To the Editor:
District 11's board and administration are already considering measures they will "have" to take if their ballot issue, asking for more taxpayer funds, fails. I voted for the last one, and I'd be willing to vote for another, but I'm concerned about the cuts they intend to make. On their own list, we find: Close schools, defer safety measures, curtail bus service, revise the school calendar, reduce staff, reduce programs not mandated by government (such as yearbooks and music), freeze wages, reduce the district's contribution to employee benefits, reduce support to charter schools, and eliminate or reduce use of substitute teachers.
If I may be so bold as to suggest another list of options: Reduce administration by 50 percent; reduce administrative salaries and benefits so they may not exceed teacher salaries; close the administration building (and sell it) and put all administrators back in the schools and in contact with children -- perhaps even filling the need for substitute teachers. Cut all funds for administrative bonuses, appoint a task team to examine every aspect of District 11 operations and eliminate waste wherever possible; reduce funding to already overfunded and overhyped sports programs; reduce funding levels for boys' sports to that of girls' sports; and demand that corporate entities operating inside the schools pay what they are able or get out entirely.
If I thought for one moment that my money would go directly toward the benefit of children and teachers, I'd not only vote for the ballot issue, but I'd probably write an additional check. To the administration of District 11: Set some ethical priorities!
-- Thomas Wilson
US complicity in East Timor
To the Editor:
Only recently has it entered the average American's vocabulary, but "East Timor" been a pot on the boil for 24 years; unfortunately, most Americans lack the background to comprehend the crisis. The unhappy news is, Washington is largely responsible.
All impartial observers agree that the East Timorese slaughter is being waged almost entirely by "anti-independence militias." Impartial observers also agree that these militias are backed by the Indonesian military; there are even reports of some paramilitaries simply being Indonesian soldiers out of uniform.
So, who's responsible for this ruthless Indonesian military? The answer is, they're armed primarily by Washington. Why do "we" arm these butchers? They act in the interests of multinational corporations, such as Nike, who are assured of cheap wages and a terrorized workforce. A recent PBS program on human rights noted that it's illegal to even try to organize a union in Indonesia. And not long ago, Western banking institutions took direct control over Indonesia's crisis-ridden economy. The bloody regime in Jakarta serves international big business and a tiny, fabulously wealthy Indonesian ruling class.
Also, Indonesia's aggression against East Timor -- which has every legal right to independence -- was almost certainly sanctioned by Washington. Authors Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman report: "On December 7, 1975, Indonesian forces invaded . . . East Timor, only a few hours after the departure of President Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger from a visit to Jakarta."
Incidentally, excepting perhaps Peking, Jakarta is probably responsible for more civilian deaths than any regime in the world. Reliable estimates are of at least 100,000 murdered in East Timor alone.
So, when you read about the slaughter, remember, your tax dollars helped finance it, and it was done in the name of "freedom" and our "national security."
-- Paul Dougan
To the Editor:
Congrats on the decision to shorten Amy Alkon's "Ask the Advice Goddess" column in the Sept. 30 issue of the Independent. Perhaps next week, you could cut off another inch, the next week two, and so on and so forth until Ms. Alkon has subtly disappeared.
Her "advice" seems to be the ramblings of a sexist, tactless, highly superficial woman who is lacking in social skills herself, and the people requesting the advice don't seem to be representatives of those truly struggling with the basics of life, and love, either. The Goddess' subjects are not risqu or daring as I'm sure they are intended to be, they are simply obnoxious, petty and often offensive to those of us over the mental age of 14.
Perhaps Ms. Alkon should try marketing her column to high-school papers -- the audience will not only be more attentive and interested, but they will certainly be able to identify more closely with whatever is going on in Ms. Alkon's head.
-- Eugene Calaveras
The 'Will Rogers of principals'
To the Editor:
Although I do not work at Eagleview, I have worked with Ross MacAskill for over 15 years, and I'm in the building often. You will never find a more compassionate, kind, child-oriented person. He is the Will Rogers of principals -- he never met a kid he didn't like.
Tens of thousands of students could tell you of times Ross has helped them, encouraged them, held them accountable and loved them. Instead of presenting any of this testimony, however, Kathryn Eastburn hid behind quotes from a few angry students who are cloaked from responsibility for their statements by the Independent's decision to use pseudonyms instead of their true identity ("No Way Out," Sept. 16). In my opinion, if a person is old enough to be quoted in a newspaper article such as this, they are old enough to be named and held accountable for their comments. The Independent doesn't even accept letters to the editor without a name and phone number!
I know in my heart the Ross MacAskill would never knowingly let abuse or intimidation occur and so do thousands of parents whose students have gone through Eagleview Middle School. The middle-school years can be tough. We're lucky we have people like Ross MacAskill and his fine staff to help and guide our children through these difficult years.
-- Dr. Kay B. McCormack
It is the Independent's policy to protect juvenile sources, especially those who fear retribution, by withholding their names when requested. -- Ed.
Holy See, population one
To the Editor:
Your article, "Now We Are Six (Billion!)," Sept. 23, was excellent!
