Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 9, 2011

Letters

Measure E

Editor,

When it comes to renewable energy, environmental justice and conservation of local parklands, Palo Altans can have it all — if they vote yes on Measure E.

Measure E would rededicate 10 acres of the city's former landfill to build a renewable energy facility that uses biological processes to turn organic waste into an alternative form of natural gas.

As Oakland, Millbrae and other Bay Area communities have already demonstrated, these "biogas" facilities save millions of ratepayer dollars by generating energy that is carbon neutral, capitalizing on existing infrastructure (such as the sewage treatment plant adjacent to the landfill), and displacing fossil fuels that require environmentally destructive drilling techniques (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking").

As a life-long conservationist, I fully appreciate opponents' concerns, but Measure E does not threaten conservation efforts; it enhances them.

First, this is not an "either-or" scenario; only a fraction of the former landfill will be rededicated (10 of 126 acres, or 8 percent of the landfill). Secondly, because no funding currently exists to redevelop the landfill, revenues from the bioenergy facility could subsidize restorations to the rest of the park. Finally, by off-setting fossil fuels, and providing an alternative to the city's inexcusable sewage incinerator, Measure E's environmental conservation will extend far beyond the borders of the former landfill.

Sadly, opponents of Measure E present a false dichotomy: renewable energy vs. parkland. But the real dichotomy is not complicated: sustainable development vs. 10 acres of landfill.

Alex DiGiorgio

El Camino Real

Palo Alto

In poor taste?

Editor,

The Sept. 2 inclusion of the article on Steven Ma, who is paid exorbitant sums to help students who have the good fortune to belong to wealthy Asian-American families, was a poor editorial choice.

What qualifies this man — who feeds on the current frenzy to get admitted to selective schools — to get free publicity of any sort?

Palo Alto students feel enormous pressure to get accepted to "designer" schools. How can we close an achievement gap when some parents are willing to spend this kind of money to ensure success for their children?

This kind of information can only be disheartening for parents (and their children) who don't have the twin advantages — wealth and this ethnicity— to qualify for this "edge." To include a profile of this arrogant man seemed elitist and just in plain bad taste.

Rena Davidow

S California Avenue

Palo Alto

Homelessness

Editor,

Homelessness is not a new phenomenon in California. What is new — and alarming — is that more and more of the homeless are families that once believed they were secure members of the middle class.

The growing trend is a sign that the nationwide economic slump is that a feared second recession could push the poor there over the edge and make a solid recovery even harder.

More than two years into the economic recovery, there isn't yet a light at the end of the tunnel for California's economy and stubborn unemployment. The number of job losses in the state is still much higher than the worst moments of the 2001 and 1990 recessions. The state's jobless rate hit 12 percent last month, the second worst in the nation.

The world today has more than 1,200 billionaires, perhaps 24 million millionaires, and 120 million homeless. It has half a billion who eat too much, and an equal number who eat scarcely enough to stay alive. Equity of income distribution is worse today than at any time since records have been kept. At present the U.S. has more homeless than any other industrialized country on Earth.

Ted Rudow III

Encina Avenue

Palo Alto

Smog standards

Editor,

It is in all of our interests to have clean air. Asthma rates are skyrocketing among seniors and the very young. Republicans want to roll back all the advances we have made in clean air regulations. Now, President Obama has disappointed us all by siding with those who wish to attack the environment with every bill they write. Please write your congressmen and senators and tell them clean air is our God-given right and to stop this bad legislation immediately.

Eileen Lepera

915 Whitehall Lane

Redwood City

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