COMMENTARY: Why is the Norwalk-La Mirada School Board limiting our freedom of speech?

By Raul Samaniego

Ah, another Fourth of July weekend in Norwalk. Bar-B-Qs, picnics, fireworks and good music greeted us. All things I’m sure the forefathers envisioned when they sat down and came up with a little document called the Declaration of Independence and later, the Constitution of the United States.

At the June 26 school board meeting of the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, guest

Pam Severns was about to direct the Pledge of Allegiance when she brought forth a document she requested to read. 

It was a statement in the third person from the U.S. flag itself. It spoke of patriotism and respect for a symbol of our great country and the price paid for the right to wave it.
I take the First Amendment seriously.  Let’s review:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yet, there I was again listening as Board President Sean Reagan was reintroducing the idea of limiting the ability for the citizens of the district to do just what the Constitution says, to gather peaceably and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

However, I can appreciate the board’s (in this case, President Reagan’s), need to get home after listening to members of the community offer their solicitated or non-solicitated words of advice.

I’ve been privy to two of the four meetings, which stretched into the night. Those were regarding educators addressing the board about upcoming salary negotiations and when community members addressed the board supporting the idea of honoring a favorite son, who gave a majority of his adult life to serving, Mr. Lee Mitchell.

Now, I don’t have a problem sitting and listening to people address the board with their support or non-support of an idea. I could not speak for everyone in the board room though last Monday night.

Freshly sworn-in board member Jude Cazares was barely an hour or so into his term when he spoke up and said he was opposed to any limitations on the public addressing the NLMUSD Board of Education. 

Minutes earlier both Darryl Adams and fellow member Jesse Urquidi expressed their opinions that they did not support any limitation on the public’s right to address that board.

My question is, why didn’t board members Karen Morrison, Ana Valencia or Vice President Chris Pflanzer chime in with agreement?

What are they afraid of?

So, they miss their favorite late night talk show once in a while.

According to an email provided by District Counsel Robert Jacobsen, only four times in the last two years, did any significant number of speakers exceed 11 or more.

If I were going to limit any resemblance to free speech (and I won’t), I’d cite someone else’s guidelines (such as the California School Board Association) so I couldn’t be blamed for its inception.

Am I upset? You’re dammed right I am.

John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence with prominence and Patrick Henry asked for death if he could not have liberty.

Therefore, why is the district school board even considering any limitation on the constitutionally guaranteed Freedom of Speech?

Letter to the Editor: Kathy Griffin

Dear Editor:

After reading the opinion of Bianca Martinez in the Norwalk Patriot on June 9, 2017, I find it very unnerving  that we have young people in this country that think Kathy Griffin’s portrayal of President Trump is neither immoral nor repulsive.

It is obvious this young lady, Bianca Martinez, has a large bias and dislike for our president or anyone associated with him.

Her venomous bigotry and hateful prejudices leap from her opinion piece. Yes, we in this country have freedoms that are unavailable to others throughout the world. Yes, not only our forefathers but our armed forces today are continuing to fight for these freedoms, but with those freedoms come a responsibility.

A responsibility to exercise them in an accountable and reasonable manner. There are those that make the claim it’s my First Amendment right and reasonable to call someone a “ni**er” or a wetback or say someone wears a flour sack on his or her head. What about burning a cross on someone’s lawn? THEY ARE WRONG!

With all of our freedoms, there must be common sense and accountability and Kathy Griffin used no common sense and is being held accountable.

Joyce Medrano

Norwalk

Letter to the Editor: Norwalk art show cancelled

Dear Editor:

Many in the Los Angeles and local arts communities have been anticipating the upcoming exhibit of my new artwork. My show last May, Water Music/Fire Dance, was a success and attended by collectors from the Valley to the Desert.  It was a great experience for me and everyone.

The documentary film on the exhibit was shown for six weeks around the clock in the window of Stay Gallery in Downey during the studio portion of my artist residency earlier this year (December 2016 through January 2017).

My upcoming show, Ordinary Time, an exhibit with sculptures by the inimitable June Diamond and paintings by myself, is canceled. There were irreconcilable differences between the artists and Mary Paxon Gallery of Norwalk.

The exhibit would have been a relevant statement on the disposability of our society.

The arts communities of Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, and the surrounding cities are struggling, have been struggling for several years.  In Downey, I see an arts community in search of community. The few cultural venues and active arts groups available (except for Downey Theater, Downey Symphony) are young and isolated from the example of more established institutions. Or they are dying. It is, therefore, understandable that the professionalism of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, etc. is not always present here.

It is not, however, understandable that reasonable consideration of the art and the artists themselves is not always present.  Common courtesy is not regional.

I will not enumerate here the list of unprofessional and unreasonable requirements imposed by the administration of Mary Paxon Gallery.  It will suffice to say that the possibility of community is not supported by its activity.

I regret that this show is canceled but will source another venue for the exhibit.

