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Taxpayers would pick up bill for elderly ex-cons
Karen Velie was inaccurate in her article "Look behind the bars" (Sept. 7), when she stated that the healthcare of elderly prisoners would no longer fall to the taxpayers if they were released. Those who have managed to work at jobs that paid into Social Security are eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Those who have not have paid into Social Security are very unlikely to have any form of retirement and, as such, are eligible for Medi-Cal.

Whether their healthcare is provided in the prison system or not, the taxpayers DO pick up the bill, either through Medicare or Medi-Cal. Taxpayers should not be lulled into thinking that they will not have to pay for healthcare for prisoners after their release and thus not oppose early release for elderly felons. They committed the crime and should serve their sentence, regardless of their age. Should we have separate facilities or portions thereof for the elderly prisoners? Most certainly, but early release solely based on age and poor health is not appropriate.

Victoria Carroll

San Luis Obispo



Bikes are happening throughout county
As the Bicycle Programs coordinator for SLO Regional Rideshare, I was pleased to see bicycling featured in a recent New Times ("Living green in the Summer of Energy," Sept. 7). San Luis Obispo County is fortunate to have an active cycling community dedicated to keeping roads safer for all cyclists. It is important to recognize everyone's efforts toward promoting cycling, especially the North County. From the Great Western Bike Rally, to shops with bike art displays during Bike Month, to a bike commute over the Cuesta Grade led by County Supervisor Jim Patterson and San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) Executive Director Ron DeCarli, this community has a thriving cycling community.

As the article alluded, there is a new effort to promote safe travel routes to schools in our county. The SLO County Bicycle Coalition secured funding from SLOCOG to provide a free workshop with Wendi Kallins, director of Marin County Safe Routes to School. This workshop will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Meadow Park. A general info session will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the SLO City-County Library. Working in partnership with the coalition, San Luis Obispo Regional Rideshare will provide resources for community members who want to start programs in their schools. When children can travel actively to school, more adults can leave their cars behind. This new environment creates a safer community for everyone.

Visit to register or learn more about the training.

Jessica Berry

Bicycle Programs coordinator

SLO Regional Rideshare



I found a football movie for you
I have good news for Ashley Schwellenbach: She can call off her football-movie boycott ("Tackling sexism in film," Sept. 14)! Have her run down to her favorite movie-rental outlet at once and grab a copy of Necessary Roughness. It's the film she's been looking for. Not only does it feature a girl who suits up and takes the field with the rest of team, it also makes said girl an equal participant in the team's success. Furthermore, it manages to do it all without burying the whole thing in cheap Hollywood schmaltz.

Admittedly, the movie is first and foremost a comedy, but it's a comedy with heart. And it's genuinely funny, too. It would be worth watching even without the "female football player" angle, which contributes to the good-natured quality of the humor, but is not the film's major focus. Ashley definitely needs to check it out. I would be genuinely curious to hear her reaction (unless, of course, she has already seen it and didn't think it worthy of mentioning in her article, in which case I place no stock in anything she has to say anyway!).

Blaine Errea

San Luis Obispo



Now's a good time to buy local produce
I love spinach. In fact, it's the only leafy green vegetable we generally have around our house. It's much more nutritious than lettuce. Can Popeye be wrong?

Please don't confuse this bagged spinach with what is available from our local farms (it's the county's 19th most profitable crop), especially via our wonderful farmers' markets. "Bunched" spinach grown locally is perfectly safe, and I was alarmed when my wife said she wasn't going to buy it. Others may think the same way.

I am also relatively certain that any spinach that is boiled at a high temperature will kill any E. coli but then there wouldn't be much left to enjoy, as high temperatures also kill nutrients, and with spinach in particular, it cooks down to very little.

Some of you know me as a promoter of all things "green" (especially energy), and I would hate to have bad information threaten an agricultural mainstay of our county. I might add that this scare is an object lesson for when the day comes (soon?) when oil will be so expensive that we can't blithely ship produce from coast to coast to satisfy epicurean tastes.

It's a good time to start buying locally grown and manufactured goods, and keep doing so.

William L. Seavey




Farming is still an option for Dalidio
Mr. Dalidio reports that he is unable to farm his 131 acres of prime agricultural land because "it is surrounded by stores." Why? The sun still shines, water is there, the rich soil unsurpassed anywhere awaits planting. Soil, water, sun: the basic ingredients for farming. The lush verdant rows of healthy crops have always provided a unique and delightful entrance to San Luis Obispo.

Big-box stores have a notoriously short lifespan. Since Mr. Dalidio no longer wishes to farm, he could lease or sell his ranch with the proviso that it remain in farming and his name: Dalidio Ranch would remain the title of the property. What a wonderful permanent legacy this would be for Mr. Dalidio!

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own." Andy Warhol

Jean Wright

San Luis Obispo



Call me old fashioned ...
To vote for Measure J, you'd have to agree with these assumptions:

The local residents of a city or town should not control the character of their own community. That should be done by people who don't actually live there.

Land use, planning, and environmental laws should apply to everyone else but me.

