Manny Ramirez Story; Teachers and Religion; In Defense of Trekkies; Prop 1A Ads; Politicized School Funding; More Muni Madness; Fred Ross and SEIU …

by on May 11, 2009


To the Editor:

BeyondChron is usually an informative and must read blog, but when you mentioned “facts” and Mark Fainaru-Wada in the same sentence, I threw up. Wada is a real criminal who has spent his life spewing forth hate of Barry Bonds (hasn’t he collected his 30 pieces of gold for this yet?), and other entertainers. Karma follows Wada and that other criminal Williams.

Mary Stream


Tommi Avicolli-Mecca:

I agree with the Supreme Court Justice Selna in this case. Yes, I am a Christian, but I was also a teacher for 30 years and I understand the influence a teacher has on his or her students. Our attitude and passion for a course can influence students in selecting careers, developing morals, and living their lives. By belittling Christianity, this teacher was creating an air of prejudice towards Christians.

We who grew up in the civil rights era know how attitudes create an air of fear, prejudice, and even change. And it can stem from something as simple as a cartoon on TV to change the attitudes of people. After the Simpsons began airing, I noticed an attitude change in my students. They were disrespectful and at times mean spirited towards adults and especially teachers. They seemed empowered by Bart Simpson’s disrespectful attitude toward his parents and adults in general.

It was right for the court to step in to correct the attitude of this “teacher.” I pray that they are able to find a way to monitor his classes. And though I don’t expect I will receive an apology for your indignant cracks in your letter, I do understand your angst. Remember, God forgives – even though we may not.

Charles Wolf

To the Editor:

“Sued for Criticizing Creationism” by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca is a biased article. A teacher should be able to voice his opinions on topics such as these; the teacher, nevertheless, should not be allowed to teach his beliefs to the students as curriculum material.

However the author has blown this out of proportion like its some national reactionary movement to Christianity and school. Its not. It’s an isolated incident that involved a passionate Christian student. At the very least, the author’s bombastic wording overstates the situation.

The teacher probably needed a simple slap on the wrist and reminder to stay within the curriculum and not “teach” his opinions. This did not need to do to the court and I feel that the student probably needed to suck it up and realize that other people don’t always believe what he does. Litigation was not necessary.

Lastly, blatant bias (like contained in this article) does nothing to resolve the creationism issue, it only exacerbates the situation and creates more tension.

Dan Fritz

To the Editor:

The court decision discussed in Tommi Avicolli-Mecca’s article, “Sued for Criticizing Creationism,” could be read as a recognition that creationism and intelligent design are religious theories and should be taught, if at all, in Sunday school, not in our public schools. This would be consistent with a number of court decisions on this issue.

It is appalling, however, that only 40 percent of Americans accept Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as set forth in his “Origin of Species” published in 1859, and his subsequent writings. His theory is considered the foundation of biology and is supported by information, which has been tested again and again. The discovery of DNA further confirms Darwin’s theory and explains how traits are passed on. Genetics also confirms the most controversial part of Darwin’s theory: that humans and apes have a common ancestry.

How are we going to keep up with the rest of the world in innovation and scientific discovery when adherents of pseudo-science wield so much influence in our society? Junk in, junk out.

Ralph E. Stone
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Perhaps that intellectually-blunted judge denying a teacher’s free speech on creationism (“Sued for Criticizing Creationism”) would apply his logic to various state officials, like members of Congress or federal bureaucrats? Many treat reason and science as if optional, superstitious nonsense, too.

Do not all government officials, not only teachers, have a duty to the “truth,” thus an equal need for expansive discussion? What about idiot Congress people who reveal bias and bad education by calling our president a socialist, communist, and/or fascist dictator? By this measure, all officials, certainly those paid to educate and inform, should be legally held to rational, testable, “expansive discussions” about the nature of reality?

Robert Becker
Mendocino CA

To the Editor:

Teachers as well as students are entitled to their opinion. In the classroom setting, one must maintain civil and controlled expression but one should feel free to state whatever they believe or think about any issue.Where the problem comes in is since the teacher is in charge of the class room they should not be able to base the students grade on whether they agree or not with the teacher.

John Ure

To the Editor:

Your argument is exactly the reason the judge ruled the way he did. If you understood the ruling, you would realize the comments made violated the law, the same law that protects all other faiths such as Buddhism and Islam. Generally, people tend to have issues when it stands up for Christianity. Many things have wrought trouble all over the world, and if we want to blame religion for them, we could talk about Islamic terrorism as well. But it would be futile. Your comment about the Pope, is just short of retarded. The pope is not Christianity. Get your head out of your ass.

D. Tobin

To the Editor:

It certainly is an interesting and depressing case. Should teachers have to hold back their statements on religion, especially when that religion happens to be what a majority of americans adhere to?

In answer to that question, I think Corbett could have taught a class that was divided in two: he could have taught creationism in one class, directly from the Bible and could have mocked it slightly (but not enough to get sued) and then spent the other half teaching evolution, concluding that evolution and science has explained a lot more than creationism and the Bible have.

Then, he could have randomly selected students to be in a debate on creationism vs evolution for the next class, forcing them to research and bring in three credible sources for their research — books and appropriate websites.

And then he could have left the lecture alone and let the students decide. I’m a devout fsm atheist, but i think he went about teaching his class the wrong way.

Butch Gonzales


Dear E “Doc” Smith:

There’s nothing wrong with being a “trekkie” anyway. Without those people, these Star Trek actors would have no “life.” (ALL celebrities need an audience). Let’s face it, no one drags those actors to those conventions or forces them to do those movies.

