Tuesday, August 4, 2015     Volume: 16, Issue: 21
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Weekly Poll
Should local rapper Anthony Murillo be charged for making threats in a song?

Yes, a threat is a threat.
No, the First Amendment protects speech.
Maybe, depends on how serious the threat was.
If he made the threat in person, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

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Santa Maria Sun / Letters to the Editor

A marine sanctuary's the answer to ocean woes

Joey Racano, Director - Ocean Outfall Group -

The idea that we need a reason to protect the sanctity of our sea is preposterous. However, allow me to address it if only to humor the detractors, and their benefactors, their biologists, and apologists.

The one thing the oil companies, nuclear waste producers, and over-fishing industry does not want is decisive action to be taken to promote sea sanctity and sanity. They don’t want a sanctuary because it might, well, protect the sea! And they have discovered a way to keep such decisive action from being taken—ask for the specific cause of whale beachings. Ask for a specific cause for deep sea whales and fish like oarfish and beaked whales to be washing up on Catalina and the mainland emaciated. After all, it could be overfishing, radioactivity from Diablo or Fukushima, or ocean acidification from oil burning, or seismic testing from oil and gas exploration, or it could be from Navy ocean war games, or it could be elevated sea temperatures, farm runoff, urban runoff, sewage dumping, point source pollution, non-point source pollution, pulse disturbances, or press disturbances.

So what is it specifically? Darn impossible to tell. And so because of that, they expect you to take no decisive action to create a marine sanctuary. Well all of those impacts have a hand in creating the poor conditions that are killing our marine life. So the only thing to do is say, ‘here is a myriad of insults our ocean is being forced to endure, that taken together constitute an emergency.’ A state of ocean emergency. That is the specific reason we are in a state of emergency. And this state of emergency is the specific reason we need to move ahead with the Chumash National Marine Sanctuary. Let’s do it now.


Say no to rail or create enforceable mitigation

Marguerite Bader - President, League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County -

The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County shares the deep concerns of many in our community regarding the Phillips 66 rail spur project and the risks to the public that it entails. When deciding on the project, our local officials cannot ignore the tremendous increase in rail accidents, property damage, and deaths that have occurred from rail accidents in recent years.

The increase in oil shipments, the volatility of the oil being shipped, the use of old and vulnerable tanker cars to transport that oil, and the failure to upgrade infrastructure on our rail lines are all issues to be considered. Increased activity resulting from the rail spur project will expose hundreds of thousands of people and large areas of environmental sensitivity to a greatly increased risk of accident and damage.

Locally, the main rail line through San Luis Obispo County is one of the windiest and steepest in the state with trestles and bridges in serious need of upgrading. Schools, hospitals, and homes along the rail line in San Miguel, Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, and Nipomo would be put at risk.

The serious safety issues raised by the far-reaching impact of this project require that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors insist upon full and enforceable mitigation of these risks before approving the project. We say “enforceable” because it is unclear that county authorities can require structural studies of and upgrades to infrastructure or enforce speed limits on trains coming through our county. If county officials cannot enforce mitigation of the very real dangers that this project presents to our communities, they should not approve the project. To do so would be to risk real harm to all of us.