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Downtown's trees are in good hands

"Curious George follows the stumps" (Nov. 30) piqued my own curiosity at some of the assumptions and omissions made in the article. The Downtown Association, referenced in the piece but not contacted for this story, has been included in the city's discussions and decisions surrounding the urban forest, and naturally so our design committee oversees all things aesthetic in downtown, including trees. Yes, there are businesses for which trees pose challenges: falling berries, leaves and flowers, uplifted sidewalks. But those concerns have never carried enough weight to trigger decimation of healthy trees. Most who complain know that without the trees messy as they can be downtown just wouldn't be the same.

Moreover, the article neglected to note that in March 2006, an outside registered arborist, Bill Spiewak, completed "Evaluation of Selected Street Trees" after several large trees toppled over in downtown, creating dangerous situations. Spiewak assessed 384 trees in the downtown core and offered this recommendation: "I also determined there is an urgency to remove six trees and prune eight."

For an in-depth look at the issue and the Downtown Association's role, read "Downtown SLO's Beleaguered Urban Forest," in September's issue of SLO County Journal or request a copy by calling 541-0286. A copy of Spiewak's report is available by calling Ron Combs, city arborist, at 781-7023.

The decision to remove the trees was painful but necessary. The public will hopefully realize once they have all the facts that the future of a continued beautiful urban forest is a priority and is in good hands.

Deborah Cash

Downtown Association administrator




Clearly, nuclear is a drag

The production of electricity by nuclear power is antiquated, dangerous, and deserves to go the way of whale oil for lamps. California has thousands of megawatts available to be tapped by wind, solar, hydro, and tidal. It is much easier to grow our economy this way than with difficult, complicated nuclear. No private money is investing in nuclear. Contrast this to the global rush into wind and solar.

The early pioneers of nuclear energy were too confident in reprocessing and did not foresee the jam we are in now with thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste sitting at 66 civilian reactor sites waiting for the illusory Yucca Mountain storage facility to open. President Carter made a good decision not to reprocess this waste as the technology currently used in France increases the amount of material that can be made into nuclear weapons.

A recent nuclear waste recycling technology via fast neutron reaction was described by Hannum, Marsh and Stanford in a December 2005 Scientific American article. They described a method of processing waste that will not make weapons-grade material and could partially solve the issue of indefinite storage of highly radioactive waste. However, this method will not be used at full scale for years, and in light of toxic CO2 we cannot wait. The prudent path was described by Amory Lovins 30 years ago: Energy efficiency and conservation on the consumption end and wind and sun on the production end. The direction is clear: Nuclear is a drag.

Mark Skinner

Los Osos




What would happen if we cut and ran?

Roy Berger continues his anti-war rhetoric in providing an opinion that this country "needs to cut and run" from the conflict in Iraq (Nov. 30). Berger ignores the fact 18 million citizens in Iraq elected their government. He ignores the fact that the sectarian violence in Iraq is fed by Iran.

There are calls for a "dialogue" with Iran and Syria. The objective is to solicit Iran's cooperation in helping end violence in Iraq, a violence Iran fosters. Iran is arming the Shiites in Iraq (ABC report of Nov. 30). Iran will not agree unless the USA "cuts and runs" and abandons any military or economic actions that could deter Iran from going nuclear.

Obviously, we can only receive Iran's help if we allow Tehran to have the bomb. Then, what is the consequence of "cutting and running" by allowing Iran the bomb? The Middle East would become an Iranian sphere of influence and a sellout of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and America's other Arab allies. Israel would take military action to stop Iran from completing its nuclear program, opening the conflict as a World War.

Why should the United States sanction another version of "peace in our time" Munich, 1938 with a "cut and run" decision? It should not. It may make the Democrats and people like Berger happy, but the United States would suffer terribly with such a decision.

