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November 21, 2019
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Letters to the Editor, March 1, 2019

The Register-Pajaronian welcomes letters. Letters and columns may be dropped off or mailed to the Register-Pajaronian, 100 Westridge Drive, Watsonville, CA 95076.

Letters and columns may also be sent via email to [email protected]

Letters should be less than 400 words, and columns are no more than 800 words.

All letters and columns must be signed and have an address and phone number for confirmation purposes. We reserve the right to edit and condense all submissions.

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Teacher strikes

To the Editor,

Lots of news and misdirection. Teacher unions are demanding increased pay, smaller class sizes and fewer charter schools. Some districts like L.A. have caved in with an anticipated bankruptcy in two to three years.

Class size reduction flies in the face of facts. For 15 years, the number of teachers graduating has declined. How can you reduce class size when there are fewer available teachers?

Charter schools, especially in L.A., perform much better, but they use non-union teachers. They represent a loss of membership and money to the unions, who do not argue for improved academic achievement, only the loss of members and money.

A six percent increase in health costs per year and a 15 percent increase in retirement funding have sapped districts’ funds. There is little left for teacher raises unless you cut classified workers. That is where the present drive to increase teacher pay is taking us.

Bill Beecher

Aptos

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Thank you Bay Federal for counting change

To the Editor,

Radcliff Elementary School would like to thank our partner Bay Federal Credit Union for helping us out with our Pennies for Patients fundraiser. Students collected change for leukemia and lymphoma research over a three-week period which needed to be counted. Watsonville branch manager Laura Owen and her staff graciously helped us out by counting 23 boxes of change for three consecutive Fridays. We can’t tell you how much time that saved us.

We truly appreciate our partners. Thanks so much.

Ulli Kummerow, Principal, and Radcliff Elementary staff and students

•••

Conflict of interest?

To the Editor,

The Watsonville City Council’s Feb. 26 agenda includes a contract for $156,000 with Mesiti-Miller Engineering for “Design Services on the Lee Road Trail Project.” This follows a contract with Mesiti-Miller Engineering for the cantilevered bridge off the San Lorenzo River Trestle in Santa Cruz (also part of the Rail Trail project).

Given that Mark Mesiti-Miller is the chairman of Friends of the Rail and Trail, and the costly project’s most vocal proponent, this appears to be a blatant conflict of interest. What other bids were sought? Mr. Mesiti-Miller says he sold the firm several years ago, but the public does not know the terms of that sale, including ongoing payments or consulting, and his name is still on the door.  

The Watsonville City Council should go out of its way to ensure other bids are encouraged and the appearance of an insider sweetheart deal is not an issue.

Bob Landry

Santa Cruz

•••

Public transportation: If you build it (properly), they will come

To the Editor,

The Regional Transportation Commission recently essentially voted “Yes on No,” forcing locals to “donate” millions to an outside freight train organization despite being fenced-off from even accessing a 30-mile slice of the corridor that runs across Santa Cruz County for at least 10 years. The best the RTC can now do to provide “passenger train” service on this pending refurbished single track intended for only slow-moving freight, is to make citizens wait until at least 2035 for a novelty train catering to tourists!

As an engineer, I envision a golden opportunity passing us by. I have a patent pending for an All-Express passenger rail system. I already conceded numerous critical limitations within Santa Cruz County made this better suited for the Central Valley. Locally, having only one track will put the adjacent trail in future jeopardy — there are reasons why BART has more than one track to safely handle busy two-way passenger traffic!

Fortunately at our fingertips is a simple solution coupling one lane on the corridor (and forever retaining the trail) with favorable existing characteristics of Highway 1. The following link shows an illustration and explanations: tinyurl.com/y3k6btsx. This multi-purpose concept has been circulating in local newspapers. It provides for frequent travel across the county from one major transportation hub to another, without disruptive transfers while allowing key stops in-between. It provides this safely and affordably, and even more expeditiously than alternatives, which will lure people to such public ridership.

Why not:

• Essentially guarantee safely getting across Santa Cruz County within a half-hour any time of the day

• Charge reasonable fares for frequently needed transportation (subsidize appropriately to further encourage ridership), rather than excessive prices for novelty trains running only a few times a day that don’t deliver satisfaction (see “Polar Express” reviews)

• Improve Highway 1 congestion now without even touching the highway during “construction” process

• Allow enclosed three-wheeled (electric) bicycles on weekends for tourists

• Pass something worthwhile onto future generations

• Allow the full corridor experience now, rather than waiting at least 10 years.

