Bill Gibbs wrote that the field use fee would be a "tax on our youth" rather than a use fee (Letters to the Editor, Feb. 13). He arrives at this conclusion because he is a taxpayer and a father of a youth baseball player. Somehow the logic of this escapes me.
We all pay taxes and they go for the common good: police, fire, the library, recreation areas — services and facilities that are available to all. When a special interest group, such as youth baseball, wishes to use a service or facility just for their specific purposes and to the exclusion of the rest of the public, there should be a cost assessment. There are two ways to recover costs for special interests: You assess a user's fee or you establish a special district with taxing capability, as we do with our school system.
If you are excluding the general population, you should not be expecting the rest of us to pay for your special interest.
A cold play by Shoreline Amphitheatre
After the announcement of the Coldplay show at Shoreline Amphitheatre, I phoned the hotline on Thursday, Feb. 12 to inquire when Mountain View residents could buy tickets. For us, they usually go on sale the day before they do for the general public.
The message said Friday, Feb. 13 at 10 a.m., so I and a few other people showed up at the box office only to be told there had been a mistake, the tickets actually went on sale the day before and nobody would be in the office until 10:30 a.m. (Tickets went on pre-sale to fan club members and Live Nation registered customers at 10 a.m.)
This left us with several questions. How come the hotline information still hadn't been changed? How come some people knew that the Mountain View resident tickets went on sale the day before? Why, if the box office didn't know they had made a mistake, did they not have anyone in the office at the 10 a.m. time stated on the hotline?
The end result was that the unlucky fans were left with meager choices for tickets, after the privileged few, who somehow knew about the early pre-sale, had snapped up all the choice seats. I'm writing this letter on behalf of the group of people who took time off work to stand in the rain for two hours and don't have means of contacting the Amphitheatre box office to voice our complaints.
Horay for Safeway
I would like to applaud our local Safeway on Shoreline for going organic.
Up until recently, the Safeway did have a limited selection of organic products. But lately, the selection has expanded in leaps and bounds and I for one was very pleased.
There are now more organic items ranging from yogurt to dried fruits to sugar, etc. I used to make frequent trips to Whole Foods just to get certain organic products for my toddler, but now I can get it all from Safeway —and it is closer to me and cheaper. Thank you Safeway.
Mountain Laurel Court
Tax cuts vs. stimulus
This week America is being avalanched with conservative warnings about the economic stimulus plan. Tax cuts, say senators from South Carolina and Texas, are better than stimulus spending because they are not government; they leave the initiative in the hands of a million individuals who know more about what they need than any government could ever know and they can take effect quickly.
Government is indeed clumsy and tax cuts do not require a bureaucracy. That much is true. But the idea that tax cuts actually save the economy is something else: It is, essentially, a faith-based policy.
The argument that tax cuts will produce economic gains quickly assumes that the taxpayer knows the amount of the cut, that he knows that amount before April 2009 (immediately), that he decides as soon as he knows that he will spend the savings, and that he will spend this money on goods that will reemploy Americans and not go to China or Dubai or Azerbaijan. These are huge assumptions.
Stimulus, by contrast, can be spent on schools, hospitals, bridges, research for better batteries, wind farms, job training and Head Start. We can aim stimulus at our greatest common needs. That is a far more secure, promising and responsible economic policy.
Minton's closure offers opportunity
As we consider the urgency of the issues before us in energy, transportation and climate change, among other issues, the words of President Obama are worth calling to mind: The time requires us to think and act boldly. It is not a time for "same kind" thinking. Not a time for "more of the same" or for something just a "little different."
The era of one- and two-story suburban building is over. Our region and our planet cannot tolerate it. With the Minton property, we have the opportunity to actually "think globally and act locally." We must plan for a future that actually has a future.
Every property that will add housing near mass transit lines must be of excellent design and the highest quality. It must make homebuyers and renters salivate at the thought of living there. It must offer the best amenities and lifestyle that reflects the values of our town. This should be the primary focus of our collective reviews of this property.
And of course we should insist that the zoning plan be modified to allow at least six to eight stories — at a minimum. Make it tall and make it terrific. Prometheus did this with Park Place and they can do it again, if we insist on it.
This is the bold planning that will build a city that draws the best people because of the quality of our public spaces. We cannot walk slowly toward our urban future by thinking like a suburban holdout. We need to see what climate change, energy and transportation issues require of us and then leapfrog at least a generation of slow-lane thinking.