Readers Respond

Monday, July 17, 2006

Letters to the Pilot

Teeing off for nature

To the Editor:

(An open letter to the mayor and city council of Storm Lake)

I noticed in a recent news article that work is beginning on the redesign of the golf course. This would be a perfect time to join the Cooperative Sanctuary Program sponsored by Audubon International and the U. S. Golf Association. This program certifies courses that are environmentally friendly. It addresses issues such as landscaping with native plants, avoiding runoff of pesticides and fertilizers, proper mowing and wildlife protection. A recent story broadcast on the WOI radio network stated that many courses are finding the program beneficial in attracting customers as many golfers are now specifically patronizing environmentally certified courses. In addition, making the recommended changes may lower costs due to less mowing, watering and spraying, and reduced fines from the resulting runoff...

Considering the work that is going into the dredging project, it makes sense to prevent future damage to the lake. This program could also attract visitors to the new lodge, providing a win-win for the city. I urge you to consider this program in order to protect Storm Lake's greatest natural resource - our lake.

- Korey Cantrell, via internet

Who's the nuisance?

To the Editor:

In my opinion, the City Council members have gone too far. What started as a concern about cars parked on lawns has turned into a city-wide "shakedown". First of all, I want to say that if there is such a concern about Storm Lake's image, maybe we shouldn't be tearing down a beautiful fountain and trees and ripping up green lawns and gardens to replace them with concrete and buildings! Personally, I'd rather look at grass, flowers and a flowing fountain than a bunch of cement and bricks!

I feel that because I pay property taxes on my house, I should be able to do anything I want inside AND out. When a visitor comes to Storm Lake in the future, I imagine he/she will come to enjoy the lake, fish, golf, shop, etc. and not to worry about cars parked on lawns or the condition my house is in.

As I mentioned earlier, much of this "crisis" began with a complaint about where cars are being parked. I guess I just don't see the big deal about people parking their cars on their lawns. Who's business is it anyway where people park? Many times the front lawn is the only available place to park because of limited space. Some residents of Storm Lake are living in cramped conditions, not because they choose to but because it is the only way they can afford to live for now. Because of this, parking spots are limited, both in driveways and on the street, and people park on the lawn. Why is this an issue? Is it because the car is on top of the grass and not on cement and a vehicle just HAS to be on cement?

Okay, then- I'll take out all of the grass from my front lawn and pave it over with cement. NOW I can park my car there, right? NOW it's on cement! The proposed rule will allow people to park on the lawn while the winter snow ban is in effect. What is the difference between a car being parked on the grass during the winter or during the summer? It's the same thing! Until Storm Lake residents have access to more low-income housing, people will continue to crowd into homes and park on lawns. I wonder how many low-income apartments and parking places the money from project AWAYSIS could have produced...

Many of the proposed rules are ridiculous, and I ask myself where it will end. Who gets to decide what "looks bad" and what doesn't? Maybe weeds have grown as big as my flowers in front of my house - to someone, that might look "junky". Maybe someone thinks certain lawn and garden decorations, like gazing balls, birdhouses, birdfeeders, or statues look weird or even unattractive. Maybe my dog's fur is too long and while she is tied up outside someone drives by and thinks she looks "trashy". Everyone has different opinions on what looks "bad" and what doesn't, and I for one think I should have a right to decide what's in MY lawn or when I will paint MY house. All I know is that I'll be in trouble if there's a rule about Christmas lights coming down by a certain time - I finally just took mine down in April. I'm sure visitors would be utterly appalled to see Christmas lights still up in June!

What if the outside of my house looks relatively neat but the inside is a pit, with junk stacked up to the ceiling? If my curtains and doors are open and passersby can see inside - wouldn't it look trashy? Will the city issue me a citation saying that I have to clean my house because it makes the city look bad?

Who will enforce these rules? Even Public Safety Director Mark Prosser mentioned that there is no funding in the city budget for an enforcement official. Will someone be assigned to go door to door and inspect houses inside and out? Prosser said many times the decision will be a subjective one, made by whoever the enforcement officer happens to be. Does that mean some things will be enforced SOME of the time? Will it depend on who the person is? Why waste time developing these ridiculous rules if they won't ALL be enforced ALL of the time?

