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Bag recycling should be status quo

Kai Beech's recent brief in New Times ("Paper or plastic? SLO County shoppers may soon not have a choice," Dec. 27) that San Luis Obispo may potentially follow San Francisco's decision to ban plastic bags brings to light an important issue that affects all residents of SLO: the elimination of choice when shopping at our community stores. Banning plastic bags is not the solution to curb coastal litter in SLO. Rather, we need to increase consumer awareness of the recent opportunity to recycle plastic bags.

Earlier this year California legislation, AB 2449, established a statewide program requiring grocery stores to accept plastic bags for recycling. Thanks to this new program, businesses and consumers can take an active role in curbing litter while still allowing for personal choice. Currently, grocers and retailers throughout SLO offer onsite recycling for used plastic bags.

The business community would be highly affected by a ban on plastic bags. Supporting current recycling programs is crucial if SLO wishes to mitigate its plastic bag litter. Plus, by recycling plastic bags at stores, consumers and municipalities bear no extra cost.

By increasing education and outreach programs, consumer habits and attitudes can be altered to achieve greater recycling rates. Californians have adapted well to the habit of recycling aluminum and plastic beverage containers. Together, we can make plastic bag recycling the new status quo in San Luis Obispo.

Donna Dempsey

Progressive Bag Alliance

senior managing director

Laurel, Md.




Don't jump the gun on hunting

A few words to sum up my response to one of the most depressing issues of the paper I have ever read ("Bears walk among us," Dec. 20): The cover story on black bears made me want to scream! Why is our first impulse--upon realizing that these intelligent, beautiful, mostly vegetarian creatures are inhabiting the surrounding wilderness areas--to discuss going out and shooting them dead? It makes me think of that sign in Morro Bay, ironically proclaiming it a bird "sanctuary"--unless you're a migrating goose, then all bets are off!

I truly hope that the fish, game, and wildlife departments provide alternative methods of population control (for the bears, that is), if ever needed. But please, can we not jump the gun (pun intended) and prepare to slaughter another species just because we don't understand them and they may be getting in the way of the developers' latest housing project?

Lisa Ellman

Los Osos




Listen up for these three little words

You've really gotta hand it to Otis Page for his bullheaded defenses of President Bush's shameful policies ("Sometimes torture is necessary," Dec. 20). Torture? Check. Domestic spying? Check. Extraordinary rendition? Check. Pre-emptive war? Check.

The list of abuses by this president is long and wrong, but there are three little words that will soon have Otis Page and like-minded individuals singing a far different tune when it comes to the limits of presidential power. And those three words are "President Hillary Clinton."

Jim Mallon

San Luis Obispo




I can't agree with this stance on torture

Really, I must object to Otis Page's recent letter ("Sometimes torture is necessary," Dec. 20) in New Times. Advocating torture by U.S. troops and police is a new low for him. Though I'm a political moderate, I often agree in part with Otis's letters. But I cannot agree with this one.

Use of torture is barbaric. It's what we fought Germany and Japan in World War II to overcome. The end doesn't always justify the means. Many World War II veterans would be shocked by Otis's rant. If we become lax in our attitude toward torture, then we can't claim to be any better than Nazi Germany and communist Russia. Our country already is one of the most crime-ridden in the Western world, so Otis's endorsement of torture is tossing gasoline on the fire.

Torture is a gross human rights violation. Dismissing all his critics as "politically correct" is disingenuous. Angry conservatives use that term to justify the most extreme outrages. Proper political correctness is good and necessary for civilized discussion. But Otis is not interested in discussion.

Steve T. Kobara

San Luis Obispo




Mansionization control makes for good neighbors

Opponents of an ordinance to stop mansionization in Morro Bay seem to be getting more desperate, because their arguments are definitely getting sillier. However, in making those arguments, they sometimes make important, though clearly unintended, points.

At a recent Planning Commission meeting, one local developer/real estate agent attempted to portray ordinance proponents as selfish individuals bent on keeping new people from moving to Morro Bay. Obviously, this is nonsense. Mansionization control does not stop people from building houses. It just stops them from building houses too large for their lots.

