Letters for October 25, 2007

What’s a measly $10 trillion?

Re “California, unplugged” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, October 18):

With a new mix, California can meet its energy needs for the future. If we are to have electric cars, bullet trains and cool homes with TVs and computers, we have to make way for the new technologies (i.e. better homes). It is like the 4 million tons of horse manure that had to be removed annually from New York City in the early 1900s (dumped in New Jersey). Solar is a great way to make electricity if you turn it into steam. I have proposed building a 6 MW power plant at Cal Expo that collects energy from Arden Mall and surrounding buildings. CoolingEarth.org has other technologies I believe will make us safe to go outside again. Micro hydro-electric plants can both be used to store water and produce electricity, and some could even grow fuel (it does rain in Southern California). There must also be a shift in the way we do business. For example, I have proposed making an online UC campus, followed by a CSU online campus (these would be made of all the classes online now in the UC system, with testing centers at campuses around California—or the world). To make the real price right, we must have a pollution surcharge that helps clean up the Earth. Nukes are a vital part of this plan—and a plant can be built today in California (SMUD has a permit for Rancho Seco). I am not opposed to drilling for more oil and gas so we can transition into clean energy (especially if the world wants to pay us $90 a barrel).

We have the technology to clean up our act. We will spend $3 trillion over the next 10 years on technology to get it right, or we can keep going wrong with the same $3 trillion. Getting it wrong could cost $10 trillion in lost coastal properties alone.

Lawrence Murray

The answer is clean

Re “California, unplugged” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, October 18):

Ingenuity, innovation and optimism are California’s greatest renewable resources when tapped, and recent bill signings demonstrate that California is all about tapping them. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just signed another landmark solar bill, the Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act (AB 1470, Huffman), to jumpstart a market for solar water heating, which, in turn will dramatically reduce natural gas usage. On the same day, he signed another Huffman bill to phase out inefficient light bulbs, dramatically cutting electricity demand. These policies only scratch the surface of the solutions available to us.

Despite naysayer claims, California can realize a clean energy future by rapidly phasing out coal, oil, gas and nukes and swiftly ushering in clean alternatives—efficiency and renewable energy. The cleanest and most abundant electron is the one not used. In addition, there is no shortage of sunshine, nor a lack of wind, and investment capital can be diverted from coal, gas and nuclear power to promising clean powerhouses. At this point in time, the biggest barriers to renewable energy are political, not physical.

Fortunately, California’s politicians are overcoming these barriers thanks to the optimism of California voters.

Bernadette Del Chiaro
Environment California

Secret farce

Re “The bosses, united” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Upfront, October 18):

This news brief was chock full of inaccuracies and omissions. The new law would not have prevented employers from hiring anti-union consultants. Employers cannot spend months wearing down employees. Once the initial 30 percent threshold for union interest is met (always done in secret to prevent the boss from knowing), an election must, by law, be held within a week. Omitted was the fact that secret-ballot elections were the cornerstone of Cesar Chavez’s lifelong goals. It is what characterized and defined the United Farm Workers and their mission in the ’70s. He fought tooth-and-nail for them. Now in serious decline, much of the reason having to do with union mismanagement and shifting political and economic realities, it has become just too much work to organize a workplace. A 50 percent success rate is just unacceptable, apparently. Perish the thought that employees, using their own judgment, could come to a conclusion based on past experience or the experiences of friends and relatives, that the union is not all it’s cracked up to be. The secret-ballot process is now too inconvenient, and the UFW has positioned its argument to paper over the decades spent struggling for them. Imagine if we took this tact when electing public officials. Whoever can send out operatives to collect the most signatures wins! What a farce.

Frank Costa

Cosmo Garvin responds: The story did not assert that the Employee Free Choice Act would prevent employers from hiring anti-union consultants, only that it would give them the option of using a card-check process. We also checked with the National Labor Relations Board office in San Francisco concerning Mr. Costa’s claim that an election must be held within a week of tuning over cards. NLRB says there’s no such rule.

La migra after Fernandez

Re “One-and-a-half Mexicans” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Scene&Heard, October 18):

Josh Fernandez’s interview with me contains numerous lies and made-up quotes. For starters, Mexicans don’t steal hubcaps—that’s the Puerto Ricans. Mexicans steal cars and our former territories back from the Americans. And I was not as happy as a clam; I was as happy as tequila. Finally, I would never call Orange County “the OC,” yet that’s what Josh quotes me as saying! I demand SN&R deport Fernandez’s Mexican half and subject his Josh half to a night of loud Mexican music, honking horns and jaywalking.

Gustavo Arellano

Josh Fernandez responds: Oops. I just went back and listened. You called it “the county.” Fine. You win this round. My uncle used to steal hubcaps, though. And he’s as Mexican as they come. Plus, my grandma said that “Mexicans with jobs are happy as clams.” Then she died. So, deport my Mexican half, but I’m not listening to that fucking music.

Unreasonably sexist

Re “Where’s the responsibility?” (SN&R Letters, October 18):

Dennis Johnson’s letter (which addressed your article detailing how the current family-law system is unfair to fathers and downright harmful to the interests of children) was quite reasonable—assuming that gross sexism is considered “reasonable.”

