Our tax dollars
Isn’t it past time to make it illegal for public employee unions to contribute to political campaigns? Unlike in the private sector, where businesses, companies and corporations have a bottom line where they are at their own peril in giving in to union demands, there is no profit motive in the public sector.
We the taxpayers contribute a portion of our earnings to support the public sector, and the politicians determine how much they earn and what their benefits will be.
The politician says to the public sector unions, “You contribute to my campaign, and I will see that you are taken care of.” However, the politician is not bargaining with his own or company money; he is bargaining with our tax dollars, and this is just corrupt in my view.
Piece of the cookie
I read with absolute amazement the March 3 Otis Page letter to the editor (“What will Brown do?”), which blamed our present Sacramento financial problems on unions.
Mr. Page fails to understand that the public employee pension plans are not the product of unions. Only 36 percent of the public sector is unionized. Unions did not negotiate with Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen on the other side of the table. Public management agreed to whatever level of benefits exist, and these benefits were assigned a percentage cost by Public Employees Retirement System or any other public pension plan in which the employees participate.
That cost is a shared cost with the public entity or is paid by the entity. So, to attack public employee union members is more than a stretch, as there are not that many of them and what benefits they have are the result of a negotiation process. The lack of unfunded liability was not a union creation but a Wall Street creation.
“There was a CEO guy, a tea party guy and a union guy. The CEO had 12 cookies and gave the Tea Party guy one, saying, ‘Watch out for the union guy; he wants a piece of your cookie.’ ”
Michael J. McLaughlin
The news media informs the citizens of Atascadero that the Environmental Impact Report for Walmart is complete and ready for public viewing. As a strong defender of private property rights, I believe Walmart, and the rest of us, should do as we please on our own property. Those who oppose Walmart should buy the property and do as they please with the land, move away or, better, defend private property rights as I do.
Gary L. Kirkland
Learn from California
Amazingly, the Japanese nuclear plants survived the 9.0 earthquake itself, but the tsunami wave was beyond what they were designed for. Hindsight is 20/20, but why would the California nuclear plant at San Onofre have a 30-foot-high seawall, whereas the Fukushima plant only has a 20-foot seawall? Japan has a long history of devastating tsunamis, and Southern California has no history of tsunamis! Maybe Japan can learn from California.
A hate crime
I was sickened to my stomach when I read the article on the front page on March 19 about the burning cross in the front yard of a young teenager and her family in Arroyo Grande.
While I recognize the city official’s reluctance to classify this disgusting act as a hate crime until all the circumstances are investigated, let’s be clear that this horrific act is exactly that — a hate crime.
Disgusting acts like this are meant to intimidate, denigrate and humiliate their intended victims.
As a community we need to lend a voice to the family and our wonderful citizens and not be a silent bystander and tell the perpetrator(s) that this will not be tolerated, ever. The offender’s ignorance and a failure to practice the basic tenet of respect for all is the underlying problem for the individuals or individual who committed this appalling act of cowardice.
My heart goes out to the family and the young teenager as they recover from this gutless act of racism. As a community. let’s tell the family we stand behind them and will never tolerate this in our community.
Harm to community
Sunday’s service at St. John’s Lutheran Church was a somber one. A deeply saddened Pastor Randy explained to the congregation that the church’s recently stolen 11-foot cross was used in an atrocity. The pirated cross was lit on fire and set on a black family’s property right here in Arroyo Grande. Audible gasps of horror combined with the shaking and bowing of heads rocked the church at this announcement. Some members cried.
Understandably, the victims of this hate crime are being kept anonymous, but St. John’s is hoping to reach out to them as soon as possible. Prayer quilts have been made for the family and a card of support was passed around during the service for all to sign. The police have made finding the perpetrators their top priority.
We said prayers for the family that was terrorized; for the police to swiftly apprehend those who did this heinous act; and yes, for the criminals — hoping they’ll realize the great harm they’ve caused this innocent family, St. John’s and our whole community.
The Tribune’s March 19 issue had two stories with some parallels that do not reflect well on law enforcement. One was about some sheriff’s deputies pretending an obvious DUI was something else because they didn’t want to embarrass the officer who appeared drunk.
The other was about Arroyo Grande police Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart and Mayor Tony Ferrara pretending an obvious hate crime might be something else because they didn’t want to embarrass their city. Gerhart went so far as to say the burning of a cross on the lawn of a black family in the dead of night (a classic klan message) “could be a prank.”
If it was, then it was a “prank” intended to make this family feel unwelcome and unsafe in their own home. It has already disrupted their lives. How much more hateful can you get?
San Luis Obispo
A despicable act
The cross burning in Arroyo Grande on Friday was a despicable act of racism. The black teenage girl who witnessed the 11-foot cross burning on her lawn did not consider it a prank, nor do I.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department should immediately request the help of the FBI to investigate and prosecute this hate crime.
Michael C. Blank
No laughing matter
After reading the article about a cross being burned on the lawn of a black family here in Arroyo Grande, I am stunned and outraged.
Stunned because being a newcomer to A.G, I was under the impression that things of this nature did not happen in a quaint little town, and outraged that a police commander said this hate crime “could be a prank.”
A prank is toilet-papering someone’s tree, not burning a cross on someone’s lawn. A prank is something that usually evokes a laugh, an “I gotcha” reaction. Burning a cross is no laughing matter. To compare it to such takes away from the seriousness of the issue. Perhaps police are trying to err on the side of caution. However, I feel there is a big difference between being cautious and intentionally skirting the facts for publicity’s sake.
We as a community cannot take this lying down. To call a hate crime a prank is to concede ignorance. Let’s demand resolution and send a clear message that this will not be tolerated, and hold authorities accountable for finding the culprits and punishing them until the message is clear: Hate crimes are not “pranks.” They are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Some actions and symbols are so emotionally charged by their history in our country and our world that their use can only be presumed to be motivated by hate: hanging nooses from a porch (as was done at Cal Poly), painting a swastika on a Jewish temple, and burning a cross on the front yard of a black family. I am heartened that the Arroyo Grande Police Department has seen fit to investigate the recent cross burning as a hate crime. I am extremely disappointed in the response by Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara.
If there are individuals who believe that such an action is a prank, then they will quickly find that our community does not think so and does not tolerate such hateful actions. Let the investigation move forward quickly, and Mayor Ferrara, please apologize to the victims of this crime and to the people of our county for your insensitive and misguided remarks.
Not a prank
Slashing tires and smashing storefront windows used to be called “pranks.” Getting college girls drunk and raping them used to be called “pranks.” Lynching black people used to be called a “prank.”
We don’t call these crimes or cross burnings “pranks” any longer because we understand just how heinous they are. Arroyo Grande police Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart’s comment that the Arroyo Grande cross burning could be a prank is evidence of either his inexcusable ignorance of the history of these hate crimes or a deep-seated racial prejudice.
Either way, he owes an apology to the family who had to endure the crime and to our entire community who have had to put up with his unconscionable remark. An examination into whether his employment should be terminated would be entirely appropriate, as well.