Coastal Post Online

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March 2001

Letters To The Editor


Taxpayers Taken for a Ride
   The Tam High School District taxpayers are being taken for a ride. The District proposes to spend $121 million to repair and renovate old school buildings, at a cost of about $33,000 per student & or some $660,000 per 20-student classroom (some gaudy classrooms!), only to end up with some patched-up but still old buildings, with limited life spans.
   It will cost District taxpayers (owners directly, and renters indirectly) over $250,000,000 & more than a quarter of a billion dollars & over a 30-year period, just to wind up with patched-up old buildings, when for less money they could build state-of-the-art new schools with longer life spans.
   Measure A clearly is the wrong measure, at the wrong time, in the wrong amount, for the wrong purpose!
   MUTA urges a No vote on Measure A.
Fielding Greaves
Secretary, MUTA

CP Subscriber's Thanks
   I must thank you for sending me the Coastal Post. I have been a little slow this year with payment to your paper. The dam "chip"  in my tooth has been bothering me lately. Making me a little uneasy. Or was it the "Bush" Whacking we all received this January.
   I would like to thank you and your crew at the paper for keeping me smiling in between the lines. Keep up the good work. Enclosed is a six month subscription. The other $8 may be used to purchase a couple of beers at the local tavern of your choice. Or you may want to use it for the Alfred E. Newmun bushwhacking party coming this June. Details will be sent to the paper around June, if all goes well with "W's" first six months, or if it doesn't. Thanks for running the HARP article. I am sure we will all be hearing about this boondoggle as times marches on. Good luck, keep the news coming, and donít lost that sense of humor. You guys make my day.
Another Bushwhacked Voter
Berkeley

Errata
   In February's Coastal Post, page 2, column 4, under "Martyrdom"... the captive Palestinian market is $2.5 Billion... not Million... my error, not Donís.
Ed Miller
San Rafael

Beware Of Bonds Election
   Property owners and rents of the Tamalpais Union High School District be beware. This Board of Trustees and its Superintendent Mr. Levinson will cook something up for you so you will approve in the next election a $125 million bond issue.
   They (the Board) are trying to tell you it is for the good of the students. This is a hoax. It will be used only to make a comfortable nest for the administration & offices and other goodies, for themselves.
   Remember some years ago the Tam Union High School District Board of Trustees and the now Superintendent said: We need additional money badly in form of a Parcel Tax to modernize the three high schools.
   Think what they squandered $1.2 million of our tax money on funny programs and personal goodies. They didnít know where it went.
   And those people you want to trust to give $125 million? You better think twice. You rents, if you vote for that kind of bogus, your rent will increase for sure. Clinton, Bush, Gov. Davies, and the lottery all want to make our schools better.
   Letís see what they will do. They all got our tax dollars in enormous surplus.
   Vote No and see what the government will come up with and vote for a different Tamalpais Union High School Administration.
Frank Farley
Mill Valley

Equestrian Supports Dog Ban
   As an equestrian, I strongly support the Marin County Open Space Districtís and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's proposed restrictions on dogs on our trails and fireroads. Horses are prey animals. When spooked or startled, they rear up, stomp, jump or run. This can cause serious injury or even death to the rider or to bystanders. I was very seriously injured with a darting barking dog frightened my horse.
   Dogs pose a serious risk to horse riders and bystanders, and do not belong on trails or fireroads. Running, barking, and nipping dogs startle horses, and equestrian safety and enjoyment of trails is seriously threatened.
   Trail users can reduce the risks to horses, riders, and to themselves by taking simple precautions. Remember that horses always have the right of way. Horses can interpret dog leashes, fishing poles, and hiking sticks as whips, and can react in a dangerous manner. Conceal these items when horses approach, and stand well off of the trail. Remain quiet until the horses have passed. Donít make any sudden movements or loud noises.
   If all trail users cooperate, we can all safely share the trails. However, even dogs on leashes can make startling loud and sudden moves, and should not be allowed on our trails or fireroads.
Ann Margason
Corte Madera

