Air security’s costs deserve scrutiny

Funding for air transportation security (about $6 billion) amounts to about 10 percent of appropriations for all homeland security (about $60 billion).

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, Americans have never flinched at the cost. Indeed, we tend to assume that money, technology and efficient business practices will solve almost any problem. Having provided the above, we can afford to relax.

This year, a superscanner with 360-degree scanning capacity looms on the horizon at the cost of $1.5 million per scanner! Is it the right answer or complete and utter overkill? Fundamental questions need to be asked again and again.

Niko Kyriakou’s articles last week on security at San Francisco International Airport shed light on many issues, including measuring government-based vs. privatized airport security. Citizens need substantive reporting on alternate security systems. We also need more information about the increasing use of U.S. security screeners in international airports outside of the U.S.

Jann Gates
Mexico City

Water conservation is key

San Francisco’s long-term water plan (“‘Drought insurance’ spurs outcry,” Sunday) would be better served by focusing on conservation and efficiency opportunities. Modesto and Turlock farmers presently have little incentive to conserve, since they’re paying as little as $2 for an acre-foot of water. Bay Area customers are likewise overly generous with water use, turning our semiarid landscape into a water-saturated one.

For years, San Francisco, Modesto and Turlock water interests have managed the Tuolumne River, a gem of a river, as little more than a massive plumbing project. Where we don’t bury it beneath dams and reservoirs, we straitjacket it with mile after mile of levees, all at taxpayer expense. When these projects were built and their “benefits” accessed, we neglected to assess the benefit of the natural watershed.

The water needs to go back where it belongs — in the river.

John Dye
San Rafael
www.RiversforChange.org

Towing fines are overkill

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the misfortune of having my car towed on Geary Street at 4:10 p.m. I am not protesting the fact that my car was towed, since I was in a tow-away zone from 4 to 6 p.m. I had not noticed the sign, but alas that is my error.

What I am protesting is the absurd amount of money this mistake cost me. Not including the taxi ride to the impound to claim said vehicle, the amount was $556.

I understand that this is a source of revenue for San Francisco, which like most cities is having financial challenges.

However, it is not as if I was in a fire zone or putting anyone in harm’s way. I saw people at the impound claiming their vehicles with tears in their eyes. For some, it means not being able to get their cars out of the lot or perhaps not being able to feed their families for quite a long time.

What a sad state of affairs we have come to when it costs this much to make a simple error. I would be interested in knowing what other cities charge for the same infraction.

Drivers, please learn from my costly mistake.

Were you aware how expensive it is to be towed in the City by the Bay?

Lee Wanetik
San Mateo

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