Letters for April 21

Readers sound off on Alameda school tax, sex abuse and swim coaches, and East Bay health care.

“Alameda Tax Faces Tough Fight,” News, 3/31

Businesses Can’t Thrive Without Schools

In “Alameda Tax Faces Tough Fight” your reporter writes: “a host of small business and property owners who are still upset about Measure H remain.” Really? How many selfish business people does it take to make up a host? Two? Four? Eight? One percent of the people in Alameda? Ten percent? Or is “host” just shorthand for “don’t really know but this sure sounds impressive?” If you are going to write that “a host of small business and property owners who are still upset about Measure H remain” then please tell us how many people this entails. You might also tell us: how much of the tax burden for schools and other municipal services do homeowners pay now in Alameda? How much do commercial interests? Please compare that to the pre-Prop 13 data. Now, does it look to you like the homeowners are once again taking it in the neck? I suspect the untold story here is that Prop 13 shifted the burden for local taxes onto residential property owners (to the benefit of commercial property owners). And maybe you could also ask Donna Layburn, who owns the Alameda Marketplace, how well her businesses will do if Alameda’s public schools are gutted. She’s trying to lease a third parking lot because lots of people (many of them with kids) are paying top dollar for the organic and boutique products offered in her place. How many of us will stay in Alameda if the schools fall apart? And how many of us are interested in supporting a marketplace that is doing well enough to need a third parking lot but begrudges the $3,000 a year the schools need from that lot. Aren’t Alameda’s public schools worth less than a dollar a day in taxes for that expansion lot? If not, maybe she should wait and see what happens to her business if the parcel tax fails. 

Tom Jackson

“Swimming in Sex Abuse,” Feature, 4/7

Release Stovall’s Report

Thanks to Kathleen Wentz and the Express for bringing to light the sex crimes of former Bear Swimming coach, Jesse Stovall. As your story showed, the Stovall story is part of a national scandal — something parents could not possibly have known on their own.One of the next steps in cleaning up the mess at USA Swimming would be publication of the report that led to Stovall’s “suspension for life.” In an August 17, 2009, e-mail to me, Christine Schemmel, assistant to USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus, said an investigator for a national review board would “submit the report to General Counsel. This is not available to the public. In fact, this matter (case) is not available to the public at all per USA Swimming’s privacy policy. Any statements (if warranted) as to this matter will be used from our Communications Department after approval from General Counsel.”

Irvin Muchnick, Berkeley

“Health Care on Wheels,” News, 4/7

Breathmobile Saves Lives

In “Health Care on Wheels,” the featured Breathmobile that brings asthma care to schoolchildren in Contra Costa County offers an innovation example of how improving access to health care is essential in disease treatment and health promotion. New approaches that overcome barriers to access are necessary to meet the needs of the underinsured and uninsured. The impact of the Breathmobile on health promotion cannot be overstated, as the article correctly points to the interrelationships between health problems — children with poorly controlled asthma are more likely to lead sedentary lives contributing to childhood obesity. Further health complications may develop in obese children — type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity and heart disease is linked to the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The Breathmobile is an important step in the quest to improve the health of schoolchildren in Contra Costa County.

Arlie Stern, Oakland

“Back to the Green Future,” News, 4/7

Dense Development Can Save Lives, Too

I was pleased to see “wellness” listed as one of the commercial uses for the proposed “livable, walk-able community” envisioned by Doug Herst, environmentalist and businessman, in Robert Gammon’s article “Back to the Green Future.” The article shines light on the complexities and consequences around merging residential housing and commercial space in West Berkeley’s manufacturing area (namely, increases in property cost will drive out manufactures and inevitable residential complaints about living near manufacturing will erode the  industrial base) while highlighting the advantages of proximally locating “live, work and play” opportunities. The advantages of the latter help the City of Berkeley reduce dependence on the car, a directive of the City’s Climate Action Plan. An overlooked advantage is the positive impact on addressing the current health care crisis by locating primary health care providers where people live, work, and play. Development projects that bring health care practically to the doorstep are essential for improving access to care, efficiency of delivering care, and disease prevention/wellness promotion. Also not to be overlooked is the need for local providers to be ready and willing to serve Medicare/Medi-Cal clients, as the number of beneficiaries will certainly increase as health care reform takes effect. 

Arlie Stern, Oakland


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