The sorry state of L.A.'s sidewalks; California's high-speed rail project; the immigration plans of Republican presidential candidates

Cracked and broken

Re "Suits could force L.A. to put money into sidewalks," Jan. 31

It's truly a sad state of affairs when it takes a lawsuit to force our city leaders to do the right thing.

Sidewalk maintenance is not just a civil rights issue for the disabled; rather, it has been an unresolved issue of poor management by those responsible for getting the job done. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for not demanding that our elected officials find a way to provide funds to maintain our sidewalks.

This issue has been swept under the table long enough.

David Williams Los Angeles

I live in the same Sherman Oaks neighborhood as disabled resident Brent Pilgreen and can attest to the horrible condition of our sidewalks.

When we bought our house in 1977, we were informed by the city that we could plant only liquidambar or crape myrtle trees in the parkway.

Because the liquidambars produce destructive roots as well as ankle-breaking sticker balls, and the crape myrtles drop unsightly leaves and blossoms that stain everything, neither was acceptable to us.

I'm sure someone will figure out that the city is liable for the destruction from these trees and will sue for damages.

Ellie Doud

Sherman Oaks

Is train travel the ticket?

Re "Should California bite the bullet on high-speed rail?," Column, Feb. 1

Steve Lopez asked a number of travelers if they would prefer a high-speed rail trip to Northern California over a flight to Oakland.

One question that I have not seen addressed is the relative comfort afforded to train travelers. Typically, boarding is less complicated, seats are wider and legroom is more ample. Why would one choose the cattle cars that are airliners over a rail car with a bar? If the California train is anything like those in Japan or Europe, count me in.

Besides, have you tried redeeming frequent flier miles lately?

Paul Brydon

Malibu

When I was head of planning at the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, I would remind our staff that we did not have a project unless it met all three of these criteria: It must be constructable, it must be financially feasible, and it must be politically viable. High-speed rail meets none of these.

Even the recently increased budget is still a fantasy. In many instances there is no right of way, just lines on a map. There are several proposed segments where it is physically impossible to share right of way with Amtrak and freight trains.

It is time to pull the plug on this project.

Judy Wilson

Pasadena

California needs a high-speed rail system just like Los Angeles needs a comprehensive subway and monorail system. If America wishes to remain an industrial powerhouse, we must have a first-class infrastructure to deliver the goods. Our biggest hurdle is that we have a corrupt society in which government and industry have formed an unholy alliance that prefers to

bilk us.

We need to borrow money to invest in our children's future. Otherwise, their world will have an egregious lack of opportunity.

John Thomas Ellis

Kentfield, Calif.

Patient, heal thyself

Re "Prescription with side effects," Opinion, Jan. 30

Katherine Schlaerth is correct when she points out that doctors can only assume so much responsibility for their patients' health.

Hence, the patient satisfaction surveys for individual doctors based on Medicare claims files will not include the most important information: Did the patients follow doctors' recommendations? If patients continue to smoke, eat fattening foods and do not exercise, then these surveys become counterproductive.

The logic of holding doctors responsible for factors beyond their control is tantamount to holding reporters responsible for the fact that newspapers are struggling, when there are other factors involved. We seem to be a society obsessed with creating scapegoats for complex problems.

Dennis M. Clausen

Escondido

How ironic: Doctors worry that Medicare report cards will be unfair because they don't all work with ideal patients. In some areas patients eat their vegetables while in others the patients wait until they are very ill to seek care.

I hope these doctors were quick to defend teachers, who pointed out that different student demographics presented different challenges and different teaching outcomes.

Wendy Velasco

Whittier

Immigration solutions

Re "Immigration fantasies," Editorial, Feb. 1

Thank you for pointing out that there is no immigration "line" for low-skilled immigrant workers. Most Americans are unaware of the hoops an average citizen from a developing nation must jump through to gain even an ordinary tourist visa.

Our immigration system does not even include a visa category for individuals who would like to work in our fields, trim our lawns, clean our houses or process our livestock. Visas for this type of work must be initiated by U.S. companies, which often decide it's far easier to hire these immigrants under the table.

This mismatch between the needs of our economy and our immigration system is one reason we have so many undocumented workers.

Liz Fautsch

Encinitas

Thank you for your editorial excoriating GOP presidential candidates who, in your words, "have no answer" to the problem of illegal immigration and the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Please follow up with the "answer" President Obama has to the problem. Readers will understand if you print a blank box on the editorial page labeled "Obama's answer to immigration."

Dennis C. Smith

Long Beach

Civic lesson

Re "Civic hybrid owner wins lawsuit against Honda," Feb. 2

Heather Peters' battle with Honda is just beginning.

She will next face the company's lawyers in a small claims appeal, which will be in Los Angeles County Superior Court. She will have to fight the onslaught of Honda's attorneys and hired witnesses. She will not be allowed a jury trial pursuant to the small claims appeal rules, and her small claims win will have no precedent.

Maybe some skilled consumer attorneys will step up to help her for free. I hope she isn't holding her breath.

Honda should pay her the $9,867.19 in damages because by law, no other Honda owners will be able to use her case as precedent, as it is only a small claims case and not citable in other cases. But Honda, being the typical giant corporation, will spend many times that to crush her — just because it can.

Mark O'Connell

Irvine

Too entitled

Re "Food stamp food police?," Editorial, Jan. 31

Food stamps were designed to temporarily assist in providing the basics after a hardship. However, in today's society, a helping hand is not accepted in gratitude but with a sense of entitlement. An example is welfare, and particularly food stamps, which some people use to buy unhealthful food instead of necessities.

Frequently, we have pointed the finger at our government leadership for its poor handling of our money. But before we accuse politicians in Washington of misspending funds, perhaps we should first observe how to become better stewards of the tax dollars ourselves.

Lance Moen

Fargo, N.D.

No sympathy

Re "Holding the fort," Business, Jan. 29

It is difficult to have any sympathy for Karen Mena regarding the possible foreclosure of her San Bernardino home. She has refinanced the home many times, taking money out and using it for other purposes.

Now, rather than looking in a mirror, she wants society to help replenish or forgive those funds.

Mena is not a victim.

Thomas Alley

Rancho Palos Verdes

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