Letters for February 10, 2005

Spacey, yet flourishing

Re “Schooled in spirituality” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, February 3):

If Debra Snell is so keen to get religion out of schools, why doesn’t she work on getting the phrase “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance, which affects millions of kids, while Waldorf is available to only a few hundred public-school kids?

I attended Rudolf Steiner College for Waldorf teacher training and California State University, Sacramento, for conventional teacher training and have taught in both a private Waldorf school and Sacramento City Unified schools. I once assumed that the two could never be combined—because one is so vibrant (if a little spacey) and the other so regimented (but results-oriented). Then I substituted at John Morse Waldorf Methods public school and found that the students are flourishing.

The first Waldorf school was for factory workers’ children; it was not meant just for the rich, although that is typical in American Waldorf schools. In Europe, government support is common for Waldorf schools, making it much more available to less-affluent families.

Aren’t there more-serious threats to kids than the love of nature and respect for each child’s soul? What is Ms. Snell’s hidden agenda?

Lauren Ayers

Stewart’s fantasy land

Re “Dueling pensions” (SN&R Letters, February 3):

Jill Stewart’s reply to Charlie Klein’s criticism paints a pretty picture of hefty state-worker raises, “cushy” pensions and “sweet” cost-of-living deals. Trouble is it’s all a fantasy.

The average pension benefit paid by [the California Public Employees’ Retirement System] is only about $20,000 a year for someone who retires at age 60 with 20 years of service. Sure, that could grow to $34,000 a year if the person lives to age 87—or $44,000 a year by age 100. But, sad to say, not many of us will be living that long. And even if we do, Stewart will begrudge us every dime.

As to “raises,” state workers have only received two raises in the past five years and are facing a proposed cut of at least 6 percent (due to higher employee-pension contributions), as well as unpaid furloughs and increased health-care costs in this year’s budget.

I wish Stewart would stop unfairly attacking state workers. But I guess that’s a fantasy, too.

J.J. Jelincic
president, California State Employees Association

Seems odd to him

Re “Secretary of mistake” (SN&R Editorial, January 27):

The Democratic secretary of state is being investigated by the Republican federal government for fraud, and folks like SN&R are calling for his resignation.

The Republican secretary of state of Florida (2000) had all kinds of issues that were never investigated, and she was promoted to Congress. The Republican secretary of state of Ohio also had many allegations against him, but no investigation there. Doesn’t this seem a little odd?

Gary Miller

Laws aren’t suggestions

Re “Defenders of the faith” by Jason Probst (SN&R News, January 27):

The United Methodist Church (UMC) has run afoul of the law. California title and trust laws cannot be set aside due to the rules of an organization that is itself subject to those same laws. Bishop Shamana certainly expects the state of California to protect the properly recorded property interests of the UMC, yet she asks that the properly recorded interests of the congregation at St. Luke’s be ignored. Laws are not suggestions, like the UMC Book of Discipline apparently is; they are the foundation of a civil society.

The California Supreme Court made the right decision; a different decision would create a precedent that could have cast a cloud on titles and trusts far removed from religious conflicts. Property titles that are lawfully recorded should be regarded as immutable and not subject to change, much like the Ten Commandments. But I would not expect Bishop Shamana to know much about either.

Peter Finn

Ride, Sally, ride

Re “Entertainment and damnation” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Clubber, January 27):

Reading this column was like watching a frustrated scoundrel kick a dog: It is painfully apparent that the kicker is angry about something, but you know the dog doesn’t deserve it.

Not that local musician Melonnee Desireé is any kind of pooch, but Kiefer sure treated her like one. A cursory visit to her Web site, however, turned up the following information: She’s been playing music since her teens, she sometimes performs her own compositions, she’s recorded two CDs of her own material, and she plays in a cover band called Sassback, which Kiefer reviewed.

A simple Google search using “John Covert” and “music” unearthed the fact that Covert has a long history of playing music in the Central Valley, dating back to his band Crystal Image in the late 1960s. While neither are paragons of the indie-rock coolness at whose hallowed altar Kiefer seems to worship, both are worthy of respect, even if they play cover songs.

Blinding flash of the obvious: Not everyone insists on watching bands that write their own stuff. Some folks prefer to dance, drink, talk and hit on each other, and the band provides background noise and a beat. Yes, sometimes the guitar solos are pedestrian, the songs are threadbare, and the band appears to be phoning it in. That shouldn’t surprise anybody, much less a music critic like Kiefer.

One more thing: “Mustang Sally”? Kiefer has a problem with Wilson Pickett? Mercy.

Jackson Griffith

Get me to the bank on time

Re “Marital bliss” by Erin Sierchio (SN&R 15 Minutes, January 27):

The wedding planner interviewed stated that “a basic, nice, simple wedding” for 150 people would cost at least $25,000. Please define “basic,” “nice” and “simple,” because I must be using a different dictionary.

How can a simple wedding cost as much as a vehicle or a down payment on a house? And why would anyone in their right minds spend so much money on a wedding instead of a house or a car? My wedding was basic, nice and simple, and it didn’t cost anywhere near $25,000.

For those who imagine that I probably had the “rec room and crepe paper”-style wedding on my smaller budget, you’re dead wrong. I had a dress I adored, red and cream roses for bouquets and decorations, and a beautiful old wood and stone chapel in San Francisco with the reception in the parish house (built in 1895).

Don’t think you have to go into massive debt in order to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. And my husband and I planned it in four months, so forget that nonsense about it taking at least a year to plan a good wedding, too.

Lauren Hocker

Public shouldn’t serve public servants

Re “Look for the union label” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, January 20):

Thanks for this article. It was a very cogent look at the self-interest rather than public service that too much of state government has become, in collusion with politicians who claim to be for the “little guy.”

It’s interesting to note that ex-Governor Davis signed legislation mandating that state employees have to pay monthly “fair share” union fees, which really increased the coffers of [the California State Employees Association] and other unions for influence peddling. Though we all suffer while our roads and other infrastructure now decay because the Legislature opposes reform, our children will ultimately pay an even higher bill for the fiscal mismanagement of today.

Also, city and county public employees wrest perhaps even more in riches and control in their localities. Public service wasn’t intended just for the public to serve civil servants.

Mark Gustafson
via e-mail

KNOZ isn’t bleeding

Re “Everybody KNOZ” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 20):

I find it intriguing that KBMB, which bleeds all over the FM dial at my house, making it impossible to listen to any other station in some rooms—even coming in loud and clear over my VCR—has filed an FCC complaint against KNOZ.

Karen M. Campbell