About Bike, Tunnels And Hubsmiths
   Thank you for printing my letter to the editor in February's Coastal Post. My letter was in response to what I felt was a negative article by Terri Alvillar about opening the Alto Tunnel for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
   While several people commented to me that they liked my letter in support of opening tunnels in Marin, others were not sure what I was trying to say with regards to Debbie Hubsmith who is the director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.  My tongue in cheek sarcastic remarks describing Ms. Hubsmith as a 'vile corporate enchantress ...etc. was my way of poking a little fun at Ms. Alvillar's article.  However, a few people pointed out to me that if one hadn't read the original article, my attempts at humorous cynicism could possibly be taken as serious.
   In order to clear up any confusion, I would like to state for the record my opinion of Ms. Hubsmith. I was impressed with Ms. Hubsmith the first time I met her years ago as the Arts Coordinator for the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm for contributing to the community was and always has been evident.  Over the years since, I have been impressed by her work on transportation and environmental issues. Whether I bump into her at an Earth Day event or a community gathering, she is always enthusiastically promoting some worthy cause. In recent years she has worked overtime with regards to making our communities more bicycle friendly.  Ms Hubsmith is a good person who not only walks her talk, she bikes it.  She is a great bicycle activist, and hasn't even owned a car for five years.
   The world would be a healthier, cleaner and better place if there were more people like Ms Hubsmith in it.
Jon Gardner
Mill Valley

Clarifying The Voelker Case
   Robert Voelker had his doctor's note far in advance of both arrests. He had his doctor's note and his CBC Marin photo ID card on him when they busted him both times. He offered to show them his doctors note on the spot, when they came in, both times. DA Kamena determined he was legal under Prop. 215 in 1998, when she dismissed charges against Mr. Voelker for 31 plants. Mr. Voelker even produced the letter from the DA when the cops arrived the second time.
   Mr. Voelker also wrote a letter to every police agency and the DA in 1999, clearly indicating that he would be growing plants in the same place for his next crop, since he had been determined to be legal for 31. Out of respect, he grew half as many.
   The police knew he was legal when they left six plants the second time they busted him. Mr. Voelker is clearly a victim of persecution. The DAs office is attempting to cover up this information by false statements to the press.
   We support the DA recall because of such actions.
Rev.  Lynnette Shaw
CBC Marin
Fairfax

Credit Where Credit Is Due, Mr Arafat
   Thank you Yasser Arafat for giving Israel a new lease on life. We knew that we could count on you to turn down the deal of your lifetime and which would have been a boon for all the Palestinians but you blew it. Israel can now feel more secure knowing that no more territory will be thrown into your arms. We believe that even if you did what was right and accepted Barak's most generous offer that you had no way of stopping the violence against Israel by your gunmen and allies.
   It has finally become apparent that you really want all of Israel and those Israelis who have been pleading your case may now have seen the light. If only Sharon is smart enough to thwart your desire for martyrs you cards will be stacked against you. You have kept your refugee brothers in bondage and kept them in hovels as your brethren all over the oil rich Gulf who plead your case ignored their plight. They could at least have built livable homes and better communities for their brothers in name only. Had they had any sense of brotherly love they would have invited them to find sanctuary in their rich lands. You kept them in squalor rather than allow them to live with dignity in Arab lands.
   You deserve praise from the Israelis who have finally found out your true mission which is to have no Israel in the Middle East. Whew its a lucky break for Israel that you turned down the Barak Israeli giveaway. Toda Rabba.
Dr. Norman E. Mann
San Diego

And Open Letter To Woolsey And Boxer
    Re: Recent Apprehension of Suspects Building Illegal
    Mountain Bike Trails on Federal Land in Marin County
   On February 11, 2001, several individuals were apprehended by a Point Reyes National Seashore Ranger while illegally building an extensive mountain bike singletrack trail on these federal lands.  The suspects include Michael More, a Director of the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin, and an appointed citizen member of the Marin County Open Space District Trails Committee, representing the mountain biking community.  Evidently, the trail is so long that it crosses at least two other jurisdictions.
   There seems to be a question as to which jurisdiction should prosecute the suspects.  Should it be the jurisdiction where they were caught, or should it be another jurisdiction where it is believed other parts of the trail were built?  Should suspected builders of illegal mountain bike trails, accused of federal crimes, be prosecuted in federal, state or county courts?
   Marin taxpayers want to know: Who is going to pay the cost of these suspects' incarceration, the costs of prosecution, the judges' salaries, the public defenders, and the costs of probation, etc.? Shall the cost of prosecution for crimes committed on Federal lands be borne by Marin County Taxpayers?  Shall a small County like Marin accept the burden of a national problem and bear the cost of prosecuting crimes on national lands, a problem which has taken on epic proportions?
   The answer is NO!  Federal crimes should be prosecuted by Federal courts. Local crimes should be vigorously pursued by local jurisdictions but let the Federal prosecutions be the lead for local jurisdictions if the crimes are related.
Therese F. Alvillar
Fairfax
cc: National Park Service
    California State Parks
    Marin Municipal Water District
    Marin County Open Space District

