Thursday, January 12, 2012
A few comments (“Occupy Monterey looks forward to an uncertain future,” Jan. 5-Jan. 11). 1) Thanks for the timely story. 2) There are no fees, the city agreed to waive the fees as part of the permit. 3) When we offered to pay, during a point in negotiations with the city when it became evident the city management didn’t want to renew the permit, we were informed money wasn’t an issue. 4) If money is going to keep being mentioned, it should be pointed out that the monetary value of: [a] Occupy feeding and sheltering people (with the enormous and ongoing assistance of many people throughout the community), [b] providing public and civic engagement services for various sectors of the community, and [c] providing alternative educational services which aspire to present messages and ideas to inspire and transform civil society (and more), far and away exceed the $11,200 figure which the city cites as its costs… and Occupy thus far has not sent the city a bill. We are happy to provide these services for the community. The City of Monterey management has not yet tapped into the Occupy Monterey Civic Working Group (we’re not sure why this hasn’t happened), which is a concept for helping the community in a multitude of ways. If the city management wishes to continue comparing Occupy Monterey to a monetary loss… well, they will not have learned anything. - pcvcolin | via Web
The New York Times said it all recently about the stark wealth gap between lawmakers in Congress and their constituents. In an investigative story, the journal revealed that “while the median net worth of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat.” This story illustrates it is the political elite, not the wealthy in general, who have made out like bandits during the Great Recession.
Then there is the Nov. 13, 2011 60 Minutes story that found it is not illegal for members of Congress to make profitable securities trades based on privy information gathered on Capitol Hill. Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison for insider trading, but Congress can still freely engage in this normally illegal activity.
These examples paint a disturbing picture. If you want to become wealthy today, you have a better chance if you are a politician or part of the political class. Maybe the Occupiers should consider renaming themselves from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Washington D.C. - Lawrence Samuels | Carmel
Take That, Mayans
First of all, the Mayans weren’t so brilliant (“Mayan theories and astronomy conspiracies abound, making the upcoming year – if it lasts – one for the paranoid record books,” Jan. 5-11). They were a barbaric culture that practiced human sacrifice. Any first year astronomy student knows more than the Mayans did. Anybody who seriously believes in Mayan prophesy needs help getting from New York to Brooklyn and I got a bridge I want to sell. - Starcastle | via Web
Unfortunately, this 2012 hyperbole has caused some wide misconceptions about the Mayan calendar to be spread around. First of all, the Mayan calendar doesn’t “end,” it’s divided into cycles, just like our Gregorian years and centuries. While one might think that a great change would take place when these cycles turn, there’s no proof that the Mayans believed this, and any conjecture about the Mayan belief must be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s always through the Spanish conquerors, who were a little biased (if not barbaric).
Also, even if everything about the end of the world were true, we don’t have a solid handle of how the Mayan calendar aligns with our own. Recent studies have shown that the 2012 calculation is at least off by 60 days. - Kevin Miller | Monterey
We worry about a bird… and yet we call pizza a vegetable for our sadly already obese public school students? (“A look ahead at 2012 (part one): The foie gras ban,” posted Jan. 5.) Our priorities as a nation are so, so fucked up. - Koly McBride | via Facebook
I feel clarification is required (“MPC, Hartnell leaders question state task force recs for community colleges,” Dec.22-Dec. 28). First, to set the record straight: The task force recommendations do not tie funding to graduation and transfer rates (although some task force members argued in favor of performance-based funding). The recommendations would not put unemployed workers seeking job training at the back of the queue; would not deny performing arts students transfer opportunities; and would encourage – not discourage – innovation in remedial education.
After nearly a year of work, the task force developed recommendations that would make community colleges more responsive to the needs of students and our economy, which is increasingly demanding college-educated workers. The plan would rebalance priorities to focus on the core missions of basic skills education, workforce preparation and transfer. Students who make progress toward meeting their goals would be rewarded with priority enrollment, and colleges would adjust course offerings according to the needs of students based on their education plans.
Under policies in place throughout much of the system, hobbyists and “lifelong learners” who are continuing students receive enrollment priority over first-time students. Recent budget cuts have shut out hundreds of thousands of students from California Community Colleges. In 2009-10 alone, 133,000 first-time students could not enroll in even one course. Is it fair for a semi-retired professional who wants to take a state-subsidized golf class for the fourth time to crowd out a recent high school graduate looking to transfer to CSU, or a laid-off auto worker who wants to transition to a new occupation?
The Student Success Task Force recommends enrollment priorities that make sense during these harsh fiscal times, placing those who seek basic skills education, vocational training and transfer preparation at the front of the line and requiring that they make progress to keep their place. Students would address their remedial education needs early in their academic careers. We want students to choose a course of study by the end of their first year at college because research tells us that they will be more likely to succeed if they do this.
The Student Success Task Force recommendations offer common sense strategies for helping students reach their goals and improving institutional effectiveness at our colleges. - Peter McDougal, Ph.D. | Santa Barbara
(Editor’s note: Peter McDougal is chairman of the Student Success Task Force and president emeritus of Santa Barbara City College.)