Boy Scouts make the right decision
Hooray for the Boy Scouts of America. The huge national BSA youth organization again proves itself as a tremendous benefit helping to maintain and teach leadership and positive social and moral values.
For a while, I was dismayed that some misunderstood the meaning of "morally straight." I am sure the BSA founders never intended "morally straight" to mean "sexually straight."
As a scout parent, I am relieved the organization at the national level have clarified this difference. In fact, as a youth organization for 12- to 18-year-olds, BSA has no programs, merit badges or educational agenda regarding sex for participating youth with the exception that every child, from Cub Scouts onward, receives training on how not to be a victim of sexual abuse.
With what I believe was a fear-based ban being lifted, I hope when the scout uniforms are seen in public, they get all the respect they deserve. Hooray BSA.
Opposition growing to killing of trees
A groundswell of opposition is growing on the proposed plan to cut down about 85,000 nonnative trees in Oakland; not only eucalyptus, but Monterey pines and many other trees that make up a large part of the forested hills and parklands.
This project would increase the risk of fire by removing the shade and fog drip of thousands of trees and thus increasing dry heat; placing tons of dead wood onto bare ground; leaving space for nonnative grasses and brush to fill in and become a true fire hazard; destroying wind breaks; and doing prescribed burns that could easily get out of control.
Most fires start in dry grass and brush, not under moist tree canopy where captured fog often drips down even in summer. Even the maligned eucalyptus trees have been documented as resisting raging brush fires.
As if increased fire hazard is not bad enough, the toxic herbicides used in this project for the following 10 years would poison the woodlands and surrounding areas -- earth, air, creeks and, ultimately, the Bay -- damaging the health of and exposing humans and animals for many years to come. Many animals would undoubtedly be killed outright.
There is abundant documentation at the Death of a Million Trees website about what this project actually entails, and better alternatives to the proposed project.
Destructive cutting of trees a bad idea
Readers need a few more facts about the project to destroy all nonnative trees (not just eucalyptus) from 1,000 acres of public land in the East Bay.
Trees up to 24 inches in diameter will be chipped and distributed on the ground to a depth of two feet.
Bigger trees will be cut into logs two to three feet long and left lying on the ground.
The oaks that are the predicted replacement landscape are being killed by sudden oak death at an epidemic rate. Scientists studying SOD predicted in 2011 that 90 percent of the oaks in the East Bay would be dead within 25 years.
If supporters of this destructive project believe that dead wood is less flammable than any living tree, they are either kidding themselves or lying to the public.
The paper is mistaken in its description of critics of this project as a "small band." The public hearing about this project was attended by about 200 people: 56 people spoke and only six spoke in support of the project.
As of the Memorial Day weekend, the petition to object to this project as presently described has 4,486 signatures on it. The petition in support of the project has only 422.
Good news going on in Oakland schools
We are often overtaken by all the bad news in Oakland and its schools.
If you have not had a chance, take a look at the great positive attention being given to a pair of identical twins at Claremont Middle School -- Ronald and Reginald Richardson. "CBS Evening News" and NPR's "This American Life" have both produced pieces on them.
Our community was given the impression last year that we should lower our expectations for our middle school. The Richardsons have thrown that idea on its head where it belongs. They have connected with the parents and the teaching staff in such a powerful way and are working on building Claremont to become a School of Distinction and, even more important, they have connected in a visceral way with their students. It renews our hope in public education.
Check out the national media's perspective on them. Or better yet, come out, participate in Claremonts' Centennial Celebration from 3-5 p.m. June 1 and meet these wonderful gentlemen in person.
The Claremont Band and Orchestra will play, former Superintendent Tony Smith will be there, Oliveto is donating a spit-roasted pig, we'll eat cake and play some hoops -- a really fun way to say happy birthday.