Readers comments 12-24-20
Looks like the Police Blotter will now become an entertainment piece, since under our new DA and his changes, none of these crimes will be prosecuted.
Four years of extremism
The United States of America has endured four years of extremist views emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. People’s focus has been on the Office of the President, but from my perspective, the problem is rooted much deeper with the current GOP leadership. If we take a historical look over the last 100 years or so, we will see many disturbing parallels that are currently in play in 2020.
If we look at the world post World War I, we will see a dynamic that almost mirrors what is happening in 2020. The world is suffering through a pandemic. Economic recession, unemployment, homelessness and poverty rule the day. There was ineffective leadership governing the people and the country. A group of German nationalists came together and the birth of Nazi ideology was conceived. Their plan was simple: Identify groups who could be blamed for the problems; control the media to get their message out; mobilize a private army (the SA, aka, Storm Troopers), and promote violence and intimidation if people did not agree with them.
Fast forward to 2020. The GOP, not just the current president, is encouraging dissention and perpetuating falsehoods and lies, and marginalizing tens of millions of Americans by attacking the voting process because they did not like the result. It appears they have been developing their own private army, (QAnon, Proud Boys as examples), to further their vituperative goals and have yet to condemn the actions and behaviors that are benefitting their agenda. One must ask: Is this an attempt by an extremist thinking, recognized political party, to overthrow the essence of American democracy? It certainly appears that the GOP, wittingly or unwittingly, is using the Nazi playbook of 1920 as their platform for change in 2020.
All Americans, regardless of political ideology, should step back for a moment and honestly assess what is happening. Is using this ignominious dogma the moral and ethical path for making the United States of America great?
The letters section of the Courier is a personal favorite because for all of the disagreements aired, there remains a sense of community that defines Claremont. It’s a lack of community and civic commitment in our country that has led to the devastating effects of COVID-19 in our country. To call the pandemic “a fact of nature” as Douglas Lyon did in a recent letter, fails to acknowledge our complete failure as a country in preventing thousands of deaths. Early and effective lockdowns for a short period, mask wearing, and reasonable social distancing have worked in other countries with much fewer resources than ours. Life has largely returned to a more normal routine in countries such as Australia and South Korea where faith in institutions and science has prevailed. Fatalism has never defined the American spirit. A shared commitment as a country can have a tremendous positive public health benefit. With the advent and deployment of a vaccine largely developed with American scientific knowledge, we shouldn’t forget that we could have done much better.
Just the facts
In last week’s COURIER, ex-city council candidate Douglas Lyons offers up 'gish gallop' of misrepresented facts and figures that could incite hours of debate.
But here are some irrefutable facts:
• On November 10th, the Los Angeles County Health Department reported that cumulatively Claremont had 500 cases of COVID-19. By December 17th, we had doubled that number with over 1,000 cases. And the numbers continue to rise - sometimes 30 or more a day. (These figures do not include Padua Hills, Claremont’s Unincorporated Areas or Mt. San Antonio Gardens which have cases of their own.)
• The Southland’s hospitals are packed at capacity or over capacity. This means that people may or may not get the care they need—and that healthcare workers are at high-risk for contracting this highly-infectious disease and spreading it to family, friends and the community.
• Recovery from COVID-19 can be difficult. We are now identifying long-hauler syndrome and we don’t yet know the long-term effects.
• There is a vaccine, but it will take months to disseminate.
Mr. Lyons is very interested in making comparisons between the COVID-19 pandemic and other pandemics. COVID-19, so far, has killed more than MERS, Ebola, SARS and the Swine Flu combined, and killed more than the Asian Flu and the Hong Kong Flu, and we are not done yet.
Mr. Lyons misrepresents COVID-19 death statistics by claiming that only six percent of those who died with COVID-19 died of the disease and that all the other deaths were for other reasons. This claim has been refuted over and over again by our disease control agencies for this reason: It is common for coroners to list all the causes of death on someone’s death certificate, but that does not mean COVID-19 was not the cause. COVID-19 is a multi-faceted disease that attacks different parts of the body for different patients. To truly determine COVID-19’s impact, we need to look at the excessive morbidity statistics—that is, deaths in excess of other flu seasons. Currently, COVID-19 deaths are far exceeding the deaths from other years.
As far as answering his question, why now, for this disease? This is a zoonotic disease - that jumped from wild animals to people. This pandemic informs us that the way we interact with the natural environment has serious, global consequences.
Pamela Casey Nagler
Failings in our society
The great American spreader events of the 2020 pandemic are highly correlated with stupendous institutional failings in our society.
