The real alternative
I thoroughly enjoyed the article Mark Thomson wrote [“Notes From Neurosis”] in the Oct. 16 issue of CityBeat. He puts in words what a lot of us out here think, particularly in this difficult time of war-speak and patriotic rantings that move us in the wrong direction. I love your paper-so glad you came along. The Reader is not an alternative paper, and you fill a badly needed niche in this town, especially when the local rag is Republican-minded.
Bonnie Moore, Pacific Beach
Clean and green
On Nov. 13, the regents of the University of California will make a decision that impacts the sustainability of this state-they will vote on whether UC construction projects, including those at the new Merced campus, use at least 50 percent renewable energy. They should vote “yes.” Scientists have been discussing global climate change. Many agree that global warming is occurring. They advise that we need policy initiatives to counter it, unless we wish to bear consequences such as more disastrous weather events and further spreading of tropical diseases. To counteract this, clean energy sources such as solar power will be implemented. In fact, even the most skeptical observers are looking to a smooth transition to renewable energy in a few decades, rather than a perpetual dependence on fossil fuels, the use of which produces global warming pollutants. Like the rest of California, UCSD has been depending on imported fossil fuels, burning gas and oil for energy. This contributes to global warming and is economically and environmentally unsustainable. The issue becomes more crucial than ever as UC develops a new campus in Merced. The UC regents, by voting for solar energy, would alleviate this problem. Combined with careful design, the new “green” buildings will take full advantage of the Golden State's beautiful weather, with medium- to long-term cost benefits. The University of California, as the state's leader in research and education, must spearhead this change for California. In the coming months, the UC Sustainability Coalition will be calling on the regents to support renewable energy.
Kaihsu Tai, University of California, San Diego
Tell the truth
Regarding Sept. 11, I heard a man on TV say that we should tell our children that nothing like this will ever happen again. Not me. I would never tease my children with such a guarantee in an Orange Alert world where terrorists, seemingly, never sleep. All I can do, relating to helping my children feel safe, is wrap them in my arms and tell them how much I love them and assure them that I will do all that I can to protect them from harm. Anything I promise beyond that is just wishful thinking.
Hey, we can't jive our children. The last time I looked they were securely hooked up to TVs, PCs, CDs and DVDs that let them in on all the world's intricacies-365/24/7. They see every single thing and mimic it to a T. Thus, our role as grownups, it seems to me, is to help them make sense of that very fine line that exists in this world between the fantasies inherent in virtual realities and honest-to-goodness actualities.
Oh, I can't help but remember how, when I was a child, society told me that Pearl Harbor would never happen again. Well, I'm sorry, but Sept. 11, 2001 sure seemed a lot like Dec. 7, 1941 to me. In both scenarios I see planes coming out of nowhere, suddenly zeroing in on targets filled with people. I see explosions. I see fire. I see smoke. I see people running for their lives. I see flags waving in the horrific hurricane winds of war. And back then, during WWII, I had more questions on my mind than grownups of the Greatest Generation were willing to even try to answer. In that silence, in what was not said, my contemporaries and I were lied to.
So, as one who was misled by society as a child, when the mighty towers of the World Trade Center fell on that fateful September day, I felt compelled, remembering how I once felt, to want to reach out to every child I could find to share with them a little something to think about in the midst of the madness.
I wrote a poem and faxed it to schools and other places where children might be, a poem in which, besides sharing my feelings about what had happened, I tried to plant seeds that might lead them to dream of a better world. I asked them:
“How many ways can you love? / How many ways can you care? / How many lives can you touch? / How towards others can you be more fair?”
And when I first met with a group of children after Sept. 11, I shared how sad and frightened I was, just as they were, and I let them know that how we were feeling was normal. And I could literally feel the sighs of relief that issued from them in having their sorrows and fears validated.
What occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 captured our children's undivided attention, and when they're this interested in something, they're ripe for enriched, relevant learning experiences.
From the fires and the melting steel that brought the towers down, from the structures that were built to hold back the Hudson River as it stressed weaknesses at the base of the destruction, there are many lessons for our children. Chemistry lessons. Geometry lessons. Physics lessons.
