Thursday, April 6, 2006
THE HAIR APPARENT
I want to express appreciation for your excellent coverage of the talk by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia at the Steinbeck Center last week [“Political Poet,” March 3-April 5]. Chairman Gioia’s message—that the arts are important for the health of both the individual and society—is most important in this age when our schools have neglected arts education and when, in Gioia’s words, there is “a vast impoverishment of public culture.”
I would also like to set the record straight regarding my sitting at Gioia’s table. As much as I would have been honored and pleased to be there because I was “a pony-tailed poet,” in fact I was there in my capacity as vice president of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit arts organization which strives to enrich public culture by preserving Tor House, Hawk Tower and their collections; by promoting the literary and philosophical legacy of poet Robinson Jeffers for the enrichment and enlightenment of the public; and by serving the community as a cultural resource.
It should be noted that Mr. Gioia has strong ties to Tor House Foundation. In 1999 he served as final judge for the annual Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry; in 2001, he gave a Tor House sponsored talk (“Does Poetry Matter?”) and poetry reading at the Pine Inn in Carmel; and, for a brief period before his appointment as chairman of NEA, he served as a member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Thanks again for your support of the arts. We need, as Chairman Gioia urged, to put the artists and scientists back into the public realm. —Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts | CITY TK
Wal-Mart represents the low road to economic development [“Built on Lies,” March 30-April 5]. Wal-Mart’s way is the irresponsible way: pay low wages, outsize local competition, take in record profits, and let the taxpayers pay for its employees’ healthcare.
We have many service employers on the Monterey Peninsula—none of them pulling in anything close to Wal-Mart’s profits—that have chosen a higher road. There are a dozen Peninsula hotels, for instance, that fully fund their employees’ health insurance, including employee family coverage.
Wal-Mart could easily do that. It chooses rather to pocket the cash and let the rest of us deal with the consequences. Wal-Mart cheats taxpayers and undercuts the good responsible employers, wherever Wal-Mart goes.
It is no wonder that citizens and leaders across the Peninsula are saying: We don’t want Wal-Mart here.
As for the Marina Wal-Mart project, there are certainly more options than, “What’s done is done,” and “it’s all legal, so there’s nothing we can do.”
A legal investigation or challenge may be in order, as Marina representatives and the public were misled by the property owner. Rezoning can make sure we are providing the legal groundwork for the kind of businesses we want to see in our cities.—Mark Weller | Seaside
ILLEGAL WORKERS ARE CRIMINALS
Letter writer John Kimber says that we, the legal citizens of this country, benefit from what he calls the “civilizing effect of the gentle and wonderful Mexican and Chicano culture” [Letters, March 30-April 5]. I only wish I could share Mr. Kimber’s naiveté, but the facts do not allow me to.
According to the Department of Justice, nearly 28 percent of federal inmates are illegal immigrants. These are violent men incarcerated for rape, murder, stealing, dealing drugs and destroying property.
One need look no farther than Salinas, a city with a high percentage of immigrants, many of which are undoubtedly illegal. In 2004, there were 11.4 murders per 100,000 residents, more than twice the national average of 5.5. In that same year, Salinas posted a rape number 50 percent higher than the national rate with robberies and aggravated assault at roughly twice the national rate. It’s worth noting that the victims of many of these crimes were probably law-abiding legal immigrants. We need to have a way to screen out likely criminals from decent people. If we don’t, then the positive contributions of the upstanding Mexican immigrant will forever be tainted by the evil that sneaks in alongside of him.—Jamie Traina | Monterey
Editor’s note: A big percentage of federal inmates who are illegal immigrants are there for violating immigration laws, not for murder, rape, etc..There is no evidence that crimes in Salinas are being committed by undocumented residents.