Mayor, supes have unfair Ethics Commission sway 

As a former ethics commissioner (2002-05), appointed by the Board of Supervisors, I take issue with several points raised by columnist Melissa Griffin in her Sept. 27 article.

During my term, there was not a scintilla of bias shown by any commissioner toward an appointing authority. Of far greater concern should be the fact that the elected officials whom the Ethics Commission is charged with “policing,” the mayor and supervisors, have total control over its budget.

Given the myriad responsibilities that the Ethics Commission has purview over — campaign finance and consultant filings, administering public financing, overseeing lobbyists, serving as officer for statements of economic interest, issues dealing with conflicts of interest for city officials, the whistle-blower program, and garden-variety ethics complaints — most duties that are mandated by law, it is a wonder, given the commission’s budget restraints, that the panel has any opportunity to attend to other issues that by necessity must be triaged. What duties should be dropped to fund being televised?

Finally, as to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, it would seem reasonable to have analyzed the 18 cases not heard by the commission as well as its response to the grand jury report, prior to Griffin, of whom I am a fan, publishing her article. There’s always the possibility that this has more to do with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force than with the Ethics Commission.

Michael L. Garcia
San Francisco


Criticism without solutions

Sigh, yet another rhetoric-laden, solutions-empty editorial about the putative evils and failures of Obamacare (“One man’s dream, most Americans’ nightmare,” Monday).

Here’s an idea: Those who don’t have any solutions to offer to America’s health care mess should find something better to do than dogmatically criticize those who are at least trying to develop a solution.

That includes putting away the fantasies about allowing the “free market” to self-regulate the health care industry: Any industry that takes great pains to ensure that there is no comparison shopping or price competition has already excluded itself from any discussions about free market economics.

Riley B. VanDyke
San Francisco


BofA punishes consumers

Bank of America doesn’t deserve a $5 fee for use of debit cards because it is trying to punish consumers as the government is now regulating them, which it should. It was just three years ago when Bank of America needed a $45 billion taxpayer bailout because it squandered the money making bad loans. Now BofA wants to punish us for the very regulations that are designed to keep banks from doing it again.

As a Bank of America customer, I want to say to them and the other banks we bailed out that we have not forgotten, and that I really resent it.

Marc Perkel
Gilroy

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