Letters to the Editor

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Several readers chose to share their opinions on the Alameda Sun Facebook page regarding "School District under Fire," Feb. 20. The comments have been slightly edited and presented here in the order they were posted.

Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) board member Margie Sherratt: "AUSD will be forwarding to you the highlights of programs and progress at each of our schools as reported out at Board of Education meetings. I hope you will also take the opportunity to report on some of our amazing students and their accomplishments. Thanks."

Julie Kaipolani Dickens: As the parent of an ADHD child I had to fight and battle every step of the way with AUSD and it was unpleasant to say the very least. I, myself enjoyed my school years, but I would not put another kid of mine through this school system past fifth grade in Alameda.

(AUSD) board member Trish Herrera Spencer: Thank you for reporting the news. I hadn’t heard that teachers were told not to talk until reading it in your paper. My guess is they’ll ask the new communications person (at a salary range of $90,000 plus) to send the "feel good" stories.

Peggy Forbes: While no school district is perfect, I have been very happy with the education my children have received while attending AUSD schools and feel that there is far more positive news then negative, which seems to be reported more. Thanks, Ms. Sherratt, for encouraging the reporting of the district’s successes.

Lori Huffine Keep: Alameda Sun, please do a little better job of reporting both sides of a story, especially regarding the gas leak. Your story is lacking details.

 

 

various authors

Editor’s note: Thank you, everyone, for your feedback and discussion. We invite all of our readers to express their opinions online at facebook.com/alamedasun.1, @Alameda_Sun at twitter.com, via email at editor@alamedasun.com or via snail mail at 3215 Encinal Ave., Suite J, Alameda, CA 94501; a dropbox is also available at this address.

Editor:

In recent months, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has been in the news as it moves to discipline pastors for performing same-sex marriages. In Pennsylvania, Rev. Frank Schaefer was stripped of his clerical credentials for performing his son’s same-sex marriage.

Retired Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be put on trial for performing a same-sex marriage for his son. Action against a retired bishop for the same "offense" is pending. These disciplinary treatments are based on the Methodist Book of Discipline which considers "homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching."

Nearly 600 United Methodist churches have joined UMC’s Reconciling Ministries Network. They believe that the Book of Discipline is incorrect on this point. Twin Towers UMC is one of these churches. We know Jesus was an inclusive shepherd; all persons are welcome at His table. Even His murderers were not excluded as He asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t understand their actions.

Who is anyone to presume to speak for Jesus? Who is anyone to exclude, on any basis, another person from full participation in the Christian community? Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Jesus rejecting anyone based on sexual orientation. Judgment is not ours. As an open and inclusive church community, we at Twin Towers UMC welcome all.

— Jim Lair, Steve Garner, Fred Fielding, Lay Leaders, Twin Towers United Methodist Church

The Alameda Sun’s online partner The Alamedan received this statement:

(I would like to respond to the story) related to the legal difficulties I faced in the early days of my practice as a young chiropractor more than 20 years ago.

This was a terrible experience for me, but one that helped make me a better doctor and later a good public servant.

The fact is that I unknowingly treated patients who were part of an auto insurance fraud scheme run by a local attorney. I had no idea what they were doing and was not part of their scheme. I assumed the patients were legitimately injured.

The state’s insurance commissioner and local prosecutors took aggressive actions against the participants of this fraud. As a result of the fact that I treated these patients, I was prosecuted along with them.

At the time I was barely 30 years old. While confident in my abilities as a doctor, I was naive and lacked the experience to ask proper questions and flag suspicious activities. I was still inexperienced at the administrative and accountability responsibilities in my office.

But it was my office and I was ultimately responsible. Instead of fighting the unwarranted charges in a prolonged and expensive trial, I agreed — on the advice of counsel — to plead to misdemeanor charges. The plea seemed to make sense because it would not disrupt my practice or my family life. At the time, it seemed like the right decision to protect my family and my professional career. I certainly had no reason to believe that such a deal would ever be relevant in my life since it was to be wiped off my record in a short time.

My reasons for keeping this matter private while running for local office are simple. This was handled and dealt with 20 years ago and was removed from my record 17 years ago. It was embarrassing. I wanted to move on.

In the 20 years since, I have learned and grown from that experience. I have enjoyed a great deal of success in my practice, raised a happy and healthy family, and been rewarded with many opportunities to serve and give back to my community. This includes being appointed to Social Service Human Relations Board, Alameda County Human Relations Commission, elected to the Alameda Hospital Board and recently elected to the Alameda City Council.

I have been reflecting on this painful episode. I have even thought that maybe I should have been more public about it all along, using it as a lesson to share with Alamedans or other young medical professionals.

But while that may have spared me from this embarrassment, I decided to focus on the hopes for my family, goals for my career and quality of life of my community. I simply wished to leave this episode in the past.

I hope this addresses any concerns the public may have. I apologize to those who disagree with my long ago decision to put this experience in the past and maintain my privacy. It was best for me and my family.

I remain committed, as always, to serving my neighbors, friends and all residents of Alameda with the utmost integrity and passion.

 

— Stewart Chen, Alameda City Councilman

Editor’s note: "Today we have successfully put a major insurance fraud ring out of business," then California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced in an April 15, 1993, press release. "This gang alone could be responsible for as much as $1 million in fraudulent claims, and that’s money that comes out of California motorists’ pockets."

Despite Councilman Chen’s profession of innocence, the Alameda Sun would like to point out to its readers that, instead of facing trial on numerous felony counts, Chen pleaded guilty in Alameda County Superior Court to two misdemeanors for behavior tied to this "gang."

On Aug. 20, 1996, Chen signed an affifavit admitting that he had been convicted of a crime "which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a chiropractor."

We are all victims of the behavior to which Chen pleaded guilty. This behavior should not be shrugged off or taken lightly, whether tied to criminal activity 20 years or 20 minutes ago.

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