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Re: “The Hot Seat” [cover story, February 18­24]. Ramon Cortines' decision to have school principals choose department chairs, instead of allowing teachers within the department to do so, is an affront to the professionalism of teachers throughout the LAUSD. What possible expertise do principals possess that makes them more capable than teachers of selecting the best person for the specialized job of leadership within each department? If Cortines is genuinely committed to improving the quality of education in the district, then he should keep his hands off.

–Walt Gardner

Los Angeles



Since Ruben Zacarias was ousted and Ramon Cortines placed in position, I had hopes that something honest would be done with this district. However, when I read that Cortines wants principals to pick department chairs, and that he believes department chairs work for the principal, then I realized this man may not know the district well at all.

Department chairs may be a liaison between administration and teachers, but they work for the department, ordering books and supplies, helping with schedules, acting as academic leaders, etc. Department chairs are elected. If the majority of the department feels that person is not working for their and their students' best interest, they will elect someone else. Most principals are interested in loyalty only. It might be nice, in a perfect world, if the principal knew curriculum and leadership quality and could pick the best chair. Most do not. There are too many principals who are in position because of cronyism, nepotism, or just plain incompetence at the teaching level. A lackey of the principal is never going to be trusted by the department members.

Cortines should forget this business model. Department chairs are not middle managers. We teach in classrooms just like the other teachers. Instead, Cortines should concentrate on beefing up the quality of principal and assistant principal. For too long, the worst have been promoted for all the wrong reasons.

–Glynn Alam

English Department Chair

Los Angeles High School




With regard to Teresa Rochester and Jorge Casuso's “Getting the Boot” [February 18­24], I have a question. The article states that low- and very-low-income people who were “Ellised” will be eligible to receive Section 8 vouchers from the Santa Monica Housing Authority. I work as a housing counselor at an AIDS service organization. Many of our clients who were once living in rent-controlled Santa Monica, and had set up all of their supportive services out there, were left high and dry with the abolition of rent control. Even our clients with Section 8 were unable to locate any rentals that would accept their vouchers or certificates. As rents all over the Westside continue to rise, we find that in many cases, the Section 8 certificates and vouchers aren't worth the paper they're printed on. We have some clients who are very ill who find themselves moving to the only areas that will accept Section 8, only to face hourlong bus rides just to get to their doctors or service providers.

Is it possible that the city of Santa Monica is offering fool's gold to its infirm, elderly and poor residents in an effort to eventually rid the city of them?

–Susan Forrest

Los Angeles



In “Getting the Boot,” Ms. Rochester and Mr. Casuso explain how landlords in Santa Monica are willing to risk losing their building to escape rent control. It is the same old story. Hardly a “mean place for tenants,” Santa Monica has been a mean place for landlords for 20 years while they have carried the social burden of “affordable” housing. Yet Santa Monica landlords are still accused of greed. Santa Monica landlords want freedom to make transactions like the rest of society. In a free society, landlords cannot force people to rent their apartments, yet Santa Monica feels it should force landlords to rent apartments at less than half of what a deserving person is willing to pay.

It is almost laughable when activists have the audacity to feign surprise when landlords want â out of the business. Most tenants in Santa Monica are quite wealthy and make more than the owners of their buildings ever dreamed of. In fact, per capita in their respective groups, there are far more elderly and frail landlords than there are elderly and frail tenants.

–S. Forest King

Santa Monica


I read with interest the article on Ellis evictions via the Internet. The same thing happened in our neck of the left coast: landlords rushing to meet the deadline before the changes in the law; followed by headline grabbers depicting tenants as victims of the greedy landlord. Same ideology, same tired press coverage, different ZIP code.

Interestingly, only in radical rent-control communities do landlords resort to going out of business; in communities with free-market rents, owners who intend to sell their properties accumulate and protect good, rent-paying tenants with the enthusiasm that rent-controlled owners in Berkeley, Santa Monica and San Francisco reserve for accumulating vacancies.

–Robert Cabrera


Berkeley Property Owners Association




It's a shame when a critic's objectivity is blurred by a singular hatred of a movie's producer, as in the case of Ella Taylor's diatribe against the Nora Ephron­produced Hanging Up [“Phoned In,” February 18­24]. I thought Diane Keaton's direction of this true-to-life story was moving and also much funnier than the usual idiotic fantasies we are asked to see each weekend. Of course films like You've Got Mail and Michael are insufferable. All the more reason not to take it out on the movies that try and show life as it really is. Why are people so enraged at seeing women's real dilemmas onscreen? I think that's a more interesting question than why does everyone hate Nora Ephron?

–David Crossland

Los Angeles




Seriously, if I have to read one more restaurant review featuring “noisette of pork pump,” whatever the hell it is, I fear I will have to go to Lake Spring, order one and then beat Jonathan Gold with it. STOP THE MADNESS! STOP THE PRINTING! STOP THE PORK! (I really do think I speak for most of the readers here.)

–Ann-Giselle Spiegler

Los Angeles


EDITOR'S NOTE: See this week's Roundabout column for clarification.

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