Readers comments 2-19-21
Reopening local schools
No one wants to be back in the classroom more than educators. I want to welcome every one of my first grade students back to my classroom in a way that keeps everyone safe: students, their families and staff.
As California continues to struggle to control the pandemic, which is still impacting many communities disproportionately, a phased-in approach that responds to local conditions and transmission rates has to be part of a responsible return to in-person instruction.
Any path to bringing students back to campuses will require implementing multi-layered mitigation strategies that consider community conditions and include robust cleaning and updated ventilation systems, asymptomatic testing of students and school employees, six-feet social distancing and enforcement.
To return to schools for in-person instruction, the state must ensure all employees required to report in person have been provided the opportunity to be vaccinated before students return to campus. The vaccine distribution should prioritize educators in schools already open and schools in communities with high transmission rates.
We must take a comprehensive and data-driven approach to return to school that includes addressing community spread. After all, no matter how safe of a bubble we put around our schools, the students and staff inside go home at the end of the day. If mitigation efforts are inadequate in the community, the risk of it being brought back to school increases significantly.
Los Angeles County is and has been in the purple tier, four times the cases that places them in purple. It’s not time to safely return! Keep students, staff and the community safe!
Election security or twisted reality?
Kris M. Meyer professes concern about our voting security in a letter published February 12, 2021. He is convinced we can tweak our election procedures so that no one will again mistakenly come to believe an election was stolen and try to take it back with a violent insurrection.
I share his concern about the health of our democracy, but marvel at the fix he proposes. The people who stormed the Capitol believed a man who had told them 15,000 lies. This man’s followers reveled in this stream of deceit. They dismissed the Republican state officials and dozens of judges of all political stripes who found no evidence of fraud. They offered no evidence themselves, content to re-tweet debunked fabrications. They placed themselves beyond the reach of reason and inured themselves to facts.
Mr. Meyer would have us believe we can solve this with a tightened election process, and so transform future election results into a wall of facts that none could deny. But we have seen millions of people prepared to deny any facts. Mr. Meyer and I share the hope that we could regain a common ground of factuality on which to rebuild our democracy. He goes astray in supposing that it is reality itself that needs reconfiguring. The problem does not lie with the reality of vote counting. The problem is with those who would twist any and all reality beyond recognition to serve the needs of their ill-chosen leader.
What the heck?
What the heck is going on in city hall these days? Is the scuttlebutt true that the city of Claremont proposes to rip up Cahuilla Park to make more room for Trumark Homes, a foreign investor, to use the sports park to build houses at La Puerta, and city council actually voted, one and all, to leave out an environmental impact and traffic report for Cahuilla Park? Could this crazy plan even be possible? Why can’t we keep the sports park for sports, and expand the presence of our youth at La Puerta instead of giving prized, beloved open space away to foreign investors to make millions and millions? This reckless plan is detrimental to our children. Youth could have ample space at La Puerta, and smaller children will continue to have a place to safely play at Cahuilla. Cahuilla could also remain uninterrupted. After all, we have invested millions in the school district, including time and talent, through bonds and other measures. It’s time for the school district to give back by adding a little more space to the sports park for our youth, instead of giving a priceless plot to a greedy builder.
The larger question is why do our city council members believe it is OK to not represent our interests? We have been forced to go to district representation for choosing city council members. However, at least two city council members, thus far, have openly said that they represent the “greater” good of the city (they personally decide what that is) over the expressed wishes of their constituents, whom they were specifically elected to represent and serve.
Why should there be restricted voting and elections if our own representatives override our interests with their own personal agendas? Something is way out of whack if our city council members and our city planners don’t have our lives and well being in mind. Something to consider. Let your hand do your thinking at the polls. Unfortunately, there may be little semblance of the city we love left by then.
Anniversary of Khojaly Massacre
On February 26, Azerbaijani people will solemnly observe the 29th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre, Europe’s first mass atrocity since World War II. On that night in 1992, the Armenian forces, armed by the 366th infantry regiment of the Russian army, attacked the town of Khojaly in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Estimated 613 fleeing residents of the town, including 106 women and 63 children, were chased and brutally murdered by the Armenian fighters. Hundreds of civilians went missing, over a thousand received permanent health damage, 1,275 were taken hostage, and over 150 children lost one or both parents.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the New York Times, other media outlets and rights watchdogs documented the atrocity. The Armenian field commander, Monte Melkonian, provided a shocking witness account of the “killing fields” near Khojaly in his diary, reproving his fellow fighters of the war crime. Former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan also admitted that it was an act of revenge against Azerbaijanis. Yet officially, the Armenian government and the Armenian-American interest groups continue denying the atrocity and justice to its victims.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance in January 2015, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin highlighted the Khojaly Massacre among the genocidal acts that the international community failed to prevent. The painful memory of Khojaly remains an obstacle for the Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation also actively sought by the United States. On this occasion, I join the Azerbaijani-American Council and the community to commemorate the Khojaly Massacre and to support its recognition through public statements.
The problem is not voter fraud
Kris Meyer (COURIER, February 12, 2021) finishes his elaborate scheme for preventing voter fraud by saying that if that scheme isn’t instituted before the next election “we could have a repeat of 11-3-20.” What happened on that date? Donald Trump was decisively defeated. But, of course, given the context, what Meyer thinks happened on that day was that Trump won the election and was fraudulently deprived of victory.
There was no significant fraud—only those scammed by Trump believe that there was. Election officials say it was the most secure election in American history. The only major attempt at fraud was the attempt by the president to pressure the Georgia secretary of state into creating 11,780 votes so that he could win the state—thanks to official honesty the fraud didn’t come off.
