Letters to the Editor

Dodd-Frank, ‘free’ speech, CalPERS, Kings, Twin Rivers schools, etc.

Bank swaps a necessary tool

Re “Banks collect a debt, as Congress raises money” (Editorials, Dec. 16): Despite declaring that “we don’t presume to fully grasp the significance of the repeal,” The Bee’s editorial board nonetheless took an opportunity to mischaracterize a recent vote by Congress to amend a law that harms the ability of banks of all sizes to serve their customers. The majority of banks using swaps, including community banks, do so in order to hedge or mitigate risk from their ordinary business activities, including lending. Hedging and mitigating risk are not only good business practices but important tools that banks use to help borrowing customers hedge their own business risks.

The requirement to move some swaps into separate affiliates makes one-stop shopping impossible for businesses, including family farms, that want to hedge against commodity price changes. The vote, which enjoyed wide bipartisan support, was a commonsense adjustment, not a “gutting” of Dodd-Frank.

Rodney Brown, president & CEO, California Bankers Association

Money talks, Congress listens

The latest federal spending bill continues giving more “free speech” to the wealthy and corporations. This limits how much my free speech can be heard.

For example, I can write a letter to the editor, but the wealthy can take out a full page ad. I can attend a town hall, but a corporation can buy an advertising campaign on TV. I can write my congressional representative about my concerns; the wealthy and corporations either arrange a sit-down discussion or send lobbyist after lobbyist to overwhelm the representative. I can pledge $50 to my political party, the wealthy can pledge $1.5 million, $3.5 million if married.

Whose voice is likely to be heard? This trend made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress means I can still yell my opinion into the wind, while corporations get to use the largest and loudest mega-phones money can buy. Somehow I don’t see my views being heard equally to that of a CEO.

Barry Wagner, Folsom

Move away from coal, carefully

Re “Senate leader targets coal firms” (Page A1, Dec. 16): As president of the Retired Public Employees’ Association of California, I applaud Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon’s efforts to pull away from coal and encourage CalPERS to diversify its investment portfolios.

Much like the contractual obligations to fulfill pensions, Californians have a moral obligation to fight climate change and make our state a healthier place to live. Moving away from coal not only makes sense, it is the right thing to do.

However, CalPERS must be cautious about investment growth to ensure our pension obligations are fulfilled. With nearly $10 billion in major fossil fuel company stocks, CalPERS must carefully calculate any effects on returns that pulling away from coal will have and what this will mean in the long run for California’s public retirees. At the end of the day, CalPERS pension benefits must be the priority.

George Linn, Sacramento

Firing Malone a critical offense

Re “Malone doomed from the start” (Ailene Voisin, Dec. 16): The Kings fired Rick Adelman because his teams could never win the big one. The reason for this malady was they could not make stops in critical situations. Sure, they could run up and down the floor with the best, but the defensive philosophy was just outscoring the opposing team.

Michael Malone was a breath of fresh air with his emphasis on defense and his ability to motivate DeMarcus Cousins. Alas, how can one convince an owner and GM about the merits of defense when they have never played one quarter of high-level basketball anywhere?

Teamwork is built on guys helping each other survive and nothing drives that point home more than playing defense. No, Kings management would much rather have a flashy run-and-gun team with no cohesiveness. Until they realize the errors of their ways – if ever – it’s time for me to tune out the NBA.

Mike Clegg, Davis

Twin Rivers board inspires

Re “District stumbled by shutting out public” (Editorials, Dec. 11): What an inspiring year for Twin Rivers Unified School District board members. They are a reminder to all of us that with hard work and collaborative partnerships anything is possible and within reach.

The board has adopted several initiatives to address major issues, building a foundation for what matters most: student success. Everyone benefits from recent changes, which include the adoption of Core Beliefs, our Theory of Action, the return of visual and performing arts, and an early literacy initiative to ensure grade-level reading by third grade.

It’s not surprising to me that the work of the board and staff has attracted the attention of renowned educators Michael Fullan and Peter Senge, who are working with us to study and document district initiatives.

We are Twin Rivers – working together as one!

Steven Martinez, superintendent, Twin Rivers Unified School District

Inmate rehab at stand still

Re “Offenders opt out of treatment” (Capitol & California, Dec. 15): No one should be surprised that a well-intended, drug-abuse-treatment strategy isn’t working. A 1974 study reported that no correctional treatment program was effective, a view accepted by both the left and right.

That report caused the end of correctional treatment programs. Rehabilitation and indeterminate sentencing were replaced by determinate sentencing. What’s surprising is that there hasn’t been any real progress in the development of effective treatment programs or strategies in more than 40 years. Politicians should pass legislation authorizing the Board of State and Community Corrections to establish a program development and evaluation unit. That would be a big step in the right direction.

Rich McKone, Lincoln

Bee plastic bag can be dutiful

Re “Plastic bag editorial is hypocritical” (Letters, Dec. 16): I don’t think The Bee is hypocritical for using plastic bags to keep the morning paper dry and supporting a ban of plastic shopping bags. I can’t think of any time I’ve seen one of these Bee bags floating across a road, hanging in a tree or stuck in the grill of a car. One can’t say the same for the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags.

I use the Bee plastic bags when I walk my dog or clean out the cat box. If I can’t find another use for the bags, I recycle them back to my newspaper delivery person by leaving the bags in a paper shopping bag curbside. The plastic shopping bags are detrimental to the environment and need to go away.

Joseph M. Sherman, Granite Bay


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