Readers comments 6-5-20
In these times of convulsive anguish, where many are expressing their collective pain over the murder of George Floyd, it is crucial that our community recognize our obligation toward addressing racial inequality and injustice within our own community. The most effective mechanism for bringing voice to such concerns and having them acknowledged and addressed is through the Claremont Committee on Human Relations (CoHR).
Born in the aftermath of KKK literature being littered throughout Claremont neighborhoods in 1996, and becoming enlivened in the aftermath of Irvin Landrum’s shooting by Claremont PD, CoHR remains our community’s most accessible forum for addressing racism and hate.
I suggest the city authorize CoHR to immediately create a Zoom community dialogue for the expressed purpose of providing a safe space to hear from city residents, workers and guests regarding their grief and pain over the ongoing crisis of race relations in our country. The resulting commentary could serve as a platform for creating policy to address institutional racism in our community.
Former Chair of CoHR
The Death of Mr. Floyd
As I was reading the news on the death of George Floyd, I recalled something that happened to me a few years ago in Claremont: Having just taken a withdrawal from my local ATM account, I was making a purchase at a local retailer. When I handed the clerk a $20 bill he looked at it and informed me it was counterfeit.
I recall saying clearly to him that it was impossible—I had just gotten it from the bank. He laughed, handed it back to me, and told me I should have my bank check its cash sources.
I smiled and walked back to my bank where the teller looked equally hard at the $20 bill and said something like “Well, I’ll be darned,” smiled at me, and gave me a new $20 bill.
When I think back on this experience, I must of had “innocent until proven guilty” emblazoned on my (white) skin.
Glenn A. Goodwin
In light of the recent George Floyd tragedy in Minneapolis and countless other similar events, I continue to be reminded of something that happened to me over 15 years ago and at a short distance from my home.
I was stressed and not in a good mood (a management-related issue) when I left for the office in my customary suit and tie, and was about a mile from the house when a policeman pulled me over for going significantly over the speed limit in a school zone. This was the frosting on the cake for what was starting out as a very bad day.
When the cop, who was white, came over to the car to get my license and registration, I threw caution to the wind and, in a moment of righteous indignation, mouthed off and even threw an x-rated word in the process. (I’m roughly half Italian and half English and at that moment my, “Let’s have a cup of tea and discuss Noël Coward” side was missing in action).
I figured I’d get a speeding ticket, but I didn’t care in that moment. Instead, the cop was almost apologetic, pointing out that, sure, I was going way too fast but the school zone sign was somewhat covered by a tree branch and, well, just be on your way and be aware of it next time.
My point in sharing this confession from the past is that every time there is a bad outcome between police and African Americans, I ponder what might have happened to me had I been in the exact same circumstance and African American.
Would I have received an understanding and empathetic feather-slap on the wrist and let go on my way? Might I have been ticketed for speeding and mouthing off? Would I have been cuffed and taken in, or worse?
Obviously, these questions can’t be answered, but I’ve never forgotten that my extremely light skin tone may have played a part when I probably should have gotten a ticket or, at the very least, had my mouth washed out with soap.
A hurdle in sustainability
The Green Ribbon award given to CUSD is a result of far-sighted planning and investment by district management and the community that supports them. We can all share a sense of pride with this accomplishment.
But within the spectrum of sustainability efforts, a persistently vexing problem still hangs over the district; the recycling of consumer plastics at school sites. There have been some notable sustainability efforts at our schools—Sycamore has had an exemplary sustainability program, and CHS has had repeated recycling initiatives—but for all these, students in the main have been frustrated.
District wide, kids are getting the message that the responsibility for survival of the planet is falling to them, yet here we are, the grownups, unable to do anything about plastics.
The solution to the problem is far beyond CUSD’s purview, and its complexity compels us to look to the state and federal governments, who have the power to shape markets. We simply consume too much plastic. Even as COVID-19 savages state and federal budgets, this “pre-existing condition” has not and will not abate.
Our problem with plastics stems from failing recycling markets. Cheap oil, from which nearly all of our plastics are derived, has made it more economical for a business to buy virgin, rather than recycled, plastics.
In 2018, the government of China stopped importing poorly-sorted US waste plastics. Because these plastics still have to be manually sorted to be recycled, the poor quality of these US exports render them uncompetitive. And increasingly, as the profit margins for domestic plastic recyclers erode, these businesses resort to fee-for-service policies; they will still take the plastics, but for a fee, since they cannot, with the dollar cost of plastics so low, turn a profit without it.
CUSD, and everyone else, is ensnared in a problem that can be described in a full-cost accounting frame; you may buy a Coke in a plastic bottle for $1, but that price does not include the environmental costs of disposing of the bottle (hauling to landfills, decades of decomposition, the petrochemical impacts of new plastic bottles). If we include these real costs, the price may be $1.05.
