April 1-8, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Save the Southland

FOR 10 years I have been a member of the Pismo Beach City Council. We subscribed to state water and depend on its availability like so many other municipalities. Our allocation has been cut by 80 percent. The Sacramento Delta, its deteriorating levee system and environmental concerns are jeopardizing water delivery to the southern half of the state.

Yes, the Delta smelt are a huge concern for many but so are the deteriorating levees. One earthquake could introduce liquefaction to this levee system and the end result would be devastating to the water delivery system. While on the council I came across a company that is in the business of land, landslide and levee stabilization. It can stabilize levees for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods, and their equipment can be launched from land, water or marshlands. Contact your local geological firm and ask them to direct you to "soil nail launching" to get more information, or look on the web.

There are many companies like this one that are spending their own money to research ideas on water conservation, delivery and sustainability. As I see it, Northern California is our last resource for sustainable water in the south. With 500,000 new residents each year coming to our state, long-term planning must start today and the levee stabilization must become a priority.

 Bill Rabenaldt,
San Luis Obispo


Texas Reader Outraged

THAT WAS the most out-of-touch snowboarding story I've ever read ("Snow and Tell," Cover Story, March 18). Kirkwood is one of Tahoe's best kept secrets? Cringe, cringe, cringe! Any snowboarder who can get down a bunny hill knows about Kirkwood. So who was the audience for this story? Snowboarders are laughing at it and no ones else cares. Way to look as unhip as you possibly can, Metro Santa Cruz.

Laurel Chesky,
Austin, Texas

Field of Gleanings

THOSE of us fortunate enough to live in the tri-county area are surrounded by the beauty of the open agriculture fields. For various reasons, as crop growing cycles come to an end, some of the fields, with fully mature produce, are left to be plowed under. Acutely aware of the bounty that is potentially left in the field, a local organization, Ag Against Hunger, organizes volunteers to pick these crops before the final plowing takes place. The harvested and perfectly edible crops are then transported to local food banks for distribution to the hungry and needy. This gleaning process takes place on various Saturday mornings and being notified about dates and locations is as easy as signing up on the AAH website. From firsthand experience, I can say it is a very worthwhile way for individuals, youth groups, military squads, friends and all other interested persons to spend a morning and the more people that arrive to help, the faster the truck fills up. Please join us.

Peter Hiller,

XM Scam

U.S. JUSTICE Department and Federal Communications Commission decisions allowing the XM/Sirius merger, thereby eliminating competition in the satellite radio market, are starting to impact consumers. As a longtime XM subscriber, I was dismayed to learn that Sirius XM would start charging $2.99 a month for their radio Internet-streaming service, a service formerly bundled with a paid subscription. The good news, so I thought, was that the service was being upgraded "to near CD quality" and that I could continue to receive it for free if I agreed to a longer commitment.

The Sirius XM offer came to me in the form of an email that stated "On March 11, 2009, the XM Radio Online listening platform will be upgraded to a higher quality digital audio and no longer included as a part of a base subscription at no charge. If you renew now at, you can continue to listen online for free for the length of term you choose--but only if you act quickly."

Since I went ahead and "locked-in" for a year, you might think I would receive the "higher quality digital audio"--but you would be wrong! I actually received a downgraded signal, of poorer quality than I had prior to the lock-in. This fact was not in the original offer email, or in any of the public Sirius XM information. Repeated calls and emails to customer service have revealed that this is no mistake, it affects thousands of customers (just search online for this issue), and I have no recourse but to pay the additional $2.99 if I want as-good-or-better service as I once had for free. Sirius XM actually performed a classic "bait-and-switch," duping their customers into a long term commitment promising one thing and then delivering another. I wish I could say antitrust proceedings would consider incidents like this in the future, but I have my doubts.

Fran Nelbach,
Mountain View

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