Johnson argues that whenever a man has sex, he must be prepared to bear 19 years of financial-only consequences (and too bad for father and child if they cannot overcome the legal obstacles to having an actual parent-child relationship).

If this were so “reasonable,” then why do we never dare say the same thing to a woman? Rather, we ensure that if a woman has sex and a child is conceived, she can abort her responsibility immediately—or she can give birth to the child, surrender it, and then bear no further responsibility, or she can keep the child and force other people to pay for her own decision.

Fred Hayward
via e-mail

Kate hates to eat?

Re “On the waterfront” by Kate Washington (SN&R Dish, October 18):

Help! Is LaLady Washington sad, embittered, unhappy? What? Every time I read one of her reviews for anything it is soooooooooooooo negative! Apparently, she doesn’t like to go anywhere, and if she does, she doesn’t like to eat—and if she does, she doesn’t like what she is eating! Does she cook? May be a better choice! We’re just saying, we didn’t have the same result, OK?

The Snavelys
via e-mail

Doomsday gap

Re “Bomb the casbah” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R News, October 11):

What does Iran having the capability of one nuclear bomb in 10 years (U.S. intelligence agencies) have to do with the specter of World War III, as trumpeted by President Bush? This sounds like the rant and ravings of the fundamentalist right and Armageddon nuts, or is it nuclear brinkmanship that Bush is aiming at?

It is inconceivable that the president of the United States can make such a boastful statement. World War III would decimate the planet and bring extinction of the human family.

What is George Bush thinking? Keep this man away from the button.

Ron Lowe
Grass Valley

Nothing personal

Re “Jim Willig” by Erin Sierchio (SN&R Playlist, October 11):

I’m not really sure why I even pick up this paper anymore. I suppose it’s the film reviews and occasional blurbs about shows I may be interested in. Sometimes (rarely) the cover piece is well written and interesting, and contains interviews with more than one or two subjects. It’s nothing personal to any of the people who write the columns, but most of the content in the SN&R reminds me of a MySpace blog. I’m not terribly interested in hearing about Becca Costello’s cat. I’m not interested in Jackson Griffith taking a trip to Old Ironsides or True Love (both fine venues, again, nothing personal). It seems that in his Sacramento, there are about a dozen bands, and only two or three venues worth mentioning. If Josh Fernandez contacts a band and they don’t write him back, perhaps he should contact one of the hundreds of local or touring bands that would love to see their names in print. I don’t care about him taking pictures of his balls. It’s not that it offends me, it’s just boring and a waste of time. By the way, thanks for running my Playlist last week. The only bummer about it is that my Playlist contained the only mention in SN&R of what may be the longest-running experimental-music festival in the country, if not the world, at which 46 other bands besides mine played.

Jim Willig
via e-mail

Jonathan Kiefer responds: I delight in the imagined scene of a bunch of earnest newspaper people struggling to lure young, hip readers by seeming more MySpacey, only to be told by one to seem less so. It’s true about redundant coverage: Several SN&R writers, including Becca Costello, have written about the NorCal NoiseFest. We should lay off of that one for a while. But not until recently have we covered Josh Fernandez’s balls. So there you go. As for Becca’s cat: I’ve met that cat. That’s a great cat. Look for a new music column beginning next week.

Whoever smelt it …

Re “Moe’s woes” (SN&R Letters, October 11):

So Ken Lauszus and Chad VanDerVeen think Moe Mohanna is responsible for the blight and smell of downtown Sacramento. I don’t see why he is being held responsible for the problem. Mohanna rents his properties to local entrepreneurs who are trying to bring life to the downtown area. Compared to the “visionary” developer whom the city seemed more than willing to help finance and who left us with a hole in the ground—truly a shit hole—Mohanna is a positive force in the revitalization of downtown.

Maybe instead of spending huge amounts of money to stroke the overly large egos of these self-centered “developers,” the city could spend a comparatively small amount to repairs on the K Street properties. It would be money well spent.

John W. Borsdorf

Hippie hater

Re “Into the Wild” by Jim Lane (SN&R Clips, October 4):

In Jim Lane’s review of Into the Wild, he refers to the central character, Chris McCandless, as “a latter-day hippie communing with nature.”

I don’t think it’s fair to reduce McCandless to “a latter-day hippie.” That’s all he can say about this character? I wouldn’t want to go see a movie about “a latter-day hippie communing with nature.” I would, however, want to see a movie where the central character is going to extreme measures to find himself, and on his journey he touches peoples’ lives on very deep levels.

Aric Walter
via e-mail

Electric clarification

Last week’s cover story, “State of shock,” (SN&R, October 18), incorrectly stated that SMUD has enough long-term natural-gas contracts to meet future demand. Not so, says board president Susan Patterson, who says SMUD’s dependence on gas remains its “Achilles’ heel.” While the utility does own wells that could help meet future demand, she says, “We’re in the process of locking up as much as we can, just like everybody else.” Patterson added that her support for a liquid-natural-gas terminal in California is her opinion as a project-development specialist with the nonprofit Gas Technology Institute, not as SMUD board president.