Thank you so much for the coverage of Far From Kansas and our show in last Thursday\’s Reporter! We want you to know that we really loved the write-up and we appreciate the support. Seriously, we can\’t thank you enough!

Our show at the Alpine was sold out. (Literally, they were turning people away at the door!) We\’re looking forward to getting more shows booked in Ventura for the month of March and our April mini-tour of the Bay Area. Since we sold over 150 tickets at the Alpine, we\’re especially excited about our Ventura dates in March.

Thanks again, and we hope to hear more from the good people at the VC Reporter soon!

Frank Cruz
Berkeley, CA

Destination spas defined

I just finished reading the Body Politics section of the VC Reporter, authored by Robert Ferguson (2/1/07). Unfortunately, Ferguson is conveying the definition of a destination spa incorrectly.

A destination spa is not merely defined by the fact that it is a destination away from home (as Ferguson implies in the article). It is a health and life enhancing getaway which is exactly what your readers are looking for. And in fact, there are destination spas for any budget, ranging from $1,000-$8,000 per week. Ferguson had the opportunity to de-myth a common misconception — that destination Spas are only for the rich and famous. Instead, he contributed to the myth by indicating that they are expensive. Like anything, there are more and less expensive options. All offer a solid healthy getaway and a way to jumpstart healthy living. That is, in fact, what defines a destination spa.

The International Spa Association defines a destination spa as a facility with the primary purpose of guiding individual spa-goers to develop healthy habits. Historically a seven-day stay, this lifestyle transformation can be accomplished by providing a comprehensive program that includes spa services, physical fitness activities, wellness education, healthful cuisine and special interest programming.

Michelle Kleist
Lexington, Kentucky

One less car

As always, the VC Reporter was filled with thoughtful, intelligent articles, but the one I immediately tore out and posted on my refrigerator was \”The Constant Cyclist\” (2/1/07) by Margaret Morris (with the inspiring photo of Rachel Morris pulling her CD cabinets with her bike trailer). Thank you so much for this fabulous article, featuring an outstanding group of bicycle commuting role models. The story reminds us that one of the best things we can do for the air, water, earth, the quality of life in our community, is to drive less!

Suza Francina

Smog and mirror tactics

I note that BHP Billiton\’s Patrick E. Cassidy has written a letter to the VC Reporter to discredit as \”misleading\” articles written by me in the Malibu Surfside News about the proposed Cabrillo Port LNG terminal.

Cassidy challenged an article about a series of documents I discovered in official EPA files in November. My article accurately reported that the EPA had asked BHP Billiton to clear up contradictory estimates supplied by the company in its application for LNG regasification air permits. In response, the company came up with new, higher pollution figures that showed that the total smog impact from Cabrillo Port would be almost twice as great as the company had originally disclosed.

Cassidy was quoted — in the Malibu paper and in the VC Reporter — as objecting to me adding up and printing the sum total of various emissions from Cabrillo Port. This, Cassidy says, is unfair because different types of polluting chemicals affect the air differently.

Of course, Cassidy is quite correct about the differing smog effects of the various types of Cabrillo Port chemical emissions. But using an aggregate total of the various air pollutants is hardly unfair. It is the standard method used by the government and industry to describe a factory\’s smog footprint.

Nevertheless, in the Surfside News article, we ran Cassidy\’s e-mailed objections on this point verbatim and in their entirety. And at his behest, EPA officials were consulted to make sure the total impact was accurately computed by the newspaper. Yes, they said, our methodology was a fair and routine method to add up and measure the floating LNG plant\’s total smog impact.

The indisputable fact remains: BHP Billiton\’s own figures show Cabrillo Port will, if approved and built, release a total of 484 tons of fine particulate matter, ammonia, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and assorted petrochemicals into the coastal air each year. These chemicals are not smog themselves — they are the pure chemical ingredients that go up into the sky, combine with air and water vapor, and cook into much larger amounts of smog.

The BHP Billiton spokesman attacks my motives, but ignores this objective scrutiny of Cabrillo Port and its inability so far to get Clean Air Act permits. It is not \”unfair\” to accurately add up Cabrillo Port\’s overall smog impact, a total figure that EPA said was unclear in BHP Billiton\’s paperwork, and that even now BHP Billiton considers \”misleading\” to reveal.

The VCReporter accurately reported this finding, and I appreciate that your paper credited my work.

Hans Laetz
Reporter, Malibu Surfside News
Zuma Beach