Letters to the Editor
The other networks should take a page from Fox book
The liberal media and its fellow travelers do their best to portray the Fox network, including Fox News, as biased toward conservative causes while stringently denying any bias of their own. This week's "Fox News Sunday," with Chris Wallace, was an example all networks should follow.
Former President Bill Clinton was interviewed on the first half-hour of the show. Mr. Clinton was, ostensibly, there to discuss his climate-change initiative. It became quite obvious that he had come "loaded for bear" for an opening to defend his record on terrorism. Mr. Wallace provided that opening. It was also obvious that Mr. Clinton was there to try to enhance his "presidential legacy."
The refreshing thing was that the interview was aired in its entirety, with no deletions or editing.
I have come to expect networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC to cut in and out of such interviews while the narrator tells me what the subject said, instead of letting me hear the exact words as spoken.
The former president railed at Chris Wallace for 15 minutes straight, accusing him and the FOX network of trying to trick him to come on the show, complained bitterly of "neocons" calling him weak on terrorism, blamed the FBI and CIA for his failure to revenge the USS Cole bombing. He also insinuated that Richard Clark (his main anti-terror guy) basically cleared him of responsibility for 9/11 in a recent book. In contrast, one part of Clark's book tells how Mr. Clinton, after having missiles fired at a terrorist training camp, called off more strikes after being criticized as trying to divert attention from his Monica Lewinsky problems. He let such criticism interfere with his duty to protect us.
In all, Mr. Clinton did a good job of protesting his accusers and in giving his fellow Democrats a few "talking points" when they appear on the news shows.
Mr. Wallace and his network are to be commended for allowing him to fully express his views with no "spin," a practice that I would encourage other networks to follow.
River trail system will greatly benefit Camp Verde
As you may know, the Town recently acquired 10 acres of land along the Verde River across from the former Marshal's facility at the Black Bridge. Currently, this is the only town-owned public river access. The Town plans to develop this property for our citizens' use as a riverside park. You may have seen the Town crews working to make improvements to this property.
Our long-range plan is to create a river trail system from the Black Bridge to the I-17 Bridge. This is the first step in the project. The next step in the process is to fund and acquire additional property for a river trail system. The development of these trails may take years.
As with any project there will also be concerns and hurdles to overcome. Some of you have approached me regarding these concerns, i.e. speeding traffic, noise, trash, people taking dogs to the park, and Black Bridge Loop Road being used as access to the park. The Town will do the following to ensure this is a safe, well-maintained park and roadway:
1. Provide refuse containers and ensure that trash is picked up at the park
2. Post park rules and regulations and hours of operation
3. Prohibit overnight camping
4. Since Black Bridge Loop Rd. is a public roadway the Town will post speed signs and work to improve the road
5. The Marshal's Department will regularly patrol the park and Black Bridge Loop Road enforcing the rules and regulations and speed limits respectively.
With all the above being said, I want you to know that both entrances into this park are currently blocked. Improvement work is expected to take approximately three months. In the meantime, we are exploring the cost to mitigate the archeology site, which could allow for an alternate entrance. I explained the following to several concerned citizens: the Town could design a cul-de-sac at the end of Black Bridge Loop Road in the event that the alternate entrance becomes available. Staff will research options to try and accomplish this. In the short term, Town officials believe that Black Bridge Loop Road is the best solution until the site can be cleared.
I hope that you would agree that a river trail system in our Town is a worthwhile project and an amenity that most of us would enjoy. If you experience problems regarding the park or Black Bridge Loop Road, I encourage you to contact me. This will give me an opportunity to find a solution to your concern(s). You may reach me at (928) 567-6631 x 102 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
I will continue my service here on the local level
It is with bitter sweetness that I write to thank all of the people who've helped me over the last year in my run for the state House of Representatives. The bitterness comes with the closeness of the race, a mere 42 votes separated us from winning; but the sweetness is the sum-total of what was accomplished.
Over the course of the year, we ran a clean, fair and issues-based campaign.
In the process, I have gotten to know this district better than ever before. I visited many of you in your homes and listened as you spoke of your concerns, hopes, and aspirations for our district, state and country. I have collected many memories that will be with me always.
