Opinion/Letters to the Editor June 2021

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June 3 issue:

Response to SDFA teachers union petition to recall

On May 20, after an 11-hour San Dieguito Union High School District board meeting, I stepped out into a dark parking lot and was ambushed by Duncan Brown, the head of SDFA (the teachers union), who shoved a recall notice into my hand.

Addressing the needs of our schools — and our students — during these times of distress and challenge, turned into a view “behind the curtain” that revealed what became, over years, the norm. Our district lost touch with its purpose — the best interests of the students. Re-opening efforts balanced with safety, and the quality of in-person experiences are but a handful of elements I’ve prioritized with my platform of students and families first.

Absent from Brown or the union, is a clear call to prioritize the students who’ve struggled for so long alone, in what has become a year of isolation, at the precise time in their lives when interpersonal growth is so entwined with peer interaction. This has been shamefully absent from the union’s actions and narratives.

A significant part of my campaign as a trustee was built on the platform to return to the district’s purpose while safeguarding and accommodating our talented faculty. The voters spoke with my election last fall to the board of trustees and I moved with purpose to restore the school district to the children and families. Despite union pushback through the fall and winter, we were finally able to reopen schools for the final quarter of the school year.

I am now concerned that students may be forced to the backseat once again, as the teachers union, in conjunction with the California Teachers Association out of Sacramento, attempts to recall both me and Ty Humes, who was unanimously appointed to the school board to fill a vacant seat. These efforts serve only SDFA, who seems intent on wresting control while saddling the district with the costs of the elections, estimated to be as much as $1.3 million out of the general funds. Our district has been running a deficit for the last five years. This is taxpayer money, and should be used for school, not for the political benefit of the unions.

As our district celebrates in-person graduations at our high schools and middle schools (a development I fought for), I remain resolved. I was elected to ask the tough questions and to advocate for parents, students, and taxpayers. I will continue to be tough. Students and families first — that is my platform and I live it every day.

Michael Allman

Board trustee, SDUHSD

It’s time to put our students over politics

It’s been a difficult year for all of us, but especially for our teenagers who were locked out of public schools for over a year. Our middle and high schools remained closed the majority of this school year, despite overwhelming evidence that schools could be safely reopened. The cost of these school closures to our teenagers in both learning loss and their mental health is vast, and probably won’t be fully understood for years or even decades. The public messaging from our teachers’ union right now should be one of compassion and commitment to their students this fall, but sadly this is not the case.

Instead, the San Dieguito Faculty Association (SDFA) has recently instigated two separate efforts to remove two current members of our SDUHSD school board. Mr. Ty Humes was recently, unanimously appointed to fill a vacancy. This is common practice when an elected board member resigns, and the overwhelming precedent in similar circumstances within our county. Nevertheless, the SDFA quickly mobilized to overturn this unanimous appointment, insisting on a special election that will cost over $500,000 to us, local taxpayers.

They claimed it’s because he wasn’t elected. Now, the same SDFA is seeking to recall trustee Michael Allman, a non union-backed trustee and fierce advocate for school reopening, just six months after his public election in November 2020. So the SDFA is overturning the appointment of Mr. Humes on “principle” because he was appointed and not elected, while simultaneously seeking to recall the duly elected Mr. Allman because they don’t like him and didn’t support him in his initial run for office.

These two actions by the SDFA are obviously in direct contradiction to one another. It’s nearly impossible to see these dual-actions as anything other than an attempt by the SDFA to wrestle control of the school board. Furthermore, these actions only serve to divide our community rather than keep us all focused on the most important thing: the educational recovery of our students.

Neighbors, please don’t sign any petition regarding our SDUHSD school board without thinking carefully about who should represent our community on that body. I believe we all benefit from independent thinkers like Mr. Humes and Mr. Allman who were duly appointed and elected respectively. The SDFA has strong financial and political backing from the CTA and are therefore a formidable force in getting their way. They have already forced a costly special election upon us for Mr. Humes’ seat. Let’s not allow them to also force a costly and divisive recall of Mr. Allman.

Lani Curtis

TPHS Class of 1994 and SDUHSD parent of 3

June 10 issue:

RSF golf course: Important to not confuse aesthetics with the essence of great design

It must be put on record that the latest work being done to the RSF golf course is destroying the architectural integrity of Max Behr’s great design. Worse, this ill-conceived project is being performed by a well-known architect of several noteworthy original designs who, unfortunately, has inadequate knowledge of Max Behr’s architectural philosophy, and has never worked on a true restoration. His masterplan references “Line of Charm” several times, but his proposed work on holes 12 and 15 will adversely affect Behr’s brilliant use of this design feature. Furthermore, among many other miscues, the hogsback ridge in the driving area hole 4 has been bulldozed; this classic architectural feature is found at many of the greatest designs, almost always at CB Macdonald and Seth Raynor designs.

Upon completion of the work, the course should look great, since the construction team is top notch. However, it is important to not confuse aesthetics with the essence of great design, something RSF once possessed. Max Behr was the most influential author on the subject of golf course architecture during his tenure as the founding editor of Golf Illustrated. After moving to California, he put his philosophy to work on original designs, only building a few courses, and today, Lakeside, Victoria Club, and RSF still exist as his designs, and all three are missing an original green complex. RSF was his final design, and its absence of rough, wide fairways, and minimal use of bunkering was the blueprint for Augusta National and designs derived from the Augusta effect. This was no accident because Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie were friends. Bobby Jones filmed at Lakeside, and MacKenzie visited RSF just before designing Augusta National, and in the Spirit of Saint Andrews published posthumously, gave credit to Max Behr for changing his design approach. As the bulldozers move dirt, the beauty and naturalism that Behr built into his strategic designs will be further eroded into a design fiasco.

The origin of this fiasco lies in the failure to first seek the advice of notable Max Behr experts Tommy Naccarato at Hanse Golf Design or Geoff Shackelford, author of many golf course architecture books, including a completed book on Behr that awaits publication. Most damaging, there was a terribly conceived interview process that failed to interview these highly accomplished architects with superb restoration experience: Tom Doak, Keith Foster, Drew Rodgers, Kyle Franz, Jeff Mingay, Ian Andrew, Andrew Green, Lester George, Tripp Davis, Ron Forse and Jim Nagle, Ron Prichard, Clayton, DeVries & Pont, Coore & Crenshaw, and Gil Hanse. How can you spend millions of dollars on one of Rancho Santa Fe’s greatest assets without interviewing at least half of the above mentioned architects?

Robert Mercer Deruntz

Rancho Santa Fe