Readers’ comments: June 23, 2023

Larkin Place math doesn’t add up to help
Dear editor:
Thank you for detailing the finances underlying Jamboree’s Larkin Place affordable housing project [“Larkin Place clears key hurdle, financing largely complete,” June 16]. Here are the key facts: 33 units will be built on the property for a total cost of $23.3 million, or about $705,000 per unit; units will be fully furnished, with water, trash, sewer, and electricity included. Residents will pay a mere $340 per month in rent, a small fraction of the project’s annual operating costs of at least $800,000. To qualify, residents must have an income less than 30% of our area median income, or $31,600.
Readers with basic math skills will see there is a huge gap between rental revenues and total costs. This gap will be filled by taxpayers, in the form of subsidies and tax credits to the tune of at least $650,000 per year, or about $20,000 per unit per year. Meanwhile, with current interest rates, property tax and utility costs, monthly payments on a new Claremont condo costing $705,000 would run about $6,000 per month. That’s more than 17 times what a Larkin Place resident will pay. This is what I call the “Larkin Place Lottery Payoff,” a massive reduction in housing costs awarded to a lucky handful of the many thousands of very low income earners.
Think of the perverse incentives that are being created here: if a Larkin Place resident were to make $1 more than $31,600 per year, they could lose benefits worth more than 17 times their monthly rent. Why work harder? Why look for a job? This lottery is a very expensive, surefire formula for permanent poverty and ever-growing taxpayer burdens. It makes no sense whatsoever. Unless you develop affordable housing projects.
Scott Grannis


Peterson responds to criticism
Dear editor:
In response to a recent letter [“Readers’ comments,” June 16] to the Courier we can see why there is a mental health crisis. After I posed a question, one person made a public statement that has cascaded into another and so on. No one tried to reach out to me to discuss or clarify, instead going straight to the masses with their grievances. This then results in a wildfire of hateful messages not only to me but my family.
In regard to my question: I did ask a question, and some may have interpreted it as offensive, despite being an inquiry that could open up further conversation. Having served in our armed forces and as a veteran I know there is a decorum for the American Flag that should be flown above all as it represents us all.
After several conversations I re-tuned my perspective when I realized that my focus could have been misinterpreted during a month in which national attention has shifted. Pride month is the recognition of all that has been achieved and earned as rights, in the eyes of the law and as a society. It was never my intention to dismiss that focus and my question may have been vague thus leaving room for misinterpretation.
Everyone has room to improve, so I shall take this opportunity to learn and grow. We can all take opportunities like this to ensure we effect positive change and should work to assume positive intent among those we interact with, especially here in our community.
Aaron Peterson
Aaron Peterson is a candidate in the July 25 special election for the Trustee Area 4 seat on the Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education.


Detractors misrepresented Peterson’s message
Dear editor:
I’m writing in response to the letter by Kelsey Robertson [“Readers’ comments,” June 16], in which she claims Aaron Peterson spoke about “how the effort to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion is not needed in the classroom, and that equality actually means preferential treatment …” This is completely false!
After reviewing the Active Claremont candidate forum viewable on YouTube by searching “Active Claremont,” at 13:32, Aaron actually said, “In regards to equity, it’s not the same thing as equality. It [equity] is preferential treatment.”
As a Mexican who was born in East Los Angeles, I am in agreement with Aaron’s view on diversity and inclusion being reasonable attributes in our community. I also support Aaron’s position on the differences between equity and equality. If we truly are “an inclusive community that values all of our community members,” then, my voice for supporting Aaron should not be silenced and considered “extremist”!
Rick Reyes-Ramirez


Talk of book ban (“Bonita USD book ban effort falls short … for now,” June 16) harkens to Nazi occupation
Dear editor:
In 1941 Anatoly Kuznetsov was a 12-year-old boy living in Kyiv during the Nazi occupation. On September 29 and 30 of that year he and his grandfather were in their courtyard when they heard gunfire from the nearby ravine called Babyn Yar, where Nazis were in the process of executing nearly 34,000 Jews over the course of 36 hours. He kept a notebook documenting the Nazi occupation of Kyiv that in 1966 he would publish in the form of a novel, “Babi Yar,” which is now being reissued with an introduction by the journalist Masha Gessen.
Anatoly writes how the Nazis demanded all local households throw away any Soviet publications. After this his mother told him: “You have your life ahead of you, Tolya, so just remember that this is the first sign of trouble — if books are banned, that means things are going wrong. It means that you are surrounded by force, fear and ignorance, that power is in the hands of barbarians.”
Gina Ortiz


