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Sound Off! calls published May 12, 2010
• Become Americans united

Jeff, yeah! You hit the nail on the head. Myself and a lot of people I know feel the same as you, we have just been silent. My grandparent came over here from France and became naturalized citizens and call themselves Americans not French-Americans. They love this country and were proud to become legal Americans.

I do not feel it is right for people to come here illegally and have children born here who become automatic citizens born of illegal parents. I bet a big percentage of the people who have trouble with Arizona and the immigration laws have parents who are here illegally! I have a problem with people calling themselves Mexican-American, African-American (all the hyphenated nationalities) I am very proud of my heritage, but do not call myself French-American. Most of us probably have grandparents or great grandparent who came from another country.

We either are American or we are not.This country is built on diversity and that is what makes it a great place to live. Is it too difficult for those who are here to become legal citizens? If they were here legally it would not be a problem with the laws of our country.

• Thanks for having the Courier on-line

I lived in Ceres for a number of years and I always looked forward to getting the Ceres Courier every week. I am so happy that I can still read this wonderful paper online and I just wanted to say thank you for letting me keep up with the news from my favorite city. - Shirley, Bonanza, Ore.

• Why isn't Pope being made to pay?

I'm calling to complain about the Whitmore Mansion at 2732 Fifth Street. It's come to my understanding that all these new sidewalks and everything is going around the block, which goes from Fifth Street to Sixth Street. All these good sidewalks are being paid for by taxpayer money and ... kind of doesn't seem right considering Cary Pope who owns the property was supposed to pay out of his own pocket to improve the sidewalks with sidewalks and gutters and all that other stuff in order to have a business at the old Whitmore Mansion. It was something he agreed to for his conditional use permit. I don't think it's right. I don't think taxpayers should have to pay.

(Editor's note: The city was given a change to answer your question. This was their response: "The city could wait until some time in the future for the improvements to be installed by the adjacent property owner, but that is the case for any curb, gutter and sidewalk improvement being installed by the city. In addition, the Draft Downtown Specific Plan has determined the Fifth Street curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements to be a priority. As a condition of approval for the Whitmore Mansion/Victorian Village tentative map, the property owner is required to install curbs, gutters and sidewalks, if they do not already exist, prior to the city approving a parcel map. However, the parcel map has not been approved, and there is no schedule for the mansion to install these improvements, as they are only required if the property subdivides. The property will only subdivide if the Victorian Village Senior Housing project moves forward, and there is no current builder..."

• We were thinking the same thing

You have expressed just what I have been thinking. I am another Californian who agrees with Arizona. Thanks for putting in the paper what I have been thinking.

• The Bee wrongly called area Ceres

I've lived in Ceres for over 10 years. In the Modesto Bee last week, they stated the high speed chase where the suspect got shot ended in north Ceres at Herndon and Pecos. This aggravates me because that is not Ceres; it is Modesto 95351. Crowslanding Road is not Ceres either. I own property in Ceres and in Modesto I know the difference. Ceres is a nice place to live! Ceres gets a bad rap! Why? I don't get it. I also work at Ceres High and the staff and students are great! I am proud to raise my sons in Ceres.

What can we do as a community to change the stigma and perception that Ceres has? We need to revitalize downtown and bring in a Red Lobster and nice shopping.

• No administrators around for security

CUSD determined the week of April 26-30 as the testing window for the California State testing series (tests vary according to grade level) at the beginning of the school year. That would give schools ample time to ensure all students would be tested (make ups) by the end of the state's mandated May 7 finish date. Teachers signed affadavits declaring they would secure all documents, returning all materials to the site administrator at the end of each cycle of each day of the week. Tests were counted as were answer scantrons upon pickup each morning and on return later in the day. Teachers again signed for security reasons.

Friday, April 30 concluded testing, and by early afternoon all materials were again secured. But to whom? There were no administrators on site. Apparently all were in attendance at a conference in Monterey. It is just one more example of "Do as I say, not as I do" in this district. Phone calls had gone out to all CUSD families stressing the importance of attendance - not once but at least twice. Negotiations remain at an impasse with CUTA regarding lack of sufficient funds to meet contract requirements. Material required to be secure by the state of California were "locked" in administrative assistant's offices, never checked nor verified a site administrator.

The district can afford to pay for a trip to Monterey - for as rumor has it, a celebration of an award presented to an assistant superintendent - while it continues to stand firm on increased class size as a threat to teachers if they don't fall into step and take the same cut the administrators have (regardless of the fact that their pay has increased far greater in the last five years, than teacher COLA has). They may even try to defend themselves by saying it is different funding, or it was planned far in advance (so was the testing date). What is their reasoning for placing the burden of security on classified personnel?

It is not only time for some honesty and self reflection, but time to open the books to an outside audit of this district's expenditures, by a qualified accounting firm from whom paper trails can't be obscured.