<b>People's parks</b>

EDITOR: Like so many Californians, already aghast at the disaster in Colorado, I was shocked and disappointed to learn of the state Department of Parks and Recreation's apparent blindness regarding surplus funds ("Park surplus sets off turmoil," Saturday).

Too many questions arise. Yet in hindsight, it makes sense. The incomplete responses, the inability to explain so many historically significant parks on the closure list and the strange calm inside the department when out at the parks it was anything but.

To those of us who have been working so hard, I believe we deserve an apology. But does it matter?

I had hoped all along that if nothing else we would become more aware of our parks, their needs and their value, and I think that has happened. It's time now to stop demanding the public simply pay more to park, pay more to camp and pay more in taxes. It's time for our elected officials to show the same care and concern that the citizens have shown once again.

The large number of amazing and passionate people I met out on the road, out at the parks, proved this to me firsthand. Having shared in such a fight with these same people makes it an experience, for me, hard to regret.


Olmsted Park Fund

<b>A privileged few</b>

EDITOR: I was upset, disappointed and ticked off to read about state legislators granting raises to their staff members ("Lawmakers dole out raises," Saturday). I have been a classified school employee for nearly 20 years and have not seen a cost of living adjustment for much of that time. Medical premiums have increased, co-workers have been laid off, furlough days are on the rise (this year my district will have 10).

Let's face it, a furlough is a politically correct way of saying your pay is being cut.

School employees are being asked to work faster and harder to make up for a lack of employees — and often without adequate supplies because "there is no money." Then I read Saturday's article and found out there is money, just not for us.


Santa Rosa

<b>Assessing blame</b>

EDITOR: If the government is going to take credit for individual successes ("You didn't build that . . ."), I expect it to take blame for individual failures. I'm waiting with bated breath for the plethora of high-level politicians who choose to resign due to personal embarrassment over the recent tragedy in Aurora, Colo.


Santa Rosa

Smart meters</b>

<b>EDITOR: I have a question for the opponents of SmartMeters. Do you have a wireless router in your home? Or does your neighbor, whom you can't control? Then you'll have to get rid of them also, as my limited research indicates that both (meters and routers) operate at nearly the same frequency. Then, of course, you're still stuck with the emissions from your neighbors.


Santa Rosa

<b>Poor performance</b>

EDITOR: As a private citizen managing my own retirement savings, I can fire my investment advisers for poor performance. There is no such accountability with CalPERS.

It's time to put CalPERS under the microscope. While the state, counties and cities struggle to maintain vital core services, the dismal performance of CalPERS makes things worse. Public employee retiree benefits are guaranteed by law, and taxpayers make up for the investment return shortfall. A guarantee without accountability is bad policy.

Public employees should be alarmed and demanding change. Pension liabilities are a significant factor in municipality bankruptcies, and the "guaranteed" retirement benefits may diminish or evaporate as bankrupt cities reorganize their debts.

While some cities try to make the small changes allowed by law — such as a second tier of retirement benefits for new employees — they are stymied by a CalPERS system that takes months or even a year to accomplish the task. What are they doing in their new, $265 million greenhouse in Sacramento as their new computer system, plagued with problems, creeps along at a glacial pace?

Being in the bottom 1 percent of public employee pension fund performance is completely unacceptable. California deserves better.