The persistent and pervasive attempt by shadowy conservative outside special interests to meddle with Huntington Beach politics and civic affairs reared its ugly head again recently with a scurrilous hit piece put out by reactionary Atlas PAC targeting former Mayor Jill Hardy ("Hardy calls mailers untrue," Oct. 25). The Atlas PAC board includes local resident and one-time candidate for public office Ben Pugh.
The hit piece was personal, defamatory and wildly contrived. All opposing candidates, especially those endorsed by Atlas, should publicly disavow this example of gutter politics and seek to run positive campaigns that extol their own virtues.
Since Hardy is beloved in the community and unlikely to be attacked by other candidates directly, perhaps it was her position opposing the huge investments made by developers and major property owners in supporting and gaining from Measure Z (far from its alleged aim of helping homeowners and providing pension reform) that triggered this offensive outrage. By the way, when asked to provide proof of their hit piece allegations, Atlas shrugged.
Longing for the civil old days
Recently, campaign literature attacking candidates on a personal level was sent to the voters of Huntington Beach. As a longtime political activist, I cannot remember when such "attack" pieces were ever sent. I was always so proud of the way we conducted City Council campaigns. A candidate was judged on the positions he or she took and not on personal issues. How would the candidate govern, how would they vote on issues and what would they do to make Huntington Beach a better place? This gives the voter the information they need to make an informed decision. I hope that in the next few days and in future elections, we will return to a "civilized" way of conducting our elections.
The writer is the former mayor of Huntington Beach.
Take this veteran fireman's word
I am writing this letter in support of a "no" vote on Measure Z. A diminutive property tax measure, existing for 45 years, is used to support funding for the city's emergency services. Cost to the majority of property owners is $75 annually.
Retired in 2009, I spent 35 years with the fire department, the last seven years as the fire chief.
A "yes" vote for Measure Z would result in a reduction of $4.2 million from the city's operation budget for public safety services. The budget reduction would result in the city's immediate decline and longterm inabilities to provide today's level of emergency services to the people who live, work and visit the city.
Passing Measure Z is also counter to the No. 1 goal and mission of the City Council: to maintain a safe community through the reduction in the loss of property and the protection of life.
The budget reduction will eliminate the Fire Department's Hazardous Materials and the Urban Search and Rescue teams. These significant reductions would also violate specific measures and agreements of the city's General Plan, Fire Prevention plan, council goals and objectives, automatic fire aid with other cities and the Orange County Urban Search and Rescue and Hazardous Materials agreements on cost recovery and response. Most significantly, the elimination will notably impact and compromise the Fire Department's ability to respond and safely operate in environments where there is an immediate threat or major disaster caused by earthquakes, floods, chemical releases, terrorist events and building collapses.
The writer is the former chief of the Huntington Beach Fire Department.
Pension pickup won't cover loss
This is in response to the letter from Drew Kovacs, who asks why "no on Z" advocates only focus on the cuts that would happen and not on what it means for retirement expenses ("Time to face facts about Z," Mailbag, Oct. 25). That is because even if the unions agree to the "full pickup" today, passage of Measure Z would still mean a net loss to the city of $1.7 million per year. It's an ongoing loss of revenue, not a one-time loss.
While $1.7 million is less drastic than $4.2 million, it is still a drain on the city, on top of the previous five years of cost-cutting. At what point do the cuts become so numerous that programs, libraries and police staffing are unsustainable? Is it really worth saving an average $6 per month per household to find out? That is why the "no on Z" folks focus on the impact to city services — because even the full pickup of pension costs wouldn't solve the structural deficit Z would create.
The proposed cuts are real, based on a real loss of revenue, not a scare tactic.
Quick safety response? Priceless
The only time you need a cop is when you "really" need one.
No truer phrase has ever been spoken. People are very reluctant to call the police, but when they do, they assume that an officer will quickly respond. The same is true for a 911, fire or paramedic call. This HB resident is well aware that both 24/7 capabilities come with a price tag. As far as I'm concerned, the cost to me is chump change when compared to my homeowner's and car insurance. My family is priceless, and based on cost versus effective value, I am happy to pay my share to sustain a first-class fire and police capability.
The current City Council sits there wringing their hands, saying the fire and police costs are not sustainable. Based on what? Does the council have some not-to-exceed price for a life? When I dial 911, I don't want some overweight City Council member walking up my driveway. I want a guy with a gun or a hose who means business.
We HB residents are willing and able to fund the capability. So stop the sniveling and do what's smart and makes sense. Increase our property taxes and move on.
John F. Hill