It boggles the mind how congressmen who believe abortion is so horrendous can oppose funding family-planning. As Brian Dixon of Zero Population Growth points out, "I don't know why they don't understand that women won't have abortions if they're not pregnant." But then, our politician's aren't elected for their intellects.
Even with 6-billion people crowding the earth, Pope John Paul II remains adamantly opposed to contraceptives, even preaching against the use of condoms in AIDS-ravaged Africa. Using its privileged status at the United Nations which allows it to attend U.N. conferences under its title of Holy See, the Vatican, representing the pope, has managed to stifle progress on every conference held on population. Its obstructionist policies have created discord around the issues of reproductive health and rights, resulting in fewer options being available to stem the tide of unwanted pregnancies and disease in the world.
Now someone is doing something about that. Catholics for a Free Choice has helped initiate a postcard campaign, joined by almost 80 international groups, to petition U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review the Vatican's U.N. status. It contends that the Vatican should be assigned the lower status of "non-government organization," the same as other religious bodies, such as the World Council of Churches.
To join this campaign or read more about it, access www.SEECHANGE.org. Those with no computer can call 574-1045 to receive a postcard to mail.
-- Janet Brazill
Vive urban sprawl
To the Editor:
I am not decided on the advisability of the governor's transit bill. I am not overly enthusastic about going in debt to speed up the completion of these projects. The state constitution forbids state debt. Does this bonded indebtedness meet constitutional muster? However, I do have a few disagreements with Ms. DeGette's opinions on the subject ("In a TRANS," Sept. 30).
The Denver I-25 construction she touts as being to the governor's benefit traveling to and from the Statehouse loses all meaning when you consider it will not be completed until the year 2008. Bill Owens will no longer be governor, and he will have endured the inevitable traffic snarls the construction will have caused during the greater part of his tenure (assuming he is re-elected).
I look at all public transportation schemes with a jaundiced eye. Few end up being self-supporting. Most are never-ending burdens on the taxpayer. Before agreeing to any public-transportation project, in Denver or elsewhere, I would want to see an evaluation by a trustworthy independent expert declaring these projects to be self-supporting. I do not wish to be forced to live in the high-density living conditions of many European cities which is necessary to make public transportation feasible.
"Vive urban sprawl."
-- Jim Bowden
How to spend the state-budget surplus
To the Editor:
I hear our state has a huge budget surplus. Whatever we do, let's not waste the money on wimpy things like better schools and the preservation of open spaces. Let's spend the money on something truly useful, like providing every Coloradan with his or her own personal gun so that we can better protect ourselves from each other. And heck, let's throw in another gun for Chuck Heston while we're at it, just as an act of goodwill.
If there's anything left over, we should spend it on another state-sponsored campaign to deny some group of people their constitutional rights. (We already tried gays, so maybe we should pick someone else this time.) It doesn't matter so much who it is, as long as we spend millions of dollars in the courts defending a proposition or amendment that is certain to be deemed unconstitutional, but that makes some of us feel really wholesome and righteous to be bashing those perverted (fill in the appropriate minority group here) who have the nerve to behave in some way differently from the rest of us. If we still have some money left over -- don't worry, I'll get back to you with more ideas.
-- William Davis
The "state-sponsored" campaign to which you refer was actually spearheaded by a local non-profit group, Colorado for Family Values. Still, we get your point. -- Ed.
A quiet reader responds
To the Editor:
I am responding to a letter from John A DeRuntz Jr., Ph.D. ("He who casts the first stone," Sept. 9). I'm an avid reader of the Independent, but have never written a letter to the Editor until now.
However, the letter from John DeRuntz, Jr. compelled me to write. His letter expressed many of my thoughts and feelings about some of the activities in our community in such an intelligent, thoughtful and beautifully written manner. I was impressed and felt the need to express my appreciation, and say "ditto!"
From one of your quiet readers . . .
-- Julie Stumpff
The magic gene
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to a letter to the editor, "Born Gay," published Sept. 23, written by John DeRuntz Jr., Ph.D. It is my hope that in the continuing debate about homosexuality that we can go beyond the issue of the ever-illusive "gay gene." We need to recognize that the attribution, and moral justification, of homosexuality to a gene is fraught with problems, and that the matter should be dealt with on moral grounds.
To begin with, the gene which allegedly determines homosexuality has not been found. The popular study done by Bailey and Pillard has since been rescinded by the two scientists as having been a loaded test, and the studies they have run since have done nothing to prove that the gene exists.
Second, directly linking a gene with a specific behavior is full of problems. Genes do determine physiological traits, and they may influence behavior, but you will not convince many that nurture has nothing to do with behavior, specifically homosexuality. Behavior is more complex than hair or eye color.
Finally, the argument that the "gay gene" makes homosexual behavior morally acceptable commits one of the oldest philosophical fallacies. The naturalistic fallacy is the act of jumping from a brute fact of nature to moral justification -- going from an "is" to an "ought." If the "gay gene" makes the act of homosexuality right, then does a violence gene make the act of murder right? Does an alcoholic gene make alcoholism right? Obviously not. So then why would we think the "gay gene" morally justifies homosexuality?
If individuals wish to prove that the act of homosexuality is morally acceptable, then they will have to look much farther than a magical gene even if one is ever found.
-- Phillip H. Steiger
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