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The cost of doing business in California;

A broken California?

Re “California isn’t broken,” Opinion, Dec. 20

The comments of California Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Stephen Levy regarding California’s business climate are absurd.

As an employer operating in 12 Southwest states, I experience firsthand the cost of doing business in California. The employee and facility expenses are the highest of any state in which we have employees. As a result, my employee head count is half of what it was before 2008.

I have closed one facility in 2010 and will close a second by June 2011. Soon the Panama Canal will handle larger ships, and California’s commerce will drop significantly.

Unless the state addresses the cost of doing business and employment, California will look a lot more like New York than the Golden State in the next decade.

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Donald Orr

Phoenix

Lockyer and Levy provide interesting economic facts and figures that should have indicated why California is not in trouble rather than how we have the wherewithal to get out of the mess.

And if you want an example of what is wrong with all politicians, just reread the last few paragraphs: not a single word about how we became so dysfunctional or at least one concrete suggestion as to how to fix the structural problems with California finances. Instead, we read just platitudes about how we Californians need to be smarter and more responsible. Huh?

Warren Larson

Sunland

Palestinian- Israeli impasse

Re “Let’s get tough with Israel,” Opinion, Dec. 22

Yousef Munayyer is dead wrong. It’s time to get tough with Arab terrorists, not with the only democracy in the Middle East.

He reiterates the myth of Palestinian refugees, warehoused in camps rather than settled among their prosperous brethren, more than 60 years after the Israeli war of independence. It’s time for him, and for them, to move on.

When the Palestinians renounce violence, perhaps the peace process can begin again. Until then, the Israelis must continue their efforts to settle and pacify the land.

Daniel Fink

Beverly Hills

Most Americans support an even-handed approach to Mideast peace. Unfortunately, our elected representatives overwhelmingly reject this approach in favor of more of the same failed policy of supporting Israel “no matter what.” No matter how it lies, postures, breaks promises and fails to make any concessions while demanding that Palestinians accept a subordinate position.

Israel and its allies at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are destroying American prestige abroad and making fools of U.S. taxpayers who are forced to support Israeli policy through our foreign aid budget.

It is time for us all to demand an end to U.S. financial support for Israeli apartheid and intransigence.

Beatrice Dewing

Charlotte, N.C.

It is ironic that Munayyer focuses on the need for an Israeli settlement freeze as a “tone-setter” for negotiations.

If the Palestinians had been interested in establishing “tone-setters” for the last six decades, the problems could have been resolved years ago. One “tone-setter” would have been stopping the teaching of hatred about Israel that is still rampant among Palestinians. Another is the denial of Israel’s right to exist, still evident in Palestinian maps that fail to show the state of Israel.

Today, Palestinians have a historic opportunity to create another “tone-setter” by agreeing to restart peace talks and meet Israel at the negotiating table.

Amanda F. Susskind

Los Angeles

The writer is the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest Region director.

Now that the midterm election is over, President Obama has no reason to be timid with Israel. He owes Israel nothing.

Obama should now allow Israel to take the consequences of flouting international law. He should insist that Israel meet peace-building objectives before releasing U.S. aid. These actions would win back much of his political base and restore his and America’s standing in the world.

More important, we might see some genuine progress toward Mideast peace.

Esther Riley

Blacksburg, Va.

Outing a Times food critic

Re “Restaurateur boots Times food critic,” Dec. 23

Perhaps Noah Ellis took Brendan Behan’s well-known adage that “no publicity is bad publicity” to heart in his shameful behavior toward S. Irene Virbila.

Certainly I had never heard of his restaurant before reading this article. But his stunt has ensured I will never step foot inside Red Medicine, and it is my hope that similarly aghast readers of The Times will do the same.

Jonathan May

Los Angeles

Readers and objectivity lose whenever any restaurant critic loses his or her anonymity. A known critic would be fawned over and receive a level of service that may not resemble the average person’s in any way.

But I have little sympathy for Virbila, whose ridiculously harsh ratings result in very few restaurants getting top marks. She has raved about restaurants, then given them two out of four stars. Restaurant owners and Times readers deserve a more realistic standard.

Stan Brothers

La Crescenta

I read Virbila’s reviews weekly, and her opinions always seem upfront and direct. If a restaurant receives an unfavorable review, I would think the professional response would be to assess the review and see if some changes are necessary.

Bob Merliss

Palm Springs

Michael Vick’s misguided wish

Re “Vick is still in the doghouse,” Opinion, Dec. 23

Meghan Daum has made an incorrect analogy. Michael Vick did not just abuse his dogs, he tortured and killed them.

If a husband had done that to his wife, he would be incarcerated for life, if not executed. Any new wife would have, at the most, supervised conjugal visits. If there were bells, they would not be church bells.

At least Daum comes to the right conclusion: Michael Vick should not have a dog. Ever.

Teresa Nield

West Hills

Vick says, “I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love and passion for animals; I think it would be outstanding.”

I always wanted a dog because I love dogs, not because I need to show people that I love dogs.

Just saying.

Wes Correll

Dana Point

Older teachers

Re “School reforms often overlook the instructors,” Dec. 22

After reading your previous articles, which blamed older, tenured teachers for many problems in the Los Angeles Unified School District, it was a breath of fresh air to read about Edwin Markham Middle School.

Markham was a low-performing school that had tried myriad strategies to no avail. After losing more that half its teachers because of low seniority, those teachers were replaced by more experienced ones (teachers with more seniority). According to your article, those teachers “proved more effective than their predecessors.”

Perhaps you will begin to reevaluate not your reported observations, but the conclusions drawn about what you observed.

Virginia Zucker

Chatsworth


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