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April 22-29, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

A False Choice

I WAS disappointed in your article on marine protection areas ("At Sea," News&Views, April 15), as it painted only a part of the picture and implied that, in these uncertain financial times, if we don't have a solid, long-term funding stream for ocean protection, maybe we should let further fish populations crash off our shore. That's a false choice.

Sardines in the Monterey Bay were overfished and the fish population and economy built around them crashed together, never to return. We are in the second year of a canceled salmon season because onshore and offshore human activities have left the salmon population devastated.

Last month the federal government allocated $400 million for the San Joaquin River restoration, just one piece of the attempt to bring back future salmon fishing seasons, when a much smaller expenditure, done much earlier, might have kept the coastal salmon population alive. Now that other fish populations are crashing, a small expenditure on prevention will prevent a much larger expenditure to attempt to restore the fish populations once they have gone the way of salmon and sardines.

We don't worry about continuing the jewels in our land-based state park system because of inadequate long-term funding, something I tried to fix last year in the Legislature. And we should not slack on underwater parks that protect crashing fish populations because we don't have a permanent funding source yet fully worked out.

If we waver, future generations will ask why we let it go--just the way we wish that past generations had asked these questions for us about salmon and sardines. The choice is between spending a smaller amount of money now to protect the future of coastal fish, or spending substantially much more later with uncertain success in bringing back those crashed populations. That's the full choice you should have presented in your article.

 John Laird,
Santa Cruz


Our Feudal Past

THANKS for the article "Family Values" (News&Views, April 15). The fact that the rent market is forcing people into desperate situations is nothing new. The word "rent" is the past participle of the verb "to render," which refers to feudal times when the nobility held their lands as a consequence of "rendering" service to the monarch in war. In lieu of actual service so the monarch could use the money to hire mercenaries as substitutes for battle. Here we are centuries later, still carrying the load of our feudal past. It seems to me that some things belong to all of us, we the people. Among those is the earth itself, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Perhaps we need a law that limits how many houses and how much land any person or corporation can own so as spread the wealth. 

The university has become a profit-oriented corporation rather than an educational institution. And, as an afterthought, RENT SUCKS. 

Don Dibble,
Santa Cruz

Rents Out of Whack

THE UNIVERSITY has a choice: to follow its ideals of a diverse student body, with families and people in many stages in life, or to reconfigure our educational community along narrower lines. Family Student Housing was designed as a protected bubble because the university recognized that students with families contribute tremendously to the community. It was called "affordable," which involved a consideration of the kinds of incomes available. Yet in the past decade, by using market mechanisms to determine the rent but not the wages of FSH residents, the difference between salary and rent has reached a breaking point. We would all be happy to pay Santa Cruz rents if we made anything like Santa Cruz salaries.

Josh Brahinsky,
Santa Cruz

Save the Wee Library!

I WAS deeply disappointed to hear that there is a proposal to close the Garfield Branch library on the Westside of Santa Cruz. My family uses this library on a weekly basis. The staff is so friendly and attentive. This library reaches out to teenagers with movie nights, craft activities and a welcoming attitude. I often see groups of teenagers hanging out there in comfort and wholesome camaraderie. Visiting dogs get fresh water and biscuits. This sweet little library has a homey and small town feel that you just can't get at the next nearest library: Central. I know the library is facing serious budget issues but it would be such a shame to lose this wonderful resource on the underserved Westside. Is there some other solution? Please email library board members (on library website) or attend the May 4 board meeting at 7:30 at Central Branch and give your ideas and opinions.

Christine Altermann,
Santa Cruz

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