Public employees are not the enemy

After reading your May 6 editorial, "Pension board appointment vital for county," I felt enough is enough.

For the past two years, the Times has been bashing county retirees for their opulent retirement benefits. Now, as a change of pace, you decide to bash the county representatives on the retirement board.

The editorial stated, "the county doesn't run the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association." Nor should it. The funds governed by the retirement board do not belong to the county or the taxpayers. The funds belong to the current county employees and retirees. These assets were bargained for, granted by the county, and paid for by the employees -- many times in lieu of pay raises.

Each trustee on the retirement board has a fiscal responsibility to the owners of the trust, and not to Contra Costa County, even though they are appointees. To this end, Maria Viramontes, a member of the retirement board, has upheld that fiscal responsibility by making decisions she believed to be in the best interest of the trust she was appointed to represent.

Public employees are not the enemy.

Michael Sloan

Brentwood

Sloan, a retired investigator for the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, is the president of the Contra Costa County Retired Employees Association.

Congress is not doing its job


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In his recent news conference, President Barack Obama said the Syrian government is more interested in remaining in power than it is in the well-being of its people.

This has an odd correlation to federal government politicians in this country.

Bob Woodward has said that Congress is broken because politicians have to raise $28,000 daily to get re-elected. In order to raise those funds, they must spend an inordinate amount of time away from doing the business of governing, which is necessary to improve, or even maintain, the well-being of the American people.

This country has a serious problem with the ever-increasing federal debt. If left unchecked, that debt will assuredly cause massive reductions in Americans' quality of life.

Our politicians are in a stalemate over fixing this problem. But they are all successfully moving forward in their plans for getting campaign donations needed to return to their government jobs, which have retirement and health plans you and I would love to have but can't get.

Robert Mayne

Lafayette

Different views are necessary

A May 7 letter by Maggie Reeves was titled, "Conservative columns abound." Trust me, conservative columns do not abound in the Times.

Occasional viewpoints that reflect different political opinions and issues of the day are a vital and healthy indication our system of respecting the First Amendment to guarantee the right for all is indeed working.

In appearances on television and other media, Dr. Ben Carson, chief orthopedic neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recently gave his opinions and analysis on how we could tackle the national debt, the health-care issue, education and welfare of children.

Of course, the opposition excoriated him and labeled him an "Uncle Tom" and traitor to the systems in place. Carson grew up poor, in Detroit, and no one gave him anything. His mother is the reason he succeeded.

So, when one is anxious to exclude a differing viewpoint, try to remember the saying, "The mind is like a parachute. It functions when it is open."

Bentley-dean Lippinott

El Cerrito

Readers deserve more diverse opinions

Hear! Hear! I totally agree with Maggie Reeves' letter of May 7. The Times publishes way too many conservative-leaning columns.

Where are the other diverse opinions readers expect and deserve to read. Ellen Goodman please come back from retirement!

Ellen Eisenberg

Martinez

Grateful for quick response by law

My family and I were the unfortunate victims of a Tara Hills burglary.

There have been several burglaries in this neighborhood. You never want to believe it could happen to you until it does.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department responded very quickly and was able to apprehend the burglar because he is known in this area. Hopefully, he will stay in jail for a long time so we can put our lives back together and repair all the damage he did. People in this neighborhood are aware and are keeping an eye out for the bad guys.

The police are often criticized for their actions, but we found their service very helpful. I am especially grateful to Officer Souza, who was kind and courteous. Because of his professionalism, another bad guy is behind bars.

I am grateful to the sheriff's department for helping to make our neighborhood safer.

Jil Kiernan

San Pablo