This guy can afford the cost of a muffin
The establishments interviewed in your article ("Music licensers seek payments," July 26) are looking at royalty licensing all wrong. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are all responsible for paying composers royalties for their works. This was much more easily done before the digital age, when the time to make a cassette copy took 60 times as long as sharing one between sound files. These agencies are now keeping up with the times by asking establishments with live music to pay a licensing fee to allow copyrighted music to be played without penalty, not to guard against the possibility of one copyrighted song to be sung or played.
Since Kees Docter is not paying his musicians to play at his venue, how does he expect them to earn a living by discouraging them from publishing their own songs?
A cost of $383 a year, or $1.04 a day, is a mere pittance to pay for live music. That's more or less the profit made from one muffin. I'm certain Kees Docter is selling at least one extra muffin a day by having live music at his bakery.
New York City/California Valley
True faith doesn't demand cash
I understand Sally Ysalde's concern about taking God off the currency and out of the Pledge of Allegiance ("Wake up to this changing America," July 26). But I would ask, is it not equally offensive to those who don't believe in God to be told that they do every time they drop a dollar for a Big Mac?
Faith is mysterious, elusive, and ephemeral. Is your faith so weak that you need to see it on your coins and dollar bills? If it's real, no reminder should be needed.
Keep up with the good work on water
Kathy Johnston, your article in the July 26 New Times ("Opening the floodgates") was a masterpiece of research and writing. It was by far the most informative article we have read to date. It had information that we had not known about, such as "reserve capacity" things are even worse than we had ever thought.
Our current rate structure in Paso Robles is probably the worst arrangement possible for property owners who try to conserve and a wonderful deal to large users, both residential and commercial.
Another water issue you may want to explore is the Shandon/California Aqueduct project. We will be looking forward to your next article.
I'm glad for the public access mediation
I am writing about the Public Access news that has been reported ("Don't believe the gripes," commentary, July 26). My information is different I am a producer of the program Latino Issues and my show is on the air because of the help of the Bearce family.
I met the Bearces seven years ago when they were filming a show on breast cancer in Spanish. This was the first show to try to reach the Spanish-speaking population. Sadly, it was not shown. We began talking about other community issues that could be shown on Public Access, and I began to help them with contact information and events. They were extremely helpful and always followed through covering stories. This was all on a volunteer basis!
As time went on, I was featured on their show and helped produce some of them. They helped me to have the confidence to host my own show, even though I was reluctant to do it. Having a positive Latino presence on TV is very important to the community. My show concentrates on Latino leadership, and I spotlight leaders in SLO County who may not be well known to others. It has been well received by all.
Leslie and Christina Bearce have continued to help me through all the recent controversy. They know that it is important to keep quality shows on the air.
It makes me happy that there is now mediation going on to help Public Access. It has been a wonderful way to get information on all different topics to the people. Diversity is really important, and I hope the public will support the efforts that are going on at this time.
Linda Villanueva Quesenberry
Can't live without Sgt. Snorkel?
Inasmuch as The Tribune no longer carries "Beetle Bailey" and "Herman" in their comics page, for the lovers of these strips who enjoyed the daily ritual, "Beetle Bailey" can be found in The Fresno Bee, available at your local newsstand. They also carry "Wizard of ID" and "B.C." and some of our coastal news.
John W. Budlong
Universal health care is friendlier and more efficient
I'm writing to express my support for Sheila Kuehl's California State Senate Bill 840 and shed a little light on what it could mean for Californians to have universal coverage.
Recently I had the "opportunity" to experience how it could be for Americans if we had universal health coverage. My husband, a professor at Cal Poly, and I went to Australia for his sabbatical. I took five weeks to go to East Timor to visit a friend working for the U.N. and check out volunteer opportunities. I ended up suffering a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Needless to say, having a life-threatening condition in a third-world country is pretty scary. When I made it back to Australia, I suddenly began to worry about the costs I would be incurring in a first-world country (I have Blue Cross and knew I had to pay all expenses in advance and hope for reimbursement later).
I had two hospital stays, three CT scans, X-rays, ultrasound studies, pulmonary function tests, medications, and doctor visits from January to June, and the total bill came to $4,500. My bill was easily calculated on my way out of the hospital at the cashier counter.
The whole experience was so simple that it felt surreal. The doctors I worked with, both public and private, were for the most part fantastic.
