Letters to the editor for June 26
June 25, 2008
I would like to voice my concerns over the Opening Days Lake Tahoe block party held Saturday.
The closure of a major thoroughfare on the first busy day of summer was a fiasco for many tourists as well as for residents and local businesses.
The atrocious traffic congestion produced by the closing of Highway 50 through the state line area for an entire day prevented many people, local and otherwise, from leaving their homes. I have heard from people who were stuck in their vehicles for two to three hours while attempting to travel a few short miles. As if the economy weren’t bad enough, the block party was singlehandedly responsible for major financial losses by businesses around the South Shore.
The purpose of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is to host events which benefit local enterprises, attract more visitors to Lake Tahoe and have a positive effect on the tourists’ experience at the lake. The block party was ill-conceived and served no one positively. Businesses suffered, and everyone’s impression of Lake Tahoe was diminished.
In short, we all lost. Let us learn from our mistakes and never close Highway 50 for such an ineffectual event again.
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So, whose idea was it to close Highway 50 on one of the busiest weekends of the year for the Opening Days Lake Tahoe festival?
The casinos? The tourism board?
Many small businesses must have lost a lot of money.
Our family, and hundreds of others, certainly did not contribute to the beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin with extra air pollution. We just drove in from Zephyr Cove, and it took us 90 minutes of stop-and-go traffic to make it to Kahle. Misery.
My daughter missed a soccer game in the CUFA tournament, scheduled at Sierra House Elementary, and she also missed her end-of-year soccer gathering.
We knew there would be some traffic and allowed for an extra 20 minutes of drive time.
But 90 minutes, and we were only halfway to Sierra House? Ridiculous.
I am sure countless others missed significant events, such as parties and weddings. My heart goes out to those who had lifetime events disrupted by a needless road closure.
If the casinos want to do this event next year, great, but have it in the giant paved parking lots or close the road behind the casinos and have it there.
At least then those who want to attend the event can make it there in a reasonable amount of time and enjoy themselves.
Millicent Meng Behar
Jeff Seidel (author of June 17 guest column in the Tribune), I don’t know what you know about our local school district, but here’s what we “uneducated individuals” know about the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. And no, we didn’t learn this from the Tribune.
1. According to the California Ed-Data Web site (www.eddata.k12.ca.us), in a comparison of 10 similarly sized districts, LTUSD ranks second highest in per-pupil revenues, the third-highest average teacher salary and the second-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio. It appears a lack of revenue is not a problem. Despite claims to the contrary, more money does not equate to a better education. Utah consistently ranks near the bottom of per-pupil spending but at the top in student-testing performance. Washington, D.C., spends the highest amount of money per pupil, $18,000, and always ranks dead last. How does the educational establishment account for that?
2. As recently as 2004 (when our vaunted school board tried to pass Measure L), our district was running a whopping 88 percent labor cost. They’ve since trimmed it to 81 percent, which is still very high, but do you really think they would have cut spending if Measure L had passed? With an approximate budget of $30-plus million, a 10 percent cut in labor cost would have yielded an additional $3 million per year to pay for facility maintenance. Sure, they’re doing “better” now, but think about all the years when labor cost was way out of line, and how money could have been spent more responsibly. Instead, we got a bloated administration and teachers’ salary increase. Reckless spending in the past has left our district with deferred maintenance that they now point to as desperately needing additional funds. Excuse me, but how is this the taxpayer’s fault?
3. When times were good, we gave LTUSD lots of money (don’t forget, we still have two previously passed school assessments on our property-tax statements) and they mismanaged it; we don’t have any more money to give, so deal with it. LTUSD will just have to scrape by on a paltry $9,394 per student (the statewide average is $9,061). Just imagine what St. Theresa School could do with that kind of budget!
Mr. Seidel, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
South Lake Tahoe
What are you people thinking? Opening Days weekend, and you put a serial killer trial story on your front page (above the fold, if you had one). Certainly that could have been avoided. Secondly, please rethink offering weekend front page advertising to the Bunny Ranch. Is it so bad that your ad staff can’t find a local sponsor for that premium position? If so, fill it with news.
As a former Tribune sports reporter/photographer (1985-86) and an ad rep (1986-91), I can no longer defend the “Trib” in this community. You folks have lost the trail. It’s been sad to watch the fall.
South Lake Tahoe
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