http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/08/29/letters


Almanac

Viewpoint - August 29, 2012

LETTERS

Outdated library needs to be replaced

Editor:

The Atherton Town Library is in dire need of upgrading, as has been the case for many years. This is why the town council unanimously approved the search for a new location for this outdated building.

The steering committee, of which I am a member, along with the majority of the council and the environmental impact report concluded that Holbrook-Palmer Park is the preferred site.

Questions have come up. Why now, when we are in this dire financial situation, should we consider building a new library? Can't we spend the money on other more urgent needs?

A small amount of Atherton's property tax dollars have been used to operate the library as well as generate a surplus. Each year, the surplus was added to the "Donor City Funds" until it finally reached an amount large enough to build a new library. Once it was known there were adequate funds, the process began to study, design and ultimately build a new library. We waited until there were sufficient funds before proceeding.

Today there are enough dedicated funds to build our new library. These funds must be spent in Atherton for library purposes only. There are no exceptions. The money is in the bank held strictly for library purposes. The taxpayer will not be asked to add another penny. We don't need any town money or special parcel tax money either. It is completely funded and ready to go.

Sandy Crittenden

Library Steering Committee member,

Park and Recreation Commissioner

Heather Lane, Atherton

Outraged by latest Cal Water rate hike

Editor:

Our July water bill received from California Water Service Co., Bear Gulch District, when compared to our bill from July 2006 shows that the rate for water has gone up by a whopping 143 percent in the past six years.

With the latest bill came notice of yet another large rate increase, which will go up yearly from 2014 through 2016. This demands an explanation for what every rate-payer must be wondering: "Why are our bills going up when our usage is going down?"

Cal Water glibly claims that our bills would be even higher if we hadn't reduced our usage. That non-answer just doesn't fly.

We can all understand the need for occasional pipe replacements, equipment renovation and other necessary improvements, but one must read the fine print to learn the truth about this unjustified price increase requested by Cal Water.

According to the "Notice of Application for Rate Increase No. 12-07-007" filed July 5, 2012, their numbers show that 40 percent of the nearly $2 million increase to our water bills is for health care and pensions for current and retired general office personnel.

Whoa! At a time of no inflation, a weak economy and with many public and private employees, as well as many of the water rate-payers themselves, undergoing decreases in these same benefits, how does Cal Water justify increasing payouts to their office personnel?

There seems to be no end to the greedy march by Cal Water that tramples captive rate-payers who have nowhere else to turn for water. More information on the wages and benefits for all Cal Water employees and officers would be very enlightening for those of us who are paying for it. 

Talk about a "Golden Spigot." Apparently, not all the Fat Cats are on Wall Street! 

Before this unfair increase is allowed to happen, it must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Public comments are encouraged and should be sent to: Public Advisor at 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102 ,or by email to: public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov.  Everyone should write a letter or email to the CPUC about Cal Water's ongoing, outrageous rate increases. Tell your neighbors.

Diane Braun

Woodland Avenue, Menlo Park

Another view of violence

Editor:

In response to (the Aug. 15) guest opinion, "Time for action on growing gun violence," it's not about gun violence — it's about violence.

Reverend Lindsay L Fulmer, stop bemoaning the tragedies and blaming things. Go into your neighborhood and preach the good news that wins souls. It is only the changing of the hearts and minds of our neighbors that violence will begin to diminish.

It's about teaching and preaching and showing our community what is right and just and fair. Until the inner soul of our society changes, having compassion, gentleness, humility, kindness and patience for all those around us, hammering government officials for their weaknesses about gun laws and berating others for what they believe, will change nothing.

Go out there and start a hurricane of love in your local community and here on the Peninsula, and see if gun violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and so forth doesn't diminish or even disappear.

Richard Schoelerman

Palo Alto

Pack healthful lunches for school kids

Editor:

With the new school year just around the corner, parents' attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.

Traditionally, U.S. Department of Agriculture used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, its own surveys indicate that children consume excessive amounts of animal fat and sugary drinks, to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. The new USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by President Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. Still, food lobbyists have prevailed on Congress to count pizza and French fries as vegetables, and fatty mystery meats and sugary dairy drinks abound.

Parents and students should consider healthy school lunch as a work in progress and insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Guidance is available at www.healthyschoollunches.org.

Malcolm Davidson

Encinal Avenue, Menlo Park

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