Union Democrat staff

Grand jury missed mark on Columbia

To the Editor:

Twice in one edition (July 19) The Union Democrat editorials have clearly stated the controversies surrounding the Columbia Union School District and the machinations of Superintendent John Pendley.

The commentary on the grand jury's whitewashing of the Columbia School Board's Brennan Pendley scandal was minutely on point. That board's dereliction and zombie-like devotion to John Pendley remain inexplicable. The grand jury seems more interested in just making the issue go away than it does in repairing the damage.

Now comes the Belleview School Board, which The Union Democrat correctly shows to be in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, California's open public meeting law. The board clearly violated the law in letter and spirit by allowing John Pendley to hold a serial meeting by e-mail to compile its response to the Grand Jury's mild criticism. It is unclear from the article whether or not the board met the Brown Act's meeting notice requirements.

The only thing this newspaper might have missed in its commentary is that the Belleview board also seems to have violated the California Public Records Act by refusing to release its commentary - after adopting it following the charade of a silent reading. None of the act's specified exceptions to openness applies to the document in question.

One can only conclude that Pendley manipulated the board and treated its members like rubes and bumpkins at a 19th century medicine show. The superintendent even snookered a Superior Court judge into an apparent endorsement of the board's actions. (Advice to the board members: It's not wise to embarrass a judge.)

It continues to amaze that John Pendley remains in a position of trust. Thank heavens "rubes" and "bumpkins" are not appellations one may apply to our newspaper's editorial staff.

Michael Ackley


Unhappy with Sonora pool plans

To the Editor:

I attended the Sonora High board meting on July 16. I do not believe the people of Sonora realize that Sonora High is planning to demolish the Sonora Community Pool to construct three tennis courts. That pool was built with funds from this community. The original intent for building the pool was so our children would learn to swim and be water safe.

Jeanie Smith summed up how she feels, "Any time you pass a bond, you are going you have people unhappy…" Well Jeanie Smith, I am unhappy. I believe the voters of this school district had no idea what the Board was planning. I also believe that if the voters knew you were going to build a $4.25 million athletic facilities, the bond would not have passed.

Angela Brown