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July 22, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, July 22, 2005

Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor (July 22, 2005)


Many ways to help our veterans

Editor:

Thanks for the article on the patients at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital. As a World War II Marine and a volunteer at the VA hospital, I found it very interesting.

One point was not made: the Palo Alto VA Hospital is one of the four premier brain injury treatment centers in the United States. That is why the patients featured in your article are being treated in a veteran's hospital. These men are active-duty Marines.

Because of my volunteer activities and as a member of the Palo Alto Elks veterans service committee, I know both Jason Poole and Angel Gomez rather well. They are really great guys in the finest tradition of the United States Marines. Our committee is one of the many volunteer organizations working to make the stay of these men and women in the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury units a little less stressful and boring.

The Elks hold a bingo game once a month at the ward, and we are having at least 50 of the patients as our guests at BBQs in July, August and September. Besides the Elks, there are other service organizations such as the DAV, VFW, the American Legion Navy League, Women Veterans Units and the Paralyzed Veterans Organization working at the hospital. There are over 2,000 volunteers working in the Palo Alto veterans health care system.

The Fisher House mentioned in the article will be run by the hospital volunteers. In fact, there is a now a volunteer in the Brain Injury Unit every day to serve and help feed the patients.

Anyone who wants to help our veterans can volunteer. Those who want to help fund the Fisher House can make a contribution by going to www.fisherhouse.org and downloading a donation form. Dominick Garofano Preston Drive

Missed opportunity on Zanotto's

Editor:

I don't know whether Zanotto's or Long's was the best choice for our new downtown retail space on California and Bryant, but I do know that I was extremely disappointed with the reasoning council members used to make their choice. The discussion was a cost benefit analysis that focused almost completely on the short term and ignored basic principles of good downtown development.

Some council members repeatedly referred to the long-term property value effects of their choice as an "intangible" that they couldn't figure into their financial analysis. Good downtown development aims for stable or rising property values in order to raise revenue for better schools and city services, including affordable housing for those left behind.

One council member said, "I can't get around subsidizing one business." Another suggested that since the city can't support a grocery store in every residential neighborhood, it couldn't invest in a downtown grocer. Good downtown development invests in anchor tenants that draw people to downtown retail. Former staff and the city council invested in Printers Inc. as an anchor tenant. That paid off handsomely with a cluster of complementary bookstores. They now seem to be the most successful grouping of retail on Castro Street.

Food markets are common downtown anchors. In fact my dictionary defines an anchor store as a "large store," such as a supermarket, that is "prominently located ... to attract customers who are then expected to patronize the other shops."

I'm all for fiscal responsibility, but I'd like responsibility for the long- as well as the short-term. Laura Macias seemed to be the only council member interested in considering good long-term downtown development strategy. I hope that the rest of the council will join her in the future. Alison Hicks Church Street

We need a grocery store downtown

Editor:

I want to voice my disgust and anger at the city council's vote to select an offer from Longs Drugs for space in the downtown parking garage instead of a quality grocery store such as Zanotto's.

I live in the downtown area and would like nothing better than to have a place within walking distance where my family and I can buy groceries.

While I've lived in the neighborhood for the last 10 years, my wife grew up on Vincent Drive and recalls quite vividly her walks with her parents to the Lucky grocery store at what was then known as Palm Plaza on Castro Street between Mercy and Church streets.

I too remember walking to Palm Plaza with my wife, checking out the 5 & 10 cent store and dropping in at the grocery store to pick up some needed items. When that grocery store was finally closed, it left a big hole in the lives of those who had come to depend on its proximity and ease of access.

What I've noticed in the past 10 years is the large number of elderly who live in the area. Many of these were parents of my wife's playmates. Quite a few can still walk but need someone to drive them to get groceries.

A grocery store within walking distance would be a tremendous help to the elderly and to everyone else who lives in the area. Shouldn't the city council be looking after the interests of its citizenry, especially those whose age, health and other circumstances make driving an impossibility, instead of looking after the interests of a faceless, uncaring chain store?

I look at other nearby communities, such as Los Altos, whose downtown has Draegers and Safeway, and wonder why our community is being robbed of the possibility of regaining easy access to a store where we can buy both the necessities of life and some of the specialty items that Zanotto's offers.

I know one thing. I will be more focused on how our council votes on this and other matters that affect the quality of life in our city and, especially, in the downtown area. And I will both remember how they voted come election time and will work with others, like the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association, to expel those council members who vote against our interest.

Further, I will make every effort to ensure that new incoming council members have, at the minimum, expressed their support for our old-town values in their campaigns and the intention to carry that support through to their council votes. Myroslaw Ryndyk Velarde Street

Grocery would vitalize downtown

Editor:

What a boon it would be for the vitality of Mountain View's downtown to add an all-purpose grocery store with deli, as well as the newly proposed Longs Drugs. Then those of us who live or work nearby could walk to the market, reducing auto traffic and increasing sales tax income for the city.

As downtown markets tend to raise surrounding property values, we might end up with slightly higher property taxes. I would not mind paying a bit more in taxes, just for the joy and ease of shopping downtown (which I scarcely ever do now, other than for books and cards at Books Inc. and East West Bookshop). Alice Martineau Velarde Street

Illegal immigration causes big problems

Editor:

Jon Wiener's article, "The Immigration Gamble," fails to mention some of the problems caused by the onslaught of illegal aliens from Mexico and other countries. Here are just a few:

Living conditions: Many illegals are forced to live in squalor or on the streets. A recent article cites cases in Long Island, N.Y. where immigrants, illegal and legal, were living 64 to a three-bedroom house. People slept in shifts and caused the plumbing to overflow onto the street.

Health, education and welfare: Illegal immigrants cause an undue burden on the taxpayers of California to the tune of $10 billion a year to pay for these items. Money spent on bilingual education for illegals is money that can't be spent teaching math or physics. Hospital emergency rooms have been forced to close because illegal aliens use these facilities for routine health care because they know they can't be turned away. Where will you bring your injured child if El Camino Hospital is forced to close its emergency room?

Criminals: California prisons house 18,000 illegal aliens, who have committed additional crimes, at a cost to the taxpayers of $750 million per year.

It is my opinion that our taxes are being squandered on educating and caring for illegal aliens at the expense of our own families. Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Temecula) has introduced an initiative drive to create the California Border Police to combat illegal immigration. If you want more information about this initiative visit www.calborderpolice.com. Ron Lautmann Saint Julien Way


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