Letters to the Editor

Streetcars, drought legislation, twin tunnels, Texas paranoia

Portland's streetcar runs through downtown, from Nob Hill to the Willamette River at RiverPlace, on a loop of track that shares the street with cars and people in Portland, Ore.
Portland's streetcar runs through downtown, from Nob Hill to the Willamette River at RiverPlace, on a loop of track that shares the street with cars and people in Portland, Ore. Seattle Times

Streetcar’s a pork project ...

Re “Does Sacramento want streetcars?” (Page A1, May 4): Local politicians want to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on an ill-conceived, grandiose pork project to build a streetcar from downtown Sacramento to West Sacramento. The proposed project involves a highly disruptive, invasive construction project.

SMUD estimates it will cost $28 million to $40 million to relocate underground utility infrastructure. For a fraction of the proposed $150 million project, an agreement could be negotiated with Yolo Transit and Regional Transit to improve bus service from downtown to West Sacramento. It would save taxpayers from getting scorched.

Advocates of streetcars posit that buses lack the coolness factor of streetcars. What is cool to me and other common-sense constituents is saving hundreds of millions of dollars. As a 60-year-old, lifelong transit rider, I affirmatively declare riding buses is cool, green and common sense.

Colleen Marie-Blanchefleur Whalen, Sacramento

... And it’s a bad idea

Reasons why the streetcar project is a bad idea:

The landscape of the area on both sides of the Tower Bridge will be shamefully marred.

Funding for this project is based on speculative estimates.

Why is this decision put in the hands of just a few people? It’s another example of local government overreach and pandering to developers.

Ridership on the proposed streetcar is expected to be mainly from tourists and bar-hoppers.

This is 3.3 miles of bad road. Please end this project now.

Susan Null, West Sacramento

Legislation would provide relief

Re “Don’t let special interests dictate state water policy” (Viewpoints, May 1): Peter Gleick is wrong about the efforts to develop legislation to provide relief for Californians suffering from this historic drought.

Since the beginning of the year, my staff and I have held meetings and numerous discussions with fishermen, environmental groups, state and federal regulatory agencies, farmers, water districts and House members from both parties. We have provided updates to dozens of cities, counties and water districts.

The bill under development will not reduce state or federal environmental protections or be harmful to fish. To the contrary, the legislation is consistent with environmental laws, requires science-based decision-making and authorizes funding to benefit fisheries and wildlife refuges.

The bill’s goal is to provide state and federal agencies with limited, temporary flexibility to operate California’s water system to provide additional water to urban and rural areas after big rains to increase supply rather than send water into the ocean. This will be very limited.

Uninformed commentary has but one purpose: to scuttle any effort to help the state weather this drought. That’s simply not good policy for California.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Why twin tunnels?

Re “Brown cuts scope of Delta tunnel plan” (Page A1, May 1): What has been missing from the public discussion of the twin tunnels is the answer to this question: Why would contractors who buy Delta water consider spending $25 billion on Sacramento River water instead?

They know two events could disrupt the flow of Delta water: a chance that a devastating earthquake will liquefy the Delta levees in the next 30 years; and climate change will result in increased salinity due to rising sea levels. That’s why they need Sacramento River water, and the only way to get it is by investing in buried tunnels.

The contractors will be paying for the tunnels but do not control how much water they will receive. Given this uncertainty, they must consider whether to spend billions on the tunnels, or spend it on leaky pipes, conservation and recycling. For now they seem to be betting on the tunnels.

Robert N. Wiens, Sacramento

What are the police afraid of?

Re “Police criticize prosecution as political” (Page A1, May 2): Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s state’s attorney, seems determined to bring justice in the death of Freddie Gray. Finally, an act of hope in a time when young black men are dying at the hands of the police. The police union appears to be willing to put its credibility on the line saying that Mosby’s intent is political. She was elected as the state’s attorney, and she is doing her job. Just what are the police in Baltimore afraid of?

I have heard a lot lately about how police are in a difficult position, and they are just doing their job to protect and to serve. The very shine on every officer’s badge depends on the outcome of an open investigation of all the facts.

Kathleen Stricklin, Sacramento

Messin’ with Texas

Re “Pentagon tries to quell Texas fears about military exercise” (Page A8, May 5): I heard a rumor that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently viewed the 1996 science fiction comedy “Mars Attacks” on cable TV, thought it was a documentary and called up the Texas State Guard.

But in a political landscape littered with Machiavellian types, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, still manages to stand out as the Prince of Darkness. Stoking the “jackbooted, big-guvmint storm troopers is comin’ to try to git our guns” paranoid mindset, you get the feeling that Cruz is privately having a jolly chuckle as he watches the donations accumulate in his quest to become the biggest “guvnuh” on the planet.

Michael Stark, Auburn

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