Our Readers Write: District should keep drug-sniffing dogs

Thank you for your Nov. 18 article titled "Board to review, revise, search policies." The drug-sniffing dog program is used in many other schools and was overwhelmingly supported by parents last year in an effort to help keep drugs off our La Cañada High School campus.

I recently traveled by plane and felt helpless anxiety as I watched my purse containing all my credit cards, money, personal documents, and other belongings disappear on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed and examined by strangers and, yes, maybe even sniffed by dogs. I was separated from my belongings without any reasonable suspicion — yet I had to comply, for the safety of all. These measures are not extreme, they are necessary.

Most of us work very hard for our schools. We contribute our time and money to maintain our high educational standards. I am saddened that our cash-strapped school district has to spend money to defend itself from accusations such as these.

The dog program does not target or discriminate against anyone. It benefits every one of our students by serving as a deterrent. It is for the safety of all. I do not want drugs or drug dealers on our school campus. I want the dog program to continue and most parents I know feel the same way.

Mayra del Valle

La Cañada


Kids should not be extreme adventurers

I would like to lend my voice to the dialogue around the Valley Sun article, 'In Theory: Should kids break records?" (Nov 18). This year has seen several instances of children doing extreme adventure or extreme sport and raises some interesting questions about the role their parents play in it.

Two months ago, Jordan Romero, 13, of Big Bear, became the youngest person to climb 8848 m Mt. Everest. He became a cause célèbre while also earning the enmity of some who believe the risks of climbing such a peak are too great for a child to take on.

It is a statistical fact that 8 climbers die for every 100 who summit Mt. Everest. Those celebrating Jordan's conquest of the mountain would likely be whistling a different tune if he had died in an avalanche, in a fall, of exposure, or a high altitude-related illness.

The next media darling was 16-year-old Abby Sunderland who was adrift for 20 hours in the southern Indian Ocean while attempting a solo sail around the world. Waves as tall as a three story building disabled her boat leaving it with a broken mast and sail dragging in the ocean.

Abby's dad appeared on NBC Today and the world watched with rapt attention that this child wunderkind should survive something so adventurous and dangerous.

Then the Dutch courts waded into the choppy waters of kids and extreme adventure. The Utrecht District Court had placed Laura Dekker, 13, into state care last year to stop her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world and held that it would have been irresponsible to permit her to undertake such a venture into extreme circumstances. The ruling was recently overturned and Laura is now preparing for her trip.

And this autumn 13-year-old Peter Lenz died in a warm-up to a motorcycle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he came off his bike and was run over by a 12-year-old competitor.

The role luck plays in extreme sport should not be underestimated and we should not kid ourselves that skill alone can prevent death or injury in such circumstances.

All of this raises some interesting ethical and legal questions about minors and extreme sport. To what extent is a minor capable to make an informed decision and an uncoerced choice to either sail around the world, climb Mt. Everest, or motorcycle race at speeds of 120 mph?

What role do parents play in encouraging or discouraging their child in such circumstances? Are these instances of parents living vicariously (and dangerously) through their children?

We collectively stick our heads in the sand to the ethics of kids taking on extreme risk. A line has to be drawn somewhere saying enough is enough and that some risks are too great for a child to take on.

We are not talking about a nanny state here which prohibits people from pursuing activities which may be hazardous to their health. This is about parents being responsible for their children and — if they are incapable of doing so — the state stepping in and doing the right thing. Kids cannot and should not be expected to do extreme adventure.

These events ought to give us pause about children who feel impelled — or are coerced — to take on extreme risk, our society's celebration of these kids who somehow succeed in the face of such danger, and our reaction when the inevitable happens and a kid comes home from a failed adventure in a coffin.

Jon Heshka

British Columbia, Canada

The writer is an associate professor specializing in sports law at Thompson Rivers University.


A final tribute to a beloved dog

It is only fitting that we give a final tribute to our very best canine friend and love of the last almost-14 years.

Sabrina Haynes lost a gallant nine-month battle against mouth cancer.

She was the greeter and protector of the Descanso/Chevy Chase area for many years and will be dearly missed by all.

We have rescued a new dog from the Pasadena Humane Society in memory of her. God bless you, Sabrina, 3/3/1997-11/8/2010.

Annie and Tony Haynes Sr.

La Cañada


Grandpa uses Valley Sun to connect

I've tried all avenues of communication without success. So my last resort is The Valley Sun.

Hi Luv: I have been trying for days to get in touch with you. I have an important message for you. I've called your cell phone, even sent a telegram. I tried the iPod, peapod and even the tripod. Tried to tweet you on the Twitter, again without success. Then I tried Facebook, MySpace, your space and airspace. Blog and log did not work.

The following failed to get a hold of you: Internet, tennis net, hairnet, Blackberry Storm 2, Blackberry Curve, strawberry, Google, Blu-Ray, X-ray, stingray. I even called your friend Ray.

