"Alameda Tax Faces Tough Fight," News, 3/31
Businesses Can't Thrive Without Schools
In "Alameda Tax Faces Tough Fight" your reporter writes: "a host of small business and property owners who are still upset about Measure H remain." Really? How many selfish business people does it take to make up a host? Two? Four? Eight? One percent of the people in Alameda? Ten percent? Or is "host" just shorthand for "don't really know but this sure sounds impressive?" If you are going to write that "a host of small business and property owners who are still upset about Measure H remain" then please tell us how many people this entails. You might also tell us: how much of the tax burden for schools and other municipal services do homeowners pay now in Alameda? How much do commercial interests? Please compare that to the pre-Prop 13 data. Now, does it look to you like the homeowners are once again taking it in the neck? I suspect the untold story here is that Prop 13 shifted the burden for local taxes onto residential property owners (to the benefit of commercial property owners). And maybe you could also ask Donna Layburn, who owns the Alameda Marketplace, how well her businesses will do if Alameda's public schools are gutted. She's trying to lease a third parking lot because lots of people (many of them with kids) are paying top dollar for the organic and boutique products offered in her place. How many of us will stay in Alameda if the schools fall apart? And how many of us are interested in supporting a marketplace that is doing well enough to need a third parking lot but begrudges the $3,000 a year the schools need from that lot. Aren't Alameda's public schools worth less than a dollar a day in taxes for that expansion lot? If not, maybe she should wait and see what happens to her business if the parcel tax fails.
"Swimming in Sex Abuse," Feature, 4/7
Release Stovall's Report
Irvin Muchnick, Berkeley
"Health Care on Wheels," News, 4/7
Breathmobile Saves Lives
In "Health Care on Wheels," the featured Breathmobile that brings asthma care to schoolchildren in Contra Costa County offers an innovation example of how improving access to health care is essential in disease treatment and health promotion. New approaches that overcome barriers to access are necessary to meet the needs of the underinsured and uninsured. The impact of the Breathmobile on health promotion cannot be overstated, as the article correctly points to the interrelationships between health problems — children with poorly controlled asthma are more likely to lead sedentary lives contributing to childhood obesity. Further health complications may develop in obese children — type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity and heart disease is linked to the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The Breathmobile is an important step in the quest to improve the health of schoolchildren in Contra Costa County.
Arlie Stern, Oakland
"Back to the Green Future," News, 4/7
Dense Development Can Save Lives, Too
I was pleased to see "wellness" listed as one of the commercial uses for the proposed "livable, walk-able community" envisioned by Doug Herst, environmentalist and businessman, in Robert Gammon's article "Back to the Green Future." The article shines light on the complexities and consequences around merging residential housing and commercial space in West Berkeley's manufacturing area (namely, increases in property cost will drive out manufactures and inevitable residential complaints about living near manufacturing will erode the industrial base) while highlighting the advantages of proximally locating "live, work and play" opportunities. The advantages of the latter help the City of Berkeley reduce dependence on the car, a directive of the City's Climate Action Plan. An overlooked advantage is the positive impact on addressing the current health care crisis by locating primary health care providers where people live, work, and play. Development projects that bring health care practically to the doorstep are essential for improving access to care, efficiency of delivering care, and disease prevention/wellness promotion. Also not to be overlooked is the need for local providers to be ready and willing to serve Medicare/Medi-Cal clients, as the number of beneficiaries will certainly increase as health care reform takes effect.
Arlie Stern, Oakland