Archive » April 7, 2011
By SYVJ Staff
Head of the classI would like to personally thank the Valley Journal for sending photographer and journalist SaraLloyd Truax to accompany me and fellow trustee Bruce Porter as we toured our high school campus. SaraLloyd documented the many safety and maintenance issues facing our high school, a school with aging buildings and infrastructure. [Story pending in the Journal’s April 14 edition.]
I would also like to thank community members (and alumni) Frank Kelsey and Sam Sell for walking the campus and being the extra pairs of eyes needed, as the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Board of Trustees addresses possible solutions during these challenging times.
Christine Burtness, President
SYVUHSD Board of Trustees
Chumash, Gallegly and POLOIn the March 11 issue of the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, a letter appeared by POLO Board President Kathy Cleary (“the politics of casino tribes and now Congressman Gallegly”) where she expresses her displeasure at Gallegly’s unwillingness to address the well being of his constituents by caving in to the vested interests of those running the Chumash Casino.
In the final sentence she states “Our community is sick of politics. Here it is, plain and simple: If you don’t unequivocally oppose putting land into trust for the Santa Ynez Band, then you support it.” Good point, well put; unfortunately, she doesn’t see her own inconsistency in this – an inconstancy reflected by the silence of POLO on an issue which, like that of the casino, impacts the safety/ambience of the Santa Ynez Valley.
About a year and a half ago, I started to notice a deafening silence by POLO on the issue of the growing number of the wine bars. Mayor Jim Richardson also sidestepped the issue by saying that the free market should decide and that it wasn’t the role of government to step in and craft an ordinance against the spread of more bars – despite the fact that one of the roles of government is the ensuring of public safety.
As one who is apolitical when it comes to public safety – which to clarify means I don’t let political biases get in the way of guaranteeing the same – I am equally concerned about the impact of the casino, as well as the wine bars and as such am not pleased with the effects/potential effects of either. When I confronted POLO on their silence on the wine bar issue, the only person among them from whom I received a response was Cleary. I had several back-and-forth exchanges with Cleary, who simply refused to come out publicly and oppose the growing trend of these establishments. I pointed out how my dad was nearly killed by a “buzzed” (0.069 blood-alcohol content) driver, and how one doesn’t have to be legally drunk to be dangerous. What I was told by her was that she didn’t want to see the empty buildings – which use to be occupied by art galleries, and so forth – go unrented so in her mind, making sure those landlords get their premium monthly payments was more important than public safety.
Interestingly, I was told last December that the Hale art gallery was still unrented and that the price the landlord was then asking (Ms. Hale had been paying $5,000 per month, which had been increased to $10,000 per month, which put her out of business) had been lowered to $7,500 per month.
This isn’t to say that I don’t support Cleary/POLO’s noble efforts in stopping the expansion of the casino; their diligence in this matter is to be commended, but the failure to address the wine bar issue is not only hypocritical, (especially since Cleary points out the issue of public intoxication in her letter – but only as it applies to the casino) but makes me wonder if some of POLO’s members have a financial stake in the local wine bars.
To be fair, I also have not heard the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance speak out against the casino, and noting the bad feelings that exist between these two groups, I wonder if it isn’t just a case of ideological pride splitting these two groups.
We have a real problem with alcohol/gambling taking over in a place once known for its equestrian industry and picturesque shops. It’s time that all who truly want to preserve the quality of life in this Valley realize that there is a very small percentage of people who benefit from the alcohol/gambling Hydra and they are succeeding because people let their politics get in the way of common sense.
To paraphrase Cleary’s words: If you don’t unequivocally oppose the alcohol and gambling industries, then you support them. To the mayor, city council, POLO, Santa Ynez Valley Alliance, and all those of you who vote: Where do you stand?
Also, if Congressman Gallegly does not take the stand against casino interests POLO calls for, will POLO support him in the next election?
Animal sheltersEach year, thousands of lost animals are taken in by shelters and humane societies across the country. Some of these animals never make it home because they cannot be readily identified. Recently, our Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society shelter provided a happy ending for a well-loved purebred cat and her ecstatic owners. A kind person found Grace on Highway 246 and brought her to the shelter. The staff scanned her for a microchip, called the owners, and Grace was reunited with her family after being missing for over a year from a town 40 miles away.
Microchipping is quick and easy, and nearly all veterinary clinics and animal shelters have universal scanners that can detect all the major chip types. Collar tags can break or become unreadable, and the animal has lost information that could have identified them.
Please join the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society for an Open House and Microchip Clinic on Saturday, April 16. Microchipping will be available from 10 a.m. to noon at a special price of $15 (regularly $29). The Open House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. includes shelter tours, adoptions, snacks, raffle prizes and free nail-clipping for dogs and cats by Dogs Unlimited Mobile Pet Grooming.
Come on out, see the shelter, have some fun, and make sure that your “best friend” will always have a way to be returned home! It’s hip to Microchip! For more information, call 688-8224 or visit our website at www.syvhumane.org.
Jody Knoell, President
SYV Humane Society Board of Directors
Dunn SchoolOn March 17, Mike Beck addressed the community in a letter about the restructuring and realignment of the outdoor program. In the letter Mr. Beck states, “Along with the board, I am committed to ensuring that Outdoor Education will remain key to the school’s mission.” This is yet another empty commitment from Dunn School’s headmaster. Dunn’s highly acclaimed Outdoor Education program is being annihilated to fit Mr. Beck’s unknown agenda.
