Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not the "most realistic plan yet conceived" to address the equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability, as Dennis McEwan claims.
How will the peripheral tunnels benefit Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead and other fish species when they are, in fact, only spreading the fish carnage from the South Delta to the Sacramento River?
The massacre of millions of fish annually will continue when the South Delta pumps are operating, while the new intake facilities on the Sacramento will imperil salmon in their major migratory corridor.
The Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan is a far superior plan to the BDCP. It reduces water exports to no more than 3 million acre-feet per year and brings solutions to California's water problems, including retirement of drainage-impaired land and increased water recycling and conservation.
Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): Dennis McEwan's opinion glosses over the fundamental weakness of the ecological component of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan: While the hardware has guaranteed funding by assessing consumers of the water, funds for the ecological component must be raised by California voters approving future bond measures.
If these bond measures fail, California gets the tunnels and the water diversion, but no ecological restoration. Bee staff writer Matt Weiser's March 28 news story "Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents reveal details, stir concerns" says, "The new plumbing is estimated to cost $14 billion,... paid by farm and urban water ratepayers ... via rate increases to repay bonds issued by DWR."
The story also says the plan calls for converting many Delta islands into restored wildlife habitat. This is estimated to cost $4 billion, which the planners expect all California taxpayers to fund, according to the article.
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 3): In the past years, minimum-wage workers' cost of living has gone up a great deal, making it even harder for these people to make ends meet.
One reason the minimum wage should be increased is so that the working class has enough money to put some back into the economy, so it becomes healthier. When minimum wages are reduced by inflation, the working class spends less, which is detrimental to our economy. Even though raising the national minimum wage will drop margins of profit for big companies, it will help companies in the long run. If their pay is increased even a little, these working-class citizens will give the economy a boost.
Higher wages will hurt many
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 2): Paul Krugman closes his argument by stating that "raising the minimum wage would help many Americans." By many, he is talking about the 30 million workers earning minimum wage.
However, raising the minimum wage will only hurt the low-income workers by making it harder for the less qualified who are searching for jobs in a nation with a whopping unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Lets not forget that the ideal unemployment is a mere 4.5 percent.
If our nation could increase funding toward such a goal, instead of raising the minimum wage, we would be helping the 11.3 million people that are unemployed, as well as the 30 million low-income workers.
If our nation hopes to overcome economic inequality, this should be common sense.
Re Atheists Out of the Closet in new billboard campaign (Our Region, Dec. 2): The responses of the religious spokesmen to the atheist billboard campaign were distressing.
Metwalli Amer, executive director of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims Islamic Center, took offense that people do not believe as he does. Is he suggesting that believers, but not atheists, can state their views publicly?
Monsignor Jim Murphy, vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, dismissed atheists as a small minority, but perhaps he should reflect that Christians in first century Palestine were also a tiny minority.
Believers may disagree with atheist views, but they need to offer reasonable counterarguments.
Re "Only one fix to the big mess in Loomis" (Editorials, Nov. 30): The Sacramento Bee editorial board correctly articulated the flaws and foibles of too many special districts, epitomized by the Loomis Fire Protection District. Multiple overlapping, tax-funded agencies, like Placer County's fire districts, demand consolidation.
Excessive special districts create difficulties for citizens to monitor incompetence and/or malfeasance.
Fire Chief Dave Wheeler claims to be an employee for conflict-of-interest issues but not an employee under California Public Employees Retirement Systems rules for reinstatement.
Justice will be partly served if Wheeler pays back any money received in violation of CalPERS regulations. However, judging from intransigent Loomis fire district board's responses, taxpayers likely will be gouged for legal fees that rightfully belong to a private citizen.
Wheeler could do right by all by refusing the mayor position and choosing one job or the other.
Re "Football drains UC prestige" (Forum, Dec. 1): I am a University of California, Davis, grad, and my daughter is a senior there and works in the recruiting center for the football team.
My son and daughter were both Elk Grove High graduates, and my son earned a scholarship to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and played football there.
Elk Grove High School is doing great this year, but my daughter said that there isn't one player who qualifies to attend UC Davis. Davis will not bend the rules for anyone. Their coach says football is for four years, but a UC Davis degree is for a lifetime.
I admire the student athletes at UC Davis who can find the time to practice their sports and keep up with their studies, which, I can tell you from personal experience, is no easy task. Not all UCs are equal.
Re "Health watch" (The Buzz, Nov. 26): While the article about California kids getting early introductions to fast-food meals addresses the dangers of early exposure to fast food, it neglects to say that this problem disproportionately affects minorities and people of low-socioeconomic status.
