SN&R Letters 2012-02-16

Math time!

Re “Park and play” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, January 12):

Math Lesson! Fun! F=P(1+i)^n, whereas F=Future Value, P=Present Value, i=Average Inflation Rate Per Period, n=Number of Periods.

The night that the figure of $2 billion came up, it was when the city treasurer brought up the worst-case terms. Fifty years (n), with average U.S. inflation of 4 percent (i), and $275,000,000 of valuation through monetization ([Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy] Sheedy Term: Taking money out)(P). With these terms the equation would look like this: F= $2.75x10^8(1+.04)^50 F= $1,954,337,920.23 If you round up this comes up to $2 billion. Whoa!!!

But wait—what does inflation mean? Really all it means is that $2 billion, in 50 years, will have the same value based upon current inflation figures as $275 million. By these figures in 50 years, the average person making, let’s say, $40,000 in Sacramento, will be making $284,267 if they are paid in line with inflation. At the same time, a 25-cent banana will cost $1.78. Everything is relative. But do we know if it will be at 50 years? No. Do we know if we will get $275 million? No. Do we know if inflation will be at 4 percent? No, but it’s highly likely.

The key thing I wanted to bring up with this lesson is that twisting numbers around to prove a point without fully explaining those numbers might be something that we expect from salespeople, even politicians, but not journalists. I expect more from the SN&R and hope its employees expect that same from themselves. Thank you for taking my point into consideration.

Timothy Henderson

Teachers have already given

Re “Cuts, crowded classes & consultants” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, February 9):

One of the big reasons why contracts are a sensitive issue to teachers is we have given $95 a month to SCUSD to keep class sizes down. The agreement was kept for one year, but last year we saw class sizes increase, and the money used for other purposes: “consultants”?

This should concern our parents, as well as community members. One of the top priorities for the last two years, according to the district’s own surveys, was class size. Rather than shortchange the students and take furlough days with increased class sizes, teachers decided to give back $95 a month. We also increased our co-pay on some prescriptions and changed some of our health benefit costs to help balance the district’s budget.

In my opinion as a classroom teacher, what consultants offer and the money we spend on them is a waste. When we are told that SCUSD is willing to cut up to $1 million dollars from their consultant contracts, it says to me they value consultants over students, over class size, or over me, the teacher in the classroom.

When the superintendent and school board come and say that we need to share the burden, I will ask what about the $950 a year I have given for class size reduction? How can I trust the administration, when I helped before and my contribution was purposely misspent?

No matter how Mr. Raymond or the school board spins it, they broke their word with the teachers of SCUSD.

Carlos Rico

Sun, moon, truth

Re “Cuts, crowded classrooms and consultants” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R, Frontlines, February 9):

“Three things that cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth,” said [Buddha]. The Sacramento City Unified School District hasn’t shared the whole truth about its financial budget shortfall. Yes, it is true that next school year, without a special-education sales-tax initiative in November, per-pupil spending will be reduced for all California students. But there’s more to this story. The SCUSD has spent $81 million in consultants for the last two school years; 77 percent of those millions spent on consultants was mandated by state and federal law. However, 23 percent of the $81 million in consultants was discretionary, meaning these consultants were not required to be hired. But the district chose to hire them, even with the looming reduction in per-pupil funding next school year. So 23 percent of $81 million—$18.62 million—was spent on optional outside consultants. When did consultants become more important than librarians, middle- and high-school counselors, music teachers, high-school vice principals, band, orchestra, vocational classes, adult education, yearbook, choir and other co-curriculars, and all athletics?

Scott Chase

Another call for safe ground

Re: “Homeless cleanup” by Nick Miller (SN&R Frontlines, February 9):

I am so very sad to see the continuing harassment of these people. As a former Sacramento Tent City inhabitant myself, who now has a great apartment and a job in another state, I can tell you that those people aren’t going anywhere! There is plenty of land in Sacramento that can be used for safe ground. Give them somewhere to sleep, somewhere to live. Stop treating your brothers like animals. It’s appalling.

Tamee MartiniJuneau, Alaska

Face of lab science

Re “H5N1 plus” (SN&R Editorial, January 19):

Your article succinctly expresses how horrifying the genetically modified H5N1 virus is, and how incomprehensible it is that someone would want to create a more contagious version of this disease. I’d like to draw more attention to the sentence “It was tested on ferrets … with dire results for the animals.” So not only did these scientists create a virus that would be a horror to humans if unleashed, but they kept animals in cages, infected them with disease, and tallied their deaths to do so?

Too often, this is face of laboratory science.

Emily Sinoradzki
Grass Valley

Cheerleaders and boiling frogs

Re “Park and play” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, January 12):

The whole arena scheme is one big swindle for the 1 percent and a handful of noisy cheerleaders in purple shirts. But where is the organized opposition to putting the future of this city and its solvency at risk for a basketball court? Even SN&R doesn’t seem to kick back in any upfront, question the whole scheme, kind of way. The [Sacramento] Bee, of course, has been a total vested booster and suppresses anything that even smells like truth. But it’s getting late and the deal is poised to get itself locked in—so I ask again, where is the organized opposition? Even an honest appraisal of the bad economics going into this deal would help. Hey, this town just threw away half-a-million dollars on a “consultant” to advise about the deal, and we don’t even have money to shelter a few homeless? Come on. They’re boiling frogs, and the people of this town—the 85 percent who aren’t on the bandwagon are the frogs.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, and don’t really care one way or the other if the Kings stay or not; or some private (completely nonpublic) entity wants to build a shiny new arena. But I hate to see this town, dumb as it can be at times, run off a cliff to the tune of a pep rally by some rabid fans. We even sent the council and developers a plan that might have turned the arena into an international sports draw and nexus to everyone’s benefit (, but didn’t even get back so much as a “thank you for your wacko idea” from any of them. But that’s beside the point now.

Red SliderSacramento