Gun Control With A New Twist
   It seems the tide is changing in the gun control debate. Many sensible people are beginning to realize that strict gun control laws (aka "sensible gun control laws") only make the law-abiding citizen more vulnerable. Criminals by definition do not obey law; including gun laws. Many including former president Clinton have alluded to the fact that Gore lost the presidency because of his strong desire to subvert the Bill of Rights and disarm the law-abiding. Valid statistics show that in areas where gun controls laws have been relaxed violent crime has dropped, sometimes dramatically. Several states have recently changed laws to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons.
   It seems that there are many reasons for law-abiding citizens to own firearms. Most have been discussed over and over. Here's a new one:
   Most Americans never think about fighting a war on our own soil. Suppose the United States was to experience a foreign invasion. Would you prefer to be armed? Would you want to be able to protect yourself and your family? Never happen? Far-fetched you say?
   Consider the following statement issued Feb. 1, 2001 by the bipartisan United States Commission on National Security: "Weapons proliferation and the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack. A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century."
   The liberal media and liberal politicians want to disarm you with so-called "sensible gun control laws." They won't report on the 600,000+ times a year that firearms are used to protect life and property. Please consider all sides of this issue before making up your mind.
Daniel Cook
216 S Fairmont Ave.
Lodi

Thanks To Hospice
   I wish to publicly thank the nurses, counselors and volunteers at Hospice of Marin for helping me beyond measure during the final days of my mother, Joan Oldfield, of San Rafael who passed away recently.
   They have shown selfless devotion in complicated and often frustrating circumstances, since providing succor to the terminally ill can be so exhausting on all concerned.
   If any reader should ever need assistance during painful moments while caring for a loved one, I can only say that Hospice is a god-send. They can use all the contributions&large or even modest&that we might be able to send them.
Michael Venables
4 Schmidt Lane
San Rafael

Israel's Desperate Struggle: Rebuttal
   The vitriolic fulminations of N.E. Mann (Jan1, 2001), regarding the ongoing Mideast conflict, certainly mark this particular doctor as one not altogether inclined towards "healing, at least in any broader sense of the word. If the emergence of a true reconciliation of  this conflict is of concern to Dr. Mann, and not just justification for continued Israeli hegemony, then, in all fairness, Dr. Mann should acknowledge that the plight of Palestinian refugees is as legitimate an issue as any claims of legitimacy for  the continuation of the West Bank settlements.
   It does not impute some great anti-Semitic ranting to remember that most of  these refugees were driven from their homes a generation ago by the likes of the Stern Gang and that the Israeli government has not only made no effort at indemnity or compensation of any kind to these people over all these years, but continues this unconscionable eviction process under the flimsiest of reasons, to this day. This, despite, all the while, finding billions for the relief and resettlement of "victims" of Soviet "persecution.
   Neither is it without precedent to view the settlements outside the boundaries of Israel, as "frontier garrisons, emplaced to serve as springboards for future land grabs and water diversions. It is not the first time that history has seen expansionism effected in precisely this fashion.
   Israel, as the acknowledged overwhelming conventional and only nuclear power in the region, has little to fear from a just and equitable solution to these, supposedly, intractable issues.
   Let the people return to their homes or compensate them appropriately. In exchange for maintaining the settlements, extend full Israeli citizenship, with all its rights and privileges, to all of the displaced residents of that territory, and allow them to return home as equals.
Vladimir Hrycenko
http://www.tdi-bi.com
San Raffle, California

