Letters to the editor

Words of farewell

Re Studs Terkel, 1912-2008,” Obituary, Nov. 1

I first met Studs Terkel when I became senior vice president at Playboy Enterprises and started spending a lot of time in Chicago.

He was easygoing and acerbic, witty and contemplative, curious and laid-back, but always interested in life around him. I ran into him twice while he was waiting at a bus stop for public transportation; appropriate, as he so loved the public.

This morning, I pulled out my well-worn copy of "Working" in his memory. He had signed it, "For Marty -- Here's to delight in your work. Take it easy, but take it ... Studs Terkel."

And to you Mr. Terkel: "Take it easy."

Martin M. Cooper


Protections for consumers

Re “Panel slow to act on nurses’ crimes,” Nov. 2

The Department of Consumer Affairs' No. 1 priority is to protect California's vulnerable populations from unscrupulous and unlicensed people who could bring them financial and personal harm. Your recent articles about California's nursing boards have pointed out several flaws that my department is committed to fixing.

I inherited a system that takes an unacceptably long time to discipline licensees whose personal and professional behavior calls into question their ability to do their job dependably. When I became director, I vowed to fix that.

I have broken with bureaucratic tradition and taken immediate actions to create consistency across California's boards and improve protection measures. I have directed the Board of Registered Nursing to fingerprint all nurses -- new and currently practicing -- and to require disclosure of any previous convictions. I will also work with the Legislature on a new law that allows each and every board and bureau under my department to fingerprint all licensees. Carrie Lopez


The writer is the director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

“Panel slow to act on nurses’ crimes,” Nov. 2

Hot over solar

Re “Solar measure ordered drafted,” Oct. 29

The Times hits the nail on the head in highlighting the backroom deal between the L.A. City Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, in the city's proposed solar rooftop measure. As you correctly note, the IBEW helped to write the measure, and labor was the only group supporting it in council chambers. There were no supporting comments from solar groups or the private sector.

The reason why: The city's IBEW-crafted measure blatantly limits competition and excludes the participation from the solar industry and the rest of the labor community that serves it. The fact that the program is estimated to cost between $1.5 billion and $3 billion shows that DWP ratepayers will pay a high price for this shameful ploy if we do not open up the program to other installers and their employees.

The city's solar initiative is important. It should be done right. Our environment and our pocketbooks depend on it.

Gary Toebben

Los Angeles

The writer is president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

A monument of disrespect

Re “Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance gets go-ahead,” Oct. 30

The Times reported that the Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance won a court fight to build on a Muslim cemetery dating back 300 to 400 years. The court said that because there was no objection 48 years ago to a parking lot there, construction could proceed.

I think there is some difference, however, between paving over the site and digging deep for the foundations of a huge new structure.

Rabbi Marvin Hier is quoted as saying that they are "promoting the principles of mutual respect and social responsibility" by building this "landmark" edifice. I'm sorry to have to tell the rabbi that desecrating your neighbors' cemetery is not likely to generate mutual respect, even if authorized by a court order. This building may be an ugly symbol of disrespect to the Muslim world for decades to come.

E.J. Parker

Long Beach

Hate crimes against disabled

Re “The homeless and hate,” editorial, Oct. 30

The Times is flatly and shamefully wrong when it says that an attack on a victim with a disability "isn't rooted in the sort of pervasive discrimination experienced by racial, religious and other minorities." In fact, some research shows that people with disabilities -- many of them homeless -- are victims of much higher levels of violent crime than the general population. Many of these vicious crimes are motivated by biases such as revulsion, fear, resentment or a belief that people with disabilities are inferior and therefore "deserving."

Under California law, these are hate crimes. But you'd never know it from the official hate-crime statistics or, unfortunately, The Times' editorials.

Greg deGiere


Reparations issue still simmers

Re “So long, slavery reparations,” Opinion, Oct. 31

Walter Olson's epitaph for reparations for the descendants of African slaves in the United States is premature. Although the issue may no longer appear in the daily news, it is most certainly buried in the American conscience, destined to resurface.

Olson argues that black servitude was largely redressed by "social welfare, education, housing and urban programs." This may have been the intent, but it certainly was not the result. Before the ink was dry on the authorizations for many of these programs, a backlash emerged claiming reverse discrimination.

Soon, every "minority," from the physically challenged to gay rights groups, shared in the crumbs that had been originally set aside for the descendants of slaves. As statistics indicate, the vestiges of slavery and its aftermath -- segregation and discrimination -- persist in African American communities across this country.

People who seek reparations for African Americans are not "anger-mongering." They are citizens of conscience who believe that black people, who have contributed so much to this nation without compensation, are worthy of consideration for recompense similar to that granted many Japanese American and Native American citizens for past injustices.

LeGrand H. Clegg


Optimism in America

Re “The sobering of America,” Opinion, Nov. 2 and “Ex-Marine rebuilds his life after brush with death in Iraq,” Nov. 2

I'm sure Yiyun Li's article made some Bush haters nod their heads in collective disapproval of an America in decline.

Elsewhere in The Times, Tony Perry chronicled the "new life and new set of goals" of wounded Iraq veteran Where Li laments the loss of Clinton-era laughter, Popaditch laughs about the prospect of teaching high school after combat -- despite the fact that he lost most of his vision fighting for his country.

I doubt the former Marine subscribes to Li's views of her adoptive country. Hopefully he will successfully maneuver the academic battlefields so his future students will have a perspective Li probably missed.

Eric Castano

Long Beach

An affordable housing waste

Re “West Hollywood dealt a blow on ‘Tara,’ ” Oct. 31

It's no surprise that West Hollywood has lost in court again in its quest to build so-called affordable housing in one of the most expensive cities in L.A. County. Had the city done the right thing from the beginning and built the housing on a noncontroversial lot, there's no doubt the matter would have been closed years ago. Instead, residents' tax dollars have been spent on legal fees. That is money that might have been better spent building affordable housing elsewhere.

James Fuhrman

Chonburi, Thailand

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