Letters for November 12, 2009

Why they call it the ‘F’ word

Re “Furlough Fridays” by Jeffrey Ewing (SN&R Feature, October 29):

I am a government engineer. I make a good living, although I make 25 to 50 percent less than my private-sector peers. I made an agreement with my employer to take less money upfront in exchange for job security. Furlough days break that agreement.

I pay monthly into a retirement account, just like all state employees. It’s not free. It’s all a big trade. We’re not getting over on anybody; we still pay for it, just in a different way.

The state employees didn’t create the fiscal crisis. Let us pay our share with the rest of California’s citizens for our politician’s mistakes. I’ll gladly put in my $100 or $200.

I just can’t work out why my share of the problem is 15 percent of my pay when I already give up much more than that on the front end to keep the government afloat—and yes, I pay state taxes just like everybody else.

Yes, I’m happy to have my job, but I planned it that way, so my planning worked. Good for me. My wife is now unemployed. Not good for me. I have both ends of the stick.

All I know is that, right now, my stupid 15 percent pay cut is keeping my very smart and hardworking high-school senior out of college. Thank you, Mr. Governor. Say hi to her when you see her at the In-N-Out serving you your fries instead of studying physics at Stanford.

Jeff Scott

Obviously an Ayn Rand reader

Re “Furlough Friday” by Jeffrey Ewing (SN&R Feature, October 29):

I am an activist, millwright, construction worker, and I believe Furlough Friday should have happened a long time ago. How arrogant the people who work for “we the people” have become to believe that when all else fails, your situation should go on unwavering. We are all in difficult times. Are you so special to think you are above being affected? [You are] spoiled children is what I think. Out in the real world, it would take half as many to achieve twice as much.

David D. Fisher

Former DMV employee defends long waits in line

Re “Furlough Friday” by Jeffrey Ewing (SN&R Feature, October 29) and “Furlough fundamentals” (SN&R Editorial, October 29):

I am a state worker, and I don’t know where the general public gets their conception that we are overpaid. If we held private-sector jobs, we would receive much higher pay. We gave up the higher pay for the so-called job security. We have accepted extra holidays in lieu of much-deserved pay raises.

The fact is that the governor’s office adds all state employees pay together and then divides it by the number of workers, and that is where he gets his average. The truth of the matter is that a select few get his average of $60,000 per year; most of us get paid a lot less than that.

As for how lazy we are, I don’t know where that conception comes from, either. I currently am a personnel specialist and have a plethora of state and federal mandates that govern what has to be completed and how much time I get to do it. It doesn’t help that I now have three less days to [do] it! When I worked at [the Department of Motor Vehicles], we served hundreds of customers per day. It just isn’t possible to do that and be lazy at the same time!

I had to give up my house because the mortgage payment was too high and move to an apartment. My son and his wife and child were dependent on me to help make ends meet above their challenged income, and now I can’t help them anymore. I guess my point is, if you don’t know a state worker personally, you shouldn’t make broad sweeping comments talking about what you don’t know!

April Jones

Reader appears callous despite trying hard not to

Re “Furlough Friday” by Jeffrey Ewing (SN&R Feature, October 29) and “Furlough fundamentals” (SN&R Editorial, October 29):

I had to chuckle at the typical editorial slant opined in the column titled “Furlough fundamentals.”

It was the typical litany of bias ranging from the governor’s “hostility” toward organized labor, the claim that furloughs are actually “costing” the state money (go figure) and don’t forget the baseless statement that since state workers give up wages “… so should the rest of us.”

In the private sector, most of us do not have the pension plans or the guaranteed health-care programs as do the state workers. They do not have to worry about funding the next doctor appointment, and I doubt many of them forgo medical care due to a lack of money. But I know private-sector individuals that are forced to choose all [of the] time and because such jobs are directly related to company profit, we do not feel the same entitlement as do the workers for the state. We constantly worry about our jobs, and in fact, many of us have been either downsized or completely laid off. Ask these people if they would have preferred a 15 percent cut as opposed to being out of work. Fifteen percent of something is way better than 100 percent of nothing.

I have friends and acquaintances with employment in both the state and in the private sector. And though a pay cut is not anyone’s idea of an ideal career goal, I have not witnessed an appreciable loss in the quality of these state workers’ lives. I am familiar with a multitude of people in the private sector whose lives are now incredibly different. Oddly enough, beside the innocuous “unemployment rate” figures, we don’t hear much about these individuals because they most likely do not see themselves as victims. But ask yourself how many times have you heard about Furlough Friday?

I don’t want to appear callous about state employment, and there is no doubt that tens of thousands of these workers perform both valuable and vital tasks. Most are very educated, caring and honest citizens.

But I think it is time to man up and deal with the reality of our rapidly changing times. It may sound uncaring, even ignorant, but I feel if you cannot deal with a 15 percent cut, you were probably living beyond your means.

And isn’t that much of what got us into this mess in the first place?

Terry J. Wallace

Best. Psychiatrist. Ever.

Re “Mickey Mouse idea” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, October 29):

I had the very wonderful privilege of being one of those first 300 clients of [Transitional Community Opportunities for Recovery and Engagement] and Dr. [Ron] Risley. He is my hero, without doubt.

At every appointment, Dr. Risley never appeared rushed, always gave me time to talk and spent time asking pertinent questions of me, questions too often not asked but which provide insight into a patient’s true state as pertains to that person’s mental illness. He was certainly a major improvement over all other psychiatrists I have seen since first seeking help for my acute clinical depression over 30 years ago.

I was given a degree of respect and dignity never before experienced by Dr. Risley and the staff at TCORE. For the first time in my 60 [plus] years, I believed when he told me I am an intelligent, worthy, important person, and the world is a better place because I am in it.


Recipe for success

Re “Three amigos” by Julie Cross (SN&R Homegrown, October 29):

I love the new column on local and seasonal products. This is great information to have as far as what is in season and what to do with it. I also love the fact that you have a local chef sharing recipes for these seasonal products. In fact, I made the butternut squash recipe this weekend, and my whole family loved it. Keep them coming!

J. Milazzo