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Drunk-driving laws should be harsher
This is in response to the opinion published on June 29 by Siobhan McDowell of Pismo Beach (“I have no sympathy for drunk drivers�). I am sorry about McDowell’s mother’s death. I share the same no-
tolerance attitude toward drinking and driving. My husband and I were hit by a drunk driver. Luckily, we were okay. I always think, “What if our accident had a worse outcome?�
It is a crucial decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. Drunk drivers are impaired and make decisions lightly. Drunk drivers should think about all the people they can hurt. They hurt themselves and their loved ones as well.
Drinking laws should be stricter and not only give drunk drivers fines, but should give them more severe penalties for putting our lives and the lives of our loved ones in danger.

Jessie Ortega
Santa Maria


Keep those election paper trails
In the greatest democracy in the world, normally used to sending good-hearted folks around the world to observe and certify the fairness and validity of elections in other countries, it would be a downright shame to have other countries wanting to come and certify our elections.
There may be a huge potential for voting-machine fraud by electronic voting machines that are being planned for our future voting, which give no paper trail version of the actual votes cast. Even if there were no rigging of elections, a sore loser would easily be able to put up questions of possible irregularity, which would go to the very heart of confidence in our government. This would lead to an even more disaffected electorate, which will feel their vote really didn’t count and, even worse, that the elected official really is not their leader or representative.
Therefore, to all of our leaders in decision-making roles on this subject, please keep our voting process solid and at the minimum: Allow for a paper trail from any future voting system!

Kamlesh M. Desai, M.D.



Yeah right, you’ll fix the Medicare bill
Writer Chuck Reasor in his letter, “Goodbye, Social Security checks� (July 6), is certainly correct in stating that income-means testing in determining Medicare Part B premiums will be starting next year. That provision was inserted at the last minute late at night by a small number of Congressional leaders (read: Republicans) who negotiated the final version of the bill, touted as the Medicare Prescription Drug legislation, behind tightly closed doors.
Unfortunately, as with the Administration, much of what goes on in Congress is behind closed doors. The galling thing about all this is that, as Chuck states, nothing was mentioned in the media or elsewhere that means testing was part of the huge drug bill. The bill was passed overwhelmingly by both parties, with the Democrats and AARP pretty much saying, well, it’s not a great bill but it can be fixed as time goes on. Yeah right! The focus was strictly on how Congress and Bush saved the senior population by covering, in a rather nebulous fashion, the cost of prescriptions. Ah yes, all those smiling (salivating?) faces as they watched Bush
sign the bill.
The premium figures that Chuck indicated are the estimated premiums for individual seniors whose income is above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples. For those of us, and I assume that would be the majority, with incomes under $80,000/$160,000, the premiums in 2007 would be $100.40 per month increasing in 2009 to about $129. Sharp increases, yes, but as I recall, the increases in the past few years weren’t much more than we’ve endured in the recent past, and those were bad enough for many seniors. (Source:

Richard Kinz



Help us continue to feed needy pets
This is a plea for public support. I am an independent dog rescuer in North County. For a number of years now, another independent rescuer and I have had an association with North County Humane Society, this area’s largest no-kill cat shelter. While we two dog rescuers are not the most visible rescue effort in North County, we are certainly the most active, having rescued almost 200 dogs in the last year. Unlike other shelters or humane societies in San Luis Obispo County, we two rescuers are absolutely no-kill. The animals we take in are never in danger of losing their lives because they “run out of time� or are determined to be “unadoptable.�
For over a year now, the North County Humane Society has been receiving weekly donations of broken bags of cat food and dog food from Paso Robles Wal-Mart.
North County Humane Society is responsible for the care of nearly 200 cats, and supports the feeding of several feral cat colonies. It also helps senior citizens by donating pet food to them. This particular practice has allowed seniors on a fixed income to keep a pet that might otherwise wind up at Animal Services because the owner couldn’t afford to feed it any longer. I personally divided the dog food donations between rescuers who expressed a need, delivering whatever was left over to Atascadero Loaves and Fishes and Paso Robles Loaves and Fishes food banks. Every donated bag was used locally and accepted gratefully.
The week of July 3, North County Humane Society was notified that Wal-Mart’s corporate office had decided to suspend all donations to all charities and community support groups. We are reeling from this decision. I have e-mailed their corporate office hoping for a reversal of this decision. In the meantime, we rescuers have an extreme number of mouths to feed. The food donations allowed us to save and feed more animals than we normally would be able to.
We are hoping that this public appeal for support will not go unanswered. We need food donations badly. Bags of dry dog and dry cat food. All donations can be brought to North County Humane Society, 2300 Ramona Road in Atascadero, Monday through Saturday. All donations are tax deductible. Please consider adding a bag of dry dog or cat food to your grocery list. Please help us continue to help those that have been discarded and can’t help themselves.

