Letters to the Editor/Opinion June, July 2020


June 11 issue:

Egalitarian wealth and racial equality

In recent months, many black people were killed by police: George Floyd, David McAtee, Natosha McDade, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Steven Demarco Taylor, Ariane McCree, William Green, and the list goes on and on.

Study shows a significant percentage of U.S. population is racially biased. Historically, Canada (the Act Against Slavery of 1793) and Argentina (the first Constitution of Argentina of 1853) abolished slavery without a civil war, unlike the great America. Yet, after the 13th amendment was passed in 1865 to abolish slavery, a second system of slavery arose as vividly unearthed in 1991 with the skeletal remains of more than 400 Africans in NYC. It is undeniable that racism was a serious problem in the past and still is.

However, the class divide is much deeper in the U. S. than black and white. The current protest is triggered by police brutality and the primary demand is police reform. Nonetheless, Covid-19 pandemic shows the cruel reality of how easily poor people can lose their lives and jobs. While capitalism creates wealth, without protecting the workers, the environment and the infrastructure, economic growth is unsustainable and financial instabilities occur frequently. When the poor, living from paycheck to paycheck, are unable to pay rent, medical bills, or college tuition, the economy will turn south. Besides bankruptcy could be a major disease away, if working in an expensive area, they can easily become homeless. It is astonishingly sad that some Disneyland employees could not even afford to rent an apartment in Southern California. Moreover, the aristocracy medicine, affordable only by the rich, is ineffective to fend off the pandemic. As demonstrated in Taiwan, the national health insurance helps control the spread of Covid-19. With 23.8 million people and 110 miles away from China, Taiwan has registered only 443 cases and 7 deaths. Therefore, as a start, the national health program, together with a minimum wage that is pinned to the local cost of living, will help strengthen social stability.

Despite the military might against external threats, the U. S., lacking the safety net for internal defense, is vulnerable for great recession as evidenced by the subprime mortgage crisis not long ago. Thus, the bottom-up economics is needed to maintain financial stability by reducing wealth disparity. Singapore did it well by giving people the chance to make money with money. The 90+% of home ownership makes Singapore the richest country in Asia with an average per capita wealth at nearly $300,000. Singapore can do it, there is no reason why the U. S. cannot. To help black people, and therefore all of the people, become affluent needs be the country’s commitment so to alleviate racism in its entirety.

James J Y Hsu

Solana Beach

Teacher mystery: Is this Groundhog Day?

COVID-19 has brought many challenges to our community, our schools and our students, and now one of Torrey Pines High School’s favorite teachers has mysteriously been placed on leave. Is this Groundhog Day? This situation feels eerily similar to Mr. Harvie’s first disappearance during the 2016-2017 school year.

In 2016, when the administration announced that Mr. Harvie had “retired,” none of that made sense to his students. The community of students, alumni and parents came to his support and demanded his reinstatement at a standing-room-only school board meeting.

Everyone knew that he had not “retired” willingly, but had been forced out by the administration. Their rally cry was to simply “call him.” If the school board was certain he had retired willingly… they should be confident that he would not want his job back if offered. After a vote they called him and he eagerly returned to teaching.

For 30 years, Mr. Harvie has inspired students and reminded them of their potential, often telling them they are “the smartest people [he] knows” while they shouted out answers and he wrote them down eagerly. Students register for AP Physics just for the opportunity to learn from Mr. Harvie. As described by Neilah Soliday, the managing editor of the TPHS yearbook:

“To be in Mr. Harvie’s class is a privilege. Not only is it an opportunity to engage in positive, encouraging interactions with an adult role model, but it is also an amazing experience to learn from someone whose passion for physics is so evident in his teaching. I’m among the many students who praise Mr. Harvie as a man dedicated to the education and wellbeing of his students. Torrey Pines has seemingly lost a brilliant educator and an important member of the Falcon community.”

On March 30, Torrey Pines Assistant Principal Michael Santos emailed the students and family of Mr. Harvie’s 2019-2020 classes. In the email, Santos described Harvie as “on leave,” and offered no further explanation when asked. The announcement continues to arouse suspicion among students as the timing of this “leave” is questionable. Considering the current pandemic, those who would object to Mr. Harvie’s dismissal have been left with severely restricted access to the administration and limited opportunity to voice their concerns. During the June 4 SDUHSD board meeting, I (Jessica Misak, a Torrey Pines High School senior) publicly requested more information regarding Mr. Harvie’s absence. Immediately I was told it “is a personnel issue and will not be discussed any further,” and was muted before my designated two minutes to speak were up.

