In Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry Brown redelivered his address to the City Council… (Michael Robinson Chavez,…)
Fix the little things
Re "Brown puts focus on big projects," Jan. 19
California has cities with transit systems that are underfunded, unreliable and little used; we have the Amtrak rail system that, in the words of author James Kunstler, "the Bulgarians would be ashamed of"; and we have cities that are essentially unwalkable and unbikeable because they were designed exclusively for the private automobile.
The streets and roads we do have are falling apart and are jammed day and night because there are no viable alternatives to driving.
Instead of building a $100-billion boondoggle that won't solve any of these problems, how about we fix the transportation systems we already have to serve the highest number of Californians who are trying to get to their jobs every day?
It's not "sexy"; it's just common sense.
Santa Margarita, Calif.
The Web we've woven
Re "The Internet flexes its muscles," Jan. 19
Keep the Internet free! Children have a right to view free porn videos. We have a right to steal software, music and videos and destroy industries and the jobs they create.
I'm the other voice in this conversation. There is a huge difference between censorship and protecting an Internet user's right to theft. There is no way to protect intellectual property rights and at the same time allow complete Internet freedom.
Why are there different standards for moral, social and ethical conduct online and offline? Why can't a female breast be shown on broadcast TV yet any form of sex act can be witnessed for free on the Internet?
Why must the amazing exchange of free ideas and information that the Internet provides also include intellectual property theft that destroys jobs and the incentive to create?
From Tunisia to Hollywood, the Internet sustains freedom. As Congress cowered at the display of the people's collective muscle on Wednesday, the status quo took a Muhammad Ali-like blow.
Karma sometimes is not so subtle.
I am a songwriter who would benefit from passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act, but I applaud the bill's impending defeat. The Lakers don't ask me for money to hear broadcaster Stu Lance, and there's something sincere and good about that.
Imagine what might be accomplished if the power of the Internet focused our attention on the human rights of immigration reform, immoral educational cuts and voting for a president who doesn't echo Ken and Barbie-toned words, "Corporations are people, my friend."
Insight into a deadly crash
Re "In LAPD crash, blame is elusive," Column One, Jan. 17
Contrary to The Times' headline, assigning blame in the crash of a Los Angeles Police Department vehicle that killed Devin Petelski doesn't seem elusive.
Two witnesses estimated the police were speeding down Venice Boulevard at 60 to 80 miles per hour, and the police car's "black box" showed its top speed was 78 mph three seconds before the crash. The officer's claim that he was only going 40 mph to 45 mph while he was diverting from his assigned task to go back up other officers dealing with a "hot" situation flies in the face of reason.
And why didn't the on-scene officer put the witnesses' speed estimates into his report? Why couldn't LAPD investigators download the black box but an outside expert could? Why did an officer who performed CPR on the victim claim he smelled alcohol when hospital tests showed there was none? Why has the LAPD's chain of command fully backed a version of events that blames the victim?
Any time a California police agency is involved in a serious injury or fatal traffic accident, it should refrain from conducting an in-house investigation.
The California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team can conduct a professional investigation to bolster public confidence in the transparency and fairness of the results. The CHP's team is as good as it gets in serious accident investigation, and it responds immediately to requests for help from other police agencies.
Public confidence demands fair and impartial investigations in these matters.
Jon D. Elder
Re "Behind Social Security 'reform,' " Column, Jan. 15
As Michael Hiltzik mentions, some are recommending means testing as a method of determining Social Security benefits. This is part of a strategy to eventually get rid of both Social Security and Medicare.
The effort starts with referring to these benefits as "entitlements" rather than what they really are: earned benefits. From here the slippery slope takes us to means testing these benefits, in which some people get them and others don't.
From there it's an easy path to the end goal: the re-labeled "entitlements" can be called welfare benefits. Re-labeling Social Security and Medicare as welfare provides fodder to those seeking to abolish them.
An old story
Re "Lobbyist bends Legislature to aid unions," Jan. 14