Re “Californians aren’t extreme enough to back single-payer” (Forum, June 25): In urging Democrats to let go of single-payer, political consultant David Townsend may be blinded by the millions in cash he has raised from health insurance and prescription drug corporations. It’s funny to hear a Democrat call extreme a policy supported by the largest GOP donor in California, Charlie Munger, and the Nobel prize-winning economist, Angus Deaton. Single-payer would save dollars, end crony capitalism in health policy, and erase a key part of our economic competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world. Since Townsend opposes enacting single-payer, perhaps he thinks these alternatives are better: continuing to fund $5 billion a year in net income for insurance companies, or, if the GOP repeals Obamacare, reducing Medi-Cal benefits, lowering provider reimbursements, or asking employers and the barely insured to pay even more to subsidize private health insurance for others. Instead, the California Nurses Association sees a golden opportunity to make health care a human right. Smart politics say now is the time for SB 562.
Michael Lighty, California Nurses Association, Oakland
Re “Taxpayers could pay to attract teachers. But is California really running out of them?” (sacbee.com, June 23): It’s true the number of teachers in California has increased since 2010, as districts have reinstated positions cut during the recession. The problem is that there are not enough qualified teachers to fill these positions. This shortage caused California districts to hire more than 10,000 teachers on substandard credentials and permits last year. A 2016 survey of 211 school districts conducted by the Learning Policy Institute and the California School Boards Association found that 75 percent reported a shortage of qualified teachers and 81 percent of those reported a worsening shortage. With teacher preparation program enrollments down more than 70 percent since 2002, and high teacher attrition, California must invest more in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers if we are to succeed in educating our students.
Linda Darling-Hammond, Palo Alto
Re “In labor dispute with teachers, school district goes directly to parents” (sacbee.com, June 23): School district governing boards are responsible for making sure that all their students get the best possible education. Unfortunately, it is often the case that board members and administration lose sight of this responsibility under pressure from constituent groups such as the teachers’ union. I believe we should pay teachers well for this important job. At the same time, they need to be willing to change, do more for their students and be a reasonable partner with other staff. I applaud the governing board for standing up to the union. The union is the first to go public, and use parents to make their case. Good for Sacramento City Unified School District for playing their game.
Karen Zamarripa, Folsom
Re “How Donald Trump is killing romance“ (sacbee.com, June 27): The article regarding Donald Trump’s effect on online dating ignores a consideration. It’s not only politics that polarize people who like or dislike Trump. Character issues are equally important. Trump has frequently shown questionable integrity, a lack of compassion and respect for others, flagrant narcissism and an incessant need for adulation, A potential date’s acceptance or indifference to Trump’s character flaws says a lot about that person’s values. Perhaps those are the real deal breakers, not Trump’s ever-changing political views.
Wayne Stevens, Rocklin
Re “Universal health care bill was half-baked, and Trumpcare is a disaster. Why the rush?” Editorials, June 27): The U.S. Senate’s health care bill hurts older individuals who do not get health insurance through their employer or who are self-employed. Instead of focusing on who pays how much, why not reform the income tax system? Health insurance premiums paid by a third party, whether an employer or the government, should be included in taxable income. This way richer individuals in higher tax brackets would pay higher taxes on the same benefit as poorer individuals. Younger workers would pay lower taxes because the value of their benefit is lower compared to older workers. Health care consumes 17 percent of our economy. Most people receive health insurance benefits paid by someone else. Additional taxes collected on their benefits would provide a windfall to the treasury that could be used to subsidize medical costs for those who are unable to afford insurance. When individuals begin to pay taxes on their insurance benefits, they will become more enraged and highly engaged in reducing costs. Only 5 percent of individuals consume over half of health care expenditures annually. That’s the next place to focus after tax reform.
Marcia Fritz, Sacramento
A better downtown
Re “Should Sacramento have its own version of the St. Louis arch? City eyes grand monument” (sacbee.com, June 26): On a recent week in Denver, I walked from a downtown train station to my hotel. I began at a state-of-the-art sports stadium, along an avenue bustling with trendy restaurants, novelty cafes and memorabilia shops. The only vehicles I dodged in this upscale central area, a district known as “LoDo,” were the free public transit buses. A Sacramentan need not stretch his or her imagination to draw a parallel between the 16th Street Mall in Lower Downtown Denver. The railyard, the Golden 1 Center, the Downtown Commons branding through K Street all smack of unoriginality. Now the city is proposing an Old Sacramento rebranding that includes a St. Louis-style arch. While I see the benefits of the region’s modernization projects, I wonder why the loudest voices in the discussion don’t reflect an original or creative vision beyond the cities we apparently seek to emulate.
K.S. Petty, Sacramento
I am in favor of highlighting how great Sacramento is. But the plan to do some sort of grand effort on the riverfront puts Sacramento’s priorities in the wrong place. The hotel taxes proposed to pay for it might be better spent living up to the promises made by the city to its employees, the people who ensure Sacramento is a safe and pleasant city to visit and live in, by honoring their pension obligations. Seems to me about every other week there is an article in The Sacramento Bee telling us how lavish pensions are bankrupting the city. If the city spends the proposed millions it is planning for this project, it should never again blame pension commitments for budget shortfalls. Just ask Stockton how their waterfront improvements worked out for them a few years back. Meet your commitments before going on a spending spree.
Bill Schmidt, Sacramento
Re “Let’s not be as shortsighted on pensions as on drought” (Viewpoints, June 26): SIEU’s President Yvonne Walker is incorrect. Unfunded pension obligations and the distribution of droughts have nothing in common. When a dollar of pension liability is not 100 percent funded, its deficit compounds numerically, by the de-valuing process of inflation and by increasing salary schedules. Pension funds can’t recover as easily as they plummet. Assume CalPERS had $100 billion on hand just prior to the 2008 crash and lost 20 percent of its value. What rate of recovery is needed? It takes $20 billion growing at 25 percent to recover that loss. Pension investing can’t make that kind of return in one year. Willing to wait? Investments may go sideways or down, all while more employees retire with money that will eat more remaining capital after that $20 billion loss, and while salary schedules continue to rise. Pension funds need greater employee contribution, less payout and prayers for a stable market.
Bill Martin, Quincy
Re “Get a first look at this historic local movie theater’s impressive transformation” (sacbee.com, June 28): Clearly, the intention was not to restore or preserve the Woodland State Theatre. The intention was to monetize it. Not that this is bad motive, considering the building’s disrepair. However, please be clear that the original architecture, an example of Streamlined Moderne, has been destroyed in order to save it.
Sarah Pasanen, Woodland
Mojo, the dog
Re “Golden retriever survived a perilous house fire. Now he needs a new home” (sacbee.com, June 9): I have always held a soft spot in my heart for our firefighters. And that soft spot grew even bigger when I read that Mojo, the golden retriever, was rescued by fire fighters from a house fire in the Pocket Area of Sacramento a few weeks ago. Here is the happy ending: I called Homeward Bound Golden Retriever. If he had not been been adopted, I was planning to adopt him. It was then, that I heard the news that made my heart sing – the firefighter who had rescued Mojo, has decided to adopt Mojo. God bless our firemen!
Leslie Tuel, Davis
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