Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor 2/6

Start saving lives

Before the massacre in Tucson, there was Columbine and Virginia Tech. In Virginia, the shooter had been adjudicated mentally ill. In Tucson, Columbine and many other cases, there were histories of mental illness well known to government entities (schools, etc.).

None of this information was put into a data bank so that when a gun dealer did a computer background check on a prospective purchaser, the mentally ill person (especially those who have been adjudicated violently mentally ill) did not appear. This has to change.

A person convicted of any felony is in the database and cannot purchase a firearm. The law has always forbidden felons from possessing a firearm in the United States. The felon is known.

Why not have a federal law that mandates public agencies (schools, etc.) input the names of people who have mental problems into a database?

When a person who is in this database cannot purchase a firearm, he should have the right to go to court and prove by a fair preponderance of evidence that his/her name be removed.

It is time to stop bickering and start saving lives. A federal reporting statute will save lives.

Allan Mayer

San Luis Obispo

Loss for SLO chamber

Concerning Dave Garth’s upcoming retirement from the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce: I’m entering my third year as a member of the Chamber and have marveled at the amazing way our local Chamber and its very competent staff guide its mission under Garth’s very capable leadership. While there are likely fine candidates to take over the reins upon his departure, his are gigantic footsteps to follow in.

Garth has brought so many skills and dimensions to his position that are beyond just being a CEO, and they manifest themselves in his passion for the Chamber, its members, its goals and the fabulous city it represents.Small wonder that San Luis Obispo has been valued as the happiest city around. In my view, Garth has had a very important role in creating that impression.

Will the Chamber be the same after Garth’s departure? While I think it will still be a great organization, I can’t see how it will not change. Will Garth disappear into the sunset? Not a chance! About the only thing I can say with certainty is that he won’t take up drums, or at least he won’t play them left-handed. All other bets are off!

Pat Cormick

San Luis Obispo

Worry over SmartMeters

Over several months now, many county residents have contacted the Board of Supervisors with serious concerns regarding the installation of wireless SmartMeters in our county.

Concerns range from class action lawsuits on overbilling in other areas, cyber security risks identified by the United States Government Accountability Office (the auditing and investigative arm of Congress), reports of the meters interfering with arc fault interrupters (designed to protect against electrical fires) and non-thermal health risks from exposure to chronic, long-term electromagnetic radiation from the meters.

While listening to the Dave Congalton radio show Jan. 28, I was very pleased to hear Supervisor Adam Hill’s response to a caller named Rebecca, and to Congalton’s question, on whether the Board would pass a resolution to show concern.

Hill responded: “I think that we will be doing so. We will be expressing our concern in a letter, in a resolution, to PG&E, also to the Utilities Commission and also to our legislators who have more direct authority over this.” I want to thank the County Board of Supervisors for taking action in response to our concerns. Please also show support for Assembly Bill 37, which will provide for wired meter options to meet smart grid goals without the risks.

Judy Vick

Atascadero

New Walmart needed

A Walmart in Atascadero is a win-win for both residents and businesses. The recent front-page article read like the usual attack against Walmart, saying it’s going to hurt the little guy and take sales away from existing retailers (“Report: Walmart would give and take away,” Feb. 3).

I’m one of those little guys, and I wholeheartedly support the Atascadero Walmart.

I own a small retail clothing store in Atascadero. According to the article, I should fear Walmart taking away my sales, but that’s not the way I see it.

I support the new Walmart because it will be good for my business. Yes, Walmart will sell clothing, too, but because it will attract customers who currently shop outside of Atascadero, my business will benefit from increased foot traffic.

The environmental impact report predicts that no stores will close as a result of the Walmart. It also states a significant portion of the projected sales will come from area residents and other shoppers from Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

We can’t afford to lose the 250 jobs the Walmart store will create.

To strengthen vital city services such as public safety and roads, we must encourage business growth in Atascadero that will bring in new revenue.

Kelly Long

Kelly’s Casuals

No Pismo annexation

Stop Pismo Beach from annexing county land. The issue before us is the urban sprawl; the Price Canyon project will affect the entire area, not just Pismo Beach.

The environmental impact report states that the city should “encourage and support regional sales tax and/or transportation sales tax measures” to mitigate the extreme congestion the Price Canyon development could potentially cause.

The city may propose a local or regional sales tax to help pay for the Price Canyon development. Don’t be fooled, I believe the recent improvements to the freeway were for this massive development and more is needed. The city is working diligently behind the scenes to get this project pushed through.

The project proposes 697 homes, a 10,000-square-foot wellness center, 200 hotel rooms, a golf course, a 20,000-square-foot conference center, a 5,000 square-foot-wine center and, potentially, tax increases.

We must leave this property in county control and not have it annexed to Pismo Beach. Our City Council doesn’t get it, so please contact the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission at www.slolafco.com and/or phone the County Supervisors at 781-5450. You might not care about the added congestion, but you might pay to mitigate it.

