Re "Speedboarding hits a snag," July 25
The pro-"speedboarding" group described in your article needs a better public relations team.
As the group insists their sport is innocuous in The Times piece, their statements are juxtaposed against a photograph of two members traveling the wrong way down a two-lane street with limited visibility.
Of course, one boarder's confession that "if the cars are going as fast as us, they're probably speeding" seems to be an outright admission of lawbreaking behavior, no?
Answering this question might decide whether or not speedboarding should be allowed: What is the purpose for which roads are built? Are roads for transportation or for racing? Is there really any other question to answer or argument to be made for allowing speedboarding on public streets?
Textbook case of waste
Re "Cost of missing books adds up," July 26
Chalking up the waste of $10 million on textbooks to an "inefficient inventory system" is generous.
In the English department where I teach at University High, we are deluged with books we do not ask for, want or need. They are ordered by the district, arrive unexpectedly and are shelved. It would be fine if the mandated texts were appropriate. Sadly, the anthology the district demanded I use for 12th-grade modern literature featured "Beowulf" and ended with Emily Dickinson.
Courses like Scholastic Inc.'s Read 180 cost thousands for a single class set and are used briefly before newer texts appear, at a rate of more than $83 million a year. This is one reason Supt. Ramon C. Cortines' former contract with Scholastic seems a disturbing conflict of interest.
And this is only about books. Consider the district's construction projects and its army of consultants and contractors. I do not know the ratio of graft to incompetence, but the answer to "what's wrong with the schools" is right here, and I hope The Times continues to follow the money.
The Times reported that "the Board of Education recently declined to renew the contract of Inspector General Jerry Thornton, in part, district insiders have said, over the embarrassment caused by some audit findings."
How typical of the school board. Shouldn't an auditor be independent of the company he is auditing in order to avoid conflict of interest and prevent retaliation?
On Cortines, from a teacher
Re "The Cortines effect," July 23
As a 14-year L.A. Unified teacher, I wanted to add to your tribute to Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.
He did not save any teachers' jobs — we, the teachers of LAUSD, agreed to give up 12 days of our pay to save our fellow teachers.
District mismanagement and waste has improved but still has miles to go. Evidence for this includes the recent estimate that LAUSD has lost $10 million on missing books.
The transfer of Principal Suzanne Blake out of Central Los Angeles High School #9 without cause was a travesty. The students and parents have every right to be appalled at this decision.
Finally, no studies definitively show that charter schools are more effective than public schools. This counters Cortines' embrace of charter schools in the Public School Choice program.
The fight over food
Re "In fight over raw foods, choice and safety clash," July 25
The raid of Rawesome Foods in Venice by officers from multiple local state and federal agencies, with guns drawn, appears excessive. These agencies were granted search warrants because of a permitting violation, not because of any health complaints from members.
Moreover, it seems that this food club satisfied consumer demand and developed a successful business model in the process. One can agree or disagree with the health merits of raw milk, but why penalize the entrepreneurial spirit?
Perhaps public agencies should invest their time, and our money, in areas that affect the majority, rather than an insignificant few. These food clubs present zero threat to those who disagree with their mission. Such people can keep shopping at their preferred supermarkets.
What makes people think that because they eat, they are viable experts in food safety? I wonder which members of the management or staff of Rawesome Foods were able to produce any documentation of training in food safety, much less a degree in food science.
All we need is one child to suffer a toxic episode from these foods to draw our attention to the dangers associated with eating improperly handled food.
I fear for the safety of people who demand the right to make decisions that ignore proven science.
Barry M. Weinstein
Are guns the answer?
Re "Reluctantly packing heat," Opinion, July 25
Welcome to the world of sensible, safe and sane gun ownership, Sonia. Thanks for noting we're not all tattooed skinheads.