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The LAPD's new chief; the Catholic Church and healthcare reform; Pakistan's intelligence agency

November 18, 2009

Home sweet home

Re “Breaking free of America’s cult of homeownership,” Opinion, Nov. 12

In addition to omitting the tax benefits that owning a home provides, Eric S. Belsky also ignored the other obvious, tangible piece of homeownership: emotion. There is a great deal of pride, stability, comfort and peace in knowing that the walls you paint or the garden you plant is yours. Yes, homeownership is a financial commitment and needs to be entered into responsibly. But Belsky's analysis is based only on numbers, and owning a home is a lot more than just making mortgage payments.

Deborah Lopez
Agoura Hills

Thanks to Belsky for at least mentioning apartment living.

Ever since the downturn, this apartment-dweller -- a journalist whose newspaper has imploded, a novelist whose publishing options have narrowed, an adjunct professor whose communications classes have been canceled -- keeps reading about the plight of the homeowner: what the government is doing, not doing, should be doing.

But the number of renters has swelled in recent years. We face similar economic hardships. California is the second most expensive state for renters; according to one estimate, apartment rents in Southern California have risen more than 30% from 2001 to today. About one in four Angelenos pays more than half of his or her income for rent.

Although the outlook seems slim to none for a governmental rental policy or even some administrative lip service, we off-the-radar apartment-dwellers at least deserve some attention. Hello -- we exist.

Doretta Zemp
El Segundo

Another view of L.A. police work

Re “As the LAPD evolved, so did he,” Nov. 15

Charlie Beck is an outstanding and honorable man who will make a fine chief of police. I wish him nothing but the best.

However, I am sad he has fallen victim to a revisionist view of history, denigrating previous chiefs and policing policies.

I policed South-Central Los Angeles, albeit in a different uniform, from the 1970s through 2009. I witnessed the perfect storm of social, economic, cultural and political circumstances that resulted in an unprecedented level of violence in the Los Angeles area.

Just as there are numerous and contradictory theories on why the crime rate has dropped in recent years, there are different thoughts on what caused the shocking level of violence in the mid-1980s. Severely understaffed police agencies were forced to react with aggressive enforcement tactics. I shudder to think of the bloodshed if law enforcement had met that violent era with a less proactive model.

I do not believe any suspect ever felt compelled to perpetrate criminal acts on his or her community because of the presence of police officers.

Joseph E. Purcell
The writer is a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department homicide sergeant (retired).

Who's talking, who's listening?

Re “Bishops’ role in health debate,” Nov. 16

A congressional representative meeting with a Catholic bishop to craft an amendment would seem to be a direct violation of the separation of church and state.

Why no outrage from those politicians who always trumpet adherence to the Constitution?

H.R. Pollack
Huntington Beach

Why does a group of male bishops, representing a religion that I am not a member of, have more input on how I receive healthcare than I do?

Why are Democrats throwing women under the bus for an interest group that sometimes supports them?

I always stand with the Democratic Party, but if the Stupak amendment makes it through the Senate, the Democratic Party will be telling me, and millions of women, that we are less important than religious doctrine, and that to vote for the Democrats is to vote against our interests.

Healthcare reform should expand access to healthcare, not make women's health worse off. Our leaders in Congress need to stand up for women and kill the Stupak amendment.

Martina Steiner
Los Angeles

The Catholic Church built a level of trust that other antiabortion groups could not? This has gotten it a "seat" at the lawmaking table? Where in the Constitution does it cover buying a seat at the table?

I am 76 years old. I am a mother and a grandmother. I have voted as a Democrat since I was 21. I have been elected to my county's Democratic central committee and to the Democratic state central committee. I have served on the board of the Democratic Women's Caucus. I am a member of the National Organization for Women, NARAL and other women's organizations.

I am old enough to remember the days before Roe. I've seen an illegal abortion in a public restroom.

I am a citizen of this country -- and oh yes, did I mention that I pay taxes? Paying taxes is what buys my "seat at the table." When did the Catholic Church (or any church) start paying taxes?

I have been a Democrat my whole life. No more! I am now an independent voter who is pro-choice. What this country needs is a Women's Party. I'll join.

Miriam Albert
Thousand Oaks

Money well spent

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