One thing is certain: if this situation took place during normal circumstances, scores of his present and former students would be lining up to support Mr. Harvie — a quintessential teacher and Falcon — in front of the school board.

Jessica Misak and Neilah Soliday

Torrey Pines High School seniors

Edison unprepared for COVID-19 disaster

Disasters of any kind bring me right back to spring 2011 and the triple nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima, Japan. After months of confusion, mixed messages – and, finally, elevated radiation levels in locally-grown food -- I evacuated my family from Japan to north San Diego County. As we have rebuilt our lives, my attention has shifted from Fukushima to the disaster-in-waiting at the seaside nuclear waste repository in San Onofre.

COVID-19 has us sheltering in place. How would we isolate during an evacuation? What would more than 8 million people living within 50 miles of the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station do if, in the event of a radiological release, they had to up and leave?

Last month, on questioning from Rep. Mike Levin, a Southern California Edison vice president played down the utility’s lack of resources and plans to evacuate people living near the shuttered nuclear plant, where workers are in the midst of transferring 3.6 million pounds of highly-radioactive waste from cooling pools into dry storage.

Edison Vice President Doug Bauder offered this mealy-mouthed reply:

“In fact, in June 2015, the NRC approved the SONGS Permanently Defueled Emergency Plan, which eliminates the requirement for SONGS-specific off-site emergency plans. However, more general ‘all hazards’ emergency plans remain in place with local cities and counties. At present, Camp Pendleton remains our partner for initial responses to fire, rescue, medical, and medical transport needs. We also have a full-time and a part-time nurse practitioner on site, as well as a robust and well-trained security force. SCE has memorandums of understanding with local health care providers regarding health or medical treatment for employees and contractors. They have assured us they can continue to provide medical care, if necessary.”

Is he joking?

Bauder seemed unaware – or he just didn’t care -- that our health care system and emergency responders are stretched to their limit with the pandemic. He also hasn’t explained how the waste transfer qualifies as an essential activity and what is so urgent about the dangerous work that it can’t hold until the global crisis is over.

Edison’s determination to plow ahead follows a pattern or recklessness that includes a near-catastrophe in 2018 during the bungled loading of 50-ton waste canister. The steel canisters themselves are vulnerable to failure from scratching, gouging and corrosion -- especially since their storage location is a stone’s throw from the ocean. If this weren’t enough, sea levels are rising and the storage vault is located near an earthquake fault.

Contractors at the nuclear plant should stay home like the rest of us. Work should resume only when Edison can show that evacuation, emergency response and medical infrastructure is in place to provide for our safety.

Cathy Iwane

Board of Directors,

The Samuel Lawrence Foundation

Private property flag placement should have owner’s consent

With the 4th of July approaching, real estate agents and local businesses need to be reminded that placing flags on private property without the owner’s consent is unethical and, in some places, illegal.

Although this action is well-intentioned, it’s presumptuous to assume everyone wants to display a flag in front of their house. And, at a time when this country is so divided, it may be inflammatory.

There are so many issues surrounding this, including:

• Lawns are private property, and nobody should be placing anything there without the owner’s permission. Imagine if we all went around placing flags or banners or signs on our neighbors’ lawns. We wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

• Many communities have intentionally put up No Soliciting signs, so why would they want flags – the symbol of our country – being used to advertise a business for profit?

• Some businesses even go a step further, adding “God Bless America” to the flag. Separation of church and state is a major tenet of this country, and religion is a very private matter to people.

• COVID-19 is still a real threat. During the pandemic, especially, no one should be placing objects that have been touched by/breathed on/exposed to others on someone else’s property without that person’s consent.

For those homeowners who do appreciate the gesture, maybe HOAs can email residents to ask who wants one and then forward that list to the realtors.

Or, instead of placing flags on July 4, maybe local businesses could do a real community service by sending out a reminder – maybe a refrigerator magnet? – in the fall and spring when it’s time to change the clocks and switch out smoke alarm batteries. Just don’t do it on people’s private property.

The Fourth of July is a sacred celebration of our country’s freedom. That freedom includes the right to choose how we want to commemorate that important day and whether or not that includes displaying the flag.

Lois Mark

Carmel Valley

Let the bidding begin

Re: Phil Diehl article “Fairgrounds faces possible closure without financial aid” Solana Beach Sun, June 4, 2020

Covid 19 has exposed some systemic issues: Lots of people are in bad health with severe “underlying conditions,” too many hungry, many financially insolvent and government ineptness. The latter two are exposed in your article stating that without $20 million federal (tax-payer) money the Fairgrounds could close or be sold.

