Letters to the Editor, Feb. 17: Thank you, Robert Avila-Arce


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Thank you, Robert Avila-Arce

To the Editor,

“What we instill in our children will be the foundation upon which they build their future.” This is what drives Robert Avila-Arce to help these kids. He devotes his time six days a week to ensure that these kids grow up in an environment where they understand the importance of an education, stay out of gangs, and grow compassion towards helping others. As one who has grown up in a rough neighborhood and in a poor family, he knows how much of a struggle it is to overcome the odds.

From going to schools around the area to going to youth centers, his goal is to spread awareness of gangs and the effects it has not only on yourself, but those around you. He helped form this group of kids to not only ensure that the children have a future, but so that this community will become a safe and positive place for families and his own kids to grow in. Robert has found that one of the best ways to help these kids develop a structured approach to life is through sports. Keeping them active, focused and determined through sports has been helping them succeed in school and daily situations.

That is why as one of the kids he supported and from all of us, we want to say thank you!

From the families and community helped by Robert Avila-Arce

•••

Community Bridges suffers from fiscal mismanagement

To the Editor,

Your recent article detailing Community Bridges’ attempts to “minimize administrative expenses” only presented one side of the story.

As an Education Specialist with the Community Bridges’ Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program and a member of the SEIU Local 521 bargaining team, I can tell you that these assertions are false. Community Bridges suffers from chronic fiscal mismanagement at the hands of CEO Raymon Cancino.

Since our employment contract expired in late November, my coworkers and I have been trying to negotiate basic cost-of-living increases and decent workplace conditions, and Cancino has fought us at every turn. Your article claims that Community Bridges’ move to Watsonville is a “creative way of controlling operating expenses” and that the agency’s goal is to “invest more in services and in [their] most valuable asset — employees.”

Does the $11,883 raise that Cancino recently gave himself lie outside the realm of “operating expenses”? What about the additional $10,000 annual budget for a San Francisco-based labor relations attorney that Cancino hired to navigate our contract negotiations on his behalf?

In addition to these expenses, Cancino recently approved the purchase of a new facility that cost the agency $1.9 million and required a $400,000 loan for repairs.

Community Bridges prides itself on “providing a hand up” and offering safety net services to 22,000 community members; meanwhile, the wages that Community Bridges offers their own workers are low enough to qualify us for the very safety-net services that we provide.

For decades, union members have been at the forefront of the social justice movement, not just as nonprofit workers but as activists. We know that fighting for a better future for our families isn’t just about securing higher wages or stronger workplace benefits and protections; it also means standing up for basic freedoms for all working families.

My coworkers and I have stuck with Community Bridges because we believe in serving our community and in making Santa Cruz County a safer, healthier, more equitable home to its residents. Until more of our jobs are union jobs, American workers will continue to struggle at the hands of CEOs that favor management expenses over employee wages.

Jose Alberto Gomez

Community Bridges employee

•••

Parking study a waste of taxpayer money

To the Editor,

I was dismayed to read that the Watsonville City Council paid $65,000 to a San Francisco firm for a year-long study of parking downtown. That is a lot of taxpayer money for a study of a problem that did not and does not exist.

I go to the shoe repair shop, get my hair cut downtown, use the public library and post office and have never had a problem parking, even on Main Street. The parking garage is often almost empty, and there are public parking lots at several locations.

I wish the City Council would be more discerning and frugal with our public funds.

Amelia Koenig

Watsonville

•••

US must embrace the Olympic spirit

To the Editor,

The whole world is watching Pyeongchang. The Olympic games are a powerful symbol of international cooperation and goodwill, while the spirit of the games represents the possibility of peace and progress in our time. Hope like that, especially on the Korean peninsula, is something sorely needed in these dark times. 

Despite the clear possibility for shared progress toward peace, President Trump and his administration seem to be doing all they can to stifle it. From disparaging other nations as “shitholes,” to spurning international agreements, to seeking to make nuclear war easier to wage, Trump has done all he can to trample on the international goodwill. In short, Donald Trump and his team are the antithesis of the Olympic spirit.

As disheartening as outbursts from the president are, it is within our power to reverse the damage he has done; Congress has a wealth of options to do just that. I am calling on our members of Congress to demand the administration focus on diplomacy rather than military bluster, to oppose the nuclear agenda set forth by Trump at every dangerous turn, and to censure his derogatory rhetoric. Perhaps if we learned from the Olympic spirit rather than spat on it, we would find ourselves in a much less scary world.

Dirk Reed

Soquel

•••

Admiring Ray Gardner’s letter

To the Editor,

This is an open letter for Mr. Ray Gardner regarding his letter, “Appearance matters,” on Dec. 16:

Dear Mr. Gardner,

I really admire your hard-hitting straightforwardness and if there is a stronger word other than “congratulations,” I would pen it right now.

There is a book, “Stop the Insanity,” written by Susan Powter. For those who have weight problems, own this book or download it for it will “change the way you look and feel — forever” through persistent diet and exercise.

And another: “Everyday Foods” by Jessie W. Harris and Elizabeth Lacey Speer. Their nutrition wisdom is truly amazing. I borrowed these lines: “To each individual is entrusted one body for use or for abuse. Good care of the human body is rewarded by an extended period of the prime of life and by delayed old age.” How to? “Each of us owes his body the daily food assortment which it needs to make it grow, to make it go, and to regulate growth and activity. The proper selection of food to meet body needs is spoken of as balanced diet.”

I wish I could match the brevity of your wake-up call letter. I couldn’t, for here is another, which in a way, answers or solves the last three words of yours: “escalating health costs.”

Here is a quotation of Dryden about exercise:

“Better to hunt in fields for health unsought

“Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught,

“The wise for cure on exercise depend;

“God never made his work for man to mend.”

Lastly, Mr. Gardner, “bless you” is akin to congratulations. So bless you, sir.

Ursula Nelson

Watsonville

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