Re: the Weekly's recent roundtable "A School System Is a Terrible Thing To Waste" [October 29 - November 4]. Kudos on your attempt to increase dialogue about conditions at LAUSD. There were, however, some oversights that I hope you will remedy. Your forum appeared top-heavy with bureaucrats, who, just like our legislators, are mostly on the same page and thus really don't express opinions seriously at variance with one another. For example, you should have included those who are most involved with carrying out programs at the basic level -- the classroom. That would include a UTLA representative, a parent and a student.
I substituted at Foshay several times soon after Mr. Lappin's arrival and have no doubt about his sincerity. However, I think his promotion of Foshay is exaggerated. His statistics about graduates going on to four-year colleges contradicts testing results published in the L.A. Times indicating Foshay remains at or below the 30th percentile. Surely he isn't implying his students' capabilities are equal to those in Palisades, Westchester, La Cañada, etc.?
Several critical subjects and puzzles went unanswered or unmentioned. I hope you put your panelists' feet to the fire next time and demand specific answers. The issues should include the lack of basic materials, turnover in certificated personnel, what can be done about disruption by students. Serious answers to the above would be a real beginning of dialogue.
While I applaud the Weekly for bringing to light some of the issues facing the ailing LAUSD, I find that your panel includes no teachers or parents. May I ask why? What teachers do matters most, because our commitment to the profession is what determines student success. Catherine Snow, who presented her research about at-risk students in the book Unfulfilled Expectations (Harvard University Press, 1991), found that high-quality instruction is the one variable that can make a difference. Who provides the instruction? People like me and my colleagues, who spend our days with students, not going to meetings and trying to rationalize the failure of an overburdened, underfunded public school system. We try to make it work, and our voices deserve to be heard.
--Jill Manning, first-grade teacher
OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR
Re: Mark Cromer's "Snoozin' on the Frontlines" [November 5 - 11]. As the former managing editor and a 15-year employee of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, I can speak with some authority about the newspaper war between the Los Angeles Times' Our Times section and the Daily Bulletin. There is indeed such a war, based on good, old-fashioned beat reporting and mutual respect between the two staffs. At no time, as Cromer alleges, did we at the Bulletin feel "a collective dread" about Our Times coming to the Inland Valley. Rather, we looked forward to the battle after Dean Singleton's NewsMedia Inc. purchased the San Bernardino County Sun. With the Sun as the Bulletin's sister paper, competitive journalism in San Bernardino County was virtually eliminated. The Daily Bulletin has thrived on competitive journalism. When the Sun became part of our family, we eagerly looked to the Times to fill that void. We were never "shaking in our boots."
Our Times, without a doubt, was a disappointment when it first hit the streets, but Cromer fails to explore the reasons why. The editorial staff had little time to prepare for the section's launch date. Key editor and reporter positions remained unfilled. Patricia Barnes, to her credit, put out a section with a staff at only two-thirds strength. I should also point out that while Our Times did hire inexperienced newspeople, it also hired some very fine talent. City editor C.J. Fogel is one of the best newsmen in the business. Key copyeditors and page designers came from the Daily Bulletin. And the Bulletin's topnotch police reporter, Felisa Cardona, also was stolen from right under our noses. The result? Our Times is picking up the pace and breaking stories. In fact, much to my chagrin, the Bulletin is following Our Times on a hell of a lot of stories in recent weeks. The newspaper war is in full swing, and the staffs at the Bulletin and Our Times are loving it.
Lastly, I should point out the glaring conflict of interest in having Cromer write about the Daily Bulletin. Cromer was fired from the Daily Bulletin nearly 10 years ago. Periodically over the years he has written about us, usually in a negative light. While the Bulletin can take the hits, Cromer has made little effort to contact management for comment. Editor Mike Brossart and I are always available for â interviews, but Cromer has never contacted us. His need for anonymous sources also is puzzling. There are many former Daily Bulletin staffers (even under the Singleton regime) who are willing to talk. Yet Cromer can't find a single one willing to go on the record?
