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Tax breaks for downtown L.A. developers; another look at a high-speed rail route; Osama bin Laden's fate

May 09, 2011

Surgical precision

Re "When a nose makes news," May 6

You might well ask if The Times has enough real reporting to do if it is wasting its and our time writing about "the public's right to know" about Gov. Jerry Brown's basal cell carcinoma.

To imply that basal cell carcinoma, which is almost never serious except for cosmetic issues, is somehow comparable to John McCain's melanoma, which is often life threatening, is just hot air of the most odoriferous sort. I've had more than 15 basal cell carcinomas removed from my face, neck and shoulders over the last 20 years. It's a minor inconvenience.

Would someone posit the public's "right to know" if the governor cut his finger peeling potatoes? Get real.

Kathy Bailey

Philo, Calif.

Fed up with tax breaks

Re "L.A. hotel tax breaks questioned," and "Olvera Street accord backed," May 4

I can't believe I read with my own eyes that the same L.A. City Council that approves raising rents for Olvera Street shopkeepers may forfeit as much as $640 million in city taxes from three downtown hotels.

If you are a small shopkeeper seeing your rent go up, you need to turn it around and become an innkeeper. If you are AEG and have a hotel on Figueroa Street, you get to keep $270 million in city taxes over the next 25 years.

The City Council is truly amazing, "particularly as Los Angeles grapples with massive budget deficits."

Dal Graham

Sylmar

I feel depressed and disgusted reading about more tax breaks for AEG, a company that owns Staples Center and has more money than God.

AEG pulled off the heist of the century in convincing L.A. officials that it required 25 years of tax breaks to build a hotel next to L.A. Live. Tax breaks were not required to make this project financially viable. It was a guarantee from the start, and the taxpayers were robbed. Now AEG has the gall to ask for more handouts to build a stadium. Any new project should stand on its own.

Supporters of the tax breaks say they help provide construction jobs. But these jobs last just a few years, much less than the 25 years for the tax break.

The inmates are running the asylum if this makes sense, and any city official who supports another dime of tax breaks for developers should be fired by the voters.

Anne Kaufman

Los Angeles

Tracking a new rail route

Re "Rail planners revive Grapevine route," May 6

So the California High-Speed Rail Authority voted to review the Grapevine route again. Good. The train should go along the Interstate 5 freeway instead of through the Antelope Valley.

Palmdale already has Metrolink service that takes commuters to downtown Los Angeles. It would make no sense for a high-speed rail line to detour through these communities. It's a high-speed line, not a Metrolink train that stops in all communities. Just go along the 5.

Clark Woodford

Los Angeles

Your article about the renewed feud on the routing of the high-speed train offers yet another harbinger of the disaster this exercise in pork will prove to be for Californians and their wallets.

Already assessed as "one of the nation's costliest transportation projects," such squabbling between political camps will simply exacerbate this fiasco of a project, which will break all boundaries of mismanagement and cost overruns. Pray to the heavens that Congress will withhold all federal grant funds in the name of deficit reduction and that this unnecessary boondoggle dies a quick and merciful death.

Gene Erbstoesser

Long Beach

Bin Laden and the real world

Re "Gunning for Bin Laden," Editorial, May 5

The Times writes: "There would have been something uplifting — something to be proud of — if Bin Laden had been brought home and publicly held to account for his many crimes." It may be uplifting as an academic polemic about morality, but in the real world it is utter nonsense.

Capturing him and returning him to the U.S. would have endangered countless Americans here and abroad. What did The Times think Islamic militants would do? Applaud America for its sense of honorable justice? No.

Take a lesson from history: The militants would've kidnapped Americans, such as tourists or students abroad, and tried to exchange them for Bin Laden or killed them to show they were serious, or planted explosives in populated areas and threatened to detonate them if he wasn't released. Bin Laden being taken alive would have been the ultimate call to action for terrorists.

Daniel Alef

Santa Barbara

The Times has it all wrong. The outcome of a trial would have been a media circus, and Bin Laden would have won.

Bin Laden would never rat on his friends; otherwise he and his "cause" would be ultimately and forever disgraced. I am not bothered by the fact that we killed him. I feel relief and gratitude.

I am bothered by the contradictions coming from the White House about what happened. The Obama administration should get its facts straight and stop embarrassing itself despite its great work in finally finishing off this enemy of America and the world.

Paul L. Hovsepian

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