However, the ordinance probably will stop a certain kind of people from moving to Morro Bay. What sort of people builds houses too large for their lots, cutting off neighbors' light, air, and views, and destroying the neighborhood character and charm, just so that they can have what they want? The answer is clear, and they are not the kind of people most of us would want for neighbors.

What kind of people will move in under the new ordinance? I expect that my newest neighbors will be people who, like the majority of current Morro Bay residents, value our small town charm and community spirit--and those are the kinds of people I want living next door.

Linda Stedjee

Morro Bay




I'm looking for a big change

I used to financially support Hillary Clinton for president. Now I support Barack Obama for president.

Hillary is all concerned about whether anyone likes her. She should be concerned about liking everyone else. Isn't the most attractive person someone who likes you?

And that's not even the point of being president. We have tough decisions ahead with global warming. If we don't fix it, it will be as if we are suddenly all the same age.

Who our next president is is really important to all of us together. Leaders have to make the tough decisions. They can't worry about whether they are popular. Hillary can run when she grows up. Right now, I want a change. A big one. I am supporting Barack Obama for president of the United States of America.

Barbara-Jo Osborne

Morro Bay




Embrace today's opportunities

On this first day of the New Year, I find myself reflecting on opportunities ahead. Each new day offers occasion to experience gratitude and to honor the sustaining source of Mother Earth. Locally and globally, we must strive to embrace diversity, for in this way we will understand our inherent inter-connectedness.

It's time to release fears that mire us in hatred, self-doubt, and apathy. With hard work, trust in an abundant Universe coupled with compassion, and insight, we can heal ourselves and our world. Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy states, "A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs."

Tools exist to teach us how to create peace within and without. Visionary leadership can inspire and unite us. I am putting my faith in the deeds and words of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich: "If we can change ourselves, we can change the world. Seeing another as we see ourselves is the essence of compassionate listening."

Our opportunity to bring about peace, love, and understanding is greater today than any previous moment in human history. Let us embrace it.

Susan Biesek

San Luis Obispo




Get off your vehicles and look at the dunes

We recently visited Nipomo and saw the beautiful shore and dunes. We were amazed by this place's unique beauty. It is also critical habitat for endangered species, such as least terns and snowy plovers. These dunes must be protected.

We were also stunned by the parade of trucks and other cars that moved close to the shoreline. These vehicles are destructive to this habitat. They have a big impact on the endangered creatures that live here. We want to ask the people who were driving to get out of your vehicles, walk through the dunes, and take a look at the place that your actions will hurt.

Paul Belz and Kate Roark





This community's generosity exceeded expectations

The Salvation Army placed its familiar kettles in front of Vons and Ralphs in Los Osos this 2007 Christmas season. There were 196 two-hour shifts from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24, and the community responded with volunteers to "ring the bell."

As an aside, we had a 97-year-old great great grandfather bell ringer for four Saturday shifts at Ralphs. Isn't it wonderful that at that advanced age, they are still willing to help their less-fortunate neighbors?

We are so happy to report to the citizens of this great community that, again, your generosity exceeded our expectations. Despite the demands for donations from other worthwhile organizations and other catastrophes throughout the country and world, kettles at both stores yielded a grand total of $11,672 collected.

Without the willing volunteers (bell ringers), the willing donations, and the stores (Vons and Ralphs), our efforts would have had to be curtailed in 2008. All monies collected are used for the needy citizens in the immediate area. Again, thanks to all who made this effort a success--and, like that famous man says, "We'll be back" next year.

Len Soldano

Salvation Army coordinator

Los Osos




U.S. citizens beware

So far, we've had the Patriot Acts of 2001 and 2006, and the Military Commission Act of 2006, which limited constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property. As if that weren't enough to satisfy the neoconservatives, the House has overwhelmingly passed the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act," which is now resting in the equally Bush-compliant Senate.

This act, if passed, would establish a commission that would be tasked to travel around the country to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and designate various groups as "homegrown terrorists." Unlike the earlier Joe McCarthy committee and the HUAC, this commission would empower its individual members to arrange hearings, obtain testimony, and administer oaths to witnesses, so that there could be simultaneous hearings nationwide. The act only loosely defines terrorist activities and leaves it up to the commission to determine what is terrorism and what isn't. Since the commission members are mostly appointed by the Congress, politics will inevitably enter the picture.

As a very wise person recently said, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

Richard Kinz


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