Letters tothe Editor

Stop Class Mongering

Published: September, 2002

Dear Editor:
I have read your publication since the beginning and find much to like — interesting and informative articles and sometimes exceptional writing from some of your contributors.

Recently though I notice a distasteful strain of class-mongering in your pages. This ranges from strident references to “...well-to-do Marinites...” to the mild but ham-handed “...Boulder (or Hoover for Republicans) Dam”. Much of this seems to center around the issue of bridge tolls and the idea that our government should take money from motorists and give it to ferry riders.

According to what my Mamma taught me, this is stealing. However, when we start talking about the Rich People in Marin, and “social contracts” some of us forget what Mamma said and feel justified in taking other people’s money. And so what if not all of them are rich; they shouldn’t be driving anyway, right?

Before you label me as some anti-environmental “SUV fetishist” let me point out that I live in Vallejo (not Marin), commute almost exclusively by ferry/bicycle and hopefully soon by bicycle alone. So I know a little bit about the car-centric culture and its negatives. And, there are many. But taking other people’s money is not only wrong, it is not the answer.

How did we end up in our choking car culture? The answer in large measure has to do with government taking money from some people and giving it to others to build freeways, establish right-of-way, take property by eminent domain, maintain an oil economy, etc. Amazingly enough this was thought to be in the public interest and therefore, OK, even if it was really stealing like Mamma said. Sound familiar?

Yes, I’m aware that my ferry trip is partly subsidized. I wish it wasn’t. I don’t want to ask other people to pay for my lovely ride home while they swelter in a traffic jam. No matter how thin you slice it, that’s still baloney.

So, if you’re not a ferry rider and are reading this publication for the first time please keep in mind that not ALL ferry riders want to ride at your expense. And Editors, please more pro-ferry facts and less socialism. You’re better than that.
John Albergo

The Class Mongerer replies: Thank you for a most thoughtful letter. Thanks also for your kind words, and your constructive criticisms are duly noted. You are the kind of reader we toil to attract, and this kind of letter is the strongest encouragement we could hope to receive.

Question: how far does your libertarian tax ethic go? Would you repeal all taxes, even those on tobacco? Gasoline? Would you do away with home mortgage deductions, the earned income credit? My point is that not only are taxes inevitable, but so are value judgments as to how they are to be levied.

Your erudite letter, all the more effective as you walk your talk by using public transit, does not diminish my belief that raising bridge tolls are the right thing to do. I don’t want to appall you, but I think they should be as much as $50 at rush hour, and, using FastTrak technology, perhaps one might even be paid to cross the bridges in the middle of the night. I think such ideas are the right way to both discourage bad social behavior (driving) while paying for things that are good for society (like ferries), just as taxes on tobacco have proven to be effective in reducing smoking while simultaneously paying for improved health and child care, etc.. To whip out a line from my Shakespearean past, fire will not melt the opinion out of me. Or to quote a more recent bard, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. And to one as good of heart and words as you, I hope you’ll join us.

You Go, Richmond

Dear Editor:
I just read your article on the Richmond Ford Plant. Very informative. It would sure be > great if ferry service could start again. I applaud the Ford developer for offering to buy a ferry boat or provide funds; maybe with that kind of commitment, the ferry will get the marketing and exposure it needs > to be successful I really enjoy Bay Crossings and hope to see more articles by Jim Mallory.
Jennifer Sobol

Yo Go, $5 Toll!
(and Bathtub Races)

Hey, I love it! I think a bathtub race would be fun. And I applaud you for supporting $5 toll. In fact, I proposed the $5 toll when I served as the GG Bridge Board of Directors President, in 1989. And for the same reasons — support transit, get cars off the bridge to make traffic flow for the remaining commuters. How many of the Marin professionals who commute each morning would not pay an extra $3 to gain a half hour of their precious time, which they would otherwise bill at $50 to $350 per hour (depending on profession?)
Carol Ruth Silver

New York Historic Barge Preservation Project

Dear Editor:
I enjoy your magazine. I wanted to share our amazing project with you! We welcome any interest you may have for upcoming issues.

The cleaner waters of the NY Harbor have had alot of negative consequences on wooden structures. This project is dealing with them and preparing the hull of our 1914 wooden barge against future attack by covering the hull after plank replacement with donated 1/8" KYDEX thermoplastic chemical resistant, high impact resistant sheathing. (the clam dredgers out in Long Island have been using it for years to beat the ice)

The Museum will complete the project and float to the Sept. 6-8th Tugboat Round-up Festival here in Waterford then head back to our home port in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the middle of September.
The museum has raised $155,000 to date. Total Barge Restoration Budget is $263,000. In-kind Donations received total $45,000. Currently $63,000 additional funds needs to be raised. Contributions can be made through our website at www.waterfrontmuseum.org or by calling the Museum at Drydock at 518 233 8492.

David Sharps, President
Waterfront Museum
518 233 8492

Jim Checkin’ In
Dear Editor:
Hi!! Awesome website and historical resource!
My great great-great-great-great uncle was William Rasmussen , piloted the first Yerba Buena from Emeryville to S.F. Any idea how i can find out more about him?
His dad, Rasmus Rasmussen, piloted tugs circa 1867. Bye for now,

Jimmy k.

Get it Strait

Dear Editor:
I hate to break this news to ya’all, but the Vallejo Ferry does not travel the Carquinez Strait. The entrance to Carquinez strait is at the Carquinez Bridge and the Vallejo ferry does a left turn and travels up Mare Island Strait (aka Napa River) to its berth each day. The ferry that should be traveling Carquinez Strait is the Benicia Ferry which we Benicians are still patiently waiting to arrive.
Jerry Hayes