Closing Contra Costa fire stations is foolish

The voters of the ConFire District voted down a $75-per-parcel tax in November. The resulting station closures have created unhappiness and confusion.

It will only get worse when fire insurance premiums rise because of substandard coverage in the fire district. And how much will that cost everyone? The parcel tax would have provided for constant staffing of fire stations and the necessary equipment. Do higher insurance premiums provide firefighters and fire engines?

In Pinole, one of the few city fire departments in Contra Costa County, we have a continuous stream of political nonsense intended to cast Pinole firefighters in a bad light. Pinole pays some of the lowest compensation in the county. The failure to keep the Pinole Valley station open is a governmental failure to plan ahead.

Fire Chief Charles Hanley has successfully applied for a federal grant to help pay for these critical services for the next two years and has to suffer the criticism of a gadfly who has a personal grudge with the firefighters.

As a Pinole resident, I would heartily recommend the Pinole Fire Department merge with ConFire so we can dispense with the endless politics of "local control."

Sal Spataro

Pinole

Keys, a pianist, couldn't stand during anthem

I have to take exception to Muriel Kahsen's Feb. 18 letter, in which she excoriates Alicia Keys for not standing during her singing of the national anthem at the Super Bowl.


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While I certainly agree that we all should stand to honor America during "The Star-Spangled Banner," it appears to have escaped Kahsen's attention that Keys was playing a piano at the time. I can only imagine how she would have looked trying to stand and play at the same time.

It might interest readers to know that The Code for the national anthem of the United States, written and adopted in 1942, states, "Musicians playing the national anthem will stand when convenient to do so." Clearly, it is not always convenient or practical, as any piano or cello player will tell you.

I thought Keys' rendition was quietly powerful and served as a beautiful counterpoint to the usual frenzy that surrounds the game.

Matt Lovett

Pleasant Hill

One Bay Area meetings need more coverage

This letter is regarding One Bay Area meetings, which are not getting enough media attention, despite the fact they've been going on for more than one year. The meetings are in association with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments and others.

The visioning meetings, which are open to the public, will determine what the Bay Area, and beyond, will look like in the future. Putting in more bike trails and "stack-and-pack" housing are among the many hot topics. The items discussed will impact residents, for better or worse, depending on your view. Visit www.onebayarea.org for information about its next meeting.

One Bay Area -- some say a filtering down implementation of U.N. policies -- should be front-page news, considering its far-reaching effects. The outcome of these meetings will affect educational, transportation, governmental and health care systems; the energy market; food production; and more.

Moreover, some have accused One Bay Area of using the Delphi technique to "manufacture consensus" at the meetings. I went to one meeting and it did seem questionable whether they really wanted public input.

This is a big topic, and it ought to be getting more media coverage.

Julie R. Celleri

Vallejo

Sowell should be part of the paper

I join other letter writers in dismay at calls for the removal of Thomas Sowell from the pages of the paper.

You publish the opinions of several columnists whose views are antithetical to mine, but it would never occur to me to demand their removal.

One of the elements that separate a republic from a democracy is that all are free to express an opinion, popular or not.

Tyranny silences dissent; freedom does not.

Jay Miller

Pittsburg