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Mailbag: Charter should have some general law included

January 19, 2012

I have heard several people say that California general law would govern whatever is not contained in the language of the proposed Costa Mesa city charter. That is a major misconception. Precisely the opposite is true.

The reality is that any municipal affair not specifically mentioned in the charter is left to the discretion of the City Council. In order for general law to govern a matter such as, for example, election rules and qualifications for candidates for City Council, the charter must expressly state that general law governs the matter.

Why is this important? Because, if there is no provision that general law governs election rules and candidate qualifications, this council or a future council could make it a requirement for any City Council candidate to have first served on a commission or committee appointed by the City Council.

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In this way, council members could perpetuate themselves and their associates in office, shutting out everyone else. For example, a council member could appoint someone to the Planning Commission and then trade places when he or she is termed out. This pattern could be repeated indefinitely, to the detriment of the citizens and of democracy.

That is why I submitted a suggestion for an addition to the proposed charter that would apply to Costa Mesa the general law concerning elections and qualifications for candidates. So far, the City Council has not accepted that suggestion. I still have hope that they will do so. If not, I hope the citizens will overwhelmingly reject the proposed charter.

Eleanor Egan

Costa Mesa

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Closed captioning helps in movies

I enjoyed reading your article "Movie experience still worthwhile" (City Lights, Jan. 5) and also the editorial "Big-screen blues" (Jan. 5) in the Los Angeles Times.

One thing I would like to add as a reason movie attendance might be shrinking is that, like a lot of older people who have hearing problems, I have limited my movie attendance because I just cannot hear the dialogue anymore. With blaring background music and mumbling actors, plus the increase in ticket prices, it just isn't worth it to sit through a movie and not know what is happening. Many of my family and friends share this concern.

One happy note is the Regal theater chain has started showing limited open-captioned movies, and we attend them at the Big Newport and Metro Pointe. Sadly, not all theaters are following their example. Hollywood and the theater chains ought to wise up to the fact that there are an awful lot of retired people out there with plenty of time and income who love movies, and in fact a lot of others with hearing problems due to years of rock music, video games, etc., who forgo the movie experience because they just can't hear what's going on anymore.

Dennis Crowley

Huntington Beach

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