Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 7, 2010

Letters

Importance of firefighters

Editor,

After reading Tina Peak's letter on the role of firefighters last week, I felt that someone needed to speak up.

Obviously this resident has no clue what these hard-working men and women do every day for our community. The position of a firefighter is not "archaistic." Firefighters in Palo Alto do not just fight fires. They also handle medical calls, traffic accidents, natural disasters, gas leaks as well as many other situations.

Firefighters and police are specially trained for what they do. These two careers don't just overlap. Most firefighters are EMT's or paramedics. They are first responders, meaning that they are the first medical personnel at the scene and they have highly specialized training and knowledge to save a life, whether it be heart attack, drug overdose, stroke or auto accident. In addition they also have extensive training in fire science, extrication, search-and-rescue and much more.

To be a firefighter/paramedic takes years of school and training.

"Replacing the old firefighters" would put our community at risk. You cannot replace the years of training and experience these men and women have. I feel like this resident is under the impression that firefighters don't work "full time," which couldn't be farther from the truth.

They are constantly training, studying, practicing their skills, testing, responding to calls, maintaining the firehouse and the vehicles. They aren't just sitting around doing nothing at the station waiting for a call. Each station is responsible for calls in a certain area, especially the surrounding neighborhood.

I would suggest that this resident spend some time at a station talking to the firefighters and maybe going out on a ride-along for a 12-hour shift. I think it would a very eye opening and life-changing experience.

Andrea Roucoule

Oxford Avenue

Palo Alto

Yes on 15

Editor,

The League of Women Voters Palo Alto urges a "yes" vote for Proposition 15 on the June 8 ballot.

Proposition 15 is a pilot project to make voluntary public financing available to secretary of state candidates in 2014 and 2018. It is a first step toward changing the way we finance elections in California.

Fees on lobbyists fund the program, not taxpayers' dollars.

Public financing of campaigns has a successful, proven track record in, Maine, North Carolina, Connecticut and Arizona. It frees politicians from fundraising and dampens the impact of special interest lobbyists. Elected officials have passed bipartisan, ground-breaking legislation without fearing retribution from powerful special interests. Women and minorities are encouraged to run, because candidates from all backgrounds can be elected, not just those who are wealthy or know wealthy donors.

Phyllis Cassel, President

League of Women Voters of Palo Alto

Cheney's oil connections

Editor,

The oil well spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.

The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.

Cheney's energy task force — the secretive one he wouldn't say much about publicly — decided that the switches, which cost $500,000, were too much a burden on the industry. But then again, maybe they are not. Regulatory decisions have consequences all the time, and the people who made them should be asked to justify their decisions in a democracy. Halliburton is involved, too.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "BP contracted Dick Cheney's old company to cement the deepwater drill hole."

Cheney himself corrupts the very foundation of government itself by illegally boring into the private affairs of its citizens and scandalously destroying their personal freedoms, while at the same time he tries to hide his evil-doing with hush money, colossal cover-up, and the most flagrant whitewashing in Washington White House history as it is now born out.

Ted Rudow III

Encina Avenue

Palo Alto

Healthy choices for EPA

Editor,

Although Sheila Himmel's review of El Pueblo conveys the excitement and energy of a new supermarket, it misses the mark in so many ways. Even her heading, referring to "mere groceries" shows need for a new approach to how we acquire our food.

You will be hard-pressed to find a single dish at the long deli counter that does not contain excessive amounts of meat or fish. If you avoid the central junk-laden aisles, you will find that El Pueblo's peripheral displays do have remarkably fresh beans, pretty good fruit and vegetables, and lots of cheese from different Mexican states. But look for recycled toilet paper, local organic milk, or fresh whole grain bread and you will be disappointed.

Staff members at Mi Pueblo are charming and friendly but they are not trained to ask if you really need a bag or if you would like a recycled one. Watch for a few minutes the families leaving the store laden with countless yellow plastic bags and you will be disheartened.

It is wrong to assume that people in East Palo Alto do not care about the environment or making change. The Charter School on Runnymede has an excellent garden program (Collective Roots) where children and their parents learn about growing food and healthy eating.

As someone who has worked in EPA for the past seven years, I look forward to the day when Mi Pueblo, with its profile and presence, shows an equally refreshing and progressive leadership in helping people link healthy diet choices with respect for our desperately endangered environment.

Margaret Allen

Cornell Street

Palo Alto

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