Readers comments: April 29, 2022
Larkin Place commentary
In response to articles, “Residents hear from developer during Larkin Place meeting,” dated April 7, and “Is Claremont coming to a crossroads,” the following concerns should be brought to light.
On January 25, the Claremont City Council thoughtlessly voted to provide funding to Jamboree Development to develop a low-income permanent housing project without any communications and input from the Claremont residents.
It is disturbing how the city and Jamboree are describing this project as low-income permanent housing.
The real description should be described as a huge no income nonpermanent group home.
Putting a low, low income project sandwiched between a senior citizen retirement community, a soccer field where young kids frequently wander, a baseball, softball field frequently played with young boys and girls, a junior high school, and daycare center all within 600 feet of the proposed Larkin center is absolutely ludicrous.
The facility can house up to 87 people per HUD rules, and these people can have unvetted overnight guests potentially for up to 14 days per month, every month.
“Housing First” funding states illegal drug use is not grounds for eviction, and tenant drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling is optional.
There are no measures in place to assist in keeping nearby parks, schools, and streets clean and clear of drug paraphernalia such as used needles and inadvertently abandoned drugs.
The city council claims that this project is a “by right” development. But this doesn’t mean that the city council should take a hands-off approach. Clearly, the city has a responsibility to ensure that the project should harmoniously meet the spirit of bringing in appropriate and sensible low-income housing, and balance it against the safety concerns of the community. Clearly, the city council has not demonstrated “due diligence.”
One of the exceptions that the city can intervene on this project is to demonstrably show that the project would not have a specific, adverse impact on the public health or safety of Claremont residents. They have not demonstrated this.
Clearly, the city council has an opportunity to influence the type of low-income housing that is brought into the community. There are several other family friendly low-income projects that could be considered. Why isn’t the city council being an advocate for developing a project that would consider the concerns of the residents in the community? Saying that the city council has their hands tied is a poor excuse and clearly passing the buck onto the state.
This is a powder keg ready to explode. Moreover, if the city council were to approve a drive access easement through the parking lot east of the Larkin Park soccer field to this project, this creates further safety issues for park users and young children.
Is the city ready to assume the liability of these risks? I implore the city council to take another look at this and reconsider the health and safety needs of the community and regain their credibility.
Paul M. Gendron
Claremont deserves better
If you have ever wondered what it looks like when elected officials begin to behave in a manner that communicates to the community that they, “know better,” look no further than to the April 21, CUSD board meeting. While the agenda was packed, the one topic that stood out was the discussion and decision to rehire Dr. Jim Elsasser. The topic was very contentious, solicited a lot of questions from the community, and ultimately left a lot of us with a sour taste in our mouths about the board’s behavior. But how did we get to this point?
How did we end up with a board that displays such contempt for community involvement? How did we end up with a board that believes they do not need to be responsive to the same community that put them in these positions of power? How did we end up with a board that gaslights and infantilizes both students and the community at large? How did we end up with a board that knows better than the rest of us?
The answer is unsurprisingly simple, our elected officials have created a board where their views and theirs alone determine the future of CUSD. And the sad fact is, we’re all to blame.
I, like many others in the electorate, bought into the board’s promises of creating a more inclusive district; one in which all students flourish; one in which the community and educators share in the responsibility of educating the future; a partnership built on trust and mutual respect, and committed to tackling some of the tough questions facing the district. But those promises quickly faded away once the community began to hold the board accountable.
In all fairness to ourselves, the changes in the board’s behavior didn’t happen overnight. No, these changes were subtle at first. But over time, the board’s actions became duplicitous in nature by saying all the right things the community wanted to hear but taking action to the contrary. It is now clear that they value their positions of power while devaluing everything else.
In Drs. Daniel Butler and Adam Dynes’ (BYU) article, “How Politicians Discount the Opinions of Constituents with Whom They Disagree,” published in the 2016 American Journal of Political Science (Vol. 60, No. 4), they state, “…politicians systematically discount the opinions of constituents with whom they disagree and that this ‘disagreement discounting’ is a contributing factor to ideological incongruence.” They further explain, “…public officials rationalize [their] behavior by assuming that constituents with opposing views are less informed about the issue.” Our board has practiced “disagreement discounting” for so long, that I doubt they even realize they’re doing it.
Perhaps one of the most egregious examples came during the latest board meeting when the community pleaded with the board to provide the answers they promised. Prior to this meeting, repeated attempts by the community to obtain clarification on the board’s actions regarding the resignation of Dr. Wilson, Mr. Llanusa, board president, was quoted as saying, “…all will be revealed during the meeting.” In the end, instead of making good on that statement, the board felt no need to explain themselves. and rather than comment, they unanimously voted and moved on.
Whether or not Dr. Elsasser is what CUSD needs, remains to be seen. What is clear however is that this board has a blatant disregard for our community and the trust that we have bestowed upon them. And while many of us will support Dr. Elsasser and will partner with him to achieve success in this district, we will not forget how this board has treated us come November.
Legislators must fund suicide crisis services
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a volunteer and advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMentalHealth.
After my attempt almost 10 years ago, I had no one to turn to in my community. Therapists didn’t know how to work with me, aside from attempting to put me on a psychological hold, and my family had no idea how to be around me. The only place I could turn to was the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That being said, I was referred to the national suicide hotline. This hotline is a vital resource for the community in assisting individuals who are suicidal, giving them the open space to just talk about how they are feeling. The implementation of 988 is undoubtedly one of the most important steps we can take in addressing mental health care, and ensuring that no person ever feels like they are alone in their struggle.
I am doing more by calling on my legislators at the federal and state levels to support legislation that will fund the implementation of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particularly for those in underserved communities.
Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day. On July 16, those in distress and those who support them will be able to reach the lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988. By making the lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the lifeline’s network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have: 1) someone to call, 2) someone to come help, and 3) somewhere safe to go. We must act now to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.
Join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMentalHealth. You can start by visiting moreformentalhealth.org.
Together, we can help #StopSuicide.
Claremont deserves answers from the school board
Having attended countless school board meetings, we’ve lost track of the number of times the board has refused to openly discuss an issue or acknowledge public comment. Our school board stonewalled our community not only regarding their justification for rehiring Dr. Elsasser, but they have also stonewalled our community regarding their response to the COVID pandemic, and the concerns raised about armed police officers stationed on campus.
When numerous residents offer public comment on an item that is on the school board agenda, we believe it is reasonable to expect that our elected officials acknowledge what has been said and discuss the issue openly. It is not a violation of the Brown Act for an elected body to discuss an issue when it is agendized; in fact, we assert it is necessary in order to be accountable to the people they serve.
Stonewalling is defined as a refusal to communicate or cooperate with another person. According to relationship expert John Gottman, stonewalling is the death knell of relationships. The board’s stonewalling is an abuse of power and signals an unhealthy relationship with our community. We hope the COURIER will continue with its proactive coverage of the school board. We also hope the school board will take immediate steps to regain the trust and confidence of its constituents.
Christine & Becky Margiotta