Readers comments 6-13-14

Lukkarila an inspiring teacher

Dear Editor:

We are dismayed by the story about the potential dismissal of Claremont High School teacher Dave Lukkarila in the June 6 COURIER.

It reads as though his conflict with the Claremont Unified School District, initiated with his complaint of serious mold in the school, has escalated into a variety of confrontations that may lead to his dismissal.

In the story, Mr. Lukkarila was described as “a favorite” among students by a 2009 CHS graduate.

Our daughter graduated from CHS in 2001, and Mr. Lukkarila was the teacher who had the greatest impact on her, even among many other outstanding CHS teachers. His instruction in history and economics led her to pursue a career in economics (and a PhD at the London School of Economics). She is now a university faculty member in Oregon. We continue to be grateful to him personally for much of her success in life.

We hope that the Claremont Unified School District will realize the importance of keeping this extraordinary teacher on its faculty, and encourage a mediation process that will result in that end.

Shirley and Gary Johnston



TAG not advising on impending tree disaster

Dear Editor:

On June 2, the Tree Advisory Group (TAG) spent over five hours explaining to the Claremont City Council and a few citizens their plan for trees in Claremont. Every home will have a TAG-selected tree(s) or, in the case of diseased/damaged trees, a TAG-selected alternate. The homeowner does not decide; TAG does.

The crucial fact that TAG did not reveal at this meeting came out on the CBS website on Saturday. CBS revealed that the Huntington Botanical Garden in Pasadena has had an infection by a polyphagous borer beetle in over 200 of their 700 species of trees. This beetle bores into the tree, carrying a fungus in its mouth, eventually killing the tree. No pesticide is known for this beetle. Even if there were one, once in the tree the beetle would be immune from the pesticide. Contact is Jim Folson of the Huntington Botanical Garden. Additionally, Akif Eskalen of the University of California Riverside has determined that this beetle is attacking our avocado trees.

I pose the following questions to TAG: Are the 500 species of trees not yet attacked at the Botanic Garden a question of time or immunity? How can TAG, selecting city trees for homeowners, proceed not knowing the answer to this question? They have to know the resistance of the trees they select.

These questions have a particular pertinence to me. I have a fallen, diseased liquidambar in my front yard, as I noted at the meeting. I have a 120-foot heritage avocado tree in my backyard. Should I be replacing the diseased liquidambar in my front yard as a threat to my neighbors liquidambar? Should I be concerned about the replacement tree that would go in? Is it immune to the beetle?

Critical advice on trees is TAG’s very reason for existence.

Lorne B. Smith



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