Friday, October 31, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 14
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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Someone's misleading voters

Heather Moreno - Atascadero city councilmember -

If Mr. Comar is willing to make false statements regarding my record, what other false statements has he made regarding anything having to do with the Walmart project?

Tom Comar’s letter in New Times’ Oct. 16 edition, “Don’t reward negligence,” deliberately misleads voters. He includes me in accusations of “dereliction of the public trust in approving or blindly supporting this project deal” regarding the Del Rio Road project associated with Walmart.

In fact, Mr. Comar knows that I was not on the Atascadero City Council nor the Planning Commission during any of the Walmart/Del Rio decision-making process; I was appointed to the council on December 2012, six months after the Walmart decisions were made. During that time, I was immersed in graduate studies and was not involved in the process.


Follow the money in the Assembly race

Rosemary Canfield - Shell Beach -

It was interesting to learn the sources of campaign financing for the candidates in the 35th State Assembly District race (“In Assembly race, Achadjian outraises Harmon with help from corporate donors,” Oct. 9, Tribune). I have long known that Mr. Achadjian casts a wide net in his political and business relationships, but did not realize how beholden he must be to interest groups far away from his home district. The list of the incumbent’s supporters is disturbing. By accepting substantial contributions from Koch Industries, PepsiCo, and General Motors, Achadjian calls into question just who his constituents are. Alarming as well is his support by two Native American tribes—one in Temecula, and the other in the Coachella Valley. It brings to question just what kind of deals he is making in Sacramento.

In contrast, Heidi Harmon has built a truly grassroots campaign based on issues that directly impact the people of the 35th District. Her financial support comes from the people she will represent. She is a leader willing to take a stand without the influence of big business. Unlike her opponent, Harmon is not a career politician. She will not shy away from pursuing definitive action to mitigate the dire challenges we face as residents of the Central Coast. Take this opportunity to effect true change and growth in California. Vote for Heidi Harmon—a genuine leader and the best candidate for the Central Coast.


Invest in our state's future through schools

Andrea Devitt - San Luis Obispo -

Education is largely a public endeavor in California, and many of us have been fortunate enough to reap these rewards. We benefited from low teacher-to-student ratio and paid very little for our college education compared to the costs today; we were incredibly fortunate. And with this great fortune comes great responsibility. Today, nearly 60 percent of the students in California attending K through 12 schools qualify for free and reduced-price lunch programs. Our state’s public colleges and universities enroll 85 percent of low-income students, yet many of these students fail to graduate because of the rising costs of higher education. By investing in our schools, we our investing in our state’s future as the lifetime earnings of a college graduate are significantly higher than a high school graduate, and a college degree is a pathway out of poverty.

By 2025, it is projected that California will have a shortfall of 1 million college graduates. It is critical we increase educational outcomes today to meet the demands of tomorrow’s economy. If we don’t, incomes and tax revenues will decline and more Californians will depend on public assistance. Vote yes on D and L.


Students deserve the best

Mike Lee, class of 1969, Terry Lee, class of 1974, Larry Lee, class of 1979 -

My two brothers and I were born and raised in San Luis Obispo. Our parents, Tom and Anne, spent their careers at Cal Poly and SLO High, respectively. They devoted their lives to the children, teenagers, adults, and athletes that lived in our community. Both of them taught us that we also have a responsibility to help our community. We have worked hard to honor their legacy.

We all attended and graduated from SLO High and have deep feelings for its continued success as an outstanding institution. We are proud of our school’s successful students and high-caliber education, but we also know how badly SLO High needs a physical upgrade. San Luis Obispo High School was built approximately 80 years ago. It is in alarming condition, although its disrepair might not be apparent to others who aren’t on campus every day.

Most classrooms and labs were designed more than 50 years ago, and no longer represent the best standards for learning environments. Upgrades to our students’ access to current technology and vocational education opportunities are needed. Improving our physical education and athletic facilities is a must. We can’t expect students to succeed and teachers/coaches to excel in a facility that doesn’t measure up. They deserve better. In fact, they deserve our best.

Approximately $120 million of Measure D funds will be allocated equally between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay high schools for renovation. The remaining $57 million will be apportioned to all other schools throughout the district. We, the Lee family, strongly support the San Luis Coastal bond measure to renovate and rebuild our schools. We hope you will join us in voting yes on Measure D.


I need to know some more info

Cassandra Dagama - San Luis Obispo -

I feel passionate about education, but I certainly cannot vote for the current San Luis Coastal Bond Measure D without some very specific information to address questions and concerns that come to mind.

First: Why is it that maintenance and upgrades to facilities have not been an ongoing process that is proportional to need? Why the great urgency at present, unless there has been inadequate budget decisions in the past?

