Mailbag: Council members deserve their benefits

I completely disagree with the proposed changes to take a meat cleaver to City Council compensation ("Council talks of cutting benefits," July 5).

Councilman Keith Bohr, in his usual high-handed manner, proposed changes that will not affect him or any of his cronies on the dais, but will inhibit the challenges of future grass-roots candidates to the City Council who are neither rich, in a well-compensated professional or business position, or comfortably retired.

While it is true that few candidates are motivated one way or the other to run for office based upon the compensation or benefits involved, these benefits may influence how much time and effort council members can devote to city business versus their other commitments. I, for one, do not want a community-based council member having to struggle with work decisions or financial considerations in order to spend the extra hours or effort it might take to do a good job by his or her (and our) standards.

Well-off council members can simply opt out of various benefits and perks in order to save the city money. Standards can be tightened and some oversight instituted to make sure that council member expenses are wisely allowed.

However, I want my council members able to represent the best interests of the city in a variety of ways that require the outlay of upfront expenses. I want my council members to concentrate on moving the city forward and not looking over their shoulders regarding healthcare benefits.

Bohr was clearly grandstanding as far as I am concerned, and is far out of touch with our citizenry. It was no accident that the dissenting members of the council on this vote were two community-based leaders and a current retiree (who had profited handsomely from his council benefits over the past six years).

Bohr's argument that council members should set an example by making sacrifices is gratuitous from the get-go. Let those council members who don't need compensation or benefits opt out of them. Let those who need the financial flexibility of city benefits in order to devote more time and effort to their council duties have it.

We elect our City Council members to make important decisions about our future and not to lead by example in making sacrifices that are mostly symbolic. We also should strive for social and economic diversity with our representatives and not limit fully serving to those who are well-off. It's time we set a good example as a community for those who make sacrifices to serve us by compensating them fairly.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

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Where are columns for other faiths?

I don't object to Mona Shadia having an ongoing column in your newspaper because we are blessed to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press, among many other freedoms.

I do object to her referring to a Christian boy she liked while in high school and then calling him a "schmuck" because she disagreed with him ("Praying five times a day is a lot harder than it looks," Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C., July 5). He shared his Christian beliefs with her and she headed right for her prayer rug to rid herself of this truthful information.

Because Shadia is allowed a great deal of space in your publication, don't you think it would be fair to have "A Christian Girl in O.C." or "A Buddhist Girl in O.C." or even "An Atheist Girl in O.C." to balance out this biased column? I'm certain no Muslim publication gives space to any of the above.

Barbara Shepard

Huntington Beach

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One day of the Fourth is enough

I am dedicating my occasional "Is This Really Necessary"? complaint to my neighbors here in Area 4. The topic is the weeklong onslaught of rockets, M-80s, pipe bombs, IEDs and pyrotechnics all clearly not created for backyard launches.

Unless your last name is Zambelli, Grucci or Souza, or you live in an unpopulated area, you might consider other ways to celebrate Independence Day that don't involve gunpowder, skyrockets, mortars and other ear-shattering equipment.

When the city of Huntington Beach lifted its ban on fireworks, it was not a signal for all of you to drag out cases of your best Mexican and homemade explosive devices and begin detonating them the last week of June! Knock yourselves out on the Fourth, just not the weeks before and after.

When I finally get my two now-neurotic behemoth dogs calm and quiet, I plan to walk them across all of your yards. Then we can talk about large explosions.

Mary Franklin-Young

Huntington Beach

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