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April 15, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Math Problem

It's a shame that in her zeal to pin the state's budget problems on the Democrats, Jill Stewart attacks the community colleges and the disabled community in her opinion piece, "Math Problem" (March 19).

As a math instructor at community colleges and the father of a disabled child, let me help Stewart do the math. The purpose of the community college system is to provide education to all Californians.

For many, especially from culturally diverse communities, it is the entry point toward transferring to a four-year institution. For others, the colleges provide work force education leading to careers in nursing, office technology, etc., or retraining for those who have been laid off during the economic "recovery."

Yet fees have jumped from $11 per unit to $18 per unit during the last year -- a 64 percent increase. Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget has proposed that these fees be raised to $26 per unit, another 44 percent increase or a total increase of 136 percent in two years. Rather than subsidizing students as Stewart suggests, it seems we are trying to balance California's budget on their backs.

Stewart also takes a cheap shot at the disabled community for advocating for their rights to be productive members of our society. The disabled community is already at a disadvantage in pursuing their dreams.

I invite you to meet my daughter who requires a power wheelchair for mobility. Witness the occupational and physical therapy that she endures as part of her everyday life. Most importantly, witness her positive outlook on life.

Rather than balancing the budget on their backs, I suggest we applaud these vibrant members of our society and help them achieve their goals, just as we do with the able-bodied community. If you really want to do the math Ms. Stewart, please advocate that those who have benefited from large tax breaks pay their fair share, rather than trying to further marginalize these two dynamic communities.

David H. Senensieb, Calabasas

Jill Stewart responds:

California students pay a cost students elsewhere haven't seen in years. The $12 hike per unit, less than a CD or a pizza, does not bring California close to what other students in other states pay. Students will absorb the mild sticker shock, as they did elsewhere.

It's a shame big bureaucracies use the disabled as props. Instead of frank talk about which programs don't deliver, legislators facing those wheelchairs -- one does not see the blind or less-impactful props -- rarely get there. They rarely discuss how poorly our programs compare to other states. Bureaucracies squelching frank discussion hurt everyone.

The Other Shiites

Rob Eshman's article titled, "The Other Shiites" (April 9) is a true depiction of Muslims. Contrary to the fanatical, turban- and beard-adorned gunslingers making headlines on Fox, this article and the event that led to it reflects the educated, all-embracing and common Muslim. I am one of them, and I felt pride in the editor's words. Thank you for such a beautiful piece.

Faisal Laljee, via e-mail

Rick Orlov

Either writer Catherine Siepp misquoted Rick Orlov, or he took a wrong turn down a City Hall corridor ("A Walk in Rick Orlov's City Hall," April 9).

Wendy Greuel is not Jewish, although she is married to a Jewish man, and Eric Garcetti is Jewish. Journalists should check facts. Additionally, it was not necessary to mention that Jan Perry is a convert to Judaism. She is Jewish, period -- and a committed Jew at that.

Valerie Fields, Los Angeles

 

The Jewish approach to converts is to welcome them and treat them with full equality to born Jews. Once they have become Jews-by-choice, referring to their status as converts is discouraged. In spite of this tradition, The Journal's article on City Hall reporter Rick Orlov contained a very inappropriate reference to City Councilwoman, and Jew-by-choice, Jan Perry.

The article makes matters worse, ending the paragraph with a reference to Perry not as "the councilwoman," but as "the African American." What does Perry's race have to do with anything? Orlov, Seipp and The Jewish Journal owe Perry and all other Jews-by-choice a big apology.

Joel and Fran Grossman, Los Angeles

Chaos in Town

I was excited to see that Leora Alhadeff wrote "Chaos Comes to Town" (March 19) about my cousin, Merhav Mohar, an emerging professional Israeli boxer, and his recent arrival to compete at the Olympic Auditorium in an Oscar De La Hoya-sponsored boxing event.

Well, the follow-up is that Merhav won his match. We were so excited. He's now 10-1 and will be invited back to compete in the U.S. again.

Despite all the Palestinian-Israeli news you read about in Israel, there are still young people like Merhav who love Israel and have found they can realize big dreams in Israel, too. Merhav's father grew up on a kibbutz and his grandparents were real chalutzim (pioneers) in founding one of the few financially successful kibbutzim, Givat Haiim Ichud. We're looking forward to his visit again.

Daniel Wachtenheim , Los Angeles

Correction

In "The Other Shiites" by Rob Eshman, Ali, the progenitor of Shiite Islam, should have been referred to as the Prophet Mohammad's nephew and son-in-law, not his grandson.

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