Letters to the Editor

Thanks for story


Thank you for your article regarding Tom Watson's run at the championship ("Reflections on Tom Watson," July 23). It helped me find closure to a painful outcome.

— Kelly Carr

Home is where the heart is


I was online the other day looking for items pertaining to climate change when I stumbled on a video trailer for a film called "HOME."

The trailer, which was quite beautiful and intriguing, ended with mention that the film was to be released at the end of June. So I waited and to my surprise the film appeared on YouTube, available in its entirety for free. After seeing it I will say that it is a very beautiful film with a challenging idea that ought to change the world if the world decides to believe it.

The film is online at www.youtube.com/homeproject. The filmmaker's Web site is www.home-2009.com/us/index.html.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

— Chad Chadwick

Heart Mountain exhibition is stunning


Last weekend we had the pleasure of visiting Gallery K at Rhythmix Cultural Works to see the Heart of the Mountain exhibit, consisting of work by members of the Tachibana Ginsha poetry group. This is a collection of elegant poems and drawings created during their internment during World War II at Heart Mountain relocation camp in Wyoming.

They were discovered years later in the garage of the grandfather of Janet Koike, the founder of Rhythmix Cultural Works.

The ability of the artists to transcend the terrible injustice of having their lives completely disrupted and to focus on the beauty of nature in a harsh and unfriendly environment is a tribute to the profound resources of the human spirit. We left with the resolve to look past the relatively minor limits on our own lives to the beauty that surrounds us daily. The message of several of the poems was also woven into the artistic and exciting Maze Daiko concert, a dazzling evening of percussion group masterpieces presented on July 17 and 18 in the Rhythmix Theatre.

The poetry exhibit continues at K Gallery at 2513 Blanding Ave. as part of the Estuary Art Attack until Aug. 9. We strongly recommend taking the time to relax and appreciate it.

— Jinny and Red Wetherill

Health care conundrum


Frank Matarrese is correct about the need to define terms in the health care debate (Commentary, July 23). This is made abundantly clear when I hear so many people calling single-payer "socialism." This is a rhetorical trick the Republicans are using to scare the citizenry.

In a socialized system the government owns the hospitals and is the employer of the doctors, nurses, etc. Our VA system is an example of this. Under a single payer the government acts like a non-profit insurance company — like Medicare. The government will not own hospitals or employee medical personnel.

— Karen Green

Beach safety focus


I am an Alameda resident, father of three children, and a Alameda firefighter.

I feel that it is my responsibility to respond to the article, "Be Safe in Water," printed in the Alameda Sun by the Fire Department administration, July 16. The message regarding "Beach Safety Tips" in reference to "lifeguards" can be confusing, and somewhat misleading, so I feel it incumbent on me to clarify certain facts regarding water rescue and safety.

The article advises the reader to "swim near a lifeguard" and to "ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering unfamiliar water." The public needs to be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty anywhere on Crown Beach's 2.5 mile stretch or elsewhere along the surrounding natural water areas of Alameda.

In 1999, the City Council approved the implementation of a Surface Water Rescue Swimmer program to provide Alameda firefighters with the necessary skills and resources to provide water rescue response to all waterfront areas of Alameda's jurisdiction.

This program was instituted due to the absence of lifeguards, the significant delays of water rescue response from the Coast Guard and Sheriff's Dive Teams, and the lack of certified water rescue training for Alameda firefighters.

After the death of two adolescents below the Bay Farm Island Bridge a few years earlier, the Fire Department urged the City to support a safer, more efficient water rescue response capability, which the Fire Department has since offered, until now.

Last year, the City Council approved a budget presented by former City Manager Debra Kurita and current Fire Chief Dave Kapler that has dismantled the Fire Department Surface Water Rescue capability.

Due to the budget reductions, the necessary recertification of our water rescue swimmers for OSHA compliance was not funded.

As of March 16, 2009, the Fire Department administration issued an operational status change, placing the surface water rescue swimmer program on hold. According to the status change, "all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice."

What does all of this mean to a swimmer in distress? It means that firefighters may not swim to or use the rescue boat and rescue boards to approach a distressed swimmer in the water.

Firefighters are permitted to toss a 75-foot water rescue rope to the victim, provided the victim is within 75 feet of the shore, to effect a rescue. The Fire Department Incident Commander will request that the County Dispatcher contact Coast Guard for assistance.

So, in the absence of lifeguards, what do I recommend for a "safe and smart" time at the beach?

Don't enter the water with more than one non-proficient swimmer at a time. Having three children of my own, it's very easy to lose track of one while supervising the others. Keep your eyes on and stay close to the non-proficient swimmer at all times. Even in shallow water, maintain a 1:1 ratio. The waves, swells and tides can be challenging for young ones and it only takes a split-second for tragedy to occur.

— Steve Floyd

Still no to SunCal


Many citizens were surprised and pleased at your front page story last week ("Our City Among the Greenest in the Nation," July 23). This idea is precisely what critics of the SunCal proposal have been promoting for the Point: environmental innovation, alternative-energy research and green business and industry.

The greening of Alameda refers to the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership first organized in December 2007 with leaders of UC Berkeley, four cities — Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and Emeryville — and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The aim is to establish the region as a center of green technology. Since 2007, other cities in the East Bay including Alameda have joined the project.

The Point is the logical location for this project but it doesn't make any sense to speak of "greening" Alameda when SunCal is proposing building 6,000 housing units translating into 15,000 more Island citizens — give or take 100. And how does the greening of Alameda really fit into the SunCal proposal? It doesn't and the city should abandon it. To move in the green direction, the city should hire its own contractor, as recommended in the city's recent feasibility study, and explore further reuse of the buildings already there.

There are now approximately 77 occupied buildings on the Point with a variety of industries: wineries, environmental clean-up facilities, Habitat for Humanity, the Chabot Science, the Maritime Administration and a further list too long to mention.

It's been said that the greenest building is the one that is standing and yet we know that SunCal plans to demolish most if not all of the buildings on the Point.

They even want to tear down the old Alameda Naval Air Stations's air traffic control building where some amazing green innovation is going on around renewable wind-energy technology. The Point is the perfect location for embracing the goals of the Green Corridor Partnership and to secure federal funds for green-collar jobs and workforce development training for our citizens.

Let's get our priorities straight, say no to SunCal and focus our attention and energy on the Green Corridor Partnership project.

— Gretchen Lipow


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