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Mailbag: Privileged power structure is imposing its will on the public

A hand-knitted face mask lies entangled in seaweed on the sand in Mission Beach on Monday, April 27, 2020.
(Lauren J. Mapp / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Re: O.C. woman wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. After 6 months in the hospital, her outlook changed, Jan. 13 Daily Pilot, too often we, as the oppressed, frustrated citizens, vent our spleen on the exposed victims of the privileged forces that directly or indirectly impose their will and control on us, the majority. In our frustrated powerlessness, we exclaim, “Serves you right, Wynter Ho, not doing the obvious, getting vaccinated.” Giving a little more thought to the situation, we could see that too much of the power structure still has a toxic oar in our nation’s tide. A whole political party and a too toxic media is still free to poison our minds and sow doubt about science and anything else that furthers their privileged cause. Even six Republican-appointed members of SCOTUS, schooled in the bias of corporate neo-liberalism, scuttle the common good, squashing a vaccine/testing mandate based on Congressional legislation. We must know that a great deal of power and financial resources are behind this selfish greed-fest constructed by the privileged few. The corporate culture, with the advent of the “Powell Memorandum,” in the 1970s has staged this peaceful coup, cultivating their agents in the Republican Party to do their bidding. Democrats have been contributors as well. So how do we focus that anger on the built-up infrastructure of courts, media, economics and government that do corporate bidding, rather than suffering victims like Wynter Ho?

Jim Hoover
Huntington Beach

Poseidon, a Canadian Hedge Fund in the initial stages of presenting its desalination project promised that it would not need taxpayer funds for the project since it had more then sufficient funds. Now when there is an opportunity to receive part of an allocation of $510 million dollars, its backers are first in line to the exclusion of homeless community. Desalination water costs $2,900 an acre foot compared to imported water which costs $900 to $1,000 an acre foot, and the increased costs will also be part of the ratepayers monthly bills.

The conversion of motels for housing and the building of affordable housing for the homeless is why this money was set aside. Poseidon’s plans call for the sale of the desalination plant as soon as it is built. This is what the company did with the Carlsbad Plant, and there is no reason why the Huntington Beach plant would be any different.

Richard C. Armendariz
Huntington Beach

Are water costs driven by waste?

The water district voted last week to increase the cost of our water by 35% in the next six years. They sent out an information notice regarding the cost increase during the holidays, which I am sure everyone read!

There was no mention of the Poseidon desalination project that is nearing approval and will probably also increase our water costs.

Not being knowledgeable about water issues, I cannot agree or disagree with their need to raise water prices, and I doubt if 98% of the public can. However there are some ways they can be more fiscally responsible.

The board just gave the director a raise in salary to $363,607 per year, which includes benefits plus a $10,000 bonus. He has received over $51,000 in bonuses in the past six years. Also the top 10 administrators make about $200,000 per year.

The board of directors salaries are between $27,000 to $35,000 per year with health benefits. They make $310 per meeting, which last about an hour to 90 minutes.

When comparing their salaries to the Newport-Mesa Unified school board salaries, there is a stark difference. School board trustees make $470.11 per month or a total of $5,641.32 per year. They have at least two meetings per month and their meetings last five to six or more hours each. Last year they had 34 meetings.

The water district needs to think of ways to cut down their own administrative costs and how to not increase the cost of our water by 35%.

Martie O’Meara
Costa Mesa

Theater would elevate Estancia

The voters of Newport-Mesa School District approved a bond measure in 2005 and again in 2010 for the purpose of modernizing our aging schools, campus safety upgrades and several special projects such as two middle school enclaves, theaters and sports facilities. Much has been done under the guidance of our Board of Education; however, one important project remains: a theater at Estancia High School commensurate with the theaters at the other three comprehensive high schools.

A modern theater not only enhances the music and performing arts programs for high school students but provides a venue for middle and elementary students in the Estancia Zone. The money is allocated, the design and location approved two years ago by the Measure F Oversight Committee, the board of education, and the Estancia School community. So, what’s the holdup? Our own Costa Mesa “City of the Arts” City Council filed a lawsuit to stop the project.

Why, you ask? They believe the long-standing nonnative sycamore trees in front of the school should not be removed. The approved project not only includes a beautiful theater in front of the school and a more secure and safe campus, but the planting of even more trees surrounding a student area free of the debris that sycamores produce.

While their initial lawsuit was recently rejected by the court system, the city has now filed an appeal possibly delaying the project even longer. As a longtime resident of Costa Mesa, I have seen the city remove many mature trees to improve roadways, residential areas and erect buildings as is their responsibility. Estancia High School property is owned by the district, and decisions regarding that property are made by the elected school board overseen by the state for safety and environmental impact. These delays funded by taxpayer money are preventing Estancia students the educational equity they deserve.

We all love trees and nature. In fact, Estancia High School is bordered by the Costa Mesa Golf Course and Fairview Park providing even more trees. The question remains … why is the “City of the Arts” standing in the way of the elected Newport-Mesa Board of Education in providing a comprehensive and equal arts education to the students of Costa Mesa?

Vicki Snell
Former NMUSD Trustee

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