All I Need To Know About A Recall I Learned From Dr. Seuss
   The works of Dr. Seuss are a national treasure and have been used by generations of parents to teach our children the truths of life.  His simple stories can shed light on many complicated problems, even controversial local politics can become clear with a good dose of Dr. Seuss.
   One of my favorites is the story of a group of small "Whos" with voices so insignificant that they could not be heard. Could not, except by the ears of a compassionate elephant named Horton. As the story continues the Whos attempt to speak up so that others would hear them and know of their plight. Despite ridicule and disbelief, Horton gives the Whos a chance to be heard. Eventually, when they all speak together, their voices get through and even their former antagonists vow to help and protect them.
   We who are seeking to recall Kamena, and restore confidence in local government are like the small voices of the Whos. We spoke out individually and were not heard:
   Those abused by Dufficy's "justice" in Family Court cried out. The local press detailed the corruption, the allegations were publicly corroborated by insiders, and still Kamena refused to hear, refused to investigate.  Instead, like the sour kangaroos of the good doctor's story, Kamena used her authority to persecute and discredit them.
   Organizations repulsed by the corruption of elected officials have repeatedly, and publicly, asked Kamena to investigate the actions of members of the Board of Supervisors. We have all heard of the credit card embezzlement and privileged zoning of Supervisors Rose and Kress. Kamena blatantly refuses to fully investigate, much less prosecute, her political allies on the Board of Supervisors
   Individual citizens such as Sean Hannigan, Christian Hasshold, Carol Mardeusz, Martin Silverman, and others who were persecuted by Kamena for political reasons, all spoke out, and their voices were not heard.  Each of these criminal investigations and/or prosecutions was motivated by politics and Kamenaís desire to please her political sponsors.
   Many terminally ill people and others afflicted with chronic illness spoke out about Kamenaís continual persecution in violation of state law. Those using marijuana for medicinal purposes under Proposition 215 have a right to realize the legitimate benefit of a law that the overwhelming majority of us voted for.
   Kamena turned her back on these people even though she promised to take an active role in implementing this law.  She did this to get the support of the many local police associations, which she feels she needs to retain her position.
   When the voices of these ill people, and those of their families, were added to the chorus, we were finally heard. And make no mistake it was all the voices together that were heard. The county election officials state that the 20,000 signatures on the Recall Kamena petition surpassed the required amount by only 186 signatures. If this is true then it is clear that the voices of those hoping to restore integrity to the family law courts, and the other groups, were all needed.
   I donít care which "yop put it over", as Dr. Seuss would say, what's important is that together we are finally speaking loud enough to be heard.  What's more important is that those of you who have not heard us before take the time to listen now.  Give a fair hearing to the many thousands of us who feel that Kamena lacks the integrity to fulfill the obligations of District Attorney. When you do, you'll want to help us because after all É a person's a person no matter how small.
PS  My thanks to the compassionate elephant of our story that takes the form of the many caring people throughout the community who took the time to listen.  This includes the leaders of organizations that helped us get our message across and the 20,000 ordinary people who took a few minutes out of their busy schedules so that all of Marin can now make the decision.  Each of you is as much a hero as Horton.
Thomas  Van Zandt
22 Ethel Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 204-7418
 

Crashing The Economy
   Like a kid with a new credit card our unelected president wants to have a spending  orgy with the hard-earned surplus generated by the Clinton administration. A  huge tax cut for the rich is irresponsible, and I ask congress to step in and  say no to spending money we donít have.
   Bush bases his tax cut on projected surpluses, but those projection were base on continuing a policy of fiscal discipline and paying down the debt. This surplus  money is mythical money that doesnít really exist. Even the term "surplus" is  misleading because you donít have a surplus until you pay off your debts, which is what we should be doing. The economy has stalled, the stock market is crashing, and energy costs are skyrocketing. There isn't going to be a surplus.
   If Bush wants to help the economy that he should do something about the artificial energy shortage that allows his campaign contributors to rip off the public for vast sums of money. We consumers might have more confidence if we werenít worried about whether or not we are going to have heat and electricity rather than if the children of billionaires can inherit money tax free.
Marc Perkel
San Francisco Ca.

