Letters to the Editor

Union action, Obamacare, water policy, etc.

Find something else to do

Re “Union’s behavior is ‘old-fashioned bullying’” (Another View, Forum, Feb. 22): As a longtime customer of Magpie Cafe as well as a union supporter, I find that the tactics being employed by Carpenters Local Union 46 are misguided and inappropriate.

Magpie Cafe is moving to a new location in a building space not owned by them, and the decision by the developers not to hire union carpenters is in no way a reflection on the owners of Magpie.

The money being spent by Local 46 to denigrate Magpie and Insight Coffee would be better spent on educating the public at large on the value of unions, rather than attacking small, locally owned businesses. Magpie employs more than 60 Sacramento residents and is a staunch supporter of local vendors, farmers and ranchers. The restaurant serves the community well. Local 46 needs to seriously reconsider its approach and, simply put, find something else to do.

Jim Mills, Elk Grove

Are the pickets hired?

Whenever I see pickets like those used by the carpenters’ union to picket businesses that they deem to be unfair to labor, I wonder who those picketers are. I have a feeling that in most cases they are not actual members of the union, but people who have been hired.

That leads me to my next question: What kind of benefits do these people receive for their labor? It is my guess that they receive minimum wage and do not receive any of the other benefits that the union is demanding from the business it is picketing. I have often considered asking the picketers to see their union cards, but I do not want to risk a confrontation. Is there any way to know without risking a fight?

Bill White, Sacramento

Giving unions a bad name

I concur with the commentary regarding Carpenters Local Union 46 picketing Magpie Cafe. Magpie’s owners had no involvement in the construction of 16 Powerhouse, or the hiring of workers. I would question why the union chose not to picket this building during construction and why it is not targeting that building now.

While I firmly believe in union representation, when those organizations’ behavior strays outside the bounds of reasonableness, they do a disservice to all unions. Please know that the behavior of Local 46 will not prevent me from patronizing Magpie in its new location.

Sharon-Jane Matthews, Sacramento

ACA destroys free market

Re “Playing the lottery on special drugs” (Forum, Feb. 22): Ben Boychuk’s column on the ordeal of those who need specialty drugs working with the Affordable Care Act is heartbreaking. It is the necessary result of massive legislation thrown together to control every detail of medical care by politicians indifferent to the consequences for individual patients.

As far as access to new drugs is concerned, it follows the practice of the Food and Drug Administration: No one is permitted any treatment without government permission, and no new drug is allowed if a drug company receives a return on a large investment to develop it.

Obamacare effectively destroyed what little was left of a free market for prescription drugs. The best response is legislation that allows vigorous private research and investment in these drugs.

Richard E. Ralston,

Newport Beach

executive director, Americans for Free Choice in Medicine

Headline

Re “A grim battle for trickles, born of sunny winter days” (Editorials, Feb. 22): The current fight over water from the Sacramento-San Juaquin Delta is really over whether or not California is serious about keeping its native salmon runs and the coastal and inland communities that rely on them afloat. This isn’t about the Delta smelt.

There are no salmon fishermen who would deny basic water to any family in the San Joaquin Valley. Those families lack water for two reasons – the drought hasn’t replenished underground supplies and huge neighboring farms are digging ever-deeper wells to keep their crops alive and drawing the aquifer further down. The big ag operations that chose to set up shop in the western San Joaquin Valley desert gambled they could take their water from Northern California forever. It’s now clear that’s folly.

Does California really want to destroy the northern half of the state with its iconic salmon runs and trade that in for several hundred miles of monoculture orchards being unsustainably grown for short-term gain? It’s insane to continue propping this small bit of highly unsustainable and extremely thirsty agriculture.

Galen Onizuka, Sausalito

Ban new almond orchards

The editorial completely fails to state the hard, uncomfortable truth. First, California is the only state in the West that does not combine management of groundwater and surface water. The most progressive state in the union takes a back seat to Idaho and Utah on water policy.

Secondly, almonds require more than a gallon of water per nut to grow. We are no longer feeding the world. We are feeding the emerging Asian markets while dropping groundwater levels by hundreds of feet and enriching a handful of growers.

Finally, the editorial states, “No one can tell farmers what to grow. The market will do that.” The market has led us to where we are today. The hard, uncomfortable truth is that California better start telling farmers what to grow, because they are using a finite and valuable public resource that is disappearing. A ban on planting new almond groves that depend on groundwater would be a reasonable place to start.

Rich McIntyre, Folsom

Headline

Re “Fracking wastewater threatens aquifers” (Viewpoints, Feb. 22): The California Department of Conservation and the State Water Resources Control Board are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect drinking water sources.

Data in the article stems from a faulty analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. The piece asserts benzene was injected for hydraulic fracturing but fails to note benzene occurs naturally in the oil-water mixture pumped from underground.

It states “more than 2,400 illegal injection wells” were drilled into protected aquifers; 2,000 of those wells were drilled into hydrocarbon zones that contain associated water unsuitable for human use.

Finally, the piece states that “46 percent of these illegal wells were permitted or began injection” during Governor Brown’s administration. Most of the wells were permitted many years ago and have been repurposed over time and Governor Brown’s administration identified the problem and is correcting it.

Steven Bohlen, California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas

and Geothermal Resources

Offer solutions, not fear

Re “California needs a simpler gas tax, not a higher one” (Viewpoints, Feb. 22): At first I really enjoyed George Runner’s article about a simpler gas tax – until he started pandering and using fear-mongering to support his opinion. The state and your insurance company have already been tracking your mileage for years. Every time you have your car smog-tested, your mileage is tracked. Your insurance company submits statistical data about your driving habits to the state and federal government.

Focus on fixing our roads; quit politicking and being divisive. Come up with solutions!

Lucas Hart, Sacramento

Divisive politics don’t serve

Re “Seeking a wider engagement in government for Latinos” (Forum, Feb. 22): Phil Serna’s philosophy that Latinos are essentially an interest group, distinct from other Americans, who must grab their power is surely the foundation for his political survival. But in the broader sense, perhaps he is missing something that lies beyond his own self-interest.

Is it possible that many of those Serna wants to include in his Latino interest group don’t see themselves as divided Americans but just as Americans who are glad to be in this great country? Politics of division only benefits the politicians who exploit it. Like advertisers, they identify or make up a problem, then offer themselves as the solution. If successful, they gain political power and wealth. Sadly, the two always seem to go together.

James Rushford, Sacramento

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