Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Cutting Pay for the Mayor’s Aide

One hundred thousand dollars a year of the taxpayers’ money for a part-time secretary? That averages $64.10 an hour. Are you kidding me?

And they have the audacity to complain because they now will only be making $38.46 per hour, plus benefits, plus vacations. Meanwhile Anaheim people are out of work and running out of unemployment benefits.

This money should be used to help the needy people of Anaheim and not some part-time secretary. Transferring the $40,000 to help Anaheim’s unemployed with weekly computer and job training classes at the Ponderosa Elementary School library is a far more noble use of taxpayer dollars.

— Karate Kid / June 21

Tait claims to be the mayor of freedom and kindness but votes against anything supported by the business community, labor and the community. How on Earth does he defend voting against funding for computer and job training for the Ponderosa community? Even if you object to the actions of your colleagues, grow up and support the poorest neighborhood in your city.

So much for the virtue of his “Hi, Neighbor” mantra.

— David Addison / June 21

Toll Lanes on the 405

 Projections of volumes and speeds on new toll lanes on the 405 should be greeted with tremendous skepticism.

It’s likely that projected trips and revenues in the proposed toll lanes will be much closer to the failure experienced by the 73 than the higher volumes on the 91, where there are no other options for drivers, no interchanges on the express lanes and few places where anyone would want to exit.

— Moonunit / June 21

Public transportation as an alternative to more freeway lanes has been rejected time and again by Orange County. Putting light rail down the center of the existing freeways would get people out of cars and be a viable alternative to building more lanes.

The residents reject this option. It’s very easy to just sit there and say “no” to everything; it’s hard to come up with workable plans.

The 405 is fast becoming a parking lot of idling cars. That’s much worse for the environment than a toll lane.

— Reggie / June 21

Santa Ana’s Streetcar Plan

Cordoba [Corp.] has now had to go back to the well twice to ask for additional funds, and it’s only part of the way through the second phase. That’s exactly what the grand jury predicted would happen when the city chose Cordoba for this project. Cordoba was the lowest-ranked bidder for this project by a panel of experts, but the mayor and City Council overruled the staff recommendation and chose Cordoba anyway.

An Orange County Register article notes the lack of transparency by the city when the council subcommittee recommended Cordoba. It’s unclear to this day why they were chosen, and errors and costs overruns like this make it clear that the wrong choice was probably made here.

This second allocation really calls into question whether Cordoba is capable of managing a project of this magnitude. While they try to blame the subcontractors, ultimately, it’s their responsibility.

OCTA should certainly take a hard second look at how the city is allowing this contractor to manage this project, as they are the main funding stream and may just be throwing money away by going forward. The council members are certainly right in questioning whether this contractor will cost the city more money too.

— Al Simmons / June 19

Human Relations Commission on the Chopping Block?

The Orange County Human Relations Commission responded quickly and effectively to the tragic death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police.

While the district attorney conducted the criminal prosecution, the county Office of Independent Review undertook an independent internal investigation, the city manager directed comprehensive training of all police and OC Human Relations led a broad-based task force on the mentally ill homeless.

The task force included Kelly’s dad, Ron Thomas; diverse ethnic community representatives; the Chamber of Commerce; the Fullerton Interfaith Ministerial Association; shelter providers; faith-based community groups; parents of the mentally ill; county mental health experts; and the Human Relations Commission.

Over the last eight months, facilitating this task force with hundreds of members of the public included was a top priority of the OC Human Relations Commission. The final report was delivered to the city of Fullerton with eight recommendations last week.

The terrific people who served on this task force have committed to continuing to see this through to implementation.

To suggest that the OC Human Relations Commission didn’t do enough is just ill-informed.

— Rusty Kennedy, executive director, OC Human Relations Commission / June 15

I never saw Rusty [Kennedy] condemn the Fullerton cops for killing Kelly Thomas. Did you? From what I gathered Rusty blamed it all on “mental illness.” A real human relations director who defends the vulnerable in society would have been all over the cops like stink on manure. But from what I saw, not Rusty.