The article also fails to mention the underlying cause of these problems: health disparities within our society.
Simple messages, as stated in the article, may work on a small scale, but curtailing the fast-food business from marketing and having access to children in at-risk areas will likely have a greater impact.
Re "Football Drains UC Prestige" (Viewpoints, Dec. 1): Peter Schrag is doing the University of California a favor by advocating the de-emphasizing of football at Berkeley.
In 1946, Robert Hutchins had the guts to pull the University of Chicago out of the Big Ten, despite cries that he was going to ruin the school. He went ahead and, despite the naysayers, Chicago is still one of the most outstanding schools in the country.
My son went there in the 1970s, when two Nobel laureates were faculty members, Milton Friedman and Saul Bellow. My son received a superb education and hardly noticed that there was not a big-time football team.
My grandson has applied to the UC system, and the subject of football never entered his mind.
As a California taxpayer, I see no reason why I have to support football programs at public universities. There is plenty of football around with the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Oakland Raiders.
Re "Placerville closes 'Haven' chapter" (Page A1, Nov. 15): This article talked about a homeless sanctuary called the Hangtown Haven being shutdown in Placerville. I can't believe they are getting rid of a place like this.
I feel that it did a lot more good than bad. The residents are complaining of homeless being on the streets of the town, but they don't understand that the people from the Haven are not the ones living on the street. Getting rid of the Haven will only make this problem worse because all those that were living there will now be forced onto the street. I hope they end up relocating, if not expanding, this program. It really does help those who need it most.
Re "LDS bishop disguises himself as homeless" (Page A2, Nov. 29): Bishop David Musselman of Taylorsville, Utah, dressed as a homeless traveler and got mixed reactions as he welcomed people to the church. Some worshipers were kind to him, some were indifferent, and some told the bishop to get off the property.
Yet the church should be a place of refuge, a sanctuary. It was for me. I slept in a church for nearly two years. The bishop there emptied a drawer in his office to make room for my things, and he always let me know when "the elders" were coming.
Mary and Joseph were also humble travelers, as were Jesus and his apostles. They were a lot like homeless people.
-- Charles Soderman, South Lake Tahoe
The Pets on Trains Act of 2013, introduced in Congress in May, would allow passengers to take their cats or dogs along when traveling on certain trains operated by Amtrak, the national railroad passenger corporation.
Amtrak operates 300 trains to more than 500 destinations daily, but throughout its 40 years, the railroad has strictly prohibited all pets from the train unless they are service animals.
Most of us share a common love for a dog or cat we have at home, and we consider them family. So, why can't our family come with us while traveling?
Pets can be crated on a plane, so why not on Amtrak?
I know how stressful it is driving a long distance with my dog in the car. Riding Amtrak and being able to take my pet would be a lot easier, especially around holidays.
I fully support the Amtrak pet bill.
Re "Only one fix to the big mess in Loomis" (Editorials, Nov. 30): The Bee editorial was right in calling on Dave Wheeler to either resign from the Loomis Town Council or from his position as the local fire chief.
The California Public Employees Retirement System says Wheeler continued to collect pension checks after being warned by the agency in 2010 of the apparent violation of its regulations.
Worse yet, if the Town Council members name Wheeler, currently mayor pro tem, as the new mayor, Loomis will become a prime example of towns that wink at the very pension abuse bankrupting California cities.
Re "Football drains UC prestige" (Forum, Dec. 1): Peter Schrag tells us that University of California, Berkeley, has big problems managing its football program, especially the graduation rates of its athletes. Oh, the shock by Cal management to discover this!
The United States is the only developed democracy that has organized interschool athletics, including conferences and leagues, from middle school through university.
I want to see how much staff time is spent, from chancellors down through middle school leaders, on interschool athletic programs. This is time that could be spent on providing the best learning possible.
Coaches salaries at universities drive up all salaries, starting with the chancellors. We citizens need to make the politicians of both parties stop this nonsense, both by legislation and cutting interschool athletic funding. Schools need to return to educating.
Who's in charge of education policy? The media and rich alumni, or the citizenry?
Re "Young people less tolerant of online slurs" (Page A1, Nov.24): Online bullying is a huge problem throughout schools across the country. Kids and teens are bullied from elementary school to high school. Teens can bully other teens behind their cell phone or computer screen and they will never have to own up to it.
Because of bullying, teens can be emotionally and psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives. Students will stay home from school because they are afraid of being bullied or they are embarrassed because of the mean things people say to them.
