Soda tax a step in the right direction

The Times editorial in favor of encouraging sugar-loaded soft drinks seems appalling in view of your generally well-considered opinions.

Especially onerous is the red herring suggestion that a yes vote on Measure N will lead to taxes on everything that can be used to excess -- butter, hamburgers and so on. While there may eventually be some value in considering such taxes to help offset burgeoning health care costs caused by poor and inadequate diet, the soda sugar tax stands quite apart.

There is a clear and direct connection between excess sugar and obesity, diabetes, heart problems and other conditions. Dr. Jeff Ritterman, a primary proponent of Measure N and medical specialist in cardiology, is more than qualified to support such an assertion.

The Times editorial seems irresponsible. The sugar tax by itself will not eliminate the problem, nor will its passage in Richmond necessarily spread to the rest of the country. But as with many eminently sensible proposals that meet with ignorant opposition, there has to be a start, and voting yes on Measure N in Richmond is such a start.

Emory Menefee

Richmond

Nadia Lockyer is embarrassing

Who really crowned Nadia Lockyer as half of a "Democratic power couple?" What an embarrassment.

My real question is why was Bill Lockyer able to transfer $1.5 million in campaign funds to his wife's campaign? What restrictions are there on how and where campaign contributions are spent?

What do candidates do with their leftover money? As a rule, I just don't give to most local or state campaigns, just to the Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama.

I did give some money to a friend who was elected to our local City Council, but I didn't see him or his family trying to create a political dynasty. Just hearing about Bill Lockyer's generosity to his wife's political career makes my skin crawl.

Many thanks to reporter Josh Richman for keeping us up to date on this not-so-powerful couple.

Mary D. Ghidella

El Cerrito

Plight of Muslims in Myanmar

The executive board of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County wishes to express concern at the plight of the Muslim community in Myanmar, called Rohingya.

In accordance with U.N. and media reports, the members of Rohingya are suffering tremendously and facing threats of expulsion from their country of birth.

The board reaffirms support to all religious communities everywhere, including minorities, and draws attention to the Muslims in Myanmar. Freedom of religion is a basic human right; no one should face oppression or be threatened with expulsion due to their religious beliefs.

The board appeals to the members of the faith communities in the Bay Area to express their solidarity with the Muslims in Myanmar.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is coming to the Bay Area very soon. We wish to convey to her and to her hosts our deep concern regarding atrocities against Muslims in her country. The faith communities stood with her during her struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar, and appeal to her to speak out against the discrimination and threats against Muslims in Myanmar.

The Rev. Will McGarvey

Walnut Creek McGarvey is interim director of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.

Chevron volunteers support Food Bank

Working as a volunteer for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, I have made several observations lately. The first is that the demand for food assistance is not subsiding. A recent Gallup Poll now finds that one out of five Americans do not consistently have enough to eat. I have also noticed that employees of Chevron have stepped up their participation in the food bank's food assistance programs. Most of my volunteer efforts have been in West Contra Costa County where Richmond refinery employees have consistently volunteered their time.

Food assistance involves physical work; equal to working in a grocery store on the busiest business day. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano cannot operate, as it does, without volunteer help. Chevron's Richmond refinery employees are there to help, and I know that the recipients of food assistance very much appreciate it.

David Kiefer

El Cerrito