Taxes And Faith Donít Work
   Now our tax dollars will go to faith-based charities which provide social service.  These charities are supposed to not force their religion upon the recipient.
   The bottom line is this: what is the goal and mission of these faith-based charities?  They do not exist to merely help humanity.  Their ultimate aim is to bring maximum number of converts into their fold.  They have effectively used service as a means to achieve this end.  In the process of helping, these charities exert tremendous overt and covert pressure on the recipients.
   Government funding of service projects of such charities frees up their existing funds for conversion.  Thus the Bush administration's decision to fund faith-based charities is nothing but subsidization of conversion efforts in favor of particular religions, and hence unconstitutional.
   The Bush administration recently stopped funding those foreign family-planning groups which allow abortions, claiming to stop subsidizing abortions.  Now it wants to subsidize conversions through funding faith-based charities.  Have they forgotten their own logic, and their oath to protect the Constitution?
Pushpa Srinivasan
White Plains, NY

Eight Commandments Are Better
   Some groups are struggling to get the biblical Ten Commandments displayed in schools and other public places.
   The employee guidelines where I work state that religious, racial, sexual (or other designated) slurs constitute harassment when they have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.  They go on to say that such conduct might include any display of pictures, posters, cartoons, magazines, books or greeting cards concerning a person's race, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristic.
   Today, this constitutes the widely-accepted standard of behavior in the United States of America.  Various harassment lawsuits have established the validity and desirability of this definition of harassment.
   One of the Ten Commandments demands that only the one true god - the biblical god - be worshipped.  Another demands that idols should not be worshipped.
   These commandments are offensive to those who believe otherwise for their religious reasons.  Hence displaying these commandments constitutes harassment.
   If a universalized version with out these 2 commandments is displayed, it may not be objectionable.
Utsav Chakrabarti
St. Louis, Mo.

Reduce Emotional Mercury
  I was in the bay area a couple of weeks ago performing the annual collection of bivalves for the NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program.  One of the sites monitored for the past 16 years is in Tomales Bay.  We analyze for a wide range of contaminants including mercury.
   You may want to check the NS&T web site for data and information that may be of value in presenting a more objective, less emotional picture of the mercury situation in Tomales Bay. http://spo.nos.noaa.gov/projects/nsandt/nsandt.html
Roger Fay
College Station, TX
alternate email [email protected]
Website: www.tdi-bi.com

Kamenaís Studied Ignorance
   When Marin County's Supervisors were issued credit cards in connection with their position, the public was supposed to be able to trust that the cards would be used legitimately. When the truth became known that the supervisors had betrayed that trust, there arose a need for some expert whitewashing. Enter the District Attorney Paula Kamena. As the county's top prosecutor, she pretended not to know that it is against the law to accept money, property, credit or services under false pretenses. In this instance, the credit cards in question were accepted under the false pretense that their use would be related to the supervisor's duties. Remember that ignorance of the law is not an excuse and a "studied ignorance" by someone sworn to uphold the law is particularly unacceptable. Paula Kamena knows this also.
   Now, the reality is that the District Attorney has taken the position that betrayal of the public trust is just fine with her and that office of hers she has loudly touted as being so full of integrity. This would be the same office whose idea of justice was exemplified in the 25 years to life prison sentence inflicted upon an indigent, uneducated defendant for missing a court date.
   It is no mystery as to why the supervisors denounce the effort to recall DA Kamena. Her idea of "integrity" clearly appears to be a wink and nod when government personnel violate the law, ethics, and betray the public. Sadly, the only thing wrong with the recall drive is that the abundance of truth supporting its validity is being concealed so efficiently. You can ignore dishonesty in government, but you cannot escape its costs. And Fraud and justice never dwell together. Wingate's Maxims.
James S. Kor
Soledad

