On politicians and their “pledges”; a big salary for a Cal State president; and CVS’ unpopular rewards program

Power of the pledge

Re “Anti-tax bloc of Republicans threatens the nation’s stability,” Column, July 27

Once again, columnist Michael Hiltzik is spot on. We have a group of Republican ideologues in Congress who have apparently abandoned their oath of office in order to keep their pledge to Grover Norquist, a man who holds no formal office and who has publicly stated that his goal is to shrink government to “the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

We live in a time of high unemployment. Wages have either flat-lined or shrunk for nearly everyone except the wealthiest. Norquist has built a lucrative business model mau-mauing the rich and powerful into dismantling America. This nation deserves better.


Richard Dickinson


Kudos to Hiltzik.

Does this mean that this pledge overrides the constitutional oath these Republicans took when taking office?


What about if there’s a state of war that requires immediate revenues to protect our country’s interests? Is there a provision in this pledge that addresses this possibility or other national emergencies?

Or what about the mere fact that there may be a conflict of interest here? Beware of any pledge made to one man and/or a particular organization; it may prove to be disastrous.

Joe Martinez

El Segundo

Re “Perils of taking the pledge,” July 26

Our elected officials take an oath to defend the Constitution, which was written for “we the people” and not special-interest groups.

We the people consist of white, black, brown, rich, poor, gay, straight, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and everything in between.

Who elected Norquist to be the keeper of the pledges, much less to enforce them?


It’s time for those we elect to do what is good for everyone and not just a radical few.

Carol Giandalia


Thank you for your article about these pledges being required of political candidates. This is a very serious threat to the democratic process.

I want my representatives to go to Washington or Sacramento with an open mind, good judgment and the willingness to do the business of governing. I want them to research issues and to communicate with colleagues and with constituents.

I want honest evaluation and sincere intentions to do what is right for the most people.

I want representatives who have the ability to stand up to power and think independently. I want a list of candidates who have the courage not to sign a pledge.

Avalon Hill


Long Beach

When I was running for the California Assembly in 1996, I was invited for an interview with a right-wing Orange County PAC. The lady doing the interview asked me to sign a “no-tax pledge” before the PAC would make a donation to my campaign.

I replied that in a state prone to earthquakes, fires and floods, a legislative candidate would have to be “some kind of nut” to sign that type of pledge.

She said: “Trust me, I won’t have any trouble finding Republicans who will sign our pledge.” She didn’t, and the candidate won.

The pressure gets worse all the time, and the result is gridlock in Sacramento and in Washington.

Bob Larkin

Westlake Village

A Republican Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to

Grover Norquist,

and to the Tea Party for

which he stands.

One faction, under Him,


With money for the rich

and little for all others

Ed Carstens

Santa Clarita

A Cal State’s pricey president

Re “The $400,000 man,” Editorial, July 24

The Times misses the point: ethics. In an age of irrational politics and suspect ethics in Sacramento, we look to better behavior from our Cal State trustees.

They are, after all, stewards of the California dream for many: a chance to get a solid education and advance to the taxpaying professional class.

The public needs this skilled workforce of nurses, police, firefighters, engineers, scientists, creative thinkers and artists for the well-being of the state.

The $100,000 increase for San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman that The Times dismisses as the mere equivalent of 16 scholarships is still 16 children who will not be supported in their education at a time of severe fiscal distress for many. It is the salary for several full-time faculty, or it would pay for multiple courses.

The board is failing the citizens of California with this type of behavior.

Teri Yamada

Rancho Palos Verdes

If “the new president of San Diego State University makes $100,000 more than his predecessor” but may be “a star at raising private donations and is expected to bring in far more money than the pay differential,” then why not pay him $300,000 together with a performance bonus based on a percentage of the additional private donations he brings in? The additional money collected after the bonus could then be used to offset tuition increases.

Michael Lohnberg

Agoura Hills

Re “State college system said to be on decline,” July 21

For as long as I can remember, large compensation has been justified as the means of attracting the very best people available to administer the Cal State universities.

Guess what? That strategy isn’t working.

Yet The Times reports that Cal State is in decline from its past high standards. One would think that for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (and other lavish perks) the state of California would be able to find talented and creative leaders who could find solutions that are innovative and maintain the high quality of education.

The only solutions that seem to come from this bunch of administrators are self-serving.

Surely it doesn’t take this sort of compensation to come up with solutions such as tuition increases and faculty and staff layoffs. My goodness, that’s way too much to pay for mediocre decisions.

Jay Stevens

Long Beach

Not so rewarding to CVS shoppers

Re “Rewards reversal at CVS,” Column, July 22

So we are supposed to “feel the reward” when Extra Bucks are printed on our receipt at CVS, according to a CVS marketing spokeswoman?

It just seems to be an irritating and inconvenient way to treat loyal customers who have enough little pieces of paper to keep track of in their lives.

If they really want to make the rewards program better, they should make it attractive and simple to use, as grocery chains have for years.

Carol Terry


What kind of “reward” requires customers to save the receipt and then remember to bring it back when they shop?

Even crueler, the reward expires before one needs to go back to the store and therefore necessitates an extra trip (think time and cost of gas) in order to get it.

If there were another drugstore in my neighborhood, I would buy there. I feel like I am being manipulated.

Pam Brown

Playa del Rey

As a man who frequents CVS regularly for meds and grooming supplies, I find it annoying that I must keep a receipt folded in an already bulging wallet in my back pocket.

I feel annoyed when I am asked at the register if I have a rewards card, because I do have one but the process as such is inconvenient; the question only serves to remind me that I am losing out on cash back.

Joe Aguanno

Palm Springs

Passing of a toy industry giant

Re “Elliot Handler, 1916 – 2011: Mattel’s co-founder was inventor of Hot Wheels,” Obituary, July 23

The passing of Elliot Handler truly marks the end of an era for the world’s toy industry.

A half-century ago, Elliot and Ruth Handler built Mattel and infused the industry with modern marketing, manufacturing, advertising and sales techniques.

This industry, for which they laid the cornerstone, in the United States alone now achieves massive annual revenues. Today, Mattel is the world’s largest toy maker.

This is the true extent of the legacy of Elliot Handler.

Joe Whitaker

Arroyo Grande, Calif.

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