And what if your competitor Pepsi doesn’t follow suit? Who sells more, and who cuts jobs? It is said that a new generation of plastics is forthcoming, but what will they cost the consumer?
CUSD schools have often recycled plastics, but more often than not they wind up in a “ single stream” of waste bound for the landfills. Because we do not pay the full costs of the plastics we consume, we find ourselves in the “tragedy of the commons;” Because none of us are individually responsible, everyone pays the long term price.
Only central governments have the wherewithal to change things. Localism is a great ideal but it has no traction here.
The Europeans have their Plastics Pact and California needs the same, so that CUSD can finally begin to solve the problem that has young people doubting our commitment to sustainability.
Coronavirus in Claremont
Was the lockdown worth the cost to the economy? In the May 29 issue of the COURIER one of the letter writers, Paul Mahoney, confidently said it hasn’t been worth it and called the public health experts (represented by the governor and county supervisors) “morons” for thinking it has been worth it.
Here is an image. A more permissive public guidance policy might have said something like, “Wear masks in public, keep your distance and avoid unnecessary trips.” Now I’m visualizing news photos of last weekend at the beach. Compliance?
When the lockdown was imposed in the middle of March, the doubling rate of the number of cases was on the order of three days and there were “only” about 50 identified cases in Los Angeles County—the actual number was surely much higher.
If nothing was done at that time, by the middle of April the number would have exceeded 25,000 and still doubling every three days or less! That’s why the lockdown happened. The hospitals would have been buried in patients. Think northern Italy or Brazil. The lockdown has worked as hoped because the epidemiology of pandemic viruses is broadly understood.
As I write this letter on May 29, there have been 14,400 cases in the county, not hundreds of thousands. I’m relieved that it was the public health experts who made those decisions and not Mr. Mahoney. As Claremont reopens, I hope it is accomplished tentatively, carefully, with masks, distance and cleanliness.
Jim des Lauriers
City of Trees?
Claremont is called the City of Trees. Take a look at once was one of the most picturesque views in Southern California turned drought victim.
It seems that city officials have failed to restore landscape maintenance to this once gorgeous median along Indian Hill Boulevard.
This is the entrance into Claremont and it certainly doesn’t speak well for the City of Trees considering the drought has been over for several years. Some of the trees have already died. Please don’t let this go any further. Save the Jacarandas and surrounding landscape.
Little discussion has been had about the 6.5 acre Commons development (plus adjacent three acres in Upland) at Monte Vista Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. Meanwhile, we are nearing the June 15 deadline of the public comment period for The Commons’ Draft Environmental Impact Report, our chance to consider the project and speak up.
The project is at the northeastern entrance to the city, under the flight path of Cable Airport. The site is designated in Claremont’s General Plan and zoning for commercial use. The proposed project requires losing 6.5 acres of existing commercial potential, to allow 62 residential units and only 5,000 square feet of retail use.
One prominent feature of the site plan is that it is so close to the airport that it legally requires an avigation easement/emergency landing strip in the middle of the development.
Questions about sustainability, affordability, density, public safety (with its proximity to the Upland airport runway and the San Antonio Channel given the poor San Antonio Dam condition), and increased traffic should all be significantly considered.
Information about The Commons and the review process is on the city website. If you scroll down to find the Draft EIR, of particular interest are the comments submitted at a previous phase in the required environmental process, appendix #2 of the Draft EIR. We need to consider how those concerns are addressed in the document.
The Commons project will be the entry to our city. Precedent for future projects, such as Village South, will be set by whatever level of thoughtfulness we bring to the pending proposed development of The Commons.
It is certainly worthy of all of our full attention and comment. I hope more of us will read the report and respond.
Comments and opinions must be shared by June 15.
The garden’s got talent
Plaudits to our local California Botanic Garden (the rebranded Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden) for developing some of the most creative offerings in response to the COVID shutdown.
Although the Garden itself is now open (see calbg.org for the details), classes are still canceled, but that has not prevented the staff from producing two unique “Wild” programs.
In May’s “Taste Wild” offering, we picked up four desserts flavored by native plants, then watched a Zoom panel, including a botanist, a caterer and a native foods expert, discuss features of the sage, bay laurel, elderberry and mesquite flour treats. Who knew you could grow these leaves in your own back yard, and that mesquite flour might become the food of the future?
Next up: “Arrange Wild: Virtual Flower Arranging Class,” is set for June 14. Participants will pick up the native flowers and other elements needed to make a professional arrangement, then watch how the pros do it in a Zoom session.
If classes for a price don’t appeal, check out the Forever California podcasts on the website, where your family can learn, for example, how the invasive fox squirrel first came to a veterans’ home in Los Angeles a century ago or why you need a towel to look after a great horned owlet that has fallen from the nest.