Our Readers Write: Middle class needs to unite, vote

Wow, this election cycle is really astonishing; the money flow, the heated rhetoric, the extreme views!

I believe that the anticipated demise of our majority democratic government is greatly exaggerated. It can only happen if the majority of voters is apathetic or votes against its own interests.

Let's face it, most of this country's citizens are not rich. Most will never have to worry about survivors having to pay inheritance taxes. Most pay Social Security taxes on all their earnings while those who make over $102,000 don't.

The deregulation of the banking industry and Wall Street, the outsourcing of jobs overseas and many other shenanigans have impoverished a lot us and enriched those who concocted it all.

And yet we are asked to believe that the current huge deficits, the high unemployment and big recession are all Mr. Obama's fault. And, have you seen the bombarding of the airwaves with hideous advertisements against the president paid for by special interests? Can we, the majority, afford to counter any of that?

The last administration and its allies made big bets and the executives paid themselves mighty salaries, but the country as a whole is still suffering big consequences. Now the same groups are pouring large amounts of money into the campaign to suppress the vote to regain power. Their policies advance only their interests not those of the middle class. The mantra has always been 'personal responsibility', but for whom? As far as I know, nobody has been held responsible for invading Iraq, the current housing and worldwide financial meltdown and the resulting high unemployment.

Well, the numbers are on the side of the middle class. All we have to do is go out and vote and give the president and the next Congress a little more time to put the country back on track. One could admire the Herculean efforts made to foment public outrage and suppress the vote. This effort will fail if we, the majority, go out and vote to show that we can defend our interests also. Please remember, they have the funds to put their propaganda machine on steroids; we have the numbers and that counts a lot.

Maria Guinta

La Cañada

 

Ed Foundation hopes to boost money for schools

On behalf of the board of directors of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, I extend my gratitude to our generous contributors for your donations to the Foundation this school year. To provide greater funding to the district, we have chosen to suspend the annual Major Donor reception this fall. Instead, this year's "Spirit of Outstanding Service" Award recipient, Rose Chan, will be honored at our Gala on March 19, 2011. We hope you will join us in honoring her and recognize her outstanding service record.

The Foundation is supporting two measures that were brought before the school board this month. As the district could no longer afford to fund a 9-12 summer school program, the board has approved a contract to implement a Foundation-sponsored summer school program. The summer school committee will move forward with hiring an academic coordinator, who will begin taking steps to design and create the summer school program.

Additionally, the Foundation supports the formation of a joint committee, composed of district, school board, Foundation, and community members. As approved by the board, this committee will be tasked with drafting and implementing measures designed to enhance, clarify, and publicize the true state of district funding and its detrimental effect on class size and staffing.

In addition to increased class sizes in K-3, we have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of students in critical high school subjects, including many upper level and AP classes. There is little doubt that class sizes at those levels will adversely impact the learning processes of students and the capability of even the most effective teachers.

As only increased revenue can reduce these ratios, the Foundation must intensify its fund-raising efforts. At Back-To-School Night an unprecedented number of school families answered our call and became Platinum Partner members, pledging annual contributions of $2,500 or more. Still, we hope to persuade all present and past school families and community members to reach a higher level of giving this year.

As it has for the past 30 years, the Foundation will remain the principal institution in our community through which funds are raised and donated for the benefit of all students throughout the school district. Only through the Foundation, in partnership with the district, the school board, and our community, can the effects of statewide budget cuts be mitigated. We hope the reality of larger class sizes, which is now impacting each of our campuses, will energize our school families and community to an unprecedented level of philanthropy! As ambassadors for our children, each school family plays a critical role in educating your neighbors about the challenges our schools face. I hope you will join us in this effort.

Valerie Aenlle-Rocha

La Cañada Flintridge

The writer is president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation.

 

Education reform complex, film wasn't 

I went to the 4 p.m. screening of the "Race to Nowhere" film presented at La Cañada Presbyterian Church on Oct. 14. All in all, I am glad I took the time to see it. I mostly appreciate filmmaker Vicki Abeles' attempt to raise consciousness about the issues surrounding our present system of education which seems to emphasize testing and grades instead of the all important task of inspiring a life-long love of learning. I don't deny that many children — especially teens — are overstressed, overwhelmed and sleep deprived because of their focus on academic achievement in this community.

Nevertheless, the film spends far too much time attempting to build a shallow emotional identification with the families being interviewed who are having a hard time coping with what appears to be school induced stress. The film tries to reframe the old question: What is success?

Unfortunately, it never provides a more complete picture of any of the families and focuses only on the tiny slice of their lives that supports her point of view that our educational system is broken and needs to be fixed. We never get to find out if there other mitigating factors that might contribute to their stressed-out state of mind. There are mixed messages about how and why kids are motivated to achieve academically.

The closest she gets to supporting all the hand-wringing with some substance is when she finally exposes the heart of the matter and mentions the political mandates that insist on testing in order to secure school funding, the "No Child Left Behind" program that sucks the lifeblood out of many excellent teachers, the dwindling funds for education, and a 10-second synopsis of the history of educational policy and philosophy in the USA, which provided at least some context for how we have arrived at our present system.

Education reform is a complex issue. In the end, I agreed with the film's goal, which is to stir up a grassroots movement — led by parents who care deeply about their kids — that takes a close look at what is causing school related stress and asks probing questions about whether our schools are educating or simply turning out good test takers. Helping kids negotiate the complexities of learning and life has never been an easy task.

Anne Tryba

La Cañada

 

Encourages Portantino's reelection to 44th

Through years of involvement as our representative in the legislature, our city council, and various other organizations, Anthony Portantino has proven his dedication and sincerity of commitment to our community. These years of experience enhance the tools necessary for the work he does in Sacramento. There isn't anyone I know who works harder for our community than Anthony. As our District Assemblyman, he is in a position to make positive changes and he does!