The outbreak kicked off at northern ski resorts like Sun Valley and Park City, southern cultural festivals Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, corporate gatherings like Biogen in Boston, and a host of religious events.
The nation’s politicians, financial elite, educational leaders and theology wizards were blithely unaware of and disinterested in public affairs. They had votes and money, minds and souls, on their minds, selfish interests all.
Politicians were busy building a coffin for democracy and a palace for monarchy.
Business elite were reveling in globalization, unaware of the lack of desperately needed public health supplies at home. They were spending piles of illegitimate gain at elegant parties and resorts, distanced from the country’s impoverished rabble.
Professors were lost in their lectures. Common folk were also socially distanced from any kind of civic awareness.
Half were drunk out of their minds watching football spirals and costumed street dancers. The other half were prodding about their bodies trying to raise long-dead spiritual souls at modern camp meetings.
Woods Cross, Utah
It’s sadly ironic that Douglas Lyon’s ridiculous and cynical screed about keeping the COVID-19 pandemic ‘in perspective’ would be published the same week that the availability of ICU beds in our region hit zero percent.
As people who have worked hard to keep our elderly parents safe during the past 9 months, it is incredibly disheartening to know that there are others in our community who would so readily sacrifice the lives of the vulnerable for their own comfort and convenience.
Steve McCuen and Roberto Muñoz
On December 18th, you printed a letter from Douglas Lyon urging us to keep the coronavirus pandemic in perspective, exhorting us not to overreact. To provide us with this much-needed perspective, he cited the estimated fatality rates of the 1918-19 Spanish Flu and the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.
As surprising as that was, he persisted with his “historical” perspective, also claiming that, during the Western Expansion of the 1800’s, “it was not unusual for a quarter to a half of the travelers to die or be killed en route.” Whether or not this is true, he apparently offered this as evidence that death and disease are facts of nature, that “our governments cannot protect everyone from everything,” and our current efforts to prevent the deaths of our family and neighbors are “hysterical.” Upon further reflection, I suppose I agree that our government could not have been expected to protect a nineteenth century settler from dysentery on the Oregon Trail. It may even be true that expecting our current government to protect us from this virus is overly optimistic, but failure of leadership is not the same as the ahistorical, “natural” fatalism Mr. Lyon advocates.
While it would be a simple task to pick apart the errors of reason and the lapses of moral judgment in Mr. Lyon’s letter, I am more interested in the good news he bears. How interesting to imagine Mr. Lyon comforting a mother who lost her newborn today with the much needed perspective that, historically, a child’s chance of surviving infancy has hovered not much over 50 percent. What a relief for our city’s parents, agonizing over the risks of sending their children to daycare, that their children have already beaten the historical odds by being alive so far. How relaxing for the residents of our city’s retirement homes, who have a statistically higher chance of death from the virus, to know that they have a much better chance of survival than a Florentine had of dying from the plague in 1347.
I wish I had been able to speak to a time-travelling Mr. Lyon on the day the Twin Towers fell. He would have been able to tell me not to overreact, since two decades later our country would be experiencing a 9/11 of American deaths every single day. Given the depreciating value of human life in our political economy, I would have considered that single day to have been practically a bargain. I would have also worried for our city’s future, knowing that so many of my neighbors would rate our lives against those of the so-called “Dark Ages,” when viruses were unknown and a child’s life was a coin flip.
I’m having troubles with Douglas Lyon’s statistical reviews.
Webster can prefer what he wants, it is called a pandemic
because it’s more common than some among us believe, a bold type
title. Perspective depends on time passing. If you don’t feel like a
participant, you can have perspective today.
Fear can happen after one witnesses friends or family succumb
to a hard-fought live body intruder. I think it is human to fear. How else
can we fix the problem? But first we need to see a problem.
Duty can come from personal or public caregivers who never
quite scream ‘You’re not listening to my experience in this!’
And those underlying medical conditions. Those are controllable
malfunctions running with meds, specialists, and diet to the level of
livability. Add the effects of COVID-19 on the vascular delivery routes
and you are given blocked roadways. Are you sure there are no
effects of COVID-19 on controlled malfunctions? I assume medical
reports give all causes leading to death. Anybody ask a doctor about
cause of death?
There are those who ignore my news sources and listen to their
own, to take shelter under Herd Immunity silence. This is a culling of
the malnourished or mal-economic or mal-political who are supposed
to die and leave the best thinkers and feelers to carry on the right
species. If you’re not culled, you’re particularly proud of the side you
are on. Ah, yes. The culled who came by covered wagons. Those
with a mission to change their fortunes or freedoms or social
environments. Good for them - they died to let the strong come West.
