Public must insist on open government

Independence Day marks 47 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act was signed into law, yet Americans still distrust government. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll showed only 26 percent of Americans surveyed say they trust government in Washington "almost always or most of the time," among the lowest ratings in a half-century.

FOIA established our right to access government records and know what our government is doing. Exercising our right to know gives us, the public, power. It allows us to contribute to and hold our government accountable. From food safety to the disposal of chemicals, FOIA enables the public to ensure the health of our democracy.

FOIA and related laws are only as good as we demand they be. The League of Women Voters acts as government watchdogs at federal, state and local levels -- observing government meetings, conducting document audits and empowering citizens.

The key to a healthy, open and trusted government is participation. Exercise your right to know by attending a government meeting or contacting an elected official.

For more information about the LWVFNUC or to get involved, visit us at www.lwvfnuc.org

Carolyn Hedgecock

Sam Neeman

League of Women Voters Fremont, Newark and Union City

Place the blame where it belongs


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A 6-year-old child dies from the results of a dog bite to the head, and the dog, a friendly family pet, is euthanized. Of all the articles I have read on this incident -- of shock, sorrow, surprise, excuse, etc. -- no one seems to be willing to place blame where it belongs: on unconscious, inattentive guardians. Yes, the parents and uncle.

This dog didn't just suddenly attack the child for no reason. This playful child, without understanding, jumps upon the back of an unaware, 60-pound dog, which responds out of surprise and whips around in defense of his attacker with the only way he knows, his mouth.

This is no different then allowing a 6-year-old child to play unattended around a swimming pool. The result was the same, wasn't it?

But nobody wants to place accountability where it belongs, because it is too painful and, maybe, each of us recognizes ourselves as culpable in a similar situation, past, present or future.

We must never stop being aware of where our children are and what they are doing. This is doubly so around swimming pools and pets.

Bruce Elerick

Alameda

Abandoning BART because of salaries

I am abandoning the use of the BART transportation system due to the extreme, wasteful salaries and benefits paid to the so-called CEOs who have retired from their jobs and are continually collecting thousands of dollars of our hard-earned money.

I will drive my car, probably taking twice as long to arrive to my destination. Hopefully, other commuters will do the same.

I have been to many cities throughout the United States where mass transit is much cheaper and commuters utilize the system to the fullest extent. The air is much cleaner and life is healthier.

Another failing system in Fremont is the bus system. I see all too many buses cruising our streets with about four people on board, and one of them is the bus driver.

Lower the bus fares and more people will park their cars and use the buses. The price of gas will go down due to the lack of drivers using their cars.

We the people of the Bay Area can control the mass transit system: Let's do it.

Arnold Corbett

Fremont

Shouldn't allow Muir's giant sequoia to die

I read with anger the story on the park service letting John Muir's giant sequoia die a slow death.

I can tell you, it is not dying from pathogens after 140-something years. It is dying because the park service has decided to not water that tree in a drought year.

And I can tell that from the look of it, that John Muir's tree was once summer-watered decades ago. Similar sequoias thrive all over the Bay Area. There are huge 100-footers at Tilden Park. Water, mulch -- normal tree care.

The park service likes to come up with whoppers over any tree it no longer wants to protect or preserve is what I've learned over the years.

Give me a garden hose and connection, and once-a-week visits, and I can save the dying tree of John Muir.

Adrian Escoto

Hayward