What is really exposed appears on page 24 raising questions of fiscal mismanagement and public employee union contracts with governments and quasi-government entities like the 22 DAA. “156 full-time permanent employees with a total average monthly payroll of $1.7 million.” That’s $10,897 per employee per month – most of whom I assume are not working from home!

Unlike all private sector companies making prudent adjustments with CEOs taking half pay, employees being furloughed or receiving half pay or having to take PTO without pay to help weather the forced financial downturn, you state “the government doesn’t allow furloughs!” No wonder the Fairgrounds is in financial trouble!

Is this a major “systemic problem” with government and public employee unions?

I recently heard when the stay at home order was issued, that San Diego’s mayor, in an attempt at good fiscal management, announced he would furlough 800 “non-essential” city employees. Immediately the union blocked him evidently because of a “no furlough” public employee contract with government. Is this true at all levels of government? Who would sign such a contract? While private sector employees suffer what makes non-essential government employees so special?

Financial, economic and now virus downturns usually result in new efficiencies being utilized; contracts renegotiated, salaries cut, etc. I thought unions had rainy day funds for this type of thing. Why are we taxpayers asked to bail out bad contracts?

We hear the term “public servants” used a lot. Reading your article, I’m confused just who is the public servant, them or us? I guess we are not all in this together.

Cites, counties and states always seem to need more money. Selling the Fairgrounds to private ownership will provide the state badly needed cash now, property, sales tax revenue to all down the road and more efficient, creative and effective uses. We continually talk about needing affordable housing but no land, or where to house our homeless. Well, there’s plenty of land, potential for creative uses, job creation, horseracing, shows etc, etc and the state won’t have to worry about money again or an insane labor union contract.

Let the bidding begin.

Dave Ferguson

Solana Beach

June 18 issue:

Concerns about SDUHSD fall reopening options/lack of mask requirement

The letter below was sent to the San Dieguito Union High School District board, superintendent and San Dieguito Academy principal. It was also submitted to this newspaper for publication. The letter was submitted Saturday, June 13 so timing references in the letter are referenced as of that date.

I received the survey with the options for the fall. I am very concerned by a couple of points noted for these options:

I am troubled that students will not be required to wear masks. (Followup from this letter’s author: The superintendent sent a lengthy reply to me, noting that “no final decisions have been made.”) Allowing students to forego face coverings is a significant and unnecessary risk to the teachers, students, and their families’ health. Numerous scientific studies support wearing masks as an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission, and the county health department has ordered that “All persons… shall wear [a] face covering whenever… within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household.”

Also, I noticed in the new survey sent this week that it says that if you pick the remote/hybrid option, not all classes may be available. Could you offer the opportunity to be remote when possible, but come to campus just for the courses that require it (with masks)? We are concerned that if we select this option out of concern for the safety of our family, that you will prevent our son from taking some classes that he may want or need. It is frustrating to have to choose between our family’s safety and access to courses that may be important to his education.

I would also request that you provide a more visible outlet for parents to give feedback. I only learned of ThoughtExchange from the the Solana Beach Sun article this week. When I read the article, I searched for and found the link at the bottom of an email titled “Superintendent’s Update”; the nonobvious placement of the ThoughtExchange link in the email and the lack of mention of a request for input in the email subject line made this opportunity very easy to miss. And this ThoughtExchange link now says, “This exchange is now complete” and won’t allow further input even though you sent the email only three weeks ago. I also find it frustrating and odd that the new, much more visible survey (linked in bold text as “Survey Link”) sent to parents this week has no place for any feedback or comments. Given that you only received 3,700 “thoughts” (as noted in the Solana Beach Sun article) from a district the size of SDUHSD, I would strongly recommend and ask that you give parents a more visible avenue for input and feedback on these newly published options.

Thank you,

Jason Knapp

A concerned parent of an SDA sophomore

Flags on the lawn: Abide by the United States Flag Code

This Independence Day, may we please find that no Realtor advertised by sticking little American flags in our yards. Please abide by the United States Flag Code which states: “The U.S. flag should never be used for advertising in any manner whatsoever.”

In addition, the code states that nothing is to be attached to the flag’s staff (like a “complements of” flyer), nor is it to touch the ground or other objects (hedges, fences, etc.), much less be set out in the sprinklers, unwanted and unattended.

While not meant to be, this is disrespectful of the flag and the holiday. Tell others of the profession to stop doing this and perhaps have the tattered and soiled flags still seen in some yards from last year, picked up. Those who wish to display the flag correctly, will. Thanks anyway.

RA Stewart

Solana Beach

USA Ret.

