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I was dumbfounded when I read that the 1997 budget for the CIA is $26.6 billion for a single year - not $26.6 million, which is a lot of money, but $26.6 billion.

Now let me check my facts. World War II ended in 1945; Korean War hostilities ceased about 1953; the war in Vietnam ended well over 20 years ago; not too long ago we crushed Iraq; and our 50-plus-year archenemy, the Soviet Union, collapsed and fragmented into who knows what a few years back.

So, pray tell me, what are we spending $26.6 billion on every year? How many poison darts, special listening devices, etc., does the CIA need, and for whom?

To put this $26.6 billion into some kind of perspective, the Clean Water Act was signed into law some 20-plus years ago. Only $50 billion has been spent implementing that law.

- Lawrence A. Calabro


`Contempt' for Valley

Re ``Derail secession?'' in the Daily News on Oct. 22:

Los Angeles Councilwomen Ruth Galanter and Jackie Goldberg have once again demonstrated their contempt for San Fernando Valley residents with a plan to interrupt and intervene in the due process of law with a planned advisory vote on secession in the June 1998 election.

The reason stated by Galanter for this abuse of powers was, ``We're tired of people walking around threatening to cut the city in half.''

I submit that being ``tired of threats to cut the city in half,'' Galanter's interpretation, by Valley residents is no excuse to undermine and/or attempt to circumvent the new law, which needs 20 percent of Valley voters to trigger the Local Agency Formation Commission study.

There also is no point in spending money for a citywide election at this time, as the current law will require one, if feasible.

Galanter and Goldberg are trying to fix something that isn't broken.

I was against secession. Now I'm not sure.

- Ferdie Clavie

Van Nuys

Nursing home inspections

I got a good laugh when I read that the California Association of Health Facilities - a care facility owners pressure group - wanted to do away with government inspection and substitute accreditation surveys (Public Forum, Oct. 21).

This is just one step removed from self-inspection, where the facility inspects itself and mails in the inspection report to the licensing agency. Think of the money that would save.

Accreditation of hospitals has always been an industry insider joke.

To have the same cozy relationship for the nursing home industry would be the dream of management. It wouldn't have to worry about criminal enforcement of regulations, wouldn't have to worry about citations and fines, however weak the current system may seem to be.

As to the bugaboo of paperwork of which facilities are always prating, that is the only way to document that care is actually given, that doctors' orders are followed, that medicines are given as ordered, and that the full picture of what is happening with a given patient is in the nursing notes of each shift.

The self-serving solution proposed by the nursing home industry is unacceptable. The next step beyond accreditation is no inspection at all. Wouldn't that be grand?

- Jack Bamberg

Van Nuys

Miscarriage of justice

It is a sorry comment on our system of justice when a family is awarded $262.5 million for causing the death of its own child (Daily News, Oct. 9).

I am referring, of course, to members of the Jimenez family, who apparently neglected to have their rear latch reinforced or improved, though Chrysler was openly paying for it under a service campaign; broke the seat-belt law by allowing their 6-year-old son to ride in the vehicle without having his belt fastened; and then broke another law by running a red light and causing the accident that took his life.

The seat belt alone would have prevented him from being ejected at all, whether through the window, as Chrysler claims, or through the back hatch, as the family claims.

Our tort system is so dishonest, twisted and depraved that it seeks only money and ignores truth or justice completely.

- Diana Leavengood Blanco


`Runaway judiciary'

This country of ours is more and more being ruled by a runaway judiciary. The will of California voters is regularly thwarted when federal judges unilaterally strike down successful initiatives that don't fit their personal liberal agenda.

Our senators and representatives must now know how we feel. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993 by a unanimous voice vote in the House, a 97-3 vote in the Senate and was signed by President Clinton, but the imperial judiciary disagreed and threw the issue back to Congress, stating that they had no right to enlarge upon or make substantive definitions of religious liberty. Can you imagine such a ruling in the 1960s when Congress was passing civil rights legislation to guarantee the rights of African-Americans?

Could it be that the Senate is reaping what it has sown? After all, it confirmed justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg by favorable margins, similar to that by which it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It seems that our elected representatives have become content handling mostly trivial matters, especially those that help them remain in office, while a handful of ultraliberal, unelected judges decide the sweeping moral and social issues of the day. Something is backward here.

- Robert Sutton

Santa Clarita

`First among freedoms'

Regarding ``First among freedoms,'' Viewpoint, Oct. 12, with reference to the ACLU's input by Nadine Strossen:

That input suffers from several inherent flaws, to wit: The American Civil Liberties Union's position on fundamental rights oftentimes represents an extremist position not founded on the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU ignores the doctrine of unintended consequences and ignores the reality of what its position portends for the future of this republic.

The ACLU is not concerned with reality, but with abstract principles. These ideas are great for the classroom, but do not work in the real world. Witness the ACLU's recent position vis-a-vis injunctions against gang members; it opposed such measures. Fortunately, the California Supreme Court disagreed with that position.

According to Strossen, the court has ``saved'' us from ourselves on many occasions. She refers to our duly elected representatives as politicians, in an attempt to discredit them in some indirect way. This is because Strossen worships at the temple of the courts.

As a strategy, this is brilliant. Why attempt to influence millions of people? Why not focus your attention on a few judges? Problem is, this is contrary to the very document Strossen and the ACLU purport to uphold - our great Constitution.

It is clear beyond dispute that Congress has the power to limit the extent to which the courts may review acts of Congress. The people must demand that Congress do exactly that - prohibit the courts from frustrating the will of the people expressed in legislation enacted by the people's duly elected representatives.

- Richard A. Nixon

Mission Hills

Schools and business

In most businesses, quality performance or production is directly related to compensation - the better the performance, the higher the compensation; poor performance, less compensation.

Now let's look at how our schools are compensated. There is a thing called ADA (average daily attendance). This is the lifeblood of the school. When a pupil is absent, the school loses money. Whether Johnny passed or failed a test is not nearly important as his physical appearance at school. The school gets paid whether Johnny passed the test or not.

What would happen if each school and each teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District would be compensated on the basis of grade averages and test scores? That would almost be like running our school system like a real business, wouldn't it?

But of course, anyone in the school system will tell you - with, I'm sure, a very superior attitude - that there is no way you could manage a school district like an ordinary business. It just couldn't be done.

- Harlan Campbell


Response to Gelman

I was surprised and somewhat saddened to read the article by Joe Gelman in Viewpoint on Oct. 12 concerning Yom Kippur and its observances by the Jewish community.

While Gelman makes some excellent points regarding the need to re-emphasize the spiritual lessons of the holiday, I fail to understand why he felt compelled to take the message of this holiest Jewish holiday to make a political attack on the organized Jewish community.

I do not agree that the organized community is in the ``back pocket'' of any political party, Republican or Democrat. It does, though, have a healthy interest in public policy. As such, the Jewish Federation has hosted, for informational purposes, a range of individuals representing the full range of political opinions from the speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, to President Clinton.

Public policy positions, when taken by the Jewish Federation, represent a consensus of a board of almost 200 members representing the full range of opinions in this diverse community. I daresay some of these people would be surprised to be labeled by Gelman as leftists, given their conservative political philosophies.

It is sad when an obviously thoughtful and impassioned voice feels compelled to turn a statement on religion, spirituality and community into a political diatribe. It certainly is not in the spirit of the Day of Atonement.

- John R. Fishel

Executive vice president

Jewish Federation Council

Los Angeles
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 26, 1997

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