Highlight the real issues of homeless
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
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
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
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