Suzanne Sollenne
Dog Rescue Network


This one’s a no-brainer
I’m having trouble imagining a legal argument against gay marriage that accords with the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.�
Marriage laws grant privileges, immunities, liberties, property rights, and protections to married persons which are not granted to unmarried persons.
This amendment limits our options: (a) strike all laws pertaining to marriage; (b) repeal the Fourteenth Amendment; (c) declare gays and lesbians non-citizens or non-persons; (d) allow gays and lesbians to marry. Which of these is least harmful to a nation founded on human rights and the rule of law?

Johanna Rubba
Grover Beach



Israel doesn’t  want peace
Lieberman wanted to go to war with Iraq because his first loyalty is Israel, not America.
There was a time in history when the Palestinians and Israelis were brothers. Today, these two clans are not much different than the tribal feuds going on between the Sunnis and the Shiites. We need neutral politicians who want to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not by war, but by forcing Israel to withdraw all its settlements from the West Bank.
The Israelis have destroyed Palestinian date groves, cut them off from their wells, and have done everything they can do to push the Palestinians into a futile corner. If you corner a dog, it will lash out, even if it has no chance of winning.
Israel does not want peace, it wants an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians from the face of the earth. We need political leaders who are loyal to the Constitution and to doing what is right for Americans.

Sharon Eckardt
Los Osos



The next world war’s begun
The present missile strikes against Israel by Hizballah in Lebanon and its Hamas counterpart in Gaza have destroyed the “peace initiative� in the Middle East. Hizballah and Hamas are Iranian agencies operating with Syrian support. None of this is surprising. It is another act in a long drawn out play by Iran and other major Islamic players to overwhelm Israel. It is a continuing “blood feast� sponsored by religious Islamic fascists—and it is time to “get it over with,� for World War III has in fact started.

Otis Page
Arroyo Grande


Maybe the arts are the route to peace
It was refreshing to see a film that shows a very different side of Iran than what’s been depicted in the news these days. Cease Fire, a comedy about a constantly battling married couple who wind up in therapy, is a playful romp through the minds and hearts of this glamorous duo using therapy techniques from local Cambria author Lucia Capacchione’s self-help books.
Though light-hearted and highly entertaining, Cease Fire also shows that true peace starts with the individual and that, cultures and religions aside, we’re all the same—with the same needs, the same desires, the same emotions. When I found out that Iranian Jews and Muslims worked harmoniously together on this film, it just reinforced for me how important creative expression really is. Maybe “the arts� are the true path to world peace and a lasting cease-fire. Perhaps our world leaders should start writing with their non-dominant hand and get in touch with their inner child. It’s certainly worth a try!

Linda Fayette


Goodbye, San Luis Obispo drivers
So, I’m leaving SLO this week—moving out to New York. I won’t be taking my truck. And after seven years of driving in this county, you can’t even imagine how much I look forward to no more driving. Do people in this town have some sort of moral objection to using their turn signals?
I could probably count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen use theirs. Trying to make a left-hand turn at an intersection? You have to wait for all the idiots to make THEIR left turns from the opposite direction. Is it a power thing? Do you all enjoy watching me sit there because you don’t signal you’re turning too?
Or, trying to turn out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot … waiting for oncoming traffic to pass … but every car ends up turning into the parking lot. Even when someone DOES use their signal, I don’t trust it. I go into shock. I’m actually looking forward to occasional crazy cab drivers in New York. I’d take that over the incompetent SLO drivers ANY day.
So farewell, SLO. I’ll miss so much about the Central Coast. But I won’t miss driving here whatsoever.

Erin Partridge
Brooklyn, NY

Readers Poll

How do you feel about the availability of mental health services in SLO County? 

  • There is not enough access, and there needs to be more.
  • There is access but only for those with a lot of money.
  • Most people should be able to afford it if they knew how to find it.
  • People need to learn to get over their issues themselves.

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