Random Letters — 3-19-20


Coronavirus Doubts

In the state of California there are 37, 253,956 people and today there are less than 200 who are infected. What is that percentage?  Is the press making a big thing about nothing? That is .00000537% that is really scary.  More people are dying from starvation, probably.

John Resich, Rolling Hills

The Homeless Card

When I became a college student it took only two or three minutes to receive a plastic ID card with my name, my picture, a bar code, and a magnetic strip. A similar card could be issued to homeless people who have had an interview with a social worker. The card would be used for (1) free rides on public transit in Los Angeles county, and (2) access to restrooms at restaurants. The lack of toilet facilities is a real problem for the homeless. The problem is compounded because it is often necessary to make a purchase to use the restrooms at fast-food establishments, and homeless people don’t always have the money to do this. A minimum purchase can be as much as three dollars. Restaurant owners are afraid that the homeless will trash their restrooms. A system could be devised that would allow a homeless person to use a restroom for free when the card is swiped. I suggest that if the restroom is trashed a certain number of times (for example, three times) by the owner of a particular card, he or she would lose bathroom privileges at that restaurant. A provision of this kind will be necessary in order to convince restaurant owners that it is safe to allow homeless people to use their facilities. Perhaps someone with an active imagination can think of other uses for a homeless card. For example, stores that sell camping equipment might be willing to offer price discounts to card holders.

Lorin Jenis, San Pedro

Disgrace to San Pedro Heritage

Over two weeks ago graffiti at the 7th Street entrance of the Croatian Cultural Center (CCC), as well as disfigured windows, in the heart of historic downtown San Pedro was reported to Council District 15, who have done nothing to ameliorate what has actually been in place longer than a fortnight.

The building is owned by the City of Los Angeles and ultimately the City is responsible for maintenance and care. That’s a moot point because the historic edifice (a former bank and excellent example of Beaux Arts style architecture) is in a sad, disgraceful state. Not long ago it was broken into, copper wiring removed, squatters moved in  and eventually evicted, yet in the wake of that invasion it is still not being cared for.

With all the attention about the recently designated nebulous “Little Italy,” CD 15 demonstrates a huge lack of concern for the CCC that was established decades ago. It has had a  valued and vital presence representing an immense demographic of Croatian heritage and influence in San Pedro and surroundings including honoring, among a few others,  my grandfather Joseph M. Mardesich, Sr., a pioneer of the tuna canning industry, featured in the special window display on Pacific Avenue installed by the San Pedro Bay Historical Society,

The CCC has essentially been abandoned. Councilman Buscaino and staff should be taking care of this building in their jurisdiction rather than claiming “partnerships” they are not truly responsible for and demonstrate stewardship, not complacency.

Stephanie Mardesich, San Pedro

Why I Support Patricia Castellanos

Despite calls for United Teachers Los Angeles members to campaign for Patricia Castellanos, I was hesitant to become involved due to my status as a new teacher, an outsider in San Pedro, and my commitment to spending time with my infant son. However, after researching  candidates for our local board District 7, I feel the need to share my views on the matter.

An independent expenditure account from businessman Bill Bloomfield has poured almost $600,000 into campaigns for Lansing and Tanya Franklin. Bloomfield is a major political investor from Manhattan Beach and a donor to a powerful charter school network in Los Angeles. These interests seek to bust unions and increase privatization in our public schools.

This information is bad for teachers, parents and anyone invested in the future of public education. While the rhetoric and rumors around charter schools may seem hyperbolic, I have personal experience working within a large charter school network.

Some highlights from my time there:

Scores of 50%  were considered passing in an effort to inflate grades and the graduation rate.

Teachers were bullied by school leadership to change grades to enhance the school’s numbers.

As a staff, we were informed that we would not be reporting or recording violations of California’s Ed Code, since it would put us at risk for our upcoming Los Angeles Unified School District oversight visit.

When parents inquired about poor conditions or safety issues, the home office sent misleading letters intended to scare parents away from historic district schools.

The school board was neither publicly elected nor publicly accountable; board members were chosen and were primarily business interests with no background in education or the local community.

We are at a pivotal moment in educational politics. Having gone on strike last year, I am determined to ensure that neither my child nor myself are forced into a charter system that is neither transparent nor accountable to the public.

While Lansing’s website states a desire to “move the public focus away from UTLA and charter schools,” his campaign finance records tell a very different story. In contrast, Patricia Castellanos has the support of local unions and rank and file educators. She is the only candidate to have walked the line as a parent and an advocate and after spending time looking into her history against the other candidates, I feel confident in my decision to support her as the best choice for public schools.

As a teacher, it is my responsibility to model the research practices I teach my students. As a parent, it is my responsibility to share this information publicly in order to prevent us from making poor decisions based on loyalty, hearsay or personal connections.

Maya Suzuki Daniels, LAUSD teacher, former charter educator

Political Primaries

A political primary is a preliminary election in which the registered voters of a political party nominate candidates for office. The key word here is preliminary. The current system allows small states such as Iowa and New Hampshire (assisted by the media) to award front-runner status to the victorious candidate. From there the candidates travel a path determined by which states want to “leapfrog” the other by moving up their primary dates. Candidates are whisked across the country without any real ability to distinguish regional issues from national issues. Consequently, party platforms are determined by a make-it-up-as-you-go approach. If the primary process were organized on a regional basis, candidates would be able to study the regional issues, campaign to confirm those issues and then receive votes based on the solutions they propose. A regional approach would also prevent a premature selection of a front runner because success in one region certainly would not guarantee success in the next region. This would also further validate the process because each state would still have a say all the way down to the end. Finally, the number of delegates awarded in each state should be determined by the percentage of votes won by each candidate.

Accordingly, the political primaries should occur between January and June of each presidential election year. Each of the six regions would be assigned a particular month. A lottery held in June of the previous year would determine which month each region holds its primaries. An example illustrates the format:


Southern (8): AL, AR. KY, LA, MS, TN, VA, WV


Southwestern (9): AZ, CA, CO, HI, NV, NM, OK, TX, UT


Atlantic (8): DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NJ, NC, SC


New England (8): CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, PA, RI, VT,


Northwestern (9): AK, ID, KS, MT, ND, OR, SD, WA, WY


Middle West (9): IL, IA, IN, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, WI

Joe Bialek, Cleveland, OH