It's too bad the residents of Storm Lake can't issue citations to the city itself! A visitor to our town recently complained about the condition of the park restrooms (which I have to admit are pretty gross). I have a feeling more people will be visiting the park restrooms than my house! What other citations would the city receive? How about one on the conditions of our streets? Or one about the lack of streetlights on every corner, making it hard for visitors to see street signs at night (not to mention a safety issue for children playing outdoors)? How about a rule to clean up the duck and goose feces that pollute the sidewalks in Storm Lake's parks? According to the paper, one of the proposed rules discusses the definition of a nuisance. A nuisance is defined as "anything that is injurious to the senses or interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property," which could include odor. A big nuisance in my home is the recurring problem of pinhole leaks in my pipes, which causes standing water in my basement (another violation of the proposed rules). And speaking of odor, I must mention the overwhelming smell of chlorine that comes from the faucets in my house. Now THAT's a nuisance! Yes, many of these are petty, but many of the City Council's proposed rules are, too.

I'm not writing this to upset anyone or because I think the Council will actually listen to me and take into account the public's feelings. I'm not even worried that my house won't be up to code. I just think the City Council has more important things to discuss and improve and they shouldn't be wasting time on such trivial and controversial affairs.

-Jennifer Moral, Storm Lake

A Tale of Two Arteries

To the Editor:

Jeff Jones wrote a good article about cholesterol (Pilot Tribune 6/24) with great suggestions for what types of "fats" a person should try to eat more of (Omega 3, in fish oil and nuts), and what that same person should stay away from (saturated fatty acids )- kudos. I also noted that a "local dietitian" stated people should avoid "hydrogenated oils" which are, in fact "trans fatty acids" - the worst culprit in causing lipid disorders - it was noteworthy that this substance is so controversial right now that the dietitian did not want to be identified.

Well, I am a researcher in fatty acids and wanted to illuminate this important issue for the benefit of the public. Crisco was invented in 1905 - it was the first "trans fatty acid" and partial hydrogenation was found to greatly extend "shelf life" for many products by stopping rancidity in fats. Margarine came next - merely because vegetable oil producers wanted to compete with the butter people. In 1982, faced with a multi-company class action case, food manufacturers agreed to take "saturated fatty acids" out of their product and replace same with " trans fatty acids". More recently, in fact, researchers have found just how bad trans fatty acids corrupt normal digestion and metabolism of essential fatty acids (EFA's-Omega 3 and Omega 6)-for instance, "leptin", the chemical the stomach produces to signal the brain that enough food has been (the stomach "shut off" switch) cannot cross the "blood brain barrier" if too much "triglycerides" or trans fatty acids are present. Perhaps an entire generation now eats until the stomach is bloated-too full-rather than merely satisfied-because of the onslaught of trans fatty acids. This may be an important part of the obesity "epidemic" in our modern society.

But help is on the way. In 2003, a major food manufacturer was sued to remove trans fatty acids from a popular chocolate wafer cookie with a yummy cream filling. Based upon that case, the FDA approved regulations forcing manufacturers to list the weight and proportion of trans fatty acids in their products - which became mandatory in January of 2006. Now a consumer can see packages of most products with copious note" "0 trans fats" or "trans fatty acid free" meaning that it is much easier to remove this insidious thief of metabolic enzymes from the kitchen and family diet.

And when frying foods, try to use Omega 9 fatty acids (olive oil) or coconut oil (mostly saturated fatty acids-the most stable under heat stress). Avoid soybean oil for cooking - although the Omega 3 content is good for the body - under heat it quickly turns trans fatty acid. of course, when eating out, try to avoid fried foods entirely - the wait staff almost never knows what frying oils are used in their kitchen. Of course, assuming we can never avoid these insidious chemicals the next best thing is to increase antioxidant intake - like vitamin C and green tea - loaded with antidotes to the modern fast food addiction - and bump it up with loads of bright vegetables and fruits. Oh, and by the way, increase metabolic rate by regular exercise - and call me in the morning.

- Paul Peterson, Storm Lake