Perfect storm may threaten public schools

This opinion is my own and does not represent that of the Oracle school board.

The share of tax dollars that winds up in Arizona classrooms has slid to the lowest level in 12 years primarily because education funding has declined significantly. In fact, Arizona leads the nation in cuts to per-pupil spending from 2008 to 2012 - almost 22 percent.

In the Oracle School District, this includes no increase in base level amount, no excess utilities funding, no building renewal funding, capital fund reductions, and reductions to maintenance and operations funding. It also includes a one-time $300,000 sweep from our cash balance and the removal of funding for all-day kindergarten.

This, while state Sen. Al Melvin claims the Arizona Legislature has "moved heaven and earth" to ensure education is properly funded.

So far, we've made it work. But cash reserves are dwindling, and tough decisions loom. Now we have the unfunded mandate of implementing Common Core Standards, and the potential effect of sequestration. Is a perfect storm looming?

Linda Thomas

Oracle school board member, Oracle

Health care must not be treated as optional

Many Arizona Republicans continue to regard health care as optional. You have no right to health care, even lifesaving treatment, unless you are fortunate enough to have private health insurance. Health care to these Republicans is like a luxury automobile - if you can't afford it, you don't deserve it.

Gov. Jan Brewer's effort to expand Medicaid is unacceptable to Republican Party leaders and powerful legislators.

Using Orwellian logic, House Speaker Andy Tobin reasons that it is better to deny health care now rather than having to cut back later.

"Somebody getting kicked out of a hospital is different than somebody not getting on (health care) in the first place," he said. Tobin needs someone to explain to him that pain is pain, suffering is suffering and dead is dead, regardless of when you start or stop medical treatment.

Last session, Republicans passed multiple bills against women's choice, and some legislators even proposed policies to curb contraception. To many prominent Republicans, it is better to save the fetus and then kill the child.

James Gilbert

Retired, Green Valley

Curtail president's travel to reduce costs

Regarding the cancellation of White House tours due to budget cuts required by sequestration, I have a suggestion for a savings in government expenditures.

It is estimated that the hourly cost of operating Air Force One, the ultimate corporate jet, is about $180,000. Added to this is the cost of operating support aircraft that transport other items required for the president's safety and convenience such as the entourage of gas-sucking SUVs that accompany the official limo that also travels with him.

Just a slight curtailment of the president's gloom and doom road show, say a day or two, would yield enough savings to once again allow American citizens access to the "people's house."

The self-guided tours can't have very high administrative costs. I thought I'd submit this brilliantly simple cost-saving idea to the president, but I have doubts he would go for it. He'd probably want a matching tax hike.

Richard R. Gallimore

Retired civil engineer,


Conviction of Taylor a travesty of justice

Re: the March 7 article "Cause unclear in '70 hotel fire, new probe finds."

The article concerning the possible new trial for Louis Taylor gave my conscience a momentary reprieve.

My heart has been heavy for lo these 40 years as I have thought of him in prison for a crime for which many in our community consider him innocent.

My late husband and I were attending a Hughes Aircraft Co. holiday party in a building across the street from the Pioneer Hotel at the time of the fire. We witnessed in helpless disbelief the horror of that evening.

But an equally indelible scar was the travesty of the arrest, conviction and incarceration of Taylor when, in fact, it never was proved that the fire was an act of arson at all. It would appear that the justice system needed a scapegoat and found one in a teenage boy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I believe that the perpetuation of this travesty of justice is the real crime here, and I hope that a new trial will exonerate Taylor and put to rest the heartbreak of his family and of our community.

Aldine von Isser

Professor emeritus, UA, Tucson