Readers comments 9-23-16
The value of our schools
This is a response to Hayden Lening’s letter of Friday, September 16 opposing the $58 million bond issue for Claremont schools.
Augustine wrote in the late 4th century CE if you want to understand the values of a society look at what it spends its money on. Contrast the $58 million bond for upgrades and repairs for our schools in Claremont with the $60 million and now $70 million high school football stadiums being built in Texas.
It may be of interest that the South Pasadena school district has placed a $98 million bond issue on the November ballot. South Pasadena is a city of approximately 25,000, which is 10,000 less than Claremont. There is no appreciable opposition to the $90 million bond in that city.
The South Pasadena school district is fifth in the state of California. Property values in that city reflect this ranking.
We need Measure G
In his letter last week, Hayden Lening asserted that the list of projects proposed in the CUSD bond Measure G sounds more like “wants” than “needs.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Any large facilities like the CUSD schools that are used daily by thousands of children need to be refreshed, modernized and improved on a regular basis or they will become dysfunctional, uncomfortable and possibly unsafe. This is as true for schools as it is for our homes, perhaps more so. As a parent of children in the Claremont schools, I can assure you that these improvements are essential to continue the high quality of educational opportunity that we enjoy in this district. It is preposterous to claim that new roofs, upgraded electrical systems and additional security measures are merely “wants.”
No one likes taxes, but local bonds like the one proposed in Measure G are the primary mechanism the state provides for raising funds for needed capital improvements in the schools. There is no viable alternative. For the sake of our children and our community, I hope that Claremont voters will vote yes on Measure G.
Museum commission review
“Don’t worry about the museum design because the Architectural Commission will make sure it is great.” Isn’t that what we were told? So what has happened? One commissioner said something to the effect that as it was part of a campus there was no problem with it looking unremarkable.
The second preliminary review saw essentially the same design as the first since the architects addressed few of the earlier comments by the architectural commission. Not surprising, since the Colleges have a history of digging their heels in.
At the second meeting, the commission made few additional suggestions of its own, and didn’t discuss suggestions from the public. Of course, why should we expect excellence when this is nothing special but, just as Pomona has stated, a replacement teaching and storage facility with no new benefits for the public?
“College creep” happened when Pomona acquired the west side of College Avenue. “College leap” occurred when the city allowed this bland building to substitute for historic Renwick House and the cottages. So much for the careful plans of past city governments to keep a pleasant transition between town and gown in the Village and to take the long view about preserving Claremont’s character and balancing the best interests of all Claremont citizens.
Answers on Measure G
Hayden Lening’s letter in the September 16 issue of the COURIER raised some valuable questions about Measure G, the school facilities bond measure on the November ballot.
Mr. Lening’s questions focus on whether the school board has delayed information being available to the community. CUSD actually held 39 meetings with community groups which were widely publicized, including through articles in the COURIER, and were attended by hundreds of residents.
CUSD also engaged in an online Thought Exchange process with some 600 residents. The results are available at cusd.thoughtexchange.com/welcome. Full disclosure of the content of local and county measures is in the hands of the LA County Registrar of Voters and will be made available with the voter information packets in about three weeks.
In the meantime, however, information about Measure G has been posted on the CUSD website (cusd.claremont.edu) and on the website of Claremont RISE, the citizen’s committee that is advocating for passage of the Measure (claremontrise.org).
The project list, the results of the community forums and the Community Engagement Survey mentioned above, a FAQ document about the bond and an application for the Citizens Oversight Committee that will be formed are all available. The full text of the bond measure is also available online in the board of education meeting minutes.
Claremont RISE (Restore Infrastructure, Sustain Excellence) is a citizen’s committee working to advocate passage of Measure G. We believe these projects are essential to maintain the excellence of Claremont schools and to provide a safe environment for our children that is conducive to learning. We invite Claremont voters to get engaged by learning more about this important facilities bond and its positive impact on our children and community.
Richard Fass, Chair
Amy Weiler, Co-chair
Meeting needs with Measure G
A letter in the September 16 COURIER claimed that the proposed $58 million bond for Claremont schools was approved by the school board without public discussion and without an “in-depth study by an independent agency.” Both of these claims are untrue.
The school board spent most of this year receiving and studying reports from outside consultants who conducted an extensive and detailed assessment of the school facilities in Claremont. The public record will show that this assessment resulted in a list of needs totaling more than $100 million. The school district reduced that list by about 50 percent through a painstaking process of prioritization and analysis, and then conducted a series of 39 public meetings that generated many suggestions and revisions to the list.
I attended the community meetings, and I participated in the online survey (the “Thought Exchange”) that accompanied them. I observed a remarkable process of open debate and discussion. The result is a plan that truly represents the needs of our children and the priorities of our community.
League on Prop 62, 66
The November 8 election will be here before we know it. There are 17 state propositions on that ballot. The League of Women Voters has taken positions on those topics which we have studied. The local LWV will present our recommendations by combining ballot propositions which share a topic and presenting those to you at the same time. Now we will cover the propositions that deal with the Death Penalty:
Vote yes on 62—Justice That Works: Death Penalty Abolition. Prop 62 will abolish the death penalty, replacing it with life without possibility of parole. It will ensure time in prison is spent in work, with an increased portion of wages going to restitution for victims’ families. Families deserve restitution, not endless legal appeals, and closure through knowing these worst criminals will never be released. California has spent more than $5 billion to execute 13 people since 1978. Nothing indicates this has been effective in reducing crime, while the risk of executing the innocent remains.
Vote no on 66—Shortening Death Penalty Appeals. This poorly-written measure would greatly increase California’s risk of executing an innocent person by shortening the time for appeals and limiting the prisoner’s ability to present new evidence. Raising significant constitutional issues, this could cause more delays, increase taxpayers’ costs and add layers of bureaucracy. It is estimated the state would need as many as 400 new taxpayer-funded attorneys to meet the demand.
The wise choice is no on 66 and yes on 62 to save costs, provide restitution and prevent executing innocent people.
The local LWV will be back soon to report on our recommendations for other propositions.
VP for Advocacy
LWV of the Claremont Area
Bikes and cars
What an idealized, wonderful rolling bicycle society Mark Von Wodke pictures in his article. He is so right about change needed regarding failure-to-exercise public and gathering groups for practical getting-there and trails for everyday tasks and general lifestyle, but we all seem to travel on the same streets.
And did you know that some bicycles are not allowed to stop for car crossings or pedestrian crossings signaled by a red stop sign?
What to do about those pesky pedestrians on the Thompson Creek Trail who have no idea wheels are coming up behind because they are wearing headphones and have no sound until they hear a mumbled “To your left!” close by their ear.
Remember those bells kids used to have on their bikes? Whatever happened to those? Too juvenile? You can’t take your hand off the handle or you’ll have no brakes and it’s too hard to start again once you’ve slowed down.
In lumbering street traffic, how about coming around a car waiting for cross traffic in the left-turn lane rather than turning left in front of oncoming traffic? Bikers can’t start and stop like cars—no horns, no brakes.
If bicycles had engines, they could lawfully share a lane with me, and then quickly move a foot and share the lane next door. I have to be three feet away from the bicycle, but he doesn’t have to be three feet away from me. I am not claiming to be a perfect driver and I can sometimes be distracted, but it seems to me we are not on the roads together. We are on our own roads, each of us being a part of our own traffic pattern, weaving together with a right to be afraid of each other.