Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan may be 82 years old, but, as he told writer Hillel Aron last week, he has no plans to retire to his rocking chair ("Dick Riordan's Second Coming," Oct. 19). Instead, he's introducing a ballot measure to alter the way pensions are handled for city workers: If voters agree, future municipal hires would be forced into a 401(k) system, and city workers would pay a much greater share of their own retirement benefits than they do currently.
"Thank you for the recent Riordan article," Kevin writes. "As a union member in another city, this is just another nail in the coffin for the unions who do not seem to get it or, like many of the politicians, think someone else will blink. I have warned our union about this, but it's business as usual."
Adds Mrmarketcap, "This article needs to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and every paper in America. Pensions for public employees are sucking taxpayers dry."
Reader Abramsl blames Riordan for creating the problem in the first place. "In a perversely corrupt manner, Riordan changed the City Charter to make the entire city ripe to multibillion-dollar thefts, by removing people like the head of planning from civil service and making them stooges for the mayor. As a result, developers dictated to the city what they could build and what taxes they would pay — or would not pay. Without the ground laid by Riordan, the director of planning would not be a stooge for developers, and the city would not have been left holding an $11 billion bag when the state finally abolished the CRA.
"Riordan's destruction of an effective civil service was instrumental in turning Los Angeles into the second most corrupt area in the nation. While there is nothing good to be said about Villaraigosa, who appears to have taken advantage of every corrupt device bequeathed to him by Riordan, without the foundation laid by Riordan, L.A. would not be its present morass of corruption."
Rocklobster pushes back. "I don't mean to interrupt a good rant, but if you take a minute to read the news, you'll see that L.A. is suffering from the same 'union-pensionitis' that has brought down Camden, N.J., and three other California cities. It's not some mysterious ailment traceable to Riordan. It's the bloated salaries and the pensions. The endless 'administrative leaves,' the vacation payouts. Look at L.A.'s budget; see where the money goes; see where it will all go if we don't stop this pension nonsense."
The Scarlet Letter
Mail continued to come in addressing Tessa Stuart's Oct. 11 cover story about the sex scandal tearing up one Valley town ("As San Fernando Turns"). Writes Linda Campanella Jauron, "I read with interest your article about my lovely but troubled little city. While it is relatively accurate on its face, I fear that your readership will be under the impression that our local newspaper, the San Fernando Valley Sun, drove this movement. This is not the case. This movement was driven by the public's disgust for and distrust of the City Council majority, who have proven to be unqualified for the job and abusive of the confidence that was conferred upon them.
"We don't particularly care about their personal relationships, except as they impact their activities representing our residents while seated at the council dais. At least Mario Hernandez had the grace to resign when he found himself unable to continue as a council member. Maribel De La Torre is currently awaiting trial because she refuses to accept responsibility for her bad acts. Among other abuses, Brenda Esqueda fails to recuse herself from voting on police department matters, in spite of her continuing relationship with the police officer, now on administrative leave.
"We are confident that our council will be revitalized by new leadership after the Nov. 6 election, and that we will be back to doing the necessary business of running a city, and not being led by chismes."
Puff, Puff ... Pass
One reader was terribly annoyed by Ben Westhoff's First Person piece about buying medical marijuana ("Everybody Must Get Stoned," Oct. 11). Writes Jinxed, "This piece does a SERIOUS disservice to those that the law was created to assist — REAL patients. The law was NOT written to allow 'tourists' or dilettantes such as yourself to get stoned for pleasure or fun. It was written for people who cannot even stand upright because of degenerative disc disease, for people who can't sleep because of PTSD-induced memories. Medical marijuana is for those who wait to either heal or die from cancer. It eases pain, increases appetite and can help reduce and prevent tumors.
"You speak of being nervous or scared in that alley. Are you sure you weren't feeling shame? Rather than being part of the problem, you should write about how you've helped this fine city. You merely gave ammunition to those who oppose the state law."
Carl had a different take. "It's one of life's great pleasures to spontaneously read something that hits so close to home in the most hilarious of ways. That article had me laughing out loud by myself in a public place. From the feelings of self-disgust with oneself while in those dumpy-ass doctor's offices to the scarily stupid but humorous shit that you hear from the mouths of the pot-shop employees — you nailed it. I often shudder to think of how many days I've had like that, but today I'm just laughing."
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A music story last week ("The Melvins vs. George Thorogood") misspelled the name of the president of the booking agency that handled George Thorogood's 50-state tour. His name is Mike Kappus. We regret the error.
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