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September 5-12, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

My Pain, Their Gain

HOORAY FOR DAREDEVILS. Each of us probably has a little bit of that death-defying instinct in us, so we are entertained when we see others do things we do not dare to do.

Please correct your description of the location of the County-sanctioned thrill park ("Aptos Air Time," Cover Story, Aug. 22). The empty lot is not "by the post office." Nor is it "next to the Aptos Post Office." It is across the street from the Aptos Post Office on Cathedral Drive. A lot of cars go in and out of the Post Office to their homes on Cathedral Drive, Redwood Drive and other places along the way. Unfortunately, many of the thrill bike drivers have not got the word that they are not free to use Cathedral Drive as a launching slope down which to gain speed. In the process they cross the road in front of cars that are going up and down Cathedral Drive.

While the bikers have usually taken care to wait until the road is clear, there have been some close calls between bikers and cars. Some bikers have been inattentive or perhaps expected cars to stop for the bikers, perhaps blocking the exit from the Post Office, or to go very slowly in case the bikers misjudge and take off in front of them. Going slowly can irritate people driving behind them and add to the congestion at busy times of the day.

It is a matter of liability and insurance obligations. Who pays the bills if there is an accident between a car driver and a thrills biker? Would the County be liable, since the County sanctioned the use of the lot, and Cathedral Drive is a county road? There are no signs that tell bikers they cannot use the public road as part of their sport.

When the Buena Vista Landfill has reached capacity the land there could be reclaimed as has been done in other places where former waste management lands have been turned into parks. The slopes at the Buena Vista site could be detoxified, covered with appropriate surface and plant material, and engineered to create a world-class dirt jump competition area, complete with first aid station and seating areas for observers to cheer on the bikers.

Patricia Rayne, Aptos

Investigate Insurance

IT HAS NOW BEEN two years since we all witnessed the pictures of thousands of our fellow citizens on their rooftops in New Orleans pleading to tone-deaf government authorities to rescue them in their hour of greatest need after Katrina struck. From this unthinkable tragedy came a humbling sense of national shame.

That shame continues two years later, as thousands of citizens continue to have to fight their insurance companies for fair and just claims. At the same time, these insurance companies have made over $100 billion in profits in the past two years.

Insurance companies are responsible for a shameful pattern of greed after natural disasters, and Katrina is only the most recent example of this. After major earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, insurance companies have demonstrated a consistent record of putting profits over policyholders' needs. Our state officials should investigate and expose these practices before more people are victimized. Tomorrow any one of us—despite our insurance company's promises - could find ourselves homeless and hopeless. We must take action to demand fair treatment of policyholders and insurance industry accountability, before it is too late.

Jane Lane, Oakland

Surprise, Surprise

LAST WEEK President Bush betrayed investors, pressuring Solicitor General Paul Clement to steer clear of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could provide shareholders with the necessary tools to hold crooked CEOs accountable—as is still needed for Enron investors defrauded only five years ago.

The case, Stoneridge Investment v. Scientific-Atlanta, asks whether investors can recover investment losses from investment banks, attorneys, accountants and other parties involved in fraudulent corporate collusion. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the case during its next term. The outcome could determine whether victims of the Enron scandal can proceed with a $40 billion lawsuit against investment banks that enabled Enron's massive fraud.

Even though the Securities and Exchange Commission urged the administration to file a brief in support of investors, the administration thumbed its nose at investors.

With Bush's approval rating hovering around 30 percent, his only remaining support comes from the CEOs of giant corporations. He's just playing to the last of his base, while showing small investors across America how little regard his administration has for our well-being.

Luci Ungar, Corte Madera

Correction: In last week's issue there was a typo on page 7. The photographer's name is Ken Larmon. We regret the error.

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