Letters to the Editor
Stay Out of My Yard
Politics can cause otherwise rational people to do and say irrational things. One of the rights we cherish most as Americans is the freedom of speech—something that gets forgotten around election time. Over the past several weeks, we have seen and heard competing television ads, news stories and letters regarding Proposition 8 and the issue of gay marriage. While I have very strong feelings regarding the issue, which side I'm on is irrelevant to this letter.
Two weeks ago a yard sign appeared in my neighborhood supporting one side of the issue. I chose to express my rights this past weekend and placed an opposing sign in my yard. At 11 o'clock Tuesday night, someone removed my sign. If the person who stole my sign is so scared that the voting will support my view, then he or she should work through legal channels to gain support. What happened to me was a violation of my constitutional rights—and if the person guilty was caught and convicted, they could actually lose their voting rights; all in the name of a bill regarding civil rights.
It is amazing that one word can be so polarizing. One side insists the word belongs to everyone, while the other claims it for their own. Supporters of the bill insist that its defeat will destroy the American family while the opposition argues they should have the right to share the status as legal families.
With all that is going on in the world today—major military conflicts, collapse of the housing and financial markets, nuclear threats from unstable countries—how did we reach such a political low as to spend potentially millions of dollars arguing over a word?
Regardless of our personal feelings, we need to respect those of our neighbors. We also need to respect the views of our courts—especially if we disagree. If we all create petitions to write constitutional amendments because we disagree with the courts, where will it end? If we learned anything from the Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements, it is that violating each other's rights over Constitutional issues is not a means to an end.
And for the record—my yard sign was a "Vote No on 8" sign.
Not the Jesus
Re "Barack Obama for President" (Cover Story, Oct. 15): I read your mag always, but I have a huge complaint. As a mostly Democrat who is voting for Obama, I am furious that you would label him "Messiah." He is not "a" or "the" Messiah. He is a politician. You are turning off a lot of people with that religious wording. I am disgusted that you have put him on the cover with that heading. You have played into the Republican's hand by putting him into an unrealistic role. It's outrageous that you put him in that light. You are only hurting his campaign. How does it look to an independent voter, looking for the right choice, to see that some people see him as Jesus? Because that's what you've done. He is not Jesus, and never said anything that ridiculous.
Don't put that kind of pressure on any person. Unless of course you're a religious zealot always expecting the next coming of the Lord. Which of course you're not. I can tell by the ads in the back of your mag.
BART Plan Can't Work
Re "Yes on Measure B" (Endorsements, Oct. 15): VTA sales tax proponents claim that Measure B will be the final piece in the BART puzzle. For that to be true, VTA would have to have identified funds to build the extension. They haven't. VTA has never done a study to show how it could build BART if this tax passes.
VTA's current expenditure plan shows a $3 billion funding shortfall. That's more than twice what this tax will raise. In addition, sales tax revenues have fallen and construction costs have gone up sharply, increasing the size of the problem. Even with this tax increase, there simply is no way that VTA can afford to build BART.
To close that gap, VTA will have to cut the rest of public transit. They've scheduled a meeting after the Nov. 4 election to decide which projects to cancel or delay. The problem is that there aren't $3 billion worth of other projects to cut from their transit plans. Even if they cancel every other project, they still can't build BART. Existing service is at risk, too.
There's one more source of trouble: We don't really know how much this BART extension will cost. VTA has current cost estimates, but these have not been released to the public. All we know is that they are "somewhere in the $6 billion range." That's $2 billion more than the original estimate. One former BART director has estimated its full cost at $8 billion to $9 billion.
Whether it is $8 billion, $9 billion or "only" $6 billion, VTA hasn't shown us how it will pay for this.
And they'll have to pay for it during one of the worst financial crises our country has seen. VTA will be raising taxes just when businesses are struggling to keep jobs and families are struggling to make ends meet. VTA will be borrowing billions of dollars in the middle of the nation's worst credit squeeze. And VTA will be cutting service just when transit riders most need help.
Melissa Hippard, Chapter Director,
Sierra Club Loma Prieta
Greg Perry, Former VTA