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Thursday's Letters to the Editor

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.

Toothless sanctions

EDITOR: Do the members of Congress think that we are morons?

Congress passed the No Budget No Pay Act of 2013, which directs both chambers of Congress to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15. If the House or the Senate fails to pass a budget, members of that body would have their paychecks put into an escrow account, starting on April 16, until that body adopts a budget.

OK, so far. But then: Any pay that is withheld would be released at the end of the current Congress, even if a budget doesn’t ever pass.

Are they joking? What should happen is that if no budget is passed in either house of Congress, any pay that would have been received by members of the house not passing a budget should be forfeited and used to pay down the national debt.

If we let members of Congress get away with passing bills like this, bills like this are exactly what we deserve.

EDWARD ENGLE

Santa Rosa

Understanding illness

EDITOR: Courage, honesty and accuracy are admirably apparent in the “Quest for mental health” essay by Jeremy Hay in Sunday’s Forum section. He precisely described how difficult it is to obtain a diagnosis or treatment of a mental illness — even with an incredibly strong support team. Heartfelt gratitude is in order for such integrity and bravery. His description of symptoms, the suffering and struggle, so beautifully articulated, are a tribute to his intelligence and sensitivity. One is awed by such nobility.

Instead of fear, scorn and repulsion, he engenders empathy and sorrow. Hopefully, Hay’s thoughts and experiences will advance our knowledge and understanding of an illness that’s so often ignored and avoided to everyone’s detriment.

TERRI SWEAT

Santa Rosa

Hidden money

EDITOR: As if overcharging the taxpayers of five Bay Area counties $115 per structure using the heavy-handed state Board of Equalization as its enforcer wasn’t enough, Cal Fire has now been found to have hidden $3.6 million from state auditors using the California District Attorneys Association to stash the cash. This is right after the state Department of Parks and Recreation was caught riding the same trick pony with $54 million in funds hidden in the saddle bags.

Unbelievably, the district attorneys held the money for Cal Fire, acting as its bank and charging 3 percent for each deposit and 15 percent for each withdrawal of these secreted funds. Among Cal Fire’s expenditures were $33,000 for four days in the sun at a Pismo Beach resort, $30,000 for GPS tracking devices and $22,000 for metal detectors.

Too many public agencies and quasi-governmental organizations are looking like the bad guys these days. We need a statewide civil grand jury to investigate these agencies and call them on their illegalities. The Board of Equalization should be merged with the Franchise Tax Board under the supervision of the state controller, instead of being a highly paid destination for termed-out politicians.

ALEX EASTON-BROWN

Lagunitas

Madison’s view

EDITOR: I am fed up with those who believe the Second Amendment was written to protect an individual’s right of self-defense. It was written to legitimize a well-regulated militia for the defense of the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller — that the right to bear arms exists independently of the militia clause — was wrong and has done little to aid in the necessary control of firearms. (That court has been wrong in the past.)

Everyone who is interested in this subject should read our Constitution and the Federalist Papers, which provided the intellectual and philosophical basis for the Constitution. In Federalist No. 29, James Madison says: “It is therefore with the most evident propriety that the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union ‘to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States . . .’ ”

People should study before pontificating.

RICHARD SANSOM

Sebastopol

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