To the contrary, local fire services excellent

I take issue with the Times' choice of phrase in its Feb. 18 editorial, "Leadership crisis is clear at ConFire."

The Times let its less-than-favorable opinion of ConFire Chief Daryl Louder lead it into making an unjustified, unsupportable, broad-brush, derogatory comment about all fire department chiefs when the editorial said, "the chief remains a traditional fire executive unwilling or unable to think creatively."

The city of El Cerrito has enjoyed outstanding "fire executive leadership" by current fire Chief Lance Maples and his predecessor, Chief Mark Scott. Under their leadership, El Cerrito and Kensington residents have enjoyed excellent service at a savings to both communities.

Whatever shortcomings the Times believes Chief Louder may have, please don't assume all fire executives share them. One could say that would be the same as if all readers believed Times reporters had the same professional abilities as those working for the tabloids.

Al Miller

El Cerrito

Sowell's rants are poorly informed

Thomas Sowell's recent column decrying the "generous" benefits of retired government employees and the resulting negative economic effect is another example of his poorly informed rants.

I've been a federal civil service employee for well over 25 years, as a technical professional and manager. I make a competitive salary (with the private sector) based on my experience and expertise.

However, my upcoming government pension -- that I have earned -- will be only about 40 percent of my current salary, which really cannot be labeled as generously excessive.

If I were to retire when fully eligible, I would have to sell my home and move into a smaller apartment to make ends meet, because of my greatly reduced income. That is why I intend to continue to work well beyond the standard retirement age. This same situation is shared among my civil service colleagues.

We can conclude that the purpose of Sowell's misinformed writings is to be a partisan cheerleader for the GOP, rather than basing his offerings on researched facts, and not hysterical hyperbole.

Thomas Dauer

Walnut Creek

We must address causes of violence

This is in response to the Feb. 13 letter by Linda Schaefer, "Real dialogue needed on gun violence."

Some 40 to 50 years ago, most teens aged 14 to 18 were taught proper shooting safety and were allowed to shoot BB guns and pellet pistols in their backyards.

Violence and its causes are the complex and multifaceted issues at hand, not the weapons of choice. FBI statistics, as recently as 2011, show more people are killed with clubs and knives than by guns. So, do we outlaw knives and sticks?

Cars and medical malpractice kill far more people than guns. Do we outlaw cars and doctors?

I do hurt for the people who have lost loved ones to violence. Do we, as a society, show the same pain or outrage when someone dies in a car crash?

A meaningful discussion should center on what is causing the violence, not the old cry that outlawing guns will solve the problem, or using fear as a method to try to make people agree with anti-gun rhetoric.

Gene Berry

San Pablo

Supreme Court upholds rights

In response to Ed Chainey's last letter, I would like to say President Barack Obama has supported every anti-Second Amendment measure that he has dealt with and that tyrants such as Hitler and Stalin always disarmed the public as a prelude to their other crimes.

Consequently, the incremental destruction of our liberties is something to be feared. Obama is a well-meaning man; however, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The Supreme Court upholds rights, it did not invent them. Thus, the Supreme Court has no authority to abolish our rights. So, limiting a private citizen's right to bear arms, such as a shotgun (which might or might not be effective) in a specific emergency, is to jeopardize the safety of those threatened by a violent crime.

Lastly, I would like to point out that there was no gun control in the United States, unless someone was judged insane or had been convicted of a crime, even in areas without slavery, until after the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves.

William Ellis

Walnut Creek