Stalled state budget talks; Utah's guest-worker law; paying for power in L.A.

State budget in crisis

Re "State budget talks dead," March 30

Remember the scene in the film "Blazing Saddles" where Cleavon Little's character holds a gun to his head and threatens to shoot himself unless the townspeople agree to his demands?

That's what Gov. Jerry Brown's budget negotiations with the five Republicans in the Legislature who were willing to talk to him remind me of — only instead of falling for the trick, the Republicans have been daring him to pull the trigger and turn his back on the voters who elected him by enacting an all-cuts budget that will essentially wipe out the social safety net.

The former chair of the national Republican Party once proposed that the Democrats change their name to the Democrat Socialist Party. Maybe, in the same vein, it's time for the Republicans to become the Republican Nihilist Party, since it has become clear from their actions at both state and federal levels that they fund- amentally disbelieve in the whole idea of government as a force for the public good.

Mark Gabrish Conlan

San Diego

Brown is letting a minority party control budget decisions. Instead of permitting excessive Republican demands to halt negotiations, he should present a list of offers they cannot afford to refuse. Although many of the GOP demands are irrelevant to the budget, some — eliminating commissions, leaner prison guard pensions and a realistic cap on state spending — have merit.

Having slashed benefits to the poor, Brown should reduce salaries of high-paid hospital and university administrators and eliminate state funding for the high-speed rail gambit. Commuting the 700-plus death-penalty sentences to life imprisonment and easing regulations are among other savings he could propose in return for GOP support.

Howard Hurlbut

Redlands

I'm one of those mean, hard-hearted Republicans who doesn't want to give one more cent to the politicians of this state. I believe that a small portion of what they take from me actually feeds the hungry, heals the sick or houses the homeless. The rest goes to feed the bloated, self-serving, patronage-stuffed bureaucracy that is smothering this state.

The only way to kill this tumor is to cut off the blood supply.

Mary Maron

Encino

Two people (read Democrats and Republicans) stand outside a burning house (read California) and continue to argue as to who is to blame for the fire. Nobody thinks of calling the fire brigade. Each is intent on blaming the other, and the house burns down.

Sacramento politicians must have gone mad or are so caught up in the "blame game" that they are totally immune to calls for sanity and cooperation in the face of a looming tragedy. What are we poor voters to do?

Peter A. O'Reilly

Claremont

Work permits for immigrants

Re " Business beats bigotry," Opinion, March 28

Gregory Rodriguez suggests that we might be surprised by conservative Utah's move to allow work permits for undocumented workers already in the state. Why would that come as a surprise to anyone? The Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce succeeded in getting a law passed that provides businesses with lower labor costs and places other burdens (such as healthcare) on the public.

The Utah law allows that, in lieu of having healthcare coverage, the worker may simply agree to have "no medical debt that is past due during the term of the permit." If that person did accrue a medical debt, it is fair to assume that the debt would be a violation of the work permit and grounds for deportation.

If the law had passed requiring employers to provide a living wage and healthcare benefits, well, that would have been the surprise.

Tom Walker

Costa Mesa

Rodriguez writes, "Old-school conservatism — that of employers and business interests — just might be the key to finally dealing justly with the 11 million people living within our borders without papers."

U.S. businesses want illegal immigrants here in order to exploit them. These people will be exploited whether they are given amnesty or not, and new ones will come in to take their place in the low-wages racket.

Rodriguez mentions "dealing justly" with illegal immigrants. Is it just for American citizens to have to subsidize this illegal cheap labor for businesses? Is it just that Californians have to pay billions per year to educate, medicate and incarcerate those here illegally without papers?

Haydee Pavia

Laguna Woods

The price of power in L.A.

Re "Powerful misconceptions," Opinion, March 28

I found the title of Jim Newton's article very interesting in the light of a sentence: "The DWP today charges 13.6 cents per kilowatt hour, meaning the average residential user pays about $56 a month." That sentence is a "powerful misconception."

My bill from the L.A. Department of Water and Power is $254.72 for energy and $82.22 for water, making my DWP total $336.94. Sounds reasonable, right? There's more.

Add the sewer service charge, the city utility tax, the solid resources fee and state energy surcharge, and my bill is $459.04. This is based on the energy use of a single-person household. My son and his family have DWP bills that far exceed mine.

The DWP has been poorly managed and runs surpluses, and still S. David Freeman has the audacity to say that its critics are misguided.

L.A. Nichols

Encino

Who will be responsible for Los Angeles' long-term interest with regard to the consequences of future energy policies? Our leaders know that Los Angeles must ensure access to electrical power while generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, whose Carbon Reduction and Climate Change Committee I chair, has been participating in public comment on this issue. I've been surprised and gratified to see that although electricity rates are of keen interest, many residents and policymakers are as concerned about reducing the city's carbon footprint.

When the public is aware that there is no escaping paying for good public policy, it can help persuade our leaders to make long-term decisions in our best interest.

Marjorie Engel

Studio City

Gay marriage

Re "Marriage a race against time," March 28

The plight of Ed Watson and Derence Kernek is senseless, inhumane and certainly discriminatory, and I hope our society will one day see how denying them marriage is directly causing them undue harm. However, getting married is still only half the battle.

My husband and I, having married in California during the brief time in which it was legal, now endure unforeseen legal problems. Recently, our tax returns were rejected by our computer's filing software. Now we must hire a tax attorney to assist in a patriotic task that we are capable of doing on our own. Had I signed up for employer-provided spousal benefits, the federal government would have taxed me the full cost of those benefits.

And the proponents of Proposition 8 want to avert social chaos? Please.

Bruce Durbin

Los Angeles

Sick levels of pay

Re "Hospital chiefs top salary list," March 29

Like many other physicians, I also worked 60 to 80 hours per week in a "complex job" and was always on call except during two-week vacations, and the salaries of the hospital administrators cited in a state report were unthinkable. I never knew that you can make so much money as an administrator.

Obviously, "greed is good."

Jaime Mejlszenkier, MD

Tarzana

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