Sunday’s Letters to the Editor
SMART bike path
EDITOR: The Measure Q sales tax approved by voters in 2008 obligated SMART to provide a bicycle/pedestrian pathway between stations along with its rail service from Larkspur to Cloverdale, but local cycling advocacy groups now contend that SMART is not meeting that obligation (“Bicyclists upset at pace of progress on railside path,” March 25). The article’s comparison of the length of completed pathway to its projected completed total is neither the only nor the best measure of SMART’s failure, however. Measure Q’s Table 1 shows capital costs of $91 million for the “bicycle/pedestrian pathway” compared to $450 million for the “train project” — in other words, almost 17 percent of the total $541 million. So, Measure Q funds spent for pathway construction should be about 17 percent of the total spent for all construction.
Measure Q does not give constructing the rail line priority over constructing the pathway, and further provides: “If additional funds become available, the SMART Board will prioritize completion of the bicycle/pedestrian pathway.” SMART should account for additional funds received and what amounts went to prioritize the pathway.
SMART should show that it is fulfilling its obligation and honoring Measure Q’s commitment to the voters for a pathway.
JAMES L. DUNCAN
EDITOR: Jason Rezaian’s column about visiting San Quentin State Prison struck home (“Visit a prison; it sticks with you,” Wednesday). I became a prisoner sponsor back in 1984 and spent a lot of time visiting in San Quentin. Five years later Tony was released and I went from sponsor to friend. Many years later psychiatric drugs would tip the scales and result in the death of Tony’s beloved uncle. When he realized what he’d done, Tony wanted the death penalty. He got life without parole.
Nowadays we are merely brothers who talk on the phone. He’s living, permanently, in a North Carolina state prison. He wishes he was back in California. As bad as our prisons might be, they’re better than North Carolina. The origin of Tony’s travails is inextricably tied to a long history of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it helps to explain who we have locked up all over this country. During his brief freedom in California years ago I showed him around downtown Tiburon. I asked if he felt looked upon with racial inferiority. He said no. What bothered him was feeling looked upon with fear. Until you’ve taken a journey inside, as Jason did, you may never realize there are some sweet souls living inside those cages. For now, you may just have to take my word for it.
Support Global Fund
EDITOR: At the height of the AIDS crisis nearly two decades ago, the world came together to fight back, creating the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This international partnership has helped save 27 million lives since 2002. This is stunning progress, but we cannot claim victory yet.
HIV and TB treatments aren’t reaching everyone who needs them, and progress on tackling malaria has stalled. Since the beginning, the U.S. has played a leading role in the Global Fund, providing a full one-third of its financial resources. That must continue.