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Wall Street: Bulldozing City Budgets?

When a transaction with Wall Street blows up at great cost to public entities, who's to blame? The answer depends on whether you see municipalities and nonprofits as less sophisticated than the big banks. Readers of "Wall Street vs. America" (In Depth, Nov. 30) duked it out online and e-mailed. Some said local officials were the dupes of conniving bankers. Many others argued that public officials should have been aware of the risks. — By Theo Francis

Atrocious behavior by those who already made fortunes selling bad mortgage-backed securities....Now they raise credit-card rates on even those with great credit and stick it to cities like Detroit when they are down.

Screen name: Robert Squires

One more example of how the same people who torpedoed the economy in the first place are now plundering bankrupt cities, forcing draconian cuts in human services in order to rake in their obscene profits.

Screen name: Winston Rockwell

No one has been suckered by Wall Street....City officials weren't pulled into a back room and forced to sign something without reading it. People forget how much due diligence it takes to hammer out these deals. The city had lawyers and finance people advising them. The bet went out of their favor, that's all.

Screen name: Mark-Anthony

This is outrageous, but it's not all on Wall Street. Who were the boards, executive directors, and CFOs buying these "investments"? One of the basic tenets of investing is to buy what you understand. What induced these people to buy except laziness and greed? The taxpayers need to wrestle Wall Street legally on these matters.

John Bacon Jr., St. Charles, Ill.

Wall Street isn't innocent here. But our pension, utility, transit, and governmental players are as culpable, if not more. Having gambled away the house, they now want us to believe they were the victims of some fraud.

Screen name: Jack Heismann

How Carbon Offsets Work in California

"A Big Loophole in Cap and Trade" (What's Next, Nov. 30) reported that the sale of carbon offsets from the Conservation Fund's California forest lands represents duplicate payment for previous commitments to preserve trees. In fact, the loans associated with the purchase of these properties expressly allow the fund to harvest timber to help cover debt service and operating expenses.

The fund has harvested about 47% less than the total allowable amount, even as timber prices have fallen—a reduction that's possible only because of the carbon offset revenues.

Chris Kelly, California Program Director, The Conservation Fund, Larkspur, Calif.

The story failed to note that California's carbon offset protocol is tougher than the state's stringent state forestry regulations. We at Sierra Pacific must submit a binding 100-year commitment to carbon offset projectsplus or minus—with deed restrictions to protect the forests—and invest millions to assure we are meeting or exceeding our carbon commitment. All this must be independently verified. Only then can an offset sale be made.

Mark Pawlicki, Director of Government Affairs, Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, Calif.

Sarbanes-Oxley: Costly and Ineffective

Regarding "These Men Could Kill SarbOx" (In Depth, Nov. 30): I hope SarbOx is eliminated. It certainly didn't help control Bear Stearns, Lehman, and numerous failed banks. If the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board cannot prevent financial collapses of that magnitude, why should public corporations have to spend millions of dollars to adhere to useless "control" mechanisms?

Joseph D'Agostin, Norwalk, Conn.


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