In his recent City Limits column on county pensions ["Leave the Woman Alone," November 1925], Marc B. Haefele missed the point of my memo to the Board of Supervisors. It concerned service-connected disability benefits, not the retirement system's treatment of widows, or Alyce Block's case in particular. I don't begrudge Mrs. Block her money -- under current rules, I had no choice but to vote in favor of her application.
This isn't about contempt for "the county's most esteemed employees and their relatives." This is about common sense. The issue is whether service-connected disability benefits should be given to persons who aren't disabled, or who are disabled but for reasons that have nothing to do with their employment.
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Mr. Haefele apparently thinks disability benefits should also be given to people who are fully capable of performing their actual job duties or who are injured as a result of leisure activities. He seems to buy the argument that a retirement-age, obese, alcoholic, chain-smoking, diabetic sergeant will be pulled off his desk job to quell a riot. Yeah, right. Oh, and job stress caused his heart trouble, not all that smoking and drinking and eating. Uh-huh, sure.
Mr. Haefele states, "The idea that inflating on-job death claims is a major factor in county pension outlays is absurd." Well, that's true -- it's not a "major factor." But are a few hundred thousand dollars enough to notice? Will a few million dollars exceed the limit of our tolerance? At what point should government try to prevent fraud and abuse? How much taxpayer money should be wasted on bogus claims before those of us with an obligation to safeguard the public fisc should care?
--Mark J. Saladino
Treasurer and Tax Collector
County of Los Angeles
Marc Haefele's item about the DWP's Green Power program [City Limits, November 1925] needs a bit of clarification. First of all, we're proud that 20,000 DWP customers have signed up -- it's already the largest [such program] in the nation.
The DWP did sponsor a citywide mailing to members of three environmental groups encouraging sign-ups. The membership lists were edited down by ZIP codes to members living in the city of Los Angeles, the DWP service area. However, because the lists did not perfectly conform to city boundaries, there were a few overlaps with adjoining jurisdictions, including some in Santa Monica, but also in other areas outside the 41st Assembly District, such as Beverly Hills and Gardena. These details were handled by staff without my knowledge.
I have advocated Green Power and developed a reputation as an environmentalist over many decades. The DWP Green Power program began before I had ever considered running for any office, and will continue.
--S. David Freeman
General Manager, DWP
A QUESTION OF TIMBRE
"Omigosh!" Am astonished to find, via Kristine McKenna's perceptive questioning ["Altered Chords," November 1218], that Artie Shaw is alive and well and living in Southern California after all this time! Probably not many Weekly readers can claim, as I can, to have won a citywide teen talent contest five decades ago singing "Begin the Beguine," backed by the lush sounds of Artie Shaw's Orchestra, on record.
It's quite clear from the interview that Shaw is a crackerjack storyteller. However, considering the amount of negativism in his reminiscences, I can't help wishing Ms. McKenna had thought to describe the tone of voice used in the telling of them. Was it good-natured? Cynical? Jocular? Hard to tell from the "lyrics" without the "music" whether this terrific musician has become the sharp and sassy gent I would like to suppose, or an embittered old man.
In any case, "Cheers!" Mr. Shaw, for your music, your storytelling abilities and, especially, your anti-racism. I mean to live 100 years, and wish you the same. So far you seem to be going strong!
"Creative Writing" indeed! E. Cox and H. Rathvon have left me scratching my head wondering how to fit JABBAR (107 across "Kareem Abdul-_____") into a single space and "Obispo" (55 down "San Luis _____, CA") into seven spaces. Still, I hope you keep using Cox and Rathvon, as I can usually solve the L.A. Weekly crossword without the aid of a dictionary, encyclopedia, graph paper, T-square, etc. If I can figure out the correct grid for the November 1922 puzzle, can you get me a print of that L7 cover photo autographed by the proud mother of Donita Sparks?
A story last week about the Barrington Recreation Park in Brentwood contained a wrong number. It should have said the city of Los Angeles hopes to save $30,000 on its lease with the Westwood Veterans Administration, which wants to increase the annual rate from $1 to $300,000.
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