Don't overlook academics

Headlined in the Jan. 10 Journal front page is a remarkable achievement: Three East Bay high school football teams have won North Coast titles.

These victories deserve recognition. And, of course, we all need physical activity in our lives.

However, as a tutor of students who are preparing to take the college admission tests (SAT and ACT), I perceive varsity athletics from a different angle. Some of my students are excellent football and basketball players. I help them perform at a high level also when they sit down on a Saturday morning to take the college admissions exam.

The problem is this: Playing a high school sport at a varsity level leaves precious little time in the day for a student to sharpen the academic skills that are required to excel in school and on the SAT or ACT.

Even if a college-bound high school student obtains an athletic scholarship, will he or she be adequately prepared to handle a college curriculum? Probably not, if the pursuit of athletic prowess has displaced the pursuit of learning.

Raymond Barglow

Berkeley

Say what you mean in titles

It's been more than a few years since our eighth-grade teacher cautioned us to be sure the headline conveyed the meaning of the whole story.

On Jan. 23, a Times front-page story was headlined, "Bay Bridge concerns over safety silenced." I would have liked it better if it had read, "Concerns over Bay Bridge safety silenced."

Another story was labeled, "California is now nation's biggest red state." Horrors! Does this mean the conservative voters now number more than the liberal voters? The article, pretty scary in itself, was about weather.

Joan Bartulovich

El Cerrito

DMC closure unacceptable

Closure of Doctors Medical Center hospital in San Pablo would be disastrous. West Contra Costa County already lost one hospital when DMC closed its site in Pinole.

The major hospitals we would have to rely on are Kaiser in Richmond (with only 15 emergency beds), Summit Alta Bates in Berkeley, John Muir in Walnut Creek, or Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

Have you seen the traffic on Interstate 80 going to Berkeley and up Ashby Avenue? No matter how loud an ambulance siren is, it can't move cars out of the way quickly. The trip to the other hospitals is not much better. Their emergency rooms will be even worse than they are now because they will be overloaded with West County patients.

The people of this community, as well as elected officials at all levels, should be outraged about this potential closure and its impact on local residents -- possibly even a family member.

What happens if there is another accident at Chevron or at General Chemical? Are all those affected people going to get into their cars and drive to Berkeley, Walnut Creek or Vallejo?

The Affordable Care Act, designed to help people get health insurance, won't mean much if there are no facilities to give them the care they need. No matter how much coverage you have, it doesn't do much good if you can't make it to the hospital in time.

The closure of DMC is unacceptable. Something must be done to prevent it.

Chesteen Lindberg

Richmond

Albany Bulb eviction facts

The mean-spirited Jan. 17 letter about the move to evict the people who have been living on the Albany Bulb is loaded with insults and misinformation.

The writer refers to the campers as "squatters" and their presence an "infestation."

He writes that after the campers were evicted in 1999, the police were supposed to keep them from moving back but that they "never had any stomach for the job." As a matter of fact, in the ensuing years the police frequently sent homeless people they encountered on the streets out to the Bulb.

People have made their home on the Bulb because there is no housing for them in the city. They have little or no income, or they have a disability and available housing is not accessible.

They settled on the Bulb, which was a landfill, and built comfortable shelters out of construction materials that had been dumped there. They hauled out debris, cleared paths and planted trees. They even built a free lending library for anyone who comes by. And they created some wonderful works of art.

The letter writer mentions a "massive housing and feeding program" for the evicted campers. In 1999, this consisted of a trailer that was temporarily placed at the site, open only at night, with very sparse accommodations and no privacy. Beyond that, there was no help. And few, if any, of the campers obtained permanent housing.

This time, again there are trailers with bunk beds crowded in, outside toilets and showers open only for limited hours and not handicapped accessible. So far, of the 60 or so people on the Bulb, fewer than five have gotten into permanent housing.

The City of Albany, will keep the trailers at the site only for six months. After that, there will be nothing for the evicted campers.

Albany had no homeless shelters in 1999 and still has no homeless shelters and no available affordable housing -- let alone any supportive housing for people with special needs.

The $360,000 Albany is spending on the temporary trailers could have been far better spent to ensure that all people in their city have a roof over their heads.

Lydia Gans

Berkeley

Consider water usage penalties

This is in response to recent articles regarding California's drought and the request for a 20 percent reduction in water use.

In our home, we already use low-flow toilets and shower heads; seldom take baths; don't flush after each use; have no lawn; and save all warm-up water and pasta/vegetable water to water plants.

Our water use per day for the two of us is on average 100 gallons. Over the holidays, with five extra people in the house, our usage was only 117 gallons per day. If the average household usage is 192 gallons per day, then we are already 40 percent below average.

My point is, some of us have already done our part and I am hoping no penalties will be imposed if we don't/can't reduce an additional 20 percent.

Possibly penalties could be imposed if water usage is more than 154 gallons per day, which is a 20 percent reduction from 192 gallons. Then, those who use more water would have an incentive to reduce, if civic responsibility isn't enough.

Dottie Heckman

Richmond