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What is this, the Al-Jazeera Times?

Let me see if I got this right. Bayard Stockton slams FEMA, Bush, the federal government, and goes on and on with a childish diatribe about a horrible act of nature and forgets some important facts ("Tears for America," Sept. 8-15).

Last time I checked, cities, counties, and state governments are supposed to have emergency plans in writing and in place in case of emergencies. The plans are to be implemented before the emergency, and in the states that got hit, the governors, mayors, and National Guard did not follow their emergency plans.

Hundreds of school buses and other modes of transportation were not activated before the hurricane struck, even though the written plans stated 72 hours before a Category 3 or higher natural event hit.

Anyone remember 1989 in San Francisco? Northridge? The Alaska earthquake? I do not like second guessing from armchair quarterbacks like Bayard Stockton as he p.c's (protective custody) up in Santa Barbara.

Remember, Bayard, chains of command: cities, counties or parishes, the governor, federal government. I do not think the White House comes before the state local yokels!

I think President Bush should be commended for getting federal help in there while the elected state officials were changing their panties and blaming everyone else! And for Iraq... victory!

I'm on vacation, and to read the New Times and some of the articles - what a perspective and different slant. It's like reading the Al-Jazeera Times in La-La Land!

John Sanchez



Where are the competent among us?

Other than those unfortunate people who were caught in the storm path, most of us have seen on televised news programs what the awesome power of natural forces can do to the plans and works of mere humans.

Some heads need to be rolled here; in this age of Doppler weather radar and other scientific advantages to give advance warnings of magnitude, speed, and direction, the people with the most responsibility weren't fit for their duties.

Much of what has been seen and experienced has oozed over the borders of the merely incompetent into the realm of the criminal. Anyone taking in this Sunday's news programs must be asking themselves: In a land of power, wealth, technological advantage, and opportunity, you would think that a few competent, alert, and able people could be gleaned from a population of 300 million to be responsible for the safety and welfare of us, our families, and our fellow citizens in the face of any disaster. There may well be many competent people among us, but they are not in charge at FEMA, Homeland Security, or the White House.

Matthew Jochim



No more sewer letters, if... I have the answer.

If the Los Osos recall election fails, the sewer wars will go on forever.

If the recall election succeeds, the sewer site will move and peace will return to our little village and we won't write you any more letters about the sewer.

Jade Campbell

Los Osos


Education's bigger picture

There's been a lot in the news lately school bus routes being curtailed to save money so teachers will not be laid off. However, cutting back bus service forces some children to walk long distances to school - sometimes near the homes of known sex offenders.

What many people don't know is that many school districts now charge parents for school bus service and the U.S Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal for school districts to do so.

In California, school bus fees are waived for children, including foster children, who are on public assistance. So if a school bus of 31 children has one poor child, then in essence the parents of the other 30 children on the bus subsidize that child. Not a problem. I'll gladly pay my one-thirtieth of a share so that the disadvantaged child can get an education.

But is that really a "fair share"? What if two poor kids ride the bus? What about 10 kids? What about 20? I'm not sure I'd be so generous then.

Roughly 10 percent of the children in California are on food stamps. But these children are not distributed evenly three to a bus. Some districts have few poor children, others have many. School boards in poor districts have no choice but to "subsidize" bus service by not hiring teachers. Thus, the poor are "taxed" for their children's "free education."

The "big picture" is that students need teachers, as well as safe bus routes, as part of their "free education."

Lance Hillsinger

San Luis Obispo


We pay more for what?

Our Los Osos CSD Board and Bruce Buel, CSD manager, have been acting like totalitarians. Prior to the first Fire Tax vote, numerous speakers asked that we be given our options before being asked to vote for the status quo with a nice increase. Bruce Buel recommended that our board vote to set an election asking for the maximum increase and the majority board went along with him. Fortunately, California law gave us the right to a vote on the increase because it would be added to our property taxes, and the increase was defeated handily. We eventually ended up contracting with CDF for the same level of service for less money and ultimately voted for a much smaller increase.

More recently, our finance committee recommended against accepting the sewer bids when they came in much higher than estimated. Bruce Buel recommended accepting all the bids. The majority board once again went along with Mr. Buel and approved the high bids. Oh yes, we no longer have a finance committee.

I'm afraid we have hired an expensive Pied Piper. This $240 a month sewer fee is just the beginning, folks.

