Catching those who abuse disabled-motorist parking placards; Obama's contraception compromise; California's flawed death penalty system

Who parks where

Re "Going after meter cheaters," Column, Feb. 16

The one thing that should be mentioned for those out there who are morally handicapped is that handicapped parking spaces and disabled placards are provided not only for convenience but more importantly for the safety of those who are wheelchair-bound.

Moving wheelchairs are barely visible in the rear-view mirrors of most cars and in many cases could be missed by someone looking back as they prepare to back up.

You can imagine the danger this poses for those in wheelchairs.

I have been in the business of architecture for more than 20 years and take the responsibility of safety very seriously. I have on many occasions approached obviously non-handicapped people using these parking stalls and tried to explain the dangers they pose with their actions, only to rebuffed, ignored or looked upon as some kind of nut.

Michael Cristilli

Santa Clarita

Though it may be laudable that Steve Lopez is going after the meter cheaters who unlawfully use handicapped parking placards, his suggestion that the disabled should pay to park and be subject to time limits is untenable.

Expecting disabled people to have to return repeatedly to feed the meters or move their cars is cruel. Lopez should walk in the shoes of a disabled person for a while before coming up with these misguided solutions.

Miriam Birch

Los Angeles

Bravo to Lopez for reporting on the crackdown on meter cheaters. This is but one aspect of the boondoggle that is the disabled-driver placard program.

We all know numerous people who either use placards that are not theirs or who have their own placards even though they are perfectly healthy. There must be a way to find and punish these cheaters without harming those who legitimately qualify for the placards.

I hope our elected officials look further into this problem.

Michael Wiener

Encino

When two freedoms collide

Re "Obama's liberty grab," Opinion, Feb. 14

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum wants to void all gay marriages and force victims of rape and incest to carry their babies to term. Talk about "government control of your lives." It's amazing that Jonah Goldberg quoted him to attack President Obama's proposed rule on mandatory contraception coverage.

Are any of these religious institutions receiving taxpayer funding? If they are, then the answer is clear: They have to provide contraception.

Todd Groves

Santa Monica

Let's be clear about one thing: The clash over Obama's contraception mandate is not a battle between those who love freedom and those who despise it. As so often happens in a democracy, the conflict pits one kind of freedom against another.

It's a tough call. Does the individual get to follow her conscience, or does her employer get to follow his?

Personally, I'll take individual freedom over institutional freedom every time, but maybe that's because I'm an individual, not an institution.

Brandon Crist

Torrance

Goldberg tells us that "'Obamacare' supporters shrug off horror stories from Canada and Britain about concerns like waiting periods and denied services." Horror stories? Yes, that is precisely what they are — cherry-picked and frankly dubious tales presented as proof.

Any European or

Scandinavian politician who might suggest that his country abandon its healthcare system in favor of the U.S. model would be booed out of office.

America has its own horror stories, like those unfortunates who have been driven into bankruptcy or those whose insurers have refused treatment.

Ask any American who has had the misfortune of falling ill in Europe if he wished that the U.S. had similar healthcare, and he would most likely respond with a resounding yes.

Ian Ogilvy

Los Angeles

A death penalty do-over

Re "Let's abandon a fatally flawed law," Opinion, Feb. 12

The problems that Ron Briggs cites with California's death penalty — overcrowding, endless appeals and so on — are real. But these are hardly an argument for changing the law.

The tune you hear from anti-death penalty advocates is familiar as they beat the drum about its ineffectiveness as a deterrent — as though that were the law's purpose. I'd bet that a majority of state residents see capital punishment as a basic cornerstone of justice rather than a deterrent to murder.

Please, California, change the appeals process by limiting the years allowed for lawyers to prolong cases, but don't cause the demise of something that assures decent people that the murderers among us will pay the price for their actions.

Jules Brenner

Hollywood

In 1978, hard-right state Sen. John Briggs wrote a disastrous death penalty initiative. The voters approved it overwhelmingly.

Now, he and his family have recognized the failure of their "national model for capital punishment" and have endorsed the SAFE California initiative. If it gets on the ballot and the voters pass it, it will replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole.

Could there be a better argument for the abandonment of a hideously expensive system that nearly all civilized countries abhor, and one that always risks the possibility of executing a factually innocent

person?

Laurence McGilvery

La Jolla

Chavez, sí

Re "Challenging Hugo Chavez," Editorial, Feb. 15

Your editorial seems to renege on your long-term depiction of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a strongman.

You state that he continues to get voted in by the Venezuelan people because of an inept opposition that has bickered and is divided. You also say that the opposition failed because it did not "understand the plight of the country's poor." You add that Chavez, on the other hand, "enjoys support among the poor thanks to programs that have helped slash extreme poverty by half."

It's strange that you are cool to a leader who has strong popular support, has materially aided the disenfranchised and has shown no indication of enriching himself in office. Does The Times reject any leader who diverges from U.S. policy?

Jack Rothman

Los Angeles

On deportation

Re "Gone but can you come back?," Editorial, Feb. 13

It is ridiculous to assume that theU.S. Justice Departmentwould go through the trouble of finding and bringing back an immigrant who was wrongfully deported. This is an enormous burden and requires the department to bring that immigrant back at its own expense.

Instead, the Justice Department can just do nothing, and while the problem may not go away, it can usually be ignored. Such over-zealotry in deportation creates unnecessary problems for the people involved and makes our government look bad.

That is why I applaud the efforts of the Immigrant Rights Clinic of New York University for bringing this issue to the public's attention. Immigration and deportation are very complex legal and ethical issues, but wrongfully deporting people only makes matters worse.

Jake Waxman

St. Paul, Minn.

Bike battering

Re "Bike lane blooper," Editorial, Feb. 14

My wife and I frequently cycle in downtown Los Angeles and were pleased to find the green bike lane on Spring Street during a ride on Christmas Day. My pleasure ended abruptly when my front wheel fell into a crack between two slabs of cement paving.

This long crack is 1 inch wide and in the middle of the bike lane. The crack trapped the wheel and I fell to the road, striking my helmet, which split open from the impact. I sustained minor bruises.

Providing a well-marked bike lane is a wonderful step toward making Los Angeles bike friendly, but the lanes must be surveyed and such hazards remedied.

Albert Morrison

San Clemente

Teach it too

Re "LAUSD puts off budget cut plan," Feb. 15

In an entertainment town, sandwiched between the Grammys and the Oscars, L.A.'s public schools system is contemplating cutting its arts programs in elementary schools. There really are two Los Angeleses.

Pamela Nagler

Claremont

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