Los Angeles Times

Mailbag: This year's Fourth was true independence day

Congratulations are in order to Mayor Don Hansen and the other four city councilmen who voted in January of this year to lift the ban on the sale and use of "safe and sane" fireworks in the city of Huntington Beach.

I know this is going to be disturbing to the two liberal members of the City Council who voted against the lifting of the ban, but when adult citizens are left to be adult citizens, they tend to act like adult citizens. Maybe even more disturbing to the left in this city is the symbolism that comes with an entire city, block by block, enjoying a freedom that they had been denied for almost a quarter of a century.

If the citizens of this great city can have a safe, successful and enjoyable time left to their own devices and not having the oppressiveness of a city government telling them how to celebrate their Fourth of July, maybe they will also realize that other parts of their life the city wants to control may not be in their best interest.

Coming soon, a council majority is seeking to ban plastic grocery bags in this city, following the lead of other bastions of liberty such as Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With their motto of "We Just Know Better," the two liberal council members and two other seriously misguided council members think the best way to control littering in the city is to control the activities of its citizens.

Apparently it's not good enough to have laws against littering (maybe we can enforce those first?) — we now must control how a grocery store handles the purchases of its clientele. No matter that you can go down aisle 3 at Vons and buy a package of 50 plastic bags. You just can't get the store to put them in a plastic bag in order for you to take them home. This is liberal logic.

The use of Fourth of July fireworks and the bagging method for groceries might seem to be small items, but they do represent a bigger issue: liberty.

Let's face it, when a city is powerful enough to tell you how to celebrate the 4th and how to bag groceries, it's powerful enough to tell you how to do most anything.

Frank LoGrasso

Huntington Beach


Hansen not the people's mayor

Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen is just full of ideas, isn't he?

First, there was his avid but misguided support of the reauthorization of fireworks in the city after a quarter-century ban; this resulted in so much commotion that I lost count of the number of fire-engine sirens I heard on the night of July 4. Hansen's friendliness to fireworks was likely influenced by the deep pockets of fireworks manufacturers.

Now, the mayor has worked assiduously to put a measure on the November ballot that would remove a long-standing and long-accepted property tax assessment ("Tax for pensions on ballot," July 5). Like other flawed political decision-making from the recent past — such as the removal of the car tax by neophyte Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which would have added billions to California's strained budget, and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, initiated while this nation was in the midst of expensive mega-military endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan — the removal of this modest tax ($75 annually on a house valued at $500,000) is not among the things that ought to even be considered in this era of draconian governmental cutbacks and public service reductions.

If this measure were to pass, our police department would lose 11 positions. Other municipal departments would suffer similar damaging reductions in employee numbers, interfering with timely responses to the vital needs of our citizenry. Precluding this moderate levy would be at the expense of our common good.

Ben Miles

Huntington Beach


Trip to Egypt changed attitude

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading Mona Shadia's column (Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.). I grew up here in Southern California and had never spent much time with people from the Middle East, or people of the Muslim faith. After 9/11, my feelings for Muslims went on a downhill slide in a big way. I wanted nothing to do with Muslims.

Then, five years ago, my wife and I went on a cruise from Barcelona across the Mediterranean to Alexandria, Egypt. As we docked, I heard the evening call to prayer and I thought, wow! The next day, I hired a driver and my wife and I toured Alexandria. It was fabulous! The history is amazing, the city, and various digs, etc. I went into the main mosque (my wife did have to go "behind the screen," but she understood this is the custom) and was greeted warmly by everyone wherever I went. The city was really interesting, but the people are what made our visit so great.

My entire outlook upon people of the Muslim faith was changed 180 degrees that day. We had a wonderful time in Alexandria and then went onto the Giza plateau for the most amazing experience ever, the Pyramids! It was a trip I will never forget. The Egyptian people were so warm and welcoming, I will never forget it. The disastrous action of a few radicals will never diminish my respect of the Egyptian people I met.

Thank you for your column. I hope it will bring a better understanding of the teachings of Mohammad to those of us who were brought up in different faiths. Keep up the good writing!

Bruce Johnston

Newport Beach


A scientific solution on dogs

Regarding Mona Shadia's article on Muslims' reactions to dogs ("Loving dogs, but only at a distance," Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C., July 12):

The matter is resolved simply. Bring some science to bear — test the mouths of dogs and determine whether they are or are not impure. I would guess that their mouths are no more impure than human mouths.

Jim Throgmorton

Seal Beach

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