Californians voted for death penalty

One of your recent editorials, "Accept plea deal from suspect in Aurora shooting," did not report the cost of keeping 730 inmates on death row in California -- at an annual cost of more than $4 billion.

Each time an inmate appeals his case, it costs the taxpayers $100,000. Your editorial claims the "death penalty is not worth the financial cost or emotional anguish of reliving this event year after year." Ask those who have lost a loved one.

One appeal of $100,000 would cover the costs of imposing the death penalty and relieve the taxpayers the continuing cost of having to build new prisons and housing those on death row.

The inmates receive better health care and a better diet than many of our senior citizens.

The people of California have voted for the death penalty three times.

George Atashkarian

Moraga

Wars, not seniors, caused deficit

Just to appease Republicans on the deficit, President Barack Obama mustn't lower cost-of-living increases on Social Security checks, especially when coupled with the current historically low savings and treasury bill interest rates.

Republicans who favor stringent financial measures against a vulnerable sector of society need serious adjustments to their humanitarianism.

Most seniors rent: Apartment owners and assisted-living facilities won't freeze rents even though seniors become further financially strapped. I predict continuing Republican coldheartedness on the federal safety net may cost them the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2016. But what do I know? I'm just a senior.

The American budget was hardest hit, not by Social Security, but by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were proposed and mostly carried forth under a Republican administration.

Let's keep the treasury facts straight and not balance anything on the tired backs of seniors.

Claire J. Baker

Pinole

Sowell told truth about Benghazi

Columnist Thomas Sowell's May 17 column, "The lies about Benghazi just kept getting bigger," was one of only a few who dared to print truths about the Benghazi attack during which four Americans were murdered while under a seven-hour siege.

President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and numerous other administration officials told lie after lie and continue to lie and stonewall to cover their incompetence and lack of concern for the lives of these Americans.

Rather, they were concerned about Obama's reelection. Politics was more important than American lives.

They claim the Republicans have made the affair a political sideshow. Really, whose actions made it political?

The Times could win a journalism award if it investigated and published all the truths.

Cliff Wiesner

Concord

Differing views on Benghazi

On May 17, I read Thomas Sowell's column. Earlier that week, I read a David Brooks column on the same subject -- Benghazi. They presented two totally different perspectives and interpretations about the emails released from the White House.

Brooks' column seems reasonable and attempts to put in order and context the chain of events, without using accusatory language. Sowell's column seems far more partisan and inflammatory.

That Benghazi was primarily a CIA operation the State Department, CIA and the White House did not want exposed makes much more sense than the allegation it was an attempt by a Democratic administration to sway an election.

I think the "47 percent" video released on Sept. 18 had a much greater effect on the election than the situation in Benghazi.

Beverly Aquino

Danville

Response to column on BART

Dan Borenstein's May 12 column, "Prepare for a long, hot summer of BART negotiations," left out some key facts.

The average BART front-line worker dedicates 17 years to make BART work, after which we earn a modest pension of $21,000. Our workplace retirement plans are all we receive: We're not eligible for Social Security.

We operate BART trains, we don't buy them. Elected members of BART's Board of Directors have had 40 years to plan for purchasing new cars and failed to do so. We're more than willing to help them raise necessary funds from the customary federal, state and local sources and last week we held a "Brownies for BART" bake sale to get the process started.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission furnished wage comparisons between BART front-line workers and comparable transit agencies in their April 2012 Transit Sustainability Project. "Base wages appear reasonable when compared to national peers and Bay Area wage indices," they concluded.

When adjusted for Bay Area cost of living, BART workers' wages were lower than transit systems in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Antonette C. Bryant

Oakland

Bryant is the president of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1555.