God’s plan, that culling thing. Makes us right to do nothing positive.
Our government swears to protect and defend the needs of the
citizens. What’s the percentage of rich citizens protected to the
percentage of middle-class and scraping-by citizens protected. All
need health protection - we really are not alone here. Meetings are not
sleepovers. We all go home.
Helen Feller, Claremont
Update on La Puerta
The article on La Puerta in your December 18 issue requires some major update. Without current data, it might appear to be somewhat misleading. Readers should be aware that the COURIER quoted information from the City's letter regarding the soccer field, which was written on September 1, 2020. That letter is not fully representative of what subsequent events are happening behind the scenes at City Hall since September 1, 2020. In fact, the City planners are pushing for the new high density, mixed-economic development at La Puerta, and pushing for a diminished sports field. The City is not offering resistance, as initially reported.
The new sports park plan by Trumark is NOT a "direct result of public feedback." The City actually helped the developer meet with the Youth Sport Committee (YSC) commissioners, at the exclusion of the general public, even though explicit requests for inclusion were made to the City Council. The City gave Trumark a platform to legitimize their plan. Trumark could have held a community meeting to present their own sports field development plan. However, City sports commissioners met with Trumark at the City's behest, apparently in violation of the Brown Act, which requires public noticing. They worked out a deal on the side, getting commissioners' agreement for Trumark to take land from the sports park in exchange for "benefits." The understanding that YSC crafted is amenable to only a handful of sports people--nine men and one woman--to the exclusion of the rest of the City. The general public did NOT get to participate in the pre-planning development of the sports park plan and are not in agreement with the plan. This "community benefits agreement" with Trumark, (a majority-owned Japanese foreign investor), need not be further considered by the City, since the City is under no obligation to break the 99-year lease of the sports field. However, the City actually included, or said they intend to include, Trumark's agreement plan with the Youth Sports Committee in the formal application paperwork, which will go before the architectural and planning commissions for formal application review and approval.
Under Trumark's new plan for the soccer field, the foreign investor would confiscate MORE, not less land at La Puerta than their original plan called for. Trumark would move the softball fields to Cahuilla Park, thus also taking away play space for young children and removing trees and grassy areas to do so. The new softball field would be shared with the school district, Claremont High School, with impacted scheduling for both the high school and girls fast-pitch. Tournaments and practices would also add buses, cars, noise, congestion and possibly crime to the area around Cahuilla Park. In return, the soccer people will, in exchange, get a playing field left intact with a little added space. However, the overall La Puerta sports field will be significantly diminished as the developer grabs more land to build an additional 10 houses and a road, next to the remaining soccer field, absent the fast-pitch fields.
Neither the City or City Council have met with the public and disseminated any information regarding La Puerta since the purchase agreement was signed in June 2019. The City Manager does not speak of La Puerta in weekly news letters. Additionally, the City refuses to respond to many CPRA requests for information, which is a direct repudiation of open government law. Why does the City seemingly want to keep residents in the dark? The public doesn't "get anxious and wants constant feedback," as Mr. Johnson, who does NOT live in Claremont, reported. The public wants the City to do their job to disseminate information to keep the public informed about the La Puerta development. This has not yet happened. The City appears to be complicit in Brown Act violations, sponsoring Trumark serial meetings with "stakeholders" only, according to public documents that can be acquired.
Additionally, it is not inevitable that housing will be built on La Puerta. This is a public space which can remain a public space for community use, if our planners and City council members do not agree to rezone public property for private profit. To add La Puerta to the Housing Element is legitimately questionable. La Puerta is neither owned by the City, nor zoned for residential development. Mr. Johnson declared that La Puerta will be rezoned for development. However, jumping to the conclusion of inevitable rezoning is a public stance by a public official which by-passes all legislative requirements to follow municipal ordinances and processes for rezoning. Only City Council can make this decision, not Mr. Johnson. Either City Council members have already made up their minds to rezone (thereby skipping required legislative processes) and the City Planning Director is their spokesman, or, the City planners are pushing on through, independent of citizens' rights. One has to wonder if the tail of our City is wagging the dog? When will citizens' voices actually be heard?
Don’t you have a responsibility to not publish outrageous conspiracy theories?
Last week in Doug Lyons letter to the editor, the updated current figure for total number people who died from COVID-19 nationally (according to the author) should read 18,180. The COURIER regrets the error.