MAILBAG

I really liked your International Walk to School Day story about McKinley Elementary School (“Walking the path to fitness and education,” Oct. 6).

My friends were calling all day about seeing my picture on the cover. The one thing that seems to have been left out was the name of the person who organized the entire event.

Brenda Outwater is part of the PTA but went above and beyond and coordinated the muffins, juice, tables, cloths, bowls, stickers for the kids and all the personnel to man each corner around the school. She also got the Los Angeles Equestrian Center to donate tea cakes, coffee and ceramic mugs. She was the one working so hard for two weeks and did not get a mention in your article. I don’t know what you could do to correct this situation but if there were something, it would be appreciated.

ROB OUTWATER

Burbank

It was laugh-out-loud time when I read of EarthLink’s claim that free citywide Wi-Fi service in Burbank was either impossible or “simply unworkable” (“Utility meters go wireless,” Saturday).

Of course they’re going to say that. A free service would be bad for business. If Burbank sets up free Wi-Fi, then there’d be no earthly reason why any resident would subscribe to another Internet service — like, say, one from EarthLink?

It would be dumb. So of course Internet-access companies are going to be against the idea of free Wi-Fi.

They’d love it, though, if they were allowed to join with the city in a paid plan. That way, they’d get cut in on a share of it, and we’d end up with another citywide monopoly — just like the cable company.

That’s the reason why outside companies are lobbying for a paid Wi-Fi program. Don’t fool yourself, that’s exactly what they are starting to do. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out just what’s going on here. And it’s the typical Burbank setup.

We’ve seen it before here in town: Come up with a good idea as a pretext, in this case the prospect of free Wi-Fi. Then, shoot it down in order to shift the argument to what’s really the intended goal. In this case, it’s another preferential profit center for someone.

But Burbank shouldn’t fall for it. If we are interested in establishing citywide Wi-Fi, it only makes sense if it were free. Otherwise, we’re just helping subsidize another big company somewhere — and who’d want to use it, anyway? Either make Wi-Fi free, or drop the idea altogether. To me, a government-run, fee-based program of Internet access, with profits bled off into the private sector, sounds like the worst of both worlds.

Our City Council should realize that if they initiate fee-based Wi-Fi, they are only creating another monopolistic utility. That’s the idea. But if we’re going to have to pay for it, we’ll take our business elsewhere.

JIM CARLILE

Burbank

On Tuesday afternoon, I passed the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Niagara Street and noticed three Burbank Water and Power employees, with two trucks, at an open fire hydrant pouring water into the street. There was a lot of water running everywhere. About 15 minutes later, I returned and nothing had changed.

After hearing for months how California is facing a water crisis and how we must conserve, I was concerned about the obvious waste I was seeing.

I stopped and asked the men, one of whom was sitting in a truck apparently doing nothing, and the other two standing by the hydrant doing nothing but watching the water run, why are you running all this water into the street? They thought it very funny that a mere ratepayer would dare to question them about such things, but they explained that they were flow-testing the hydrant to be sure it was operating properly.

I can understand the need to test the hydrants, but I asked why, if water is so short, can’t the water be run into a tanker truck and reused, rather than just running it down the drain? They answered that the tanker truck would be filled in a matter of minutes and this would be impractical.

If they were there for about half an hour running water at a rate that would fill a tanker truck in a few minutes, imagine how much water was wasted. Multiply this times the number of hydrants in the city and you have a lot of wasted water.

If we are to be asked to conserve, and our rates are to be increased, which is surely coming, shouldn’t everyone, including Burbank Water and Power, participate?

One last thing, why do they send three men and two trucks to do the job one qualified person could do?

BILL MURRAY

Burbank


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