Bearing the brunt
As a concerned citizen, I would like to bring to your attention the dangers of mountaintop removal mining and the urgent steps we need to take to protect our nation's Appalachian Mountains and people before it is too late.
Mountaintop removal not only destroys and pollutes waterways and eliminates wildlife, but also affects families' and communities' access to clean water and uncontaminated air and seriously threatens their health.
There are two things our nation's leaders must do right now. First, the president and the Environmental Protection Agency need to follow robust science and set a strong, binding clean water rule that will prevent the pollution and destruction of waterways by mountaintop removal mining waste. Second, Congress must pass the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) Act, which will thoroughly analyze the impacts of mountaintop removal on the health of people who live near it, including the higher rates of birth defects, cancer and early death that have occurred in communities near these mines. I call on all of Congress to support this bill.
I believe we have an obligation to preserve our national heritage for future generations, including our mountains and vital waterways, and to ensure that Appalachian communities are not bearing the brunt of our nation's unsustainable energy decisions.
~ MICHAEL KIRALLA, ARCADIA
To Deputy Editor André Coleman:
I am writing to address a comment that you made during the election night telecast regarding my dealings with the Pasadena Unified School District’s Special Education Department. In your comments, you indicated that I sued the school district over special education issues and that electing me may lead to a conflict of interest. I recall your comment to be “speaking about conflict of interest.”
Mr. Coleman, I beg your pardon! Do you have any basis in fact to support your contention that by electing me to the Board of Education may have resulted in a conflict of interest? Do you have any facts to support that, if elected, I was most likely to engage in unethical conduct in the form of conflict of interest? Is it a requirement of the job for a PUSD board member not to have had any kind of disagreement or dispute over accommodations and services for a disabled child?
Firstly, I had the right to run for office. I met the qualifications, gathered my signatures, submitted them, pulled my papers and did the best I could with no money. In your comment, you made it sound as if I had done something bad or unethical and, as a proximate result, I am most likely to engage in unethical conduct in the form of conflict of interest. However, you failed to mention that [Board member Scott] Phelps and [Board candidate Ruben] Hueso do have kids in PUSD schools. Wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest as well? Are their kids better than mine because, fortunately for them, they don’t have special needs?
You singled out my disabled child and me for scorn because I exercised my son’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) without bothering to inquire further. I think your comment was offensive to every parent and disabled child in this and other school districts everywhere. Your comments were irresponsible and slanderous to say the least.
Let me remind you that the PUSD Special Education Department is in program improvement due to the department’s inability to follow the Individual Education Plans (IEPs) of many disabled students. Under IDEA, when there are disagreements, the parents and the school districts have the legal right to file for “due process” (let’s call it what it is) to settle their differences. Just because a parent (or the school district, for that matter) chooses to exercise their right for due process to settle differences doesn’t make the parent likely to engage in unethical conduct. That’s the way you made it sound during the broadcast. You don’t know the reasons and the facts surrounding my due process request so for you to go out on a limb and say what you said, was irresponsible.
I will further say that any candidate who has received campaign contributions from interests groups could act in ways to protect their endorsers and contributors to sustain the gravy train for the next election cycle. Wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest? In contrast, I received NO money during this election, besides my own and some in-kind fliers that a supporter printed for me. Besides that, there is nothing else.
However, you went and focused on the fact that I exercised a right I have under federal law, did so legally and ethically with the help of attorneys, and the matter resulted in a confidential settlement to ensure that my disabled child received the FAPE that IDEA guarantees to all disabled children.
I guess, in your mind, I have sinned for doing what I felt was right based on the circumstances that my disabled son faced at the time. Special education interest groups did not contribute a single red cent to me or any candidate, for that matter, during this election cycle. I guess in your book we are most likely to engage in unethical conduct.
You owe me and every single parent and child a public apology and explanation.
~ GUILLERMO ARCE, PASADENA
Save the world
Recent surveys show that many Americans plan to eat more vegan meals in 2013. Are you one of them? If so, thank you and congratulations!
By choosing plant-based foods, you’ll help save animals and conserve water, land and other resources. It takes 10 times fewer fossil fuels to produce plant-based meals than those that are animal based, and a vegan indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water a day less than a person who eats meat, eggs and dairy products.
Since vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat and calories, you can still indulge in great-tasting foods, including vegan lasagna, blueberry pancakes, black bean and corn chili and “beef” stew.
If you haven’t yet resolved to go vegan, it’s not too late. You can still help conserve resources, halt climate change, reduce food waste, stop animal suffering and give your health a boost. Just visit www.PETA.org or follow @peta on Twitter for more information and free vegan recipes and product suggestions.
~ HEATHER MOORE
PETA FOUNDATION, NORFOLK, VA