Letters | TahoeDailyTribune.com


To the editor:

The TRPA color police are at it again and this time they have zeroed in on the California Department of Transportation. The fact that TRPA bullied Caltrans into a “compromise” by threatening to sue over the color of guardrails is no compromise at all.

The truth of the matter is that Caltrans simply capitulated to TRPA demands. TRPA also managed to squeeze Caltrans for an additional $750,000 to study the issue. A spokesperson for TRPA touts Caltrans’ surrender as a “collaborative solution for Lake Tahoe.” The result of such “collaboration” reaffirms that TRPA is accountable to no one, and has no sense of cost-benefit analysis or fiscal restraint. One government agency suing another is an unreserved waste of taxpayers’ money. TRPA’s willingness to sue Caltrans over the color of guardrails is complete idiocy.

Caltrans officials recently informed the City of South Lake Tahoe and the South Shore Transportation Management Association that personnel cuts and lack of equipment prohibited Caltrans from maintaining Mormon Emigrant Trail should Highway 50 close due to a mud slides. I suggest redirecting the $750,000 for TRPA’s pet guardrail color study to more important endeavors like maintaining access to the South Shore.

Tim Leslie

Assemblyman, Fourth District

How can you not know about TRPA?

To the editor:

Re: “Over The Edge,” Dec. 14.

Speaking from the environmentalist side of this issue, it seems to me that anyone who moves to the Tahoe Basin and purchases property here should be made aware of the agencies and land use laws that govern our precious area before they purchase property here. Perhaps this should be a job of real estate professionals, or the Chamber of Commerce.

For anyone moving here to not know about the TRPA, or the Tahoe Conservancy or any other agency that governs land use, is just plain ignorance. The land use laws are in place for many reasons and are certainly no secret.

I find it ironic so many people move here for the beauty of the area; clean air, clean water, beautiful natural scenery and a small town atmosphere, than they try to turn it into what they left behind in L.A. or San Jose.

Mr. McDonald’s goal to clean up his property may have been a noble goal but the fact that he hired someone to clean it up with a bulldozer and that he, as well as the bulldozer operator, had no idea that their actions were in violation of our environmental laws, well its just ignorance. And then to blame it on those “Tahoe environmentalists”… Now its time for Mr. McDonald to pay the idiot tax…

Kelley Pedigo

South Lake Tahoe

Make the effort for rural mail delivery

To the editor:

On behalf of the rural mail carriers of South Lake Tahoe, I would like to thank all home delivery customers who have made the tremendous effort to keep their mailboxes clear of snow so far this winter. Some of you have received a reminder notice with a diagram showing what is required of you. Postal regulations require you to clear the snow in front of your box enough so your carrier can drive up to your box, deposit the mail and drive away without having to back up or exit the vehicle.

This has always been policy for good reasons. Safety is the Number 1 reason. Efficiency is equally as important as every carrier has over 450 deliveries daily. These routes were set up to be driven and your carrier needs complete access to your box in order to complete his/her route daily.

Sometimes it’s hard to completely grasp the understanding of why it is so important to follow certain rules if one doesn’t actually do a certain job. Our intent is not to anger or upset anyone by these reminders. Our goal is to give you excellent and complete service daily. I would like to offer some suggestions. Some of you have done one or all of these already:

1. Keep up with your snow removal from the onset of the first storm. Same routine as you do with your driveway, just do a little more for your box.

2. Get another mailbox and put it in a bucket. Your portable “winter box” can be positioned close to the road no matter what the weather.

3. Kids love to earn money. Make it part of their chores and add to their allowances to shovel snow from the box area. Or hire a neighborhood kid. There are no lawns to mow now anyway.

Winter’s extra demands are temporary. We all need to make the extra effort. It will benefit everybody.

Merry Christmas to all.

Nancy Callaway, rural mail carrier

South Lake Tahoe

Dancing with a 600-pound gorilla

To the editor:

The purpose of this letter is to ask for special consideration for drug and alcohol addicts who are waiting to be sentenced by the court. People with addiction problems are sick people not evil or bad people. Addiction is defined as a disease and this disease is defined as a malfunction of the brain. People with the disease of addiction need treatment in order to return to society as productive citizens. We need to consider incarceration involving treatment rather than prison.

