Union Democrat staff

First Amendment and Libya

To the Editor,

I appreciate Myrna Doering's exercise of her First Amendment rights in her response to my earlier letter regarding the First Amendment. However, she concludes with an error, asserting that an offensive film was "responsible for the deaths of our embassy officials" in Libya.

The Obama administration knew this was untrue the day after the Sept. 11 anniversary terrorist attack. Still, and for days, administration officials continued their "offensive video" prevarication. If any persons - other than the terrorists - are responsible for the deaths in Benghazi, they are the administration officials who denied repeated requests for more protection for embassy personnel in Libya.

As for the above-mentioned film, I repeat: If you surrender your right to comment because somebody offended might commit murder, you will end up surrendering your rights entirely. We cannot submit to blackmail perpetrated by savages, either at home or overseas.

Michael Ackley


Vote Rodefer for Columbia El board

To the Editor,

After attending the Candidates Night in Columbia, I think Jo Rodefer is definitely the best candidate for the Columbia School Board position.

She's a clear thinker and speaker and will tell it like it is. Also, I think it's important to have someone on the board that doesn't have a child in the school and will be able to be objective without worrying about how her actions will affect her child.

Jo is appalled at how the John Pendley case was handled and isn't afraid to say so.

The other two candidates wouldn't take a stand on how the board handled the case which indicates to me that they wouldn't be able to stand up to the other members if need be. Their answers were that they didn't have all the facts due to this being a confidential personnel matter with an impending lawsuit.

The known facts are that when the very serious inappropriate actions by Pendley's son came to light, the young man was transferred to another school.

Pendley's son was convicted of illegal sex with a minor student under his supervision. When it came time for sentencing, Pendley asked the victim's counselor (who is his employee) to write a character reference for her predator, she did so.

The counselor suggested that the victim (her counselee) was not a victim but a willing participant in the unlawful sexual intercourse with the perpetrator who was 10 years her senior and in a position of authority.

Pendley's "doctorate" comes from a diploma mill which indicates, again, poor judgment at least, if not fraud.

These are the indisputable facts.

I can't imagine what "confidential personnel issues" could mitigate these facts.

Please vote for Jo Rodefer for Columbia School Board.

Kathy Andreini


Consolidate county school districts

To the Editor,

Now that school has started, we are seeing bond issues starting to pop up for schools in Tuolumne County. Instead of asking for money for bonds and further burdening the taxpayer, now would be the time to consider collaborating and combining our precious resources. We have 31 schools in Tuolumne County with around 6,500 students being served. Many of our school districts don't even have four hundred students enrolled.

We have seven superintendents in eight districts, including Joe Silva, Superintendent of Tuolumne County Office of Education, which cost the taxpayers $1,410,560 for the 2011-2012 school year. This figure does not include the salary of the Deputy Superintendent at the Tuolumne County Office of Education. It also does not include the salary of Jim Frost, a retired superintendent from another school district, who is in charge of Special Education at the County Office of Education.

We don't need all these superintendents and districts … One is enough! We do not need to be spending over a million and a half dollars on administration.

Most regions in California that serve 6,500 students have one superintendent, an assistant superintendent, a personnel director, a business department, a transportation department and a maintenance department.

I believe the time has come to consider putting on the ballot a measure to combine all the school districts in Tuolumne County into one district and centralize services.

Think of the money we could save. Maybe we can save enough to get art and music back into schools.

Lillian Cravens


College remodel

is wasteful

To the Editor,

The Columbia College Manzanita building is slated for remodeling to create "a centralized location for students to receive academic support."

Isn't it currently functioning as just that? How will remodeling administrative offices at Columbia College benefit the students? Or the community? Why no public discussion?

Is this a proposal or a multi-million dollar done deal?

Are college building/maintenance staff being utilized for the remodel? If the college is determined to spend every last cent of taxpayer bond money, why not build a theater/concert hall? The tiny (Dogwood) Forum lecture hall is a pretty pathetic stage for the world class musicians who come to play with the jazz band.

Remodeling recently remodeled offices will not enhance the student learning experience, and with a shaky accreditation status, the college needs to prioritize spending on a plan that will.

Mary Tune

Twain Harte