PUBLIC FORUM : MASON: `EDITORIAL PUTS WORDS IN MY MOUTH'.
While I respect your reporter and believe his article (``Lawyer says district's actions legal,'' April 17) to be largely accurate in its characterization of his interview with me, that article and my comments were in the context of bond proceeds to be utilized for construction and did not deal with the individual contracts with schools at all. Accordingly, the earlier article did not set forth the context of my remarks, and your editorial completely mischaracterizes my position and my statements.
It has never been my position, nor have I ever stated, that this district did not have a moral and legal obligation to fulfill the contracts with the schools of the district, which formed an essential part of our commitment to the public regarding Proposition BB. My discussion with your reporter dealt with that portion of the bond proceeds set aside for new construction. This district has been open and up front with the public, that a portion of the proceeds, $900 million, is anticipated to be used for new construction.
In this context, and not related at all to the bulk of the bond proceeds set aside for fulfilling contracts with schools, your reporter asked me whether or not the technical legal language underlying the proposition gave the district discretion regarding bond funds, and I replied that the provisions gave the district discretion on how to use them.
I never said that the bond measure gives the district a ``blank check'' at all, much less that the discretion I alluded to gives the district any authority to disregard the contracts with schools.
For the record, it has been, and continues to be, my position that the district has a legal and moral obligation to fulfill its commitments to schools set forth in the contracts with each school, which were developed before the voters voted on Proposition BB.
I also believe, as I stated to your reporter, that the language of the ballot measure, particularly the summary and accompanying arguments in favor, reasonably put the voters on notice that new construction was contemplated. The funds involved for this purpose have always been the major portion.
Your editorial puts words in my mouth that I never said, takes my remarks out of context, states ``says the LAUSD attorney,'' without any basis, and accordingly betrays the very truth that you assert you are defending. You do me a personal disservice, and your readers a public disservice, by such misrepresentation.
- Richard K. Mason
Los Angeles Unified School District
There's no doubt that the LAUSD school board misled the Daily News as well as the voters on the proposed use of Proposition BB funding. This abuse of public trust has been going on for years, and once the dust has settled on this issue, the school board will surely spend money on programs the voters had not intended.
Eventually, other money hidden in the budget will be found to pay for programs now under fire, even though Proposition BB funds may not be directly used. It is my opinion that the board intentionally misallocated funds and neglected school building maintenance and repairs over the years to coerce voters to approve Proposition BB.
To prevent this type of abuse of public trust, I propose that the new City Charter contain a provision so that any misrepresentation, including errors or omissions, of information given by a public official to the public concerning any ballot issue would make that official personally liable, up to $1 million, for his actions.
This provision would apply to bond issues presented to the voters and to the reallocation of existing funding, which was available for use on bond-related issues, once the bond issue has been passed by the voters.
Any budgeted money not spent for what was initially intended would be used to reduce the taxes required to pay for the bond.
- Duane Halpape
As a parent of five children attending three schools within LAUSD, I worked as a volunteer for the bond issue and was happy to see it pass.
The revelations in your paper have really made me angry. It is a great lesson in politics for me, my 18-year-old daughter and all her friends who volunteered to promote this bond issue as they leave a school system in sad need of repair.
I have reread my official sample ballot and voter information pamphlet and any literature I have that discussed the bond issue. Not even those who were against Proposition BB seemed to have been aware of the existence of the funding of the new Belmont High School or any other such project that may have been marked for funding.
I would like to know who orchestrated this manipulation.
- Elizabeth C. Virani
Deputy deserves apology
I was just sickened when I read the April 10 article concerning Deputy Harris Mintz (``Judge throws out sex-assault case against deputy,'' Daily News, April 11), who was clearly the victim of prosecutorial and law enforcement management who are fearful of being accused of not taking sex-related allegations seriously.
Had it not been for the fact that he had a great lawyer in Jim Blatt and a great investigator in Ashley Fauria (a former L.A. sheriff's deputy), he would still be languishing in county jail.
The sheriff, the entire Board of Supervisors, the district attorney and the Sheriff's Department internal affairs unit owe a public apology to Deputy Mintz prior to his filing the lawsuit he should be filing.
- Robert C. Nichols
Working for Uncle Sam
The average American has to work through May 9 to earn the money necessary to pay all of his yearly taxes. After that, the taxpayer can decide what to do with his or her money. Every year, this date is later than the previous year.
Most of us report all of our income and pay our income taxes faithfully or maybe grudgingly.
Many of us wait until the last day to send in our final payment, some are due refunds, while some don't have the money to make the payment.
Every taxpayer receiving a refund should receive a thank-you note from the IRS for giving the government an interest-free loan.
I believe that the method of collecting taxes from individuals is inefficient and unfair. Many taxpayers pay much more than their fair share, while others pay less.
The time for a major overhaul of the entire tax system has arrived. We need a system that is simple and makes certain that everyone pays his fair share.
- William Zelenka
`Taxed out of work'
``Taxed out of work'' (Daily News, April 11) is an interesting perspective on a second-income family dilemma, but it failed to bring out an important point. The woman who decides to stay home because the financial gain is not worth the stress and negative effect on the family, or whatever other reasons she may have, may not realize the jeopardy she may face later in life.
I heard the same arguments from my then-husband early in my marriage: ``We'll pay too much in taxes; it isn't worth being away from the children.''
Consequently, I chose to be a stay-at-home mother and I will admit very strongly that I treasure that time and believe it contributed to a very close relationship with each of my two sons, which continues to date. However, I sacrificed a career, and 22 years into my marriage I became another divorce statistic with no wage-earning ability beyond my capacity to go out and sell myself.
My life changed appreciably - a drastic change in my standard of living resulted. No longer had I the peace of mind that there would be money at all times to cover any emergency or those ``surprise'' bills.
Until these laws are changed to protect a female as effectively as a male, we will continue to live with this travesty of justice.
- Judith Veljovich
My wife and I applaud the Daily News for showing supporMt of our nation's unsung heroine: the American housewife. Government and society have been placing too much emphasis on the liberated and professional women that they conveniently fail to mention the real losers in our quest for economic independence: our kids.
If more responsibility was demanded from our society and fewer taxes levied by government, more of our families would have brighter futures together.
- John and Cindy Peaslee
Forgive me for swimming against the popular tide on dual-income family tribulations reported in your April 11 article. It seems, however, that the arithmetic is being manipulated to the advantage of one side of the argument.
It is fair to assume the primary earner has work-related expenses similar of those of the secondary earner, less the increased cost of car upkeep. Taking into account the base-line expenses associated with raising a family (house, car, utilities, groceries, etc.), the $60,000 primary income earner in your article is left with about $5,200 in real annual after-tax income.
The $6,870 from the second earner is quite a nice augmentation to this figure.
In reality, it is sad that both single- and dual-income families have to gross so much to keep so little.
- Donald C. Dove
`I am sick of these Republicans'
Newt Gingrich wants an independent counsel to investigate Janet Reno. What a joke. The man owes the IRS and has the gall to go on every station to try and regain his image.
Why doesn't Newt pay his $300,000 fine? I am sick of these Republicans and their evasiveness of having their dirty dealings aired to the American people.
- Ruth Davis
Let's see if I have this right: Bob Dole loaned House Speaker Newt Gingrich $300,000 to pay his fine for ``ethics violations,'' and the likes of Rep. David Bonior are livid at this tactic. Would Bonior be so shrill if the money had come from the Lippo bank? Probably not, as that's the way his side operates.