The disease of addiction can be compared to dancing with a 600-pound gorilla. The dancing stops when the gorilla wants to stop and not before. The gorilla is the disease and the dancing is the criminal activity involved with drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, the gorilla never leaves the addict. The gorilla only sleeps. Incarceration puts the gorilla to sleep.

The process of recovery is the process of learning to keep that gorilla asleep. After incarceration, if the addict has not learned how to keep the gorilla asleep, then the gorilla will awake and begin to dance. If the addict is sentenced to an institution with treatment, then he will be able to return to society without committing more crimes.

Many times the addict is a parent. Without treatment, the parent often becomes a multiple offender. This is a bad role model for the children. Often times the children become like the parents and the cycle continues. If the parents get into a recovery program then their lives will change, the kids will benefit and the cycle is broken.

Treatment facilities are often more costly for the taxpayer. However, if an addict does not get treatment and continues to re-offend, then the costs of multiple incarcerations can add up to many times the cost of the treatment. After two drug-related felonies, the next felony becomes a third strike, and the sentence becomes 25 years to life. This adds up to a tremendous cost for taxpayers. If these drug offenders are sentenced to a treatment faculty early on, then maybe they will get into recovery and spend the remainder of their lives paying taxes like the rest of us.

Ernie Claudio

South Lake Tahoe

Consider a ban on residential burning

To the editor:

Most of us come to Tahoe attracted by the beautiful scenery and clean dry air. All that has been lost for many of us recently as a result of a new resident in Zephyr Heights who has elected to burn his trash rather than hauling it out as most of us do.

Even though the fire department acted within the law by issuing a burn permit, they should have shown more concern for the health and safety of the community. Smoke from burning wood has been reported as 12 times more carcinogenic than tobacco smoke, and for all of us who live in the forest, wildfires are our greatest fear. Yet, an unthinking or uncaring resident is allowed to conduct a open burn right in our midst.

I would heartily support a change to prohibit open burns within 500-1,000 feet of any structure. Such a simple change in the regulations would ensure than no similar burns could be conducted in a close residential area in the future.

Jerry Sparrow

Zephyr Cove

Bringing some clarity to the abortion debate

To the editor:

Joan Walthall, in her opinion piece “Grasping the reality of Iraq”, states she “does not understand how pro-life in the womb squares with death on the battlefield at age 21- the one abhorred, the other honored.” If she means the killing of an unborn child and the death of a soldier on the battlefield are moral equivalents, allow me to explain why they are not.

First of all, the unborn child has not volunteered to be aborted. Secondly, the unborn child has absolutely no way to defend itself. Thirdly, the unborn child’s only crime was to be conceived. And finally, an unborn child has never harmed anybody. I believe this makes it abhorrent except in cases of medical necessity.

Your right Joan, the soldier who dies on the battlefield is rightfully honored for his sacrifice to his country, but how can you honor the person who performs an abortion? I hope this brings some clarity to this subject.

Ken Weitzman

South Lake Tahoe

Don’t give up on South Tahoe’s best chance

To the editor:

I can’t believe it. The one chance businesses in this community have to save themselves from a slow financial death has raised a very small but vocal group of opposition. The business improvement district will put heads in beds and butts in seats by restoring marketing funds.

Before I moved here, I’d heard a lot about the admirable people of Tahoe – now I have a personal respect for the hearty folks who’ve persevered through storms, mud slides and over-regulation. I’ve seen my husband and the mayor get up at 3 a.m. to drive five hours in a snowstorm to get Highway 50 open. I’ve seen my husband agonize over the plight of small business and fight those trying to ruin them. I’ve seen him repeatedly go to Washington, D.C., and the state capital to fight for Tahoe. He doesn’t just write the “Shop local” article, he lives it. I’ve seen him work for two years on a BID that would create an independent, measurable, accountable marketing fund. But this isn’t about individuals. It’s about two years of thoughtful consideration of the problems facing this business community.

There’s an unwritten rule about wives of community leaders speaking out; however, I’m going to break it. I see how much my husband loves this town. I have professional experience as an economic development coordinator and vice president of a valley chamber, and I’m a past member of our lodging board: That gives me a unique perspective. Small businesses are an independent bunch and they’re not all the same. I’ve seen an obstinate few attempt to stop projects, such as a walking mall in the community I came from that turned out to be financial salvation, simply because they failed to believe that any opinion other than their own could be successful.

