Payday loans can be helpful
This is in response to the May 10 Voice article, "City targets high interest 'payday' loan businesses."
Your article fails to answer the question: "What is a person without a bank account supposed to do with a paycheck or with some immediate need?"
By the way, the exorbitant interest rates you quote are grossly misleading. The 460 percent rate you give for a two-week loan is the rate you would pay if you kept the loan unpaid for a year. If you pay it off in two weeks, the cost would be 17.7 percent of the loan amount (17.7 percent compounded 26 times becomes 460 percent).
Here's a concrete example of the utility of such a loan. Suppose you have a credit card payment due on May 20. The nonpayment penalty is $30. You have a paycheck due on May 31 but no other funds just now. With a payday loan of $100, you can make a credit card payment and do a few other things.
In two weeks time, you pay off the loan, at a cost of $18. Pretty good deal. Enough people think so to keep the lenders in business.
Close the lenders' storefronts in Berkeley, and some truly unsavory, back-alley lenders will offer the service (at higher rates, including bodily harm).
Affordability is not stressed
Plan Bay Area, a new 20-year regional plan, is about to be adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.
The plan coordinates land use and transportation planning. It proposes good steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to meet the full housing needs for people of all income levels.
Yet, some of the draft plan's proposals do not meet its own standards or reflect its own studies. The plan says the existing transportation system should be maintained, but its two most expensive projects are for a BART extension to San Jose/Santa Clara and a regional express lane system with 120 miles of new freeway lanes.
Together, these two projects would cost more than $15 billion, according to the plan, although neither is among the top 10 high-performing projects listed in the draft plan.
The plan does not stress affordable transit. Funding should be shifted from projects that are expensive and spent to support transit operations and maintenance. This would keep costs for users as low as possible.
Plan studies point out that sea and Bay water levels will rise faster and faster over the next 20 years, yet many of the draft plan's proposed investments will be in future flood zones.
We join the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area and many local leagues to urge residents to look at the draft plan, at http://bit.ly/WSX2Oq.
The deadline for comment was May 16. However, residents will have future opportunities to comment on aspects of the plan when the draft Environmental Impact Report is published.
Smith is the president and Bickel is the president-elect of LWVBAE.
Use of a Taser could save lives
The coroner's detailed report about the death of Kayla (Xavier) Moore has finally been published.
It shows clearly that Moore died from taking illegal drugs and failing to take his prescribed medications. The Berkeley police tried reasoning with Moore for a half-hour before they wrestled him to the ground to restrain him and prevent harm to himself or his roommates.
Moore might be alive today if the police had Tasers at their disposal. Despite a lot of hysteria and misinformation about Tasers, nationwide statistics prove they actually prevent injuries to citizens as well as police.
That is especially true in cases like Moore's, where suspects are so drugged up and upset they can't control their own behavior. A quick Tasering is much less stressful than being wrestled into restraints.
Studies of thousands of arrests, comparing Tasering to clubbing, wrestling and shooting, make it clear Tasers are the tool of choice, as they cause much less harm than any of the other techniques for subduing violent suspects.
We should seriously consider adding this tool, and training in its proper use, to police resources. While it is too late to save Moore's life, it will save the lives of others.
In her letter of May 10, "Lobby for the unborn," Anna Koepke makes an erroneous assumption that if President Barack Obama supports the right of Planned Parenthood to exist, he must be advocating for abortion.
I'm convinced Koepke isn't aware that Planned Parenthood health centers provide a wide range of services to men, women and teens that include tests and treatment to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections and screenings for cervical and other cancers, including Pap tests and breast exams.
They also provide doctors and nurses to teach patients about breast care, connect patients to resources to help them get vital biopsies, ultrasounds and mammograms, and follow up to make sure patients are cared for with the attention they need and deserve. There is absolutely no reason for President Obama not to support Planned Parenthood.
Then there's her rhetorical question (I'm not convinced it is), "Is it convenient for a sitting president to involve himself in personal family matters other than his own?" Forget about convenience; it is something he must do.
What does Koepke think Obama is doing when he offers help for distressed areas, and sends relief funds to cities and communities after devastating storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and numerous other plagues? When he allocates funds to education and secures health care for everyone in the nation?
Is Obama demanding she accept services from Planned Parenthood? That is my rhetorical question.
Different views are necessary
A May 7 letter in the Times by Maggie Reeves was titled, "Conservative columns abound." Trust me, conservative columns do not abound in the Times.
Occasional viewpoints that reflect different political opinions and issues of the day are a vital and healthy indication our system of respecting the First Amendment to guarantee the right for all, is indeed, working.
In appearances on television and other media, Dr. Ben Carson, chief orthopedic neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recently gave his opinions and analysis on how we could tackle the national debt, the health-care issue, education and welfare of children.
Of course, the opposition excoriated him and labeled him an "Uncle Tom" and traitor to the systems in place. Carson grew up poor, in Detroit, and no one gave him anything. His mother is the reason he succeeded.
So, when one is anxious to exclude a differing viewpoint, try to remember the saying, "The mind is like a parachute. It functions when it is open."