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What San Bernardino's struggles and our civic priorities

To the editor: Thank you for putting the article about the decline of San Bernardino on the front page. We need to be reminded of just how far we as a nation have fallen. It is horrific to read yet again of how hard it is for people on the fringes to survive. ("San Bernardino, a broken city seeking hope," June 14)

Equally horrific is the mention that half of the city of San Bernardino's sworn fire personnel earn more than $150,000 a year. And that in 2012, 72% of the city's general fund went toward salaries and pension costs for the police and fire departments.

We really need to get our priorities in order. Do we hand over the keys to our cities to police and fire unions at the expense of the most vulnerable? We are all in this together.

Chris Reiff, Ventura


Yes, it is quite true that there are people in San Bernardino who are homeless and addicted to drugs. But they are not the entirety of the city's population. There are many people here who are hardworking and family oriented, but they are not anywhere close to the focus of this callous piece. You extensively quote a former mayor of the city but not anyone currently in charge. Our elected officials are striving to accomplish everything within their power to make the city prosperous.

San Bernardino has fallen on hard times, but I do not feel that it is due primarily to chronic homelessness and drug use. Loss of tax revenue due to the mortgage crisis and other unforeseen circumstances are just a few reasons for the downturn of the city.

The city has many businesses and institutions that its residents enjoy. You could have spoken with representatives from Cal State San Bernardino, San Bernardino Valley College, Stater Bros., Pep Boys, Amazon and many other institutions here.

This article is so slanted that one questions The Times' reason for publishing it.

Alton Garrett, San Bernardino


To the editor: According to The Times, San Bernardino, “once a sturdy, middle-class ‘All-American City,' is now bankrupt, the poorest city of its size in California, and a symbol of the nation's worst urban woes.”

Where have the financial resources gone that once made this a solid middle- and working-class city? Could they have flown away to fund the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Some years ago, Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard scholar Linda Bilmes estimated the eventual total cost of the Iraq war alone to be some $3 trillion. That figure has been revised upward, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may now cost as much as $6 trillion when all is said and done — the most expensive in U.S. history. That is $18,470 per person, based on the present U.S. population of 324 million.

With a population of 210,000 people, San Bernardino's share of these wars will total nearly $4 billion. But this huge resource loss to San Bernardino (California's share is $717 billion) is not discussed in this powerful and moving article.

The cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is apparently off-limits when it comes to examining where the needed funds are to heal and rebuild cities like San Bernardino, our state and nation. Why?

John Marciano, Santa Monica

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