Rodeo-Hercules fire chief acted unethically

Rodeo-Hercules/Pinole Fire Chief Charles Hanley has treated Pinole unfairly.

Hiring three Pinole firefighters for Rodeo-Hercules -- while he's still fire chief in Pinole -- has left Pinole in a precarious situation.

This is the second time he's hurt the city of Pinole this year. The first was the announcement of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, with the stipulation that the city reopen Station 74. Hanley did not inform the Pinole City Council of this caveat.

Whether a contract or agreement between the two jurisdictions allowed Hanley to hire Pinole firefighters while he's working for both jurisdictions is irrelevant; it's an unethical thing to do.

Several months ago, Hanley had the nerve to tout his honesty and integrity to the City Council after being chastised for his deceit regarding the SAFER application. Now this. Pinole is better off without him.

The City Council made the right choice in jettisoning Hanley and choosing to run an independent fire department with its own chief.

Jeff Rubin

Pinole

Why we still need good newspapers

Thank you, Times, for two great front-page articles: one on June 2 about Canadian crude coming to Bay Area refineries, and one the next day about the reversal of salt intrusion in the Salinas Valley.

Articles like these remind us why we still need good local newspapers with good local reporting. The crude oil story shows how futile it is to stop the development of a vast resource, and the Salinas Valley story shows us that if we put our heads together and use our brains, we can create positive results.

Peter Calimeris

Pleasant Hill

Checks and balances missing in California

It seems every day or so a Times editorial criticizes some facet of California government.

Lately it's been directed at the Bay Bridge, high-speed rail, the Public Utilities Commission, public employee benefits, or the quality of education. More than a year ago, a Times editorial said, "But this is California, where dysfunctional politics prevail all too often."

But, we wonder, is there a root cause? Certainly. California has been ruled by a single party since 1970. One can only guess how thoroughly 43 years of Democrats' back-scratching, logrolling and featherbedding have permeated all levels of government.

California's legislative, executive and judicial branches don't provide checks and balances when all three are dominated by a single political party. The only check can come from another party.

Yet the Times continually endorses the same types of candidates -- often the very same candidates -- they complain about. In November, the Times only endorsed one Republican.

Kenneth Marsh

Byron

What's causing residents' ailments?

The city of Richmond argues that Chevron's operations are responsible for the poor health of Richmond's residents, and the City Council voted to retain a law firm for legal action if Chevron does not agree to a compensation package.

What needs to be determined is if residents' health problems are due to Chevron or other factors, such as home environment, diet or smog from vehicles.

Richmond is enclosed by Interstates 80 and 580 and the Richmond Parkway. On hot, windless days, one could look out over Richmond and observe the smog hanging over the city like the grim reaper.

My parents settled in North Richmond in 1922. Our family and neighbors lived in North Richmond long before there was an agency to monitor air pollution.

The air was so toxic that vegetables and plants would wilt and die, tree leaves would turn black, and structures painted white would be gray in six months. Yet most individuals lived a healthy life into their 80s and 90s. Perhaps it was all that toxic air we inhaled.

Al Bruzzone

Richmond

Before retiring, Bruzzone was a research technician with Chevron for 37 years.

High school graduation becoming less special

It seems a shame that some parents are unable to hear their child's name called at the time of receiving a diploma due to the riotous behavior of a substantial number of seniors during graduation ceremonies.

The graduation ceremony from high school is not required by the state education code. Traditionally, it is a dignified, respectful commencement exercise put on by the faculty.

Unfortunately, these seniors have been exposed to "graduation" from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school and middle school. Parents seem to want their children to experience these ceremonies.

Is it any wonder, then, that high school graduation is not a big deal for many students? They've been through it all before at the lower levels. But graduation from high school and college is a big deal, and the time to party is after the ceremony.

Hopefully, this message will reach parents who insist on "graduation" exercises -- some even in caps and gowns -- for every level of their children's schooling.

Too much, too soon takes away the uniqueness.

Warren Jensen

Concord