Problems with L.A.'s Blue Line rail system; fixing the U.S. tax system; ad extending Measure R’s sales tax increase

Off the rails

Re “Blue Line’s woes a black mark for Metro,” April 21

No one should be surprised that the Blue Line light-rail system from downtown L.A. to Long Beach has high maintenance costs.

The goal of Propositions A and C and Measure R, which raised the sales tax, was to build a rail system, but not necessarily to maintain and operate one. As more lines are built, more money must be spent to maintain the system. The question now is whether the system has reached the size where all the construction money is required for maintenance and none is left for construction.

In the last century, Henry E. Huntington and others who built the first version of rail transit in Los Angeles learned the same lesson: Construction is easy, but maintenance is expensive and hard.

Keith Price

Los Angeles

At 22 years old, the Blue Line is “aging” so much that it’s starting to fail? The residents of New York, Boston and London must be rolling in the aisles.

Geoff Kuenning


Common sense

Re “As women get older, daughter is favorite,” April 20

Judging the closeness of personal relationships by the number of phone calls misses the point. I have always been close to my daughter. The phone calls began when she left for college. I don’t need to phone my husband because he still lives with me. I talk to my daughter on the phone every day because she is in graduate school in New York.

Women in their 40s have daughters old enough to leave home. If there is a close relationship when the girls leave home, they call. Boys are not so inclined, even if they were close to their moms. Their friends would laugh at them if they called home every day.

Did someone pay a lot for this study?

Stephanie McIntyre


Tax reform done right

Re “A more palatable tax reform,” Opinion, April 20

Ronald Brownstein offers an important recommendation: Cap the total value of tax deductions, but don’t eliminate them.

Many deductions proposed for elimination are essential for the average taxpayer, even though his tax saving is much smaller than someone in the top 1% of earners. A prime example is the deduction for employer-provided healthcare. If this were eliminated, many employers would drop these valuable benefits. Company healthcare plans give employees crucial leverage denied to individual policyholders.

The Congressional Budget Office calculates that limiting total tax-break value to 15% would raise $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Such a plan is non-partisan and should be adopted.

Howard Hurlbut


Brownstein and the members of both parties that are pushing a flatter tax system are simply wrong.

The highly graduated tax system pre-Reagan gave the well compensated a choice: Invest in growing the economy or give the money to the government. The result was a vibrant, world-leading economy.

Starting with Reagan, we have worked toward a flatter tax system, which has given us overcompensated executives, undercompensated workers and a stagnant economy.

Larry Severson

Fountain Valley

You get what you pay for?

Re “AT&T is dialed in to Sacramento,” April 22

It’s upsetting that AT&T is able to expend such large amounts of money because its wants to be a good citizen, and yet its lobbyists largely refused to comment for this article.

But it’s more disturbing to find that our elected officials are the hogs at the feeding bin, accepting everything from AT&T — which, of course, expects nothing in return.

How stupid do they think we are? Our legislators are even more guilty than AT&T because they are violating the public trust and should know better, and we certainly should expect better.

We need strict legislation to absolutely forbid elected officials at any level from accepting gifts of any kind from anyone. I understand that quid pro quo is difficult to prove, so we need to stem even the appearance of such


Lou Del Pozzo

Pacific Palisades

I had believed that the customer was the most important asset a company could have. Not so. It would appear that the most vital element of a company’s success is its influence over state legislators. In fact, AT&T handed out millions of dollars to 120 state representatives between 2005 and 2011 to pass legislation favorable to AT&T, not its customer base.

It appears that the whole process of lawmaking is corrupted by AT&T and other large corporations. This is hardly

government by representation.

Derek Torley

Corona del Mar

Questions about Measure R

Re “The ‘transportation mayor,’ ” Editorial, April 20

The question about whether or not a Measure R sales tax extension beyond 30 years would be good for the county can only be answered if all parts of the county are at the table from the beginning, instead of being asked to ratify after the fact a Wilshire Boulevard subway plan garnished with just enough projects sprinkled around the county to masquerade as a “regional effort.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority must demonstrate that accelerating Measure R projects by borrowing against future tax revenue is fiscally responsible and that rail would not cannibalize bus operating funds once these new projects are completed.

Also, the MTA must demonstrate the financial capacity to accelerate and close funding gaps for the Gold Line Foothill and Eastside extensions, the Crenshaw Line’s Leimert Park station and underground sections, the High Desert Corridor and Metrolink corridor upgrades.

Michael D. Antonovich

Los Angeles

The writer, L.A. County supervisor for the 5th District, is vice chairman of the MTA.

I agree that the legacy of Measure R and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 plan will transform Los Angeles. The buildout of our rail transit system will boost our economic competitiveness, produce thousands of jobs, result in cleaner air and create a more livable and affordable city.

However, I disagree with your conclusion that by extending Measure R, we are “billing our kids (or grandkids) for today’s projects.” Extending Measure R will certainly benefit the current generation by creating thousands of jobs sooner, relieving congestion sooner and cleaning the air sooner. And we can build it now at a lower cost.

But future generations will gain the greatest benefit, inheriting a more efficient economy as well as cleaner air.

Our children will thank us, even if they are also paying for the benefits they receive.

Denny Zane

Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of Move LA.