Readers comments 5-31-19

AbilityFirst needs your help

Dear Editor:

After three years of nearly nonstop advocacy efforts, the hopes of California’s developmentally disabled and their families now rests with the governor and key leaders of the legislature. I’m writing from AbilityFirst Center in Claremont, servicing children and adults with disabilities.

Community advocates who have been fighting for an 8 percent increase in rates for disability services have reason for hope, but also for concern. Advocates were heartened when the state senate voted to provide funding for an 8 percent increase in their version of the budget.

But when the state assembly voted, they pared back funding to allow for increases of just 5.5 percent. The assembly version of the budget also failed to address hardships organizations like AbilityFirst and others in Los Angeles county are facing due to higher minimum wage costs.

Because of the differences in the two budgets, the funding for these services now moves to the conference committee. Governor Gavin Newsom, President Pro Tem of the Senate Toni Atkins, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon and Budget Chairs Senator Holly Mitchell and Assemblymember Phil Ting will lead these negotiations to finalize California’s budget for the coming year. They will complete their work before June 15.

People with developmental disabilities who depend upon support services and their advocates have been fighting for the 8 percent to be included in the senate budget to slow the loss of experienced direct care staff who are leaving for better paying positions in fast food and retail industries.

There are roughly 350,000 people who have been formally identified as eligible for services through California’s Lanterman Act. Each has an extended family of five or more who are directly involved with their loved ones. We estimate the California workforce to be close to 100,000 devoted to serving these individuals and their families. Roughly 30 percent of all of these people live within the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas. 

I’m writing to ask members of the Claremont community to please contact the following legislators during the next couple weeks and demand the 8 percent increase in rates for services provided to people with disabilities. AbilityFirst Claremont Center programs depend on this crucial funding.

AbilityFirst is a 92-year-old organization that sees the talents and possibilities in every individual and helps them to achieve their goals. But without the 8 percent increase, low pay for our staff will lead to unfulfilled positions that result in program closures.

Write to Senator Holly Mitchell (Los Angeles), Chair Senate Budget Committee. Also write to Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco), Chair Assembly Budget Committee; Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (San Diego); Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (Los Angeles); Senator Jim Nielsen (Roseville, Yuba, Chico); Senate Vice-Chair Budget Committee Assemblymember Jay Obernolte (Victorville). State Senate contact information can be found at

California State Assembly member contact information can be found at

Rebecca Haussling

Senior Director of Communications



Abstract questions about SB50

Dear Editor:

The discussion of our housing problem and the question of SB 50 has revealed an issue that I can address as a retired professor of philosophy.

One of the major areas of philosophy is moral philosophy—and within that one set of problems has to do with moral reasoning. A question concerns how principles function in reasoning about what is to be done.

The discussion about the huge shortage of affordable housing in the state has involved the principle that local control of housing matters. In the arguments about what should be done about SB 50, it has been claimed that those who subscribe to local control would surrender that principle if SB 50 came into effect. It is that thesis that I wish to contest on the basis of a large consensus within moral philosophy.

By way of analogy, we accept and live by the principle that lying is wrong. However, one day, a couple of white supremacist thugs armed with assault rifles show up at my front door wanting to know where one of our council members is. I happen to know her/his whereabouts. Do I think “Lying is wrong and so I must tell them what they want to know?” Of course not. We all know that the proper response is to lie, to get them to go somewhere where the person isn’t (or even to plead ignorance while knowing), and then to inform the police.

However, because we know a lie is justified in those circumstances does not mean that the person who lies must reject the principle that lying is wrong. It means that the principle has been “overridden” by the facts of the case—it is not “falsified”by the fact that it is not the best guide to our conduct in the particular case. So, too, for the principle of local control of decisions about the community.

It might well be that the facts of the housing situation in California, in the particular case, outweigh the desirability of local control—and if we accept that, it does not follow that we have surrendered the principle of local control—we can still employ it in future cases without a qualm. 

The question that must be asked is “Do the facts of our housing circumstances outweigh the desirability of local control in the here and now?” That, of course, must be determined. But that is the issue: not whether the principle must be given up if in this case it is not the best guide to our actions.

Merrill Ring



Rep. Omar

Dear Editor:

In the May 24 edition, you published a letter from Sam Pedroza that argues that Rep. Ilhan Omar is being unjustly attacked because she is a Muslim, an immigrant, a female, a non-white, and she speaks what she believes in. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Her religion, skin color, national origin or sex has nothing to do with the attacks on her. We, like many others, deeply disagree with her blatant anti-Semitism and her obvious support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

Scott and Norma Grannis



Positive change

Dear Editor:

Claremont has the capability to make positive change.

For example, Sycamore Plaza is an office building in the Village that the Claremont Environmental Design Group (CEDG) designed almost 40 years ago. Because of its energy efficiency and other features, it was selected to be among the first in California to meet the “Energy Star Awards” of the 1980’s. Today, we can build to even higher standards.

The Packing House is part of the Village expansion. It took a community effort to not tear it down. Instead it was renovated and recycled to be a feature in our community.

The Claremont Colleges have been influenced by meeting the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) standards. As a result, we have a collection of buildings that demonstrate positive change and add value to our community.

In a series of articles that I wrote for the Claremont COURIER, the “20/20’s Vision” explored positive change rather than continuing to do what we know to be unsustainable. Complacency complicates the situation. Why change when we are comfortable?

Well, change is happening whether we want to accept it or not. We need to overcome the seeds of doubt sown by lobbyists of special interests intent on protecting the untenable status quo. Let’s visualize possibilities and commit to positive change.

We can embrace goals essential for our cultural survival and commit to actions that implement eco-village concepts and strategies. Creative thinking enables us to express possibilities, apply critical thinking, and strive for positive change. Much of the necessary technology is available now. We need vision, personal commitment and political will for positive change.

There is no place like home to take actions to improve our quality of life and the health of the planet. Together we can create an eco-village that cleans air, purifies water and provides healthy soil here in Claremont, where we enjoy amenities such as our urban forest and pleasant climate.

All of this could be done. We need more people working together…here in Claremont, as well as in other communities throughout the world.

Please participate in this challenge.

Mark von Wodtke, FASLA




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