Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | July 19, 2005

Quick takes

This week I’ve assembled quick reactions to items from all over.

• The debate about towing from a privately owned downtown Gilroy parking lot leads me to wonder why City Council hasn’t embraced the obvious solution of using its newly expanded eminent domain powers to force the sale of the lot to the city. After all, free, no-towing-risk parking will bring more visitors to downtown Gilroy, thus improving private businesses’ sales and increasing city sales tax revenue. That’s enough to justify a forced sale, according to five of the nine Supreme Court justices.

• In a July 1 letter to the editor, Ron Chafee wrote, “Do women realize that no matter what age they are, it really isn’t proper to wear jeans that show body parts when they sit down or bend over?” While I agree with the adage “Crack is bad,” and I really don’t like to know what color or style of underwear anyone is wearing at any given time, I hasten to add that all of these things apply equally to men and women. I clearly remember a Saturday Night Live skit from at least two decades ago in which the low-slung jeans problem belonged to an appliance repairman played by Dan Aykroyd.

• In the same letter, Chafee also asked, “Does the border patrol ever drive into the hardware store lot to check the legal status of the immigrants standing around there?” How does Chafee know by looking that anyone is an immigrant? Between this question and two others about immigrants, I think that Chafee should stop worrying about other people revealing their lower cleavage and start worrying about what his questions reveal about himself.

• In a July 5 letter to the editor, Michael Allen links Sept. 11 and Iraq, which will please President Bush and his deputies, but which ignores the reality that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the outrageous terrorist acts on that terrible day. It’s ironic that two days after Allen’s letter ran, our closest ally in the Iraqi war, Britain, suffered the London subway bombings, which investigators believe were the work of homegrown Muslim extremists. The war in Iraq is not keeping our closest ally safe from attacks by Muslim extremists, as any Londoner can tell you.

• “Go after those who allow their dogs to do damage, and leave us responsible citizens alone,” Steve Evans wrote in a letter to the editor responding to an editorial making sensible safety recommendations for ownership of pit bulls. A June 23 article the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a 20-year federal study that showed that pit bulls were responsible for one-third of human fatalities by dogs reported from 1979 and 1998. People aren’t allowed to keep dangerous wild animals in their homes, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that pit bulls belong in that category. I can’t imagine how much more evidence society needs before we take additional steps to prevent problems with this breed with an appalling track record.

• If it’s illegal to reveal the name of a covert CIA operative, why haven’t charges been brought against columnist Robert Novak, who, according to multiple news reports, first published Valerie Plame’s name in his column two years ago? This is not a politically motivated rhetorical question; it’s something I often wonder but never see addressed in any of the coverage of this story. I’m as big a defender of the First Amendment as you’re likely to find, but I also understand that free speech is not absolute. For example, lawyers, priests, doctors and others cannot reveal certain information that they receive when performing those roles. The loss of a covert CIA operative is a huge financial loss and terrible risk to our national security.

• I’ve been following the controversy about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s contracts with muscle magazines. My husband takes great comfort in knowing that in this difficult economy, even the rich and famous have to take extra jobs to make ends meet.

• Finally, my hat’s off to Gilroy Councilman Robert Dillon, upon whom I bestow the title of Baron of Brevity for his one-sentence, six-word July 15 letter to the editor: “Well, there goes the nutcake vote.” If only the letter writer to whom I assume he referred didn’t have a point about the importance of eminent domain as a local campaign issue in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent, regrettable ruling in Kelo v. City of New London.

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