Letters to the editor for June 11
May 22, 2008
What a week for Bike to Work Week! Warm, sunny, blooming flowers, rivers and streams full of spring runoff.
It gave me pause in my grumbling about the strip-mall aesthetic and car culture prevalent in this otherwise spectacular environment – but not for long.
Back at work in my office overlooking Highway 50, or sitting on my deck in Meyers with a clear view of Echo Summit, it is with dismal sentiments that I consider the coming summer weekends and onslaught of accompanying traffic.
Adding to my displeasure are news bits about widening the right-of-way at the “Y.”
Despite assertions that such an action is necessary before going forward with other, more pedestrian-friendly design, I can’t help but remember years of public input processes discussing redevelopment of that area. I’m pretty sure the consensus was “make it a safer and more pleasant experience for people not in vehicles.” How will bending to the needs of our car culture achieve that objective?
It will not.
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How is it possible that millions of visitors come to Tahoe every year and are forced to enter, travel through and exit the basin via their own personal vehicle? I’ve listened to all the reasons why public transit into and around the basin “wouldn’t work,” and I’m not anywhere near convinced. Especially with gas prices well over $4 per gallon, especially given that many tourists spend literally weeks of their lives stuck in traffic to and from their day jobs, especially given my own distaste for driving (anonymous separation, requires full attention, dangerous, noisy) – I can’t believe that we can’t institute creative options to get around the lake (it’s a circle) or into the basin (there are only three main gateways).
What Lake Tahoe needs is an organization with the courage and vision to lead a proactive process, to make sure alternative transportation options – from zip cars to electric cars to park-and-rides to trolleys to new and well-marked bike trails to adequate sidewalks – are prioritized for attention and for funding.
Speak up already!
South Lake Tahoe
Thomas Sowell’s opinion piece in the Tribune on June 5 (“Blacks get used as political mascots”) was perhaps the most contentious concatenation of claptrap ever published in your newspaper. To call black employees or students liberal “mascots” simply because they have been selected in an attempt to redress the effects of historically discriminatory practices offends just about everyone involved. According to my dictionary, a mascot is an “animal, person or thing adopted by a group as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck.”
Obviously, Sowell has distorted the meaning of the term to serve his own wrong-headed agenda. Black employees or students selected by traditionally white employers or colleges are not there to represent those making the selections, but rather to provide opportunities to previously underrepresented minority groups. Nor are such selections made in the absence of other qualifying criteria; they result from a process designed to ensure that an organization’s employee pool or an educational institution’s student body reflects the diversity of society as a whole, but only after certain basic qualifications have been met.
“Using human beings as mascots is not idealism. It is self-aggrandizement that is ugly in both its concept and its consequence,” Sowell concludes. Hardly as ugly or self-aggrandizing as the concepts Sowell has advanced in his column, however!
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