Letters to the Editor

Council could axe Parks and Recreation 

 

Editor:

 

At next Tuesday’s meeting, the city council is planning to approve a 10 percent cut to the Recreation and Park Department budget. The cut includes a layoff of four coordinators. The department has already lost three employees over the last three years.

The department is growing with more new programs and more kids and seniors than ever. With the cut staff would have fewer staff members to cope with the growth.

In addition, the timing of the layoffs would effect the community and the department because they would come right before summer, when the Recreation and Park Department runs the most programs that make the most money for the trust fund.

 

Renee Kellogg

 

Financial cardiac arrest

Editor:

With all due respect, I will not support a sales tax increase, regardless of how deserving the claimed goals are. When the American economy functioned, in the 1950s and 1960s, most of our taxes were progressive, not regressive. Both the Republicans and Democrats dismantled that progressive tax system over the past 30 years. There is little reason to hope that the economy will ever come back so long as regressive taxes such as a sales tax fund public entities.

In regard to Alameda itself, this tax is particularly appalling. City Auditor Kevin Kearney and City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy have set out in detail how the city is headed toward bankruptcy. This tax is yet another political Band-Aid for a community suffering financial cardiac arrest.

— David Baker

Yes on Measure C

Editor:

On June 5 we will have an opportunity to preserve and make Alameda a better place to live. As a lifelong, fourth-generation Alameda resident I would love to see a swimming facility that could hold swim meets, offer exercise classes and be open on a regular basis. It is extremely frustrating having a son who is on a swim team and not knowing where, when or if he will be able to swim on a regular basis.

It is also not appropriate to have your son at football practice in the dark or have to practice in the parking lot so there is light. This town needs to have all-weather, lighted fields so our kids are safe when playing their sports. These and other things can be accomplished if we vote to raise our sales tax by one-half percent.

This tax can generate funds to get these kinds of things for Alameda. It is a great way to generate money without just going to the homeowners. Anyone who shops in Alameda — whether or not they live here — pays the sales tax.

Vote "yes" on Measure C June 5.

— Kelly Floyd

Speed up your run

Editor:

I question the "calming" effect of light timing that causes traffic to back up ("Slow Down Your Run on Route 61," March 8). My vote is for timing that minimizes braking for those adhering to the speed limit (and thus minimizes air, noise, and ground pollution while maximizing gas mileage).

Additional measures such as "no turn on red" and pedestrian-only crossing times (like the intersections with diagonal crosswalks in Oakland Chinatown) would be compatible; more stop signs would not.

Separately appropriate consideration should be given to increasing the speed limit 35 mph on a few more of the main routes used to traverse the Island.

— Penelope Gordon

Support the sales-tax initiative

Editor:

As a mother of four-year-old boy-girl twins and a two-year-old boy, I am fully supportive of the proposed half-percent sales tax increase, which will be before us on the June ballot. This initiative will afford us the opportunity to create recreational opportunities we would otherwise have to do without.

We love Alameda, its parks, beaches, libraries, schools and shopping districts. For Alameda to remain one of the best places in the Bay Area to live, our infrastructure needs to be kept in good shape. Alameda is lacking is its pools. We don't have a truly family-friendly pool facility. Emma Hood Swim Center is falling apart as is the Encinal Swim Center.

A half-percent sales tax will fund a modern swim facility that will be an asset to Alameda's families. We owe it to ourselves and our kids to invest in our future. In the end result, although it is regressive, the half-percent sales tax will be an investment in Alameda's home values and in our families.

— Solana Henneberry

Join AEF's celebration

Editor:

The Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) is celebrating 30 years of service to the students and teachers of Alameda's public schools on Friday April 13, from six to 9 p.m. at Rock Wall Wine Co., 2301 Monarch St., AEF is celebrating Salute to Education that showcases innovation in our public schools. We want to invite all Alameda Unifi ed School District and community members who have contributed to our success.

Advance tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. The price includes light hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine, other food options available for purchase.

