Letters to the Editor 3-22-18
Kudos to Nicholas Robbins who, in spite of massive peer pressure, remained true to his beliefs and supported the efforts of the National Rifle Association (NRA). (“RUHS Students Join National Walkout,” ER March 15, 2018). The media never reports that the NRA is one of the biggest proponents of responsible firearms ownership and gun safety. Through their programs and training, the NRA has accomplished more to promote firearm education and safety than all the politicians combined who have passed anti-gun laws and regulations. The students of Redondo Union High School have every right to make their voices heard. However, Nicholas Robbins deserves special recognition for being brave enough to voice an opinion that is contrary to theirs.
Tax exempt seniors
Sorry, but the MBUSD parcel tax “election” deserves to be called what it is, a sham (“MBUSD to seek parcel tax, lay off teachers,” ER March 8, 2018). To be valid, an election must be free and fair, treating everyone equally. Often now, we see two-bit dictators hold “elections” in a quest to win and gain legitimacy. But without a fair vote, that desired legitimacy is mere illusion. And so it is with the MBUSD measure. The MBUSD measure potentially excludes one large subset of voters from its provisions. According to your article, “The measure would give senior citizens the option to exempt themselves.” Sorry, but that’s not democracy. If there is a legitimate reason to raise extra taxes, then let us all decide the merits and all be subject to them. No one in a special group should be able to both vote and exclude themselves from the consequences. Is that what our democracy has been reduced to? A small, tight-knit community like Manhattan Beach needs to carve up the electorate in an attempt to cravenly chisel out some potential no votes? Come back with a new provision and let’s hold a free, fair and legitimate vote.
Thomas “TJ” Judson
429 3rd St
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Basic journalistic practice would suggest that writers support the sources of their information (“On the brink: How Manhattan Beach Unified became among the lowest funded school districts in the U.S.,” ER March 1, 2018). Claims made in the above article such as, “has been forced to contemplate as many as 60 teacher layoffs in coming years” and” leaving teacher layoffs the only remaining option” are not supported by facts. The district has not been forced to make these choices. Historically, the district ends up with a $3 million to $4 million dollar surplus each year. The educational budgeting process makes it possible to “predict” financial chaos up until the time in the process that actual numbers are revealed. At that time, the board is “forced” to acknowledge that the dire predictions of the previous parts of the cycle were not, in fact, actually borne out. Teacher layoffs are not, “the only option.” At the recent board meeting, $27,000 was approved to purchase 80 iPads for elementary school students. That expenditure is nearly the cost of one of our laid off teachers. Again, the budgeting process reveals the district priorities — student well-being with optimal staffing to support academic needs of students is at the bottom of the list of district priorities.
Shawn McMullen Chen
(Editor’s note: Mullen is a Mira Costa High School English teacher and head of the MBUSD Teachers Union.)
We definitely recognize that this is a bad time to ask for another tax (“On the brink: How Manhattan Beach Unified became among the lowest funded school districts in the U.S.,” ER March 1, 2018). The district has been forecasting a funding challenge for a few years and decided to pursue the facilities bonds for the gym and other school sites because of the safety concerns associated with these structures. Unfortunately, we cannot allocate bond funding to any other purpose but what was approved by our community’s voters. It is important to note three things about this proposed parcel tax. 1. Senior citizens (65 years or older) do not have to pay. If a Senior Citizen lives in a home, no one in that home is required to pay the parcel tax. 2. The proposed parcel tax is for $225 a year. With less than $1/day, we can prevent additional teacher terminations in 2018/19. 3. The quality of our schools is the number one reason people want to live and buy homes in Manhattan Beach. The average home in Manhattan Beach has increased in value by more than $1 million in the last nine years alone. Our community has a powerful history of stepping up to support the heartbeat of Manhattan Beach: our schools. We hope that we can come together again and protect them for just $4.30 a week.
(Editor’s note: Flechner is the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation executive director).
