Letters to the Editor

Chief concerns

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter:

To the council and Chief Kapler,

I just watched as every available piece of fire department equipment rolled over the Bay Farm Island Bridge. I can't help but wonder what will happen if there is an emergency on the rest of the Island tonight.

I read the articles in the Journal and the Sun about your solution to the November vote.

When a quarter of the residents told you clearly they wanted a voice in the security of their city you first tried to squelch their petition by suing the men who brought that petition to the people. When that didn't work, you side-stepped the issue with a legal maneuver.

We will be allowed to vote, but only after you have had two and a half years to further decimate the department.

The reason you gave was that there was no money in the budget to fully fund the fire department; but you did manage to find the money to rehire the lawyer who had been laid off. And there was money to give raises to the administrative staff of the city.

Please note that on this evening when a depleted fire force is fighting fires, all of those people who were rewarded with a raise are sitting comfortably at home. To make their wages fatter, you put the lives of your firefighters at a deeper risk.

Have you established just how low you will drop the department staffing or is this going to be an ongoing technique to balance the budget? Will our police department be next? Are you betting that the fires won't be so serious that the city will be hit with a lawsuit?

While laying off one lawyer might have helped to decrease spending these last few months, your choices now may make that option an impossibility in the future. For now, it seems that the safety of the citizens of Alameda is not very high on your list of priorities.

I commend Lena Tam for being the single council member who clearly has our interests at heart.

— Joan DeWindt

APC is involved


Faith McDonald's intentions may have been honorable, but her recent letter to the editor ("What's the Point?" Aug. 6) had the facts wrong about the residents of the Alameda Point Collaborative, currently living out at Alameda Point.

APC has a 59-year lease on housing and other properties at Alameda Point. This lease cannot be broken by SunCal. There is no danger or possibility of our residents being "hustled off the island" as Ms. McDonald alleges.

Calls to do nothing or to protect the Point as is are actually the greatest threat to our community members, and would likely result in their dislocation — intentionally or otherwise, as this do-nothing approach provides no solution to replacing the current infrastructure that is on the verge of failure.

Also contrary to Ms. McDonald's statement, APC residents have had a significant voice in the redevelopment plans, having attended every public planning meeting (and there have been lots) going back to the meetings held in the flight tower more than four years ago.

SunCal has also met specifically with our community to incorporate our needs and ideas into the development plans in ways that will enhance our neighborhood and the services we offer.

APC residents are supportive of the proposed redevelopment for the new job opportunities, recreation sites, civic opportunities and transportation enhancements it will offer.

That is the vision established for Alameda Point in the general plan, and for those of us who have been waiting for that vision to manifest over the last decade, we look forward to finally getting some new neighbors and new job opportunities!

— Doug Biggs, Executive Director, Alameda Point Collaborative

No such thing


There is no such thing as "green development" ("What it means to be green," Aug. 6). Development is development, and you can dress it up all you want, using such vaunted vocabulary as "green," "sustainable," "fiscally neutral" and "environmentally sound."

Regardless of the vocabulary used, development still means eliminating as much open space as possible so that lots of ticky-tacky housing and cookie-cutter commercial/retail (which the Island currently boasts of in vast, vacant quantities) can be built, on the increased bond debt of the already financially teetering municipality we call home.

Ms. Heastings has perhaps been on vacation, and therefore unable to read the papers that continue to report the cuts being made to the transportation options of the Island of Alameda; hopefully she will catch up with all these revelations.

SunCal/D.E.Shaw can build a ferry terminal, but SunCal/ D.E.Shaw cannot authorize ferries to dock there, nor can it get buses to run through its development. Probably the solution to our drought is to approve dense development on a flood plain, thus triggering Murphy's Law and bringing on a 100-year flood. We may have a Peets plant operating here, but there aren't enough people waking up to smell the coffee. Or are there?

— Elisabeth Eliassen

Alameda: the back story


A recent letter ("Alameda a misnomer," Aug. 6) mentioned that the name Alameda means "tree-lined boulevard" in Spanish. That is correct, but I thought residents might like a little more background trivia about the name of their hometown.

The word alameda comes from álamo, which means poplar, as in the tree. And yes, that is the same álamo that gives its name to the famous fort in Texas, whose motto translates literally to "Remember the Poplar!" The Spanish word álamo also covers species such as cottonwood and aspen, which belong to the same genus as poplar.

Although the Coast Live Oak was the predominant native tree in Alameda (and the source of the name of Oakland), poplars are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere, so it is conceivable that there was actually a row of poplars (or a related species) here at one time. However, the more likely scenario is that the name came from a row of other trees, possibly even oaks. The Royal Spanish Academy defines the word Alameda as follows (my translation).