June 25 issue:

Approving affordable housing would help undo economic injustice

It’s heartening to see Black Lives Matter signs sprouting throughout Del Mar. Yet, in March 2020 Del Mar voters shot down Measure G, the Marisol initiative that would have created 22 affordable housing units. As in the past when Del Mar citizens used canards like traffic, noise, and lowered housing values to kill affordable housing, that vote was a statement: Del Mar rejects working toward social justice when it demands change in our own backyards. But perhaps today’s nationwide call for justice will be loud enough to pierce the walls of Del Mar entitlement. By approving and building affordable housing, the good people of Del Mar can show that their commitment to undoing 400 years of American economic injustice goes deeper than yard signs.

Mark Johnson

Del Mar

Americans are right to be skeptical of public health officials on coronavirus

Only a few months ago, I advised friends and family members against purchasing face masks. My actions were motivated by my faith in public health experts and elected leaders who, at the time, stressed that face masks were not effective in preventing the general public from catching the coronavirus. Much to my surprise, however, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci recently admitted in an interview with TheStreet that public health officials downplayed the efficacy of masks early on to ensure they would be available to health care workers. Since then, he has changed his tune, now urging people to wear masks in public.

By actively discouraging the use of and downplaying the effectiveness of masks at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci and other medical experts have amplified the belief that masks are useless to combat the coronavirus. It’s no surprise why Americans are divided on wearing masks. This confusion could have been avoided had public health experts been more truthful from the start of the pandemic.

Shahen Boghoussian

Solana Beach

July 3 issue:

Poverty is the root of many issues we face

In times of crisis, we need change. Recently, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others brought forth attention towards police brutality. Police brutality has been going on my whole life, from the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, to present day, with officer Derek Chauvin brutally murdering George Floyd. These acts are immoral and cruel. We need a change, to ensure that what happened to these individuals never happens again.

The problem is there is no law that destroys racism. While we can pass bills to limit the power of the police, it won’t fix the systemic racism that destroys our country. However, this issue is larger than racist cops. This problem arises from a financial imbalance between Blacks and Whites. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation explains that in the United States, 22% of people living underneath the poverty line are Black, whereas only 9% are White. Statistically, since more Black people live underneath poverty lines, along with poverty and crime being directly related, these Black neighborhoods are more likely to be over-policed, causing police brutality.

In order to stop police brutality, we need to hit poverty hard. The U.S. needs to address that poverty is the root of so many issues we face, and take steps to end it. Representative Scott Peters efforts to end global poverty are commendable but, as a community, we can do more. Start by supporting the Borgen Project, an organization working towards ending global poverty. They are truly an amazing cause, pushing poverty to be the most important issue. Together, we can do better.

Melinda Lu

Carmel Valley

Mayor Haviland’s vote does not support Del Mar and all the small cities

On Friday, June 26, 2020, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) met to consider the small cities’ appeal to modify the regional housing allocation formula that assigned required new housing units to each city.

The formula adopted in September 2019 disproportionately assigned additional housing to the smallest cities, including Del Mar. Del Mar’s allocation more than doubled from 61 in 2010 to 163 today. Solana Beach’s rose from 340 to 875. At that time, Ellie Haviland, who was then Del Mar’s deputy mayor and our representative to SANDAG, voted “Yes” to approve the unfair allocation – against the wishes of the other small cities.

The other small cities appealed the decision to SANDAG. Del Mar declined to join the small cities appeal because the City Council majority of Dwight Worden, Ellie Haviland, and Sherryl Parks were against doing so.

SANDAG finally heard the appeal this past Friday.

When the vote was first taken, 12 of 18 SANDAG jurisdictions approved the small cities’ appeal. This would have reduced the assigned housing numbers to be submitted for approval by the California Department of Housing and Community Development by 55% for all the small cities, including Del Mar.

Mayor Ellie Haviland once again voted against the small cities, including her own City of Del Mar.

However, that was not the final vote. SANDAG has a “direct vote” and a “weighted vote” option. A weighted vote gives the City of San Diego immense power based on population. If only a few other jurisdictions join the City of San Diego, just a small number of jurisdictions can overturn a direct vote by taking a weighted vote. That is what happened this past Friday. After the first vote, one of the opposing jurisdictions called for a weighted vote on the appeal.

With this weighted vote, the appeal failed. Mayor Ellie Haviland yet again voted against the interests of her own city, and therefore we now have to zone for an additional 163 housing units somewhere in Del Mar. This did not have to happen, but Mayor Haviland supported it all the way to the end.

Mayor Ellie Haviland should be held to account for her decision. We cannot continue to change low-density zones to high-density residential without serious repercussions including traffic congestion, view blockage, air quality, green open spaces, and our small city quality of life.

