Lay out the budget
Our local elected representatives should present budget information in a blunt, easy-to-understand manner. Every year at this time, we hear special interest groups weighing in to explain the importance of their particular cause.
Why can’t our county supervisors and city council members start the budget discussions with a prioritized list of what needs to be funded?
The list should start with fire and police protection and educational needs and continue through all the other budget requirements. Once the list is presented, the next step would be to put the expected revenues on the chart and draw a line showing what cannot be funded because there is no income to pay the items below the funding line.
This would permit the public to quickly see how things lay out. More importantly, it would show everyone what would have to be eliminated or reduced in order to fund “lower” priority activities. If there are citizens who wish make a case for reducing funds for fire, police, schools or other items above the budget cutoff line, they could defend their positions and recommend what they believe should be reduced or eliminated to make the needs fit within the income expected.
I have always been troubled by the idea of using campaign finance laws to try to combat big corporate spending in political campaigns. The laws are complex, confusing and easily evaded and corrupted by the big-money spenders, and then there is the issue of free speech.
The millions of dollars needed in congressional campaigns are for TV and radio ads, written propaganda, rent on a dozen or more local offices, staffs and equipment, etc. The congressional districts are so large that this is the only way to reach all the people effectively.
With grass-roots democracy, however, money is largely irrelevant. If districts were small enough to the point where a candidate could talk directly to all the voters personally, the effects of big money would be negated.
The downside of this could be a House of Representatives with 10,000 members. Perhaps voters could elect electors, 10 in a district, who in turn would vote for a representative.
And then there are the Senate elections. Here is where big money really talks. Haven’t we outgrown the historic need for this body? Let’s just get rid of it.
Warming data cooked
Global warming is a hot topic. Al Gore and the “warmers” claim it is caused by man. “Climate realists” claim global warming is cyclical. Where does the data come from?
The National Weather Service collects temperature data through its U.S. Historical Climatology Network of 1,218 reporting stations. Each station is subject to certain quality-control standards. The correctly placed temperature sensors should be at least 100 meters (330 feet) from artificial heating or reflecting surfaces. A sensor located by an artificial heating source, such as a building, rooftop, parking lot or concrete surface introduces an error greater than eight degrees Fahrenheit, according to the government.
I went to observe two of the 1,218 climate-reporting stations. Cal Poly’s sensor is located next to a gravel road, broken down RVs, heat collecting junk and a satellite dish. It is 40 feet from a concrete walkway next to buildings, with several chemical test pools between 100 and 200 feet away.
The sensor in Paso Robles is beside a major city street with constant heavy automobile traffic. It sits on a concrete pad, next to a building, with cars parked against it. Consequently, the readings from this reporting station have been high, showing an error greater than eight degrees Fahrenheit for several years.
Both of these stations, like most of the stations, fail National Weather Service’s own standards and reporting procedures because they are badly sited. The reported temperature data, not the earth, is cooked by man.
San Luis Obispo
An evening without meat
Your article regarding the health risks of a high-fat diet (“Study: High-fat diets raise stroke risk in women,” Feb. 25) reminds us that our food choices impact our health.
Community members will have the opportunity to learn more about this at the upcoming Great American Meatout (www.meatout.org).
The local chapters of Animal Emancipation and of Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are hosting an informative event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Great American Meatout
Come to our event to sample vegan food, take home recipes and watch an entertaining, informative film titled, “A Delicate Balance.” This film takes a serious look at debilitating disease resulting from the food we are sold.
Americans eat more than 10 billion land animals, and another 9 billion ocean animals, each year. The negative impacts upon human health is significant.
If you care about your health and would consider reducing your meat consumption, please join us for this event on Sunday, March 14, at 5 p.m. at the Atascadero Library Community Room, 6850 Morro Road. You’ll discover how eating a vegetarian diet is better for your own health, the environment and the animals.
For more information, call 544-1580.
Animal Emancipation, Director, San Luis Obispo County
Another housing crash
It seems as if, three years ago, residential real estate prices would go up forever. Buyers were overbidding on residential sales and builders were building. Our children were refinancing their homes with new low-interest loans, paying off their IRS taxes and maybe paying on their maxed-out credit cards. Free money; God bless America.
