Letters for May 21, 2009

Letter of the week
The Legislature’s own ‘end-run’

Re “An epic fail” (SN&R Editorial, May 7):

Your editorial recommends reforming the initiative process by banning paid signature gathering, which has become a “big-money end-run around the Legislature.” There’s also reform needed for measures the Legislature puts on the ballot, as illustrated by the May 19 special election [measures].

At the very moment voters mark their ballots, they are looking at a title and summary prepared by the legislative advocates of the propositions, an “end-run” around the attorney general—the legally authorized preparer. The secretary of state is a silent partner in this form of election fraud by selectively omitting telling voters who prepared the title and summary when it is done by her former legislative colleagues.

[Sacramento] Bee columnist Dan Walters referred to this legislative chicanery as trying to “fix” the election. As the Senate leader, the No. 1 fixer has to be Sacramento’s own senator, the self-righteous [Sen.] Darrell Steinberg.

John Sarich

‘New atheists’ aren’t completely wrong

Re “‘The intellectual love of God’” by Steven H. Propp (SN&R Sacreligious! May 14):

As a fellow spiritually inclined agnostic, I agree with [Steven H. Propp] that we should all be more respectful toward “religionists” as people who are tying to make their way in this world and find meaning, purpose and happiness, no matter what we think of their religious beliefs.

However, if by the “new atheists” with whom he takes exception he means such eloquently outspoken critics of religion as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens, I’m not sure I agree with him that they are being repugnantly intolerant of religion or religionists.

I think they raise intelligent and sound arguments for doubting—if not rejecting—many conventional religious beliefs and for opposing the efforts of those who hold them to impose those beliefs on the rest of us in our laws and public schools. I don’t see how they are out of line in doing this.

Where I think at least some of them do miss the boat, so to speak, is to implicitly reject all religion and spirituality, instead of merely arguing against their most dubiously fundamentalist manifestations.

Steve Curless

Passive and individualistic

Re “An outsider’s view of Earth” by Fred Branfman (SN&R Feature, May 7):

In what may be the most important article of this decade, [Fred] Branfman purposefully reorders American priorities. He succinctly summarizes the planetary and personal tragedies that await us all, in the absence of a massive shift in perspective.

In response to the question of why we blindly continue marching toward our death, two key factors were overlooked.

First, we no longer have the requisite capabilities for doing otherwise because we have been rendered passive and intellectually impaired by our addiction to TV combined with our need to be entertained.

Second, as a result of our emphasis on individualism at the expense of collaboration, we have become social isolates who haven’t a clue about how to organize effectively to bring about system change.

Susan M. Osborne
Citrus Heights

Zoo animals can’t make it in the wild

Re “Rattling some cages” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, May 7):

The so-called “Born Free USA” does express great sympathy for our confined zoo animals, and they do have a point. However, they overlook the fact that many of our animals could not survive in the wild due to past injuries, and that most animals in the wild are constantly hungry and fending off predators. Their view of “educational” is not the same as ours.

Pat Oehler
zoo docent


Bravo for home gardens …

Re “Vegetable matter” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green Days, May 7):

The food movement in Sacramento is growing and growing quickly. Fueled by the economic downturn, increased costs, environmental and health protections, Sacramentans are finding more and more reasons to grow green thumbs. From front yards in Oak Park to community gardens in Midtown, the evidence of the desire for fresh, local and organic is tremendous.

And people aren’t doing it alone. Not only are everyday people growing more food, but new community organizations are emerging that both create and sustain healthier neighborhoods. For example, the Oak Park Crop Swap is part of this emerging movement of many first-time gardeners growing organic fruits and vegetables. They swap extra food each week, share tips on how to grow better and take part in communal food activities.

Sacramento Urban Fruit Sustainability, where residents harvested almost 3,000 pounds of fruit in just a few week’s time this past spring, is taking advantage of the abundance of fruit in people’s yards. Neighbors harvest fruit from each other’s yards, keep a little for themselves and donate the majority to local food banks. The group is continuing to grow, hoping to harvest more and different types of food to share with those who need it most.

New neighborhood organizations, and the emphasis on growing organic and local, are good news for Sacramento. With more connected communities and more healthy food, we are not only ensuring food security through this downturn, but building a new, better food economy.

Paul Schramski Towers
state director
Pesticide Watch Education Fund

… Now, bring on the home greenhouses

Re “Vegetable matter” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green Days, May 7):

Better yet, buy a greenhouse and grow veggies all year long! Check out www.sierragreenhouse.com. Each greenhouse is made to order by a local craftsman. Superior product and attractive, too!

Jo Noble

Keep the door knockers busy

Re “Growing up J.W.” by Jenn Kistler and Kel Munger (SN&R Sacreligious! May 7):

I had lots of fun reading the online comments about this piece, as the ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and the current Jehovah’s Witnesses squared off to shout at each other (in a virtual way). The really good news is that while they were shouting at each other in cyberspace, they weren’t knocking on my (very real) door.

Now, will you please do a piece about ex-Mormon missionaries? I’d like to be left alone.

Jan Kline