Re-Writing of Marin's General Plan
   Every resident of Marin should be concerned over the present process of re-writing the Marin County General Plan. A recent article in the Pacific Sun by Michael McCarthy describes the revision process presently underway (Nov. 29/Dec. 5 issue).
   I agree with Mr. McCarthy's view that Alex Hinds, Director of the Marin Planning Development Agency, has limited the options for the new General Plan. To be fair to Alex, however, we must realize that it is the Board of Supervisors who have set the parameters for the revision, not Alex. I attended the first meeting in San Rafael where a very cogent presentation was made by two consultants concerning the effects of the urban footprint of human activity on the environment. The increased degradation of the environment was acknowledged by increasing consumer demands and population. However, what is lacking from the discussion by Hind's staff was the problem of population growth. The only options presented as a solution were the murky ideas surrounding smart growth. Other options, such as no-growth, were not even discussed. The idea of social justice was brought up by the audience, but was not given any discussion.
   We can address the problem of increased environmental degradation in Marin by the use of no-growth models and these models can also bring about movement toward social justice. For example, if we stop all building in Marin of new units of any size and instead mandate the rehabilitation of existing buildings, we can utilize existing floor space better and the results are cheaper per square foot. By having contractors rehab an existing building to a more efficient use of space, with smaller units and by subsidizing the rehab by public and private grants, more units can be added to the housing stock at a lower price. Smaller units are more efficient in the use of building materials, services (including energy) and financing. With a mandate to rehab and not build and requiring minimum low cost units incorporated in each project, the market would be forced to be creative, effective and efficient. The present trend is to destroy existing small structures and replace them with megahomes which are energy nightmares and waste space and materials.
   I urge anyone attending future County Plan workshops to buy and read a book by Eben Fodor, Better not Bigger, New Society Publishers, 1999, which documents various methods to provide low cost housing by mandating housing requirements, and how increased building and density simply increases taxes and reduces services. Another by Stephanie S. Pincetl, Transforming California: A Political History of Land Use and Development, John Hopkins University Press, 1999, shows how land use has been manipulated by developers over the years generally at the expense of farmers and consumers.
Niccolo Caldararo
Fairfax

MUTA's Bond Issue Concerns
   The Tamalpais Union High School District has made little effort to inform the 72,000 taxpayers, whose property taxes will repay the 30 year bond issue and its potentially excessive interest load. (Seniors will not be exempt).
   The School District's interest costs will rise as California's credit rating is put in question by Wall Street. A credit watch, as they call it in Wall Street, means higher interest costs for borrowings. The Districtís interest load will be in step with the State's threatened impaired credit. While no rate has been discussed, the possibility of a seven percent interest rate for local bond issues is not unrealistic. The proposed $121,000,000 bond at seven percent will cost tax payers over $250,000,000 (a quarter billion dollars), the largest school bond every in Marin's history.
   Can informed voters be expected to vote on something that is so open-ended? Yet the need is real for fixing the high schools, and money will be needed...
   For the present, all taxpayers need to inform themselves because these schools are basic to the communities needs. Copies of the Facilities Master Plan are available to every taxpayer. Call the Districtís office, 945-3710. A copy will be sent by return mail.
   It is MUTA's concern that financial shortages of recent memory at the High School District have not been explained to the taxpayers satisfaction. Lingering doubts continue to burden its management astuteness when the going gets tough. At some time soon, the District will have to engage in long-vision planning, including rebuilding, even re-siting some facilities, a visionary exercise to include the community's input and wishes. Why could that not have been done now? Was the pressure of neglected jobs too urgent to distinguish between vision and housekeeping chores? Haste always makes waste.
Marin United Taxpayers Association

To Those Who Blame Nader
   An explanation to those who complained about that Nader guy taking votes away from Al Gore.
   Here in California, the accepted wisdom was that Green Party voters were voting for Ralph to register a protest against the conservative drift of the Democrats. With hindsight, it is clear that in states where the race was tighter, the Green protest vote went beyond symbolism toward the ultimate attention-getting electoral result, i.e., to throw the party in power out of office in defeat. The Green Party voters of New Hampshire helped to do just that, as the ten percent of the vote for Nader there surely tipped the state to Bush.
   My personal protest against the centrist democrats was inspired by the way Bill Clinton's enthusiastic prosecution of the marijuana Prohibition resonated with me as a member of the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative. Here was a president who had a sleazy private life, probably trying to appear righteous by cracking down on recreational and medical marijuana users. In pursuit of this intolerant crusade, he and his Justice Department flacks acted to turn our country into a Gulag of imprisoned users. The police forces that have to enforce this policy are gradually being corrupted by having to enforce an impossible Prohibition. The recently revealed "Ramparts" and "Riders" scandals in California are an illustration of this. Internationally, there is also evidence of the de-stabilizing effects of attempting to eradicate every cannabis, coca and opium plant on the entire planet.
   Even San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown got caught up in the Demos drug prosecution mania. He wanted a summit of federal, state, and local lawmen to bully DA Hallinan for his not arresting enough users. You have to wonder if that business about the love-child was a factor in his would-be crusade. With Republicans in power, I doubt that Mayor Brown's plans to embarrass Terrence will proceed. In fact, I will be surprised if Bush tries to close down the pot clubs with the same zeal as the Democrats. And if he does, let's see if Lockyer and other locals are as supportive as they would have been if Gore was in power.
   It saddened me as a progressive person to have wanted Bush to win since on many issues his positions will be antithetical to mine. But on the Drug War, Clinton and his Centrist pals have consistently acted like dangerous animals who deserved the tranquilizing dart of the election results.
Oakland Cannabis Buyer Club Member

