City Council should ban use of plastic bags
In response to an article by Joe Piaseki, "City hesitant to regulate plastic bags," published Nov. 25, I would urge La Cañada Flintridge to ban plastic bags. The issue of plastic bags involves more than litter.
Plastics are not biodegradable once they end up in landfills or the marine ecosystem. Almost every bit of plastic ever made still exists. Plastic bags kill sea animals that become entangled with them or mistake them for food. Plastic bags that enter our marine environment eventually change into small fragments, which in some areas of the ocean outweigh plankton by over 40 times.
The Great Pacific garbage patch has 3.5 million tons of trash, and 80% of it is plastic. It is at least as large as Texas, and perhaps larger than the continental United States.
The cost of disposing plastic bags costs California millions of dollars. Californians use 19 billion plastic bags every year. That's 600 bags per second. Numerous recent international, national, state and local reports have called for the banning or drastic reduction of plastic bags due to their environmental damage.
Plastic bags, which are made from natural gas or oil, consume an energy equivalent of thousands of barrels of oil a day just to meet California's consumption. Around 100 billion petroleum-based plastic checkout bags are used each year in the United States, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year.
Washington, D.C.'s 5-cent tax on plastic bags, instated a year ago, has already proven to have a phenomenal impact: The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments dropped from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. The tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue.
Plastic bags are costly in terms of energy used, disposal and leaving behind a plastic legacy in our oceans, waterways, and wildlife. They are a big problem with a simple solution. Although reusable bags are readily available, most people still choose plastic bags because of convenience. If the consumer has to pay for a plastic bag, it is more likely that people will bring their own bags.
I suggest that Mayor Voss and the City Council study this issue. And, if there are others that agree with me, then they need to encourage the city of La Cañada Flintridge to join the Los Angeles County ban on plastic bags.
La Cañada Flintridge
City's peafowl plan is misguided
I am the owner and founder of the Peacock Information Center (peafowl.com) in Minden, Iowa. I was sad to read the story online on the peafowl issues associated with the birds I love so much in your community. Today my entire India Blue Peafowl flock comes from 24 peachicks rescued from your community in the 1990s.
I have been called a leading expert on peafowl/peacock information. I have been a paid peafowl consultant for several communities and for individuals all over the USA and world on peafowl-control issues.
My ongoing research has me studying and publishing information on the behaviors of captive and open range/wild peafowl worldwide. As part of my research, I have been following the life and times of wild peafowl in several communities around the USA.
I have visited your community several times and I am very sympathetic to residents on both sides of the peafowl issue in your community. In addition, the city's Peafowl Management Plan that was implemented two years ago prescribed a flock size of 12-14 birds which included four males. I consider that a bare minimum to sustain a population.
The newly-revised plan calls for a total of only nine birds, including three males, which is dangerously small. If even one of those males were taken by a predator, by disease, an accident, by a disgruntled resident or by the natural aging process, the flock would be in a very precarious state.
The new plan is misguided in emphasizing that residents should not feed the birds. A peafowl's diet consists mainly of insects, grass and green plants, all of which are abundant in the problem locale. Any feeding by residents would constitute such a small part of the birds' diet as to be insignificant. The flock is not going to leave as long as their natural food supply remains abundant.
My recommendation is that the flock size be maintained at four males plus 8-10 hens as a safe and sustainable compromise population. I will be happy to help in any way I can.
A Christmas wish for photos of long-gone display
I have many La Cañada Flintridge friends that fondly remember the Lewis family Christmas display on Crown Avenue and Santa Inez Way. Back in the '60s we did not have digital cameras to capture such delights and upload for our friends around the world to see in a nanosecond.
My appeal to Valley Sun readers is to send in photos of the Lewis family display and ornaments that could be scanned, saved and shared via Facebook or other online sites.
If I could have a super Santa wish, it would be that the original display could be tracked down from the last known source, The Eagle Rock Plaza, and restored. However, if it is truly long-gone, are there others in the area who might want to try to create another Christmas wonderland display for present and future generations to enjoy? Architecture model builders, Caltech engineers and other artists and creative, crafty folks could put their energy together and make the holiday magic appear again. I do believe in miracles!