Roy Anthony Shabla

Director of Collections, Downey Museum of Art

New Norwalk leadership

Dear Editor:


Just want to comment on our new Council members in Norwalk. 
A few days before the election on March 7, Tony Ayala was talking with one of my neighbors and was shown a huge bump in the street, in the middle of the Orr School crosswalk on the corner of Dune Street and Jersey Avenue that has been there for several years. 
There have been several reports about it to our old City Council, with nothing being done. I was one that reported it after my husband fell after tripping on the bump coming home from voting at our polling place at Orr School at least two years ago. 
Now, just a few short weeks with the new Council members, this bump has been repaired. Thank you, Tony Ayala.


Marilyn Mason Smith
Norwalk

Letter to the editor: Why aren’t we collecting this rainwater?

So with all this rain that we have had lately, “they” are still saying that southern California is still in a drought. Gee, how can that be?

 

During the storm, all the cement lined flood control channels and creeks are full of rainwater rushing headlong to the ocean. And why is that? Why are “they” letting this happen?

 

I myself collect as much rainwater as possible with all my rainwater buckets outside. Why can’t “they” do the same?

 

Is it not possible to put up some kind of dam/gate to hold back some of this rainwater on all of these waterways? Then that water could be used to irrigate parks, lawns, freeway landscaping, etc. These areas don’t need fresh clean water or so called portable water.

 

“They,” our local and state people, are not thinking outside of the box because “they” are in a box.

 

The good Lord is giving us this rain and “they” just let it go into the ocean. And that is why we are in a drought. Hello! Collect it and hold onto it!

 

Larry Arellano

Norwalk

Tired of Norwalk shootings -- and excuses

To the Editor:

 

 

In response to the Jan. 13 article “Norwalk sheriff’s investigating string of possible gang-related shootings,” is it a shooting victim’s fault he or she is shot because they take a walk in their hometown?

 

Quoting the sheriff’s department, the victim “may have strayed too close to gang territory” and the victim “unfortunately may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

 

Instead of censoring victims, the police must do more to stop the shootings. I suggest a sting operation, similar to putting an undercover cop on the street disguised as a prostitute or a drug dealer. An undercover cop taking a walk in the so-called gang territory of Norwalk could draw out the would be murderer(s). The cop would have a gun and be wearing concealed body armor.

 

Also , a neighborhood appropriate van, with cops hidden inside could be parked right there.

 

Something must be done. When the sheriff’s department warns citizens it is mortally unsafe to take a walk in Norwalk, clearly we are living in hell. If the cops can’t stop the shootings, then it is time to arm the citizens, legal carry of a firearm so we can protect ourselves.


Editor’s note: The previous was submitted by a concerned Norwalk resident who for legitimate reasons chose to remain anonymous.

How Safe is Uber

To the Editor:

 

In response to your article “How safe is Uber?  It depends on your gender,” I find it disappointing that your writer would put forth such a one-sided position that maligns businesses without presenting, or even considering the whole picture, or facts.  I am all for protecting the public, male or female.  However, it seems that I have seen more stories of ride-share drivers being assaulted by their passengers, even being killed.  Many people saw the widely spread video of the male driver being assaulted by a drunken rider.  I gave a ride to a male passenger who shared with me that he used to drive for one of the companies.  He had been robbed but he also acknowledged that he did not follow company recommendations and picked up the wrong persons.  So while he was being assaulted the people he was supposed to pick up were calling asking where he was.

 

There are ZERO background checks for riders, and riders frequently are using a friend or relative’s account so the driver may not even know who that rider is.  Furthermore, your article includes a story of a person posing as an Uber driver who is not.  I’m sorry but there is no background check that can prevent that person’s actions.  Your inclusion of that incident is akin to people thinking gun control will stop bad people from obtaining guns.  In fact, current Uber and Lyft rules will protect any rider as long as they follow the instructions given by the ride-share company.  Uber and Lyft drivers are not allowed by law, nor by company policy to pick up a rider hailing a ride not through the app.  Riders using those apps have a picture of my car and of me available to them so if someone else were to try to pick them up they can easily tell that it is not me.

 

As a driver for either company, and I drive for both, I have gone through whatever background check they have.  As a youth sports coach I have passed many background checks so that was not a concern for me.  I also have to take my car for the companies to inspect.  I have to present my identification and my auto insurance.  I have to maintain my vehicle and insurance.  In addition, riders have the opportunity to rate their drivers, as do the drivers of the riders.  So when you request a ride through either Uber or Lyft, the rider not only sees my car and my photo, but they also see my rating.  If I do not maintain a rating equal or above the majority of drivers in my area, the company will give me a warning about what I need to do to improve my performance.  If the rating does not improve then I would be booted out of the system.  I know of one driver who was released because he did poorly when following directions and didn’t use GPS.

 

I hope you will write further to include the whole story when it comes to these two companies.  It is unfortunate that whenever someone has a good idea, there are those who want to ruin it.  Can the companies have tougher background checks?  I don’t know exactly what they are doing.  I do know that when I originally signed up for UBER it took 10 days to clear me which gave me the impression that they were doing a complete check.  But I do know that your safety is less dependent upon gender than it is on the people who are driving or riding in the car.

 

Mike Davis

Norwalk