Letters to the Editor

Campaign money, Propositions 45 and 47

Big money in politics

Re “The high cost of mudslinging in Ose-Bera race” (Editorials, Oct. 29): We are seeing one of the most expensive congressional elections in the country in the 7th District.

Much of the $17.5 million coming into this election is from special interest groups and mega donors. This influence is made possible because there is no cap on the amount of money that can be funneled into elections.

This influx of money in elections is drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens and is compromising our democracy. To reduce the influence of mega donors, Congress, states and cities should enact programs to empower small donors through matching funds and tax credits.

Until that is done, congressional candidates will continue to be supported by mega donors contributing vast amounts and price tags of $17.5 million to run elections.

Yasmeen Gharib, San Carlos

Governor, give back tobacco money

Re “How campaign donation caps are like jumbo shrimp” (Editorials, Oct. 22): Cigarette maker Philip Morris tries to portray itself as just another company doing business as usual. Its business is making profits by addicting people to deadly products.

Philip Morris and the rest of the tobacco industry are very good at what they do. They associate themselves with alliances and front groups and coalitions such as JobsPAC, the Alliance for California’s Tomorrow and many others.

They hide behind legitimate business groups and then funnel money to politicians who are addicted to tobacco money but don’t want us to know about it. I will never knowingly vote for any politician who takes tobacco money.

I urge Gov. Jerry Brown to return all the money that Philip Morris has given him directly and indirectly. He doesn’t need the support of convicted racketeers and a company whose products, when used as intended, kill thousands of people a year.

Laurie Comstock, Sacramento

Follow the money

Re “Prop. 45 would give commissioner power to change health rates” (Ballot Watch, Oct. 25): Note that four corporations – Wellpoint Inc., Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, Blue Shield of CA and Health Net Inc. – have contributed $55 million to oppose Proposition 45. The airwaves and our mailboxes have been flooded with polished ads that I consider very misleading.

Proposition 45 gives the insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate increases, not the power to change health rates. The Affordable Care Act accommodates rate regulation, as 35 other states do. It is designed so it will not disrupt the work of Covered California.

Advocates for Proposition 45, who have raised $2.7 million, support consumers who suffer from the escalating costs of health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles. Companies must publicly disclose and justify proposed rate changes, similar to the process established for auto and homeowners insurance.

Mildred Braunstein, Davis

Prop. 47 is a bad idea

Re “Prop. 47 can fix the mental health crises in California prisons” (Endorsements, Oct. 28): California is again rushing headlong into the practice of declassifying criminal conduct as such with promises of feel-good mental health treatment for chronic criminals.

Ignoring the fact that a career criminal has to have an armload of convictions before they finally graduate to the state prison, “reformers” on the left again are hoping to dump nonviolent drug offenders back on society instead of locking them up and away from civilized people upon whom these bums prey. Remember, every theft is nonviolent until that thief is in your living room.

As to the misnomer “nonviolent drug offender,” bear in mind that Marcelo Marquez, the suspected killer of deputies Danny Oliver and Mike Davis, had previously been convicted only of drug offenses. Two police widows and five fatherless kids can tell you about nonviolent dopers.

Susan Johnson, Placerville

Prop. 47 would help

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, aims to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in state prisons by reclassifying certain felony charges as misdemeanors for those currently in prison and for future crimes.

The money saved would be distributed to programs to reduce high school dropout rates and increase access to mental health and drug rehabilitation services. This proposition attempts to end the school-to-prison pipeline by offering preventive services rather than punitive ones.

Additionally, nonviolent offenders will face less stigmatization than they would if they were to be classified as felons, making it easier for them to reintegrate into society after serving time. The main opponents of this bill are those who clearly have a vested interest in maintaining the current prison population: police, prosecutors and corrections officers.

Marie Sefton, Davis

How to vote on 45 and 47

Propositions are often hard to understand, but that is not the case with 45 and 47. Voting “yes” on 45 supports the insurance commissioner’s ability to regulate the cost of health insurance as is carefully done with other insurance corporations in our state.

A “yes” vote on Proposition 47 could help pass corrections in the laws that help end the mental heath crisis in our prisons and fix the unreasonable sentences that punish young people. Instead of helping put the mistakes of the past behind the convicted, current laws limit the rights of many to move forward in their lives.

Sharon Alexander, Sacramento

Prop. 45 bad for consumers

Re “Prop. 45 would give commissioner power” (Capitol & California, Oct. 25): Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented, millions of dollars of premium refunds have been sent to Californians thanks to the law’s limits on health insurance carrier overhead and profits. This rate regulation built in to the ACA law has been successfully implemented by our health reform marketplace, Covered California.

Consumer Watchdog, the primary backer of Proposition 45, portrays itself as the defender of the “little guy.” However, since the passage of Proposition 103, Consumer Watchdog has collected millions of dollars in legal fees associated with the law.

Susan Kennedy, Covered California board member, warns that Proposition 45 is going to end up hurting Californians, hurting consumers, increasing costs and it will damage health care reform.

Carolyn S. Lewis, Citrus Heights