Keep the Supreme Court at nine
Dear editor:
I am writing to encourage support for the Keep Nine Amendment and to express my profound concern about recent attempts to undermine the authority of our Supreme Court. In order to maintain the values of justice and protect our rights while also ensuring the effective functioning of our democracy, a stable and independent judiciary is essential.
The dangers that court packing presents cannot be ignored as it damages the credibility and independence of the Court and gives political interests control over the fundamental principles of our judicial system. Such behavior has far-reaching effects and jeopardizes the justice and honesty upon which our society is built. It is reassuring to witness the extensive support for the Keep Nine Amendment among members of Congress and state legislators. Over 200 members of Congress and 800 state legislators have rallied behind the preservation of the current Supreme Court composition.
I encourage your audience to actively participate in the effort to preserve the Keep Nine Amendment. We can promote democratic ideals, defend the rights of all Americans, and maintain the credibility of our institutions by supporting this important amendment.
Thank you for your consideration, for it is through our collective efforts that we can protect the independence of our courts and maintain the sustainability of our democracy.
John Pan
John Pan, 17, is a rising senior at Claremont High School.


Vote McDonald for CUSD Board of Education
Dear editor:
As a resident of District 4 in Claremont’s school district, I am writing to express my support for Alex McDonald for the empty seat on the school board that we will vote to fill on July 25.
I was recently introduced to Alex by a mutual friend. We had both applied for that seat during the school board appointment in January and we discovered a shared vision for supporting and improving our schools. From his experience as a teacher and medical board member Alex knows how to examine the evidence to determine the effectiveness of curricula and instruction. And he knows how to set goals and work collaboratively with others to achieve them.
As I have continued to work with Alex, I have recognized our matched desires to make a positive impact on our community by serving the needs of our students and their families with consistent, level-headed understanding and empathy, which he has developed through his roles as a physician and as a parent of children in our district.
As a parent, I feel it is paramount to have representatives on our board who have children in our schools. Parents have a valuable perspective and personal investment in the success of our schools and tend to support opportunities to serve the “whole child.”
As a college admissions coach, I am also concerned about how we are preparing our children to be competitive in the rapidly changing and highly competitive post-K-12 sphere. Alex is not only thinking about college readiness but also about constructive paths for non-college-bound graduates.
I have no doubt that Alex will be an excellent and much needed addition to our school board.
Amanda Wirtz


Vote McDonald for CUSD Board of Education
Dear editor:
It is my immense pleasure to endorse Alex McDonald for Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, Trustee Area 4.
I’m a parent of two recent high school graduates and an incoming sophomore. After meeting Alex and getting to know him over the last few months, I have been very supportive of his desire to be a member of the CUSD school board.
I believe his passion to ensure all CUSD children get a quality education while also having opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities is vital for their success now and in the future. I also appreciate the fact that he is a current parent of three CUSD students at Condit and El Roble.
What has impressed me most is Alex’s willingness to listen to my concerns, which represent those of many of my peers and others in this community, including declining enrollment, the underfunding of many extracurricular activities such as athletic programs at Claremont High, recent safety issues at our schools, and the need for stronger oversight of the International Baccalaureate diploma program at the high school.
Alex contends that mental wellness programs should be featured in all our schools. He also expects that policies proposed by CUSD staff be based on sound data and be reviewed by the board. I am confident that Alex, with his focus on such concerns, will bring a distinctive and valuable voice to the dais.
Alex is a very accomplished and hardworking physician while also caring for his family.  I admire him for his willingness to make the commitment and sacrifice of time to be a CUSD board member.
I urge you to vote for Alex McDonald on July 25 to represent Trustee Area 4.
Andrew W. Mowbray


Vote McDonald for CUSD Board of Education
Dear editor:
I commend endorsements of Dr. Alex McDonald for Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education from the Claremont Faculty Association, Democratic Club, and many community residents. Add my voice to these. I have met Dr. McDonald and have studied his positions and background. He is well prepared, thoughtful, open, and deeply concerned about the educational and social issues facing us today.
Attending school board meetings as a parent revealed facets of board members’ work — interpreting messages from the district to the community, interacting with administrators and faculty, standing up for students, overseeing budgets, executing bureaucratic mandates, and many other things. We are lucky in Claremont to have a deep bench of well qualified residents willing to engage in public service. Dr. McDonald is exactly the kind of fair, broad minded, well informed, compassionate communicator we need on the school board.
A neighbor has a sign expressing their support for one of Dr. McDonald’s opponents, Mr. Peterson. I also know these neighbors would like nothing better than to have the religious dogma they adhere to taught as part of the curriculum. Mr. Peterson’s campaign website does not say that; its principles and proposals sound innocuous. Who could dispute a nostrum like, “Remove politics from the classroom,” if it means, “Don’t campaign for your candidate or party”? However, this phrase is a dog whistle to signal people who want children to have no education about African American history, gender or sexuality, indigenous Americans, Islam, and other faiths, etc., and that the speaker of the phrase is ready to ban books and seize control of what is taught.
Alex McDonald’s training in health care, his experience in health education, work with youth, and longtime Claremont involvement all speak to his excellent qualifications as a prospective school board member. He is my pick.
Dorothy D. Wills

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