Mailbag: Benefits of theater program incalculable

Regarding your Sept. 12 story "Sports Stadiums or a Theater?": Many people love a good high school football game. There is no question that kids benefit from athletics. But high school drama programs are just as important.

Our son met his wife in the Estancia High School drama program 13 years ago. As supportive parents, we saw many productions at Estancia's small theater. It was a well-used, slightly threadbare facility back then. I doubt that it has improved over the years. Often, productions have to be moved to Newport Harbor High's theater (at considerable expense to the program) because Estancia's facilities are inadequate.

Drama teacher Pauline Maranian has done incredible work giving thousands of Estancia students an opportunity to shine even if they may not have athletic gifts. More important, the kids have had an opportunity to grow and experience a community of their peers working toward a very challenging goal and winning many awards in the process.

Our son and daughter-in-law still count as friends people they met in the drama program. Both went on after high school to college classes in drama and film. They have shifted careers but are both in graduate school, and I can't help but believe that some of their success is owed to the Estancia drama program.

Looking at all the benefits to the audiences, the performers, the behind-the-scenes crew — and parents — we think that a theater at Estancia would be money well spent.

Waiting until 2020 is unthinkable. Measure F was passed in 2005. It shouldn't take 15 years to get the money to a program for which it was approved.

Dan and Barbara Rycroft

Costa Mesa

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Privatization of trash doesn't make sense

Last Tuesday night, sitting on $20 million thrones (about the cost per council member of the new City Hall) and looking down on its loyal subjects, the city council tried to make us believe that elimination through profitization of an efficient public service was primarily intended to save a lot of money.

The council members spent taxpayer money to hire a consultant to develop a lengthy and complex report filled with all kinds of gibberish, concocting a fairy tale regarding millions of dollars in savings if our city trash service was outsourced to a private company.

Their real goal, it became apparent as the evening wore on, was to replace the current hard-working, loyal city employees with contracted workers making less in basic wages and benefits. The current base wage of a trash truck driver is $27.73 an hour, whereas the two operators currently under consideration to replace them pay $20.35 an hour.

Dozens upon dozens of the loyal subjects spoke, long into the night, about the utter absurdity of the numbers presented. They beseeched the high and mighty, pleaded with them, to take some time to really study the report in front of them and not rush to a hasty decision.

The numbers just did not add up. How do you save $17 million over seven years when the total payroll cost of all of the current employees is significantly less than $17 million over the same period?

It became apparent that the name of the game was to rush through a vote before the charade could be exposed. And they did just that, in spite of the almost unanimous opposition from a packed and overflowing room full of their constituents — oops, I mean their subjects.

Hats off to council members Edward Selich, Tony Petros and Rush Hill for standing up for their constituents and doing right by them. Shame on council members Mike Henn, Leslie Daigle, Nancy Gardner and Mayor Keith Curry for thumbing their royal noses at their subjects.

In a recent news release, the city manager pompously proclaimed, "The City Council is compassionate when it privatizes."

What arrogance. Does the City Council consider city employees to be welfare recipients or indigents in need of charity and compassion? I wonder if any of the council members have considered distancing themselves from this comment and offering an apology to the city workers for such outrageous language? Or is this the norm when you sit on a $20 million throne?

Privatization makes sense in many instances. In others, like in this case, it is just a heartless ploy to drive down the wages and benefits of loyal, diligent workers. Unfortunately we see this playing out across the nation.

A nation's economy does not grow by impoverishing its workers.

Jamshed Dastur

Balboa Island

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