Scanned photos of the Lewis display can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merry Christmas to all.
Editor's note: A photo of the Dickens Village and its creator Reece Lewis can be found in the "10-20-30" history feature of this week's Valley Sun.
Happy to have Prager as neighbor
What a delight it was to read the Valley Sun interview with Dennis Prager.
He very eloquently obliterated all of the naïve liberal talking points the reporter offered regarding conservatism. Mr. Prager clearly illustrated that conservatism is the modern-day vision America's Founding Fathers had for our nation.
He also demonstrated that conservatives are guided by reason while liberals a guided by their feelings. Liberals feel that minimum-wage laws are right, even though such laws always cause unemployment to increase. Liberals feel that man is causing Earth to warm, even though the planet has been cooling for at least a decade. Liberals feel that massive government spending can improve our economy, even though Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama have made mattes worse and devalued the dollar. Liberals feel that welfare helps, even though Lyndon Johnson's trillion dollar "war on poverty" has had no impact on poverty and has in fact created a permanent welfare class. The list goes on ad nauseum.
Modern-era conservatives, beginning with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan a half century ago, have made these points consistently and persistently. Yet, liberals have refuted conservatives with a combination of senseless arguments and personal attacks. Sadly, until the growth of talk radio and cable TV, liberals dominated the news media, which they have poisoned with their emotion-driven collection of "values" that have brought America to its knees.
As Mr. Prager stresses every day on his radio show, conservatism is a truly compassionate political philosophy that is consistent with the nature of mankind. He's right! Look around the world, and you will see that freedom has brought happiness and abundance everywhere it has been tried. By contrast, liberalism has brought equality of misery everywhere it has been tried.
Thank you Mr. Prager. I am truly pleased that you have chosen to live in my neighborhood.
David C. Wilcox
Clarifies position on district's money plea
Last week I had an opportunity to talk with Valley Sun reporter Andrew Shortall about the La Cañada school district plea for money. In his article Mr. Shortall quotes me as saying that I favor asking La Cañada Flintridge residents to pay more money to close the budget gap. That is incorrect. What I actually said was that I favor the school district asking La Cañada Flintridge parents contributing money beyond their taxes to help bridge the $6 million gap in the LCUSD budget.
As a former school board trustee in a New York suburban town, I recognize that the bulk of the budget is in salaries, leaving very little to cut, especially in a $6 million gap situation. What I told Mr. Shortall is that the board of education needs to make some very tough decisions about staffing and move to cut teaching and other staff positions. I also recognize that this is not a very popular thing with parents who insist on smaller class sizes. But anyone who has run a business or a household knows that when times get tough, expenses must be cut and sacrifices must be made. We can't always have what we want, and budget cuts are inevitable.
There are some possible solutions. One that comes to mind is the establishment of a charter school district where the teacher's union would possibly no longer be a factor. But for now, there is only one solution and that is to cut staff. And we need to recognize this is a reality simply because families in these tough times can not afford to contribute enough to make up for a $6 million budget shortfall.
As a former education editor of a community newspaper the size of the Valley Sun in the same town where I served on the school board, I'd like to add that Mr. Shortall did an excellent job of reporting, except however, for the fact that he misunderstood what I said when I said I approved of parents kicking in to help maintain school services they want to preserve. I did not, and do not, advocate a widespread attempt to ask all residents to contribute to this money raising effort as that would make it uncomfortably like an attempt to informally raise taxes.
Finally, as an educator, I know from experience that class-size increases are tough on teachers, but do not seriously impact quality education. My former friend and superintendent of schools back when I was on the school board was once asked about his idea of an ideal class size. His response: "A ideal class size is one teacher and one student — anything else is too large." We cannot afford individualized tutoring in La Cañada Flintridge, and we also can not afford the luxury of small class sizes and a bloated payroll when we have a $6 million budget gap. It is as simple as that.
Al Restivo, Ph.D.
La Cañada Flintridge
Editor's note: The Valley Sun stands behind Andrew Shortall's story as it was printed.