You're as elusive as a snake in the grass; even harder to get a hold of than a greased pig in a mud puddle.

So, in desperation I'm going to revert to something I learned from the Indians. At 5 o'clock today look out your north window and you'll see smoke signals with this message: I Love U.

Love from Grandpa who misses you.

George Kritzman

La Cañada


Where are LCF's Nov. 2 election votes? 

I lived in La Cañada for many years and always enjoyed reading the election results as they pertained to our own fair city.

What happened? I have looked again recently and nothing was reported locally.

Bill Hyland



Editor's note: The La Cañada Flintridge voting results for the Nov. 2 election were printed to accompany the story "City turns right in election" in the Nov. 11 print edition of the Valley Sun and posted on our website, http://www.lacanadaonline.com, on Nov. 10. On Oct. 28, we printed a story about local voter registration trends, "City inches toward the left," which was also published online.


Peafowl shouldn't be allowed to roam LCF streets

On 11/18/2010 your paper reported one of the proceeding of the city council on 11/15/2010, that is, wild peafowl in La Cañada. The issue as brought before the city council was the presence of peafowl and not their number roaming in the streets and uninvited on the properties of homeowners.

A small number of homeowners declared that they enjoy the presence of beautiful peacocks. However, the majority of the homeowners affected by the peafowl want their properties no longer declared a wildlife preserve for a flock of peafowl. Are they asking for too much?

It was Councilwoman Olhasso who skillfully misdirected the discussion from the presence to the number of peafowl by asking Mike Maxcy, principal animal handler at the zoo, about the relative number of cocks and hens needed to sustain a viable flock.

Mayor Voss surely did not get the point either stating very eruditely: "You can see this is a very difficult issue." And: "Both sides have great points. It is difficult to compromise when you have polar-opposite positions." The absurdity was then elevated to an even higher level yet when the council members started debating whether feeding of the now city-sanctioned animals should be made a prosecutable offense.

The issue is crystal clear. Neither city, state, or federal government shall deprive property owners of their rights by declaring private property a wildlife preserve The city does not permit stray dogs and cats of any beauty or ugliness to roam our streets or appear in our backyards, nor should cocks and hens.

Robert Richter

La Cañada


Peacocks don't belong in La Cañada

I am amazed at the amount of time and energy the City Council has had to spend on the peafowl predicament. I'm sure there are many more pressing issues that need to be taken care of, but the peafowl problem returns every year.

Fortunately, I do not reside in the area where the peafowl are making life miserable for residents. But I have friends who do. And their tales of birds screaming at all hours, pecked cars, decimated landscaping and fowl poop everywhere sound like the plot of a B horror movie. It's obvious that culling the flock is only a half hearted attempt to handle the situation.

One resident says that he wants to teach his children to have tolerance for wildlife diversity and that to remove the peafowl teaches the opposite. Teaching tolerance is admirable and wildlife diversity is good. But only as it applies to indigenous species.

Peafowl are not part of the natural fauna of California. So instead, children are being taught that it is OK to release exotic animals into an area where they don't belong. The peafowl were brought here by a long ago former resident and ever since, current homeowners have had to deal with that ill thought out decision.

But what if the problem were elephants instead of peafowl? Many people love elephants, but they certainly don't want them stomping through their back yards — because they don't belong here! Would it be easier for the City Council to make a decision about a herd of elephants strolling through the streets? I certainly hope so.

Miriam Ellis

La Cañada


Congress should make Medicare fix permanent

Medicare is facing 25% cuts on Jan. 1, 2011 if Congress does not step in to block them.

This would be devastating — both to doctors and their Medicare patients.

The result is many physicians will have to stop taking Medicare patients, if they want to remain economically viable, and senior citizens will have a tougher time getting access to care.

Physicians who continue to accept Medicare will have to decide where else to cut corners since their practice income will be abruptly reduced by 25%, and seniors will experience having to wait months to see a Medicare doctor.

Some physicians will opt to retire or close an office location, resulting in job loss for health-care workers. Others will have to lay off staff if they care for a lot of Medicare patients because a 25% cut in pay will mean cutting overhead to stay afloat.

In a state with upwards of 10% reported unemployment (potentially over 20% actual unemployed counting those who do not qualify for benefits and those who have exhausted benefits) the last thing we need is more layoffs.

This is the fourth time this year Congress has had to step in to protect Medicare. The culprit is the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), an outdated and flawed formula adopted 13 years ago that guides Medicare funding.

As an employee in a private medical practice currently accepting Medicare patients, I am deeply concerned for our seniors and the future of our office if the 25% cut takes place. I encourage everyone to contact their representatives and insist on a permanent repeal of the SGR, replacing it with a reasonable, stable formula that will ensure seniors can get the care they need and physicians can sustain their practices.

Congress needs to quit kicking the can down the road and come up with a long-term solution seniors and their doctors can count on!

Lorri Johnson


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