Please try not to litter

I don't like litter because sometimes it is in my front yard.

Litter is bad for the earth. It causes pollution. It can end up in the ocean and animals could die.

Land animals can die, too. Sometimes my dog tries to eat it, and that worries me. If she eats it, she sometimes throws up.

There should be more trash cans on the sidewalk. If people have trash and there isn't a trash can, they should wait until they get home or a trash can comes upon them.

I am going to try my best not to litter and help.

Ava Lowe

age 6

Boy Scouts don't deserve tax status

Recently, a letter in the newspaper requested the Alameda Council of the Boy Scouts of America to vote in favor of ending the Scouts' current discriminatory policy.

Our Alameda Church, Immanuel Lutheran, provides free space to a BSA Troop for their meetings. Our Church welcomes all of God's people and, being the Church Charter Organization Representative, I can state that the anti-discrimination request reflects the feelings of our congregation and our Church Council.

On a personal level, it does not seem right to allow an organization to discriminate and then not pay any income taxes. If they want to be a private club, let them. Since the BSA is a nonprofit, we Alameda citizens are picking up their share of nonpaid income and property taxes.

In response to the recent letter, the Alameda BSA Council leader stated it was not now possible to discuss how to vote on the policy change as the proposed change has not yet been written. However, once the proposed policy change is in writing the Alameda community deserves a public meeting to allow everyone an opportunity to comment.

Dick Rudloff

Local Scouts should buck U.S. leadership

Hey, Boy Scouts, can you help the frightened fuddy-duddies who run the national BSA cross the street?

It's hard being happy campers when the national council edict banning gays is so dead-wrong. (The Boy Scouts of America prohibits membership to atheists and agnostics, too.)

You'd think big BSA would be an all-inclusive tent, but no. When I was a Boy Scout 50 years ago, the national leadership condoned racism. And while history may not repeat itself, in this instance, it does seem to rhyme.

In the late '50s, my troop refused to discriminate against anyone. Back then, Scoutmasters had cojones. They told the segregation-tainted leadership to take a hike. Then ignored them. The reason? Scouts are pledged to help other people at all times.

Today, when it comes to gay kids, it's often the young Scouts themselves -- the Webelos, if you will -- who are in the forefront. They're loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind to gay brothers and sisters.

These days, kids are the first to speak out against the prejudice of the moment. It's time BSA adults showed similar backbone, had more reverence to America's ideals of equality and justice for all. It's time BSA leadership respected the religious right not to believe. It's time to come clean.

If not, it's going to be hard to be cheerful.

Today, Scouts earn merit badges for designing smartphone games. How about an "equality and justice for all" badge?

Jan Sutter

formerly of Troop 31, Alameda

Sign up for seventh grade at Bay Farm

We are excited to announce that Bay Farm School has openings next year in seventh grade, 2013-14. This is a great opportunity for any current sixth-grade student to continue his or her middle school education in our technologically advanced, soon-to-be-K-8 innovative program.

Openings for our high-performing school will be filled on a first come, first served basis. All applications must be submitted to the AUSD Student Services Office, 2060 Challenger Drive in Alameda, by April 26.

Go to the school website at bayfarm.alamedausd.ca.schoolloop.com and click on the link to find out how to enroll your child. While you are on the website, take a look at our exciting innovative K-8 program.

Kathy Lamb-Tansey

Bay Farm Parent, PTA board member

Editorial wrong on basic pension facts

Regarding the editorial entitled, "State pension reform didn't fix problems" on April 12: Oh, my. The editorial writer should take a basic government accounting course before accusing others right and left of wrongdoing. I am a CPA teaching government accounting college courses, so I am qualified to discuss the issue brought up.

CalSTRS is not at all supposed to work the way described. It is a defined-benefit plan (like Social Security), not a defined-contribution plan.

None of the standards of government accounting issued by the Government Accounting Standards Board require, as was arrogantly asserted, that "pensions are supposed to be prefunded when workers earn benefits." No, not under government accounting rules, they specifically are not supposed to.

The case is different for private companies. Because government's main focus is on providing the most services to the citizens, government accounting requires the use of all "current financial resources" for that goal. Private business' goal is to maximize profit, so its concerns are quite different. There are official standards dictating these approaches and they have power of law.

"Public employee pensions" come in different formats. CalSTRS participants are not eligible to participate in Social Security, so they contribute 8.5 percent of their pay to the CalSTRS plan, and their employer (community college district, for instance) contributes another 8.5 percent, with the state only contributing 2 percent.

This is instead of participating in Social Security, to which participants and employers contribute 6.2 percent of their pay, each. Public employees do pay for their pension benefits. Just as with Social Security ("contract between generations"), the whole idea of the plan as it is now is that current members' contributions pay for retired members' benefits if the plan's own earnings are insufficient.

Maria U. Ku

Oakland