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No matter how much elected officials screw up, it’s the taxpayers who pay for the mess. The City Council swore up and down that Ed Edelman was hired as “homeless czar” for one year, period. In that time he wasn’t expected to clean up Santa Monica’s homeless problem. He was expected to come up with a PLAN. Instead he fritters away a year (and $200,000 in salary) by taking a junket to New York City and hobnobbing with other assorted wizards. And now the City Council is giving him another $200,000 and a couple of assistants to continue his “work” with a $1 million budget.

Here’s a plan that will reduce the numbers of homeless on the streets of Santa Monica. I offer it for free. Fire Edelman and have the two staffers do a thorough survey of the people on the streets. Ask each if he/she would move to an apartment if offered. Separate out those who refuse because they prefer the “freedom” to live on the streets. Those who say they want an apartment should list their assets towards paying for one: veterans’ allowance, welfare, disability, personal assets. They should be put on a list for vacancies and placed indoors in places that they and a City subsidy (start using the $1 million office budget) can make affordable. As for the hard-core homeless, they should all be given mental evaluations and dealt with as the professionals determine, but not allowed to continue to wander the streets.

HP Epstein

Santa Monica

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Paul Cummins may still be genuinely despairing over Bush’s election in 2004, but he shouldn’t let it cloud his ability to think rationally and make factual statements. It wasn’t obvious to any rational person that Iraq “posed no threat to America” as he states. If it had been, then a bipartisan Congressional majority would not have passed the Iraq War Resolution and backed our invasion. And if we’re to believe Cummins, Bush is responsible for Bin Laden, for an Iranian nuclear program that began before Bush took office and what he believes is the Middle East’s hatred of the Unites States; despite the fact that there are now more friendly governments in that region than before the war (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, as well as improved relations with India, Pakistan and the UAE). He condemns Bush for bombing Baghdad, but apparently doesn’t apply the same standard to the previous administration by failing to mention Clinton’s bombing of Baghdad in 1998 for the same reasons as Bush. Nor is there any credible evidence that 100,000 Iraqis have died in the war. I can only assume that he derived this number from the discredited 2004 Lancet study, because there are no reliable Iraqi civilian casualty figures. I can only hope that the American people don’t follow Cummins’ lead and elect an administration that intends to disarm and to pursue peace at all costs. The US must remember, as Canada has just recently learned upon discovering a massive Al Qaeda-linked plot to behead its leaders: a pacifist government in a world of ideologically driven terrorists who strike lethally and decisively and without regard for political policy is a doomed government.

John Keating

Santa Monica

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