The problem is not voter fraud, but voter suppression, an array of techniques employed by Republicans nationwide, from gerrymandering on down, to prevent citizens from voting. Meyer’s process to prevent fraud is in fact an attempt at voter suppression—by making the rules for having a vote certified so complex, many eligible American citizens would be disenfranchised.
The proper principle: it is better to have a few ineligible votes cast than to deprive genuine citizens of their right to vote.
Dishonesty is likely balanced
I have no real objections to Mr. Meyer’s rather complicated proposal to guarantee the security of our elections (letters, February 12, 2021). I, too, have received absentee ballots for an adult child who no longer lives at home. I have attempted to have my son’s name removed from the voter rolls—so far to no effect. However, I do not see this as an opportunity for extensive fraud for the following reason. Has Mr. Meyers found his neighbors who register as Democrats to be less honest than those who register as Republicans?
My point is, that although there may be an occasional attempt to cast an illegal ballot in the name of another person, the number of dishonest Democrats is likely to be fairly well balanced by dishonest Republicans. The result would be a wash, and therefor unlikely to influence the outcome of most elections.
Surely Mr. Meyer would acknowledge this fact—unless he believes that Democrats as a group are innately nefarious.
Making democracy a priority
The American people have found themselves in a precarious position—Democrats, who have won a trifecta, seem powerless to enact much of their agenda. We ended up in this situation because our democracy was designed to give tremendous power to a small minority, and Republicans have spent decades exploiting that power to entrench their rule over the majority. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Buying elections. Even now, following historic voter turnout by Black and brown voters in states like Georgia, Texas and Arizona, Republican-led legislatures are working to add additional barriers to accessing the ballot box.
That’s why our first priority should be fixing our democracy and ensuring that structural reform rebalances power for the people—before it’s too late. We need Congress to pass H.R. 1, the For The People Act, to get money out of politics, expand voting rights, combat corruption, secure our elections, and much more. These reforms to our democracy are pivotal to preventing future tyrants. The Democratic House passed H.R.1 last year, with every Democrat voting yes. It’s time for them to do the same and for the new Democratic majority in the Senate to do the same.
Americans took the first step to heal our democracy by overwhelmingly voting Trump out of office. Now Congress must do its part to fix our badly broken democracy and pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
The Gabrieleño-Kizh Nation
We are sending this letter in regards to the printing of two recent articles about the history of Claremont that included hurtful and erroneous information about the indigenous people of this area.
The Indigenous People of the greater Los Angeles Basin and surrounding areas have been called the Gabrieleño since they were the laborers who built the Mission San Gabriel. Since this period, the indigenous peoples have experienced the most horrific atrocities. They were removed from their ancestral lands, and there were attempts to eradicate their culture, history, language and identity as a people. Today, they continue to experience atrocities by individuals who are attempting, once again, to steal their birthright to manipulate the public for their own self-gain by wrongly using a modified village name to identify the original people.
During mission times (late 18th Century), indigenous people were collected by the Spanish from many villages in what are now parts of Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, the greater Southwest, and Mexico. Even though these people had different cultures and spoke different languages, as time passed, they melted into a community.
The original peoples that inhabited the Greater L.A. area historically referred to themselves by their village names. The were named by the Spanish the Kichireños, and by other surrounding indigenous peoples the Kizh (from the Kizh word for the willow homes they built). Many tribes today are returning to their original names. Through genealogical and historical documents, it has been established that the members of the Kizh Nation are the direct descendants of the indigenous peoples from the greater Los Angeles area.
In 1994, the California Joint Assembly introduced a resolution to recognize the Gabrieleño as the “designated Tribe of the Greater Los Angeles Basin.” As it stands, the Gabrieleño (the lineal descendants of the Kichireños as described by the Spanish prior to the construction of the Mission and the subsequent use of the term) are the only ones recognized by the state, and not the groups calling themselves the “Tongva.” The term “Tongva” had been added to the 1994 resolution before coming to a vote; however, the State Senate rejected the term because there was no credible foundation for its inclusion and use. Three subsequent legislative bills that included the name “Tongva” were submitted and ultimately canceled without clearing committee discussion. In addition, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) and the Treaty of Castaic, Texon, etc. (1851) do not include the tribal name of “Tongva.”
While not yet officially listed by the Department of Interior on the list of “Federally Recognized Tribes,” the Gabrieleño (now referred to as the Kizh Nation) are officially recognized by several state and federal agencies, including the Native American Heritage Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corp. of Engineers, as the true lineal descendants of the original people.
If one researches the term “Tongva,”
one will find no historical or ethnographic reference to any tribe, band, village or group called “Tongva” prior to 1992 when the term was erroneously created with the best of intentions to save the Kurvugna Springs at Uni High School in Los Angeles. The term “Tongva” and the individuals who created and continue to use the term are not the descendants of the Kizh of the Greater Los Angeles Basin and surrounding areas. The creation and use of this name and the co-opting of the indigeneity of the true descendants has created confusion and caused harm, whether intentional or not.
The Gabrieleño-Kizh Nation people are alive and well in their traditional homeland. Their lengthy and deeply rich history is an important part of the California story. If they are to be properly honored and respected, we must begin by acknowledging their existence, their identity, their origins and their authenticity.
For further documentation contact Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians – Kizh Nation at PO Box 393, Covina, CA 91723, 844-390-0787, www.gabrielenoindians.org
Mari A. Pritchard Parker, RPA
Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, Pasadena City