Alameda: 1. Site populated by poplars. 2. Avenue with poplars. 3. Avenue with trees of any type.

And now you know the whole story.

— Russell Vernon

Editor's note: History may point to another reason why the former peninsula got its name. When Alameda County was created in 1853, the founders of Alameda, W.W. Chipman and Gideon Aughinbaugh, were hoping to bring the county seat here, thus the street names Court and Fountain and, perhaps, the name of the town itself.

Greenest commuter


Nancy Heasting's "What it means to be green" (Aug. 6) ignores the point of a green technology/sustainable energy research park at Alameda Point instead of 5,000 homes. The "greenest" commuter is one who doesn't drive a car, or ride a bus or the ferry. In other words, one that doesn't exist.

We can think small and try to persuade ourselves that building a bunch of houses at Alameda Point — which will flood when the sea-level rises — is "green," or we can think big and envision Alameda Point as a research center that solves climate change problems for the benefit of people worldwide.

— David Howard

Adopt-a-Bed update


Many thanks to those individuals and groups who have contributed to the Midway Shelter for abused women and their children.

A number of the listed donors have contributed several times from July 1 through 31.

Anonymous, Roger and Patricia Baer, Laura and Bob, K.M. Canalia, Isle City Institute No. 51 YLI; Virginia Krutilek, Jill Mariani and Ashish Parikh, Kathryn Hanley, United Way of the Bay Area; Philomena Stewart, Kathryn Hanley; First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ); Jim and Belinda Ray, First Christian Church of Alameda, Janice Lee celebrating Dr. Alice Challen's 98th birthday, Suzanne Martin-Total Body Development, Karen Ulric, Alameda wine Company; Winslow J. Foster and Fern M. Borst.

Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 951, Alameda CA 94501. For further information call 523-2377 or go to www.midwayshelter.org.

— Ginny Krutilek

Taxing mary jane


If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco.

Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best.

White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal bureaucracy began funding reefer-madness propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to adults over 18.

The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing the drug war's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

— Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

LWV sponsors sufferage showing


At 1.p.m., Sunday Aug. 23 the Alameda League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women of Alameda join the Alameda Free Library in sponsoring "Iron Jawed Angels," a movie starring Hillary Swank, Anjelica Huston, Julia Ormand and Frances O'Connor. The movie tells the story about the women who lobbied, marched and finally went to jail to get the right to vote.

See the full story of our foremothers and what they went through to get the 19th amendment passed. The movie is two hours long and extremely interesting and important as we celebrate Women's Equality Day.

The event will be held in the Main Library, is free and open to the public. Please come and bring friends, particularly your young women friends.

— Anne Spanier, Co-President, LWVA

In support of healthcare reform


I'm a third year medical student at Stanford University. I'm writing in support of health-care reform. I was one of the millions of children that did not have health insurance. I didn't have the luxury of routine visits to the doctor.

In fact before the age of 18 I had been to the doctor only once. My mother was eventually able to get health insurance through her job. When she lost her job three years ago she lost her insurance as well.

Within three months she became very ill. She was very weak, in pain and lost 20 pounds. We took her to three local clinics and no one provided the help she needed.

I remember my younger sister crying in the car after we left a clinic because she thought my mother was going to die.

Eventually my mother had to go to the ER where she was admitted to the hospital and later diagnosed with Lupus. As a medical student at Stanford I see the innovations in medicine everyday. It's hard for me to know that growing up we did not have access to these amazing innovations.

Being a member of an uninsured family growing up was the main reason I wanted to become a doctor. I did not want anyone to have to go through what we did. I had the dream of an America where everyone has health insurance. Today we are close to this dream. It pains me to think that we may lose this opportunity for change.

Americans have talked about, criticized and worried about health care reform for decades.

Policy makers, economists, lawmakers and patient advocates have called for health-care reform for too long. This year, there's real opportunity for fixing our broken health-care system. We can't allow politics to stand in the way of real reform.

We need reform that provides health coverage for everyone and ensures access to a patient-centered medical home where a personal physician can meet most of our health needs. We can have that reform with passage of legislation such as the Affordable Health Choices Act being debated in the U.S. Senate.

This proposal would provide coverage for everyone through employers, the private market or a public plan that offers options while preserving the marketplace. It supports primary medical education, breaks down the barriers to becoming a primary care physician, and expands patients' access to health services.

If we want meaningful reform, we need to let our senators know we support this legislation.

It's time to stop playing politics and solve the health-care crisis. We must find a uniquely American solution that controls skyrocketing health-care costs and gives our patients peace of mind when it comes to their health care.

— Carmen Butts


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