Mailbag: Show stopped for taxpayers' sake

On behalf of the soldiers of the United States Army Field Band, let me tell you how upset we are that we were unable to perform for the great folks in the Huntington Beach area April 10 ("Show does not go on," April 14). Like many, many Americans, we watched anxiously last week to see if there would be a government shutdown. In the event of a shutdown, no travel or unauthorized expenditures of any kind may occur.

As responsible stewards of American tax dollars, when we travel by air, we negotiate a steeply discounted price that is usually nonrefundable. Faced with the likelihood of a government shutdown, we approached the airlines and they agreed to rebook the band and chorus at no extra cost if we made the change very early April 8. During the wee hours that day, a budget settlement had not been achieved and we were forced with a hard choice. We could delay our departure for three days at no cost to the government or hope a budget would be passed.

If that budget deal was not signed by the president by early Saturday morning, it would have cost taxpayers as much as $25,000 in lost nonrefundable tickets and new tickets bought at full price. Because online ticketing was used, it was possible to send a mass e-mail to ticket holders informing them of the concert cancellation.

In our 65 years of presenting free concerts for the American people, only a tiny handful have ever been canceled. The last one was during the 1995 government shutdown. The Musical Ambassadors of the Army are dedicated to our mission of telling the Army story through free concerts for Americans, but the "perfect storm" of a pending government shutdown and a probable large financial "hit" to the American taxpayer led me to cancel the first three concerts of our tour, starting with Huntington Beach. I hope our millions of supporters across the nation will understand that it was the interests of the American taxpayer that we had in mind.

Col. Thomas H. Palmatier

Fort Meade, Maryland

Editor's note: Palmatier is the commander and conductor of the United States Army Field Band.


A tribute to Vi Cowden

Vi Cowden passed away April 10 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. Vi was one of Huntington Beach's most courageous women. She flew military planes and delivered them from the West Coast to the East Coast during World War II. She was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP. She received many awards and a Congressional Gold Medal — the highest military honor, awarded in 2010.

She also parachuted at 89 years old. When her granddaughter asked her, "How was it?" she answered, "I didn't want to come down." She was extremely active in all efforts to make Huntington Beach a cleaner, safer and healthier city to live in. She joined the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, cleaning the beach for 10 years every Monday from November to March.

Vi was a Huntington Beach treasure.

Eileen Murphy

Huntington Beach


Trash is someone's pot of gold

I must respond to Lou Murray's article regarding Rainbow "stealing all of our gold" ("Rainbow isn't stealing our gold," Natural Perspectives, March 3). She mentions that we have not had an increase in fees due to our "good work" with recyclables. That may be the case, but our gold is most assuredly being stolen; however, Rainbow is not the thief!

I live in the downtown area, and we have a very dedicated group of people who, on a weekly basis, systematically root through our recycle bins and steal the contents. While we are doing our "good job" and sorting our recyclables, which my husband and I take very seriously, we are simply making it very easy and convenient for these thieves to do their "job." They are clearly well-prepared individuals who come equipped with gloves, many bags for their loot and waiting pickup trucks. I guess the commodity market is indeed good.

I have mixed feelings about these folks, as I realize that perhaps the status of the economy has forced them to do this, but last time I looked, it is against the law, and we all know the city could use these revenues of which they are being robbed.

When I called the city about this, a very nice lady said that if I called when I saw it occurring she might have a chance to jump in her vehicle and try to find them. If by chance she did find them, she only had the authority to give them a warning, period. Gee, that's really scary for them, I'm sure. The bottom line is that perhaps our fees wouldn't have to go up if Rainbow was getting all of the recyclables that were being put out for them.

Suzanne Hart

Huntington Beach

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