There’s a reason that leaders are elected/selected to make decisions for the greater good of the community. The BID may not be the perfect choice, but by seeking perfection, we may lose the good. What have we got to lose by trying it? We know what businesses are losing now.

Tami Wallace

South Lake Tahoe

BID another example of poor money management

To the editor:

As a 27-year business owner in South Lake Tahoe, I am opposed to the “BID process.” Seems that the BID is nothing more than bailout money asked for by our city. They profess such politics of fear. We are being told that if we as business owners do not pay this new tax, the marketing of South Lake Tahoe will suffer and we will all reap the negative effects.

Marketing is important; we know it as business owners. My business is tourist/local based, so my marketing dollars are spread among both sectors. Seems that the city is also a business – a business that seems to be always on the brink of going out of business, and their solution being to levy yet another tax or special assessment or fee. Seems that the city has a dismal record of fiscal responsibility and common sense. The officials who came up with this should be ashamed of themselves to present this new tax scheme. They have shown their fiscal inabilities by keeping the city financially unhealthy and not being able to balance a budget. Yes, there were cutbacks; all of us as business owners experience cutbacks. When financial times get tough, that is when we do what we have to with what we have. We have no bail out options.

Who will be accountable for these new marketing dollars and the correct usage of them? Perhaps the person(s) who got us into the parking garage fiasco or the person(s) who just happened to forget when the lease was up on the city offices, thus creating incredibly huge rents under a new lease.

How long will the businesses of South Lake Tahoe support such idiocy? Please don’t stoop so low as to tell business owners it is in our best interest. We know marketing needs to be done, so let’s do it with what we have in the budgets of the chambers and the LTVA . Let’s not forget we spend our own dollars marketing our businesses and that marketing brings business here for the good of all. How many times does the city think they can go to the well before it dries up?

I hope other business owners oppose the BID, send in their letter of opposition, and finally let the city know we are done with accepting poor fiscal government.

Annette Schoonover

South Lake Tahoe

Don’t risk losing our local tourism marketing power

To the editor:

Everyday business people ask me why I am in favor of the Business Improvement District (BID) proposal. I’m a CPA and part of a profession that is usually considered against taxes and pretty tight with money.

I definitely don’t like the idea of paying for something that I used to get for free. However, I feel the BID is the business community’s best chance to control our marketing dollars and maintain the California/Nevada marketing partnership known as the LTVA. The funds contributed from both sides of the state line give us twice the marketing power we would have if we tried to do it all alone.

Part of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) charged to visitors currently funds marketing. The city has financial problems. The city has taken $753,000 away from the marketing portion of the TOT over the past two years.

The BID agreement is being drafted to keep the city from taking BID money. I’m not willing to risk losing the marketing power of the LTVA. Maybe in the future, someone will find a better way to fund marketing. That is one reason why the BID can be eliminated any year by a vote of the businesses subject to the tax. That same vote can also be used to eliminate the BID should the city not perform as agreed.

As part of the business community I feel we owe it to ourselves to continue marketing Lake Tahoe as the best place on earth to vacation, live, work and play. We had a system in place to pay for marketing, but now it seems we must find a new way of funding. Although no tax system is completely “fair” I feel that the BID provides the best solution given the available options.

Karsen Garrett

South Lake Tahoe

Here’s a solution: Maybe we should tax the students

To the editor:

I am simply amazed at the latest effort to tax businesses for the purpose of marketing Lake Tahoe. To begin with, I realize that the employed people of this town need tourism to survive, and thus be able to patronize their own local businesses. There are many businesses that really do not or should not have to be taxed for this purpose. Many automotive and other type businesses are supported mainly by local dollars, not tourist dollars. And for sure the LTVA and other such entities should take a look at how our visitors are treated and how they feel after they spend their time here. I find that service is not what it should be or used to be, and the big casinos are definitely lacking in customer service. Why don’t these large gaming properties do the marketing? And what about the kids? Again, we end up back at the issue of funds, or lack of funds, for our schools and low enrollment.

I cannot believe that BID is looking to tax businesses for the purpose of marketing Lake Tahoe, when the locals cannot even find a way to tax for the school district. Marketing Lake Tahoe will do no good if everyone ends up moving away and the schools cannot provide the students with money for extra programs – programs that should be the birthright of every school-aged child. What is next? Maybe we should tax the students?

Karen Smith


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