High­light the real is­sues of home­less

San Francisco Chronicle - - OPINION -

Con­grat­u­la­tions to The Chron­i­cle for con­fronting the real is­sues of home­less­ness in San Fran­cisco. It is dis­grace­ful it has reached the level it has today.

Most of our lo­cal lead­ers have turned their backs on the rapidly grow­ing home­less pop­u­la­tion through­out the Bay Area, and ac­knowl­edg­ing and fea­tur­ing this prob­lem will hope­fully bring some hu­mane so­lu­tions.

We must not for­get that many of the new home­less pop­u­la­tion today are the un­em­ployed, dis­placed se­niors and the dis­abled, work­ing poor fam­i­lies, and sin­gle moth­ers liv­ing in cars — all of whom have been thrown out of their homes to make way for more high ren­tals. San­dra Macleod White, Sausal­ito

Stu­dents first

Re­gard­ing “Board of Ed­u­ca­tion fails to put the stu­dents first” (June 26): I am a San Fran­cisco res­i­dent who be­lieves deeply that this city can lead the na­tion in the pur­suit of eq­uity as well as in in­no­va­tion, and this is also why I have been a long­time sup­porter of Teach for Amer­ica and the tal­ented ed­u­ca­tors and lead­ers the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­cruits.

I was so glad to see the Chron­i­cle edi­to­rial board call out the school board’s baf­fling ob­struc­tion on Teach for Amer­ica’s district-level con­tract with San Fran­cisco Uni­fied School District this year. I am very glad to know that Teach for Amer­ica re­mains com­mit­ted to San Fran­cisco and, as a res­i­dent, I hope we can count on a more stu­dent­cen­tered out­come from our school board when they con­sider a con­tract for next school year. Mary Vas­cel­laro, San Fran­cisco

Money in pol­i­tics

As some­one who has ex­pe­ri­ence liv­ing in both the United States and United Kingdom, I see a par­al­lel be­tween events in both coun­tries. In the U.S., we saw the Repub­li­can Party sit back while it was taken over by the ex­treme right. It soon lost con­trol, ceased to func­tion, and as a re­sult, vot­ers re­acted by turn­ing to Don­ald Trump. In Great Bri­tain, the Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship promised a ref­er­en­dum on Euro­pean Union mem­ber­ship to strengthen their elec­tion chances.

Em­bold­ened by elec­tion vic­tory, they con­tin­ued with poli­cies very sim­i­lar to those we have seen in the U.S. that have ben­e­fited the su­per-rich but low­ered the qual­ity of life for av­er­age cit­i­zens. At the out­set of the tech­nol­ogy rev­o­lu­tion that changed our world, it was said that all would ben­e­fit, that tech­nol­ogy would make life bet­ter for all.

We haven’t seen that. Govern­ment re­spon­sive only to the rich did noth­ing to con­trol greed; they for­got their re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure fair­ness. Some­how we need to shut down ex­trem­ists of all types, and re­mem­ber that democ­racy re­quires com­pro­mise and that a poor per­son’s vote is worth just as much as that of a rich donor. We be­gin by tak­ing the money out of pol­i­tics. John Moore, Pe­taluma

Pen­sion dilemma

Cal­i­for­nia has a pen­sion prob­lem. It’s a pretty clear fact. With bil­lions of dol­lars in un­funded li­a­bil­i­ties, I am con­cerned for the im­pend­ing cri­sis. But in­stead of ad­dress­ing the is­sue, I was dis­mayed to learn about the re­cent in­quiry by the Oak­land Po­lice and Fire Re­tire­ment Sys­tem about di­vest­ing from fos­sil fuel companies.

If fi­nal­ized, this move on the pen­sion would not only vi­o­late the board’s fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­ity to act solely in the best in­ter­est of PFRS, but it would ac­tu­ally en­dan­ger the fund by un­der­min­ing the pen­sion’s strength and se­cu­rity. Ad­di­tion­ally, if PFRS fails to grow, the city of Oak­land is ob­li­gated to fund it through tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars or in the form of cuts to ser­vices like laid-off po­lice of­fi­cers. Cal­i­for­ni­ans need to hold the PFRS board ac­count­able.

Their agenda should not re­flect so­cial poli­cies, but rather de­ci­sions that look to serve the bet­ter­ment of the pen­sion. This is a crit­i­cal is­sue that should not be ig­nored. Oth­er­wise, de­serv­ing fire­fight­ers and po­lice of­fers will bear the brunt of the af­ter­ef­fects. Car­los Solórzano, San Fran­cisco

Congress’ shame

In 1999, I was get­ting ready to help launch a na­tional ef­fort to re­duce gun vi­o­lence when two teenage boys shot and killed 13 at Columbine High School in Colorado. We were sure this un­prece­dented tragedy would move our coun­try to re­quire the universal back­ground checks we knew would save lives. Much has changed. My chil­dren are grown. I can text and email and surf the Web from the palm of my hand.

No longer a paid ad­vo­cate, I am a vol­un­teer with Moms De­mand Ac­tion. But some things have not changed. We’ve seen mass shoot­ings be­come com­mon­place: Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Isla Vista, and now there is Or­lando. An­other un­prece­dented hor­ror. Yet Congress has yet to take the ob­vi­ous, sen­si­ble step of re­quir­ing crim­i­nal back­ground checks for all gun sales.

Last week, I stood with a woman whose son was shot and killed 23 years ago by some­one who should not have been able to pos­sess a gun. She has never stopped try­ing to make our coun­try safer for ev­ery­one else’s sons and daugh­ters. I am deeply ashamed that she is still wait­ing for Congress to put the safety of Amer­i­cans be­fore the para­noid pref­er­ences of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion.

Laurie Leiber, Oak­land

No big jump

Re­gard­ing “PG&E gas bills will jump to pay for pipeline work” ( June 24): Oh, please! As a re­tired (26 years) Pa­cific Gas and Elec­tric Co. PR staff mem­ber, I still feel the pain when I read that the Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion “ap­proved an 85 per­cent jump” in — well, readers could be par­doned for as­sum­ing this hor­rific in­crease will be in their gas bills. “An 85 per­cent jump in the amount of money the util­ity col­lects from cus­tomers to spend on its nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines,” the story says.

But wait — readers who stay with the story to para­graph six, on Page 10, now read that the com­mis­sion says the av­er­age monthly gas bill will in­crease from $50.89 last year to $56.79 in 2018.

That’s more like 12 per­cent, not quite. And at that — para­graph nine — the story then adds, “The bill in­creases may end up be­ing less than the com­mis­sion forecast.” And it tells why.

In fact the story has all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion. But why, why not start off with what will surely in­ter­est the reader/ cus­tomer most, the ac­tual in­crease in his or her bill, rather than po­ten­tially in­duc­ing heart at­tacks lead­ing off with that 85 per­cent fig­ure?

Stan Turn­bull, Los Al­tos

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