January 11, 2002

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

New Outbreak in the Spanish American War

The bitter war between the Official English proponents and the bilingual educators has once again shifted to the workplace over the concept of using broken Spanish as a practical solution to communication barriers.

Supporters for both English as the official language and anti-bilingual education argue that communicating with immigrants in Spanish is not doing them any favors, as it only reduces their need and urgency to learn English. They point out that the immigrant's fluency of English will dictate their future as to the quality of jobs they can secure and their earning potentials.

The bilingual educators state that the main objective is merely to communicate.

The use of broken Spanish with immigrants will eventually switch to broken English anyway, which will evolve to fluency. They also charge that there are many people who don't even attempt to communicate with the immigrant workers in any language, which holds back both the work and worker. Some of those don't because of self-fears from lack of know-how or confidence, but for others it's a fear, a dislike or hate for the immigrant's culture. They use shunning and isolation as a legal tool of ethnic cleansing keeping the worker `in his place.'

In supporting their charge they use a quote from a lecture on the debate of English as an Official language by Kansas State University English professor Tom Murray, "The reason for the debate comes down to fear and dollars and cents. People are afraid of other languages establishing themselves." The web site concludes that since a non-attempt to communicate with immigrants in the workplace isn't about spending money or tax dollars, then it must be about fear.

Workers of the Spanish community admit the burden of learning the other language is theirs, but view the attempts of broken Spanish as a step towards meeting them part way in closing the communication barrier. They also see the effort of Americans using broken Spanish as a form of accepting them as a person and human being.

Paul Arnett
Mesa, AZ

Post Office wants to charge you 5-cents per email

Guess the warnings were true. Federal Bill 602P 5-cents per E-mail sent. It figures! No more free E-mail!

Under proposed legislation, the US Postal Service will be attempting to bill E-mail users out of "alternative postage fees."

Bill 602P will permit the Federal Government to charge a 5-cent surcharge on every e-mail delivered, by billing Internet Service Providers at source. The consumer would then be billed in turn by the ISP.

Washington DC lawyer Richard Stepp is working without pay to prevent this legislation from becoming law.

The US Postal Service is claiming lost revenue, due to the proliferation of E-mail, is costing nearly $230,000,000 in revenue per year.

Since the average person received about 10 pieces of E-mail per day in 1998, the cost of the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents a day — or over $180 per year — above and beyond their regular Internet costs.

Note that this would be money paid directly to the US Postal Service for a service they do not even provide.

The whole point of the Internet is democracy and noninterference. You are already paying an exorbitant price for snail mail because of bureaucratic inefficiency. It currently takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from coast to coast. If the US Postal Service is allowed to tinker with E-mail, it will mark the end of the "free" Internet in the United States.

Do not sit by and watch your freedom erode away!

William Harris
via e-mail

The intollerant Republican Party

Looking back, I can truly say that President Clinton was a visionary when he directed the military establishment to employ the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". This basically let gays serve in the military without the fear of being kicked out because of sexual preferance. Now we are involved in the war on terrorism abroad. The Taliban, much like the the intollerant republican party, doesn't allow their women the freedom of choice and also persecutes gays. Thankfully, my boyfriend can serve his country proudly in the middle east with out the fear of being court marshaled. We'll get rid of the Taliban and their terrorism, but what will we do about the intollerant extreme republican party and their control of the congress?

It's easy to force other countries to obey human rights. But holding ourselves to the standard we preach is a whole different war.

Joe Arreola
San Diego

Setting the record straight on Prop BB

In your interview of Ed Brand, the Sweetwater School District Superintendent, published in your Nov. 21st edition, you asked him why gymnasiums, rather than classrooms, were being built at Sweetwater and Mar Vista High Schools. He stated that "the planning committees at both sites set the priorities for school improvements."

As a Mar Vista teacher familiar with what went on at the planning committee there, I feel compelled to set the record straight. The planning committee at Mar Vista was not much more than a rubber stamp for the plans the district already had to build another gymnasium at Mar Vista. If you talk to the Mayor of Imperial Beach, who was on the planning committee, or any of the teachers who were on the planning committee, they will tell you that no one on the planning committee had a gymnasium as their first priority. Mar Vista High School was built to accomodate 1300 students but now has over 2100.

Considering the obvious need for more classrooms, many at Mar Vista is disgusted with the fact that the district is building ANOTHER gymnasium (they're not even getting rid of the old one!) and ignoring the need for new classrooms.

The district, not the planning committee, needs to take responisiblity for this misuse of Proposition BB funds.

Peter Honan
San Diego

Harness the power of unity to eleminate socioeconomic disparities

In a commentary written by Gail Christopher and Stephen Goldsmith, ("Harnessing the Power of Unity and Innovation" published December 21, 2001.) they ask: "The events of September 11th sparked a level of patriotism the U.S. has not witnessed since World War II. Americans can be deeply proud of how we have come together in the face of adversity. Wouldn't it be truly remarkable though, if we could harness the power of this newly minted unity - not only to protect our nation against terrorism, but also to help eliminate the socioeconomic disparities that still burden so many of our citizens?"

This question strikes a resonant chord within myself and many others. I look around me and I see so many people in need of financial, educational and spiritual or psychic help. The last few months have proved to all of us, just how much can be accomplished in such a short period of time. It's truly incredible to me, to be a witness to the testament of American ingenuity and creativity at finding ways to help the victims of the 9/11 tragedy.

From concerts and fundrais-ers hosted by major networks and Hollywood celebrities and musicians, to grassroots initiatives by school children and college students; these past few months have been truly amazing. Can you imagine how different things could be in our American society if we could all sustain this level of enthusiasm and dedication to a cause and apply it to many of the social ills which have continued to plague our country.

If we could break down the 12 most important social, financial, educational grievances of modern society and have every company, school, coffee shop, etc. apply some of their energies each month towards fundraisers and clothing or food drives. We could help remedy so much of the suffering which we see around us each day.

We as an American people, are capable of so much. We need only to be aware of the issues, and then to apply our innate strengths towards working on solutions. The cumulative effect of all of our small efforts can build up to something truly remarkable.

Let's all work together into this New Year. Write down 12 important social concerns which could benefit from the same attention as has been put towards the 9/11 fundraisers. Talk to your employer, employees, coworkers, friends, etc. and come up with a way to raise awareness and funds for a different issue each month. Have a book drive, a clothing drive, a bake sale, an apple sale, anything to keep the spirit of community thriving. The reward is the look of appreciation on the faces of the needy and the warm feeling in your heart to know that you are a more integral part of your community.

Tomas Bolanos
via e-mail

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