We all could pick our own doctors, the fees would be reasonable, and prescription drugs would be reasonably priced because the government would negotiate for bulk rates. We would all know what to anticipate, health care workers would have improved job satisfaction, the stress of facing insanely high medical bills at a time when one is trying to recuperate would be removed, and you could change jobs and not worry about transferring to a new insurance, or being denied insurance due to preexisting conditions.
State Senate Bill 840 for universal coverage for Californians needs everyone's support. I was unlucky enough to have medical issues that forced me into using a government administered universal health care system, and lucky enough to find that the system was excellent.
Here's some car care/political advice
For the last few people in America who can't get their Bush/Cheney '04 bumper stickers off, here's a little advice from one patriot to another: Start by warming the sticker with a blow dryer. Pick at the corner with a fingernail or plastic spatula (not a razor blade) and squirt a little naptha (lighter fluid) between the sticker and your bumper. Peel it back slowly, and if you're patient, you can get the whole thing off in one piece. Some products that are available to deal with the sticky residue are Goo-Gone, Duck Remover by the Duck Tape Company, and two products from 3M their general adhesive remover, and a citrus-based remover if you're so inclined.
Believe it or not, baby oil will also work, as will peanut butter. In any case, finish by buffing your bumper with a little polishing compound and a fresh coat of wax, and remember next time: People deserve the government they voted for.
More testing is needed
In response to "Pismo officials explain the path to pigeon decision" (Tribune, July 22):
Poor ocean water quality at Pismo Beach is a public health and safety issue that concerns everyone who lives in and visits this seaside community. San Luis Bay Surfrider Chapter has been participating in Pismo Beach's Ocean Water Quality Committee since its inception in September of 2006. We are glad to be a part of this committee as we bring to the table more than 20 years of experience on this issue from Surfrider National.
What we have learned about water quality issues is this: You must find the source or sources of the pollution in order to correct it. With so many potential sources in the Pismo Beach equation, including waterfowl pollution in Pismo Creek, agricultural runoff to the creek in the watershed, the county's sewage outfall less than one mile out in the ocean at Pier Avenue in Oceano with a constant south to north Davidson current flowing, waterfowl in the nearshore and outer waters, leaky sewer lines, septic tanks, stormwater runoff (winter only), and pigeons on Pismo Pier, DNA testing and specific point source testing is required to isolate the causes.
To gain more information, we have been diligently collecting water samples from the South County area, targeting Pismo Beach in particular for more than a year now. We have also had many beachgoers, especially surfers, fill out our Ocean Illness Form. We have shared this information with the city and county in the hopes that they will sense the gravity of this issue and allocate more funding toward testing and solving the problem.
With regard to Pismo Beach City Council's decision to eradicate pigeons, Surfrider Foundation's opinion and position is and has always been that the pigeons, if anything, are only a small piece of the puzzle, and we do not and have not supported anything other than the "Do Not Feed the Birds" ordinance passed by the Council. This was the Council's sole decision, not one made by Surfrider Foundation or the Ocean Water Quality Committee. Surfrider does, however, support other humane methods of managing the pigeons, such as habitat reduction or removal, improved waste management practices, and public education.
Blue Water Taskforce coordinator
Surfrider Foundation, San Luis Bay Chapter
'Bring them on' brought Iraq civil war
Four years ago, President Bush issued this brazen and ill-advised challenge to the Iraqi insurgents: "There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."
That comment was one of many made by the president that reflected his lack of understanding about the difficulties posed in the invasion. On July 2, 2003, more than 200 U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq. Today, the number stands at 3,651.
In July 2003, Gallup reported that the number of Americans who believed things were going badly in Iraq had risen to 42 percent, up from 29 percent in June. Today, a whopping 77 percent of the American public believes the war is going badly.
Bush has since acknowledged that his "bring them on" rhetoric sent the wrong signal to people. But while conceding his rhetorical screw-ups, he has failed to understand the strategic changes that are needed.
The continued escalation of American forces has made Iraq more dangerous. Countless experts have informed Bush that there is "no military solution" Iraq.
Proponents of staying the course in Iraq have been waging a propaganda campaign to distort the reality on the ground, urging Americans to look beyond the spiraling violence and the increasing numbers of U.S. casualties.
The realty is that the U.S. presence on the ground in Iraq has fomented a deadly civil war, and it is well past time to begin the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Instead of passively waiting for Iraq's national leaders to make the political decisions they have shown themselves fundamentally incapable of making, the United States needs to implement a strategic reset aimed at using U.S. power to protect our core national interests.