Letters to the Editor

Letters: Wetlands, initiatives, right to die, El Niño, pensions, etc.

Habitat restoration must include water

Re “Prop. 1 would aid Delta habitat, fish and region” (Editorials, Oct. 26): Essential fish habitat is defined by the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity.” Proposition 1 provides funds to improve fish habitat substrate but fails to address Delta water needs.

While improving substrate through levee removals and setbacks can be beneficial to aquatic ecosystems by creating wetlands, these benefits will not be realized unless sufficient freshwater is allowed to flood these areas, stimulate biological productivity and provide safe transport of species downstream.

High freshwater flows are critical for a healthy ecosystem. The features of Proposition 1 do not provide needed freshwater flows through the Delta to restore the ecosystem. Proposition 1 provides funds for additional water storage, which will lead to increased water diversions and reduced Delta outflows to the further detriment of the aquatic ecosystem. Vote “No” on Proposition 1.

Arthur C. Knutson Jr., Sacramento

Use the initiative process

Re “Death of California GOP may be greatly exaggerated” (Forum, Oct. 26): Conservative Republicans seem unable to recognize the opportunities that are still available to them – particularly the initiative process. Conservative Republicans played a major role in passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 and in the removal of Rose Bird and other liberal justices from the state Supreme Court in the 1980s. Why haven’t they pushed new initiatives to curtail liberal Democrat spending?

They could propose an initiative that would forbid paying any more for a public service than it would cost in the private sector. They could also propose an initiative to make the Little Hoover Commission nonpartisan by requiring that members be elected with increased powers to eliminate government waste. Proposition 13 made then-Gov. Jerry Brown a “born-again tax cutter.” Removal of the Bird court by voters probably still has a strong influence on judicial nominations. The Republicans would have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Rich McKone, Lincoln

Death with dignity

Re “Give the dying the right to pick how and when to die” (Editorials, Oct. 26): Thank you for the editorial on “death with dignity.” Since I had no choice when and where and to whom I was born, I do want to have some choice when and how I can die. I was often very sick when I was a child, and I hate physical pain. As I get older and closer to the time where sickness becomes inevitable, I do want to have the choice if I want to live in pain or can legally end my life with certain drugs that should be readily available to me when the situation arises.

Right now I would have to move to Oregon to get my wish. Hopefully California will pass such a law, because I hate to move.

Frank Gladik, Elk Grove

We welcome El Nino

Re “Dear El Niño: Please stay here this winter” (Forum; Oct. 26): I loved David Mas Masumoto’s letter to invite “El” back for a visit.

Perhaps we hurt his feelings in the past with all the complaining about terrible weather, but I hope he sees we’ve changed our ways and would really welcome a long visit. Perhaps it would be a good idea to send an RSVP so we have a little notice ahead of time. But we won’t mind if he just shows up. Our thirsty lawns, flowers and rivers miss him.

Claire Gliddon, Fair Oaks

Rein in CalPERS’ excess

Re “Big pensions drive proposed tax increases on Nov. 4 ballots” (Viewpoints, Oct. 26): Search your own community and you may find public employees/retirees getting lavish pay and pensions in unexpected places. It’s all public record, much available to the public on The Bee’s website. Public safety jobs are ripe for abuse ever since 9/11, when we began placing them on pedestals. Firefighters now spend little time fighting fires. Most calls are minor medical calls, with full crews responding where EMTs would be more appropriate and cheaper.

Also look at support staff salaries and pensions. Some secretaries are getting the exorbitant 2 percent at 50. Retired annuitants often have second careers because they’re so young. Six figures over possibly 40 years? The recipients of our largesse will fight tooth and nail to keep the gravy train running, but the rest of us must place a higher priority on not bankrupting future generations. Let your legislators know you want CalPERS reined in.

Kris Lewis, Rocklin

Attack on pensions inaccurate

Manipulating data seems to be the specialty of the anti-union zealots who attack the retirement security of California’s public employees. Case in point: Mark Bucher’s op-ed on pensions neglects to note that the number of public employees receiving pensions above $100,000 represents less than 2 percent of the state’s retirees; those mentioned are the exception, not the rule.

The average monthly CalPERS pension is $2,629, and many recipients do not receive Social Security benefits. In addition, the 7.5 percent rate of return for our state pension systems over the last 10 years, which includes the Great Recession, was 7.3 percent. During the last five years, it was 11.2 percent. That’s hardly optimistic to forecast the future; it’s what history tells us.

Let’s have an honest debate about retirement security, not one where inaccurate numbers are used to leverage the discussion.

Dave Low, chairman, Californians for Retirement Security

High cost of education

Re “Are we failing to invest in genius?” (Forum, Oct. 12): Hats off to Shawn Hubler for her column about the obscene increased costs for higher education at the University of California.

I graduated from high school in 1966, like the thankful Nobel laureate she referred to, when the education was essentially free. My parents, who were hard-working, middle-class people, could afford to send me and my sister to UC Davis.

I felt very fortunate and was very thankful. The article concluded that this high cost of education is a disgrace and in my opinion a reflection of what our society and government leaders’ priorities seem to be.

The deeper questions are what exact economic and societal factors and change in priorities caused this to happen, why, and can this ever be changed back to make education affordable and not bankrupt our children and grandchildren?

Jim Pappas, Sacramento