Letters for March 12, 2009

Letter of the week
Accountability, not monarchy

Re “Five ways to fix City Hall” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, February 26):

While I agree with City Councilman Kevin McCarty on most issues, he appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s proposal to bring accountability to City Hall.

No one, including Mayor Johnson, thinks Sacramento wants what Mr. McCarty describes as a “king.” What we do want are officeholders that are accountable to voters.

Mayor Johnson’s proposal does that. It simply would give the mayor and the city council the responsibility of running city government, just like the mayors of most of California’s (and America’s) other large cities. And far from being a monarchy, the system would have checks and balances, operating much like the president/Congress and governor/Legislature systems that are common in our other branches of government.

As for public input and debate, there would be plenty. In addition to the 74,000 signatures of citizens gathered so far, the proposal would be subject to months of debates, forums, Op-Eds and other public discussions. Indeed, it already has. Compare this to a handful of meetings of special interests and the usual suspects that the charter commission appointed by the city council will likely draw.

Progressive mayors, such as San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom and Oakland’s Ron Dellums, endorsed Mayor Johnson’s proposal, as did city council members from other cities, like San Diego. They recognize the value of elected officeholders having the responsibility for the operation of a city instead of a nonelected official. I am hopeful that Mr. McCarty will come to that same conclusion as well.

Steven Maviglio

Editor’s note: Mr. Maviglio indicated that he was writing on his own behalf and not as a representative of Mayor Kevin Johnson. He is, however, a spokesman for the mayor.

Unacceptable precedent

Re “Schooling the Mamolas” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, March 5):

As a graduate of this high school in 1998, I can unequivocally say that these were the two most important teachers of my school career. They inspired and motivated me to pursue what became my college major and degree. Unlike many high-school horror stories of my peers, my years spent at this school hold fond memories, due in large part to the environment that these two teachers maintained.

Fluctuating and fickle administration has been a mainstay at this school since I was a student there. It was Gerry and Jennifer [Mamola] that were the reliable touchstones for thousands of students over the years of their tenure. They were warm and friendly mentors, providing an intellectually rigorous atmosphere and instilling the concept of being responsible citizens. This concept included critical thinking and expression as well as self-sacrifice.

These two educators embodied and exemplified these traits and as a result were punished. This sets an unacceptable precedent and acts as a terrible lesson to the students of this school that I still think of fondly.

George Schau

Keep it closed

Re “No open primary” (SN&R Editorial, March 5):

SN&R was right in your recent editorial to urge a no vote on the “Top Two” primary scheme to change our state constitution by [Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger. The U.S. government would not tell the people of Iraq and Israel to change their constitution to force the voters to choose just between two candidates!

Schwarzenegger’s proposal is like the old communist system where the government told the voters to go vote, but it was between Communist candidate No. 1 and Communist candidate No. 2. To have general-election ballots where a Democrat is running against another Democrat (or a Republican against a Republican) and not have any other choice is absurd. What’s next—Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton with no other candidates on the November ballot?

Democracies, like plants and flowers, need to be watered so they can blossom, and all of California’s six political parties should have their nominees on the November ballot. In the November 2006 governor’s race, a total of 7,430 votes were cast in Sacramento County for third-party candidates. This proposition would have government telling these voters to stay home: “You’re the wrong kind of voters.”

Bob Mulholland
campaign adviser
California Democratic Party

Outrageous treatment

Re “Banned from the lab” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Frontlines, February 26):

This is outrageous! How could this kind of personal prejudice, political oppression and injustice be allowed in public schools and community colleges? How could political and/or religious views of a student lead to expulsion?

The issue here is obviously not a matter of breaking eating rules in the lab. It is, rather, personal political sensitivities which led to barring Khaled Umbashi from the lab and his right to education. Even if a student broke a rule against eating or answering a phone call in the lab, this does not warrant expelling the student and depriving him or her from pursuing their education! This student did not commit a crime or a grave violation that is punishable by expulsion.

If this is tolerated, no student will be safe from personal, political, religious and/or sexual prejudice and discrimination. This kind of arrogant power play and prejudice in public schools and colleges must be stopped.

Bahjat Sharif

State workers work

Re “Two days a month” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, February 26):

I am a state worker who read this article. It was indeed wonderful to see that you respect us as human beings like the rest of the world and recognize that we, too, have the same worries, bills, mortgage payments, etc., as so many others do outside of state service.

I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grand mother, and at my age I continue to work because I have to. I have really been in a snit reading heartbreaking and rude comments about state workers. I work really hard every day and have worked hard all my life and am really offended by those who want to define us all by the few problems they may have encountered while dealing with a state worker.

I really don’t think they realize just how little they would be able to accomplish without the aid of state services. My biggest complaint is how they seem to think that we make huge salaries. I know that the majority of us make salaries comparable or less than those who work in the private sector in a similar position.

I so wish that your article could go right on the front page of every newspaper in the state of California. I appreciate very much your support and much-needed positive comments.

Otistine Koontzy
via e-mail

Natural skateboarders

Re “Skateboard heroes” by Derek Nielsen (SN&R Arts&Culture, February 26):

I find it’s very hard for most writers to accurately portray skateboarding in its natural state, as opposed to the way the mass media portrays it. However, I did find that the writer who wrote this article did an excellent job by truly portraying an actual day in the life of an everyday skateboarder in Sacramento—and all over the world for that matter.

Mark Dillon
via e-mail