October 22, 2004

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Público

City schools are a mess!

I am a teacher at one of San Diego Unified’s 8 most underperforming schools. Over the years it has become more than obvious to us teachers why our schools have the odds stacked against them, but lately, more so than ever, it has become impossible to teach in a school where at this moment, students are cold because the heaters on campus are not functioning. Could it be a coincident that each and every heater on campus is broken at the same time?

Construction continues as it has many other times during the school year and during instructional time. Ever tried to read to the sound of a jackhammer?

Gardening maintanace happens during the school day. Ever tried to learn a new mathematical concept to the accompaniment of a tractor lawnmower, leaf blower, and sprinklers?

Our schools are a mess, literally. We have two custodians: one day time and one afternoon/evening. It is impossible for one person to do all of the work. There are well over forty rooms needing attention including restrooms for staff and students, the cafeteria, all offices, playgrounds (fields and blacktop), and walkways.

Telephones are out of order. Most have been all week.

Water trickles from law mandated sinks in classrooms. Yesterday, as it happens each time heavy rains come, many areas of our school were flooded.

There is no toilet paper in the student restrooms.

Our peer coaches and resource staff are gone at least once a week. Our principal has been off campus most if not all of this week.

Many teachers cannot even log on to the district’s multimillion dollar network to take daily attendance.

Less than two months into the school year, we have lost a minimum of five days of instruction due to assessment. Each year more and more time is taken for test taking. In spring we will lose at least twice that amount.

Substitue teachers are often no shows. A day for teacher planning was cancelled last week because of this phenomenon that has plagued us for at least the past three years. Substitute custodians are even less known in these areas while schools north of Interstate 8 rely comfortably and safely on these resources.

Somebody please listen and wake up. Teachers work hard yet always take the blame for low test scores at schools like ours. Someone is responsible for these situations. Who could make our children’s learning environment so unfriendly? This is WRONG and something MUST be done.

THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN IN SCRIPPS RANCH, LA JOLLA, OR POWAY!!!! Why does it happen here?

I urge all concerned San Diegans to witness the realities of our situation and seek those responsible.

Francisco H. Ciriza
San Diego


Dear Voters of the South Bay Union School District

As a former governing board member of the South Bay Union School District, I care about the education and welfare of our community’s children. And, I appreciate this opportunity to share concerns about Nick Inzunza who is a Governing Board candidate for the South Bay Union School District.

Mr. Inzunza is an elected board member of the Tia Juana Valley County Water District. It was reported that: 1) The water district has never furnished water. 2) Two grand jury reports have called for its closure. 3) A report by LAFCO (The Local Agency Formation Commission) concluded that an assessment on property owners residing in the water district is illegal because it never came before the voters for approval. 4) Ralph Inzunza, San Diego City Councilmember and nephew of the water district board member, supported the water district. 5) A hearing by LAFCO to consider dissolving the water district was to take place on July 12.

On July 12, several LAFCO commissioners were incensed at the LAFCO staff’s conclusion that the water district had illegally imposed an annual assessment on residents since 1991, and used the money to pay its administrators and board members. However, after two hours of testimony commissioners put off the dissolution vote until August 2.

By that time I was enraged by all I had learned about the water district and its board, so I wrote a letter which was published in the Union Tribune on July 24. And toward the end of August, much to my dismay, I learned that water district board member Nick Inzunza filed as a governing board candidate for the SBUSD.

One August 2, LAFCO commissioners voted unanimously to dissolve the district and also voted to send letters to the county DA and the State Attorney General asking them to investigate whether the property owner’s assessment is illegal.

Mr. Inzunza’s ballot statement will impress the voters. He claims his occupation is “Education Specialist,” but I believe he is a retired school psychologist. Why is he misleading the voters? Maybe he doesn’t want them to know he’s retired. His statement also includes Viet-Nam service, college degrees and credentials. This along with name recognition could spell trouble. (He is the also the uncle of National City Mayor, Nick Inzunza.)

Yes, life is truly stranger than fiction.

Alyce Arnold
Imperial Beach


An Open Letter to the National City Community

As of today, October 13, 2004, I am resigning from the National City Community and Police Relations Commission. I feel that my work in the commission has reached its limitations. It is with great regret that I tend this resignation letter to my fellow commissioners in the National City Community and Police Relations Commission.

It was my original intent to work within the Community and Police Relations Commission to obtain the authority and resources by which the commission would carryout the request of approximately 2,200 registered voters who petitioned for Proposition L and the thousands who approved it during a city wide referendum.

It was the wishes of the community through the signing of the petition and the subsequent approval of Proposition L, that a commission to represent the community residents be established to oversee the policing of our city. It was clear to me that this commission, in order to meet the mandate of the people, would have required four fundamental conditions:

1. Support from the Mayor and the city council.

2. Powers to investigative and subpoena powers.

3. Be independent from police and city government.

4. Posses the necessary funding in order to effectively meet its objectives.

Unfortunately, even after raising those concerns at commission meetings, the above conditions have not been met. In fact, what I have witnessed in my tenure as a commissioner numerous attempts by mayor and some members of the city council to actually render the commission a powerless “citizens body” to confuse and derail the wishes of the people. Thereby, working against the democratic rights of the people by refusing to implement the proposition that was voted unanimously by the citizens of National City.

The following examples cites how the city government has used the commission:

1. Using the commission to cover-up the incident that occurred at the JC Penney store in Plaza Bonita, where the police joined the Border Patrol to deport a family who was innocently shopping at that mall. This incident continues to stay fresh in the migrant communities of National City.

2. Organizing forums and listing the commission as supporters or presenters, without first consulting the commission. In the most recent instance, the public safety town hall meeting held on September 1, 2004. As a result, the city government used the commission to manipulate public opinion for their “Public Safety Bond” which benefits a few rich and greedy corporations.

As an advocate of migrant’s rights, it is with great disappointment that I find the commission, sitting as panelists with the US Border Patrol, promoting the needs to push the public safety bond in the November ballot. I would never find myself compromising the needs of my community members and I question our participation and the process in which it took in effect.

By allowing the city council and the mayor to continuously use the commission as a puppet, a mouthpiece, or rubber stamp for their hidden agendas, I would be party to

betraying the people of National City. My conscience and personal principles will not permit this. Therefore as of today, I am no longer part of this commission.

Judy de los Santos
National City

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