Don't throw retired teachers under bus

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 may soon be floated for enough signatures for a 2014 ballot. Again, California teachers' pensions will be under attack. Reed wants local control equaling the Legislature's power to alter pensions, therefore changing California's Constitution: "A bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts may not be passed."

When hired, teachers sign contracts with the public entity that include retirement benefits to which they contribute 8 percent of their monthly salaries. Generally, California's educators are overwhelmingly women whose retirement income is about 56 percent of their salaries, retire around age 62, don't participate in Social Security, receiving no employer-funded health care benefits after age 65. Further reduction in these modest benefits would significantly jeopardize decades of hard-earned retirement income California's teachers are dependent upon.

Significantly, many retirees contribute hundreds of hours as volunteers. Statewide, in 2013, they logged 2.3 million volunteer hours, a $50 million value enhancing the entire state economically but receiving no dollars in return. No throwing retirees under the bus, please!

Linda S. Messick

Oakland

Where was NRA on Santa Rosa killing?

Where were Wayne LaPierre and the NRA when a brown boy walking down the street of his Santa Rosa neighborhood was shot by police seven times merely for carrying the same kind of BB gun that all of us white boys played with in our suburban youths?

Eric Michael Moberg

San Francisco

Diverse university reflects Oakland

As a 1963 graduate of what was then College of the Holy Names, now Holy Names University, in Oakland, I was delighted to learn that Holy Names has been named the most ethnically diverse college or university in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

How wonderful that this college, which has been successfully educating students for more than 100 years, at last reflects the composition of its hometown, Oakland. Go Holy Names! Go Oakland!

Christie McCarthy

Oakland

Pelicans are great Lake Merritt asset

Regarding the recent article on the Lake Merritt pelicans:

Since my husband, Jeff Wurms, and I moved from the hills to the lake, we have been enthralled and enchanted by the pelicans. I feel blessed to see these special birds every day.

The essay about them was not only informative, but was accompanied by amazing photos by Laura Oda. My compliments to the photographer.

Leslie Burton

Oakland

Shouldn't unfairly whip up outrage

This is regarding the Oct. 19 article with the headline: "$1,100 an hour? Part-time service at little agencies means big bucks and benefits for politicians."

I expect better thinking from professional editors and journalists. Let's at least have a more realistic calculation.

All these meetings also require reading and analyzing large volumes of technical materials, which can take many hours -- environmental impact reports for proposed projects that are 2-3 inches thick, complex contracts to be approved, and agency staff reports containing technical research, analysis and recommendations on policy issues, as well as other time outside meetings.

It's not just the time you sit at the meeting itself. Look at the total hours required for the job, then do the math.

And look at whether individual board members are doing their homework. Some are diligent and well-informed. Others are just looking for a professional networking opportunity or a chance to throw contracts to connected friends, some status, or other perk. If there is evidence of corruption, report on that.

It may be that some board members should go, or some boards really are overcompensated -- but none are as overcompensated as this falsely simplistic math indicates.

The paper must stop with whipping up the unthinking outrage. It feeds a destructive kind of cynicism about needed government functions. It certainly doesn't serve the democratic process.

Valerie Winemiller

Oakland