Marin IJ Readers’ Forum June 25, 2022 – Marin Independent Journal
County should do more to protect Santa Venetia
In unincorporated San Rafael, we are mandated to increase housing, whether we like it or not. It seems to me that once again low income people are being treated like brainless cattle: put them in an area that cannot provide sufficient egress in the event of a forest fire and they perish.
In November 2018, eight lanes out of the town of Paradise, in the Chico region, were insufficient for the evacuation of 28,000 residents. People burned in their stopped cars. Scary, Santa Venetia only has the two-lane North San Pedro road. Even though we can squeeze four lanes of traffic there in an emergency, I don’t like the evacuation calculations.
I have to ask, in the name of social equity: why isn’t there really consideration for the lives of the extra people who will be stuck in our little neighborhood? Cruel and superficial solutions are imposed in the name of political expediency. That’s a shame.
—Susan Barch, Santa Venetia
The case of the statue of Serra must move forward
The trial of the activists who pulled down the statue of Junipero Serra at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in 2020 continues to move at a snail’s pace.
The community was, and still is, outraged. We demand justice for this flagrant invasion of private property. Now, after all these months, the district attorney’s office is finally starting to do what needs to be done and get justice for this outrageous act.
The defendants may have hoped it would go away, but it’s not happening. The outrage will persist. DA Lori Frugoli must read Garry South’s California Voice comment (“Prosecutors Are Prosecutors, Not Public Defenders,” June 17). He writes, “a prosecutor prosecutes, pure and simple.” I hope Frugoli realizes that people are watching.
—Bob Stephens, San Rafael
Not sure MMWD smart meters are worth the cost
I read with interest the article on the benefits of real-time monitoring of water consumption by so-called smart meters (“MMWD plans deployment of smart meters over three years”, May 26). The cost is not negligible, in millions of dollars, with the justification of a 7% reduction in use and a 38% reduction in leak duration.
I’m afraid it’s not worth it. A large economic “elephant” has been omitted. The article cited a monthly cost for each customer in the Marin Municipal Water District at $5 per month. Why? Will this money go to the economic benefit of the public service? MMWD should downsize and save. That should make up for the $5.
—Joseph Brooke, Station Point Reyes
New housing will increase water demand
I remain conflicted after reading the article about our ongoing drought (“Smart Meters Proliferate,” June 18). State officials have done very little to improve California’s water supply, which is exacerbated by overcrowding. The state has passed Senate Bills 35 and SB 9. They will dramatically increase water connections, including here in Marin.
I believe most of us have voluntarily reduced our spending as good citizens. Meanwhile, new construction is underway and is being approved with reckless abandon. It means absolutely nothing.
—James Petray, Novato
Call to welcome refugees from all over the world
As terrible reports and images continue to arrive from the war in Ukraine, it is good news that Marin is one of the many places that have taken in refugees.
We hope the ongoing conflict will encourage people to open their hearts and minds even more – to all other refugees fleeing violence, oppression, poverty, hunger, climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. ; in Afghanistan, Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and so many other countries.
Here at Le Marin, welcoming migrating birds, butterflies and fish might also make us think more about migration as a natural response to harsh conditions, as living things try to improve their chances of survival. This can lead to better and deeper analyzes of the situations giving rise to migration and help us to improve global and local responses to it.
—Maria Alice Garcia and Paul da Silva, Larkspur
The optimistic outlook for pension plans is not very helpful
IJ’s recent article on the health of Marin’s pensions made me cringe a bit (“Report: Marin’s Public Pension Systems Reduce Liability,” June 5). I perceived that the quoted sources were not only optimistic, but that they were selling an unhealthy fantasy about the future of the quoted programs.
As usual, government officials largely cling to glimmers of hope and turn a blind eye to the future returns of these plans. In contrast, it was pointed out that the domestic stock market had fallen 20% since the start of the year. Since then, the stock market has fallen further.
In addition, the bond market has fallen by around 15% this year. Pension plans generally hold a good proportion of their funds in stocks and bonds. By the way, almost all asset classes are down sharply this year, so there is “no place to hide”.
My gut feeling is that the projected returns for these plans should be reviewed every six months starting in July, because we are now in a painful period for returns that responsible people are reluctant to face. Keep these daunting mathematical ratios in mind: for example, if a portfolio is down 30%, it needs a gain of 43% to break even. A loss of 40% requires a gain of 67%.
—Richard Peterson, San Rafael
The data does not justify the lives lost to gun violence
Gun rights are no more important than every life lost in a mass shooting. Have these events become so normalized that the fight for ways to prevent gun violence is considered draconian?
In his letter to the editor published on June 17, Donald Bibeault advances an argument that completely misses the point. Its source, GunViolenceArchive.org, says there were 19,411 “intentional and malicious accidental” gun deaths in 2020. That’s the number that should be compared to the 2,794 lives lost to knives, sharp instruments, hands, fists, feet and blunt objects.
Instead, Bibeault focuses on a subset of lives lost to firearms versus mass shooting deaths where four or more lives were tragically lost. To make his comparison correctly, he should have told us the number of massacres resulting from these other means. I suspect there would be no comparison; I couldn’t find any data on this.
Either way, I hope we can all support violence prevention in every way. It’s a sad day when we have to use statistics about people’s lives to argue against the violence that robs our loved ones.
—Lorene Jackson, San Rafael
Regarding claims about firearms, the government
Donald Bibeault’s letter published on June 17 includes his interpretation of the number of attacks with armed violence. But it is far from accurate and also provides a clear example of how to misinterpret facts in order to manipulate thought.
He uses a figure that only includes massacres. The BradyUnited.org website, using data from 2015 to 2019, provides figures on annual gun violence affecting people of all ages in the United States: each year an average of 117,345 people were shot. Of these, 40,620 people died from gun violence. The situation has since worsened: The Associated Press reports that in 2022, an average of 316 people were slaughtered every day. If this continues, it will be around 315,000 this year.
This is very different from the distortion displayed by Bibeault. Further, his commentary on gun control laws as “draconian measures to deprive the American people of their ability to repel a totalitarian government” is most alarming, inferring that the desired buildup of guns assault aims to overthrow our government.
It’s a “dog whistle” for the Civil War. We have a capable and well-armed army for defence.
—Rochelle Karter, San Rafael