I've had several letters to the editor published in the Los Angeles Times.
This first letter was published on June 3, 1996. It was in response to a columnist who told the story of some friends who were leaving Los Angeles to move to Austin, Texas:
I had to chuckle when I read Peter King's column on May 29 about his friends who were leaving Los Angeles to move to Austin, Texas. We left Los Angeles to move there, back in 1991. It was a bitter disappointment. The "lower cost of living" was an illusion. Being trapped indoors by the climate was awful. Realizing that my 12-mile commute there took just as long as it did here was the final straw. We moved back last year.
The following letter was published November 24, 1999. It was in reply to another letter that claimed that General Motors conspired to kill off public tranportation in Los Angeles:
Jon Hartmann (letter, November 21) restates the myth that the Pacific Electric was done in by the oil lobby and other assorted malefactors. He even claims that they were found guilty in court of conspiring to monopolize ground transportation. This is not true. General Motors, Standard Oil, et al were indicted in 1947 on two counts under the Sherman Antitrust Act. They were convicted only on the second count: attempting to monopolize sales of supplies used by the bus lines they controlled. Simply put, they were convicted of conspiring to have their bus lines buy buses and supplies from them, not monopolizing transit. In any event, the L.A. Railway had decided to convert to buses in 1940, four years before GM bought it. The fact of the matter remains that rail transit was killed off by the decisions of thousands of individuals to use their cars. While some find it comforting to think that some monolith did in the Red Cars, the fact remains, we did it to ourselves.
The following letter is one that I sent in in response to their March 19th article about how the new Red Line subway had a much lower ridership than expected. I had just finished reading about the failure of the Iridium satellite phone system, and it occurred to me that the amount of money spent on Iridium and the number of people it served were comparable to the cost and ridership for the L.A. subway. This letter was published on March 26, 2000.
Here is what I sent in:
In yesterday's paper, I read that the $5 billion Iridium satellite system will be shut down and scrapped because its 55,000 subscribers weren't enough to pay its way. This is described in the article as 'one of the most costly... business debacles in history.' Today I read that the $4.6 billion Red Line subway is only being used by 60,000 people a day. Iridium has admitted that they made a mistake, and they are shutting down to cut their losses. The MTA should show the same regard to the taxpayers. Maybe we can 'de-orbit' the subway, too.
And here is how they printed it:
On March 18, I read that the $7-billion Iridium satellite system will be shut down and scrapped because its 55,000 subscribers weren't enough to pay its way. This is described in the article as "one of the most costly... business debacles in history." Now I read that the $4.6-billion Red Line subway is only being used by 60,000 people a day. Iridium officials have admitted that they made a mistake and they are shutting down to cut their losses. The MTA should show the same regard to the taxpayers. Maybe we can "de-orbit" the subway, too.
Note that they changed "$5 billion" to "$7-billion". The reports I had read all said that the cost of the satellites was $5 billion. I don't know why they changed this, since the change only serves to blunt my point that the subway is as big a waste of money as Iridium was.
This letter was published on October 22, 2000. It was written after the third debate of the 2000 Presidential campaign:
Regarding the "broken promises" of the Clinton years: It seems that the Clinton administration could have gotten a lot more work done if it were not for the Republicans kicking, screaming and throwing an eight-year temper tantrum because President George Bush lost in '92. The Republican Party needs to be sent to bed without dinner.
This letter was in response to an article on August 15, 2001 about a gay group in South Dakota that was trying to adopt a highway. They were meeting with resistance from the state. But the article said that the Ku Klux Klan supported them. Go figure...
A sign that the times are changing: Reading the article about the gay group that wants to adopt a highway in South Dakota, I had to laugh when the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan said, "They [gays] have the same rights we do". Maybe it's a sign of the apocalypse, but it certainly was an unexpected twist.
On November 6th, 2001, the Times published an article about the Pasadena Freeway. It made mention of the exceedingly short on-ramps, and how that makes entering the freeway an experience not for the faint-of-heart. This reminded me of one of Jack Smith's columns from 1985:
Getting onto the Pasadena Freeway can indeed be a harrowing experience (Nov. 6). Still, we should remember The Times' own Jack Smith. He wrote once that the Pasadena Freeway "allows the common man to experience the bullfighter's 'moment of truth.' "