Thursday, August 10, 2006
WHAT THE AMBASSADOR DIDN’T SAY
On Sunday evening July 30, I was privileged to provide an opening “blessing for peace” at the meeting held at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (sponsored by the Monterey Committee for Peace in the Middle East). I too found Ambassador Afif Satieh to be articulate, charming, and witty [Local Spin, Aug. 3-9]. However, I also found him to be evasive on the issues that continue to block a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his recounting half a century of Palestinian history, Ambassador Satieh never mentioned the name of Yassir Arafat or the violence and corruption that plagued Arafat’s rule and the Palestinian Authority that followed him. Also missing from the narrative were US initiatives for peace during the administration of President Clinton and the PLO’s rejection of a significant agreement offered by the government of Prime Minister Barak of Israel.
The ambassador’s comment on the Hamas movement (which has been responsible for numerous attacks on innocent Israeli civilians) was to point out Hamas’ discipline in refraining from terrorist attacks in recent months! A question about the current role of Hezbollah was also sidestepped.
Ambassador Satieh’s polemic on Israel, as the alleged source of American foreign policy, ignored the origins of the Bush administration’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The many concerned people who attended deserved a more cogent analysis of the challenges to peace in the Middle East.
It is my hope that Monterey Committee for Peace in the Middle East and the Monterey Institute for International Studies will offer future programs that provide more information and balance on this important issue. —Rabbi Leah Novick | Carmel
CITY MANAGER’S PRIORITIES ARE WRONG
Your excellent article, “Toxic Runoff,” [Aug. 3-9] graphically articulates that it is unhealthy to go to the beach. Toxic beaches not only make you sick but affect the economic bottom line in the Monterey region. “Clean water equals a healthy economy.”
Peninsula cities have been notified by the State to cease stormwater discharges into the Sanctuary because they failed to adopt commonplace effective cleanup practices.
Even though proven, cost-effective practices can be used successfully to control stormwater pollution, Monterey’s city manager drags his feet and says Monterey’s storm runoff is someone else’s problem.
Monterey’s city manager claims the biggest threat to the future of Monterey is citizen’s unwillingness to increase taxes. Monterey’s annual $70 million budget for 30,000 residents has ample funds for public health and public services. City Hall approved 7 percent to 19 percent salary increases for many city senior level managers who make $150,000 a year. Compare this to state Assemblyman John Laird’s annual salary of $110,000. And then there is the approved office building costing a quarter of a million per employee.
Isn’t the single biggest threat to Monterey’s future a city manager who channels public funds into a multimillion dollar office building and senior management salaries, wants to tax citizens for City budget mismanagement, fails to inform the City Council how other cities across the US similar in size to Monterey but significantly poorer manage to adhere to the guidelines of the Clean Water Act without going bankrupt, fails to recognize or acknowledge the City’s financial dependence on a $1.8 billion “clean and healthy” coastal economy, and refuses to do anything about cleaning up our water until “forced to do it”?
Isn’t it time for Monterey citizens to challenge Monterey City Hall’s outlaw environmental behavior and spend and tax policies? —Barbara Bass Evans, Ph.D. | Monterey
JOHN MUIR VS. FRED MEURER
Thank you Ryan Masters and staff for your excellent work on the runoff situation. I have wanted to learn more for some time on this issue. I am sorry that Ryan had to become so ill for him to produce such a great informative article.
I keep thinking of how John Muir said “Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” As a member of the so-called “nobodies” and “sleepy Montereyans” of Let the Voters Decide, who have recently managed to collect an extra 1,000 signatures to place a ballot initiative against building in the historic district, I am shocked at what the article revealed, especially about our city manager/steward, Fred Meurer.
Del Monte Beach has been repeatedly closed this summer due to high bacteria counts yet Meurer and others pursue building an overblown office complex in our precious historic district instead of working on this and other issues of long term import. I am embarrassed and shocked at his cavalier saying of how it just isn’t in the budget and how he owns the pipes but not what runs in the pipes! Hmmm....seems to me we all own both yet somehow, we seem to have $14 million to build a building and, what? Add to the runoff!
At least [Jim] Colangelo of PG is looking for ways to get projects funded for beta testing solutions going.
Thanks Ryan for reminding me to wake up to what some of our city leaders are trying to pull off and to avoid.
I know funding is scarce as Fred says. Let’s just get our priorities straight and pay attention to the longer term and to the greater good. —Nancy Peden, M.A. | Carmel
THE COMMUNITY-MINDED DEVELOPER’S BAD RECORD
Raul Vasquez reports that Seaside is to have a say on tenants for the Orosco Group’s site at Fremont and Broadway [“Bargain Shopping,” July 27-Aug. 2]. I hope so.
When the Orosco Group created Stone Creek Village for Del Rey Oaks, at Canyon Del Rey and Highway 68, I had higher hopes for what it might bring to my neighborhood. If we were to have yet more traffic, perhaps there’d be a worthy reason for folks to congregate in this newly developed stretch along the Monterey-Salinas Highway.
Before the buildings went up, I had a lengthy conversation with Patrick Orosco. I expressed my desire to see stores and restaurants we needed in the neighborhood. For instance, I’d heard rumors that New Leaf might bring in some competition for Whole Foods. Orosco assured me that he intended Stone Creek Village to be a high-end development, genuinely positive for our corridor community.
How it turned out: The first tenants were 7-11 and Jack-in-the-Box. Starbucks soon followed. Good luck looking for anything besides fast food. After 6pm, when Jamba Juice is closed, you can’t even get a shot of wheat grass or a fruit smoothie, let alone have a high-end dining experience at Stone Creek.
There’s Red Brick Pizza, with a TV on every table, and Quizno’s Subs. And did you notice? They’re all fast-food chains. Not a single locally owned independent restaurant on the property.
I hope Seaside takes careful notice if they hope to fare better than Del Rey Oaks. —Mari Lynch Dehmler | Monterey
DON’T HATE JEWS BECAUSE THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL
I find it poignantly ironic that the drums of anti-Semitism are beating loudly throughout the world right now when it is the Jewish culture above all others that has consistently blessed an unappreciative human race with so much beauty and art and music and science. How pathetically poor the human experience would be if it wasn’t for Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg and Vladimir Horowitz and Isaac Stern and Leonard Bernstein and Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk and George Gershwin and the multitude of amazing Jewish talent that has enriched all of our lives.—Jeffrey Van Middlebrook | Pacific Grove
INTERESTED AND CONFUSED
Rupert Murdoch claims to be enamored of our pristine Peninsula yet he imports two of the most polluted people (Willie and Mrs.) on the face of the earth. Al Gore, also, has become known for his views on pollution, yet he is very close to these toxic individuals. Interesting, but confusing. —Gino San Felice | Carmel