Mr. Beck states that the OE trips will “remain key to the school’s mission,” but he fails to disclose a plan. Currently, each class participates in a 7-14 day trip to a remote California wilderness area. The freshmen travel to the Courtright Reservoir wilderness area for seven days, but next year, it changes to a four-day trip to a local beach. The sophomores travel to the Domelands for seven days in the Southern Sierras, but the new trip Mr. Beck briefly mentions involves a one-day ropes course. The junior trip includes climbing a 13,000-foot peak and a trans-Sierra hike over eleven days, but Mr. Beck’s new plan for the junior trip is a one-day hike over Grass Mountain (3,600 feet) in the Santa Ynez Valley. The seniors normally finish their tenure at Dunn by traveling to Northern California for 14 days and rafting the Klamath, Trinity, and Salmon Rivers as a rite of passage. Unfortunately, there is no senior trip planned for next year. The link below provides a full description of the current Dunn OE curriculum: shttp://www.blueskycollaborative.com/dunn/dxi67/Outdoor-Education-Proces
Dunn’s current OE program is accredited by the Association of Experiential Education, which establishes protocols and risk management guidelines for outdoor education. Dunn’s OE record is impeccable because the trips are closely assessed and led by professional OE instructors, all under the guidance and leadership of the Director, Randy Judycki. Some instructors have been contract employees for 10+ years, thus allowing them to develop close relationships with students and the school. Adopting Mr. Beck’s new plan will cause the upcoming 10-year AEE accreditation to expire, consequently exposing the school to tremendous liability issues if an accident occurs. Mr. Beck states that the new outdoor program “will involve more teachers and fewer outside experts leading the trips and activities.” The responsibility for student safety will now shift to inexperienced, untrained teachers – those who lack OE experience, risk management and wilderness first-aid training. Are parents comfortable with untrained classroom teachers taking their children into the wilderness instead of trained OE professionals?
Mr. Beck talks about the establishment of a restricted endowment fund and states, “I am excited that members of our community have already started to contribute to endowment funding.” Again, he failed to expand on this statement and explain that there are strict conditions to this particular fund. Alumni and parents were donating to the fund with the intention to keep the current OE program intact. If they sense that the program’s integrity is in jeopardy, they can ask for their contribution back. When Mr. Beck distributed his email with the ambiguous description of the proposed outdoor program, many donors started asking for their money back.
A survey recently went out to alumni, students, parents, and faculty, and the results clearly show support for the current OE program. Parents additionally showed support for an option of paying extra for their child to participate in the current OE program. Unfortunately, Mr. Beck and the board have clearly ignored the survey results. They also continue to ignore and discount nearly 700 participants on the Facebook page, “Friends of Dunn Outdoor Education” as well as many letters, emails and phone calls. Not a single long-standing teacher has raised a voice, shared an opinion, or asked a question concerning this significant change. Some teachers have witnessed for more than 20 years how Mr. Judycki and the OE program positively impact Dunn students, and it is shocking why they choose not to speak up – perhaps it is in fear of losing their job too?
Mr. Beck still refuses to answer these vital questions: Why wasn’t Mr. Judycki ever asked to reduce expenses or realign the program? Why wasn’t he asked to help develop the new program? Why is the most tenured employee at Dunn School with 27 years of experience being dismissed? Why was Mr. Judycki forced to sign a “gag order?”
Mr. Beck’s claim to keep the outdoor education program intact is not entirely accurate. His decision to restructure a key program and dismiss an honest employee who has spent half his life supporting Dunn’s mission cannot solely be the result of the program’s expense. It is shocking that Mr. Judycki was never asked or given an opportunity to reduce expenses, contribute his expertise to a new program, or speak openly to students, alumni and parents about this change. Mr. Beck continues to deceive the alumni, parents, students and community members.
There is one group left to recognize the inadequate leadership present at Dunn School. What will it take for the Dunn Board of Trustees to realize Mr. Beck is leading the school down a dangerous and destructive path?
Dunn School Class of 1999
Preventative maintenanceSanta Ynez Valley residents, Let’s talk about a subject that none of us feel comfortable even thinking about: colonoscopies. I knew I had turned 50 and I knew I should have one, but I didn’t want to do it. All I could think of is how humiliating and awful it must be.
Well, I was wrong. I made my appointment at the Santa Ynez hospital with Dr. Bentley.
From the moment I walked in, everyone was so friendly and nice. The receptionist (Linda) was warm and sweet and put me at ease immediately. We were joking about what to have for breakfast; of course, I was starving. Clair got me ready. She was explaining everything and was great. Francis and Andi were Dr Bentley’s assistances. I was pretty nervous and they were very reassuring. Dr. Bentley was so wonderful – he put me at ease right away. He is very gentle and compassionate. I never felt a thing. Terry was cute. She sat with me and made sure I didn’t jump in a car and drive myself home. I hope I didn’t forget anyone.
If you are out there putting it off and should have one, do it. It is one of the only things we can do for ourselves to prevent cancer and it is so easy. Even drinking the stuff the day before wasn’t bad. Don’t listen to the stories everyone talks about. I was so scared and there was no reason to be. This test can save your life.