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Pasadena's Pool Board Deserves Public Support

May 02, 1991

I want to congratulate you on your story "Controversy Floods New Pasadena Pool" (Times, April 28).

It is extraordinarily easy to be caught up in the emotion of one side or another in a story such as this one, especially when inflammatory accusations are being made. You managed to avoid the traps.

As a former board member, I know that racism does not motivate any of the actions of the AAF-RBAC board. This is a board with a vision, a vision of building first-class water sport teams with kids who haven't had the privilege of growing up with a pool.

What some in the community do not realize is that the vision of this board is one that can be accomplished. The critics are thinking too small when they lobby for a "splash" pool. They don't see the real value. The community needs only to look as far as John Muir High School to see that such a program can work.

Coach Walt Culbertson has a smaller, parallel program at Muir. Walt takes kids with large or small physiques from every ethnic background and both sexes and then molds them into self-confident athletes who can beat the privileged kids from Beverly Hills and Orange County.

It is a thrilling spectacle to see brown, black, white, red and yellow boys and girls swim or play water polo against huge, white, body-built males from, for instance, El Toro. To win, Culbertson must not only teach his kids to be athletes, he must also teach them to outsmart their formidable opponents.

What better confidence-building experience can there be for poor and middle-income kids who are likely to face discrimination at some point? It's a confidence that can't be taken away from them.

I have belonged to some 20 different boards in the past 10 years, and there is no more hard-working, dedicated board than the AAF-RBAC. The members not only understand the concept of true community service, but they put their own personal money and their own personal time behind their beliefs. I resigned because I could not match the high level of their community commitment.

The community should support them, not criticize them.

Your story, including the headline and subhead, was responsible journalism at its best.

SUE LARIS-EASTIN

Pasadena

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