Second: What amount of money is being held in reserve, and to what purpose? Without a complete financial accounting, including what has been spent on maintenance and upgrades, and what is set aside “for a rainy day,” it is impossible to make an informed decision on this bond issue.

Third: What is the average yearly salary for administrators, and how does this compare to teachers’ salaries? This information should include perks, such as generous guaranteed cost of living increases for administrators, as well as their raises. Also, what has been given to teachers in the way of raises or cost of living increases over the past 10 years? One might argue this is irrelevant to the current bond issue, but it is important to illustrate or rule out inequity, and what is really important in San Luis Coastal’s financial decision making.

Fourth: How can someone retired on a fixed income, who is lucky enough to own a house, afford to take a cut in yearly income? This is exactly what this bond measure does, by increasing taxes by a substantial amount. With other bond and tax issues on the ballot at the same time, the public is asked to make a sacrifice many cannot afford.

I realize there is a need for maintenance and upgrades for the district’s schools. What I don’t understand is why these have not only been done, given the money San Luis Coastal already collects from all various sources. If the answer is “there is simply not enough to go around,” I suggest taking a look at what type of priorities are presently in effect and changing them. This is called “being realistic” or “living within your means.” I am calling on the public to send a message to the district: If you want our trust and support, you must be more responsible, transparent, and objective. Also consider the cost and sacrifice the public is asked to make on your behalf, and whether it is truly needed. Certainly our students deserve better.


Fix Morro Bay's problem with a no

Barbara Doerr - Morro Bay -

I’m waiting! For what? Morro Bay’s two newly elected councilmembers to be sworn into office. They each received a majority vote at the June 8, 2014, election, but will not be sworn into office until December—six months later. This is outrageous.

Vote no on J to send the issue back to the City Council. Ask them to fix the six-month “lame duck” problem. It’s an easy fix. Require that newly elected officials receiving a majority vote be sworn into office within 30 days, or sooner, from the election.

The current two-election, majority vote requirement is a good thing. It requires that a majority of voters supports a candidate; it helps to neutralize special interest group influence by requiring broad based community support to obtain a majority vote; and it opens the field to more candidates.

The two-election cost is small for both candidate and residents. Consider the high cost of an incompetent elected official. For example, the Atascadero council may cost residents potentially $7.8 million for unanticipated road work relating to the Walmart project agreement, and in Morro Bay we will pay the high cost for past council delays in choosing a new sewer plant location, which the current council has wisely done.

Vote no on J for a better Morro Bay. Keep the two-step election process—fix the “lame duck” problem—and ask the council to let voters have the opportunity to change the mayor’s term of office from a two-year term into a four-year term.

While you’re at it, please vote yes on Measure D for better schools in Morro Bay.

Thank you.


Fix Morro Bay's problem with a yes

Lynda Merrill - Morro Bay -

Vote, and vote yes on Measure J in Morro Bay on Nov. 4. We need common sense to prevail! The last few elections have demonstrated the folly of a two-pronged election. Our citizens elected a new mayor and council, but the two newly elected councilmen have waited six months to take office while two “lame duck” members are voting on important issues. Please, correct this mistake and vote yes on Measure J.


We only need one election in Morro Bay

Susan Heinemann - Morro Bay -

Morro Bay's two-election system was one of those ideas that sounded good on paper, but in reality has not worked out. It has cost the city taxpayers dollars and, contrary to the original intent, it seems to have had a negative affect on the number of citizens running for City Council. It is time to return to the time-honored one-election system in November. Vote yes on measure J-14.


We need new faces in office

C. Marie Hoffman - Nipomo -

I once believed government officials represented U.S. citizens; they were “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Yet Gov. Jerry Brown signed laws allowing noncitizens to serve as poll workers, to apply for professional state licenses, to obtain driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, student loans, and legal aid for thousands of undocumented illegally in this state. This will attract more noncitizens who will use California resources while greatly burdening those who pay taxes and taking jobs from U.S. citizens.

When the president of Mexico visited California, Brown did not attempt to secure the release of a U.S. soldier who took a wrong exit into that country.

Congresswoman Lois Capps said she will work for the middle class, but why weren’t promises she further made not done during her 16 years in office?

Incumbents in office for many years have forgotten they “serve” people of the United States, not to fulfill their ambitions or to “play God.”

We need a new infusion of representatives with common sense and principles to ensure that the “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”


I've got one word for the propositions

August Salemi - Atascadero -

Once again Californians are being inundated with a plethora of “propositions” on which we are admonished to vote. The basic premise of these propositions is increasing taxes and spending, reduction of personal freedom and choice, or a combination of both. This fact persists despite the misleading rhetoric, outright lies, and emotional appeal. (It’s for the children, the poor, etc., ad nauseam.) Fortunately the choice is easy. Vote no.