Letters for November 3, 2005

About a union member

Re “About a union” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, October 27):

For almost 30 years, I’ve been a public-school teacher in California and have performed extra duties as a mentor teacher, a support provider for beginning teachers, a member of the state’s Curriculum Framework Committee for Language Arts, etc. My fellow teachers have elected me to California Teacher Association’s (CTA) state council. Together with almost every one of the 800-plus state-council delegates, I voted for the $60 special assessment to fight the governor’s attack on public education. Among our members, this was the least controversial dues increase in all the years I have been in the union.

Governor Schwarzenegger alleges that many teachers secretly agree with him, but are silent for fear of harassment. However, the chief counsel of the Public Employment Relations Board reports that to his knowledge not a single teacher has ever accused union leaders or union supporters of intimidating or harassing workers who disagreed with the union or opted out of membership.

In the opinion of those who are responsible for hiring, evaluating and firing teachers, Proposition 74 will do nothing to improve teacher quality. By eliminating all the grounds for dismissal in current law, Proposition 74 would make it harder to dismiss those teachers who really should be fired. At the same time, by taking away the right to a hearing before dismissal of veteran teachers, Proposition 74 invites abuses, particularly the firing of teachers who speak up for themselves, their colleagues or their students.

The Association of California School Administrators calls Proposition 74 a poorly drafted initiative, adding “The business community wrote Proposition 74 based on what they thought was needed, not on what we as educators need to improve our teaching force.”

Millionaires posing as friends of workers sent e-mails in favor of Proposition 75 to over 90,000 teachers, including me—at our school e-mail addresses. Shouldn’t they have known not to use school district computer networks for their partisan campaign?

Schwarzenegger hopes to convince union members that he is concerned about protecting our dues money, but we know that he wants to silence the voice of public employees so that he can come back next year with more attacks on public services.

George Sheridan
Garden Valley

Name-calling doesn’t help

Re “Preposterous props” (SN&R Editorial, October 27):

I know that your editorial staff and many of your readers don’t like Republicans, but do the pages of SN&R have to be filled with personal attacks? Your editorial labels Governor Schwarzenegger as “monomaniacal.” One letter to the editor calls President Bush a “mendacious incompetent” (“Prima facie evidence of numbskullery,” SN&R Letters, October 27).

This type of personal attack is unproductive and detracts from the argument being presented. Here’s a novel idea: concentrate on the issue and avoid personal attacks.

If you are opposed to the war in Iraq, for example, tell me all the reasons why you don’t like the war, and I’ll tell you why I think getting rid of Saddam Hussein and establishing democracy in Iraq is one of the noblest things the United States has ever done.

But when the discussion descends into accusations that the president is a liar or some other nasty comment, that’s when I have a problem. This kind of garbage happens on both sides, by the way. For example, many people called former President Clinton a sleaze and a political hack, but that was rude as well.

For future reference, the people with whom you have political differences are not monomaniacal, mendacious, liars, bastards or bums. Express whatever opinion you want, but when you engage in personal attack, you won’t be taken seriously. Let’s stick to the issues and lose the name-calling.

Gregg M. Wardrip

Why Probst’s dates don’t work

Re “Internet Dating Survival Guide” by Jason Probst (SN&R Essay, October 20):

In his discussion of “not asking for anything you yourself can’t bring to the table,” Jason Probst mentions a heavyset beer-bellied man demanding a “hottie.” I understood that to mean that not all men are fat with gross bodies; some are fit and can ask for a “hottie.”

Then he says “as common as a woman asking for intelligence.” Where are the qualifying criteria? All women can’t bring intelligence to the table? I hope this was just “bad writing,” and he meant that uneducated women shouldn’t ask for intelligence, because if it is not, that would explain why he had some 30 dates and counting.