--Rob L. Wagner
Former managing editor, Daily Bulletin
MAYBE NOT SO LOVELY
I was amused by Marc Haefele's feeble and petty attempt in his "Dialogue of Slurs" [October 29 - November 4] to deprive New Times of its national scoop on the L.A. Times' sleazy profit-sharing deal with the Staples Center. Haefele wrote that Dan Turner, a columnist for the L.A. Business Journal, authored the first story on the deal. Haefele said Turner's "analysis of the deal" ran on October 11, but that "later news reports failed to credit him."
Turner was indeed the first to write about the "unusual marketing partnership" between the Times and Staples Center. He noted, among other things, that Staples Center executives had solicited ads for the Times' Sunday magazine from the arena's other corporate "founding partners." But -- and I say this with all due respect for a hard-working fellow journalist -- Turner missed the main story: that the Times had agreed to split $2.1 million in profits from the magazine issue with the arena's owners.
That story was broken by The Finger in the October 21 - 27 issue of New Times. The Digit's story was immediately followed by reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, both of which generously, and accurately, credited New Times with the scoop. Even the L.A. Business Journal, in its November 1 issue, reported that New Times first detailed the profit-splitting scheme. Why can't Haefele see what is so very obvious to so many other journalists?
Managing editor, New Times
Mr. Haefele's "Dialogue of Slurs" goes right to the point that anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric cannot be ignored and the offenders go unnamed. To do otherwise than name them would give the impression that these opinions have greater hold in the Latino community beyond the cranks expressing them. Mr. Haefele is to be congratulated for not taking the bait to add more hate to the debate on the future of LAUSD. His evenhanded reporting on the source of these invectives exposes the fact that these self-proclaimed leaders do not represent the broader Latino community.
THE DEVIL, HIS DUE
Re: Greg Burk's "Lucifer Unchained" [October 29 - November 4]. Glenn Danzig, for the better part of 20 years, has been the most underrated musician on the punk-metal-rock scene. It is quite refreshing to hear a person, much less a musician, truly speak his mind and not sugarcoat his beliefs and opinions so as not to offend anyone, for fear his image or career will suffer. Despite all the fucked-up roads Danzig has faced, he has never, ever steered away from his beliefs and visions. He has earned all his success one way -- by doing what he believes in and not selling out.
LOVELY WEB, BUT AS FOR THAT SPIDER . . .
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am thrilled to see that you have such a good Web site [www.laweekly.com]. I had just finished dirtying my hands looking through the L.A. Weekly newspaper for 10 minutes, and had still not found what I was looking for. Then I saw that you had a "www" address and was all set to send a nasty e-mail to you guys for making it so difficult to find things. Then I saw your beautifully designed site and was very pleased, so much so that I put it in my "favorites" list. Thank you very much, and keep up the good work!
Just a brief note to indicate that, on the whole, I appreciate your Web publication. It often reports important stories and gives a point of view not readily available elsewhere. However, I really think you should pull the plug on Peter Gilstrap's "Cavalcade of Christ." This feature has a subtle but unmistakable tone of mockery, directed not against the foibles of Jesus' followers, but against Jesus himself. This offensive feature significantly detracts from your publication.
--Ross S. Heckmann
Re: "Cavalcade of Christ." Gee, you guys sure pick safe targets for ridicule. May I suggest a companion column, something on the order of "Freaky Fables of the Prophet Mohammed"? Just remind me not to get within several square blocks of your offices when you begin running it.
I was chagrined to see my favorite columnist being put down in a letter to the editor. I have been a fan of Johnny Angel for some time now. I liken him to a younger brother of Mickey Spillane, an author whose novels I have only recently discovered. Mr. Angel's articles on sides of life that most of us will never see give us a broader understanding of human nature. It is Mr. Moss' letter that is totally without merit.
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In the Slush column (November 5-11), we misquoted an unnamed band as saying, "Rock & roll is not a circus." The band did not say that. We apologize for the error.
Last week, in Nicole Campos' Calendar review of the new film release A Force More Powerful, former Nashville mayor Ben West was misidentified as former Tennessee governor Buford Ellington.