September 27, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

Neighborhood input ignored

To the editor:

Neighborhood input has been disregarded in Euclid Park design/approval process.

With this park adjacent to United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Hacienda del Mar’s disabled residents, and residents of the neighboring apartments, safety and minimizing public nuisance is the number one priority.

The residents of the 1500/1400 blocks of Euclid Street did not truly have any say in the design of Euclid Park (nor were we even asked if we wanted a park). Our experience is that the city staff has totally ignored our input. The community design process run by the Community and Cultural Services (CCS) staff is not really a process to include input from the residents of the neighborhood. It is just a way for CCS staff to give the appearance of doing community outreach while, in reality, ignoring what the community wants.

After a survey, community meetings, and Recreation and Parks Commission meetings where the neighborhood has repeatedly voiced its concerns, staff has kept with their predetermined plans and ignored the public’s request for safety features to help enforce operating hours and illegal activities.

Instead staff has merely gone through the motions of holding meetings and collecting surveys — while submitting a plan which is unsafe for residents but which will only serve to add a small (150’ x 150’) park under CCS purview.

The final design is on the agenda for approval by the City Council. We have gone through this “process” faithfully and dutifully and hope that the Council members will be more understanding when listening to our requests for common sense public safety features.

Justin L.B. Gagnon, Euclid Street Oversight Committee

Remembering Kent State

To the editor:

Thirty-five years ago, when I was 17, anti-war protesters at Kent State University were fired upon by National Guardsmen. Four students were killed.

To say that this massacre contributed to the distrust of America’s government and institutions would be an understatement. Law and order did not prevail.

At best one could argue the lesson was, and still is, the fight for freedom and justice is a fight left up to the people, and the fight against an unjust war will always be difficult and probably deadly.

There are similarities between then and now; books have been written about that, and there are some who hasten to deny similarities. So be it. My recent experience is to encounter shock among those who discover the government has lied and has a history of lying– such is the nature ofwhat passes for education.

America’s Vietnam War ended when those opposing it were joined by those weary of it, and for awhile the warhawks and CIA were actually on the run. The deaths of Jeff Miller, Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, and Sandy Scheuer may have contributed to its end as the deaths of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney contributed to the end of Jim Crow.

But it’s been a while since the warhawks and CIA were on the run, and it can be argued that Jim Crow is on the rise at the voting booths.

Although it’s hardto see a future beyond the incredible plunder, ruinand degration the current rulers have wrought on those helpless, powerlessorall too compliant,something tells me it’s important to remember May 4, 1970 and the Kent State Massacre. Perhaps, in remembering those bleak and deadly times, there are not only lessons to learn, but inspiration to be gained.

Gary Gordon, Venice

The R word

To the editor:

Your recent article about the Unity Coalition and its 10 point plan indicated that the Coalition is asserting that “institutionalized racism” by the SMMUSD was a factor leading up to the fight on April 15th. Racism is a very serious charge to levy and something that simply cannot be tolerated in Samohi, in the SMMUSD or in any other part of civilized society.

From what I can gather, Institutional Racism is an amorphous concept that has been termed to describe a situation in which a group of people who make up an institution can supposedly implement and enforce policies, practices, and procedures that disadvantage, discriminate and persecute a race without any members of the institution having racist tendencies. In short, the idea is that racism can exist without any racists. To me this is a dubious concept. It allows one to argue that racism exists even though an institution makes and enforces policies that are necessary for the good of the entire community and firmly rooted with non-racial motives. This is like blaming Stop signs for lost productivity in the work force since they can cause procrastinators to be late for work. Does this mean we get rid of Stop signs?

Nonetheless, let’s assume it is indeed possible for institutionalized racism to exist.

The charge of institutionalized racism by the Unity Coalition is disturbing for two reasons. First, if it is indeed true that SMMUSD is guilty of institutionalized racism, the community needs to be presented the evidence of which specific policies, practices, and procedures are leading to the discrimination and change those immediately. Second, if the charge of institutionalized racism is not true, then the district is being unfairly maligned and an allegation that has no basis in fact is being used to promote an agenda.