The Fullerton Police Department has an unmistakeable history of being a “culture of corruption.” And there are many other documented indications of that other than the Kelly Thomas case. The Kelly Thomas murder only brought it all to the forefront. Rusty seems blind to it all.

Being blind to police abuse doesn’t solve anything. It only makes things worse.

— Beelzebub / June 19

Excellent article that is clearly labeled as editorial by the Voice of OC. And VOC board members are quoted, including an excellent suggestion by Fred Smoller to try to pry Prop. 172’s dedicated funding for law enforcement loose for the Human Relations Commission. Seems entirely too logical.

Some of us have tried previously to crack that pot of cash from the exclusive domain of the sheriff and district attorney and local police agencies. They are the ones that know the value of the Human Relations Commission, and they should be the ones to give up a tiny portion of their funds for this vital purpose.

Thanks, Voice of OC, for an excellent reminder about the job that Rusty Kennedy and others on the Commission continue to do to make Orange County the best possible place to live.

— Dr Dan / June 19

The question is how you, Rusty — as executive director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, whose mission statement is to act as a clearing house and mediate OC communities’ complaints of civil rights abuses committed upon them by their local law enforcement — were not aware that your very own hometown’s police force was grossly abusing the civil rights of the community of Fullerton.

— Madtvmargo / June 18

Costa Mesa’s Budget Priorities

The budget shows that the council majority does not value residents and are willing to put their political priorities over residents.

The budget was balanced when it was presented, then it was made unbalanced by claims that the city infrastructure is falling apart and must all be fixed now. Public safety and public works jobs are being sacrificed on the altar of political gain.

If the city was in such dire financial straits, they would not have hired several very high-priced executives, give money to Costa Mesa United or put aside money to buy up motels to flip in real estate deals.

Broke cities don’t do those things. Cities working to a political agenda do.

— Reggie / June 18

Is the budget supposed to value city employees or city residents? This is typical public employee union mentality: that government exists to serve its employees first and the citizenry second.

It would be refreshing to see an editorial from the Orange County Employees Association saying, yeah, the pensions we’ve been negotiating are out of line. They are beyond what any person in the private sector receives. The work rules we’ve negotiated over the years make government more expensive and less efficient. Yes, we, the union, bear a large part of the responsibility for the fiscal crisis affecting local government.

— Voce Veritas / June 21

Elder Abuse

Here’s a big financial abuser of the elderly thriving under the radar.

Unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships are harming families and pauperizing vulnerable, disabled, and elderly people all over this country.

Guardianship law is designed to “guard,” “conserve,” and “protect” incompetent people and the public. Over the years, the laws have been misused, misapplied or manipulated to unjustly enrich court-appointed fiduciaries at the expense of and to the detriment of the very people the courts have assigned them to protect.

Who pays the price? Every taxpayer picks up the Medicaid tab when wards are pauperized into indigence under the guise of “protection.”

Guardianship abuse is elder abuse.

Join the national movement for reform. Join the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse.

— Elaine Renoire / June 17

Cop Watchdog Gets Some Love

The Office of Independent Review was to my knowledge never an investigative tool either in Los Angeles or Orange County. They are a staff of three and simply do not have the resources to be their own investigative agency.

They do however review all internal investigations to ensure they are not whitewashed and can even offer up an opinion on what type of discipline employees receive.

What they cannot do is publicly report on a peace officer’s personnel file, including termination. That is why their public role is somewhat limited. You cannot blame the office for that; it is the law. The fact that several former critics on the Board of Supervisors are now supporters, I think, lends credence to its value.

I think [Supervisor Shawn] Nelson is taking a bean counter’s mentality to this issue, and it simply isn’t the type of issue that you count on an abacus. Police corruption is as much a mentality as it is an unlawful act. With independent oversight in place, the likelihood that the agency will foster a “wink and a nod” mentality is significantly diminished.

I say expand the office and embed them even deeper.

— Don Draper / June 15

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