on the subject in the few years my family and I have been involved in this struggle, because it captured what I as a boardmember so often unsuccessfully try to explain to the officials at CADA and elsewhere: The intangible benefits that Mandella Garden provides. This article very beautifully explained why if you scrape up the fertile soil of the garden and dump it upon another semi “mitigated” toxic site on the edge of town, the Mandella Garden and Orchard you will not create!

It also listed eloquently the hard facts like the significant greenspace deficit that we have in Sacramento. Most importantly, it showed the hope and vision that all of us new and old gardeners have as we plant new basil and Asian footlong beans and expand our community organic strawberry plot, that such a place as this, beautiful and nurturing for all who’ve entered it for over 30 years, will be preserved for all future Sacramento children and adults. Our only task is to search for how!

We have so far come up with just such a plan as the Sacramento Mutual Housing Association, a nonprofit affordable housing agency which has offered to buy the property at market rate and build affordable housing on the adjacent parking lot and thereby preserve 90 to 100 percent of the garden. Presently we are going to City Council members with this new plan. What’s even more incredible is that they apparently offered this at the time of the initial RFP, and CADA flatly rejected the SMHA offer on grounds that they did not want low-income housing in this spot. Is this why we have Marc Brown, the city’s affordable housing advocate on the CADA Board?

If your readers wish to help, they should contact City Council at 264-5407 and ask for their councilmember or the mayor to support the garden’s new proposal with SMHA to save the garden.

Glayol Sahba via e-mail

Organic freeway tomatoes?

Re “Mandella’s Last Spring” (SN&R News, April 18):

While the executive director of CADA is correct in saying that there have been numerous meetings where citizens have expressed the need for more housing in the Central City, he failed to mention that at the two community meetings in the spring of 2000 sponsored by CADA, and at last year’s City Council meeting, the public made it clear that the garden should remain intact. Citizens do support CADA’s plan to rehabilitate the blighted R Street corridor as well as other projects.

Unlike San Francisco and other Bay Area communities, Sacramento still possesses a considerable quantity of vacant lots downtown and throughout the city that are ripe for development. The community does not believe that moving the garden to 5th and W, adjacent to the intersection of two busy freeways with no soundwalls, is “mitigation.” We call this poor urban planning.

Marc Brandes Sacramento

Premature declaration

Re “A Catholic Affirmation” by Patrick Powers (SN&R Guest Comment, April 18):

The news “Former Altar Boy Not Molested” that is suggested by Mr. Powers is premature. The stories of molestation by priests have only begun to surface. Years of cover-ups by the church, the years of silence by those troubled by their experiences as sexual victims, and the unhealthy total respect and adoration by Catholics of their priests has kept this outrage under cover.

Those who have engaged in these perverse activities and those who covered up the activities and protected the criminals must be punished. Sexual abuse and forced sex is a crime and must be treated as such. Priests who take a criminal road must be treated as any other citizen. We would be outraged if a teacher engaged in sexual acts with a student and the superintendent just transferred him to another school as the bishops did in transferring the priests to other parishes. The church whose founder said, “Suffer the little children unto me,” meant that those children must be loved and protected. That church has instead chosen to protect the institution. Shameful!

Ruth Holbrook Sacramento