Christine Sojka


To the Editor:

I was just wondering if anyone else feels their intelligence insulted by the latest TV ads for props 1A & 1B with the fireman. They rubbed schmutz on his head to make it look like he just came from a fire! Do voters really fall for these tricks?

And I recognized the stock photos in the mailers from mailers I’ve received in the past about unrelated issues. Do they really think the voters are that stupid? Are the voters that stupid?

Terrrie Frye
Tenderloin SF


To the Editor:

While a layman in terms of school policy, I have a 7th grader attending SF public school and have been deeply concerned with issues on public education. As stated in the article “School Beat: How to Spend SFUSD’s Stimulus Money” by Lisa Schiff, being short sighted regarding solutions does nothing to improve the situation in our schools for current students or future generations.

I can’t help but feel this is all politics and PR. What would be appreciated by parents is transparency in regard to how the money is spent dollar for dollar. Updates and further information regarding participation in the progression of this aid would be greatly appreciated.

Glenn Peckman


To the Editor:

I do agree that we have an absentee Mayor, even when he is present. Didn’t he say once that he didn’t like the Mayoral job? But still our Mayor is absent on Public Transit issues. He doesn’t get it that a city is measured by its public transit. So all the funds must be restored to MUNI.

Our MUNI budget is commensurate with that of a third-world city, the more its funds shouldn’t be touched. Now that irrational exuberance is blown into pieces by this economic “crisis,” we must go back to basic and function like a true city. We are not poorer because of the situation, but must shave away the excesses of the mirage days when we spent more than our means. The money is still there, a lot of it, but we must funnel it toward the good of our city.

I commend Supervisors David Chiu and Chris Daly for doing so much for our public transit.

Nafiss Griffis
San Francisco


To the Editor:

Fred Ross, Jr. continues to inspire hope as he stands strong on the side of justice. I think that all of us who work so hard on behalf SEIU workers have felt a sting of betrayal, and Fred’s empathetic words acknowledge that sting, but call us to hope again. Internal struggle within unions is heartbreaking, but we must not lose heart for their purpose: uniting for protection of workers. We must stand strong in support of worker rights, and Fred inspires me to do so.

Rev. Sarah Halverson

To the Editor:

I agree. SEIU should make peace with UNITE HERE, or Andy Stern should step aside and be replaced by someone who will make peace. Undermining UNITE HERE has been a disaster.

David Nystrom

To the Editor:

While I applaud SEIU for its national agenda, they have completely failed to represent public workers and healthcare workers on the local level. These many failures cost communities healthcare and public services as well as jobs. Using workers dues to fund a national lobbying firm, a credit card company and political PACT may excite the liberal left who want to feel empowered and actualized but it has dismayed and depressed the working people who must foot the costs.

As an Oakland resident, I have fought to keep my schools, libraries and hospitals open. SEIU has abandoned its members, Oakland and other working communites.

Perhaps Randy Shaw should interview the 5 of 8 City of Oakland painters who will be laid off. They couldn’t even get an SEIU rep to show for a council meeting to oppose their lay-offs. Oakland has 49 lawyers on the payroll and will soon have just 3 painters. WAY TO GO SEIU 1021. I feel powerful!

Ann Nomura

Open letter to Andy Stern and ditto to Fred Ross’s article:

Brother Stern, you and your leadership team must come to your senses. Encroaching on a sister union’s jurisdiction will not advance the labor movement and your demonstration of lack of integrity by being involved in such a sordid endeavor will eventually morally bankrupt and taint your legacy in the labor history of this country.

Along with Fred Ross, I and many other progressives are veterans of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers’ jurisdictional battles with the Teamsters during the 1970’s, I was on the ground in the Coachella Valley working out of the UFW’s field office when the Teamsters union tried to interject itself and become the union representing farm workers in an attempt to replace the UFW. It didn’t work, but it intensified a protracted struggle between the UFW and the Teamsters that spanned a decade, before the Teamsters were forced to concede that it was the morally bankrupt pugilist in the back and forth boxing match.

As many former UFW alumi, I also attended law school and at U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall my labor law professor could not understand why I emphatically asserted one day in class that it was a foregone conclusion that the UFW would win the jurisdictional struggle with the Teamsters even though the odds were stacked against the UFW. Prof. Feller did not understand that the bigger and mightier the Teamsters were the more the American public would support the underdog UFW and the progressive elements of the labor movement would with more passion and dedication throw their support behind the “David” UFW against the “Goliath” Teamsters, to use the analogy of another well known UFW alumnus, Marshall Ganz.

Even though the analogy does not as aptly apply to the struggle between the SEIU and UNITE HERE, Andy Stern and the leadership of the SEIU should take heed from the lessons of recent labor history.

Fred Ross is right on point in his observation: “. . . that [the] SEIU [hopefully] will reclaim the best of its proud tradition and help build a more powerful and unified labor movement. . . . [The] SEIU made an enormous contribution to the election of President Obama and a progressive majority in Congress. Now . . . [the SEIU leadership] can make a major contribution by making peace with UNITE HERE.”

As a sometimes practicing Catholic, I am praying very hard about this crisis to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe and the patron saint of workers’, St. Joseph, to help bring the labor leaders and the union members, on both sides of this unfortunate situation, to a mutually acceptable resolution. The labor movement and progressive community do not need this distraction at this important time in the history of our country.

Si Se Puede, Yes We Can,

Federico “Freddy” Chavez

Federico Chavez grew up in the farm workers movement and the UFW in Delano, CA, was a staff member of the UFW for many years, and after law school worked as a volunteer staff attorney with the UFW’s Legal Dept. He presently is an Administrative Law Judge for the State of California.

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