Letters for October 14, 2010

Letter of the week
Stop fraud, lower taxes and tuition

Re “Conflicts of interest and high-risk investing on the UC Board of Regents leaves students paying the bill” by Peter Byrne (SN&R Feature, October 7):

This is not at all surprising. All universities, cities and states have “comprehensive annual financial reports” that disclose their vast investments holdings. The profits from these investments don’t go toward providing services, they go into the pockets of those that manage them.

Elected officials and university heads take these positions in order to divert this money into the hands of their friends and associates. The people in this story that were caught were simply too greedy and didn’t hide the money trail like the rest of them.

If you think that the city or a university is broke and needs to raise tuition or taxes, just take a look at the comprehensive annual financial report. The city of Sacramento, for example, takes in more revenue from its investment holdings than it does in taxes. Taxes and tuitions could be eliminated if we were able to get rid of the fraud within the system.

Andrew Hindman

Proposition suggestions

Re “No on 23” (SN&R Editorial, October 7):

Good decision. In fact, I only find four propositions worth supporting; Propositions 19, 21, 24 and 25. That means this candidate will vote “no” on propositions 20, 22, 23, 26 and 27.

C.T. Weber

C.T. Weber is the Peace and Freedom Party candidate for lieutenant governor of California.

Not greedy—broke!

Re “Ratepayer’s revolt” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, September 30):

Rob Kerth’s comment is telling: “What I think we’re really witnessing here is good old-fashioned greed.” How about the Sacramento Utilities Department following the law? How about them sharing the burden?

I live in a small home in Land Park, and not so long ago, my city utility bill was less than $60 per month. Now it’s $105. So who’s being greedy?

And as for Measure B, the city proposed that each homeowner pay thousands of dollars to have three streetlights installed on each block, and we’d also pay for the electricity for those lights. I don’t recall any developers or homeowners in Oak Park having to pay for their streetlights. What about solar options for streetlights? The city never even considered that option.

The city continues to stand by or keep city staff who have screwed up big-time (like the former city librarian who didn’t collect $5 million in fines for overdue books, or the whole permitting debacle in the Natomas flood zone, or awarding millions for the Southern Pacific rail yards development to Atlanta-based Thomas Enterprises, which has spent the money on its other projects and can’t pay it back). If they’d dealt responsibly with those issues, maybe we’d have a little more trust in city government.

But for Kerth to call ratepayers greedy? That’s no way to win support for the city, or to defeat Measure B.

I support Measure B because I don’t see any fiscal accountability coming from our city government, and it’s long overdue.

Shelly Keller

Throw the bums out

Re “Ratepayer’s revolt” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, September 30):

All I read about is scare tactics so they can line their pockets as usual and forget about everyone else. These days, with the economy so bad and no jobs in sight in California, I don’t understand the [Public Utilities Commission]. All they ever do is raise rates, and nothing ever changes.

I am sick of what comes out of the politicians’ mouths. How about living within our means? God help us if Jerry Brown gets in office. We might as well cut our throats ourselves. Why can no one stand up, man up and pass a budget? Why don’t we get rid of the entire Legislature and begin again?

Elsbeth McEwan

Most won’t protest

Re “Ratepayer’s revolt” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, October 30):

I sent a letter of protest to the Sacramento Utilities [Department] when they proposed the last increase. I asked them to lay people off or find other ways to save money during these hard economic times, so as not to pass a rate increase on to consumers. I just sent a protest to Citrus Heights Water [District] for their 5 percent increase. All they are doing is following Proposition 218 that requires them to let the homeowner object in writing.

However, Prop. 218 is basically worthless, because there has to be a majority of property owners who protest in order to have the proposed rate increase not enacted. They know that a majority will not protest.

Thank you, Craig Powell. Vote yes on B.

Willis Mohr
Citrus Heights

New pipes, not new buildings

Re “Ratepayer’s revolt” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, September 30):

We have 100-year-old pipes, but there is a new office building on Bradshaw Road to house the sewer and storm-water employees. It’s beautiful: two-story, all glass in front, landscaped parking lot. It had to cost at least a couple of million. I walked in to a large flat-screen TV showing all the projects they are working on, a couple of new computers at the front that were not being used, with a really nice circular reception desk.