Out of the rubble came stories of heroism and people helping other people, lessons for children regarding the power of the human spirit. Before the smoke had died down, the big questions of our times surfaced: Religious questions. Questions related to the pursuit of peace and justice in a diverse world. Questions regarding civil and human rights. Questions relating to war. Questions our children must answer if their generation is to realize a hopeful world.
There has been no better time in the history of humankind than now to help our children entertain new ways of living, new ways of getting along with other peoples of the world. Why don't we appeal to their highly creative natures, to their humanity, and give them opportunities to explore and clarify their ideas and their budding philosophies? Our children need to debate the topics of the day. They need to draw, paint, sculpt and write prose, poetry and dramatic scenes that can help them fully discover whom they are and what they have to offer the world.
The truth is, although we live in a big old scary world, it still remains a promising world as long as we, rather than conceal it from our children, open it up to them so they can appreciate it enough to want to change it in a spirit of love and human understanding.
Ernie McCray, Golden Hill
Rest of the story
Just a note to compliment Kelly Davis and CityBeat for your timely article on the sad state of affairs at San Diego City Schools [“Cover Story,” Oct. 2]. Unfortunately, because we are subjected to the monopolistic party line ladled out by the Union-Tribune and downtown Chamber of Commerce cabal, San Diego's citizens and taxpayers are denied access to much information, good or bad, and to insights or viewpoints contrary to those of the U-T and special business interests.
Therefore, it is refreshing to see investigative articles in publications such as CityBeat, The Reader, La Prensa and Voice and Viewpoint, providing us with embargoed information and The Rest of the Story not carried by mainstream San Diego print media.
As an administrator and as superintendent for San Diego City Schools for more than 15 years, I am appalled at much of what goes on in the administration of City Schools. Our system once was considered the premier urban school system in the United States, and I am sick at heart with the current state of affairs and the chicanery that is taking place.
Hopefully some day, in some way, the public will get wise and return the San Diego School District to its once-fine status as a caring, dynamic urban school system. It is my hope that CityBeat and other alternative publications will continue to provide insights and accurate information necessary for accountability and communication of real results regarding the education of our children. Thank you for your good work.
Tom Goodman, San Diego
Re: your article on the temp workforce in San Diego [“Cover Story,” Oct. 23]. It should have focused more on the real issue surrounding the placement of workers in potential positions-that is, how much money can they make off of each person for a period of time, known in the business as gross margin, or GM.
Although I am not surprised that most people think they do not have the 40- to 50-percent premium between the worker and the client, it is surprising that the people you interviewed, in the temp service business, claimed to have no knowledge of bad situations. Of course they have no knowledge-they know where the bread is buttered!
I have worked in the business and found it to be lacking a certain moral code when it comes to placing personnel. I am not saying all temp services are without ethics, but when the standard question asked from most services is, “What is the lowest you will accept,” without the benefit of knowing what the job or assignment is, it does not start off a business relationship on the surest of footings. That is where the rubber meets the road.
I don't do business based on lowball offers. It has become acceptable for this business to extract the maximum amount of money from each client regardless of the type, length or complexity of an assignment.
I also was not surprised that most workers felt that each assignment was completely beneath the skill level they have spent time and money developing. I have temped in the past but have moved away from it as I have not found the satisfaction that these services promise to deliver to the worker. The answer that is usually given to a worker questioning a situation or concern is that they can “go to another position” when the reality is that the service can no longer collect the 40 to 50 percent on that client so the worker gets penalized by not being placed in another position. The harsh reality of this business is to find the person who will work for the absolute lowest amount, regardless of skill or competency, and collect those gross margin dollars.
Case in point, I sent in a resume to service that advertised a position that I felt completely qualified to do. Within three minutes I received an e-mail back stating that they have reviewed my resume and there were no jobs for me. I would be put into the “system,” and if a “match” was found I would be contacted.
I have more than 10 years experience in operations and training management and have developed my skills to match a changing work environment. I strongly believe that these temp services decide that they cannot make the huge gross margins from skilled individuals and thus do not place them.
Christopher Strabel, Poway