Susan Testa

Pismo Beach

Amazing generosity

Recently, my daughter and two of her eighth-grade classmates held a bake sale in front of Vons. The proceeds are being donated to the Women’s Shelter.

They began working the day before, baking all afternoon and well into the evening.

I spent the first couple of hours of the bake sale with them to supervise and witnessed a profound generosity from our local citizens. There were many people who paid much more than the purchase price, and there were several that bought nothing at all, but made generous donations just the same.

The girls raised $415 and were quite amazed that their efforts reaped this amazing profit. The very best part was seeing the expressions on their faces when many people pulled out their wallets, commended the girls on their efforts and agreed that this was “money well spent.”

In these times of financial strife, I was truly moved by the willingness of our citizens. I am still reflecting on the remarkable learning experience that these girls were able to take with them. I want to express my thanks to all of those who helped make this project a success. These three girls got much more than they gave, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Mary Martines

San Luis Obispo

Invest in education

As a 20-year public school employee and mother of two children who will soon be attending college, I want California’s economy to turn around and I want my children to have the same opportunities I had. Unfortunately, unless we make some significant changes, I don’t think they will.

The proposed 2011-2012 budget allocates 11.60 percent for higher education and 10.83 percent for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Corrections Department’s budget has increased over the years, and one of the reasons is California’s high rate of recidivism (at 70 percent, it is the highest in the nation). I’m not a policy wonk, but perhaps California should consider adopting programs from states with low recidivism rates rather than building more prisons.

California also must continue to fund our K-12 schools. Research shows that individuals with lower educational attainment levels are more likely to be arrested or incarcerated. Prevention programs have a much higher success rate than rehabilitation programs.

Investment in higher education is just as important. Individuals with a college degree are likely to earn more money. A higher wage-earner is going to pay more income tax and spend more money, boosting our state’s economy. Investing in education instead of incarceration not only benefits the individual, it benefits our entire state.

Andrea Devitt

San Luis Obispo

New school system

In the recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama lamented that more than 25 percent of the students in this country drop out prior to completing high school. He went on to suggest that all these young people should take a path toward a college education.

Obama, not everyone is geared to sit in a classroom setting. There is pride and satisfaction in creating with one’s own hands; however, in the brilliance of our public school leaders, industrial arts education and homemaking have been eliminated. If the young people had a class that they looked forward to and succeeded in each school day, would more of them remain in school?

The United States spends more money on education per pupil than any other country in the world. If spending money on education is the answer for being a world leader in technology, science, humanities and manufacturing, then why do we rank 25th and 31st in science and mathematics compared to other industrialized countries?

Years ago, when I was in teacher training, we were taught that “education is a function of the state.” It is time to abolish the Department of Education and place the burden of educating our young people back into the hands of the individual states.

Ralph Bush

Arroyo Grande

People come first

We are grateful that, at a time when politicians often find it necessary to toe a strong party line, state Sen. Sam Blakeslee has not swayed to partisan pressure to sign a “no tax increases” pledge. Instead, he has committed himself to work for a fair budget.

As you know, a budget is more than a plan for spending; it also shows where priorities lie. In fact, a budget is a moral statement that indicates the values that are held highest.

In the governor’s proposed budget, health and social services are once again being targeted for major cuts, even though they have been cut again and again. This is short-sighted, as poverty and illness will not magically disappear but will increase, causing more problems. It is effectively saying, “poor and sick people don’t matter.”

The moral fiber of a community is reflected in its care for its weakest members. As clergy and people of many of the faith communities in San Luis Obispo, we ask Sen. Blakeslee to work toward making California a state where people come first — a state in which we can be proud to live.

Rev. Caroline Hall and Rev. Susan Brecht

Central Coast Clergy and Laity for Justice co-presidents

Era of austerity

We are under a false illusion that our elected officials are after our best interests.

We are entering an era of extensive austerity: 

hospitals closing, social services ending, massive foreclosures, food banks, tent cities, extended unemployment, overcrowded schools, rising college tuitions and the list goes on.

At the same time that states are going into austerity, the banks that got our bailout money are thriving and handing out bonuses. Trillions of dollars to the banks and nothing to Main Street.

The Federal Reserve keeps printing money that is not coming to the states. Where are the jobs? Better yet, where is the leadership? We voted our elected officials into office thinking they were after the people’s best interests.

Larry Sullivan

Los Osos

Light reading

A recent letter writer (“Nonsense,” Jan. 29) complained about your new feature titled, “What’s Your Emergency?” The newspaper is full of so much negative news and disasters that it is refreshing to read some light reading on happenings around the county.

I look forward to these little tidbits of life, and who knows, one of those calls could have been your neighbor. Please keep them in the newspaper. Those calls make my day.

Myrna Reh

Grover Beach

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