Robin Sanchez

Blame the economy, not sprawl

Re “Sprawl-busting blues” (SN&R Upfront, October 20):

I had to laugh about California State University, Sacramento, professor Rob Wassmer’s use of Portland to argue that median house prices actually go down in those cities that have a more densely concentrated urban form. If that were the case, then densely populated cities like New York and San Francisco would have the cheapest housing instead of the most expensive housing in the country.

Housing prices have not gone down in Portland because of the strict controls over where new building can occur. The reason that housing prices have gone down in Portland is because the economy took a dive about four or five years ago. Oregon’s economy still hasn’t fully recovered and Oregon has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. High taxes, strict environmental regulations and a general anti-business attitude has driven many business out of Oregon—along with many former Oregonians like myself.

I moved from Portland to Roseville in 2002 and found a job that pays much more than what I could have found in Portland. I was able to purchase a new home in West Roseville (a home with a front and back yard!) that would have been impossible to purchase in Portland, considering the lackluster job market and the low wages that are the norm up there.

Zane Gee

Professor Wassmer responds: My study uses a statistical technique called regression analysis that controls for other factors that drive housing prices up. Though Mr. Gee is correct in saying that it’s likely to find a “Roseville-type” home for less money in a more-sprawled area than in a less-sprawled area, my study just finds that median home price is less in a less-sprawled area and there are less high-priced homes in a less-sprawled area; not that housing consumers are necessarily happier in a less sprawled area.

Don’t expect sympathy

Re “My student, my landlord” (SN&R Guest comment, October 20):

Anyone that describes themselves as “desperate for a cute, affordable place in Sacramento” on a $48,000 a year salary can kiss my ass. This is not a person who suffers from underpayment; this is a person who suffers from an inability to manage money.

Sarah Walling

Sexism and jobs

Re “Coal miner’s honor,” by Bob Grimm (SN&R Film, October 20):

In his review of the movie North Country, Bob Grimm focused entirely on the issue of sexual harassment, but he ignored an important issue that also was presented in the movie: the steep decline in blue-collar jobs that pay a livable wage in this country and the resulting negative consequences.

The impact on blue-collar workers has been devastating. Blue-collar workers have seen their wages slashed and their jobs exported to countries like Mexico and China. In rural areas like northern Minnesota, where North Country was filmed, there are few job opportunities and even fewer jobs that pay a living wage. Although their response to women miners like Josey Aimes was unacceptable, it’s understandable why many men would feel threatened.

Sandy Biroli
via e-mail

A cute little “Damnrat”

Re “'Damnrat’ Democrats!” (SN&R Letters, October 13):

Nick Schrier’s letter in response to my letter, “Practice unity, reject neocons” (SN&R Letters, September 29) is simply an exercise in name-calling. In fact, Mr. Schrier seems to have come up with a new one (new to me at least): “Damnrat,” which he defines as a Democrat. Cute.

But Schrier doesn’t stop with me. As for the federal government, he feels there should be “a hell of a lot less of it” because it “produces little,” and is “too self-serving and too secular … feeding off taxpayers.” That’s the perfect Grover Norquist “starve the beast” mantra, as previously described in Kel Munger’s essay (“The neocons’ bathtub,” SN&R Essay, September 22), to which I was originally responding.

Schrier ends his letter by questioning America’s record of unity and community, citing the four years (1787-1791) it took for states to ratify the Constitution. Controversy in America? Of course. Ever hear of slavery, the Civil War, the 1960s and Vietnam? Despite the world’s most diverse population, America has, through its democratic processes, demonstrated a will to work toward unity and community—until now. In just two terms, President Bush, with the support of those like Mr. Schrier, is effectively dismantling our reputation as the great “melting pot.”

Chuck McIntyre


In the story “The case against Lt. Milo Radulovich” by Rick Boeck (SN&R News, October 20), the late-Senator Joseph McCarthy was mistakenly identified as representing the state of Minnesota. As many readers noted, McCarthy was in fact a “cheese head” who represented the state of Wisconsin.