10-31-05

Dear Menlo Park City Council,

Please do NOT pursue contract negotiations with the Highlands Golf company to build an executive golf course at Bayfront Park. Open space is precious to the Menlo Park community and should NOT be handed over like a land grant for the wealthy. The park should remain as it is, open to the public for much needed naturally beautiful relief from the spreading urban development.

More significantly than the social ramifications of such a dubious project, this fragile environment must be preserved for its animal and plant inhabitants. Once a tidal marsh and the associated grassy hills are opened to this kind of high traffic use, massive amounts of earth must be moved which will disrupt the delicate the grassland community, water must be pumped in to irrigate the vast golf green which then runs off into the nearby marsh irreversibly altering the tidal marsh ecosystem. We cannot afford to destroy this open space jewel.

Please consider the full cost of this project. While Menlo Park may be attracted to the potential income of an executive golf course, the cost to the natural community will be far greater. As you know, tidal marsh habitat has been devastated in recent decades leaving only a small percentage of the original area. If you allow a golf course, or similar non-open space project to go forward, you will create yet another casualty for the environment.

California Clapper Rail, Burrowing Owl, Snowy Plover... These are a few of the threatened species that you will be hurting. They will pay the price of your foolishness.


Those who agree with the above sentiments may contact the Council directly:
CITY.COUNCIL@menlopark.org

 



10-25-05

Dear Palo Alto City Council Members,

The Council's decision to retain the Foothills Park "Palo Alto Resident Only" rule is greatly disappointing and I am thoroughly disgusted by it.

So you will understand my frustration I will to tell you a little about myself. My parents and I moved to Palo Alto in 1981 where they still live in Professorville. After college and grad school, I found that I could not afford to purchase or rent a home in Palo Alto, so I relocated to Mountain View where I now live with my wife in an apartment. I hold two jobs in Palo Alto however, as a graphic designer at 1185 Design, and as a teacher at Palo Alto Adult School where I have taught an enormously popular class on bird watching for seven years. Each weekend, I lead my adult students to areas in and around the bay, as well as areas farther afield to watch birds and educate them on habitat preservation and bird conservation issues. I am an active member of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and have recently been invited to sit on their board of directors.

Returning to the issue of Foothills Park, I am insulted, but not surprised, that the city has decided to preserve its policy of discouraging (prohibiting) non-residents from visiting your precious park. I find it appalling that you would choose to preserve such an outdated, and exclusive policy for the park, especially when a revenue-earning option exists. If you truly find it necessary to keep "outsiders out", as the Palo Alto Daily News suggested this morning, why not at least charge a small fee for non-Palo Altans? That way non residents. such as myself, will still know we are lower class (which is incidentally the message you are sending) but we will be allowed to visit the park without a chaperon. By adopting this 21st century approach you will earn a small revenue stream for the park's upkeep and staff, and outsiders will be able to see your park.





10-05-05

If you weren't already aware of this, the prevailing political climate in Washington is firmly against to the environment. The Bush administration has demonstrated time and time again its affiliations with industry as well as its lack of respect for wildlife and the habitat it requires. (If this is an unfamiliar concept, please do a quick search on the Bush administartion's recent legislation regarding the lowering of toxic emission standards for large power companies, reduction of penalties for water polluting mining companies, tax breaks for business owners who wish to purchase gas guzzling SUVs, the resistance to fund energy efficient hybrid vehicle research, and the loss of endangered status for Spotted Owl, Marbled Murrelet and Snowy Plover... These are but a few of the administration's anti-environmental efforts.)

Congress is also loaded with Republican lawmakers that apparently rubber stamp the President's conservative and environmentally unfriendly opinions, sending a clear message to industry giants and large land developers that all the world is their playground. If they aren't occupied with the same industry loyalties they're obsessed with terrorism or oh-so-concerned about "family values" and the need to deny women the right to choose... "Pollute if you wish, we will offer you easy ways of avoiding those annoying penalties. Destroy the habitat of critically endangered species if that is your preference, because we have data that shows the economy needs that new housing development right in the middle of that Snowy Plover beachfront property..."

Environmentalists don't want your destructive policies, Mr. Bush! We don't need drilling in ANWR. We don't need the California coastline dotted with oil rigs. What we need is a president that understands the importance of a healthy environment. Even Nixon understood the value of the Endangered Species Act when he signed it into law in 1973. You, on the other hand, with your lapdog relationship with the oil industry, see only dollars and cents. How about a future for our children? How about leaving them a few healthy beaches and some clean air to breathe. While we're at it, how about reducing the national dept so all those children you love so much won't have to pay for your rediculous anti-terrorism witch hunt in Iraq. Why don't you try listening to your friend Tony Blair, who recently announced that global warming is a serious threat to the world's future, or how about reading a few science journals on the importance of balance in an ecosystem. Oh, that's right... Sorry. You're still a little unclear on the concept of Evolution...

If it matters to you Mr. Bush, approving the upcoming bill, written by Richard Pombo (Republican from California) that rewrites the Endangered Species Act and reduces critical habitat for endangered species by 40% will not win you any friends among the people I know... Mr. Pombo claims that "The [Endangered Species] act has been a failure at recovering species." I would very much like to know 1) where he gets his innacurate information and 2) how eliminating critically endangered species' habitat will help their recovery... Mr. President, those of us who care about the environment all know how to spot industry ties and realize it is generally accompanied by a blank check. What we want to know, is where is that check coming from? There's a mini natural selection lesson for you right there.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/09/30/state/n003234D55.DTL &hw=endangered+species+act&sn=006&sc=324

To add insult to injury, in the quest for ways to exploit the post-Katrina reconstruction, Washington conservatives announce the Gasoline for American Security Act, sponsored by Joe Barton. He is, as you might have guessed, a Republican Representative from Texas. His trecherous bill seeks to "expedite the construction of new refining capacity in the United States, to provide reliable and affordable energy for the American people, and for other purposes"(other purposes?). It us a "sweeping new energy bill that provides a variety of incentives for refinery construction and operations". As the Sierra Club states on its website: "This deeply flawed legislation eliminates environmental protections on new oil refineries and funnels even more taxpayer dollars to the oil industry. The bill also exploits the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to advance completely unrelated policies, such as repealing the Clean Air Act's New Source Review program." In addition, significant power would be directed away from states, giving Washington more say in where new refineries will be built. Topping the list of possible locations for California new refineries is Fort Ord on the Monterey Bay. That possibility sends a chill up my spine.

http://www.sierraclub.org/ 

If anyone is reading these words out there, I ask you to please contact your elected officials and express your opposition to these two measures. Our environment cannot survive the continued attacks of the Bush administration and its supporters, and these kinds of destructive policies simply must be defeated.

On a different note, I find it to be strangely coincident that while Mr. Bush struggles to find support for his assertion that there is a connection between Al Quaida and Iraq, and his widely publicized and speech this morning failed to win the approval he had hoped for, New York City received a Washington tip regarding an imminent terrorist attack in the city's subway system. Isn't that convenient, Mr. Bush? Just as you grope for supporters who will share your paranoid political views, and daily lose precious ground with even your own conservative demographic, there is an unnamed FBI official that gives New Yorkers something new to fear... If you had your way, we'd all be vaguely afraid of everything and huddle at your side for safety... Not a chance! Americans are not as stupid as you think and can see the dishonesty of your ways. We can see your efforts to make us anxious in order to promote your conservative political agenda. I don't really believe there's anything more frightening that you, if you want to know the absolute truth. I might point out we have not forgotten that not a single WMD was ever located in Iraq and, if I recall, that was your whole rational for taking us into this expensive war. Now that's terrifying.