Costly bonds

EDITOR: Capital appreciation bonds, or CABs, are the latest scourge in public schools financing. Once voters approve a school bond, district officials can issue either traditional current interest bonds or CABs. Unlike current interest bonds, for which repayment begins immediately upon issuance, CABs defer repayment for years allowing tremendous amounts of interest to accrue. This allows school officials to misrepresent to voters the true cost of the bond by ignoring the long-term cost.

Total repayment cost for current interest bonds, much like a homeowner's mortgage, is typically two to three times the amount borrowed. As bad as that sounds, the repayment cost for CABs is 10 to 15 times the amount borrowed. A $15 million CAB issued by the Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City, for example, will cost residents of the district more than $127 million to repay. Hundreds of CABs have been issued by school districts throughout the state and represent ticking time bombs for unsuspecting residents.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Torkelson have called for a moratorium on CABs, and legislation has been introduced in both the Assembly and Senate to ban the practice. We encourage passage of this legislation.


Executive director, Sonoma County Taxpayers Association

Slippery slope

EDITOR: I can think of no better way to convey my personal revulsion for Petaluma City Council (or any local governing entity) wading into the nation gun control debate ("Council backs gun-control bill," Tuesday) than to quote Mike Harris, the lone Republican on the council. He cast the sole vote against this dubious edict of support for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bill calling for a ban on assault weapons.

"It's a slippery slope if we keep taking on federal issues," Harris said. "What's next? Are we going to start discussing the atrocities in Darfur, or take a position on freeing Leonard Peltier or drone usage in Petaluma?"

Spot on, Councilman. Spot on.



Duped by phony crises

EDITOR: With regard to E.J. Dionne Jr.'s excellent Monday column ("A growing economy is nation's greatest need"), isn't it pretty obvious that we, the public, are being scammed by what columnist Paul Krugman calls the "deficit scolds"?

When Pete Peterson spends millions to advertise the deficit crisis, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that the deficit crisis is a transcendent issue, isn't that all just smoke and mirrors to distract us from the real issues, such as unemployment?

Read Naomi Klein's excellent book "The Shock Doctrine," wherein she documents how crises have been used to promote certain agendas such as cutbacks in social services. And where there is no real crisis, then a crisis is "manufactured" to justify the agenda. If McConnell was sincere about the importance of deficit reduction, then why did he collaborate in sneaking a loophole into the "fiscal cliff" legislation giving a $500 million subsidy to Amgen, a company that had just been fined $762 million for illegally marketing misbranded drugs?


Santa Rosa

Sing out

EDITOR: With all this hoo-haa about lip-syncing the national anthem, consider this: President Barack Obama is a good singer. Wouldn't it be neat if he sang it — along with all present?


Santa Rosa

Secure retirement

EDITOR: Friday's front-page headline said, "County's pension gap grows $50 million." Wow, did I read this right, investments of the money from employees' public pension contributions have not gone up? Gosh, I have been hearing from Republicans for years that Social Security is an "economy killer." They preach that all of these trillions should be invested in this really solid stock market and not wasted sitting in a savings account, which is the case now. Really? Is this how our Social Security would look if these Republican politicians had their way?