Ruby C. Miller

Los Osos


Pass the crack pipe

Let me get this straight: We're going to stop a fully permitted sewer already under construction, pay the contractors to demobilize, throw out the civil-engineered plans we've already paid for, nuke the low-interest loan, spend forever moving the treatment plant to a site with major problems, absorb millions of dollars worth of fines, and this is all going to save us money. Cool! Pass the crack pipe. Must be good stuff.

In move-the-sewer fantasy land we start debating 30 years worth of dead-end alternatives all over again. What fun. And who will our leaders be? Four Caltrans bureaucrats and Julie Tacker, bless her heart. If that doesn't inspire confidence for actually getting things done, I don't know what will.

But for those of you boring people living in the real world, who are tired of seeing the costs driven up by lawsuits and delays, who want to stop the pollution, who want to bring civility back to our community, I guess you'll want to vote no on the recall, and in record numbers. Darn it, you just harshed my buzz.

Doug Morin

Baywood Park


Dire predictions

Where are the pronouncements by fundamentalist preachers about God's anger toward hate-filled believers when it comes to hurricanes?

How much more specific must their God get to show them He hates the wrongheaded, judgmental attitudes of the Bible-pounding right wingers that are the backbone of their support? I predict their outraged God will keep on sending hurricanes, floods, famine, and other natural disasters as long as these perverters of God's Truth continue their abominable, hate-mongering ways.

Kristin Thomas

Arroyo Grande


I'm changing my tune

I am not one of those who jumped onto the bandwagon to find someone to blame for the failure of rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina. I was the calm voice saying, "Let's just get the job done and analyze all that later." But I am changing my tune. I think of the people who died for no other reason than that the help that was near, and could have saved them, never came. I hear that help offered by other countries has been refused. I learn how many things are still going wrong every day. I remember how quickly rescue and help arrived when the financial center of the country suffered a disaster, and I wonder why the same level of response was not brought to bear in New Orleans. And I hear the president answer a question about the things that went wrong by asking, "What went wrong?" And I say, "It's time to rethink my position."

It's time to investigate and to keep media attention focused. It's time to set up an independent, legitimate, neutral commission as proposed by Senator Clinton - one that people can rely on. What has happened in New Orleans is a disgrace. Let it not be swept under the carpet.

Beverly Gaye Scofield

Santa Maria


Bearing a beast

I've had it with this guy. He walks around in a daze mouthing platitudes and smirking when confronted with human problems. He acts like a puppet on a string, but we don't get to see the puppeteer.

No, I'm not a Democrat - or anything else for that matter. I'm just fed up with Iraq, Katrina, hate mail to gays, science bashing, stifling of innovation and creativity, and general lack of meaningful priorities or direction.

As I see it, the fight for big business continues at the expense of the poor. I will admit Bush doesn't discriminate against blacks; he treats all the poor the same, regardless of race, gender, national origin, or religion. He despises them all equally.

Bush has had plenty of help in making mistakes, but he is the one that sets the tone for the country, in which the absurd becomes acceptable behavior. How did nice people like George Sr. and Barbara Bush generate such a beast?

Jerry Hill



Punish those responsible

Allowing President Bush to investigate the abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina would be, as one man put it: "Like letting Ken Lay investigate the Enron bankruptcy."

We must have an independent commission with full subpoena powers to determine the reasons behind this failure and to punish the nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance of those officials at any level of government, regardless of political affiliation, who were responsible for this catastrophic loss of lives and property.

Clayton R. Marsh

Arroyo Grande


Donation regulations set by FDA, not us

Re: "Gays aren't allowed to help?" Letters, Sept. 8-25: Tri-Counties Blood Bank and all United States blood centers must adhere to strict FDA-regulated procedures. The health history questions asked by blood banks are determined by the FDA based on medical science. These procedures address a variety of health issues to protect the donor's health and the health of the patients receiving blood transfusions. These include assessing past medical conditions; current medical symptoms; medication usage; sexual contact; travel to foreign countries at risk for malaria or Mad Cow; and use of needles, including recent tattoos.

Tri-Counties Blood Bank needs the support of everyone in our community to help save lives. Those who wish to donate blood but who are currently unable are encouraged to help in other ways such as coordinating blood drives in their community, asking a friend or family member to donate, or simply educating those around them about the importance of donating blood.

Anyone who has questions about the screening and testing of blood donations is encouraged to contact us for additional clarification or information.

Scott Edward

Tri-Counties Blood Bank

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