Otis Page

Arroyo Grande




Republican Congress ready to 'dump and run'

The Republican-led 109th Congress is sneaking out of Washington, D.C., without meeting their most basic constitutional responsibility of passing a budget. In effect, the Republicans have decided to dump almost a half-trillion dollars of spending bills onto the incoming Democratic-led 110th Congress. Why? So that when the new Congress passes these necessary spending measures, the Republicans can puff themselves up like blowfish and rail against these new "tax and spend Democrats"!

This lack of action by the current leadership will add to a bulging workload for the incoming Congress, consuming time and energy that would otherwise be spent on "raising the minimum wage, negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, cutting interest rates on college loans, and repealing tax breaks for oil companies." It looks like the Republicans, those folks who keep whining about "cut and run," have decided to "dump and run!"

Gale McNeeley

Santa Maria




Here's my move toward fairness and valuing people

I am writing regarding Bill Denneen's article "Don't feed the corporations" in the Nov. 30 issue of New Times.

I am opening a water testing laboratory here in SLO that tests for E. Coli and other common types of bacteria, as well as general chemistry concerning water quality. I have structured this business to honor and value all types of work. Everyone here will make the same salary. We will also profit share. This means we will take 100 percent of the profits after all costs are paid and distribute them among everyone here. As the owner and responsible party, I receive 50 percent. The remaining 50 percent goes to the employees. This gives the money back where it belongs: to the people providing the service. There is no middle management here. Everyone has a job toward service to our clients.

I think it is important to acknowledge that there is a movement toward fairness and valuing the person who makes the product or does the analysis. Without them, any business has nothing to offer. I believe we are news in SLO regarding this matter. Other places say they pay a living wage. At Abalone Coast Bacteriology, there is potential for all of us to take home $100k+ a year. I would love to have Bill Denneen know someone is actually doing something about the discrepancy between the people who provide the service or product and those who manage. I have had this same concern about how the money gets distributed, and this is my way of doing something about it.

Amanda Smith

Shell Beach




Kudos again on the water story

My compliments to Kathy Johnston on a well-written and informative article about water in this county ("The secret life of water," Nov. 16). It is rewarding to see recognition of watersheds and the critical role they play in our environment. Public awareness is a first step in protecting a resource valuable to agriculture, business, communities, and individuals.

Development and maintenance of the infrastructure necessary to provide safe, potable water to current and future generations is certain to remain a top priority for years to come.

John E. Beaton

Water Quality Manager

San Luis Obispo County Public Works and Transportation Department




It's time to say thank you

The election results have been certified and it is time for me to publicly thank my family and friends, including the many new friends I have met during my campaign. Your support and encouragement were inspirational and speak volumes to the kindness found in our community.

Special thanks are due to those participating on my committee, to my nominators and to my endorsers, Jack O'Connell, George Luna, and Marj Mackey. To be supported by people of such high caliber gives me great pride and makes me reflect on the responsibilities ahead.

As spoken before, my decision to run was not taken lightly, and I understand the tremendous obligation I have in enhancing the trust in our local government.

Thanks again, and I will close with the words of the English dramatist, George Colman: "Praise the bridge that carried you over."

Mike Brennler

Atascadero City Councilmember elect




Measure J is over

Enough is enough. I have heard and read plenty about Measure J. I voted for Measure J. I will also admit that one of the reasons I voted in support of it was because of people like Phyllis Davies and Jan Marx, who are full of venom and want to declare war anytime something happens that is not to their satisfaction. It makes one wonder why some people want to defeat something with such fervor. My advice to Ms. Davies and Ms. Marx is to go get a life. A lot of us are tired of hearing/reading you.

Rita Vartan

Arroyo Grande




Gifts to contractors are draining country

When Bush says we're winning the war in Iraq, he's talking about Halliburton and all the other profiteering contractors winning huge profits on the blood of our troops and the Iraqi people.

Some of this blood money is in turn given to crooked politicians as campaign contributions to keep them in power. The cost of this gift to the contractors is draining our country dry.

Sharon Eckardt

Los Osos



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