Get Big Money out of state politics

Kudos for the March 30 centerpiece and story the following day on groundwater overpumping.

Marc Reisner, late author of the classic "Cadillac Desert," would have beamed with pride over the jaw-dropping account of what happens when Big Money is the ultimate arbiter of social ethics and morality.

In this case it's about water, and we're not talking about family farmers but about Big Money going for the maximum short-term profit, however unsustainable and destructive to the public.

If Big Money can pump out every last drop of groundwater -- legally -- to grow more almonds to export to Communist China, who cares how much or little it rains in this state, which is mostly semiarid desert? We're all dead ducks anyway.

Why has the government allowed this situation to develop? Because the government represents Big Money, not the little people.

We need publicly financed elections (money is not free speech) and people to do what they can to get some real candidates who will work for real reform. The Democratic-Republican duopoly is strictly about more of the same.

Don Buchholz

Union City

Sad to see Smith on wrong side of suit

As an Oakland public schoolteacher for 40 years who's now retired, it is sad to see former Oakland Schools Superintendent Tony Smith allying himself with the enemies of public education by siding with the plaintiffs in Vergara v. California. This suit seeks to destroy California's laws that protect teachers from arbitrary and unfair dismissals.

To support his position on the Vergara case, Smith cites his discomfort with having to lay off teachers in Oakland. These layoffs were necessary because of state budget cuts to education.

Since then, Proposition 30 has restored funding to schools, and no budget-cut spawned layoffs were necessary this year.

The real threat to educational quality is inadequate funding, not the laws the Vergara plaintiffs are trying to destroy.

And who is funding the Vergara lawsuit? The same wealthy businessmen who spent millions trying to defeat Proposition 30. They think it is more important to reduce taxes on the very rich than to adequately fund every student's right to a good education.

Smith should look carefully at his allies and rethink his position.

Steven Weinberg

Oakland

We need new dams now, not down the road

The governor has just proposed the building of more dams and reservoirs.

He didn't address the four that are slated to be removed this year nor the ones that already have been removed. He did not relax the enormously prohibitive regulations placed on such projects. This would tell me it is lip service and that he is not serious.

There is a concentrated effort to have pristine and free-flowing rivers, they feel better if they are free. A lot of damns have hydroelectric capabilities. This energy produced is about as environmentally friendly as you can get.

When the spawning migration of fishes is interrupted, hatcheries are and can be built. The result is more fish can make it back to the ocean.

I love the outdoors. Being a native Californian, I have camped, hunted, fished and hiked in the mountains of California. We need to protect and manage our resources. We need to be good stewards of the environment.

I have talked to some environment experts, and it is scary with what they have come up with in the classroom. Let's build damns we need now, not down the road.

Bill Nelson

Concord

Neither a dictator nor a weakling

From time to time, one of your readers will remind us that President Barack Obama is a dictator, acting like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

These same people also sometimes suggest that Obama's weakness and incompetence encourage other powerful people like Vladimir Putin of Russia to act aggressively.

So, Obama is an all-powerful dictator who is trying to steal our guns -- while preparing secret concentration camps in the desert staffed by FEMA-indoctrinated Obama Youth -- and whose weakness and incompetence has encouraged others to run amok in the world.

OK, I think I got it. For some of your readers this is a no-brainer. For the rest of us this view, unfortunately, is brainless.

Michael Steinberg

Berkeley