Piece of Mind: Bully tactics unnecessary in a city that holds its own

The use of fear motivation to induce a given outcome has always struck me as nothing more than a bully’s way to go about achieving goals.

It’s common when there are challengers in a given political race that they set themselves apart from the incumbents by pointing out flaws in the existing system. For that reason, I’m neither surprised nor disapproving when a challenger takes such a tack, such as is occurring during the City Council campaign. It is disappointing, though, when comments made are unfair or exaggerate how a vote for one specific person will vastly improve relationships between the city and its residents.

It’s key to pay close attention to what each candidate has said — or written in campaign statements — then compare those statements to what we actually see or experience ourselves before casting our votes on Tuesday. We can’t be swayed by negativity unless we ourselves have experienced a decline in city services.

In my opinion, our fair city has weathered the Great Recession years very well. There is a healthy reserve of money that’s probably the envy of other municipalities. Life is pretty sweet here and I doubt that would be the case if City Hall were poorly managed, or if the City Council was derelict in its duties, as some of the challengers maintain.

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Shifting gears a bit, but I hope you’ll stay on for the ride: There is an undercurrent I’m hearing on the street that some people are feeling bullied as a special task force goes about trying to encourage all stakeholders in the public school system to give $2500 annually — even more, if they can afford it — for the foreseeable future, in order to maintain programs (note I use the word “maintain” not “improve on”) as they were during years when the state budget situation was less appalling than it is today. The specific need is to fill in about $5 million annually that the LCUSD is going to lose due to state cuts.

The squeeze on public school budgets is nothing new here and it didn’t just start when Prop. 13 was passed in the late ’70s. Take a look at this week’s “10-20-30” history feature in our Life & Leisure section and you’ll see that 40 years ago the school board, grappling with ongoing budget cuts, was considering a lottery system to decide which teachers would get pink slips. Our schools have always excelled, even in the hardest of times, and it’s unlikely we’ll drop to an embarrassing low, regardless of how the state’s knife hacks up our tiny sliver of the budgetary pie.

I’ve given this subject quite a bit of thought over the past several months, and while I understand firsthand the frustration of not having enough spare funds to write a big check myself to the district, I don’t think it’s accurate to say the task force is bullying anyone. Instead, its members laid out their case at a recent town hall meeting where there was also some good news announced: $2 million had already been donated toward their goal, so they’re making excellent headway.

And in this meeting, those who couldn’t write a check for $2500 were definitely given some slack. The district appreciates any donation, from the jog-a-thon pledges to the Spring Gala tickets. If you have more, they say, please give more. You can do so by going online to www.lcfef.org or mailing a check to the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, 4490 Cornishon Ave., La Cañada, 91011. If you are cash-strapped and cannot participate in this fund-raising endeavor, rest assured that you will not be forced to wear a scarlet P, for “Poor” and your children won’t be treated any differently than those from the donor families.

That is as it should be. Bullying isn’t necessary in a fine community like this where we have the inner wherewithal to excel, no matter what obstacle might be placed before us.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. E-mail her at ccormaci@valleysun.net

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