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Tar-and-feather time

Re “Cogdill pays for being right,” Column, March 30

Reading George Skelton's column about state Sen. Dave Cogdill's ouster as minority leader, my suspicions have finally been verified. Our Republican state legislators are out and out practicing anarchists -- some essentially admitting that they would like to send California over a cliff.

I think it is time to tar and feather the lot of them and ride them out of the state on a rail.

Next best thing: Vote every one of them out of office.

James R. Gallagher

Huntington Beach

Skelton's column was interesting but demonstrated the disconnect between Sacramento and the voters.

When you have the highest or next-highest taxpaying state in the Union near bankruptcy, it is obvious that there has been little oversight on public assistance payments for several years.

The answer is not new taxes -- a wage-earner in Los Angeles pays about 10% on every retail purchase. The answer is threefold, to paraphrase the old real estate slogan "location, location and location": Reduce spending, reduce spending, reduce spending.

Mike Montgomery

South Pasadena

The writer is the former mayor of South Pasadena.

Wrong way to run a budget

Re “The May ballot scam,” Opinion, March 29

I support Propositions 1B through 1E, which reallocate dedicated funds to help balance the budget, because I voted against the programs in the first place. As a public-sector budget analyst, I am appalled by efforts to impose taxes and/or add spending to the budget (including bond issues) through the initiative process.

These special-interest taxes -- no matter how noble the purpose, they are special interests -- deny the governor and Legislature flexibility to prioritize. If anything, these upcoming propositions don't go far enough -- they should abolish the guaranteed funding for these programs and let them compete with every other line item in the budget.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan asks: "Can you really support propositions that will drastically cut services to the state's neediest -- especially after legislators increased the state sales tax, a regressive tax that places a larger burden on the poor?"

The answer is yes. Perhaps if these special funds didn't exist, the sales tax might not have needed to increase as much.

Raymond White

Pasadena

The vaccination debate

Re “Schools’ risks rise as vaccine rates decline,” March 29

The Times' article stated that "the rise in unvaccinated children appears to be driven by affluent parents choosing not to immunize. Many do so because they fear the shots could trigger autism, a concern widely discredited in medical research."

Over the last 20 years, the court set up by the pharmaceutical companies and supported by Congress to hear vaccine injury claims has dispensed close to $2 billion in compensation to families whose children were injured or killed by a vaccine.

I know at least 15 children on the autism spectrum. Their parents all claim that these children were fine until "that last shot." I don't need a study to confirm what my friends experienced.

Mindy Johnson-Plate

Agoura Hills

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My granddaughter's autistic behavior began coincident with her vaccines for childhood diseases. So I am sympathetic with those who choose to delay or abandon suggested immunizations for their own children.

Much has been published regarding the relationship between autism and vaccination -- most supporting the theory that no cause-and-effect relationship exists. However, credible dissenters dispute this theory with evidence that should give parents reason to pause and investigate further.

Until a sound reason can be found for the apparent autism epidemic prevalent today, caution and education on the part of parents are warranted.

Bob Constantine

Placentia

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As a registered nurse and mother of two, this issue has always raised feelings of aggravation in me.

The herd mentality of so-called well-educated parents who "question traditional knowledge" makes me grit my teeth. Yes, parents should have the right to make decisions about vaccination. But relying on the majority of families to vaccinate their children so that a few can withhold vaccines from their kids is not only unfair but unwise.

I cannot believe the mother who said she would rather "sit with her child in the hospital" than have him or her vaccinated. A child who is hospitalized with a 106-degree fever is more likely to suffer brain damage and death than an immunized child is likely to face a serious vaccine reaction.

Maybe seeing children permanently disabled by polio again might cause some reconsideration.

Carol Fleming

Santa Clarita

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I started school in 1947 in Germany. There were no vaccinations there at the time, so I contracted most childhood diseases. Rubella, mumps, chicken pox and scarlet fever were not too bad -- measles, on the other hand, was. A high fever caused me to hallucinate for several days. The worst was whooping cough. I was unable to breathe. I just coughed and coughed until I threw up.

Any mother who refuses to have her child vaccinated obviously has no idea how traumatizing those childhood diseases can be. After 60 years, I still remember how sick I was and how awful I felt.

Victoria Pluchar

Los Angeles

Same old story

Re “A new tack on illegal workers," March 27

There's nothing new about an amnesty followed by strict enforcement of immigration laws. That's how the original "one-time only" amnesty was sold to the public in 1986.

By now it should be obvious that amnesties don't discourage illegal immigration -- they roll out the welcome mat. If unemployment, border security and overpopulation were not such serious issues, it would be comical that politicians cannot comprehend this.

Kenneth Pasternack

Santa Barbara

Let Mexico catch the gunrunners

Re “Partners in war,” Opinion, March 30

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) writes: "We must stop the flow of handguns, assault rifles and machine guns, which pass from the U.S. to Mexico at the rate of 60,000 a year."

Why is it our responsibility to inspect for contraband going into another country? We already inspect vehicles coming into this country for drugs and other commodities we don't want here.

Does Mexico try to curb the tide of illegal immigrants coming into this country?

Greg Daniels

Canyon Country

Ranch style

Re “A way of life slips out of range,” Column One, March 30

This article reminded me of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and blow-drying a calf in our Alberta ranch house because the livestock got frostbite if they weren't dried off.

My parents had to supplement their love for cattle with teaching, which paid the bills better than the ranch could.

The Times illuminates the ranchers' drive, and the grit that makes it all worthwhile.

Ian Clay Sewall

Los Angeles

No holiday

Re “Holiday provokes war between the Souths,” March 29

I was horrified to read that Arkansas and Texas celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on Jan. 19, the federal holiday commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

What does that say about two great states? The institutionalized racism in our country needs to be brought out into the open, to shrivel in the light of a new day.

Roberta L. Kenney

North Hollywood

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