To those who voted for me, I will never forget you or the great honor you have done me. I could not have communicated my message of principled leadership, experience and conservative family values if not for your help and support along the way. My sincere thanks also go out to those who gave financially, those who worked diligently and those who prayed fervently for my campaign. Rest assured that this setback will not in any way lessen my commitment to serving God, my country or my community. And although we came close to realizing the goal of that commitment of service at the state House, I will continue my service just as passionately here on the local level.
God bless you, God bless America, and God bless the great state of Arizona.
Council members need to follow the rules, too
On Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 3:30 p.m., Camp Verde's Mayor, Tony Gioia, notified me that he was placing my performance review on the Wednesday, Sept. 27, agenda for council consideration. The Town's performance Evaluation Procedures requires that Council complete performance evaluation for Council appointed positions. I was only given 24 hours notice and the evaluation process was not followed.
An evaluation process is where the employer has the opportunity to evaluate an employee's strengths and weaknesses. It is not something that is done by placing an employee on the agenda with only a 24-hour advance notice and to try and lynch them.
I wish to thank Council Members Smith, Baker, Kovacovich and especially Howard Parrish for voting at the Sept. 27 meeting to follow the Performance Evaluation Procedures. Although Council Member Parrish and I may not always agree, he believed that it was important to follow these procedures.
Mayor Gioia alluded to problems that he has with me and thus his reason for the 24-hour notice. If the Mayor and Council recalls after my last review, I invited the Council to meet with me weekly (individually or a few at a time). These meetings would provide any opportunity to update them on Town matters and to discuss any concerns they may have with me. Not every council member chose to meet with me regularly. Therefore, I asked council members if they had any concerns regarding Town matters to advise me as soon as possible so we could work to resolve any problems. I also requested they not wait until my review to bring up their concerns that may used as issues in evaluating me.
Recently, a citizen wrote a letter to the editor complaining about a road issue. Just because a citizen writes a letter of complaint regarding me this should not be a cause for placing my performance review on the Council agenda with a 24-hour notice. This makes as much sense as giving a raise to a Town employee because a citizen writes employee thanking them for something they have done correctly.
If you wish to speak to me regarding this matter you may contact me at (928) 567-6631 ext. 102 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Verde Town Manager
Making Sense of School Labels
By Barbara U'Ren
Cottonwood Oak-Creek School District
Arizona law (Arizona Learns) and the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires that schools receive labels making the public aware of a school's academic performance. Through the Arizona Learns' accountability system, a school can be labeled Underperforming, Performing, Performing Plus, Highly Performing, or Excelling. When comparing Arizona Learns' accountability system with NCLB's accountability system, State Superintendent Tom Horne believes that the Arizona Learns provides a truer picture of how Arizona schools are performing. The Arizona Learns labels will be released to the public at the end of October. NCLB provides one of two labels for a school. A school can make Adequate Yearly Progress (Yes) or a school can fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (No). The NCLB labels have been released to the public.
Of Cottonwood Oak-Creek School District's five schools, four received a positive label from No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and one did not.
Briefly, the NCLB guidelines require that four areas on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) are examined:
1. The percentage of the total number of students and the percentage of each sub-group meeting the standards on Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS);
… [AIMS is a test assessing students' knowledge of the state learning standards, which all students are required to take in third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and tenth grade each spring. Students are scored as Falls Far Below the Standard, Approaches the Standard, Meets the Standard, or Exceeds the Standard]
2. The level of each sub-group's achievement;
… Sub-groups include: Ethnicity, English Language Learners, Special Education students, and low socio-economics students
3. If students or a sub-group did not make the required proficiency, then it is asked if they demonstrated a gain of 10 percent over the previous year's AIMS scores;
4. If 95 percent of the school's students tested and if 95 percent of each sub-group tested.
If the whole group or any one of the sub-groups in any one of the grades or in any one of the subjects fails to meet the proficiency level, demonstrate less than the necessary 10-percent growth, or fails to meet the 95-percent testing requirement, then the school fails to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This results in a matrix of possible ways to fail. According to Joe O'Reilly, executive director for Student Achievement Support at Mesa Public Schools, there are 254 ways for a K-12 district to fail to make AYP.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) designated Cottonwood Elementary School, Oak Creek School, Dr. Daniel Bright School, and Tavasci Elementary School as making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This means that either every sub-group met the state's proficiency level, or that 10 percent of the sub-group made the required improvement towards meeting required proficiency level, and that they tested 95 percent of their students.
