John Burton; More Margaret Brodkin; Separation of Church and State …

by on January 8, 2009

To the Editor:

I loved Paul Hogarth’s article on John Burton. Burton is a real progressive. Maybe with Burton as our Party Chair we can unite California Democrats and take back the Governor’s seat. Perhaps even get some progressive clout in statewide offices. I’m running for delegate in the 12th Assembly District and, if elected, I’ll support John Burton.

Margaret Dart

To the Editor:

So the logic here is that so long as John Burton throws a few crumbs at the poor, that it is okay for him and Willie Brown to have been in power as California’s position plummeted like a stone while he teamed up with Brown to give away San Francisco’s progressive districts to developers? Burton has long since given up any pretense of holding 60s/70s values that put the interests of Californians ahead of business interests.

It was Burton who was in power as the Democrats stood on the train tracks watching the recall gather momentum while holding their hands over their eyes and saying “this is not happening, this is not happening,” and while being dealt the precisely same budgetary hand as the GOP was in 2003, is now playing the “recall is off the table” card similar to Pelosi’s “impeachment is off the table” card that worked out stopping Bush’s crimes so well. I guess so long as you win the election, it really doesn’t matter the carnage left in your path due to inaction.

Marc Salomon
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Thank you for the article “Brodkin Has Earned Mayor Newsom’s Support.” The Mayor deserves to hear back from his constituents about the leaders he’s chosen, who need to make hard decisions, during hard times, about high stakes issues, like the city’s most precious resource, its children and

I offer two supporting points, from the perspective of a Bay Area constituent who for over a decade has worked on public-private ventures and innovative initiatives involving city departments, the school district, philanthropy, non-profits and neighborhoods. At different points in time, this was as a foundation grant-maker and an independent consultant.

First, Mayor Newsom deserves accolades for his enlightened decision to appoint Margaret Brodkin to head DCYF in 2004. He brought a genius from the non-profit world into city government. Brodkin brings her nimble thinking, resourcefulness, and results orientation into her work for the city’s families:

ò DYCF has never been this dynamic and productive in the decade-long period that I have worked closely with that Department.

ò Brodkin translates vision into action with remarkable speed and success.

ò She consistently engages stakeholders to gain broad ownership for ideas and to pitch in on the work to be done.

ò She has increased standards for services and accountability for providers.

ò She understands the importance of strategic partnerships and builds them across departmental and sector lines, leverages (increasingly limited) assets and maximizes benefits to community. This is complex work, and too few do it well.

ò I believe during her four years leading this city department, she has developed experience-based respect for the political dimension of reality.

If Margaret Brodkin was right for the city and DCYF during that time of prosperity, she is even more right during this time of austerity. Now would NOT be a good time to lose Margaret’s leadership at DCYF:

ò The Return on Investment of much of what is underway at DCYF would be put at risk under a “caretaker” head or someone whose expertise lies elsewhere.

ò Turbulence that the economy will surely cause for the city suggests that the Department, the city, and its families need the most qualified, seasoned leader to focus on its most valuable assets now and in the future its young people and its families. The city already has this leader in place with Brodkin.

ò Brodkin has the grasp of issues, realities and opportunities, and is delivering the greatest good one could imagine, efficiently.

ò As a by-product, DCYF is taking shape as a model that has value to cities across the state and the nation. It would be a travesty to undermine the work attracting national attention that is underway, and it would seem to enhance your legacy as well, as you eventually move into other leadership positions on the state and national horizons.

I urge you to take these points into consideration; they are shared by a great many levelheaded colleagues and dedicated professionals in the field.

Submitted with respect,

Connie Dubin

Dear Tommi:

Thank goodness for you! You spoke for me; I couldn’t have said it better. I particularly appreciate your turning up those totally precious nuggets of history: that John Adams swore on a law book and Franklin Pierce and Teddy Roosevelt swore on no book at all. Go, team!

Those are the kinds of facts a person needs to have handy when trying to wake up someone, anyone, in the herd of believers. If the ghastly spectacle in Gaza isn’t enough evidence for anyone to reflexively reject the idea of a state religion, then I guess we’ve got to try to pry open faith-based minds brick by brick: as in, no need for any book at all. But if they’ve just got to have some graven image, how about the president swearing all he wants while laying his hand on the Constitution? What could be more pertinent?

And thank goodness, too, for that plucky lawyer, Michael Newdow. May he prevail! To help him along, maybe the folks on Obama’s site can cleverly invent a church-state separator, a handy-dandy tool sort of like those old all-purpose bottle can openers or even those newer ones with the handle you turn (but not the electric ones because they use electricity — y’know, cool down global warming and all that jazz}. And they’d be needed quite a lot. Even though we have inaugurations only once every four years, there are unfortunately plenty of other situations when the church and state need separation, what with the Christian Right and the congress breakfasts, the fundamentalists under everywhere you look, the TV evangelists throwing their unasked-for opinions around in the guise of pastoral guidance, the sadly spliced pledge of allegiance, the currency that Trusts in God (instead of silver or gold?), this latter-day government funding of faith-based programs, etc.

The separation of Church and State? Surely we the people have enough elbow grease between us to keep them apart. All we need is the right energy and, of course, the right tool. Separator, please!

Deetje Boler

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