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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Initiatives and Recalls Belong to the Public

August 24, 2003

There has been much commentary in the media that the initiative, referendum and recall processes established by Hiram Johnson and the Progressives have resulted in democracy run amok. Certainly there have been abuses, and inequities have resulted over the long term. Proposition 13 is a prime example. On the other hand, "Senate OKs Privacy Bill" (Aug. 20) is a perfect example of how the threat of recall and the initiative has resulted in legislation that would "prohibit banks and other businesses from selling a customer's most intimate financial information without permission."

Our governor, who had avoided taking a position on the bill and negotiated to weaken it, flip-flopped in June and now can't sign the bill fast enough. Our gutless legislators overwhelmingly passed the bill after business and consumer advocates reached a compromise achieved only by the threat of even stricter action via the initiative process. Yes, the initiative and recall processes need reform, but the basic concepts need to remain in place for the benefit and protection of the public.

Jon Campbell

Carlsbad

Re "A Buffett-ing on Property Taxes," Aug. 19: The suggestion that the elderly residents of Emerald Bay would be driven to living "out on the streets" if their property taxes increased is so absurd that I could scarcely believe it made it into your newspaper. Very few homeless people I've seen have millions of dollars in assets. In the worst-case scenario, they'd have to sell their multimillion-dollar mansions and move into slightly less ostentatious million-dollar mansions elsewhere. Perish the thought. While I understand why they might not be eager to leave their longtime homes, let's not spend too much time pitying the plight of multimillion-dollar homeowners.

Winfield Han

Los Angeles

Over the last few years I have seen a tremendous amount of turnover in my neighborhood as younger families displace older, long-term residents who are downsizing. This phenomenon seems to create the same effect (without the uproar) as raising property taxes. The larger, and rarely discussed, issue is what the state or local governments would do with this windfall if Proposition 13 were repealed. Has the state government learned any lessons from essentially "winning the lottery" that resulted from inflated tax revenues during the flush dot-com years? If not, then we are still treating symptoms without dealing with the root cause of our deficit woes.

Stephen Pollack

Pacific Palisades

In spite of all its ills, California retains two final redeeming qualities: the beach and Proposition 13.

Trace Keasler

Manhattan Beach

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