A Letter To President Bush
   I watched the inauguration today with concern. I am deeply concerned that you have taken office in such a way. I sincerely feel that there are serious concerns and infractions of the law in the voting process that must be addressed. It is well known that minority citizens were kept from voting and that you sued to stop the count in Florida. I am concerned for our rights and democracy. If you are a true American, I am sure you would want all people to be able to vote, and have their votes counted. I do not understand why you did what you did. I do not understand it at all.
   You say you are "right to life" yet you have a cabinet of people that are anti-life in that they are people who have serious flaws. To not respect the sanctity of the American wilderness is anti-life. Once nature is destroyed, all the life forms that it nurtured, in all the glory of the essence of life that the Creator bestowed in them, vanish forever as their habitat is destroyed. Can we sacrifice one more species, one more entity, to the continual march of extinction? We humans are also on that march, and if we do not stop the desecration and destruction of the earth & by chemical poisoning (pesticides et al) & war (nuclear, etc.)& oil drilling in fragile wilderness areas (Alaska, as you have proposed) & the mad science of genetically altered foods (causing environmental problems beyond imagining  already causing the near and possible future extinction of species such as the Monarch butterfly, not to mention cancer and immune system dysfunction in humans).
   I can write so much more about the right to Life  and I think that you must have the intelligence to know what I am telling you. I also believe that you must have the strength of character to not sell out to the corporations that have put you in power and funded the inaugural ball. I wish that you would have taken that money and instead of having a big fat party, that you would have given all the money to the homeless, the Red Cross, or so many other poor and desperately needy, worthy people and causes that need help in this country. Then you would have began to do some good, and you would not "owe" any corporation or foreign interest, who also gave money for the gala festivities for the wealthy and politically favorable in this mockery of democracy we are enduring in the present time.
   Anger misdirected does no good. Instead of focusing anger on those who by their conscience protest, focus it on those that have designed to purchase your soul and who will come to you to swing deals. To those who have multitudes of financial resources who want a tax break, which will burden the working class poor who always shoulder the burden. Consider when another corporation asks you for a perk, a gratuity of some manner, a convenience, a deal, and if you give into that and support corporate welfare, will your heart turn to stone at the welfare Moms, and disabled people not able to rise above their circumstances? Will you deny a pittance to them so that the corporations can continue to grow with tax subsidies and tax breaks and the other ways a sold old politician feeds the rich?
   Education is a priority and I hope that you will not deny the poor by withdrawing support for public education. I think that if someone chooses to privately or homeschool their children, that is fine, but not at public expense. My reasons for this are because of the discriminatory practices of some non-public schools. The tax credit for college is a good thing, and for the first time in history, wealthy people have an incentive to help their children. No longer will a bright child be denied higher education because his/her parents will not help, and is ineligible for financial aid because they are too wealthy. Now those parents have an incentive to help: the tax deductible education fund and tax credit.
   I believe that you must change your policy on capitol punishment. I think that it is bothering your conscience, by the way that you appear when you speak of it. Being white, wealthy, and privileged, you have no idea how the unjust justice system works in this country. A poor, minority person with a court appointed attorney has no chance of a fair trial in this country. In so many instances, the people on death row are such people. Although some may be in reality guilty of the crimes they are convicted of, in many instances, they are innocent. With DNA testing, some have been lately proven innocent who were awaiting a death sentence. The fact that the death penalty has been used politically and racially and against the poor, are reasons it should be abolished, as well as the fact that by its inhumaness, cruelty, and finality, it should be abolished. It has not been proven to deter crime. Think of all the innocent people put to death while the real criminals go free.
   If you insist on supporting the death penalty, then apply it to white collar criminals & the corporate executive that produce dioxin in the businesses that kill unborn babies in their motherís wombs, that nuclear executive that pollutes waters and lands that creates cancers and deaths in people as well as destroys future generations by permanently altering DNA forever & the CEO that swings arms deals that arm the world with life destroying weapons & that military magnate that asks for more and more weaponry that end up as our own destruction & the list of corporate crime is endless.
    You have no idea what it is to be a victim of a corporation. If you had lost a child to Monsanto, got cancer from Dow, lost your land to waste dumping, lived as an indigenous person and seen the land that gave you life and nourishment, systematically destroyed, then, maybe then, you would really understand what I am telling you and how much is at stake.
   Most of all, you will have to try to tolerate and listen to people like me and realize we are honest, sincere, American people, not enemies. What I have written to you is true. I hope you take this to heart. I would appreciate a personal response from you, but I do not expect one.
Kathy Barnes
Sherwood, MI

