Gratitude for honesty
To The Editor:
Thank you to Clara Sturak, and to the Mirror for publishing her latest “Strategic Planning Journal” regarding the current state of Special Education in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (“16 Months Later: Thanks But No Thanks,” Vol. 7, issue 18, Oct. 12-18, 2005).
This morning, as I was trying to drag myself out of bed, I composed in my head an e-mail that I was going to submit to a Special Ed e-mail group here in Santa Monica. I was going to tell something of the nightmare my spouse and I are currently enduring, all in the attempt to make sure our child gets an education. By the time I took my morning shower I was too scared, yes scared, to put in writing even a small part of what in fact is the truth.
Now it is evening. And I opened up my computer one last time and came across Ms. Sturak’s article. I thank her for being so honest. I don’t know how her “journal” will be received by others, but it made me feel a little bit better, like maybe I could sleep tonight.
Parent of a Special Ed Student in SMMUSD
To The Editor:
You suck. Fuck you!
Ms. Downhill Battle
1 Downhill Battle
Battle, CA 90210
Objects to objections
To the editor:
Nothing gets the heart racing like a “trash the Red Cross piece” penned by a disillusioned volunteer freshly back from a disaster area. Such is the case with the series on working Hurricane Katrina disaster relief, especially in Part 2, penned by Dr. Jodie Escobedo in the Mirror, 10/5-11/05.
Although it appears that Dr. Escobedo was not volunteering with the American Red Cross, that did not prevent her from a biased and ill-informed criticism of the organization based on her observations and experiences after seven days in Louisiana.
It is unfortunate that Dr. Escobedo characterized certain Red Cross personnel as “being on a power trip” and insensitive to the needs of clients in the Fall River shelter where she volunteered. Her suggestions that the organization was hoarding hand sanitizer and other necessities is ridiculous and off base.
I read Dr. Escobedo’s comments online while doing disaster relief work for the Red Cross in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I did mention them to my Florida/Mississippi/Alabama operations managers and they were concerned about her complaints.
Dr. Escobedo complained about the way Red Cross staff “abused” and was “rude to” shelter evacuees in the River City shelter where she was deployed. Disaster shelters are microcosms of society and their residents include the good, bad and the downright ugly. Assuring the safety and welfare of its clients in shelters is paramount to the Red Cross. Dealing with drunks, drug addicts, the mentally ill and others who might endanger families and children was another problem that the Red Cross was forced to deal with in many locations.
Rudeness to clients is strictly against Red Cross policy. However, after weeks in uncomfortable and very trying conditions, tempers will fray especially when dealing with unreasonable and problem shelter clients. That doesn’t make it right, but it still happens.
Dr. Escobedo commented about shelter clients with “no place to go” being criticized as malingerers. I can’t speak about River City, but in the Hattiesburg area, offers of free, long term housing through FEMA and other organizations were routinely turned down by displaced persons because they “were too far out of town,” “out of state” or “not convenient.” The reality is that some shelter clients had no plan or intention to rebuild their lives and seemed content to exist on handouts. This was and still is a big concern to all the entities involved in the relief efforts.
My disaster operation supervisors were puzzled about Dr. Escobedo’s comments about shelter managers being reluctant to hand out mouthwash because they were afraid shelter clients would use it to get drunk.
Comfort kits including soap, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving implements and mouthwash are freely given out, so withholding mouthwash makes no sense. If the good Doctor would care to leave a message at the Santa Monica Red Cross Chapter and give me names and dates, I’ll make sure that there is a full investigation of the River City shelter. If shelter management didn’t follow procedure, they will be dealt with accordingly.
Dr. Escobedo also complained about the Red Cross requiring basic training for its volunteers to go into what was an extremely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous theater of operation. Not requiring training would be irresponsible. Nevertheless, even with orientation and training, mistakes are made, politics are present and people get stressed out, but those occurrences are few and far between.
Dr. Escobedo accused the Red Cross of being a clumsy bureaucracy and of mismanaging its resources. She faults them with not having enough volunteers to distribute supplies and handing our diapers, “three at a time.” The Red Cross was in the disaster zone days before Katrina hit. It’s not like in the movies. You can’t always get what you want when you want it – for a number of reasons.
Another problem was that many times clothing and food “just showed up.” The Red Cross has no way of knowing if these items are clean and safe which is possibly why they were not distributed. Dr. Escobedo would be just in complaining if the Red Cross gave out dirty or soiled clothing or unsourced food to its clients. That’s why the Red Cross asks for monetary donations, to purchase what is needed so it is sourced, fresh, safe and of reliable quality.
Thousand of volunteers and an inconceivable amount of equipment, supplies and support material were assembled over four states with very short notice. The Katrina disaster relief operation was unprecedented in its size and scope. Still, The Red Cross quickly amassed thousands of volunteers and a billion dollars in resources to step in and provide emergency aid, food, shelter, comfort, and emergency financial assistance to well over a million disaster victims.
The Red Cross provided shelter, housing, counseling and mental health services for tens of thousands, free hot meals for millions and nearly a billion dollars in emergency financial relief so that Katrina victims – including those who have journeyed to other parts of the country including Santa Monica – can successfully bridge the horror and trauma of their experiences and rebuild their lives.
No other relief organization can come close to the amount of good work the American Red Cross has done. The people I’m working with are dedicated and the very best.
I’m proud to be associated with this organization. I guess that’s why I find it unfortunate that after doing her own good work in the disaster zone, Dr. Escobedo felt the need to vent in such an unfair manner. It was counterproductive to all involved.
Bill Bauer, Santa Monica
Ed. Note: On her return from the disaster area, Dr. Escobedo reported her concerns to the executive director of the local Red Cross chapter.
Council doesn’t get it
The article below was found by the writer in a recent health publication:
“Fluoride in drinking water, long touted as a panacea for tooth decay, has now been linked to greater cancer risk. The new findings have motivated about 7,000 workers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, representing 11 unions, to push the EPA to halt water fluoridation programs nationwide.”
Doesn’t our City Council get it? Or maybe they don’t want to get it. The Council has been given volumes of information on this toxic chemical by many citizens of our city as well as the Environmental Task Force and yet, in their “infinite all-knowing wisdom,” continue their pursuit to fluoridate our Santa Monica water. From the volumes I’ve read – the risks far outweigh any possible health benefits.
Joyce Martino, Santa Monica
Next city manager
To the Santa Monica City Council,
It is with the utmost urgency that we urge you to have the quality of life in this small city uppermost in your minds when selecting the important position of City Manager.
Santa Monica is special. A seaside community that is heading toward gridlock in population, constant growth and traffic. The Tower of Babel comes to mind.
We have lived here since 1971, and sincerely hope the unlimited growth scheme fails.
Please consider living conditions vs. profit.
Ruth and Larry Rosen, Santa Monica