Send election funds to needy charities
I am appalled -- and saddened -- by the huge amount of election money that is currently being spent, much of it on unpleasant negative advertisements or high-priced banquets for the few. So here's an idea:
Major contenders could identify special causes dear to their hearts and request donations to be sent directly to these concerns. Donors would feel their money was going to help problems the country is facing, such as housing, poverty, health care and education, and each candidate would get credit and publicity for these money-raising efforts.
Encouraging supporters to send money to a charity in the name of the party or candidate -- or for themselves to give a full day helping in a thrift shop or laboring with Habitat for Humanity -- would enable candidates to relate more realistically with the needs of the ordinary voter, as well as helping the economy, more than a stump speech before an invited audience could ever do.
Think of how much good there would be to show for the money at the end -- and the donor could claim charitable tax relief, as well as supporting both his party and his chosen charity.
Double standard in political reports
The Democrat-controlled Legislature has crafted the state budget behind closed doors. Republicans
Sounds like Nancy Pelosi. She never allowed a single Republican amendment to the health care bill to come to the floor. Her ultimatum was, "You don't need to read it. Just pass it!" This was applauded as "leadership."
Can you imagine the uproar if Republicans used these tactics?
Another news story ignored: There were lengthy discussions concerning Mitt Romney's high school years. No one reported on Barack Obama's. It turns out he was a rather mellow fellow, close friends of the "Choom Gang." Choom is slang for marijuana.
Times wastes lots of space on article
Rather than nibble at the bait your July 18 "Endangered dudes" cover story offers, I will ask a more pertinent question: Why would you devote precious front-page space for what's basically a glorified book review, complete with an otherwise uninformative drawing that's larger than all the other articles on the page?
A front-page position usually indicates the most essential information of what's going on for that day.
Apparently so little of note went on in the world that this piece of infotainment can be granted the importance of lead-story status.
Part of the "decline of men" is due to their inability to discern relevant information from junk. It might help if the Times didn't contribute to that.
Blackmail begins on county fire tax
ConFire Chief Daryl Louder has started his rounds of preaching scare tactics, a typical political ploy (some call it blackmail); close stations, lay off people and, now his latest, reduce mutual assistance to smaller fire districts.
The biggest contributor to ConFire's financial problem is exorbitant salaries and benefits. These are 85 percent of operating costs.
Per David Twa, county administrator, benefits are 103 percent of salaries. These are unsustainable. Until these are resolved, there will be no financial stability at ConFire.
You might find it interesting to look at ConFire's personnel costs. The first 50 individuals on the list all make more than $100,000 in annual salary and have a total cost of at least $250,000 each. (www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2011)
The key to financial reform is reduction of salary and benefits for current employees. Just increasing employee contributions won't get the job done.
This reduction should be at least 20 percent. Firefighters will still make a lot more than those of us in the private sector.
I'm not anti-firefighter -- we just need services provided at an affordable cost.
Civilized dialogue vs. pure thuggery
I must respond to the July 20 letter, "Celebrating diversity should apply to all," lest anyone be lulled into accepting the la-la-land presentation of the controversial Israeli-Palestinian situation.
The author identifies anyone who agrees with her as an "intelligent-minded thinker." She laments that when an Israeli speaks, often there are protesters and "some of these groups are quite malicious and anti-social."
In 1994, the renowned British historian David Irving was scheduled to speak in UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium. Thanks to Rabbi Shapiro and Hillel, Irving at the last minute was denied use.
Irving's presentation was then moved to the nearby YWCA. The area was surrounded by rampaging thugs who attacked anyone wanting to enter the YWCA. I was bloodied to the waist, and others suffered various injuries, including a man in his 80s who was beaten on the face and head.
The YWCA was trashed. This went on while Berkeley police stood by as if making sure none of the thugs were harmed.
The likes of that letter writer can keep their brand of "intelligent thinking," I will stick to civilized dialogue.