AB 1839 is a union bailout

Recently, several readers have written letters advocating support for California Assembly Bill 1839, which would provide even more "tax credits" to the California film industry.

These credits reduce the state income taxes of the film industry and are a form of corporate welfare. The writers of these letters, typically film industry union members, claim that without these tax credits film production will continue to migrate to other states.

A major reason film production is leaving the state is because the film unions have driven up production costs by excessively high wages and onerous work rules. Simply put, the film unions have priced themselves out of work and now they want the rest of us to bail them out.

The state will have to make up for any decrease in film industry taxes either by reducing state services, typically those that serve seniors, children, or the poor, or by tax increases.

Tell your state legislators to vote "No" on AB 1839 -- no bailouts for the unions, and no more corporate welfare for Hollywood.

Dick Patterson

El Cerrito

Giving away resources

Where have all the Contra Costa County library materials gone? The answer is, the library's annual giveaway.

As a former library employee and patron of the Kensington and El Cerrito libraries, I have been disheartened over recent years by the massive weeding and giveaway programs the library system has embarked on. No collection is spared.


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Apparently the only books and audio/visual materials kept are those in mint condition and from the last few years. Last week I went to browse the Kensington Library book-on-CD collection for a car trip, only to find out that over half had been withdrawn from the collection. Upon investigation I discovered that in less than two hours a deputy country librarian had taken it upon herself, during the branch manager's absence, to weed these materials. She asked no advice from regular staff about what people check out at the library or apparently did not look at circulation statistics to see that the Kensington population checks out a lot of books-on-CD.

But this is not the only instance of indiscriminate weeding. The El Cerrito Library's children's collection has been cut in half to showcase only the newest and prettiest books. Many of their expensive and lovely oversized, coffee-table books likewise have gone away.

Is there not concern about what the community likes? Weeding used to be done by careful guidelines, such as former best sellers that have not circulated in three years; non-fiction that is out of date; and such as medical or legal books that no longer have current or accurate information.

You will no longer find books on cassettes or videocassettes in any of the 25 libraries in the county library system. When asked how to get a copy of a movie not yet in DVD format, staff was told to use the LINK+ system to get this sort of material from another library system!

Making room in the shelves by pulling out really ratty copies of items and ordering replacement copies of classics is one thing. But that is rarely being done now. The goal seems to be to look like Barnes & Noble, with only pretty books to catch your eye. There is no interest in keeping anything of historical significance, let alone any sort of archive.

Last year, I attended the annual giveaway, knowing I would find a good source of foreign language books and audio/visual materials in Spanish for impoverished schools in Mexico. I, indeed, came away with boxes of children's materials in Spanish. But while I was browsing among the very numerous aisles, I overheard two teachers decrying what a shame it was that the library was giving away such a valuable resource.

Need I say more? Please write your county librarian, Jessica Hudson, if you feel the way I do.

Louise O'Dea

El Cerrito

Thinking must be critical

I am referring to Thomas Sowell's Aug. 8 column in the Times, "Our nation seems to be entering the post-thinking era."

It appears Sowell is thinking that what happens to be his great skill is on its way out. His genius, you may have noticed, is his ability to use his reasoning mind to grasp and formulate the rationale for what he believes is true or right.

I certainly don't see any lack of this particular use of human intellect at this point in time. Although Sowell gets paid to do this, most of us are satisfied to rationalize without remuneration.

It has been said, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the intellect can be an excellent tool or servant but it makes for a terrible master. Believing everything one thinks is symptomatic of neurosis or psychosis, while habituation to patterns of thinking that rationalize whatever one is moved to believe retards one's growth and learning.

"Too little thinking" is far from being our problem, but rather not enough of it is critical and creative thinking in service to one's heartfelt intention of discovering true and lasting values and the ways of living up to them.

What is considered conventional wisdom warrants a great deal more critical evaluation rather than weak-minded adoption.

Ron Greenstein

El Cerrito

Possible better outcome?

If Chevron has lost money on its project to refine high sulfur crude oil, it's unfortunate because the loss wouldn't have occurred had Chevron been up front in first applying for a new permit necessitating a new environmental impact report.

Instead, Chevron waged an aggressive publicity campaign supporting its "modernization" project, which led to Attorney General Kamala Harris calling Chevron out; the Community for a Better Environment suing the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for lax oversight of Chevron; and the Richmond Planning Commission and environmental activists demanding Chevron be more -- and perhaps excessively -- generous toward Richmond, as well as meeting legal mandates for emission control.

It probably won't happen, given the currently poisonous relations among the different parties, but a better outcome would probably have occurred through arbitration by an independent but qualified authority, instead of charges, counter-charges, prejudicial name-calling by all participants and a rush to judgment by the Richmond City Council on July 29.

In the meantime, Richmond residents, and residents of nearby communities, continue to suffer the effects of refinery-generated pollution.

Ruby MacDonald

El Cerrito

Council failed local residents

I'm all for solar power and student scholarships, but I feel strongly that Doctors Medical Center, a community hospital that sees thousands of patients in its emergency room each year and saves many lives, should have funding priority over the pet projects of some members of the Richmond City Council.

However, behind closed doors, the Richmond City Council decided that $90 million dollars from Chevron should go to projects that do not include DMC, which has no funding source and is slated to close this September.

When the closure happens, the people of Richmond and the surrounding communities will lose the nearby hospital where doctors save heart attack victims, repair broken hips, and remove ruptured appendices.

When the hospital no longer exists and the doctors are gone, remember what the Richmond City Council failed to do.

Dr. Lorna Cogen

Berkeley