Good Mosquito Report

Geoff Bouvier did a great job on the West Nile cover story on January 22 (“Deadly Mosquitoes Breed in Our Urban Drool”). I am a physician, so have an interest in this, but the article really keeps your attention, throwing lots of juicy facts about mosquitoes that one would never know! It is also a really good update on how our county is handling the situation. It is refreshing to hear that the county health department is taking this seriously. Thanks for good reporting!

Jennifer Dolby
via email

Kudos And A Pulitzer

I just want to thank you for the extremely well done article by Don Bauder (“Self-Probe? Ha!” “City Lights,” January 22). Obviously he has done his research. This case is an example of a classic cover-up. Please keep up the scrutiny. There is much more to this story. I have done some research. The only way to remove Judge Murray is impeachment. She certainly deserves it. Gary Aguirre is a true hero in my mind. He deserves proper recognition for the steps he has taken. I watched the entire congressional hearing on television. I also read the congressional report. Simply put, Linda Thomsen is guilty, in my opinion. Please don’t let this story die. The SEC needs to be scrutinized and reformed. I will do my best to spread your excellent coverage to a large group of interested people. Kudos to your publication and a Pulitzer to Mr. Bauder.

Steven Walker

Got Guts?

Just want to send my congrats on the excellent article by Don Bauder (“Self-Probe? Ha!” “City Lights,” January 22). I applaud him for writing it, and I applaud you for putting it out. His article is well written and very correct on the information. I am glad to see that somebody had the guts to write about these issues. I have been following this for years.

Ines Saftic
via email

Joke No Joke

Re “Head South for No-Frills Dentistry” (Feature Story, January 22).

Thank you for a fun and interesting story, in general. However, I did not appreciate the “joke” which drew upon the old racist saying about coyotes not eating dead Mexicans. Really, I am appalled, and you should be embarrassed and ashamed, in my view.

Karyn Driessen
via email

Just So Racist

I’m calling about “Off the Cuff” on January 22. The question was “What’s the best and worst thing about where you live?” There was a comment made by Antonette Melina, a student in National City. She said, “The best thing about living there is the diversity. The worst thing is the scary ghetto people hanging around at night.” And then it says, “Some of the black people that hang around the streets at night just make me feel unsafe.”

I do not like that. That’s just so racist, and for an editor to publish that is just, like, his mentality or her mentality, whoever published that article, I’m pretty sure if they stepped back and started badmouthing Caucasians that they wouldn’t put that inside the Reader — or badmouthing Mexicans. And, yes, I am African American, and I feel that that’s very disrespectful, and I read this paper all the time. But just to read something like that and you allow that to be published, that shows the type of people that you are and the people you choose to work for you. It’s close-minded people like Antonette Melina who made it hard for Obama to get in office.

Kenya De La Roche
La Mesa

San Diego’s Sunk

Re “Nine Sinking Cities” (“City Lights,” January 22). It’s inevitable that cities must now reduce expenses because they spent without restraint while revenues were high, but here in San Diego the situation is much worse for several reasons. First, the mayor is unwilling to stop making promises about new development while telling us we must all expect service cuts and higher fees. In his most recent speech, he promised to expand the convention center, redesign the transportation system serving the airport, charge ahead with a new downtown library and, by the way, provide some unspecified help to the Chargers. Confused?

Second, we have an unbelievably expensive benefit structure for city employees, and the council is basically a captive of the City’s unions, so layoffs will be hard to come by and benefit cuts will always be postponed until the public demands change. At the January 21 Budget Committee meeting, newly elected councilman Carl DeMaio presented a document which showed the City is committed to spending 61 cents in benefits for every payroll dollar. He asserted that the average for cities across the country is 34 cents and said San Francisco gets by with 33 cents. He could have added that the average private-sector firm spends even less than that. Where is the public outcry?

By the way, don’t look for much “outsourcing,” despite a lot of lip service that’s gone on for years. There’s no stomach to lay off city employees; they’d rather cancel unfilled openings and claim they’re saving money. Besides, the recently enacted “living wage ordinance,” which specifies minimum wages and benefits contractors must pay to get city contacts, removes a lot of the potential saving from lower-skilled work most readily outsourced.

Perhaps most significant, we have a mayor and a council that looks first to raise fees and taxes and to cut services that serve the broad public rather than harm favored constituencies or disturb the internal workings of the City. You’ve heard a lot about closing branch libraries, right? Well, if you examine the budget, which is accessible to anyone with an ounce of curiosity on the city website, sandiego.gov, you discover some interesting facts. E.g., did you realize that the City budgets more to administer its retirement plan than it does for the whole library system? Let me say that a different way: The current budget for libraries is $37,013,557, and the city retirement organization gets $41,560,349. This does not include a penny of the millions the City contributes to provide the plan benefits; that’s just to administer the plan. Say, what?

Here’s another shocker: Did you know that the City has three redevelopment organizations, with a combined budget of over $334 million? And the largest, CCDC, which surely should have peaked in its efforts long ago, got a $17 million increase over last year. The steady campaign contributions from developers, organized labor, and the hotel and restaurant industries have been paying dividends for years. Ever see any questions about this in the U-T?

Here’s a reality check: The City has two information-technology organizations, one internal and one a city “agency,” with a combined budget of almost $87 million, plus it’s paying a vendor an additional $10 million this year in connection with developing a new tracking system. I guess we shouldn’t complain. That’s down from $20 million last year.

I could go on and on; there are plenty more, but check it out for yourself. And while you’re at it, you might check the Internet for budgets of other large cities to see what they spend in these areas, as I’m doing. There are some interesting comparisons, such as the Phoenix and San Diego city council budgets. Somehow, Phoenix, with a population over 20 percent larger than San Diego’s, gets by with 54 people working in its eight council offices. Here it takes 93 people for the same number of councilmembers, plus a recently hired “independent budget analyst” with a staff of ten to keep the council informed on the mayor’s budget activities.

Next time city officials talk about new fees and closing libraries, you might suggest they clean up their act before coming to us for more money or cuts in parks and libraries.

Bill Bradshaw
via email


Ollie’s article, “Where Can I Get Some Peace and Quiet?” (Cover Story, January 15) was absolutely hilarious. He is really picking up steam. Ollie’s going to be the best writer you ever had.

Dale Anne Thompson

They All Ignore The Law

Your excellent write-up “Where Can I Get Some Peace and Quiet?” (Cover Story, January 15).

I am a regular reader of your excellent paper. One cannot find a better witness of unnecessary, loud noise pollution than I. I have resided since 1972 in the Gaslamp Quarter. The City of San Diego noise abatement, County of San Diego, State of California Alcoholic Beverage Control, and even Superior Court–ordered injunctions are constantly and deliberately ignored and violated with the blessings of movers and shakers of San Diego. I hope my unpleasant experience will shed some light on the narrow-minded business executives and the politicians, including some judges of the Superior Court, who cannot protect the rights of the common people.

M.G. Bhakta

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MG and Dale Ann, thanks for reading. And thanks for having cool weird names; we have to stick together.

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