Mailbag: Elephant rides needed to saunter off

Re. "Fair Board votes to stop elephant rides," March 23:

Kudos to the Orange County Fair Board for making the ethical decision to spare elephants from a grim life of billhooks and boredom. Science has shown the depth and reach of elephants' intelligence and emotional range.

Elephants are self-aware and empathetic, plan ahead and enjoy rich and complicated social systems. They mourn their dead. And they feel pain and distress when hit with billhooks — heavy batons with a sharp steel hook on the end that handlers use to keep them under control.

They miss the company of their family and friends when stored like inventory waiting to be rented out. And the only way to get a wild animal like an elephant to be docile enough to give rides is to break the animal as an infant — that is, literally to rope, beat and electrically shock a 1-year-old baby into submission.

Treating elephants — or any living beings — in this manner is indefensible, and the Fair Board did the right thing by putting this cruel system in the history books where it belongs.

I'm proud to live in a city that can muster the courage to do the right thing for elephants. Better yet, now I'll enjoy myself more when I go to the county fair.

Dave Simon

Costa Mesa


Elephants were not abused

Is it OK for cowboys to break and ride broncos so they can do a better job with their cattle?

OK to have seeing-eye dogs lead the blind or service dogs assist other handicapped people?

For police to use drug-sniffing dogs?

Or to train chimps to reach for this thing or that thing that are out of reach for paralyzed people?

OK for horses and oxen to do hard work to help many farmers across our country?

For horses to pull the Amish around in their buggies?

Or carriage drivers to haul honeymooners and tourists around?

For mules to carry tourists down into the Grand Canyon?

For the Navy to strap explosives onto dolphins and send them off to bomb enemy warships?

For the Army to train pigeons to carry messages for us in wars gone by?

For Arabs to use camels to carry them and their loads across the deserts?

For Eskimos to use their dog-sled teams across the snow?

For millions of us to keep cats and dogs around in the house just to keep us company?

I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift.

I believe most people of reasonable IQ will say yes to the above. It's OK to use animals for good purposes!

The recent decision of that majority in Costa Mesa to kick that gentle old elephant out and shut down the rides after these many years just fails the test of simple common sense. If anything, I'll bet that after a ride, those kids love and appreciate elephants all the more.

I've been to India and southeast Asia and have seen the hard work — the essential work — that elephants do. I've even ridden an elephant up a steep trail, lucky me. Are these elephants being abused? No! I appreciate elephants.

John Guy LaPlante

Newport Beach


Protest to save ship doesn't take neighbors into account

Re. "Protesters rally to save sailboat," March 25:

I am personally upset with our City Council and the legislative process that is allowing Dennis Holland to impose his inappropriate boat restoration on the neighborhood in which he lives.

He had a very bad idea to bring a large ship onto his small property, where he intended to restore it to its former splendor with no time frame for completion. Someone should have put him on notice, before the boat took root, that his small property was no place for this large vessel.

When he did this, he never gave a thought to the neighbors who may not enjoy seeing it towering outside their windows. In our neighborhood, a simple tree that becomes too tall or unruly can cause an action against the homeowner who allows it to become a distraction.

I do not live within five miles of his property (happy to say), and I don't know his neighbors, but they must be a lot nicer than I am because he and I would be at war early each morning until he agreed to move that mess. The sad fact that he has cancer does not give him the right to impose on his neighbors. I had cancer, and I never felt that it entitled me to any special privileges, so "that dog don't hunt."

He needs to step outside of his own self-interest and say, "How would I like having my daily life impacted by a bad decision my neighbor makes each day?" After six years of imposing on the neighborhood he needs to accept the fact that he won't finish this project and apologize for his lack of consideration.

There are boat docks down in the harbor where boat restoration is an appropriate activity. If Holland cannot afford to rent such a space, he is not the man for this project. The other protesters who gathered to whine about his plight are either the same self-important type people (bad neighbors) or just plain ignorant. I wonder how many of them would like to wake up to this or some other ugly mess outside their windows each day.

Give your neighbors some peace, and move that mess!

Cheryl Collins,

Newport Beach


Preserve open space

Re. "Greenbelt president warns of FBI wildlife corridor takeover," March 11:

I had to read your entire article today to confirm that Irvine actually wanted to preserve some raw land instead of handing it over to another developer to build houses. (There must be more to this story than meets the eye, but for now I'll accept that it could be true.) Given the facts as presented, the FBI should be encouraged to find another location for their terrorist training camp, perhaps Camp Pendleton. Or maybe somewhere along the border between California and Mexico! Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Linda Daniels

Newport Beach


JWA noise issues need new approach

Two letters in the March 14 issue of the Daily Pilot about John Wayne Airport, one by Treb Helning and the other by Vonna Hammerschmitt, both describing the maleffects of the airport on their daily lives.

