Union Democrat staff

Fed up with Columbia El

To the Editor,

Thank you, Union Democrat, for keeping the actions of the Columbia Elementary School Board out in the open.

Their most recent shenanigan of voting behind closed doors to give employees a bonus of up to $2,000 each, costing the school district $104,000, is a violation of California law. The Brown Act requires all matters except for personnel matters, contract negotiations, and matters of litigation to be discussed and approved in open session. That means in full view of the public and allowing public comment. Whether they call it a bonus or a "one-time off-the-schedule payment", it is still a gift of public funds that must be discussed and voted upon in open session. That was not a personnel matter. This looks like another attempt to buy staff loyalty to a controversy laden school board.

First there was the nepotism of hiring one's son for a position he was not qualified. Then the crime of sexual relations with a minor. Then some of the staff blaming the victim for the crime. Then the attempted silencing of the public discussion at public meetings. Then the decision to appoint a board member rather than hold an election, because a special election costing $2,000 "would cost too much". And finally the gift of surplus public funds of over $104,000 to employees of the district. Is this school board above the law? Have they no morals? Just who are they serving?

Thank you, Jeff Tolhurst, for your service on the board, being the lone voice of sensibility, and pushing for transparency during such a difficult time.

Thad Waterbury


Obama's misuse of the Cross

To the Editor,

Obama's recent attempt at humor in the annual presidential pardon of a turkey was, instead, a deliberate act of mockery aimed at the Catholic Church. His actions were not lost on me, a Roman Catholic. For us the Sign of the Cross is a prayer. An invocation to the Blessed Trinity which is the core of our faith - it is not a "throw-away" phrase or gesture.

To suffer the scene of an American president using that prayer, backwards with his left hand could not possibly invoke humor for any Catholics or Christians in general. But, he didn't stop there. We know the president is "intelligent" - beyond comparison to anyone, so he must have been aware of what his choice of words meant when instead of the traditional presidential pardon he granted the bird a "special dispensation." This too is a strictly Catholic tradition, which involves hierarchical review of certain situations.

Obama may not be of Islamic faith, but I cannot call him a Christian either, despite what his "handlers" choose to tell us. He goes ballistic along with the rest of the Muslim world when any hint of insult is aimed at their holy prophet (whose name I am not allowed to utter) - Mohammed. This president, who ignored the outrage at the murder of four Americans in Benghazi at the hands of Islamic terrorists, preferred instead to apologize for a supposed insult to the prophet via an obscure Youtube video.

Is it too much to ask of "my" president to respect my beliefs? He claims to want to unite us - as well we should be, but his actions belie his words.

Grace M. Alvarez

Twain Harte