November 30, 2001

Foro Público

Public Forum.....

Open Letter to Laura Bush

I read that you met in the White House with 11 women exiled from Afghanistan to talk about women's rights - that's great.

You may want to also invite 11 pro-choice Republican women (including some of the ones your Party muzzled at the Republican National Convention in 2000) exiled from the Republican Party, to push the Republican leaders (including your husband) to repeal their anti-choice Taliban Platform language.

Yes, the Platform of the Taliban and Republican Party are the same - "it is illegal for a woman to have a right to an abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or the life of a woman."

Wouldn't it be ironic, Afghanistan women win the right to choose before your husband changes his Republican Platform?

Bob Mulholland
California DNC Member

Sorry, Mr. Bersin; No Sale!

San Diego public school students and their families need to heed the newest army of strangers striding the hallways of the city board of education. The corporate takeover of our city schools has begun in earnest. Since the arrival of Mr. Alan D. Bersin in 1998, many suggested that privatization was one of his hidden agendas. But the recent front-page headlines in the Union-Tribune (11/6, "School reform plan gets private boost, with a condition") should have dispelled any confusion on this point once and for all. Smart businessmen like Bill Gates do not ante-up $22.5 million over 5 years unless they know they're going to receive a worthwhile return on their investment. That's how Mr. Gates became one of the richest men in the world - investing his money where future profits were virtually assured.

So, the question facing San Diegans now becomes: What will the corporate takeover of our school district mean for our public school students and their families? As we meekly sit on our hands and watch Mr. Bersin and his three-vote majority on the school board auction off our school system, what can we expect? Remember, it's all about the money. It's not about education, folks; it's about the bottom line. It's about profits and productivity. It's not about how much students learn, it's about how well they test. It's not about making sure Johnny and Susie can read, write, and compute, it's about what kinds of statistics the school board can develop so their corporate fat-cat friends can skim more lucrative government grants and foundation handouts.

And another thing we can expect - adios teachers union. Because they won't march to Mr. Bersin's tune, they must go. The marginalization of the teacher's union has been a work-in-process since Mr. Bersin took office. It began in 1999 with the ruthless firing of 15 principals and administrators who had the audacity to protect teachers from poorly conceived Bersin/Alvarado education policies. That was quickly followed by a sellout by the aides' own union (not the teachers union) of 600 essential classroom teaching assistants. The most recent example of Mr. Bersin's secret agenda against the teacher's union came at the school board meeting of October 23, 2001. That was when board president Ottinger would not allow union president Knapp to present 4,200 signatures collected by teachers calling for the resignation of Sue Braun. Mr. Ottinger sought to humiliate Mr. Knapp and the teachers, but it backfired.

By now, it must be obvious to thoughtful citizens of San Diego how high the stakes have become for the Bersin/Alvar-ado team. Imagine, they convinced sophisticated business men and women who don't even live in San Diego to pony up $22.5 million in order to maintain this administration's sham "reform" policies. The facts are on the public record, and yet these rich but gullible out-of-towners gladly drank the Bersin Kool-Aid. The only "real" reform this administration has installed is its ongoing disinformation campaign at taxpayer expense.

Once upon a time, city schools enjoyed a reputation for publishing the truth about its students and their progress-good or bad. The facts are that under this administration, the learning gap between the poor and disadvantaged has increased, not decreased. The facts are that the so-called "Blueprint for Success" is in truth a "Blueprint for Failure" by more than 50% of the 143,000 students in the city school system. The facts are that this school district has an overall dropout rate by students of over 40%.

Remember how outraged many of us were when the Chamber of Commerce and their out-of-town friends raised $750,000 to defeat Fran Zimmermann? Well, these same people have now raised the election stakes over 3000 percent! The 11/6/01 announcement in the U-T about how Mr. Bersin et al have arranged to sell this district to the highest bidder is just the opening salvo across the bow of anyone who would have the audacity to challenge Mr. Bersin and his supporters. We who have no other agenda except the proper education of our children must stiffen our resolve in the face of such tactics. With Fran Zim-merman as our model, we must stare into the eyes of these corporate raiders and never, never, ever blink. In the words of the male passenger who telephoned his wife that he was about to confront 9/11/01 terrorists who wanted to crash a plane into the White House, "Let's roll!"

