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Commentary : Sifting Through Year's Opinions

December 27, 1987

During 1987, various Orange County residents wrote about their feelings and thoughts in articles submitted to our Sunday commentary columns. As we look back, some of those thoughts are recalled:

Martin Brower on commuting:

There is a cost-free, sure-fire way to help relieve rush-hour congestion. And that is to reduce commuting by each of us living near where we work, or working near where we live. This cannot be done in many urban areas of the nation. But in Orange County, development patterns permit an extremely close lving and working relationship.

Dist. Atty. Cecil Hicks on open courtrooms:

Felony crimes (such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary and narcotics sales) are offenses not only against individual victims but also against the peace and security of the general public. When the district attorney's office undertakes a prosecution of a criminal case, we do so as the legal representative of the people of the State of California. The public has just as much right to observe the discussion and disposition of its cases as any other litigant.

Robert Jensen on funding for community colleges:

The state has warned education leaders that it has just about reached the limits of its pocketbook. We can try to meet critical education needs with fewer dollars or invest more in the educational system on which the future of the state and this country is built. Without the investment we will continue to spend more and more taxes on prisons, welfare and dead-end job programs.

Mark Haunfelner on peace:

My immediate reaction to the discovery of cancer was one of personal grief and fear. With the passage of time, however, I find that I am troubled not so much by the thought of my mortality as by the fact that I have encountered it in a time and society that buzzes with the undercurrents of violence and self-destruction. All Americans need to begin today by constructing a personal vision of what their lives, and those of their neighbors, would be like if world peace became a reality. The attainmment of a true and lasting peace would free enormous human and material resources to accomplish America's unfinished business of feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly and educating the young. It would liberate the wellspring of kindness and generosity among Americans that enabled us to create and renew our singular experiment in self-government.

Editor's Note: Mark Haunfelner died last Sunday .

A letter (name withheld) to a minister from the mother of a family being helped by his church:

Hello, from one of the great unwashed. I wish I knew how to introduce myself to you. A few months ago I might have introduced myself as a proud new resident of this charmed community. My degree still looks nice. I have my kids. It isn't exactly accurate to call myself One of Irvine's Infamous Homeless. I still have my house. But my mother recommends that I quit claim it now, before the big boys decide to play hard ball with my hard-earned equity. Why can't I get a job? Does the desperation show during those crucial, rarely granted interviews. You know, I used to think about "those people," and now I am one. I do know one thing. The greatest threat to this community today is the mistaken notion that our Irvine homeless are composed of dirty vagrants. That the same awful circumstances, tough breaks, bad luck, whatever, couldn't possibly happen to you and your nice family. It can. It's happening right now to my family. And I still think we're nice too.

Brian C. Whitten on politicians:

I ran for president of the UC Irvine student body--and lost. The bad news, though, is something I learned during my campaign:Most people think all politicians are crooks. I'm worried about my generation. Too many of us have given up on the democratic system. Not only do we need to continue watching for those who are not genuinely concerned with our welfare but we also need to look for and to support those who really will work for the people. Good leaders do exist. Good politicians do exist. They deserve to be respected for their dedication, not dismissed as crooks.

Marian Bergeson on prenatal care:

How dismaying that of the half-million babies born each year in California, 40,000 die in infancy or begin their lives with terrible health problems. Babies born to mothers with no prenatal care are five times as likely to die in the first year of life and 1 1/2 times as likely to be born at health risk because of low birth weight. The consequences for the taxpayer because of inadequate care services are serious, too. It costs nine times as much to provide remedial services to children whose mothers had no prenatal care as it does to provide the prenatal care in the first place. Clearly, we have a moral, pro-life and a taxpayer interest in expanding prenatal services to expectant mothers in our state.

Joseph N. Bell on education:

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