Public employee unions hurting taxpayers

Dear Editor:

Articles on public employees' extremely generous pension benefits are eye-opening and appalling. The unions that brokered these deals and our elected officials who helped them get away with it should be ashamed.

These contracts that give government employees gold-plated benefits at the cost of higher taxes and less spending on other priorities is intolerable; when government unions strike for even more benefits, they strike against taxpayers -- BART is a good example.

Unions were created to help workers with labor issues and share in the profits of their labor; however, government workers don't generate profits, they're negotiating for more of our tax money. Who is looking out for the taxpayers when our government's collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy? Is this democracy?

New pension legislation doesn't do enough to stop the abuse and seems to be ignored by some pension boards, while public employee unions help craft laws that serve their interests at the expense of the common good.

Anne Fincke

Antioch

Thank you for support on Fourth of July

Dear Editor:


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Residents of Antioch, pat yourselves on the back..... you made the family-friendly Antioch Fourth of July parade and fireworks again happen and once again be a smashing success! With many small donations swelling the total, we raised more than $60,000 to pay the tab and the crowd was huge, appreciative and respectful.

This year we conclusively proved that the 2012 model was not a fluke and that this event could be pulled off privately. In fact, the committee was so inspired that we formed a 501-C nonprofit, Celebrate Antioch, for permanency. There is hope that we can bring back Holiday Delites and incorporate the Veterans Day Parade under this umbrella.

Special thanks to Wayne Harrison for his tireless chairmanship; to Allen Payton for handling the fireworks arrangements, signs, printing and media; and to Joy Motts and Martha Parson for spearheading fund-raising. Committee members Bill Cook, Sue Davis, Tim Forrester, Jessica Green, Louise Green, Carole Harrison, Connie Kumar, Earlene and Jim Lantier, Frank Rundall, Alma Townsend, Jeff Warrenburg and Velma Wilson all played key roles.

Sponsoring the fireworks were Supervisor Federal Glover and NRG Energy; the Parade, Sharon Beswick and the Beswick Family Fund; and overall logistical support, the city of Antioch.

Platinum sponsors were Macy's, Allied Waste, the Arts and Cultural Foundation of Antioch, the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch and the Antioch Herald.

Gold sponsors were the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Brothers Local, the Electrical Workers Local #312, Mike's Auto Body; VFW Post #6435 and the Leo Fontana Family.

Silver sponsors were the Gloria Martin Family, Strategic Threat Management, Antioch Education Association, Antioch Rotary Club, Monthly Grapevine, Brentwood Press, Tony Kesline Family, Christ Embassy E. Bay Church, Pegnim and Ivanivich LLP, Rivertown Screen Printing, Paradise Skate, Sno Shack, Martha and Joe Goralka, and the New Beer Garden.

Bronze contributors were Pinky's Klassy Car Wash, Antioch Woman's Club, eTranzUSA, NCAAP East County Branch, Ricks on Second, Delta Advocacy Foundation; Rivertown Garden Club, Fidelis Advertising, Mayor Wade Harper, Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha, Councilman Gary Agopian, Councilman Tony Tiscareno and Councilwoman Monica Wilson.

Gratitude to all. Perhaps see you on our Facebook page or on www.antiochjuly4th.com and see you for sure at America's 2014 birthday bash.

Walter Ruehlig

Antioch

Strike marriage from our laws

Dear Editor:

Advocates and proponents of Proposition 8 all seem to miss the fundamental truth about marriage.

Marriage is a religious institution and as such, it has no place in our system of laws. All references to marriage in our legal system need to be removed and replaced with the term "domestic partner."

All contract references to marriage as a way to determine benefits and eligibility should be ruled illegal because discrimination against others based on their religious beliefs is already unconstitutional. Unfortunately, both sides seem to believe they have the legal right to demand that others believe in their God as they do. Yes, in many religions, marriage is between a man and a woman, but not in all. If your religious group does not believe in gay marriage, maybe it is time to establish a new one.

At this time, if the anti-gay, marriage proponents do not stop their rampant discrimination against gays solely based on religious beliefs, then the court should rule that anyone can be married under the law.

James MacDonald

Pittsburg

Congratulations for protecting Roddy Ranch

Dear Editor:

East Bay Regional Park District's purchase of Roddy Ranch is a blockbuster decision. This purchase will generously serve generations to come by eventually creating the Deer Valley Regional Preserve. As my friends at Save Mt. Diablo have said, "After 15 years of defending Roddy Ranch, confirmed endangered species habitat and an important wildlife corridor in Antioch, the ranch has been protected. The proposed 700 units (600 single-family detached residential units and up to 100 multi-family units) and a hotel of up to 250 rooms that were previously proposed are now off the table. After 15 years of fighting the project, it's a very exciting outcome."

My hat's off to the park district, Save Mt. Diablo and other organizations that have fought for this outcome.

Kermit Sveen

Brentwood

Californians fed up with strikes

Dear Editor:

Once again, the Times has hit the nail on the head with its editorial, "BART workers' demands aren't based in reality."

The people of California are fed up with the statewide union antics over the last few years.

The solution for BART strikes is very simple: Fire them all! I am willing to wager that the majority of the BART employees would be in line the next day submitting applications for all the non-union jobs available and ready to work the following day -- the same day the ex-union leaders would be learning how to fill out unemployment applications.

J. Eric Salmon

Antioch

Highest court ignores will of the voters

Dear Editor:

I am more concerned with the action of the U.S. Supreme Court than its decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and gay marriage.

In both cases the court overrode the decisions of a huge majority of Congress (342 ayes in the House and 85 in the Senate) and the will of 52.4 percent of California voters. The court is assuming powers far beyond its constitutional purpose and authority (legislation from the bench). In fact, the justices' assumption of powers they do not have has trickled down to all federal, state, and local courts.

The California Supreme Court got the ball rolling on overturning the will of the voters of California by not only ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional but also Proposition 22 that 61 percent of voters had passed in 2002. Both decisions are examples of legislation from the bench since their purported justifications were based on very liberal interpretations of the California Constitution.

When these rulings were challenged in federal court, a district judge who is gay refused to recuse himself and then imposed his personal preference over the law in declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. He used a very questionable interpretation of the US Constitution for doing so.

Likewise, the 9th Circuit Court applied its liberal bias and narrowly ruled against Proposition 8.

Please note that the U.S. Supreme Court decision is not definitive because it sends the case back to the district court for rehearing so this situation remains unsettled and Proposition 8 is not dead.

It is worth noting that, to perpetuate political influence over constitutional duties, California's Attorney General refused to defend Proposition 8 in the courts as is mandated by the obligations of that office.

Ernest Hampson

Pittsburg

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