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Letters to the Editor

Salutes Boy Scout organization, leaders

2010 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. Thank you for the excellent coverage that The Valley Sun has provided over the years of the adventures and accomplishments of our community’s Scouts.

I want to pay tribute to the many outstanding past and present adult Scout leaders in La Cañada who have given generously of their time and means to help build boys into young men of character and capacity.

Scoutmasters Bob Frame and the late Ken Phillips taught me invaluable life lessons as a La Cañada youth. My sons were fortunate to have Jeff Peterson, Dr. Charles Broberg, Russ Frandsen, Jeff Frame and others as their Scout leaders.

It would be very difficult to find a finer group of men anywhere to guide boys during the critical years of their youth.

I am also indebted to my friend Dean Merrill who used his Scouting skills to save me from drowning in the Colorado River (note: not on a Scout outing) when we were in high school.

I encourage all boys in our community and their parents to participate in a Cub Scout pack (up to 10 years old) or Boy Scout troop (11 and older). You’ll have some fantastic adventures in the great outdoors, make some good friends and learn a lot of fun and worthwhile stuff you don’t get in school.--Dennis Fors, La Canada

Appreciates support for Guinness World Record attempt

On Monday, Feb. 1, the Period 1 PE classes at La Cañada High School and 7/8 along with other Californian schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, service organizations and clubs, participated in a mass attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the “Most People Jumping/Skipping Rope at the Same Time.”

First I would like to congratulate the 180 jumpers who successfully jumped for five minutes without stopping for more than ten seconds. That number included 179 students and Principal Audra Pittman, who showed great stamina to complete the requirement. Jumping rope for that long is not easy and they put in a lot of effort to keep it up.

Next I would like to thank the many volunteers who helped make the event a big success. Mayor Laura Olhasso, LCUSD Governing Board members Cindy Wilcox and Joel Peterson, and Foothill Force Jump Rope Team Coach Nigel Angold acted as official witnesses and made sure the jumpers followed the rules. Physical education department chair Debi Hayos helped with preparation and organization beforehand, and video-taped during the event. PE teachers Mrs. Hayos, Mrs. Holt, Mr. Larez, and Mr. Wheeler allowed their classes to participate, helped prepare them, and made sure the official Log records for the event were all accurate.

Lastly I want to extend my gratitude to Principal Audra Pittman for allowing the school to participate in this event, and for setting such a good example for the students by jumping along with them. She jumped like a pro! As soon as the official announcement is made about whether the record was broken and what the total number of participants was, I will let everyone know.--Kathy Weninger, La Cañada

State is shifting prison responsibilities

Our economic problems and California’s budget crisis has impacted every level of government: state, county, and city. Painful cuts have been and will continue to be made in all areas. Inevitably up and down the state, counties and local governments are looking at another year of reduced budgets and additional cuts.

Legislators wrote and passed Senate Bill 18 (SBX3 18) which took effect last week. This measure was written as a way for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to decrease its budget by cutting the amount of time sentenced inmates serve in prison by increasing sentencing credits for jail and prison inmates. It also removes certain prisoners who would normally be released on a “supervised parole,” meaning the parolee would have a parole agent and a detailed program of re-entry and places them on unsupervised parole better known as “summary parole.”

While a firm number of parolees in Los Angeles County eligible for the unsupervised parole is not yet known, CDCR is reviewing over 7,000 Los Angeles County parolees. When the release occurs, the offender will be unsupervised, released without a plan or program for proper and safe re-entry into our communities and with no accountability. Fortunately, for the residents of Los Angeles County, we are working together with the Board of Supervisors, various county public health and human services departments, and other local law enforcement agencies in attempting to reach out to these parolees and letting them know of the services that are out there to help them and give them the support they need. This is by no means an adequate replacement for supervised parole but it’s better than providing no help at all.

Unfortunately, in the state’s 2010-11 budget and a Federal Court Panel’s mandate, there are plans for even more serious cuts to the CDCR budget that will have an immediate negative impact on the public safety of our communities. Under the budget proposal, at least 11 current crimes in which a person could be convicted of a felony and sent to state prison, including such crimes, as grand theft, receiving stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, and auto theft, would be changed to an “administrative felony” in which the person would still be convicted of a felony, but he or she would be sentenced to 366 days and placed in the county jail. Thus, the proposal shifts the responsibility of these inmates from the state onto the local county jail system.

While this will certainly create a savings for the state, it is irresponsible to shift the costs to counties. Additionally, this will have a serious negative impact on public safety. The Los Angeles County Jail system is already a severely overcrowded system that has population controls placed on it by a federal court. If the governor’s proposal were in fact to become law, as of today, this would mean the Los Angeles County Jail would have to house approximately 1,900 additional inmates that would currently be sentenced to state prison. Since we are already at capacity, this would force me to comply with the federal court order and reduce the amount of time one spends in jail to a fraction of what they were sentenced to. Again, the state’s proposal clearly shifts the state problem onto counties and local communities.

Over the last decade, I and other local law enforcement leaders have worked closely with the governor and legislature to deal with various public safety issues and I fully expect to continue that stance this year. However, I am increasingly concerned about proposals related to parole, county jails and increased local responsibility at a time when we are struggling to fund and manage our current responsibilities and inmate populations. We urge careful scrutiny of these proposals and that the governor and legislature weigh fiscal benefit against public safety impact before making further changes this year.--Lee Baca, San Marino

Editor’s note: Baca is  Los Angeles County sheriff.

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