Letters to the editor for Nov. 23, 2011

Union Democrat staff

GCSD Improprieties

To the Editor:

Thank you for your editorial, "GCSD needs accountability" on Nov. 9, addressing GCSD's misguided behavior.

As a former director, I had the pleasure of serving with a veteran director and well respected community contributor, Mr. Don Meyers. I remember his advice to the GCSD Board and General Manager during a discussion on propriety. His advice, something like this, "it's not just a matter of improprieties, but when you serve the public you must also avoid appearances of impropriety."

Unfortunately, GCSD is a constant target of rumor-mill improprieties, such as staff using GCSD equipment on the side for personal gain, taking assets and inventory for personal use, playing favorites with overtime and on-call duty for extra pay, not attending to serious safety issues such as leaving high voltage wires on the ground, unattended for days or weeks, and without barriers to block public access, insider surpluses of equipment, paying contractors for work not done, requesting distribution of capital improvement loan funds for work done but not yet done, and yes, acts of incompetence and cover ups. Such rumors often surface concerning cozy relationships between staff, contractors, and board members, whereby important GCSD decisions and discussions occur on the golf course, and out of public view. A frequent gripe of many members of the pubic centers around Brown Act violations, and attempts to quiet public comment. Extremely lucrative compensation packages, rich in comparison to the private sector, raise serious questions of avarice, greed and self-serving interests.

True or not - it is disheartening to see such a critically important agency in our community plagued for years now by so many appearances of and actual improprieties.

Craig Maxwell


Mother Lode Jobs

To the Editor:

I keep reading in the supervisor's corner how we are gaining so many jobs. Lowe's 120 jobs and so on. First of all, the supervisors voted in the big box ordinance to block Lowe's out, now suddenly it is a good thing even though it is actually in the city of Sonora, because of that ordinance. The second thing is that many of the jobs are part-time. Now it is the new stores going into the old Mervyns building. But what about the jobs that were lost when Mervyns left the building? Gottschalks was another place where jobs were lost, but no mention. Now Andy's Home Center is closing. Alfredo's is closed and Mid State Rentals closed. They were the only J.I. Case dealer for many miles. It does not take long to see why the politicians cannot operate a government when they don't even add up all the numbers. You can't just count what comes in, you must also count what goes out. Let's face it we are watching the meltdown of the middle class in this country. Let's write the facts and not try to blue sky everyone.

John Powell


Supporting the Arts

To the Editor:

Through the millennia, humankind has learned through observation and experimentation, leaving behind a record of cultural artifacts. Initiating with a mother's heartbeat, percussion was born. From drumming, to woodwinds, to string music, creation of instruments and the making of music is at the core of humanity. The greatest civilizations on earth left behind works of art and architecture, works that we still marvel over.

Music is math. Art is science. The study of both require discipline and rigor. An artist observes, records, experiments, evaluates and continues this endless cycle; fundamental skills that are absolutely necessary to carry out scientific research. With a trained eye an artist can skillfully reproduce an image from eye to hand, and with sensitivity, can capture the essence of culture and create powerful works of art.

If we wish for our children to create and innovate, or to contribute to the scientific progress of our world, we fundamentally must be encouraging their developing brains with both music and art.

If you have one ounce of concern for the future of our culture, you can: 1. Clip this letter and TAKE it to your next elementary, high school or college school board meeting; 2. Write to your school board and your state legislature; 3. Be willing to be a part of funding music and visual arts in your community.

We must nurture lifelong learning. We must give students the elemental tools to observe and innovate, to build the next great generation. The alternative would be to see our culture languish in the electronically addicted, torpor induced state of constant disconnect and distraction.

Laurie Sylwester

Professor of Art

Columbia College

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