Students and parents need to be aware of the effects of bullying on youths, and we all should do what we can to stop this harmful practice.
Re "Race to rescue health website" (Page A1, Dec. 1): The focus continues to be on the Affordable Care Act's mishaps, but the real scandal is worse: Health care is being denied to 5 million people because some state governors continue to sabotage medical care for poor people.
The GOP decided years ago to never support anything that President Barack Obama tried to do. These tactics always make the government look bad, but I guess that's what the GOP wants. Go figure.
Re "Only one fix to the big mess in Loomis" (Editorials, Nov. 30): Thank you to The Bee editorial board for continuing to shine a light on Loomis Fire Chief Dave Wheeler's multiple legal issues.
Our community is being made a laughingstock by this man, who has been accused of violating both state conflict-of-interest laws and California Public Employees Retirement System regulations.
He's a prime example of public employee abuses of the system, yet the local Tea Party members have been silent. Perhaps they are embarrassed by one of their own.
I hope the Loomis Town Council and state officials shut Wheeler and that CalPERS gets back every dime taken in violation of pension rules.
Re "Develop farmlands, not housing projects" (Letters, Dec. 1): The Sacramento Bee has done a good job sharing readers' views on the McKinley Village proposal for 300-plus new homes on 48 acres in east Sacramento currently zoned for heavy industrial use.
McKinley Village, as proposed, will greatly tax the area infrastructure that established residents count on.
The project's major shortcoming is its lack of automobile access via Alhambra Boulevard, which the developer says is "infeasible." That means it would be expensive and reduce profits.
This proposal reflects poorly on those who favor it because it shows little regard for the quality of life of the people who already live in east Sacramento or for those who might live there in the future.
Re "Health care privacy seen to be at risk" (Page A1, Dec. 1): I am sorry to see that our officials are wringing their hands over how to keep from running afoul of privacy laws with regards to individuals who get into the Covered California health system.
The good news is that state officials simply have to put in what the federal government put in the Obamacare package. That is that individuals cannot expect a right to privacy once they accept the government health care.
-- James B. Taylor, Gold River
Re "President Obama must finally do his Asia 'pivot'" (Editorials, Nov. 30): China and Japans dispute over control of the eight uninhabited islands in the East China Sea is based on history, not oil.
The islands were part of China until they were ceded to Japan after the first Sino-Japanese war, along with Taiwan.
The reason neither China nor Taiwan said anything before 1971 was probably because the islands had been under U.S. control. It was natural for both Taiwan and China to claim the islands when the United States decided to turn administration control, not sovereignty, to Japan.
Re "CSUS looks at smoking ban" (Our Region, Nov. 30): We are finally getting there: A campus where the air is safe to breathe, where we can proudly bring our families and walk with our kids.
Banning both smoking and chewing tobacco will improve the general health of the campus. Students, faculty and other staff should have the freedom of breathing uncontaminated air on campus, as well as working in safe environments that allow healthier lifestyles.
People should see the emergence of these policies as the first steps of acknowledging that we need to change our behaviors when we willingly or unknowingly endanger ourselves and our loved ones. We should view this policy as hope for a better life and healthier future. We have nothing to lose, and lives to gain.
Re "Race to rescue health website" (Page A1, Dec. 1): President Barack Obama is trying to improve the lives of Americans. He is making it affordable for them to see their doctor when sick, instead of using the local hospital for every ailment and letting taxpayers pick up the tab.
Now the president is being blamed for the health care website not working, but federal employees arent the problem. Private companies on a government contract are doing the work. These are companies whom Obama trusted to do what they claimed they could. And I am sure they are being paid very well indeed.
I do not recall the installation of Medicare having a problem back in 1965. Wonder why? Simple, Medicare is one plan run by the federal government. And it works.
Let's put the blame where it belongs. I admire this president for trying to do what's right.
Re "President Obama must finally do his Asia 'pivot'" (Editorials, Nov. 30): The United States' response to China's air defense identification zone is rash and hypocritical.
Japan established its own ADIZ in 1969, but in 2010 unilaterally extended its zone to cover Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, whose sovereignty is under dispute between Japan and China. We remained silent, though our official position is one of neutrality on the dispute.
In 2012, Japan nationalized three of the islands and retreated from its 30-plus-year-old implicit agreement with China to shelve the dispute.
When China responded forcefully but peacefully, we alleged that China had escalated the dispute and endangered regional peace. Likewise, when China proclaimed a reportedly unclear ADIZ policy, we didn't ask for a clarification. We sent two B-52s into China's air defense zone.
