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Letters to the Editor

Monday January 22, 2001

City government should give back utility tax 


It would be really nice if the city would repeal the 7.5 percent Energy User Tax we pay on our utility bill every month.  

Since rates are going up, it would stabilize our gas and electric bill. Many lower income people are having to cut back on use of the furnace this winter.  

Or at least suspend the tax til summer or until we see what is happening with rates. Do other cities employ a tax like this and, if so, how much is it?  


William Telson 




Government needs to  

regulate utility monopoly 


The following is my dictionary’s definition for extortion: “The act of excavating an exorbitant price for something.” The electric power producers selling to our state’s distribution systems are extortionists, in the purest sense of the word.  

The owners of those plants, apparently unregulated by law or morality, are getting hog rich exploiting a natural power monopoly, without regard for the adverse impact on California’s economy.  

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the CEO of PG&E on television, explaining his company’s perception of the electricity problem. In his impassioned presentation he seemed to imply that PG&E is as much an innocent victim as we are, and that our pain is also PG&E’s pain. I want to nominate him for an Oscar.  

More important was what PG&E’s CEO neglected to say. He didn’t tell us that PG&E was one of the principle promoters of this deregulation fiasco back in 1996, or that the PG&E company transferred billions from the sale of power generation plants to the PG&E parent corporation and now conveniently doesn’t seem to know how to get it back. Or how they now are trying to reorganize the corporation to protect those transferred assets from retrieval by re-regulation, or how much he and the other PG&E executives have personally invested in those price gouging power generators. 

It isn’t difficult to calculate what the fair price of electricity should be — in terms of the original production costs at the wellhead, the costs for transmission, conversion and efficiency losses, plus a reasonable profit. The price now demanded of the consumer is many times what a reasonable profit should be. It is unconscionable greed.  

The consequence of exorbitantly priced electricity will be disastrous to California industry, businesses and residents. Unless and until the price of electricity is somehow brought back down to its real cost, major industries will leave the state, marginal energy dependent businesses like restaurants will close, and bankruptcies will accelerate. No other commodity drives inflation like the price of energy, whether it is electricity, natural gas or oil. The price Californians pay for all these energy sources have gone up sharply in the past year. Unless the costs of energy are controlled, a recession will be inevitable.  

It is the responsibility of government to regulate monopolies in the best interest of the public and the economy. It is our responsibility to demand it of our representatives.  


John R. Shively 



Bush owes Renhquist a thank you for selection 


Someone forgot to gell George W. Bush to thank Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renhquist for handing the election towards him when the federal courts should have minded their own business.  

Oh well, lets stop crying about it and get on with our lives. There is always 2004. 


David Gee 





Dog is my co-pilot 


I'm writing in response to the letter, “Good intentions are taken to an absurd level,” about service dogs in public places, (Friday, January 19th). The author, John Ayra, voices an obviously over-determined and irrational fear of service dogs, which I find both shrill and rather incoherent.  

Mr. Ayra contends that only guide dogs should be allowed in public places under the A.D.A., since the need for a guide dog is "constant and obvious, and the frequency is modest". He further insists, in ignorance, that service dogs other than guide dogs are only "pets" who should be left at home. Mr. Ayra is entitled to his opinions, but needs some disability awareness training on the roles service dogs play in the lives of those people with disabilities who are fortunate enough to have one.  

I have MS, and have a service dog who picks up the many things I drop daily, and, because of various physical problems, I drop many of the things I touch. She also retrieves items I need that would. without her assistance, be out of my reach. She is trained to stand and allow me to lean on her for balance when I'm in transition from one place to another. The tasks that she manages for me allow me a measure of self reliance and a degree of autonomy. She mitigates my need to depend on the kindness or politeness of strangers passing by, many times throughout the day. These service dogs fill an important function and allow people with a physical disability to maintain some dignity in public situations. My dog is, literally, my co-pilot.  

It is true that some dogs may cause an allergic reaction in some people with allergies. Similarly, scents worn by others, vehicle exhaust emissions and many other irritants in our daily lives cause allergic reactions in some people. Living in the world, as we do, contact with some of these substances is unavoidable. I apologize in advance in the unlikely event that the presence of my service dog, who does not, I assure you, have "mouth parts that have been in contact with rotting garbage or dead animals, and whose fur is not laced with poison oak, herbicides, pesticides, ticks and fleas", should cause a problem for anyone. Her presence in my life and in the public places where I go is vital, important and legal.  

If Mr. Ayra feels, as he says, that "dogs are smelly nuisances, with fecal matter at both ends", etc., than I suggest that he not get a dog, himself, that he not get close to any service dog in a public place, and that he consider consulting a mental health professional to gain some understanding of his illogical and ill-founded fears.  


Susan Fleisher  




Transit strike insight found to be encouraging 


(letter to David Bacon) Mr. Bacon, I was recently shown your editorial, “L.A. Transit Strike Forges New Alliance,” of Oct. 23, 2000.  

I have been a member of the Bus Riders Union since 1994. I thank you for your valid insights. I found the article encouraging.  


Phil Kanehl 

Los Angeles