Saturday, July 30, 2016     Volume: 31, Issue: 1

Weekly Poll
What should we do to curb domestic violence in SLO County?

We need harsher punishments for abusers.
We should provide more resources and tools for victims to get out of abusive relationships.
Let’s focus less on punishing abusers and more on reforming them.
The justice system as it is doesn’t work for victims; we need policy changes.

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Same ol' election rhetoric

Alan Thomas • San Luis Obispo -

Dan Carpenter is at it again. He lost to Adam Hill by more than 10 points in the primary election for 3rd District supervisor, so you'd think he'd try something new.

But once again, Carpenter is launching personal attacks on Hill. And then trying to grab votes by playing both sides of the issues. I guess a leopard doesn't change its spots.

For example, Carpenter now claims Hill is somehow responsible for the decision to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant (SLO Tribune letter, July 23). Really? Did he not read the statement by PG&E's chairman? This was an economic decision based on PG&E's long-term plan to move to renewable sources of energy production and storage over the next 10 to 20 years.

I guess Carpenter would have the SLO County Board of Supervisors coerce PG&E to spend billions patching up an aging nuclear plant rather than invest in the energy jobs we need in the future as Hill wants to do.

Carpenter also has a newfound interest in environmentalism. He was against creating a marine sanctuary off our coastline and against the Pismo Preserve. But now he wants to put the entire Diablo Canyon area into preservation after the plant closes. Of course, that wouldn't create many new jobs, so he covers himself by saying we should actually "make the best and highest use" of the land.

It reminds me of Carpenter saying "as a candidate" he is opposed to the oil trains, but "as a supervisor" he would support the property rights of Phillips 66. Does he really think he's fooling people?

In reality, Hill is already working with PG&E and Cal Poly on ideas like building a marine research center and other job-producing projects. He has an actual track record of bringing good jobs here.

Carpenter's only real selling point is that he's lived here a long time.

That didn't work last June and it won't work this November.

Caren Ray is back in local politics

Istar Holliday • Arroyo Grande -

It heartens me that former SLO County 4th District Supervisor Caren Ray is throwing her hat back in the political ring. During the time we were privileged to have her in county government and I was serving as land use committee chair of the South County Advisory Council, I got to know her well and learned to respect and admire her. She was that anomaly, a true public servant: intelligent, accessible, responsive, evenhanded, and an articulate spokesperson for the people she represented, those without a voice or "friends in high places."

She worked with her fellow supervisors to get things done and is sorely missed to this day.

I do not live in the city of Arroyo Grande so I cannot vote for her myself, but I urge those of you who can vote in this election to not, through apathy or inattention, miss the opportunity to put this good public servant back in a position to serve you.

Get out and vote for Ray for Arroyo Grande City Council!

Another response to oil train slights

Sam Meyers -

Again, I feel compelled to reply to a letter submitted to New Times. In the letter by Madeline Palaszewski ("It's not if but when with oil trains," July 21) asking elected officials to stop the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project, she mentions the recent Mosier, Ore., oil train derailment. It should be noted that, yes, the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) did indeed fault Union Pacific for "failure to maintain track."

However, what was not mentioned by Ms. Palaszewski was this: Union Pacific actually was in compliance with FRA guidelines for proper "mainline" track maintenance. If Union Pacific had not been in compliance with FRA track rules, the FRA would have ordered a temporary halt to oil train shipments (Union Pacific probably only runs three oil trains a month over that track). But the FRA did not do so. The reason for the verbal hand slap the rail company received is simple: The FRA desires, but does not require, railroads do more inspections, primarily walking inspections, on curves.

Now why did the lag bolts (also called "screw spikes") not hold the rail from being forced outward? The reason could be anything from defective metal forging by the manufacturer to over-torqueing the spikes on installation. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will determine what actually happened.

It should also be noted that the Union Pacific "mainline" track between Hinkle and Portland (through Mosier) is a heavy tonnage track that regularly sees 20 or more freight trains a day (no Amtrak trains), including almost daily unit trains of grain, potash, soda ash, and lumber. Heavy trains such as those do put stress on the track.

Now, compare that to the ex-Southern Pacific line that Union Pacific owns through San Luis Obispo. The rail company runs the current oil trains two to three times a week, several empty auto trains a week going to Mexico for new automobile loading, and several Amtrak trains a day. That's it. Compare that to 30 years ago when then Southern Pacific usually ran two to three, occasionally more, freight trains through SLO each way every day. And the "mainline" tracks were in worse condition back then than they are now. I've seen the difference with my own eyes.