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L.A. workers’ pay; CalPERS and Bell salaries; Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court

A question of pay

Re “L.A. posts city employee salaries,” Aug. 7

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa makes only $232,425 a year. That’s dwarfed by salaries of over $300,000 for the police chief, and the general managers of the airports and the harbor. Even the city administrative officer earns more.

No wonder Villaraigosa needs freebies from the Lakers and Dodgers. At his low salary, it’s a matter of survival — or becoming a couch potato, watching the teams on TV.

Seriously, while Bell gave salaries beyond imagination, L.A.'s salaries aren’t so far behind. No wonder we have a severe budget problem. Oh well. We can always increase taxes and charge higher fees.

Isn’t it time we put a halt to these inflated salaries (plus other amenities)? We need realistic criteria for salary levels.

George Epstein

Los Angeles

Why the omission of the Department of Water and Power’s salaries? What ever happened to transparency of government expenditures? The omission is completely unacceptable.

The DWP is a city organization, and the public has a right to know what kind of salaries are being paid its employees. I can only conclude that it has a lot to hide.

The fact that power companies in Texas are exempt from reporting is irrelevant.

Let’s have a follow-up article that includes all of the Los Angeles city salaries.

Edward Saraffian

Los Angeles

CalPERS and the Bell salaries

Re “CalPERS knew about Bell raises,” Aug. 4, and “CalPERS’ Bell problem,” Aug. 6

CalPERS allowed Bell officials a 47% salary increase for its city manager and then claimed it had no knowledge of the city’s high salaries?

CalPERS has a long-standing reputation of behind-door transactions that have led to huge losses, so it’s no great surprise that they would look the other way when someone within their control is doing business the same way.

Come on, CalPERS: Focus! You need to get back on track. You are in control of tens of thousands of employees who are relying on your good judgment for their futures.

This was unconscionable and completely irresponsible, and you need to make it right for the people who are depending on you.

Ron Diton

Upland

I have been a full-time instructional assistant in the Los Angeles Community College District for over 30 years and am looking at retiring soon.

If CalPERS has to pay out these scandalous, enormous pension benefits for “the three highest-paid former Bell officials,” I am beginning to wonder if there will be anything left in the coffers for my pension and that of others in my position.

Ann Rayner Harootyan

Van Nuys

Kagan’s path to the high court

Re “Kagan cleared for high court,” Aug. 6

As The Times reported, “the bitter partisan divide that has plagued legislative efforts on Capitol Hill is increasingly infecting” the Supreme Court nomination process. How sad.

I certainly wish we had more senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, the only Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted for Elena Kagan’s nomination to the high court.

When the Kagan nomination subsequently was put before the full Senate, Graham was one of just five Republicans to vote for her, even though Kagan had received support from some prominent legal conservatives and had been endorsed by all 10 solicitors general since 1985, including five Republican appointees.

Unfortunately, the increasingly polarized confirmation process seemingly is dragging the high court down into the muck of day-to-day political battles. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) probably is right when she says she is worried that “people’s faith in the court” as an independent branch of government is being undermined by the mounting partisanship.

Jon White

Monrovia

The Times reports, “The 63-37 vote suggested that the bitter partisan divide that has plagued legislative efforts on Capitol Hill is increasingly infecting the high court nomination process.... Only five Republicans crossed party lines to support Kagan.”

Why no mention at the top of the story that only one Democrat crossed party lines to vote against her?

P.J. Gendell

Beverly Hills

Re “Kagan confirmation is all but certain,” Aug. 5

Carly Fiorina thinks that Elena Kagan’s “complete lack of judicial experience” makes her unsuitable for the Supreme Court even though historically many justices have not come from the bench and Kagan’s legal expertise is unquestioned.

Fiorina is running for a top elective office and has never held a lower office — not even dogcatcher.

Who’s the unsuitable one?

Ken Brock

Upland

An HP type of retirement

Re “HP chief resigns amid scandal,” Aug. 7

I have a new retirement plan.

Rather than simply continuing to draw Social Security and wait for my wife to retire, I will (with my wife’s approval) take a Mark Hurd/Hewlett Packard approach and go run a major American corporation, get a mistress (or pretend to) and agree to be fired in exchange for millions.

I hope this is what folks had in mind for all those years they’ve yelled at nonprofit execs to act more businesslike. If it is, tell ‘em I’m ready, willing and able to serve.

P.S. I don’t want to sound sexist, so I’m willing to do a “Carly Fiorina” too.

Lon M. Burns

Manhattan Beach

Elites’ habit of giving advice

Re “Is healthcare reform ailing?,” Editorial, Aug. 6

The Times basically argues that forcing individuals to buy health insurance is perfectly acceptable because it’s for their own good. That this deprives the individual of freedom is irrelevant to Times editors.

Of course, The Times also tells us that the people can’t place any limitation on who can marry — that The Times doesn’t agree with, that is.

Tell those of us, the poor members of society who just don’t know what is right — where do the rights of the elite to lord over the rest of us stop?

Kip Dellinger

Santa Monica

Apologize for a nuclear attack?

Re “U.S. visit to Hiroshima is welcomed,” Aug. 5

The U.S. sent a delegation to Hiroshima marking the 65th anniversary of the attacks. The survivors are asking for an apology.

Apology for ending the war and saving millions of lives had the war continued on to an invasion of Japan? Apology for a war they started?

We never got an apology for Pearl Harbor, nor the bombing of the Philippines hours later.

Had there not been a Pearl Harbor there would not have been a Hiroshima.

Evelyn Empie

Rancho Palos Verdes

A tax refund for a billionaire

Re “Billionaire targeted in ID theft,” Aug. 5

As much as it is scary and horrendous that some louse was able to steal Donald Bren’s check and make off with the dough (I hope they get the dude), the question that begs to be asked is, how does a guy who is worth $12 billion get a $1.4-million tax refund check in the first place?

I definitely want to employ whoever is doing his taxes!

David Mecey

Beverly Hills


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