Opinion
Join The Times' book club. This month's selection: "Cadillac Desert"
Readers React Letters to the editor and readers' opinions.
Does the Sheriff's Dept. have a training problem?

To the editor: The picture of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy yelling in the face of a recruit on the first day of training might well fit what you would expect for a Marine being prepared for war. ("Shortage of deputies could threaten L.A. County sheriff's reform agenda," May 30)

Police officers are to serve and protect civilians. Why have we militarized them?

The dual-track system — with separate career paths for jail duty and street patrol — is sensible. Trainee Nicolette Barfield, quoted in the article, says she wants to mentor arrestees and inmates and to help them "understand why they made a mistake." She is just the person to be in the jail custody corps, which should receive more training in mental illness and addiction as a way to stop recycling the same population in and out of our jails.

Those who receive brutality are more likely to inflict brutality. Those treated with respect are more likely to respect others.

Louise Bianco, Tarzana

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To the editor: Before the L.A....

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Discredited study shouldn't undermine research on 'intergroup contact'

To the editor: Charles Seife attributes the publication of false data in part to the surprising and attention-getting nature of the findings that personal contact mitigates anti-gay prejudice. ("Who's to blame when fake science gets published?," op-ed, May 28)

These findings are neither surprising nor new. There is a long history of the empirical study of the "intergroup contact hypothesis."

The first important study of the importance of contact in reducing prejudice was published in 1951 by Morton Deutsch and Mary Evans Collins. They showed that individuals assigned to integrated housing projects developed more positive interracial attitudes than people assigned to segregated housing.

In 2011, Tom Pettigrew and Linda Tropp did an important meta-analysis of 515 studies that demonstrated clear and strong support for the effect of contact on reducing prejudice. And Greg Herek and his colleagues have specifically shown reduction of anti-gay prejudice as a result of interpersonal contact.

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Bullet train would tear apart communities

To the editor: Do we need to get to San Francisco a few hours quicker? Is it so important to have high-speed rail that we need to spend countless billions of dollars, rip communities apart and endure years of noisy, traffic-causing construction? ("San Fernando leaders confront state officials over bullet train route," May 30)

I just went through five years of the 405 Freeway being widened — including the Mulholland bridge being ripped down and rebuilt, the never-ending traffic and sudden ramp closures that made me gray, mountain slopes being replaced with vertical walls that bounce the traffic noise right into my back garden — just to add a few lanes. It seems to have done nothing except made my home nearly impossible to sell.

Angelenos should learn from this 405 nightmare and not allow the bullet train to cut our communities apart. Too bad if someone headed to San Francisco will get there a few hours later.

Shane Brolly, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: I understand the anger and frustration...

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Don't count on the Roberts Court to divorce itself from politics

To the editor: Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres have their hopes misplaced if they believe that the current U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the status quo on drawing political districts according to total population because of a desire to preserve its credibility as an "impartial defender of the democratic process." ("In Supreme Court redistricting case, it's the 'whole number of persons,'" op-ed, May 29)

The five conservative justices are well aware that their party faces a demographic Armageddon, and I doubt they savor the possibility of living out their days as an irrelevant minority on the court. Thus their governing principle is simple: undermine democracy to preserve GOP power.

In this they will not be deterred by such quaint notions as precedence, consistency, credibility or the plain language of the Constitution.

Eventually democracy will triumph. The only question is how much damage these justices will do to the court and the country before they finally give up the ghost.

Paul Gulino,...

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Close the 710 Freeway gap

To the editor: By calling for improved roadways, walkable communities, better bus service and bike lanes, what the Beyond the 710 coalition proposes to mitigate the effects of the 710 Freeway stopping miles short of the 210 Freeway in Pasadena is a solution for South Pasadena and parts of Alhambra. That is all. ("Opponents of 710 Freeway extension offer alternatives to tunneling," May 28)

The regional network of freeways requires this gap to be closed with a roadway open to commercial traffic. Beyond the 710's solution does nothing for the commercial traffic from the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. Closing the gap would allow truck traffic to reach the 210 and get up to the Grapevine and the Central Valley or to the

15 Freeway and the Cajon Pass, relieving pressure on other highways.

Just as reintroducing predators into Yellowstone has had positive effects beyond the wolves themselves, closing the gap in our freeway network would have positive effects beyond traffic in Alhambra. It would...

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Don't write off the Democrats in 2016

To the editor: There's an inherent flaw in basing one's prediction of a future election outcome on a few historical coincidences. And that is history doesn't necessarily repeat itself. ("In 2016's presidential race, the winner will be ...," op-ed, May 26)

I have found the collective wisdom of the crowd of those who are willing to wager their hard-earned money to be far more predictive of election results than hypothetical analysis, mathematical models, or even the polls.

In Great Britain, where betting on U.S. elections is legal, the markets have been remarkably helpful in predicting who will be our next president, and they do not comport with Yale economist Ray C. Fair's analysis.

Frank King, Coronado

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To the editor: My equations predict that if the Democratic nominee loses in 2016, fewer than 2% of election postmortems will include Fair's phrase "through no fault of her own."

Hillary Rodham Clinton starts with a "blue wall" of states that have gone Democratic in six or more consecutive...

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