Must leave trees in Oakland Hills alone
In 1660, there weren't enough tall trees left in England to make warship masts. In 1700, you could traverse Ohio without seeing the sun. In 1900, northern Wisconsin was denuded by Weyerhauser. Thirty years ago, Mt. Tam State Park downed trees so Peter Pan could fly to the stage. In Marin, they cut out Coulter Pines, non-native.
Land managers ask themselves, "Isn't there a way to solve my problem cheaply by cutting down some trees and looking good on my resume?"
Fire danger? In the late '80s, home building on Grizzly Peak Boulevard was banned -- water needed for fire control. Then the Oakland fire chief said "We have other ways to handle fire," and allowed real-estaters to construct homes. There wasn't enough water for the 1991 fire. Fire protection is having water.
Whenever we humans have a picture of progress, we wipe out en masse whatever the obstruction. We eliminated the native population of Hispaniola, most of the North-American natives, half of those in South America. Ninety percent of edible fish are gone.
Need we keep acting like termites? Have we no pride? Leave the trees in the Oakland Hills alone.
Gordon V. Oehser
IRS must be replaced with modern agency
It's time to phase out the current IRS.
This agency should be a 21st-century agency. I'd recommend that Congress announce a contest, award a nice monetary prize to the best idea, then build it.
I'm convinced that there is a more efficient way to collect taxes. We have a lot of unemployed talent out there, let the contest begin.
Alarmist positions on Alameda plans
Recent opinion pieces reflect an alarmist position that there is a movement afoot to turn Alameda into a stinky, noisy collection of poultry and hog farms, exposing our children to the screams of dying animals as we swat flies and hold our noses.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the city of Alameda has sought out the opinion of Alamedans who love and keep animals to help update some outdated city regulations.
In some cases, to add new regulation where there was none before to make sure that those who are keeping animals (chickens for their eggs, bees for their honey and garden, etc.) are doing so within reasonable, clean, humane and neighbor-friendly limits.
Backyard animal issue is distorted
I've read a lot of inflammatory and outrageous libels around Alameda's backyard animal issue, including some unlikely anecdotes that don't ring true. I've read assertions that if we change and adapt a few of our existing laws about raising urban farm animals and bees, Alamedans will somehow suddenly become bloodthirsty ritual killers.
Remember, most of these animals are already allowed by law. Claiming that we shouldn't adapt the laws to modern realities because Alamedans might suddenly start breaking state law and begin sadistically slaughtering animals is a little like saying we shouldn't approve new traffic lights because more Alamedans might start driving drunk -- it doesn't even make sense as an argument, and it slanders the people who live here.
Fact: The proposed law changes have absolutely no effect either way about slaughtering animals. If it's illegal now, it will remain that way. All it does is tweak the ground rules a little; for example, when our current law was written, people had no idea that other folk might consider raising miniature swine as pets instead of giant porkers as meat.
Fact: Alamedans don't need the embittered, inflammatory, emotional arguments that plague Berkeley and Oakland about this issue (and just about every issue, it seems sometimes). Alameda has a city government that works, that can enforce the new laws as well as it has enforced the old ones.
Accomplished much in five years
In his May 17 letter, Hal Bray referred to President Barack Obama's presidency as "the most secretive, unethical, incompetent presidency in my lifetime." Bray's "lifetime"? I can only conclude Bray is 5 years old.
In the past five years, the Obama administration brought Osama bin Laden to justice, averted an economic collapse, saved more than 1 million jobs in the auto and related industries, brought about a beginning to universal health care, and more.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans repeatedly prioritized their partisan agenda (ensure Obama is a one-term president) over the good of the American people.
Their defeat of background checks for firearm purchases, supported by a vast majority of American citizens, was shameful. Their motivation on that front emanates from the NRA and various gun lobbies and a twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment.
While an active interest in current events should be encouraged in a child, so, too, should the value of research beyond that of the anecdotal and the children's programs on Fox "News." Perhaps teachers in Master Bray's future will see to this.