The best way to develop a large shopping center/hotel complex is build it first and deal with the problems it causes later.

If a development causes traffic jams, smog, or flooded roads, the developer should not be held responsible. The government should solve those problems and use tax money to pay the bill.

If you don't like the people who live in a certain community, use a county-wide ballot initiative to "stick it to 'em." That's what it's for.

Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that no one should be above the law and we should trust the local residents from Paso Robles to Nipomo and every city in between to determine the future of their own communities. If you believe those principles are worth defending, vote "no" on Measure J.

Alan Thomas

San Luis Obispo



Turn up and vote yes
They're building up a storm in front of Home Depot, Costco, and downtown with nary a whisper, but bring up Mr. Dalidio's shopping center and fangs come out. Downtown is beginning to look like Rodeo Drive with the prices to match. Has everyone missed the key word in all my letters? Affordable. Hope all you county voters turn out and vote yes. If not, I hope Mr. Dalidio will take Mr. Madonna's suggestion and turn the whole thing into a pig farm. Oink, oink!

Joan Sales

San Luis Obispo



Check out this new mission
While traveling down a rather bumpy Grover Beach road, I was reflecting on some very different issues of the day facing North County residents.

My ideas culminated with Mission San Wal-Mart de Miguel. A Wal-Mart development replaces the current San Miguel Mission. This will be the first of the new Super-Duper Wal-Marts, which have many more features than a plain-vanilla Super Wal-Mart, including an attached residential community. This new mixed-use development will fill a variety of different tax coffers as well as provide ample housing and employment benefits.

But wait, there's more this development has an education program. Potential residents and workers would attend programs explaining benefits of the new global economy. The curriculum would feature many of our new 21st century truths, such as: The U.S. middle-class has been demoted to a service economy to sell the cheap goods created by the many jobs we "exported." But, this has afforded us to focus on what matters most in life: "Always Low Prices."

Once new residents and workers had been properly converted to the correct way of thinking, they would be free to benefit from all this new mission had to offer. Now, just a day's bicycle ride south, the same could be created at Mission San Wal-Mart de Atascadero.

John Laferriere

Grover Beach



We don't go to the movies anymore
They are too loud! And most of us are hard-of-hearing, and even if we take our hearing aids out and put in ear plugs, it does not help.

Went to Superman, and a fourth of the way through we couldn't stand it, so went over to the Pirate movie. Just as bad! We should have gotten our money back, but have just decided not to go anymore and are getting the movies at the grocery store and that even costs less!

B. J. Sparks

San Luis Obispo


I'm not a terrorist please don't torture me
A knock on my door awakened me. An FBI agent and local detective questioned me about terrorism because an academic colleague and I had discussed Bush's nuclear hype to justify war. This was called "bomb-making information": Explosions are hot spheres of expanding gas, whose volume is proportional to the cube of the radius. A 1-kiloton nuke's blast radius is only 10 times as big as a 1-ton TNT bomb. Not 1,000 times as big. A 1 MT blast radius is just 100 times bigger than 1 ton of TNT, not 1 million. The WMD argument against Iraq was hype! Now it's being turned on Iran, and it's still hype. Psychological warfare against us citizens. (My last real act of "terrorism" was to announce a statistics midterm. That caused REAL terror!)

If Bush makes CIA torture legal, it will eventually diffuse into our culture as a standard interrogation method. A dungeon in the SLO Cop Shop? You bet!

"Young lady, you had a roach. You might know about cocaine smugglers. We'll torture you and find out." Attaching electrical stimulators to breasts and vagina they begin ...

We need interrogation rules that WE can tolerate if WE are arrested in error, whether home or abroad, else we do ourselves far worse harm, suffering, and damage than any enemy could impose. Tell me, President "Born Again Christian," what about the Golden Rule? Is moral death the price of a tortured and insecure lifestyle? Get real!

David P. Armentrout

Los Osos



Treat students with respect
I am a fifth-year Cal Poly student who is without housing for the fall quarter. This year's market is particularly bearish, and many students are still without housing less than one week before classes begin. This is due to both short supply, but also unreasonably high prices. Students are being forced to pay upwards of $950 per month for a single room, or $700 to share a room plus utilities, which usually cost at least $100 per month or more. Many students are on fixed incomes and cannot afford such high prices.

I believe that the market might not be so uncompromising if the public had a different attitude toward students. One has to look no further than the results of the recent online New Times poll to understand the love-hate relationship between Poly students and city residents: 36 percent of online correspondents describe us as intolerable "monsters." In second place, with 24 percent of the votes, is the following sentiment about students: "Indifferent. They're noisy, but they spend money here." It seems that these young men and women who work in your clothing stores, serve you your food and drinks, contribute millions of dollars to the local economy, and add much needed vitality and character to the city are viewed by the majority as nothing more than raucous nuisances with money to burn. Is it any wonder why Mardi Gras was doomed to fail, or why students are constantly at odds with law enforcement and members of the community?

We are an integral part of the community, and we are not going away any time soon. All that we ask is that we are treated equitably and with respect. We will do our best to be respectful and responsible members of the community.

Ben Biesek

San Luis Obispo



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