I am writing to express my consternation and outrage at the conversion of the downtown Burbank, 135 E. Olive Ave., post office into a for-profit parking lot after 6 p.m.
Let me get this straight: When I get off work at 7 p.m., I am expected to pay for the privilege of checking my P.O. Box mail? Apparently, no parking spaces have been reserved for postal patrons. Is that land not public property, paid for and maintained by taxpayers?
What's next, having to pay a private company to drive into Wildwood Canyon or Stough Canyon Nature Center? Paying a fee to some corporation for my kid to use the play structure at George Izay Park? Paid parking at the library? By what authority did this policy change occur? I was not made aware of any public comment period on this, and I question its legality.
Furthermore, this flies in the face of one of the best and most charming things about our city: that one can enjoy downtown Burbank shopping and dining without paying the exorbitant parking rates that are the norm in Pasadena, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
I fear this is the thin edge of the wedge — and if Burbank residents can no longer park for free to enjoy a meal or a movie, local merchants will lose my and many other patrons' business.
Let's observe Constitution Day
"The best government is that which communicates ease, comfort, security, or in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of people and in the greatest degree" — John Adams, 1787.
Today, Adams would be devastated as to how the current government does not communicate ease or happiness. Once again, in our usual subdued way, we the people of Burbank will honor America's birthday. In all the backyards, patios and parks around the city, we will enjoy our families, feasting and fireworks.
Sure, we all understand the meaning of July 4, but do we ever realize that on July 4, 1776 — 234 years ago — we were not even a country? The concept of having one united nation did not come easily to the diverse colonies of people who thrived on individuality and independence.
On the Fourth of July, 1788, the city of Philadelphia chose to combine independence celebrations with celebrations over the final ratification of the United States Constitution.
Twelve years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, leading into the Revolutionary War, America was finally whole. George Washington, the chairman of the Constitutional Convention, called it nothing short of a miracle. Ben Franklin was 80 years old.
Starting in May through September of 1787, delegates from 12 colonies, (Rhode Island refused to attend), struggled through the intense heat of the Philadelphia summer, pontificating over the issues they believed would turn the confederation into a united nation.
The principles of the system establishing the Constitution as the supreme law of the land today are being challenged, and not since the early 1920s has America been closer to a socialist system. Some contend that America has become disabled by traditional values, that those values just do not work anymore. More and more the government seems intent on replacing the individual with "the collective"!
James Madison, often called the father of the U.S. Constitution, documented every speech during the convention, so we know exactly what was said and by whom and how those visionary men of their time compromised and finally agreed to one of the most envied documents in the world.
However, on this July 4, 2010, we seem reluctant, almost embarrassed to continue to live by those principles. We seem content to allow our elected leaders, who serve at our pleasure, to slowly erode the intent of this most sacred of national documents because some believe the founders to be flawed men. Yes, they made mistakes — slavery was not abolished, and women could not vote till 1920 — but overall, the Constitution has served us well. I believe those ills were corrected and are still being corrected by America because of the very existence of the Constitution and the brave men and women who fought and died over the many decades for its valuable principles.
We will always celebrate our Declaration of Independence — it is the spark that led to the greatest experiment of government in the history of the human race. But, let us not forget, it is not the law of the land. The Constitution is everything to America and guarantees our freedoms and our system of government.
I think Burbank would do well to be one of the first American cities to push for a declared celebration of U.S. Constitution Day. July 4, 1776, is the birthday of America, but Sept. 18, 1787, is the heart, the soul and the real beginning of the American journey. Besides, Burbank can always use another holiday!
Joseph Di Sante
I am aware that many residents in our community applaud efforts by Congress to pass a resolution, authored by Adam Schiff, affirming claims that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of the Turkish government during World War I.
According to a front-page article in the June 26 Leader titled "Resolution gets extra push," those efforts have gained momentum, with 144 U.S. Representatives signing on as co-sponsors of the genocide resolution.
I trust that, in this case, the motives of most of these members of Congress are sincere, that our congressional representatives are not using the resolution as a means of scoring political points against the administration.
Fifty to 60 years ago, long before the two recent waves of Armenian immigrations started in 1979 and 1989, I recall listening to my history professors identify the events in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. That was the consensus of historians then, and it remains the consensus now.
The historical fact of genocide has been well established by those who are responsible for making such judgments. For the time being, we should be content to leave the genocide issue in the hands of the historians.
In my mind, it is counterproductive to bring this issue to the fore to embarrass Turkey at a time when our relations with that country are exceedingly delicate. Right now, Turkey is important for two of our nation's major foreign policy objectives — making progress toward peace in the Middle East and blocking Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Cooperation from Turkey is sorely needed for achieving both these objectives.
Country is lacking patriotism
I come from a generation much different from my children and grandchildren. When my parents were growing up, they were in the recipients of the Great Depression, and although there was a sense of hopelessness, their unrelenting respect for America and faith in God instilled by their parents impelled them to overcome.
They understood the meaning of "equality of rights and opportunities in the pursuit of happiness and in service to the common good." It was this virtue that brought their generation through the most difficult of times. They were the recipients of patriotism and gladly celebrated their gratefulness on the Fourth of July.
Contrary to what many believe, America has not changed, only her people have changed, and as a result they have changed America into what they wanted her to be. The preambles of America in the eyes of today's generation is deplorable. They know little about America's history, and I'm sad to say some know nothing.
The challenges of unemployment, immigration and threats of terrorism are insurmountable. However, there is hope for America and her people, for she still holds within her bosom all the virtues that made her great. We just need to embrace them once again.
As for me, I shall tell the story to my grandchildren (as I have told my children) about their grandparents' patriotism for America; and amidst this year's Fourth of July celebration of fireworks display, I think that I shall ring a bell for liberty in honor of Independence Day.