I call on the Unity Coalition to present documented evidence about the current policies, practices, procedures, and enforcement thereof within the school that they claim are the cause of “persistent patterns of institutional racism in our district.” If evidence can be shown that the SMMUSD is engaged in institutionalized racism, the community, including those of us who don’t have children attending Samohi, needs to know about it and demand that the district immediately change those policies, practices and procedures to rid itself of the scourge.

I would argue that 1) disciplining students and giving grades based on the results of objective exams is not prima facie evidence of institutionalized racism – it may just be a teacher doing his or her job to insure that the group is able to learn and to provide feedback on how a student is progressing; 2) having a smattering of African American or Latino history in a history course is not prima facie evidence of institutionalized racism – it may just be a teacher using a long standing curriculum that needs to cover a lot of ground in a little time; 3) having a lower percentage of minority teachers is not prima facie evidence of institutional racism – it may just be that non-minorities were the best teachers available for the open jobs at that time.

Perhaps others would use these incidents as prima facie evidence of institutional racism. If so, let’s have the debate.

I attended the recent school board meeting to hear members of the Unity Coalition speak and give perspective on their position. I found them to be sincere in their desire to work towards solutions to make a better Samohi. They were very well spoken about their positions, and have offered some ideas that the district will entertain. Perhaps what the coalition means instead of “institutionalized racism” is “institutional stagnation” meaning they perceive a staff and curriculum existing at Samohi that has not significantly changed over the years to take into account particular interests of minority students.

If the Unity Coalition does indeed mean to use the term institutionalized racism, then I again call on them to bring to the community’s attention the evidence of the specific policies, practices, procedures, and enforcement thereof within the school that has lead them to this conclusion. If there is no evidence to support the charge of institutionalized racism within SMMUSD, then I call on the Unity Coalition to drop this term from their platform and replace it with a more accurate phrase.

The “R” word we all need to focus on is Responsibility. Parents, regardless of their race, need to be responsible for pointing their children in the right direction. This includes, among many other things, teaching their children right from wrong, helping them with their homework, getting them involved with community activities, and disciplining them when they misbehave. Students, regardless of their race, need to be responsible for heading in the right direction. This includes, among many other things, obeying their teachers and administrators, attending their classes, doing their homework, and respecting their fellow students.

The school district’s primary function is to teach and educate. Students, regardless of their race, bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring there is an environment in which this can happen. The district’s report gives us a hint that responsibility, or lack thereof, was the real “R” word behind the recent fight at Samohi – one of the perpetrators of the fight was on campus intoxicated.

Allen Nelson, Santa Monica

Let Us Praise Them!

To the editor:

There would be fewer negative articles about our young people on the front pages of our newspapers, if we as citizens and parents did a better job of acknowledging themany worthy accomplishments of our young people, in sports, music, and in community service.

The Masterworks Series performance by the Santa Monica Chorale and Chamber Orchestra is a case in point. Why wasn’t this important event onthe front pages of our newspapers?Any high school which chooses and competently performs an ambitious program of living artists as well as the Mozart Trinity Mass deserves an “A” for effort.

Buthere in Santa Monica we had much more than “A” for effort. Our young peopleprovided a concert-grade performance. No high school anywhere in the US or Europe could do better.This was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring musical performance.

How rare it is for a music lover to hear a well disciplined and enthusiastic chorus of approximately 130 singers with an excellentstudentchamber orchestra fill the concert hall with great musiclike this!

I was particularly moved by howwell ouryoung people conveyed thepathos in Mozart’s music for the Agnus Dei.Tears came to my eyes as I heard them sing these versus with a maturity and with the nuances one would only expect from a seasoned adult choir. Under the direction of their dedicated conductor, our high school chorus brought tolife the deep, spiritual emotions Mozartwrote into hismusic.

The students received a standing ovation — with calls for an encore which were from the heart. This was a glorious concert. Surely, events like this onedeserve greater attention in our community.

Thank you to the staff, to the community supporters, and most of all, thank you students for your fine performance.This was truly anenjoyable, concert-grade performance. We are very proud of you. Thank you.

Paul DeSantis, Santa Monica

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