Monday, February 27, 2017     Volume: 31, Issue: 31

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When vulnerable populations are threatened by politicians
Unnecessary taxes and government overreach
Abuse of the environment

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

The phoenix will rise from Obama's disaster

August Salemi - Atascadero -

Thousands of words of political verbiage spew from these hallowed pages of New Times. Trump is Satan. Trump is the savior. An endless back and forth. But all are wrong. President Trump is neither of these extremist rantings. The bugle blowers, however, seem to be non-mindful of the great gifts that the election results bestowed upon everyone.

Thanks to the brilliance of the Electoral College procedures, our country narrowly averted the horrors of another Clinton regime. The election also gifted us with four uplifting words of hope: Former President Barack Obama. Pure beauty. We should all look forward to our country rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the previous administration.

A response to 'Remnants of offshore oil disaster'

Peter D. Tillman - retired geologist-geochemist, Cambria -

In the Feb. 16 issue, a writer decried tar balls on the beaches around Santa Barbara, but misunderstands their origin. These (and those we get on SLO beaches) are from natural oil seeps that were leaking long before Europeans arrived. Early Spaniards used natural rafts of beach brea to waterproof their roofs, and Anglos mined the stuff to pave roads.

The most active seeps are around Coal Oil Point off UCSB. They leak about twice as much hydrocarbon pollution as all the cars in Santa Barbara County and contribute to a persistent air-quality problem there. Lompoc has the same problem.

If these oil and gas fields were pumped, reservoir pressures would be lowered, and leakages could decrease and eventually stop. Plus, people would get jobs, and governments would get taxes. Wins all around!

Wikipedia has the details. Readers might enjoy the videos and photos at “Asphalt volcano” about the strange tar extrusions off Coal Oil Point, with sea creatures growing right on top of them. Petroleum is food to many sea microbes, and they quickly eat any spills.

Inappropriate behavior from a protester

John Monfield - Atascadero -

A person in our community, Danny Ehinger (I got his name from a front page article in The Tribune), participated in the protest against Planned Parenthood. This man is against abortion, and while he’s entitled to his opinion, I am appalled at the manner in which he attacked those who do not share his views. Angry, and with violent words, he accosted men, women, and children, all the while waving large posters of aborted fetuses.

My wife and I watched all of this in horror, but did not say anything; our group was instructed to remain silent and not engage. In Googling this person, I see that he has his own local business, along with a long history of this type of behavior. Yes, I was silent at the march, but I will not be silent now. Danny Ehinger’s way of protesting and expressing himself is abusive, combative, and is an assault that makes people feel unsafe. Next time, I hope the police step in to shut him down.

Oil seeps are natural

Steve Rebuck - San Luis Obispo -

Tim Bennett (“Remnants of offshore oil disaster,” Feb. 16) makes a mistake blaming oil on his feet in Santa Barbara as some remnant of an oil spill that happened more than 40 years ago.

Apparently, he does not know (or believe) there are natural seeps in this region which have been leaking oil for thousands of years. Native Americans used this tar to make bowls from abalone shells and to seal their canoes. Walk on the beach at Summerland and you can see oil oozing out of the bluffs above.

Estimates of oil spilled from off offshore oilrigs since 1969 is 842 barrels. The estimated amount of oil from natural seeps since 1969 is more than 1.8 million barrels. No comparison.

A study produced by UC Santa Barbara found existing drilling has reduced oil seepage and air emissions by 50 percent. These reductions in air emissions alone is equal to all the cars which drive through Santa Barbara on a daily basis. Someone “told” Mr. Bennett he was oiled by a spill 50 years ago. Someone told him wrong.

A disaster nobody wanted to pay to prevent

David Broadwater - Atascadero -

Al Fonzi’s commentary, “The disaster that wasn’t,” in the Feb. 16 paper is just another attempt at diversion and scapegoating. He blames bureaucrats and politicians for the Oroville Dam near-disaster, just like his wife, Atascadero City Council member Roberta, blamed Gov. Brown for Walmart’s abandonment of its Atascadero store plan.

Fonzi asked, “what happened?” Here’s the answer: 12 years ago, three environmental groups warned of exactly what recently happened to the Oroville Dam and recommended reinforcing the dirt spillway to prevent erosion from undermining the dam. They were rejected because water purveyors didn’t want to pay for the improvement, including state water contractors and water districts from Los Angeles, Kern County, Santa Clara Valley, and Alameda County. These facts were reported by the San Jose Mercury News (Feb. 12), CNN (Feb. 13), The Tribune (Feb. 13), and others.

So, if you’re really concerned about people “being placed at unnecessary risk,” maybe it’s time to start listening to folks like the Friends of the River, Sierra Club, and the South Yuba Citizens League, all of which issued that warning about the dam more than a decade ago. But Mr. Fonzi seems more adept at disinformation than acquiring and disseminating facts.

Who is Al Fonzi?

Bill Emerson - Atascadero -

I always enjoy New Times, even issues where it seems the entire staff either went on a mental sabbatical or had a momentary implosion. But the one thing I can’t seem to wrap my head around is—who is Al Fonzi?

I see the profile blurb you publish, that’s fine but it’s not really a qualifier. I also get to read his writings in a North County publication. I’m not against anything he writes, or for it either. I suspect there is something out there that qualifies him to be a regular contributor. Maybe its ratings, pressure from advertisers. Possibly no one else wants to write or you find satisfaction out of providing columns that bring joy, comedy, and high blood pressure at the same time.

Is he a former elected official? Professor with a PhD? A best selling author? I’m guessing its money related, but what do I know. I tried a Google search and gave up after three pages. However, I did find a Wikipedia article about Arthur Fonzarelli. The Fonze Column: that one I could wrap my head around.

I’m not attacking anyone or anything. Personnally I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat; I find it liberating (not liberal) being free to think independently. It feels good and anyway, I was always told to never join a gang. There must be some reason for a regular column. Maybe you can do an in-depth interview with Mr. Fonzi for us, as well as the other regulars you publish. So please let us readers know, who is Al Fonzi?