A musical treat
On the evening of Dec. 17, a few hundred of us attending the Master Chorale concert at the Performing Arts Center experienced a major musical treat. The Master Chorale, accompanied by many members of the SLO Symphony, entertained us beautifully with numerous choruses from familiar operas.
We also had the thrilling experience of hearing a young tenor who is most definitely headed for international stardom. Ben Gulley, a tenor from Kansas City via New York and soon Los Angeles, brought the audience to their feet with his magnificent delivery of opera favorites, especially “Nessun Dorma” from Verdi’s “Turandot.” His voice is, in a word, spectacular. Even people who think they don’t like opera would have immensely enjoyed this evening of operatic music.
We thank Tom Davies and Brian Asher Alhadeff for this wonderful evening, along with Jill Anderson, who gave us helpful background information on each piece of music. Kudos to each of them, as well as the members of the Master Chorale and the Symphony, who created a very memorable event. A return of Gulley and his gorgeous singing partner, Sarah Kleeman, is something to look forward to. Watch for their names in any ad for a musical performance, then run, don’t walk, to the box office for tickets.
Where the taxes go
Myrna Reh (letters, Dec. 4) would do well to examine her property tax bill more closely. Real estate taxes are paid to the county in which they are located, not to “Sacramento” as Reh believes.
In fact, the net result of Proposition 13 was a huge transfer of tax revenue from the counties (local government) to state government via the increases in state taxes necessary to bail out cash-strapped local governments.
I find it ironic that conservatives who should, on principle, be backing the idea of keeping control of revenue local are still backing Prop 13. There were and are other ways to protect homeowners from being victimized by rising taxes. It is time to try something new.
Bruce T. Bevans
Since none of the recent letters on Proposition 13 have given a satisfactory account of the devastating effect this property tax relief has had on California’s public education, I thought I’d share a personal experience.
As soon as the proposition became law, the school at which I taught dropped the following classes: art, music, shop, home economics, mechanical drawing, speech, drama and foreign language — in other words, those classes that make for a well-rounded curriculum and motivate many students to look forward to school and develop latent talents. Almost immediately, test scores began to decline.
The positions of librarian and school nurse were eliminated, as was the service that provided towels and soap to the physical education department. Students no longer took showers after P.E. Shower stalls were used for storage.
A corps of talented young teachers who brought vigor and excitement to the school were given their walking papers, while several mediocre teachers with tenure remained. After having built a successful writing and speech and drama program, I was given the choice of teaching history or hitting the road. Fortunately, I was well-versed in the new subject.
There are several reasons for the decline of California schools, but Proposition 13 is at the top of the list. You get what you don’t pay for.
It just don’t work
Interesting statistic in the Dec. 9 front page article about the decline of the middle class in California. The percentage of Californians in the middle class has consistently fallen since 1980! Coincidentally, or not, that is the same year Ronald Reagan took office as president and began institution of an hitherto untested and unproven economic policy known as “supply side,” aka “Reaganomics.”
Part and parcel of this program was an aggressive anti-union stance and the “trickle down” theory of tax breaks for the rich, so very reminiscent of the platform today of the vast majority of Republican politicians who have knuckled under to a cynical subversive named Grover Norquist. The thing about trickle down, if you will excuse the mangled English, is that it don’t work! Surely there must be a better way to feed the birds than giving more oats to the horses.
San Luis Obispo
I voted no on Proposition 1A in November 2008 considering California’s high-speed rail project. There are so many distortions and lies considering this project, and I do support a proposition next year that would rescind the funding and the planning of the high-speed rail, including the right-of-way purchases in the Central and Southern San Joaquin Valley from Fresno, Hanford (Visalia) and Bakersfield. In the long run, give the money where it is needed to two areas: Caltrans highway projects and Amtrak, and don’t get fooled by a feeling about a “pie-in-the-sky boondoggle,” which will not work for California in the long run.
Scott C. Presnal
Given up looking
“Jobless rate at lowest level since 2008! The job market is healthier than any time since the Great Recession.” What country is Associated Press reporter Christopher Rugaber living in?
I just heard today that some cities in the U.S. have almost 20 percent unemployment. The low level of those filing for unemployment is only because so many have given up and aren’t filing anymore. Those that were self-employed can’t file for unemployment. Most of the new jobs are government jobs that don’t create new money for the economy, just cost the taxpayers.
Atascadero is entering another round of determined opposition to the Walmart project. The scare tactic now is the city might use tax monies to make traffic improvements at the Del Rio intersection. The oppose Walmart group wants the City Council to pledge it won’t use any tax money for public improvements near the development. Walmart has not requested city financial participation for their portion of the road improvement project. The Annex portion across the road is in the hold mode at the present time, given the current economic situation.
Memories are short. Back when the then-named Outlet Center was being developed, the city arranged some of the public road improvement monies with a bond that was paid back by the owners over time with interest. That center with the new grocery outlet is one of the busiest places in town. The decision to complete that development is paying great dividends at this point.
The City Council has asked for further study of the Walmart only option, not including the Annex, to help determine a wise decision on the proposed project. We need to encourage the council as it keeps the process going to a beneficial conclusion.
I was disappointed yet not surprised by the latest column by Lon Allan against Walmart (Dec. 6). While he and other known Walmart opponents may want to distort the facts to fit their reality, we here in Atascadero cannot be fooled.
Allan opines on several unfounded ideas about Walmart. Our experience with Walmart is that they have always worked with our community, followed the process and have undergone extensive environmental review.
What I find ironic is that just three short years ago, Walmart opponents used the same tactics that Allan now calls shameful. They placed a failed initiative on the ballot to effectively stop Walmart from coming here. Their efforts were soundly defeated by a 2-1 margin.
The reality is that a majority of residents do want Walmart here. It has been proved time and again. Unfortunately, a vocal minority has held the community captive, delaying hundreds of new jobs, economic activity and revenues. I encourage our City Council to approve the project that a large majority of us want.
Stand with fellows
The one good bit of news is one of the developers’ favorite spokesmen on the City Council is now running for Supervisor Adam Hill’s seat. We in Pismo Beach all know he has never seen a development he does not like and will vote yes on.
We at least are now done with him and that just leaves three more that we need to replace on our City Council so we the citizens can get some fair representation on the council.
I also ask you all go to savepricecanyon.com and check out the status of the Los Robles del Mar project, soon to be coming to Pismo, like it or not, again thanks to our elected “For the People” council of Pismo Beach, soon to be the new Orange County of our state. Please stand with your fellow residents.