CEQA requires drastic reform
As a civil engineer and environmentalist, I agree with the recent Times editorial calling for reform of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), although reform seems an understatement to describe what's needed.
I've worked on projects in Contra Costa County for 12 years and have time and again come across people with little experience enforcing regulations they can't explain and defend.
Most notorious are the Department of Fish and Game, requiring expensive mitigation of streams that don't and never had fish, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, mandating subdivisions be allowed to flood instead of bypassed and that roof runoff be filtered.
Recently, I noticed new guidelines for stormwater control are as thick as the phone book for a medium-sized city and require a specialist to understand them. This will place a substantial cost burden on private properties, industries and municipalities.
My views are sympathetic to the environment and some form of CEQA was needed in the 1970s, but we in California have created a bureaucratic Frankenstein monster that needs to be drastically curtailed in scope and budget, but especially scope.
Wayne Curt Huber
Stop stunts and get the job done
The Nov. 28 Times editorial, "Dispense with theatrics and strike a deal," was right on the mark.
As I was reading the editorial, President Barack Obama was on television stating he was going on the road to inform the American people of his plan to end the so-called "fiscal crisis."
We are overinformed of this situation and all we seem to see are TV photo ops from both sides blaming the other for this so-called crisis.
Why can't the politicians do the job they were elected to do? It's partly our fault: We keep electing the same individuals over and over again, and don't understand they will follow the party line and not our wishes.
Stop the trips, stop the photo ops, stop the public stunts and start doing some constructive talking to get the job done now.
J. Eric Salmon
Myths about wealth and high performers
Al Lappinga's comment in his Nov. 29 letter in the Times, stating that President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown want to penalize high performers by requiring them to pay higher taxes, is illogical.
High income does not equate to high performance. There are many underqualified, overpaid executives who are low performers.
Should an executive paid $250,000-plus a year, who has run a company or two into bankruptcy, resulting in hundreds of job losses, and who has never run a successful company, be classified as a high performer? I can think of more than a few highly paid individuals who have this type of low-performance pedigree.
Wealth can be attributed to many factors, including luck, inheritance, and sometimes, but not always, high performance. Realistically, there are many high-performing people earning less than $250,000 annually, and there are many low-performing people earning more than $250,000.
Suggesting all wealthy people are high performers, and implying they contribute more to society, is misguided.
Don't let truth get lost in the hype
Jared Blumenfeld's fact-stuffed Thanksgiving Op-Ed on curbing food waste was laudable. However, it contained one "factoid" that if literally true should demand the immediate attention of every citizen from the president on down. Blumenfeld stated that every day "more than 50 million Americans go hungry."
A brief Google search suggests that this comes from a 2009 USDA study based on survey questions. The conclusions, summarized in its Household Food Security annual report, found "17 million households, or 14.6 percent, were food insecure and families had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year."
It's easy to see how you get to 50 million Americans from 17 million American households, but I'm still struggling with getting to "every day" from "at times during the year."
If "every day" were true, our government would be doing much more to alleviate the situation. This clearly isn't the case because USDA's latest statistics are very similar to those reported in 2009. Clearly the reality is less dire, but like many issues, the truth gets lost in the hype.