Mike MacCarthy
San Diego

Federal Bench Position Shouldn't Go To "Oreo Cookie" Hispanic

To answer the question, "Why liberal Senators are opposing an Hispanic for the Federal Bench," (November 16 issue) all a Latino must remember if that Judge Clarence Thomas decided in favor of Bush for President in Florida, he's against affirmative action although he, himself, benefited from it, he's against a woman's right to choose and he's in favor of capital punishment, which they don't have in Canada or Mexico.

It's not Estrada's surname or ethnicity that they are opposed to, but his voting record. Doesn't the NAACP with that Clarence Thomas was not on the Supreme Court? César Chávez would turn over in his grave if he knew a right wing, corporate lackey with a Latino surname was being nominated to the bench.

This ploy of nominating an "oreo cookie" Hispanic to high office is sucking up to the Latino vote and was used by Bush, to his advantage, in Texas in his choice of Linda chavez for Secretary of Labor. No es Señor, él que Señor nace, sino él que sabe serlo.

J.P. Lopez
San Diego

Judicial McCarthyism

"Why are Liberal Senators Opposing an Hispanic for Federal Bench?" (November 16) is a misleading editorial that is fallacious in its mission and goals as it relates to our judiciary. From the first Chief Justice Marshall, as he created a judiciary that was equal: Executive legislature was a radical innovation by him that ensures equality to this very day. The judiciary, by its very nature, is independent of the aforestated, which is the source of our governmental strength.

We have witnessed a Supreme Court Justice SKIN GAME, that brought to the Supreme Court: Justice Powell, who followed in the aftermath of Justice Marshal. He was a giant to be followed by a reactionary the ilk of Powell, who is a disgrace due to his decisions for both the poor and working poor of America. Although Powell enjoyed within his own life, affirmative action and entry into Harvard law school.

Now LP is waging a Hispanic Judicial game for Estrada as a judge. Estrada and his supporters are waging a reactionary assassination game against out Judicial system that has served us well for over 200 years. Prior to 1936 the courts were unrepresentative of our society.

The courts are not politically neutral nor are judges fom another planet. Moreover, to villainize our liberals as another form of McCarthyism that is ongoing, with phrases like, "lock step" is Hitlerian in concept. I'm not for Estrada's nomination, as it would give us a reactionary and vicious judiciary. It would be a return to the courts prior to 1936. I can personally attest to vicious judges that are part of our County of San Diego Court system who rule by their own fiat.

Dr. Art Salzberg
San Diego

Can't Bersin's Blueprint Stand on it's Own Merit?

Reading a piece called "Cash and Carry" in the City Lights section of the San Diego Reader made me think about how occasionally I've run into people who have waxed eloquently about being a part of the San Diego Padres organization. And every day smily "whistle while we work" faces on my television set go on and on about how being a member of the Wal-Mart family is a real treat, and how they cannot wait to get up in the morning to go to work and bring joy to the lives of all their customers. I do not know how many times I have heard employees of Qualcomm beam about how they are appreciated and trusted by the company for their intelligence and creativity.

So I cannot help but wonder why Padres owner John Moores, Wal-Mart heir John Walton and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his son Gary, are so fascinated with schools chief Alan Bersin who has created a school system that hardly anyone feels a part of, a school system where it is extremely rare for someone to be trusted of rewarded for their smarts and ingenuity, a school system where nobody has a say other than the people on top. The superintendent's approach to working with people is the extreme opposite of these city heavies, if I am to believe all the positive things that I have heard about them.

And if Alan Bersin is truly the bee's knees that these other powers that be, especially the Union-Tribune, seem to think he is, why is so much money being spent to elect somebody who will support him unconditionally? If his programs are truly making a difference for students, shouldn't they stand on their own merit no matter who is elected to the school board?

Hmmm, I am thinking that maybe Bersin, from his U.S. Attorney days, has something on a few people around town.

Ernie McCray
San Diego

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