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Letters to the editor

Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to reform pensions; Occupy L.A.'s threat to the City Hall lawn; Rick Perry's flat-tax idea

November 01, 2011
  • Mayor Antonio Villaraigsao's ex-chief of staff Jeff Carr has worked at home on issues such as installation of a security fence at the mayor's mansion. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Mayor Antonio Villaraigsao's ex-chief of staff Jeff Carr has worked…

Salary nonsense

Re "Mayor's ex-aide still on payroll," Oct. 29

It's nice to see that our illustrious mayor has his priorities in order by allowing his former chief of staff to draw his $194,000 salary even though someone else has been hired to replace him. The ex-staffer is being compensated for installing security fences around Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's city-owned mansion and improving the city's golf courses, among other things.

We need money for schools, our teachers are being laid off and the poor have little access to medical care, so this should go down as one of Villaraigosa's great achievements.

A pox on his mansion.

Robert C. Thompson

Marina del Rey

Tilting at pension reform

Re "Brown risks backlash on pension plan," Oct. 28

I have been no fan of Gov. Jerry Brown, but I fully support his attempt to reform public employee pensions in California, even though I realize he is faced with a Hobson's choice of the first order.

To those who don't think this plan can work, look at what the federal government did nearly 25 years ago in moving from the unsustainable Civil Service Retirement System to the fiscally sound Federal Employees Retirement System. It resembles what Brown is trying to do today.

Noteworthy is the fact that the feds kept every promise made to their employees. Brown can do the same, and that should certainly be enough.

Larry Hawthorne

Hemet

I will not tolerate addressing the budget crisis by slashing the pensions and benefits of public employees. Substituting one crisis for another is not leadership. Decimating retirement for thousands and forcing employees to contribute more now reduces consumer spending, which is a proven component of economic depression.

The penny-wise but pound-foolish proposal promoted by Brown fails to address the underlying cause of the poor economy and the state budget gap: theft by the big banks.

I will not vote for politicians who erode my quality of life under the guise of austerity. It's time we work to change the balance of power. I will never give up because everything is at stake.

Jody Schwimmer

La Quinta

Someone, please pinch me! I think I am dreaming.

Is it really true that Brown has stepped up to the plate as a bona-fide pragmatist with an actual, realistic plan to rein in the pension systems? Is he really ready to risk his relationship with the same groups that helped him get elected?

Hell hath no fury like a union scorned.

Robert M. Imm

Sunland

City Hall's lawn isn't the problem

Re "Ending the occupation," Editorial, Oct. 28

People are losing their livelihoods, paying 10 times more for public universities than their parents did and mortgaging their futures to pay for it, all with ever-diminishing hopes of getting a job when they graduate.

And the The Times' editorial board is concerned about resodding the City Hall lawn at taxpayers' expense?

The people camping outside City Hall are taxpayers. They don't seem too troubled by the extra expenditures when weighed against the opportunity to actually be heard regarding the structuring of the far-greater expenditures lavished on the multimillion-dollar business interests they are protesting.

But I'd forgotten: Those monied interests treat mayors, councilmen and supervisors to expensive lunches.

George Levin

Ojai

According to the editorial, protesters who are camping outside City Hall are "killing the lawn in one of downtown's rare green spaces, which will have to be replaced at taxpayers' expense, and they may be damaging City Hall's magnificent fig trees." How bloody awful!

But I seem to remember that corporations are, and have been for a very long time, desecrating the environment in many parts of the world. I am disappointed, therefore, that The Times should focus on a minor desecration done by people who have dedicated themselves to building a better world.

Dan D'Amelio

Yucaipa

Straight talk on flat taxes

Re "Perry's tax idea may fall flat," Opinion, Oct. 28

Under Texas Gov. Rick Perry's plan, we might end up computing taxes three ways: for regular income taxes, alternative minimum taxes and then Perry's flat taxes. Under Perry's plan, annual tax receipts would decline substantially faster than what has been experienced in the last few years.

Flat-tax advocates are silent on an important fact: The tax code is generally used by Congress as a tool to stimulate and monitor the nation's economy and various segments of different industries and professions. Taxes and the economy are interrelated.

Nanda Senathi

Redondo Beach

The European country of Slovakia has had a flat tax rate of 19% since 2004. Since its inception, this simple tax system has succeeded in providing adequate revenue to the state along with an increase in the country's gross domestic product and the standard of living for the country's 5.4 million people.

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