Anthony continues to strive for education, health and public safety. Anthony assisted getting the truck ban on Angeles Crest Highway and he was a tireless worker on our community's behalf during and after the recent Station Fire. In addition, Anthony takes a stand for what is right and in the best interest of the people, regardless of which 'party' supports the cause. You can see this via Anthony embracing reforms against his own party leadership. He would not support early release of inmates from our prisons and he broke with powerful interests to adopt education reform policies.

Anthony understands that it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. What matters is studying all perspectives and taking a position that works for "we, the people."

Anthony has the experience, has already shown us that he is very effective in Sacramento and he has my vote. Please join me on Nov. 2nd and vote for Anthony Portantino for 44th District Assemblyman. Thank you.

Faye Therrien

La Cañada

 

Portantino easy to endorse

It's pretty easy for the mayor of La Cañada Flintridge to support the reelection of Assemblymember Anthony Portantino. As a former city councilmember and mayor, and now as our Assemblyman, he's been working collaboratively for over a decade to make our great city even greater.

He not only has a firsthand understanding of our issues, he's there working with the City Council productively and proactively. His regular presence at civic and school events makes him an approachable representative and asset for our community.

When our city calls, he's there for us. When we needed his help getting Washington to listen to our concerns after the mud slides, he was instrumental in helping to connect the council and our public works staff with the appropriate federal authorities.

When our city needed help with Caltrans to impose a truck ban on the Angeles Crest Highway, Anthony had the Caltrans director in La Cañada Flintridge within 24 hours of last year's tragic truck accident, and a bill on the governor's desk within months.

When affected residents began to rebuild after the mudslides, Anthony saw to it that the state would provide tax relief for those residents.

And by consistently and vigorously opposing the extension of the 710 Freeway with the air pollution it would bring to our community, Anthony has been a champion in the fight to protect the health of the city's residents, particularly our children.

He is an effective and well-respected representative who time and again has demonstrated great care for our community. He has earned our support for reelection. Please join me in voting for my friend and colleague, Anthony Portantino.

Donald Voss

La Cañada Flintridge

The writer is mayor of the city of La Cañada Flintridge.

 

Assemblyman is independent thinker

I'm writing in support of my friend and former colleague, Anthony Portantino. Am I writing in support of Anthony because we agree on every issue? Of course not. Anthony and I are of different political parties and don't always see eye-to-eye. That being said, I support Anthony because he is a good person who cares about our community and is someone who works hard. He knows our issues and has shown the willingness to be an independent thinker in Sacramento.

A recent example of Anthony's independence saved our city $800,000. Anthony broke with his own leadership and would not support Sacramento's taking of local governments' gas tax money.

Do we sometimes argue? The answer is yes. But when La Cañada Flintridge needs his help, he's always there. As a result, he has my support.

Dave Spence

La Cañada

The writer is a member of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council.

 

Prop 23 has long-ranging implications

In my view, the analysis in the Official Voter Information Guide in the Nov. 2 election regarding Proposition 23 is insufficient to fully inform the voter.

On page 41 of the guide, consider the following statements: "Much regulation in the scoping plan would likely continue," "Plan regulations implement laws other than AB 32" including "Land-use policies to promote less reliance on vehicle use."

Land-use policies?

Refer to Senate Bill No. 375 (Chapter 728) approved by the governor on Sept. 30, 2008. This is considered an amendment to AB 32.

It provides additional information on proposals for land-use decisions such as adoption of general plans that contain mandatory elements, rezoning of certain sites, prohibitions on local governments that fail to complete requirements within specified time frames, etc. The California Environmental Quality Act could be enacted to make land-use decisions that help the state achieve is climate goals under AB 32.

As I was reading the text, it appeared that individual property rights and safeguards could be easily compromised in the name of wide-sweeping "green" initiatives and "sustainable community strategies" as mandated by the state. Although many environmental goals are worthy of adoption, there must be transparency in public discourse. There is a fine line separating informed consent and implied consent — and whether consent is influenced by misrepresentation or distress.

I decided that a "yes" vote on Proposition 23 would provide a much-needed pause in an often acrimonious debate, so that voters could consider the ramifications of proposed environmental policies as they relate to land-use, particularly in small towns and rural communities.

Do we have a right to be fully and accurately informed of the potential "takings" provisions before being obligated to their fulfillment? Are we being asked to simply yield to "good faith standards" when launching "green" initiatives of which we know little or nothing?

These issues have implications well beyond the election cycle.

E. Trinast

La Cañada

 

Hopes election steers U.S. in right direction

Our nation is in deep trouble. I'm afraid for the future of our country. The Bush administration started us down this slippery path, but the present Democratic administration has accelerated us toward a financial and social/cultural brink.

Democrats have consistently voted to raise our taxes and not cut spending. Democrats have consistently voted to increase our Federal debt and to increase the size of our government bureaucracies. Democrats have consistently voted to increase the intrusiveness of the federal government into our private lives and to redistribute wealth [your wealth!] to those who demand "entitlements" and welfare, including illegal immigrants.

Democrats have consistently supported granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and to steer our country into socialism [tax dollars working for people who don't]. And worst of all, Democrats have helped make certain that our children will never have the opportunity that we had to create a better life for themselves.

With that in mind I'd tell you to be careful what you vote for. A nation that goes over the precipice into economic ruin and socialism. Or a nation that goes back to the principles and values upon which it was founded. Let's hope that Tuesday's election will right our ship.

Trent D. Sanders

La Cañada Flintridge

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