Bob Fifield

Aptos

•••

Money talks

To the Editor,

I’m getting really worried about our country. Political polarization is worse than I’ve ever experienced. Sean Hannity is basically calling for armed revolt if Trump is impeached. Homegrown terrorist attacks are on the rise.

We must look for common ground. Surely all Americans can agree that our government should be responsible to all of us, not just the lobbyists.

Money talks, and I encourage everyone to look at your politicians’ donors before supporting anyone.  Here’s a great website — www.opensecrets.org — that makes it easy to “follow the money.”

Don Eggleston

Aptos

•••

Professor’s comments about police horrifying

To the Editor,

As the mother of two wonderful policemen, I have to publicly take offense at an English professor from the University of California Davis named Joshua Clover. He says that police officers should be killed. The quote here is pretty vicious: “I’m thankful that every living cop will one day be dead. Some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age. I mean it’s easy to shoot cops in the backseat, no?”

This professor should be fired immediately from his position at U.C.D. I hardly think this is where the average Californian wants his/her tax dollars to be spent. The police I know lay their lives down daily to protect our towns, they have wives and families, and the ones I know all contribute to their community to make it a better place to live in. This is horrifying!

Gerrie Ridgway

Santa Cruz County

•••

The Watsonville ‘green agenda’ can’t co-exist with use of Roundup

To the Editor,

It was difficult to watch city officials exhort their new green agenda at Tuesday’s city council meeting without reacting in disgust.

Watsonville cannot claim a green agenda if it continues to use Roundup to control weeds in our 26 city parks.

In recent weeks, Roundup: 

1. Was banned from use by the nation of France for its carcinogenic effect on human life.

2. Has been discovered in the three most popular manufacturers of breakfast cereal.

3. Has been discovered in wine and beer.

4. Has caused Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, to merge with Bayer to disguise its evil corporate reputation.

5. Has caused Monsanto to be sued with numerous huge lawsuits against its product, Roundup, by users of Roundup who have contracted cancer.

Not only would we save lives by banning the use of Roundup, we would save money. Our city pays for health benefits for all its employees. The city would not have to pay huge payouts for cancer treatment for the city park employees who come into direct contact with Roundup.

Our school district, PVUSD, wisely banned Roundup from use on our school grounds two years ago. Yet the city persists in using it. Our city leaders must cease and desist from hurting its park employees and city residents in its use. 

Tell the city: Say no to Roundup. Contact: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or call 768-3040 and ask to speak with the city manager, Matt Huffaker.

Steve Trujillo

Watsonville

•••

Music education in schools is ’on-key’

To the Editor,

The great American composer Leonard Bernstein once said, “Music can name the unnameable, and communicate the unknowable.” This concept, that exposure to music provides intrinsic value outside of just entertainment, is why schools have long made music education a central part of educating the whole child.

While language arts, civics and STEM education are critical in successfully preparing students for a college or career pathway, music education stands as an equally important and influential component of modern pedagogy. Visual and performing arts provide students with opportunities to explore their creativity, improvisation, and self-expression; all significant lessons that cannot be extracted from a textbook.

Research on the impacts of a music-rich education have continually shown positive developmental benefits for students, such as improved test scores, emotional growth, increased coordination, memorization, pattern recognition, discipline and neurological development.

The month of March offers us the opportunity to acknowledge the unique benefits of music education through the celebration of “Music in Our Schools Month.” This important acknowledgement of music education is celebrated each year with the help of the National Association for Music Education, and provides our schools with the opportunity to highlight the need for expanding these vital programs.

Governor Newsom’s 2019-20 state budget proposes the largest-ever funding increase for K-14 education in our state’s history. California’s students will receive a record $80.7 billion in funding, dwarfing the recessionary low of $47.3 billion during the 2011-12 fiscal year. This proposed reinvestment in our schools, teachers and students will allow for the expansion of music education opportunities for students across the state.

Additionally, California recently overhauled its education finance system through the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plans, which require school districts to involve parents and community members in the decisions they make about how education funds are spent.

I encourage those community members who feel strongly about arts and music education in our schools to reach out to your local education leaders with the message that arts funding should continue to be a priority in all our schools.

For information on participating in the Music in Our Schools Month, visit nafme.org.

Bill Monning

California State Senator

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