Re. "Council should forgo stipends, benefits," July 8: Council members need to continue receiving modest stipends and benefits.

Recent comments by James H. Bridges suggest that he is living in his own fantasyland, with no experience running for or serving in public office.

In the real world, candidates for council in most any city in Orange County need something on the order of $100,000 to run active campaigns, with signs and costly color mailings. For those few who are successful in getting a seat, they gain the privilege of serving the public, investing countless hours in meetings, communicating with constituents and carrying out other duties that come with the office.

Most candidates are not independently wealthy and have to count on substantial contributions from special-interest groups, such as developers and unions. While that is not illegal or immoral, and is indeed the norm in our political system, it can appear to compromise the independence of the council member who accepts such monies.

Considering the modest total compensation for a member of the five-person Costa Mesa council of about $2,500 a month, I find it hard to understand why anyone would object to the current arrangement. To ask individuals to go out of pocket, with no chance to recoup some of their expenses, is not a good way to encourage the best people to run for office.

Al Melone

Costa Mesa

The writer is a candidate for City Council.

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Fallen waterman was clearly loved

I didn't know Newport Beach lifeguard Ben Carlson, although I did speak to him casually by the Newport Pier several times.

Remembering that and noting the observances since his death, I couldn't help but recall the old saying, "The only thing you take with you is what you give away." Clearly, Carlson took one heck of a lot of love with him.

Bill Thomas

Newport Beach

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Suicides high among gun owners

The National Rifle Assn. has created the sound bite of a good guy versus a bad guy with a gun. This meme creates a paranoia and helps sell guns, regardless of the public safety consequences.

Lost in all the 2nd Amendment fervor is the fact that homes with guns are three times more likely to have a death by suicide than homes without guns. Look at "States with the most gun violence" on 247wallst.com, published June 26. Of 32,351 firearm deaths in 2011, nearly 20,000 were suicides. Suicide overwhelms all other statistics about bad guys, accidents and other ways that guns kill.

Fill in your own reason why guns and suicides are linked. The fact is a gun in your home is 300% more likely to be used to end your life, or the life of someone important to you, rather than the life of a bad guy.

Roger Sievers

Irvine