High cost of housing is critical issue here

Recruiting and retaining talented workers is the most important challenge all Bay Area businesses face. As the vice president of Human Resources at Solaria, it's my job to meet that challenge.

However, the high cost of housing in our area continues to be a stumbling block. We're not alone; the 2013 Silicon Valley CEO Survey found that high home costs for employees is the No. 1 business challenge in Silicon Valley, with 65 percent of CEOs citing this as a major issue.

Scroll down the survey to the "Improving Government" section, and you'll find the recommendation to "approve more affordable home developments."

Everyone agrees that there is a critical need for homes that accommodate various income levels, close to city centers and near public transit. I encourage Fremont and other cities to invest in responsible, efficient development and secure our industry's future.

Melissa Zucker

Vice president, human resources Solaria Fremont

Birth control vital issue for new pope

Recent front-page stories give voluminous details on the selection of new Catholic Pope Francis from Argentina.

It seems significant that out of a total of 550 million faithful in the world's top 10 countries, 41 percent are from Latin America.


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According to the news report from Vatican City, quoting the editor of the Catholic Almanac, Francis had a "mandate for change." However, the report added that "the conclave appeared more swayed by his compassion on issues such as poverty and his fealty to traditional church teachings such as opposition to birth control."

But we can't fight poverty and ignorance by suppressing birth control. Did the report get it wrong? Francis is a scientist with a master's degree in chemistry, so we're told.

Considering our out-of-control exploding world population and global warming crisis, we must include teaching family planning, sexual health and contraception to save our planet.

John Wagers

Oakland

Stricter gun control is a women's issue

The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland supports strengthening the nation's gun laws. We see this as a women's issue.

Every day, shootings and deaths bring tragedy to families in our communities and across the country. While legislation to address the many causes and most effective means of reducing gun deaths and accidents is complicated, we must start now. One life saved makes a world of difference.

I speak on behalf of the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland with approval of the board of directors. The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland has more than 1,800 members. Our goals are to eliminate racism and empower women. We fulfill this goal by programs that link students at UC Berkeley with at-risk children and youth in Oakland and Berkeley.

I thank everyone for their efforts in building safer communities. I urge support for stronger gun control measures in the current session.

Sarah Knox Miyazaki

President, board of directors YWCA Berkeley/Oakland Berkeley

Not that much has changed since 1792

In 1792, the year after the Second Amendment was ratified, there were a million men in the state militia, 800 in the national army. The militia was expected to defend the country from foreign invaders, domestic rebels and local criminals.

Today, nearly one half of all U.S. households own guns -- but that is a private matter and not a duty to the community or nation. When the state militia declined, the army expanded, and police forces took over the protection of citizens.

We are told that today's debate over handguns is less a constitutional conflict than a difference of opinion over how best to promote public safety. Constitutionalists disagree.

Nothing has changed since 1792 except the players.

Today we have foreign terrorists in our country, criminal war zones, drive-by shootings, gangs, drugs, prostitution, murders, robberies, pornography, child molesters and rapists. The motive for gun control is a political one.

Cesare Beccara has said: "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence that an armed man."

Richard Ahern

Vice president Waste Watchers Fremont