Letters to the Editor

Blame for Ghost Ship fire should spread to Oakland city inspectors

View of the outside of the scorched Ghost Ship warehouse building in Oakland on Dec. 12, 2016. A Dec. 2 fire tore through the two-story building on the 1300 block of 31st Avenue, killing 36 people.
View of the outside of the scorched Ghost Ship warehouse building in Oakland on Dec. 12, 2016. A Dec. 2 fire tore through the two-story building on the 1300 block of 31st Avenue, killing 36 people. Bay Area News Group

Ghost Ship fire

Re “Ghost Ship’s chiefs charged in fire disaster” (Page 1A, June 6): It was obvious that the conditions in the so called “Ghost Ship” building were a clear and present danger to the lives of its occupants. Those responsible for allowing those conditions to exist with continued occupancy should be held responsible and accountable.

That should include not just the operators, but also the inspectors who did nothing more than write citations, leaving the occupants in life-threatening conditions. The inspectors and their department could have immediately had the occupants removed and the operation shut down until the conditions were corrected, but did not. Thirty-six people died. How is it that the inspectors and their department are seemingly being exempted from any responsibility? Such will only result in future disasters.

Bill Jurkovich, Citrus Heights

Big development

Re “10,000 new homes are coming to ‘desirable’ part of the Sacramento region” (sacbee.com, June 7): The developers finally won. The last open wild space filled with native oaks will disappear to be replaced with the typical Folsom tan two story box on a postage stamp lot. A future slum in the making. Has no one in our community any regard for the importance of natural open spaces so essential to the well being of society. I left the Los Angeles area 52 years ago because of this problem.

Elliott E McCloud, Jr., Sacramento

Newsom’s the one

Re “A Democrat is gaining ground in California governor’s race, and it isn’t Gavin Newsom” (sacbee.com, June 7): I am thrilled that Gavin Newsom maintains his lead in the latest polling in the governor's race and not the least bit concerned that Antonio Villaraigosa is gaining in the polls. Newsom remains the most qualified candidate. Both candidates have been mayors of a major city but Newsom was by far more successful than Villaraigosa. One vitally significant aspect of Newsom's success was his historic issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which led the way to the U. S. Supreme Court decision affirming the right for gays and lesbians to marry. Such a forward thinking and courageous act is in the highest traditions of public service.

John R. Williams, Rancho Cordova

Gasoline tax

Re “If you don’t like California’s gas tax increase, you’re not alone” (sacbee.com, June 8): Of course, a gas tax increase is unpopular. How many people walk around saying they want to pay more gas taxes? I am surprised the 42 percent approve of it. Pollsters should ask: Which do you prefer to fund roadway and highway upgrades and repairs? An increase in the gas tax; an increase in general taxes; a mileage tax on all vehicles; none of the above. Let the roads crumble. I think we would see very different results.

Gabriel Lewin, Davis

Health care

Re “California Democrats are acting like Republicans on health care” (Editorials, June 5): The Sacramento Bee dismisses 6 million organized Californians who support the Healthy California Act by criticizing the legislation, Senate Bill 562. The California Nurses Association sponsors the bill, and it is supported by a University of Massachusetts study. The insurance industry line is that the $404 billion cost is a deal breaker. But that is what we are paying now. It’s obscene that we’re spending that much for shameful outcomes. Two big facts: 71 percent of the money that pays private providers is from public dollars. Second, at least 30 percent is diverted for corporate administration, salaries, advertising and bureaucracy to reject claims. There is virtually no accountability for the callous insurance industry, hospitals or pharmaceutical conglomerates. This would all change with the expanded Medicare envisioned by SB 562. We need to commit to a true health care system.

William Bronston, California capital chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, Sacramento

Costs of war

Letter writer Pat Whittington wonders where the cost for universal health care would come from. The estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is over $2 trillion. The Bee recently ran a front-page article on a missile defense system, which is successful about half the time and has cost approximately $40 billion to date. There is actually plenty of money available; it’s just a matter of how we decide to spend it.

Jerry Barnes, Fair Oaks

Single payer

I am a liberal, and like the idea of single payer health insurance. But the current plan leaves aside a huge source of funding. Like many others, I pay for insurance through my company. If instead of that money going to insurance companies, it went into the funding for single payer, wouldn't that go a long way to defraying its cost? And I would not be against co-pays either.

Andy Wallace, Davis

Prevention

Senate Bill 562 would cover basic health, dental, eye and many other medical procedures not covered under our present system. Under SB 562 many of today's health issues such as diabetes, hypertension and dental problems would more likely be prevented.

Jerry Schacht, Chico

Leading the way

California stands poised to lead the nation, this time in health care. Covering all Californians with affordable health care insurance would be an example for the nation. Nationally, 13 senators are rewriting the health care bill that passed the House. Time to write, call, or visit your senators and ask them to pass affordable health care for all Americans.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Wash.

Conventions

Re: “Are private players already lining up to help make Sacramento a ‘destination city?’” (Marcos Breton, June 1): In Marcos Breton’s column, Greater Sacramento Executive Director Barry Broome says Sacramento’s convention business never fully recovered from the economic downturn and has decreased 30 percent decrease in the past five years. That’s wrong.

Hotel room nights generated from conventions and meetings increased by 44 percent from 2012 to 2016 and Visit Sacramento’s overall output of tourism-related hotel bookings has grown by 86 percent during that period.

By saying Sacramento’s future is music, not conventions, Broome discounts one of the largest contributors to our local economy. Becoming a center of excellence for music already is a part of Sacramento’s story.

Sacramento hosts the state's largest outdoor rock festival. The Golden 1 Center ranks No. 4 nationally in terms of paid attendance at arenas. Live music has been a significant part of that success. Without question, we should continue growing that visitation platform.

But our convention center will always be the biggest driver for booking hotel rooms, and therefore hotel tax revenue, and for economic activity generated at restaurants, bars, retail stores.

We should nurture all the attractions that draw visitors to our city. This is why we share and applaud Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s vision of creating assets that will make Sacramento more attractive to visitors.

There is tremendous potential to create jobs and grow revenue by investing in the region’s $3 billion tourism industry. Tourism attracts outside dollars to our city and improves the quality for those of us who live and work here.

Mike Testa, Visit Sacramento’s chief operating officer

Museum

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the city of Sacramento should help create a world class museum by backing the Powerhouse Science Center. Each year, hundreds of 5th graders and members of the community fly simulated missions to Mars, Comet Haley or the Moon through the NASA Challenger Learning Center, one of 40 centers in the world.

Their micronaut program introduces 4-8 year olds to the science of space. Because the museum is small, exhibits are rotated and include displays on health, physics and the ever popular dinosaur and space quests exhibits. Thousands travel from the Bay Area through Sacramento to reach Lake Tahoe or Reno. Let’s give families a reason to stop in Sacramento any day, not just for the occasional concert or show.

Terri Pennello, Sacramento

Innovation

In April, the Sacramento City Council adopted a new policy framework designed to encourage and embrace innovative partnerships that deliver smart, efficient solutions to improve Sacramentans’ quality of life.

On Tuesday, the City Council has an opportunity to make good on that intent by approving the city’s proposed partnership with Verizon. It would bring “smart city” infrastructure and services to help protect public safety through traffic technology designed to reduce accidents at dangerous intersections, improve access to technology through free Wi-Fi at more than two dozen city parks and promote the next generation of STEM leaders.

This kind of technology investment is the foundation for a number of priorities – from creating jobs, to fostering art and culture, to improving quality of life – and approving the partnership will be a great step forward for our City.

Barry Broome, Greater Sacramento Economic Council

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