In relation to high taxes for MBUSD and Mira Costa High School, it is curious to me that we assume the high price education model we use is the only one available and most the effective (“MBUSD to seek parcel tax, lay off teachers,” ER March 8, 2018). We know that intrinsic motivation is the most effective way for our children to learn, yet we continue to function with more expensive, extremely hierarchical models that are based upon extrinsic kinds of motivation. The price of it all just keeps going up and perhaps we see better test scores, but is that what education is all about? It is possible to pay less and get more.
The Hermosa Beach Taxpayer Group (HBTG) filed a complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court in August 2017 to require that the Hermosa Beach City School District determine whether demolishing and rebuilding North School ($28M to $37M) was a “more cost effective solution” than renovating the campus ($6M). Since the bond was passed in June 2016, two successive enrollment reports have projected that enrollment will decline by up to 212 students, rather than increase as was previously believed. The complaint was prompted by the school district’s summarily evicting Children’s Journey from North School before Children’s Journey’s new facilities had been completed and threatening the 10-year tenant with $1,500/day fines.
HBTG’s complaint and request for a Temporary Restraining Order against the District prompted assurances from the HBCSD attorneys that the district would not demolish North School until after the Final Environmental Impact Report had been accepted by HBCSD School Board members. The complaint also showed that HBCSD had deliberately misled voters during the 2016 bond campaign. HBCSD paid its attorney, Terry Tao, $11,000 to give a one hour ”informational” presentation to voters. Tao claimed he had been involved with the renovation of El Segundo’s Richmond Street School and that the cost had been $39M. He also claimed he had been involved in the renovation of Newport Elementary, and said that project cost $55M. The truth is that these projects cost $5.3M and $5M, respectively. In other words, Tao lied to voters.
Ultimately, Judge Kendig ruled that the 60 day statute of limitations to challenge HBCSD’s plan started when the Notice of Preparation for the Environmental Impact Report was announced in February 2017, meaning the August 2017 filing was too late. Superintendent Patricia Escalante now claims that the district’s plan has been somehow been blessed by the courts.
HBCSD has spent significant funds preparing for demolition and none on an alternative plan to renovate North School. The Hermosa Beach Taxpayer Group promises to keep advocating for the truth even without the courts’ help, and challenges the District to do the same. Interested readers can contact HermosaBeachTaxPayerGroup@gmail.com and visit RestoreHermosaSchools.com for more information.
Morgan E. Ricketts
Last week, I attended both Boat Launch in King Harbor Public Workshops, and I must say that Director Stephan Proud and Consultant John Moore braved the rocky seas skillfully and dutifully. I would also like to thank the Harbor Commissioners who respected the public in the workshops by keeping their comments to a minimum. Moore spoke from the heart often during the workshops describing trying to design a boat launch facility on a variety of moles in King Harbor to the requirements of Measure C and taking into account the guidelines set by the California Division of Boating and Waterways as the hardest job in his life. However, one of the proponents of Measure C in attendance found his depiction of the task to be disingenuous and condescending, accusing Moore of implying that the requirements in Measure C made it difficult to build a boat ramp on any mole. Now, if you think the task that Director Proud and John Moore was difficult, imagine what it was like for the unskilled who were being coaxed to scribble down an idea for consideration. When one member of the public did make a suggestion; they were forced to withdraw it, because it could not garner support during a straw poll and it was a reasonable notion. To give you an idea of just how complicated the assignment was, one of the architects of Measure C, a professional engineer and a Harbor Commissioner, offered a design that did not accommodate safe launch and recovery in harbor surge conditions, instead, redirecting boats to the Boat Hoist, and therefore bypassing the requirements in Measure C, and the whole purpose of having a boat ramp in the harbor in the first place.
“Making America Irate Again”
There is no time to mourn or ponder.
Decency has been buried under
Conscience commands that we summon thunder.
Morality has been torn asunder.
Welcomed a reign of rapacity.
Electoral college ordained the blunder.
Conscience commands that we summon thunder.
Our fierce resolve can’t veer or wander.
Focused tenacity exposing depravity
must generate uncommon wonder.
Conscience commands that we summon thunder–
The thunder of intemperate rage–
Rage that eclipses and eliminates
the toxic trumpery
shaming and defaming unUnited States.
— JB Kennedy