No wonder China believes the United States Asian 'pivot' is aimed at preventing its re-emergence as a regional power.
Re "Young people less tolerant of online slurs" (Page A1, Nov.24): According to the article, there has been an increase in the number of young people who believe online slurs are unacceptable, yet there has been no decrease in the number of such messages posted on social networks used by young people.
The article also says that the majority of young people are not offended by derogatory and prejudiced language.
Have we succeeded in producing a generation now strong enough to brush off online bullying, or have we merely created a generation of young people desensitized to online slurs and, by implication, their effect on others?
I would like to believe this change in attitude is a precursor to a change in behavior, but I fear it is more likely an example of respondents giving the "correct answer" about attitudes in a survey, while their actual online behavior gives us the true answer.
Re "Affordable Care Act's big secret: It's already a surprising success" (Viewpoints, Nov. 30): Paul Krugman thinks that we will buy his false logic regarding the "slowing" of rising health care costs. He uses real Medicare spending to support his argument.
The fallacy is that Medicare reduces its spending by cutting back on or refusing payment for services. Unfortunately, those costs get passed on to the recipient or others through co-insurance or direct billing.
This year, my 82-year-old mother was admitted to a hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. Tests run during her stay ruled out a heart attack. Medicare decided that she could have been treated as an outpatient and refused to pay for her stay. The hospital had to eat it.
Krugman also thinks that a decline in medical innovation and new drugs is good. Just take the old pills or old tests and shut up. Good luck!
Re "Race to rescue health website" (Page A1, Doc. 1): After private contractors were unable to launch a federal website for Obamacare and President Barack Obama's closest advisers had "few good answers," the alternative seems quite obvious.
The president needs to turn to IBM and have the website managed by Watson, the company's supercomputer that competed on Jeopardy. Watson appears to have the correct answers for everything.
Re "Zimmerman or Martin: Who's the thug?" (Forum, Nov. 24): After reading the opinion piece by Leonard Pitts Jr., it made me really start to think about the whole trial again. George Zimmerman sat on the stand day after day with this want-to-be-innocent look on his face. Zimmerman acted like he had nothing to do with Martin's death and that he was only trying to defend himself.
Now that Zimmerman has been in the news for his violence against his wife as well as girlfriend, I believe people will start to take notice that Trayvon Martin did not get justice and was not given a far trial because everyone regarded him as some type of thug. The article did a great job of explaining the difference between the two and showing Zimmerman was the thug.
Re "Atheists 'Out of the Closet' in new billboard campaign" (Our Region, Dec. 2): I come from Quaker pioneer stock but was raised generic Protestant. I believed in God because that's the default position for most Americans.
College opened my mind to new ways of thinking. I came to believe no loving God/parent would allow such endless suffering, and that the universe was awe-inspiring in its own right. Nature became my touchstone.
If Americans were truly as welcoming as we claim, I would not have felt the need for billboards. If I were treated as an equal in society and in our deliberately secular government, without religious people constantly trying to impose their beliefs, I would have remained quiet.
But all despised groups have had to leave the closet, from blacks to feminists to gays, and now us. We're basically good folks, just like you. Please don't allow religious dogma to make us less than equal.
Re "Atheists 'Out of the Closet' in new billboard campaign" (Our Region, Dec. 2): I am not a fan of billboards of any type, but I appreciate the effort of the freethinkers and atheists to break stereotypes.
I am a person from a faith perspective, and I think the more we can embrace a multiplicity of belief systems in this world, including agnostic or atheist, the more humane and enriched we become. What matters, from my perspective, is how we live our lives.
I appreciate the charity work that Gary Alexander and others are showing to our community. I see that all of us who are trying to create a more compassionate, just world are on the same team.
Re "Atheists 'Out of the Closet' in new billboard campaign" (Our Region, Dec. 2): For those of us who question religion, these billboards confirm that we are not alone. They are expressing thoughts that can be awkward to share with strangers.
Did the Sacramento Bee question those "Judgment Day is Coming" billboards with the same gusto as these are getting?
One single religion and talk of its God permeates many parts of our culture and government functions. This is surprising, as there are at least 21 different religions practiced in the United States today, according to Wikipedia. Worldwide, the number is almost 100, not counting all the long lost gods, such as Saturn.
With every church displaying some kind of proclamation, it's great to see the brave statements on these billboards. This is especially true for those of us who do not belong to any organized religion.