Mailbag: A productive society depends on quality education

Brethren Christian High School is closing down after 73 years.
Brethren Christian High School is closing down after 73 years. A reader writes to say while school closures are not uncommon, efforts should be made to support staff and students to promote quality education.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Given the demise of for-profit colleges — whose true mission seems to have been to rake in bundles of money — mostly from government loans and benefits to veterans, it’s not so uncommon to have graduated from a school and then the “school closes down,” as one recent graduate of Brethren Christian High School stated. In fact, it is a widespread experience for many graduates of institutions such as ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, if not so common among high school graduates.

In this age of coronavirus shutdowns, many well-respected liberal arts colleges such as MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill. — after 174 years — are no longer in operation. Further, the San Francisco Institute of Art and Notre Dame de Nemur (also in San Francisco and the third oldest college in California) are likely to cease operation in the near future.

Quality education — at all levels of schooling — is essential for a productive society. Students, faculty and support staff must be made safe from contagion and corruption. Only a strongly enforced code of academic ethics and thorough health and safety requirements will ensure an upward trajectory in schooling.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

Commission of bad planning?

On July 9, the Newport Beach Planning Commission granted yet another approval to the Shell Service Station located at 1600 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach, immediately adjacent to the community of Big Canyon.

This time the approval was to add a car wash to an already overcrowded site that has previously received approval to add a mini-mart, which produced noise and traffic, a hydrogen-storage facility, which was unsightly and had lights that shone right into the Big Canyon community, and an approval to expand the mini-mart which added more noise and more traffic.

The Commissioners somehow disregarded the “cumulative effects” of their previous approvals, despite a law requiring they do, and found adding a car wash while having to violate their own setback requirements to make it fit on the property was in the public’s best interest and constituted good planning.

Despite overwhelming opposition from those present and no one to speak in favor of the project except the owner’s paid representative, and despite no proven need for a car wash in this location, the commission found (with Commissioner Koetting voting no) that the “Operation of the use at the location proposed would not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the City, or endanger, jeopardize, or otherwise constitute a hazard to the public convenience, health, interest, safety, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use.”

How is that possible?

David B. Kuhn, Jr.
Newport Beach


It seems unbelievable to me that the Newport Beach Planning Commission at the July 9 meeting would ignore the concerns of an entire community within their city. I felt like all 16 of us that were pleading our concerns to the commission until almost 11 p.m. were collectively talking into a complete void.

Planning commissioners then approved the addition of a car wash to an already overcrowded gas station at the corner of San Joaquin Hills and Jamboree Road. This Shell station has already added a mini-mart, a hydrogen storage facility and an expansion of the mini-mart to sell liquor.

Now the commission has allowed a drastic reduction of the code-required setback on a very busy free right-turn lane so this owner could add a car wash. Why hasn’t an environmental impact study been done? In effect, the commission granted a non-Newport Beach resident the ability to slightly increase his profits at the expense of our decreased property values and increased noise environment! By the way, this owner has more than 65 other gas stations and self-serve gas stations that pay no city taxes! Who is benefiting here?

Thank you, Peter Koetting, from the bottom of our hearts for understanding the residents’ concerns regarding noise, proximity and health matters to our residents, many of whom are elderly. We truly appreciate your efforts in trying to convince the other commissioners that this was the wrong project at the wrong place.

Shame on Planning Commissioner Sarah Klaustermeier who made the comment, “It’s a very busy intersection and they knew that when they purchased their homes. So, I approve it!” Well Ms. Klaustermeier, none of knew that the JWA flight plan would be changed to fly over our homes, nor did we know that in 2016 524 units that were grandfathered in by the Irvine Co. would be built, and we had no idea the city would allow for a variance to their 30-foot setback to put additional noise right in our backyards.

The proposed project now goes to the City Council for final approval. Hopefully, council members will listen to our residents and understand the community’s valid concerns.

Lynn Swain
Newport Beach

Supervisor is unfit for office

Thanks for the coronavirus surge, Michelle Steel. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you almost single-handedly created the enormous surge in cases hitting Orange County today. Especially thanks for helping to force the resignation of Orange County’s Health Officer, refusing to mandate safety measures, and using your position to disseminate false information. I sincerely hope to see the end of your presence in public life after November.

Deborah Koken
Costa Mesa


To be convinced that Michelle Steel is the official Trump franchisee in Orange County, look no further than the video of her smiling broadly into the camera as she talks about removing her daughter from UC Santa Cruz and sending her to Marymount (“one year of brainwash” — her words) because her daughter supported marriage equality. She sees the equality and dignity of another person as a reason to brainwash her own daughter. She can’t use the Trump excuse that this is fake news or a hoax. Search using three words: “Michelle brainwash video.” There she is.

These are the words of an immigrant who claims to have faced discrimination for being different — at the same time she promotes discrimination against others for being different. She has completely aligned herself with the divisiveness and the ugliness of the Trump brand and the plunge by today’s Republicans into the bottomless pit of anything goes.

A person who promotes discrimination — or laughs about the equality of another person — is morally unfit to hold public office. Another thing she has in common with Trump.

Voters: when a person shows you who she is — believe her.

Thomas J. Peterson
Newport Beach

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.