November 9, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

Vote of Confidence

Bringing in this "tainted" money is a shameless and transparent attempt to blackmail San Diego voters into forfeiting their voice in local government. The real shame is that our leaders cannot stand on their own merits and when faced with public scrutiny, arrogantly wave big money in our faces.

Yes, there's been conflict on the board, but the bottom line is that over the last three years, the majority has imposed an untested "Blueprint" at will and has not only created chaos in the classrooms, but also failed to budge the achievement gap. How are we to believe that putting more money into leadership that stubbornly refuses to represent the public or make sincere collaborative gestures with experienced constituents will make any difference? Wouldn't it have been a much wiser investment to make the foundation money contingent on a well-implemented "Blueprint" and our children's progress, rather than the job security of two individuals?

Heriberto Escamilla
San Diego

$22.5 million an act of desperation

The latest desperation move by Commandant Bersin and his Chamber of Commerce friends to keep him in office as Superintendent of San Diego City Schools came to light November 5th when the district announced it would receive a $22.5 million gift from the business community. However, in the fine print of the announcement came news that the gift was contingent upon Mr. Ber-sin and Chancellor Alvarado keeping their jobs for the next 4-5 years. Sounds like financial blackmail to me. Sounds like terrible policy and a terrible precedent for this or any school district.

I can see it all now. Six months from now some other group will have standing to anti-up many millions of dollars as a gift to the district that are contingent upon the resignation of one board member or another. And then, some other group would have standing to come forward with a substantial donation contingent upon changing the city charter so that the school board would now report to the city council. And so it would go, one offer of financial help with strings after another and another.

The only clean and proper way to deal with this kind of an offer is the way Mayor Rudy Giuliani did when an Arab oil mogul offered to donate $10 million to the NYC recovery fund contingent upon one little thing about American foreign policy. Rudy politely told the Arab that he would be only too happy to accept the money, but if it was contingent upon anything, then the Mayor would have to refuse the money. Despite the international brouhaha his words created, the Mr. Giuliani stuck by his guns and refused the money. That's what men and women of character do when someone asks them to sell their soul. And that's why the present three-vote majority on the city school board will vote to accept the $22.5 million at the next board meeting. They still don't get it!

Mike MacCarthy
San Diego

Education is a community issue

It is time for the community to take over it's school. Let's get rid of all the educators who do not fulfill their obligation to quality instruction, Lets get rid of Board Members who politic rather than ensure quality educartion for all children. Let's make parents accountable for participating in their childrens education.

Dr. Victor Resendez
Chula Vista

November 2nd Commentary Applies

(Editor's Note: November 2, 2001 commentary refered to here was by Juleyka Lantigua titled "Urban Renewal Displaces Poor Families".)

The results of council housing policy is well known-landlords have never been happier, but 600,000 renters are taking it on the chin. The skyrocketing rents in this city is no accident. They are the direct result of the reduction in supply of housing without any reduction in demand. All government agencies take part in the effort to reduce supply.

The school district plans to demolish 3000 units,according to their deputy chief administrative officer.-no replacement. The federal gov't demolishes 400 low priced hotel rooms-no replacement.CALTRANS demolishes 570 units for Hwy 15-no replacement. The City demolishes hundreds of units in City Heights and calls units built 5 years ago in Barrio Logan the replacement.

Your housing element says 4000 HUD subsidized units can be converted to market rate by the private owners while only 400 will be preserved. To these losses add the many private demolitions and condominium conversions- all issued ministerial permits. When the council is asked to restrict demolitions and conversions they refuse to do so. The facts are that housing losses exceed new construction but the losses never appear on the agenda.Only additions are counted., so as to delude the public.

When housing staff is asked for help they plead poverty but now tell you they have money for a new office building for themselves. I assume this is their reward for keeping supply low and rents high.

After city officials solemnly refer to the housing crisis, a multitude of reports are issued, committees are established, conferences are held, consultants are hired, newspaper columns are written, and the media is wooed by high priced public relations staff. But after all the efforts to make a silk purse out of a sows ear, what we get is higher and higher rents where $100 a month increases are commonplace.

The inevitable result being that lower income people, overwhelmingly non-white, are impoverished and forced out of their neighborhoods, replaced by more affluent Caucasians from out of town. This council shares the responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of San Diego. Isn't this the real goal of the so-called strategic framework and the city of villages? The absence of housing from the City's top ten goals speaks volumes.

Diversity is preached but the opposite is practiced.

Mel Shapiro
San Diego

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