An artist's fight with the city; planning for a government shutdown; the proliferation of antiabortion laws

A sad day for art

Re "Art patron bows to city," April 7

Of course Valley Village resident Barbara Black's alleyway mural was quashed for being an illegal sign — it wasn't making anybody any money.

Next time, Barbara, make sure it's big, electric, obtained with an expensive permit and pushing a product someone is sure we desperately need. The city of Los Angeles will be happy to accommodate you.

Mark Heggen

Studio City

It is outrageous that Black was not only forced to destroy the mural she commissioned, but that she was also fined for it.

The city handed down a punishment that our Puritan forefathers would have delighted in imposing, and the neighbors who forced this issue ought to be ashamed of themselves. Their behavior is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes that pronounced any piece of art degenerate if it did not conform to their taste.

Joan Walston

Santa Monica

Battle over the federal budget

Re "Plans made for federal shutdown," April 7

If the government does indeed shut down, let the first "nonessential employees" sent home be every member of Congress — because they're not doing their jobs. Let them leave their taxpayer-subsidized vehicles behind and get their personal credit cards out to pay their way home.

If our military members might not be paid, no Congress members should see a penny of their own paychecks. Cut out their pensions, unless they've put in the kind of years the rest of America works in order to retire.

Let them pay for their own insurance and gas, and maybe they'll know how most Americans live.

Karen Weaver


Two women claimed the same baby. King Solomon ordered the child cut in half to settle the dispute. OK, said one woman; no, said the other, withdrawing her claim to save the baby's life. Solomon rewarded the second woman by giving her the baby.

The Republicans would rather see this country crippled than give up any control. The Democrats seem willing to give up control to try to keep it on its feet. Anybody have Solomon's e-mail address?

Cynthia Carle

Los Angeles

Re "The GOP plan," Editorial, April 6

I was hopeful when President Obama announced the formation of the Deficit Reduction Commission, whose findings provided a road map to address our fiscal morass. But when the report was made public last

November, the president paid it little more than lip service.

Comes now Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). Kudos to him for developing a tough plan that would truly impact our obscene deficit. It isn't perfect, but no plan will ever be.

The GOP should trade the Bush tax cuts for implementing Ryan's plan or impose a five-year national sales tax to make its plan more "even-handed." In any case, major changes are needed if we are to avoid becoming the next Greece.

Glynn Morris

Playa del Rey

Parts of the editorial are laughable. It mentions last year's healthcare reform law and chides Ryan's plan as "ignoring the improvements it is expected to bring to efficiency and quality." Can anyone name one government program that can even remotely be described as "efficient"?

As to improved quality, there is no way healthcare quality can increase once millions of new people are eligible for Obamacare without a huge increase in the number of doctors, nurses and support personnel.

Finally, The Times wants a "more even-handed approach." I certainly hope Congress gets a lot more definitive in their planning than being "even-handed," whatever that means.

Bob Franz


Antiabortion bills on the rise

Re "The right to choose," Editorial, April 1

As an obstetrician and gynecologist, I care for women who make the difficult decision to have an abortion. Not one of my patients takes this decision lightly. Many travel more than 100 miles to see me and my colleagues.

I see women who agonize over feeding and clothing the children they

already have, who are striving to break the cycle of poverty by getting an education, who are fleeing from abuse, and who have health problems that make pregnancy life-threatening.

These women — whether in California, South Dakota or anywhere else — do not deserve legislated punishments for doing what they know is best for themselves and their families.

Jennifer Salcedo, MD

Los Angeles

In all fairness, your editorial regarding the "unprecedented attack on women's reproductive rights" should have mentioned that the so-called right results in the killing of a baby.

Robert H. Dahl

Los Angeles

As an OB-GYN physician, I can still remember the mangled women who were victims of untrained abortionists. When California law changed in 1972, many mothers' lives were preserved so they could have children at a more appropriate time in their lives. If abortion is abol-

ished again, those horrible back-alley procedures will resurface.

The real answer is to prevent unwanted pregnancies through education and easy access to birth control.

Michael L. Friedman, MD


Debt ceiling

Re "U.S. to hit debt limit by May 16," Business, April 5

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is pleading with Congress to raise our debt ceiling from its current $14.29 trillion limit.

Aren't we talking basic Business 101 here? Ask anyone who runs a small or large company what they would do. Answer: Curtail spending. Stop spending on so many useless programs. Cut the amount of government employees to reduce costs. We are not talking about complicated rocket science, just a lot of common sense.

Jim McKellar


Unions targeted

Re "Anti-union push gains steam nationwide," April 2

The report that more than 700 bills have been introduced recently in almost every state to limit or abolish collective bargaining for public employees should be an eye-opener for all Americans who depend on daily work.

This sudden rush of legislative activity is a calculated attempt by rich corporate and private interests to increase the pool of job-seeking underpaid workers, by shrinking government and denying workers benefits.

The U.S. is now witnessing a rebirth of our own wicked 19th century "golden age." Yeah, golden for whom?

Richard J. Steckel

Santa Barbara

Worth keeping

Re "National service cuts may hit state," April 3

The suggestion that we are "paying people to volunteer" for AmeriCorps vastly underestimates the commitment required of those serving our country in these programs.

Our daughter is currently serving with City Year, a program sponsored by AmeriCorps and private donors. City Year volunteers spend a year mentoring, tutoring and running after-school programs for at-risk students. They work 11 hours a day for 11 months, earning about $2.90 per hour. If members contribute 1,700 service hours, they earn an education bonus of $5,500 to

pay student loans or


Where else could we find this level of commitment for $2.90 an hour? In difficult financial times, we should expand Ameri-

Corps programs such as City Year, not cut them.

Lesley Danziger


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