Solution to Energy Crisis
   What is the solution to our current "energy crisis?" Before even delving into viable solutions, we need to consider that the problems occurring right now due to deregulation are the making of the agencies themselves begging for a bailout! It is absolutely outrageous that Wall Street should weigh in on this matter demanding gouging rate increases from the public to cover the ineptitude of private interests. Intelís recent threat of no further expansion in California does not carry weight due to the fact that as a hugely profitable corporate interest, it has the ability to insure its own independent power supply if it chooses to do so. Not to mention the fact that burgeoning tech companies along with light and heavy industries have in large part created huge demand and consume vast amounts of energy & far more than what is consumed by residential uses alone. The solution is not to roll back 20 years of hard won environmental (that's your environment) protection and clean air standards in order to pave (literally) the way for a few to become even more obnoxiously wealthy to the detriment of the health and prosperity of all! It may sound inflammatory, but I'll say it anyway  if Dubious Dubya thought there was an ounce of crude on your little old granny's refuge for nearly extinct albino water buffalo, say, he'd have her in a retirement home, a pump drilled and a tasty steak by dinner the same day! God Bless American and our family values.
   The solution? Well, obviously the small consumer is going to get mightily screwed here. Be that as it may, there are still a few things you can do to help out:
   1. Replace energy guzzling appliances with newer, more efficient ones. Refrigerators are the primary offenders and so are most any appliances older than 15 years.
   2. Reduce consumption. This may actually require you to think a little bit. Turn off your television and read a book. Shut down the computer and actually interact with a real human being. Create genuine warmth.
   3. Insulate, insulate, insulate. Thermal barriers should be used wherever possible. On your body and in your house. Windows especially are notorious heat leaks. Install baffling in the crawlspace or subfloor of your home. Remember that most California housing is generally built to a minimal (allowable by code) R factor and consider where you can improve and save money.
   4. Retrofit. If you can afford to, then install solar of fuel cell technologies to increase your efficiency and reduce demand. Even the light bulbs you use can make a huge difference. Replace with long lasting compact fluorescent or low wattage bulbs. Remember that by investing in alternative technologies, you accomplish many things; save energy, thus reducing demand/cost, reducing price for alternative energies thus making these technologies affordable to more people and finally PG&E canít charge you for what you don't use.
   5. Or screw it all instead! Go buy the biggest, most obnoxious vehicle and house you possibly can. Convince your friends to do the same. Drive everywhere as much as possible. Leave all your lights on all day and night (oven, washer and dryer, TV, stereo, computer and garage door opener, too). Turn your heat up to a comfortable 74 degrees and run your air conditioning if it gets too hot. The only way to beat this nasty little game is to create more demand and keep that stock market surging!
   6. Just kidding.
   Remember that this whole scenario is a little like a huge monopoly game. Those in positions enabling them to do so will continue to use every underhanded means available to them to generate huge profits at the expense of those least able to afford such robbery, all the while being blessed by our governing leaders. Alternatives exist  solar, hydro, biomass, wind and our newest shining star, fuel cell. So as this scenario continues to become more appalling and ridiculous, those alternatives will become more in demand and utilized. Don't count on the media at large to outline a feasible course of action, either long or short term, when all it is capable of doing is fanning the flames of hysteria. It appears that the people need to take the initiative on this one and you may discover that there are already a lot of other individuals and companies who share a vision of a better future than the one we've been led to believe is inevitable.
Tim Boucher
Rohnert Park
 
 

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