Both of these Newport Beach residents echo the sentiments of most people living near this noise machine, the airport. They find the airport obnoxious, causing degradation of the environment. Air traffic cuts a wide swath through the center of the bay and the city causing distress and untold health damage to humans, animals and plants in a wide area.

The solutions to this problem that are being offered provide tiny, incremental changes, which usually involve another group which is adversely affected by change. Perhaps we need a bolder, more creative approach to this constant irritant.

Shirley Conger

Corona del Mar


Island beaches in decline

I have lived on the Grand Canal, on Balboa Island, for the past 65 years. Never in those 65 years have I seen the beaches along the waterway in such miserable condition.

Two years ago, at a low tide, I stood in the middle of the canal, in the 100 block, and the water was 1 inch deep. My wife took my picture, which I sent to my councilman, Ed Selich, asking for his help. I never got a response.

Since then, I have brought up the topic of the canal to the Balboa Island Improvement Assn. twice and asked Selich in person, at the Little Balboa Island Assn. meeting. The answers to my concern go as follows:

1.) We're working on it. The Rhine Chanel project is our priority, but we'll get to the canal.

2.) Eelgrass is the issue. As soon as we get permission. We're going to dredge the bayfront and the canal.

That was months ago. In the meantime, nothing happens.

Hundreds of people walk along the Grand Canal every day. It is an embarrassment, not only to the canal residents, but to all the citizens of Newport Beach.

Also, the sand erosion is so bad in places that the sand/dirt under the seawalls is actually washing away. Because Balboa Island is basically a big sand bar anyway, it's only a matter of time before a sea wall collapses or the side walks start to cave in, costing the city some big bucks.

We were told that after the first of the year, the city would come clean the scummy green moss off our beaches. Again, nothing.

Something is wrong when millions are spent on a fancy city hall, and Balboa Island beaches are allowed to turn into mud flats.

Mike Buettell

Balboa Island


Theaters with alcohol not family friendly

I am a longtime Newport Beach resident and have always frequented our local movie theaters regularly. My 16-year-old daughter did not have school Monday, so we spent the day at Fashion Island and thought it would be fun to see a movie at 1:30 in the afternoon. When we tried to buy tickets for the show at the new Island Cinemas, we were told that we could not see this movie as it was playing in a theater that contained an alcohol license and would not permit anyone without proof of being 21 and older. I attempted to explain that we would not be drinking alcohol and just watching the movie, but we were refused.

This was the second time that this has happened to my daughter at this theater. When the Island Cinemas first opened, she and her friends had bought tickets online for "Sherlock Holmes," which was rated PG-13, and when they arrived at the movies with the tickets in hand, they were told they could not attend and received a refund. They had made their plans and transportation arrangements based on the movie times.

While I appreciate that the Irvine Co. is concerned with keeping our local mall updated, they have made some choices that do not make it very family friendly, like removing the kiddie train and carousel. Do we really need to drink alcohol while watching a movie? Why do we need to make watching a movie so complicated with assigned seating, an attendant and food service?

Risa Groux

Newport Coast


The talk and frustration crescendo regarding the future of Obamacare as the United States Supreme Court huddles in preparation to make a decision that could determine the fate of the nation for years to come. In previous comments and letters I have tried to make it clear that most physicians favor some type of healthcare reform that will serve all of our citizens including those who can not afford it.

The opposition to Obamacare by many is that ,if you read all 2,000-plus pages, it is clear that the program is unaffordable and has many deceptions and plot twists. Two years after Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, and just prior to the Supreme Court oral arguments on its constitutionality, the administration is planning a media blitz about its "free, preventive" care for seniors and women, and restrictions on insurance. Meanwhile, opposition grows as people begin to learn more about what's really in it.

A few examples:

• The Congressional Budget Office doubled its 10-year cost estimate to $1.76 trillion.

•The cost of guaranteed-issue and community-rating mandates is estimated to reach $280 billion over the next decade; elimination of out-of-pocket coverage limits $51 billion; keeping 26-year-old "children" on parents' policies, $77 billion.

• Federal and state Medicaid spending would soar from $400 billion to $800 billion by 2022.

• As "grandfathered" plans are dropped, 42% of California employees have lost their pre-ACA coverage. California premiums increased a mean of $1,310 per family last year alone.

• Waivers were granted to more than 1,200 companies by January.

• In contrast to two pages of new agencies under FDR's New Deal, which transformed America, just one bill, the ACA, has more than 100 new boards and commissions.

Although the idea of health coverage for all is good, we need to write an act that is more feasible, reasonable and affordable.

Dr. Michael Arnold Glueck

Newport Beach

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