Buy tickets online at www.Alam-edaEducation.org or at Café Q, 2302 Encinal Ave. with cash or check payable to AEF.

— Judy Blank Alameda Education Foundation

Thanks for support

Editor:

I want to thank the thousands of amazing Alamedasun who have signed our "Protect Our Parks" petitions. Their signatures demonstrate the best of good government. Based on the many comments of signers, the most frequent has been, "thank you for being here" and "thank you for doing this" and "I've heard about this and I want to sign."

It's so clear to me that so many Alamedasun want to exercise their right in shaping the decisions that impact the quality of their lives; this is participation at the grassroots level.

At the heart of the initiative is the essence of transparency; voter approval is required when developers or others want to buy or swap designated Alameda parkland.

No more deals away from public view; it's open government at its fi nest. This loophole doesn't forbid sales or swaps but it does require all such transactions be conducted in the spirit of sunshine/open government with voter approval.

Alamedasun love and appreciate our parks and open space and their willingness to participate in the initiative process reflect this.

— Gretchen Lipow Protect Our Parks

Breaking down barriers

Editor:

For more than a year, visitors to the Saturday Alameda Farmer's Market encounter bright orange traffic cones with notices proclaiming one small place at the very end of the vendor area a "Free Speech Zone" — all this fuss with signage and color that shouts "caution," for one citizen's effort to talk about matters of peace in Palestine and peace in the Middle East.

For those who desire to know more about the situation in Palestine, non-violent efforts to resist the military occupation and the international boycott; divestment and sanctions movement that is gaining steam around the world, I would like to extend an invitation to the Sabeel Conference tomorrow and Saturday, March 23 and 24, at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, 732 West Fremont Ave.

The conference will offer an opportunity to hear many voices of conscience — American, Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

You won't be put off by seeing "caution" cones or feel yourself restricted to talk "freely" in a small designated area. Instead you will be greeted with invitations to talk with people who live and work in Israel and in the Palestinian territories You will have the opportunity to learn to challenge the status quo, and act to promote freedom, justice and equality.

You might even find yourself challenged to hold onto this issue and join the ever growing call for peace in the Middle East here in the streets of Alameda! Additional information can be found at www.barriers-conference.org.

— Paula Rainey

Anchor-outs are not illegal or criminal

Editor:

I would like to see the basis for anchored-out boats to be deemed "illegal" — maritime law demands the right of free anchoring for all Americans. Though there are clearly some navigational areas that require specific controls, a local jurisdiction attempting to declare anchoring limits is likely unconstitutional.

I have sailed more than 22,000 nautical miles and spent more than a decade on the Bay. I frankly don't see much of a problem with anchored-out boats, which in most cases are people's homes.

How are Alamedans inconvenienced by this?

Not a jot. Only officials who want to control other people's lives seem to be concerned about something that has existed since time immemorial. Is it just because some citizens have a different lifestyle than those who live in a gingerbread house with a white picket fence?

Leave them alone — if there's no support, that's what the population is telling you.

— S. Ray

Lack of vector control at the Point

Editor:

Two weeks ago at our Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting (only the second in six months) a representative from the Alameda County Vector Control said the county was unable to get into Site 2 to treat mosquitoes because the Navy would not provide access. He informed us that the county had been treating the mosquito population in the area for years and that it was important to do so to prevent the spread of disease, such as encephalitis and malaria.

The Navy clarified that access was to be provided through a consultant, not the Navy (and not the city) but because the consultancy had been let go, there was no one to grant access.

The Navy has keys to those gates. When the Navy provides its tours, Doug deLong lets the vans in. But the Navy's base environmental coordinator felt it was only proper for a consultant (who does not exist) to provide access.

The county representative stated that there was only a window of two weeks before the mosquitoes will metamorphose and fl y. The control methods they propose are among the most protective of wildlife and humans currently available and thus should be of no concern to the public.