That’s pretty fancy for managing our storm-water and sewers. Maybe the money should have gone for the pipes. Vote yes on B.

David Young
Citrus Heights

Biggest unreported story: peak oil

Re “The truth pill” by Rebecca Bowe (SN&R Frontlines, September 23):

Peak oil (i.e., global peak oil production) is, in my opinion, the biggest unreported story of all, seeing as it may have already caused this recession. That Big Oil price spike in 2008 was wished away as “futures speculation,” but economists like Jeff Rubin have taken it far more seriously, and evidence shows that most big recessions were associated with energy crunches.

With a global peak, however, the situation will not be temporary or reversible. Among cornucopians, there is talk of “vast oil reserves” remaining in the United States. and Canada, but without context on how costly they are to extract. The public needs to understand that “net energy” (usable energy minus extraction energy) means everything.

The cheap, easy stuff is gone. You can brag about some new field of 10 billion barrels, but if it takes 9 billion barrels equivalent energy to get it out, you’re left with 1 billion net gain (that’s about 50 days of U.S. consumption).

This borderline math is happening all over the world as major oil fields age. The implications of peak oil (which already happened in America around 1970, and its Alaska subset in 1988) are worse than global warming economically, and may end up solving that problem by forcing conservation. But it could leave us with intractable energy shortages, since the scale of oil and coal may be impossible to duplicate with alternatives, including nuclear, since uranium is finite, too.

Allen James

Project Censored, censored

Re “The truth pill” by Rebecca Bowe (SN&R Frontlines, September 23):

I appreciate your posting the first 10 stories of this year’s Project Censored list. I’d like to encourage your readers to get a copy of the book and read about the other 15 underreported stories as well.

It may interest readers to know that Project Censored was itself the victim of censorship this year. At the sixth annual 9/11 Film Festival in Oakland [in September], former Project Censored director Peter Phillips told the audience that he and current director Mickey Huff had run Op-Eds for the progressive Institute for Policy Studies for the past six years but were told last April that they were no longer invited, specifically because they had mentioned World Trade Center Building 7 in a factual, academic report on state crimes against democracy (see story No. 14 in “Censored 2011”).

Phillips said the editor told him that “truthers hurt the peace movement.”

Censorship continues to be a major problem in the United States, and even alternative media can be guilty of it.

Shawn Hamilton

No control

Re “The truth pill” by Rebecca Bowe (SN&R Frontlines, September 23):

One thing I have learned about the media is this: If I really want the truth, then I need to go to the source (get it from the horse’s mouth is what my grandma taught me).

I realize this isn’t practical for most, but it works for me.

I used to read [Noam] Chomsky, [Howard] Zinn, [Ralph] Nader, [Thomas] Hobbes, [Niccolò] Machiavelli, etc. The more I read, the angrier I became over the state of the union. The angrier I became, the more I isolated myself and fed off the false sense of power that rage can provide.

It got to the point where I was a bitter, depressed, lonely, angry wreck. I got caught up in the snare of politics, believing I could control the world through my actions, when in reality the only thing I have control over is myself and being the best person I can be—and maybe (just maybe) then I might at least influence someone in a positive way.

But once again, I don’t have control over that.

Keep up the good work.

Arthur Wood

Han shot first

Re “Revenge of the stiff drink” by Daniel Barnes (SN&R Cinema Scoped, September 23):

So I totally read the first half of this drinking game, then I just skimmed through it. Are you trying to prevent us single guys from getting laid? Seriously, if I presented that drinking game anywhere, I would be laughed at or even beat up by a guy that looks like a Wookiee or a Wampa.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m a big Star Wars geek, but there’s a time and a place. And when you’re surrounded by some very hot women, you have to stop being like Luke Skywalker and be more like Han Solo, with your wingman Chewie helping you out.

Did you see The Empire Strikes Back? It’s like going through that asteroid field, except instead of getting hit by space rocks, you’ll be getting beer cans thrown at you. I tried changing the subject matter, but everything I try sounds lame. But I appreciate the effort, though.

Oh yeah: Han shot first.

Giovanni Martinez