Council oversight will protect workers, taxpayers Re: "Gray sending big contracts to council," Jan. 26

By ensuring the D.C. Council can review all city contracts worth $1 million or more, Mayor Vincent Gray is keeping his promise to end an era of contracting scandals. This is an important first step in fixing a broken procurement system that failed to protect workers and taxpayers from irresponsible contractors.

For example, one school security contractor continues to receive tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year despite failing drills to detect weapons in city buildings. The company has been repeatedly fined for violating the District's security and contract requirements. Despite the council's call to sever the contract because the company is "putting the safety of our city and residents at risk," the previous administration kept doing business with this bad actor.

Allowing the council to conduct investigations to block such irresponsible contractors will help Mayor Gray improve life for D.C.'s working families by ensuring that city contracts are only awarded to companies that raise standards and provide the high-quality services District residents deserve.

Jaime Contreras

32BJ District director,

Service Employees International Union

President's position on abortion is all too clear

Re: "President firm on abortion rights," Jan. 23

President Obama called abortion a constitutional right that he's committed to protecting during a week when most people with a modicum of compassion were reeling from news of the horror at the filthy 38th Street abortuary in Philadelphia where hundreds of innocent, defenseless, viable babies were murdered by a abortionist who cut their spinal cords after an induced birth.

Our president didn't speak out against such practice. While he was an Illinois state senator, he supported legislation to let aborted babies die in a closet without medical attention, rather than murdering them outright.

Barack Obama, your actions speak much louder than your words and they are despicable.

Diane Hess

Damascus, Md.

President fails to mention religious persecution

In his State of the Union message, President Obama smugly spoke of our "success" in Iraq. But he conveniently failed to mention the severe persecution of Christians that is taking place in that Muslim nation.

It does not give me confidence in our government to have a president who is so deceptive on such an important matter of human rights.

Nathan Dodell