ONE CAN ONLY HOPE
Attorney Mark Geragos has filed a complaint against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department on behalf of the family of 71-year-old Gerald Sakamoto, who was released from law enforcement custody in a way similar to Mitrice Richardson.
It has been more than seven years since Mitrice’s death and one would have hoped that law enforcement would have learned the “Deadly Consequences” (PW, Jan. 12) of releasing someone in such an inhumane manner.
~ RONDA HAMPTON, VIA EMAIL
REPLACE FEAR WITH TRUST
The Electoral College is a final link in the chain that enslaves our free democracy. Forged as a compromise to appease slave-holding states and slave owners at the beginning of our nation, it persists as a cancer on our system of government. Along with about 500 other folks, I participated in the Electoral College vote demonstration in Sacramento. Today the national vote of an unknown body of strangers exists to deny the majority popular vote of over 65 million Americans who voted for the Democratic candidate; tomorrow it can be the majority vote of millions of Republicans.
Do you know the name of even one member of the Electoral College? Yet this mysterious body will meet again in four years to decide on your behalf. Do we really need this? Some argue that this unknown body of electors serves to protect the smaller states from the presumed tyrannical rule of the bigger states.
These well-intentioned folks have prejudged, rendered a guilty verdict, and punished the majority of American voters now and in the future without proof. The punishment imposed is nothing less than the denial of one citizen, one vote. But who is behaving like a tyrant? It is tyranny that oppresses the free will of the majority and replaces mutual trust with mutual fear. When Americans vote for the president of the United States we vote in unity as citizens of America, not as residents of a state. I have no reason to fear your vote. You have no reason to fear mine. Now is the time to replace fear with trust by amending the constitution to abolish the Electoral College and uphold the direct election of the president of the United States. One citizen, One vote, One USA!
~ WALT DUNLOP, VIA EMAIL
DAY OF RECKONING
On Nov. 15, Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa presented to City Council the first quarter financial report:
For the past six years, the taxpayers are annually sending checks to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), on average $20 million. Starting in five years, our checks to CalPERS will more than double to a whopping $49 million annually. Mr. Ochoa’s body language reflected that we should hope for the best.
First-term Councilman Vartan Gharpetian, a businessman, acted bewildered, and to his credit figured out we needed over $600 million for the next 10 years to cover our CalPERS liabilities.
City Manager Ochoa told our council members over the next five years we would be receiving about $39 million from the demised Redevelopment Agency. Furthermore, we should set up an irrevocable trust in order to pay our pension liabilities. Additionally, he suggested taking some of the anemic $50 million in our reserve account and putting this also into this new fund.
Many city employees receive lifetime pensions of $100,000 to over $200,000 annually for life!
Mr. Ochoa looked chagrined when he said we were in a “crappy position” in discussing our pension debt. He continued to mislead us and council when he said staying with CalPERS would be cheaper than having city employees on a 401K plan and Social Security benefits. The average Social Security payout is about $16,000 yearly and the maximum payout — even if your name were Bill Gates — is $36,000 a year.
As a recipient of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from our city unions, three-term Councilman Ara Najarian defended staying with CalPERS, at any cost, because he wants to have “the best employees that money can buy.”
After reading the staff report, Councilman Najarian said the quarterly financial report was “mind boggling.”
~ MIKE MOHILL, GLENDALE
With a Republican Congress bent on depriving 22 million Americans of medical insurance, this is a great time to provide our own, totally free and totally effective health insurance — a plant-based diet.
A study with 131,000 participants, published in last year’s edition of Internal Medicine, found that consumption of animal protein is associated with higher risk of death. A couple dozen other massive studies in the past four decades had similar findings. None reached opposite conclusions.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 1.4 million, or 68 percent of identified US deaths are attributed to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, linked conclusively with consumption of animal products.
Cost of medical care was estimated by the National Institutes of Health at $3 trillion in 2014, or $24,000 per household, and rising at 6.5 percent annually — nearly four times the rate of inflation. Incredibly, this amount rivals our national budget and represents 17.5 percent of our gross domestic product. Even so, it does not include the costs of lost productivity, disability and premature death.
We have little control over the national cost of medical care. But each of us has a great deal of control over our household’s $24,000 share every time we visit the grocery store.
~ PHIL GARGALIS, PASADENA