Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | June 21, 2004

Liberal: It’s not a dirty word

Here are the top two definitions of the word “liberal” from dictionary.com:

• Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

• Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

It doesn’t sound like a horrible thing, now does it?

Like Robert Reich, who recently appeared on “The Daily Show” to promote his new book, “Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America,” I’m tired of liberal being treated like a dirty word.

Despite frequent letter-to-the-editor writers who seek to tar those with whom they disagree with the liberal label, I think liberals should proudly accept the name and own their ideas.

And I think I need to stop at BookSmart and to buy a copy of Reich’s book.

***

I’ve been mystified by the editorial page flap over CALSTAR. As a recent article by reporter Peter Crowley detailed, the service is undeniably lifesaving and, in an emergency, priceless.

But a CALSTAR rescue does carry a price tag and it’s a high one. I don’t think these two positions are mutually exclusive. I can’t figure out why it has inspired so many letters to the editor.

Can’t we use our outrage about high price tags on something else, say, the proposal to spend nearly $30 million on a new Gilroy police station?

***

Which brings me to Councilman Bob Dillon’s recent letter to the editor calling The Dispatch editorial board “a Cassandra chorus” for consistently opposing the Gilroy police station’s ever-spiraling price tag.

It just shows that it’s all in your perspective.

It sure seems to me that Gilroy City Council is the Cassandra chorus, failing to heed plaintive warnings that the police station project is out of control.

But I will admit that Dillon’s Cassandra chorus reference was cute, and alliterative to boot.

***

I’m stunned that the high-speed rail advocates say it’s too early to begin talks with Union Pacific about running a parallel bullet-train track.

“We are not in a position where we would be ready to enter into negotiations with any freight railroads this early in the environmental process,” the rail authority’s Dan Leavitt said last week.

Have these people not studied the frustration South Valley officials have endured in trying to get permission to run more Caltrains on UP’s lines? For years, South Valley officials have sought permission to increase the number of trains on the lines south of San Jose, which UP controls. They’ve gotten nowhere.

So, if there’s any hope at all of UP allowing parallel tracks on its corridor, the time to start those negotiations is sooner, not later.

***

Kudos to the City of Morgan Hill, which recently won two important land-use court decisions.

The state Supreme Court denied Gilroy auto dealer Scott Lynch’s attempt to stop construction on a Ford dealership under construction on Condit Road, just northeast of the U.S. 101 and Dunne Avenue interchange.

That’s good for Morgan Hill’s sales tax revenue and therefore good for Morgan Hill taxpayers.

The other victory carries, potentially, even farther-reaching implications. The Federal Ninth Court of Appeals has declined – again – to hear an appeal by San Jose Christian College in its suit fighting Morgan Hill’s decision not to rezone the former Saint Louise Hospital at U.S. 101 and Cochrane Road.

The college claimed the city’s zoning decision was a violation of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The city claimed it was within its rights to retain the medical zoning for the land.

The only avenue of appeal left to the college is to ask the United States Supreme Court to decide the case. It’s an expensive proposition for the college and the city, and I hope SJCC, which has found another new campus, decides to end the legal battle.

***

I’ll end with the Supreme Court’s desperate duck on the Pledge of Allegiance case. An atheist sued to have the words, “under God” removed from the pledge. I do not understand how the issue of contested custody, which never seemed to bother lower courts enough to prevent them from issuing a ruling, suddenly became so big that the Supreme Court could not ignore it.

The Supremes get lifetime appointments and big bucks to tackle important, difficult and divisive issues, not to avoid them on technicalities. No matter which side of the “under God” issue you’re on, I’d think you’d have to be disappointed in the justice’s non-decision. Unless, perhaps, you’re running a presidential campaign – then you just might have jotted some thank-you notes.

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