Cottonwood Middle School (CMS) did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Of the possible 109 ways of failing to make AYP which affect CMS, they failed in one sub-group in one subject. The bitter irony with the No Child Left Behind label is this labeling system results in a minimum number of students affecting the entire school's label, relaying a false picture of a school's true performance.
In fact, Cottonwood Middle School (CMS) performs very well. If you look at CMS's Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) scores, you will find that CMS does as well or better than the state and the county average in every grade level. CMS is a school in which the Cottonwood community can take pride and in which parents can be confident that their children are receiving a top-notch education by top-notch educators.
Barbara U'Ren is the assistant superintendent of the Cottonwood Oak-Creek School District
Don't pass on it; rather, pass it on
I am writing this letter in response to a recent editorial by Dan Engler. I often find Dan's point of view a welcome insight. Certainly he is an accomplished writer who can eloquently enlighten the readers.
I write this letter because this time Dan and I happen to not agree. I am Henry Shill's great-nephew and am writing this in part because he has decided not to respond with a letter. Uncle Henry and I do not politically always agree either, but we understand that this is part of the great freedoms we enjoy.
In his editorial, Dan asked that when we are given the opportunity to sign a petition (in this case a referendum on imposed impact fees) that we "pass on it."
What would have happened if, when faced with tyrannous leadership, the great founders of our nation had passed on it? What would have happened if our grandfathers had passed on it when faced with the opposition of the axis of evil? Where would the modern battles against terrorism be fought if our soldiers decided to take a pass on it?
These are the very protectors of the freedoms that Dan asked us to take a pass on.
I am a bit disappointed and would like to think that what Dan really meant to say was "pass it on." That's right, "pass it on" that as citizens of this great country we have the right to not always agree with our leaders. "Pass it on" that when we are not happy with what our government, big or small, is doing there are certain legal courses of action that the can be taken.
"Pass it on" that you cherish your right to vote and sign petitions. "Pass it on" that it is good for decisions to be given to the voting masses and not just the elected few. "Pass it on" that you enjoy the freedoms of democracy not dictatorship. "Pass it on" that these freedoms are still of great value.
When given the chance to sign a petition my advice is that Camp Verdeans exercise their rights by signing the petition and that they then "pass it on."
Benjamin F. Bueler
No good deed goes unpunished
A little over seven years ago, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board approached the Verde Valley Computer Club (VVCC) and asked if the club would provide basic computer training for senior citizens in the community.
The agreement was that the school would provide the room and the computers if the VVCC would provide the course content and the instructors. The course would be free to all senior citizens.
The program has been an overwhelming success with more than 1,000 seniors completing the six-week course on basic computer skills. In addition, all donations made at these classes have been used to buy much-needed equipment and supplies for the Middle School Computer Lab.
However, this fall the Computer Club was notified that the Cottonwood-Oak Creek Schools would now charge the Computer Club for the use of the computer lab for this program. I informed School Superintendent Julie Larson that this program was not initiated by the club, but at the request of the school board, and I did not feel that the Computer Club should pay for the use of the lab for a school board initiated function.
To that, Ms. Larson informed me that the school board did not have the authority to direct school facility use. Now that I find strange since we elect school board to govern how our tax supported schools are operated.
I know the school district is short on funds after not monitoring their spending correctly, but still outside organizations should not have to pay to support a school board requested function.
I am a voting member of the VVCC board of directors. I will make a motion at the next board meeting that we drop the Senior Training Classes because of this unqualified insult. However, for the benefit of the seniors in the community, I expect to be out-voted. I will then make sure that any donations made at the classes are used to pay the room-use fee and none of it be used to buy equipment or supplies for the computer lab.
Administrating and conducting these classes is not an easy task and a lot of time and effort is donated by club members.
I sure hope the school board members read this letter and make some inquires as to just exactly what is their power and responsibility over the school administration.