It looks like the Navy, in addition to attempting to dismantle the RAB, wants to expose Alameda and West Oakland residents to disease. What is going on with these guys? It leads me to wonder how much they really intend to clean up the base, if they won't even allow Alameda County to protect us from disease.

— Dale Smith RAB Co-chair

Let's take back our city

Editor:

Measure C would solve all of Alameda's financial problems without any fi rm details of any sort. The city council could change anything or everything at any time. But it "promises" something for everyone. Remember that old saying? If something seems too good to be true, it probably is? Listen to that wisdom.

Public safety pensions are bankrupting local cities everywhere. Alameda is no different. The city took a look at contracting out fi re services to Alameda County. The study uncovered a $2 million dollar annual savings while maintaining the same level of service. Alameda County already handles fi re dispatch and vector control.

Rather than save ourselves $2 per year, our officials propose to tax us nearly $1.8 million annually over 30 years. Think about it.

Why ignore the operating deficit and invest in big capital improvements?

It is time Alamedasun took the necessary steps to take back our city. We need to look at all options without fear of being blackmailed. Why reinvent the wheel providing our city's unique services while paying upper level managers top pay and benefits? Why not look at joining other cities and the county and look at services that can be provided on a regional level?

Something is wrong in a city where the firefighters elect the council, fi res the old city manager that contracted the study, hires the new city manager, controls what the council puts on the ballot, controls how that money will be spent and locks us in for the next 30 years into paying for stuff that forces us to stick with a bad decision.

Measure C is like buying a new car when you can't afford to put food on the table next week.

— Barbara M. Thomas Former Vice Mayor and councilwoman

An open letter to the President, First Lady

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter addressed to President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

Dear Sir and Madam:

I have addressed this email to you, your lady and a list of media organizations listed at the end.

They (the authorities) have given us tickets on March 13 for unauthorized anchoring and we now have three days to move out (until March 16) or as the Oakland police put it the last time they threatened us, if you are here on those days (your lady's visit) it will get ugly.

This is the second time the First Lady's visit to Coast Guard Island, and the resulting security zone, has been used as part of an excuse to force poor people, who live and anchor near the east end of Coast Guard Island, some for years, to go be poor and unsightly someplace else!

If forced to move, one of us will lose his job on Alameda island; a job he fought to get and has had for a year. Another (me) might have to cancel his prostrate surgery at the S.F. veterans hospital on the 27th of this month since I might not have a place I can easily return to and heal. Surgery I have been building up to over a year of tests, pills and biopsies. Another vet will be forced to move 15 miles to Richardson's Bay (like us) and completely change his V.A. and primary doctor located nearby.

A woman who lives on one of the older boats can easily end up back on the street.

Plus this place will make a nice overflow anchorage for the America's Cup, one of the possible legitimate uses suggested.

Unsightly, derelict, drug users and thieves are some of the adjectives used to label us, the .009 percent at the bottom of the pile (Please see the front page article in the Alameda Sun as an example of the local bullying going on.)

There is much more to this story I won't bother you with.

I just thought you should know what the First Lady's name was being attached to without your knowledge. Thank you if you read this.

— Michael L. West

 

Comments   

 
0 #1 Nathan Otto 2012-03-30 06:10
Dear fellow Alamedans - If you have not done so already, I encourage everyone to take the Alameda City budget challenge. Difficult choices abound. Currently, the city is running about a $4 million deficit on a $70 million annual budget; or about a 6% shortfall. The proposed sales tax, if enacted, will raise about $2 million, optimistically. Although I think it is prudent to close the city deficit through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases, I have to question the choice of priorities if the proposed sales tax is passed. As many others have pointed out, Parks and Rec, Police and Fire, and other city services are all experiencing painful cuts right now. Embarking on new spending to construct a swim center when the city is underfunding its current obligations is not the sort of fiscal discipline that will bring municipal budgets back to financial health. New projects are best reserved for cities that are already fully honoring their current financial obligations.
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