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Letters to the editor

The Hollywood sign; Google's broadband service; Charlie Wilson's war

February 15, 2010

A silver lining

Re “Lofty hopes,” Feb.10, and “Century Plaza hotel saved from demolition,” Feb.11

If we are to find any bright spots in the effects of the recession on Los Angeles, maybe it is that now preservationists have better bargaining power against developers in preserving the historic places in our city, as is evident by the recent bid to acquire the property near the Hollywood sign and the deal struck to preserve the Century Plaza Hotel.

Gal Sitty
Studio City

It's quite a view

Re “The hill to the left of the ‘H,’ ” Editorial, Feb. 11

I want the city's major newspaper to serve as a civic bulwark against bullying. What does it take for The Times to show some savvy about land entitlement and political deals in Los Angeles?

Your editorial advanced no wise counterargument to deflect the dupe deal shaping up in the Hollywood Hills. Instead, it played directly into the hands of the gang of Chicago gougers who own the 138-acre property. The owners seem to have snookered the Trust for Public Land into offering an inflated $11.7 million for an iconic vista that no Los Angeles elected official in their right mind could ever allow to be zoned for residential use.

You might have proffered this powerful, informed local reality, compelling them to get real about the land's value and lower the price. You might also have rooted around for any other political deals tied up with the land that gave the owners an impression that Angelenos and the trust could be ripped off so easily.

At the very least, clue in the sellers that they can't just swagger into town and, in service to private profit, threaten despoilment of cherished landscapes.

Paul Vandeventer
Los Angeles

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the Times' stance regarding the use of the Hollywood sign. There should not be any alterations allowed to this iconic landmark.

I am enrolled at Cal State Northridge. Last semester, I was assigned an essay to write about an iconic Los Angeles landmark. I chose Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and I interviewed many tourists as part of my project.

One of my questions to them was: What were the main reasons for your trip to Los Angeles? I was stunned to find out how many people travel from all parts of the globe just to see the theater . . . and, they said, the Hollywood sign.

The sign is an important cultural landmark that should be maintained without any alterations. It is as much a part of Los Angeles as the city's inhabitants. It moves people and makes them want to visit our city. To change it in any way would be like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

Mark Kuglin
Culver City

The right to work

Re “Protest is obvious, but the reason isn’t,” Feb. 11

For those of us not fortunate enough to belong to a union, I suggest we go out of our way to patronize businesses who are being bullied and intimidated by union "shame" banners, such as the one hanging across the street from Doc Burnstein's ice cream parlor in Arroyo Grande.

Doesn't everyone have the right to earn a living in this country? I applaud companies who hire nonunion workers.

I have never had a job that provided medical insurance and paid sick days. If I am sick and I can walk, I work. Union members: Be satisfied with what you have and don't begrudge anyone else the opportunity to support his family.

Joy Jones
Santa Maria

High-speed access for all

Re “ Google aims to advance speed on Web,” Feb. 11

About five years ago, I sat on a "broadband task force" convened to bring true high-speed Internet to all of Santa Barbara County.

The city itself is served by a cable company, which made sure representatives were always on hand to remind us that "we offer higher-speed communication if you're willing to pay for it."

Here are the conclusions I reached: Home users are fleeced for the basic Internet connection every school child needs today; service providers jack up rates even further for those wanting bearable transfer speeds of larger data files; and the gigabit access Google has promised is available today only to big corporations able to pay thousands of dollars a month for it.

Cheap high-speed Internet brings greener jobs to more places, facilitates distance-learning and remote medical diagnosis, and democratizes media and information sharing, which scares a lot of corporations.

We must support both Google's endeavor and the concept of net neutrality.

Jon Williams
Goleta, Calif.

Greece as an example

Re “Deeply in debt, Greece faces a Spartan future,” Feb. 10

I am struck how the problems threatening to swamp Greece's economy were caused by the same conditions that California and the federal government are currently creating for themselves.

Mountains of federal debt? Excessive numbers of government employees with lifetime job guarantees and huge pensions? Check and double-check.

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