As a retired California real estate broker, I could not believe what was happening. People were buying homes with toxic loans they could not ever afford to pay off, thanks to the changes in the United States government loan qualifications. Housing prices kept rising. Banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Wall Street were packaging these toxic loans with regular loans and making room for more of the same toxic loans. No end in sight.
Then came the crash. If we don’t investigate what happened, will our children or grandchildren repeat the problem?
A teen-friendly county
Many of our county’s teenagers state that they can’t wait to leave or that they consider our county to be boring. However, many of these teenagers, including myself, are starting to realize how much the county has provided for us.
Probably the most influential and unique aspect of the county is the friendly and nurturing community, and without it, many of the youth of today wouldn’t have the drive for success that they have now.
Dabble in the arts
For a long time, I have sat in my house, wondering what to do. Many have experienced this feeling.
Some people turn to electronics because the TV and the computer are right in the house. They’re convenient.
But sometimes, we should turn away from technology and embrace the arts. There are many little things that deal with the arts — beading, knitting and scrapbooking being only a few of the choices.
So if you find yourself needing entertainment some Wednesday night, don’t gravitate towards the television. Pick up a pencil and paper and draw, or buy some beads to make necklaces and decorations. Start dabbling in the arts.
Recalling the past
With the concerns of the Toyota recalls, many offers are being made by American car makers to regain market shares.
I suggest we remember that in 1977, Mark Dowie of Mother Jones magazine brought to the attention of the American people that the Ford Motor Company knew of fuel tank problems with its Pinto, even before its release to the public.
However no recall was made.
This is because Ford, after a cost/benefits study, found it to be it more cost-effective to pay liability for burn deaths and injuries rather than modify the fuel tank to prevent the fires in the first place.
No more medal count
Viewing the 2010 Winter Olympics during the last few weeks has been a thrilling and uplifting experience with so many gifted and skilled athletes displaying their abilities on a world stage. NBC covered the games beautifully.
However, the frequent reporting of medal counts for the top countries by the broadcasters is misguided and unnecessary. Why is it so important to recognize countries’ achievements? In extreme cases, a heightened sense of nationalism can lead to discord and divisiveness. Why can’t we just relax and appreciate the spectacle of the thousands of people who have created the games and the competitors who have performed?
Granted, most sports fans and athletes represent their nations with pride and honor. This is healthy. But coming together at the Olympics and sharing in the joy and beauty of all the physical human performances regardless of nationality should be the primary goal. And isn’t that enough?
San Luis Obispo
Close Short Street
I am very disappointed with the Arroyo Grande City Council because they are not seriously considering closing 113 feet of Short Street in the Village of Arroyo Grande for the development of Centennial Square (two and a half blocks will remain open).
I believe Centennial Square should be a pedestrian-friendly environment, not a vehicle-friendly environment. If two restaurants with patio dining are located in Centennial Square, it is better to have a large, open pedestrian area between the two restaurants versus a street with vehicle traffic.
However, some of the council members are bowing to special interests to keep 113 feet of Short Street open to vehicle traffic. The council needs to hear from all of Arroyo Grande and not just a select few. The Village belongs to everyone in Arroyo Grande, not just the “Village people.”
Please contact the City Council and tell them it is OK to close 113 feet of Short Street in the Village for pedestrian enjoyment. Your input can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 473-5400.
Not a communist
This is a clarification to Roy Barnard’s response (“Thinking alike,” Feb. 6) to my letter (“2012 hoopla,” Jan. 14):
I was glad Barnard got a chuckle reading my letter, as laughter is the best medicine. But I suspect, to quote my letter, it wasn’t a chuckle but a “condescending smirk of contempt,” as he ends his letter implying that I am a Communist.
I am a patriotic American and not a Communist! In my letter, I didn’t ask anyone to think like me (that would be impossible) but to think for themselves and not buy into the angry groupthink the insurance companies, Tea Partiers and right-wing fear mongers have been selling us.
Does Barnard think “the end is near” and will happen in 2012? Fundamentalist dogma of any stripe is usually poisonous.
And Barnard, I did end my letter with what might be considered a thought of universal peace: that all the politicians and citizens work together and maybe even pay a little more to repair this country to its greatness once again.
I would think you would be for that Barnard, unless you are hoping for the failure of America. Would you prefer a Chinese democracy and a Walmart world?
San Luis Obispo