Our mayor should represent Del Mar, not San Diego.

Suren Dutia, concerned 30-year resident

S Gay Hugo Martinez, former council member

John Imperato, former vice-chair Sea Level Rise Committee

Why 120 days notice for Fairgrounds employees?

I can’t understand what is going on at the fairgrounds. Two weeks ago they announced that they needed a loan for $20 million because “state law” says they cannot layoff employees. There are 156 employees at the fairgrounds and it is closed! One week later, they changed their tune and said they can layoff employees but said “state law” says they must give 120 days notice. I looked up the state law and the notice is only 60 days and no notice if the employee has been there less than six months. We are dealing with big $$$$ numbers. Can the board give us a clarification?

Jim Benedict

Del Mar

Composting during quarantine

To my community,

Are you bored during quarantine? Are you looking for a way to help the environment? Do you want a cheap and organic fertilizer? If so, you should try to do something called composting.

Composting is when you put food scraps in a bin and let bacteria naturally decompose the waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer. This fertilizer can be put in gardens and plant beds in your yard. You do not need fancy equipment to compost. All you need is a bin and some food scraps. You can build a compost bin out of wood by simply making a box with the top open. Then, just put your food waste in and let it decompose. After a few months you will have nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.

Composting is also good for the environment because it recycles food waste naturally and makes it into an organic fertilizer. And since these food scraps are going into your compost instead of being thrown away, less waste goes into the landfills. Since we began composting, my family has reduced our landfill garbage to one bag of trash every two weeks. How amazing is that!

If you are bored during quarantine and want to save money on fertilizers for your plants, you should try composting. Composting costs almost nothing, is easy to do and does not require much equipment. Best of all, your yard will look amazing from all of the nutrients.

Alex Hassanein

Boy Scout, Troop 782

One View

More Black cops.

More Black chiefs.

By Gordon Clanton

Amid unprecedented national and international peaceful demonstrations of protest, let us remember that police brutality and the unequal treatment of Black people by police are very old problems, deeply rooted, structural, systemic, resistant to change. Despite various attempts to “reform” police departments, White police officers continue to beat and kill Black men and distrust of the police in Black communities deepens.

So consider the benefits of more Black cops and more Black chiefs of police.

More Black cops. What if mostly Black neighborhoods were policed by mostly Black police officers? Racial tension between cops and neighborhood people would be dramatically reduced. Community trust in the police would grow. Cooperation with the police would increase.

To achieve the goal of mostly Black police officers serving mostly Black communities, state and federal governments would need to provide funds for hiring additional Black cops until every police force (and sheriff’s office) in the nation has enough Black officers to police its mostly Black communities. Because Black distrust of the police is a national problem, the national government must help fund more Black cops for Black neighborhoods.

More Black chiefs. What if more police chiefs were Black, especially in cities with large Black populations? Again, racial tension would be reduced and community trust in the police would grow.

The chief of police (or sheriff) makes the policy and sets the tone for the department. Law enforcement agencies are top-down, paramilitary organizations. To change police culture, we need new chiefs who will not tolerate or cover up police misconduct.

If the chief is White, some of these same benefits can be gained by having a Black officer among the chief’s top commanders, responsible for supervision of Black officers serving Black neighborhoods.

When the Black community sees Black beat cops reporting to a Black commander or a Black chief of police, tensions will be reduced and trust will grow.

Of course, many Black communities have additional problems that come with decades of poverty and governmental neglect. And additional police reforms are necessary, especially community oversight, limiting use of force, better training, body cams, and the de-militarization of our police.

Getting rid of police departments is not the solution. We need an entity to protect us from crime and disorder. In fact, sociologist Max Weber defined a government as a group claiming a monopoly on legitimate use of force within a territory.

But the call for police reform is legitimate. One badly needed reform: More Black cops and more Black chiefs.

— Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at gclanton@sdsu.edu

July 9 issue:

Haviland’s votes reflected Del Mar’s best interests

The three-person letter attacking Mayor Haviland’s votes on housing at SANDAG was a gross distortion of the facts and a clear pander to the political agenda of those opposing her re-election. Haviland’s votes were principled and reflected Del Mar’s best interests. Under SANDAG’s weighted vote system there was no way Del Mar could offload some of its housing fair share to other cities.

Continuing to whine about our housing allocation when we have the worst record in the region only bolsters our elitist reputation. Instead we should focus on the very careful analysis of the recent housing task force which shows in great detail how we could achieve our fair share and more.

We can make this happen if we dispense with political attacks and work together.

Bud Emerson

Del Mar