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L.A.'s unspent stimulus funds; L.A. crime data; and a future home for the battleship Iowa

January 02, 2011

It's simple: Follow the tax money

Re "Stimulus for L.A. mostly sits unspent," Dec. 26

The failure to effectively use hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus money is Exhibit A in the case that as much as possible, government should function on a local level, relying on federal powers for limited areas.

All tax money originates locally. But we send it to Washington, let them remove their vig and return the rest with restrictions on how it can be used.

To install left-turn signals, we tax local citizens, send the money to Washington, have the city submit a proposal to get some of the money back, and have a federal committee grant it back to us and another federal agency oversee it, creating several extra steps to put a signal at Sunset and Wilcox.

If we had paid less in federal taxes originally, we could have afforded more for locally funded projects.

David Goodwin

Los Angeles

Before we blame the failure to distribute L.A.'s stimulus funds on the retirement of senior city staff, it should be remembered that the mayor negotiated early retirements for these workers. Now the knowledge base and institutional memory are gone.

City government reminds me of the story of the child who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy on the grounds he is an orphan. At least that kid had a plan. As best I can tell, the city has no plan.

We need a mayor who can put together a management team that can get our money's worth by negotiating fair and reasonable wages, benefits and retirement plans. I hear former City Controller Laura Chick is looking for a job.

Brian J. Sheppard

Encino

It must be noted that L.A. County cultural organizations have already benefitted from stimulus funds.

The L.A. County Arts Commission and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, through an accelerated application process, awarded $420,084 in stimulus funds to arts organizations within a three-month period. All grants were to preserve jobs critical to the organizations' missions that were jeopardized by the economic downturn.

Reports from grant recipients tell us that the stimulus funds enabled the organizations to weather a rough patch.

Laura Zucker

Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the L.A. County Arts Commission.

What The Times does for readers

Re "A note from the publisher," Dec. 26

As an avid newsprint reader, I have been informed, entertained and occasionally shocked by stories investigated and reported by The Times' excellent journalists.

The paper has truly made a difference in how we view government "servants," schools, teacher unions and world events.

My digital-dependent friends are mostly un-

informed and rely on me to tell them about important events, business news or cultural happenings. They say, "Oh, I'll have to look that up."

We need the Los Angeles Times more than ever. Best wishes for a successful 2011.

Tony Elia

Mission Viejo

Publisher Eddy Hartenstein's message was filled with highlights. But in the interest of balanced journalism, he should have listed some lowlights. I offer these doozies:

Running an advertisement disguised as a legitimate news story on The Times' venerable front page.

Charging $1.50 for a Thanksgiving edition that offered nothing more to readers than a pile of extra advertisements.

The occasional inability of The Times to publish the final scores of sports games that end late in the evening.

None of these would have occurred under Otis Chandler and Franklin D. Murphy. Such is the true state of The Times.

Rhys Thomas

Valley Glen

Beyond the crime data

Re "Killing in L.A. drops to 1967 levels," Dec. 27

The Times cites many factors for the reduction of homicides in Los Angeles. One factor that I think is overlooked is the work of Father Gregory Boyle's work with gangs in South and East L.A.

Boyle established Homeboy Industries to help gang members start new lives. He finds them work, exemplified by the motto, "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

He tells of his success and failures in his book, "Tattoos on the Heart."

Jack Collins

Duarte

The fact that the level of homicides has dropped so low indicates that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, because "we" have not executed anybody in the past five years.

Carmelo Duca

Los Angeles

Spacecraft

Re "NASA faces a new type of space race," Dec. 28

The achievement of SpaceX is remarkable. However, comparing it to the development of NASA's Orion spacecraft reflects a lack of understanding of the several orders of magnitude of increased complexity of Orion.

Within the program is the technology to send humans to Mars, including their ability to survive several months' travel time, a safe landing, living on Mars for a few months and returning safely to Earth.

All of this requires new technology, while SpaceX keeps costs low by using existing technology.

Stanley Greenberg

Irvine

Privacy, please

Re "Ensuring privacy on the Net," Opinion, Dec. 27

Jamie Court reaffirms my conviction that my privacy is slowly being eroded by the Internet.

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