Letters To The Editor 5.17.12
Thursday, May 17, 2012
The “blame the victim” stance Wheeler takes re: Jim is nauseating; I was there, I know what Jim experienced, that the people in power there abandoned him when he needed real support and love. (“Esalen Institute’s ‘global community’ protests manager layoffs,” May 10-16). Jim’s last days on this planet were poisoned with grief and disappointment as well as fear, thanks to poor and heartless management decisions, by, as he said, the “center for human potential.” Really lived up to the name on that one, Wheeler. - Linda Rowland Jones | via Web
There is, of course, a larger context to the current crisis. Esalen Institute used to combine several different, complementary and overlapping visions of its co-founders Dick Price and Michael Murphy. It was an experimental healing and learning community embodied by longer-term residential “students,” who constituted the bulk of the workforce, various residential practitioners, and other staff. It was an educational center offering workshops to short-term paying guests (from a weekend to a month), and it sponsored invitational conferences and other projects.
Most people on staff had come up “through the ranks” as work scholars and extended students, which resulted in a uniquely egalitarian feel and climate. Since the death of Dick Price in 1985 and more accelerated in the last decade or so, the balance and emphasis have been shifting away from the community to the more lucrative workshop center. Work scholar and extended-student programs and positions have been reduced and replaced by a more regular workforce. At the same time, management positions have proliferated and are often filled by “outsiders” with more corporate and less Esalen experience and background. Esalen has become more about and for the paying customers than about, and for, the working community. This balance has fortunately not been lost altogether, and might be re-adjusted with some “political will” and probably some changes in key upper management positions and the Board of Trustees. - mskrodzki | via Web
Thanks so much to the Weekly for your interest and caring about Esalen staff issues, which mirrors the passionate interest we command from our worldwide Esalen family. As one of the oldest (nonprofit) businesses in the county, bringing over a million visitors to Big Sur over our 50 years of transformational work, we’re proud to be one of the most progressive employers we know of anywhere, residential or otherwise – and pained and saddened when we have to eliminate a position at Esalen to keep up with the demands of today’s world and climate.
A couple of small but important points. CEO Tricia McEntee did not “return MCW’s calls” because she asked me, as president and a former CEO, to do it. The laid-off managers are entitled to other generous layoff benefits beyond the ones listed in the article – specifically geared to recognize and honor length of service at Esalen. In the case of senior staff members like the other two whose positions were eliminated, these packages together total many tens of thousands of dollars, which we feel is only right. We were “management-heavy” only in that one department, maintenance; the other two departments were combined into one, which is why the two separate “siloed” manager positions disappeared. And the former teacher you cite as “resigning” did not actually “resign” since he was not an employee of Esalen. As for “non-disclosure,” believe me, there’s no such thing at Esalen! Our severance benefits, as is pretty universal with these agreements, do call for “non-disparagement,” and the commitment is mutual. Even without that mutuality, I have nothing but good wishes for Daniel, and all affected by these changes (which at Esalen, means our whole community). - Gordon Wheeler | President, Esalen Institute
I would like to thank Mary Duan for pointing out the extreme anti-business climate in California (“Local Spin,” May 10-16). Not only is California the worst state to do business, but we have the highest sales tax rate in the nation, the third highest income tax rate, the fourth highest capital gains tax and the eighth highest corporate tax. As if this were not bad enough, California has the highest gasoline tax in the nation and we are ranked as the worst state for tax administration.
As Mary pointed out, California is ranked as the “worst state to do business” for seven straight years. And to top that off, the American Tort Reform Association ranks California the second worst state “judicial hellhole,” where wacky and extortionate class-action suits have driven away many businesses.
So, it is plain to see that California’s government in Sacramento is sabotaging our economy. To blame Capital One for leaving Salinas is like blaming the destruction of a bridge by terrorists on the bridge. I would not blame any business or worker for leaving an anti-market and anti-business environment. As taxes and regulations rise, jobs will disappear to other places. - Lawrence Samuels | Carmel
My first job and last corp job was for HCS back in the ’80s, in their facility management department. Did space planning and hate to say… helped set up those rat cubicles. Needless to say, I was happy when that part-time stint was over. Though it gave many a paycheck, never saw so many unhappy people in one place willing to be part of the corporate cog. - Karen Lesney | via Facebook
Who’s hand is in your wallet?
Heartbreaking. - Steve Endsley | via Facebook
(Editor’s note: We’re still inviting people to shred their Capital One cards in our shredder. Once we’ve collected a nice pile of shreds, they’ll be sent to Capital One’s CEO. Check our Facebook page for details.)
Another County Heard From
I was reading your opinion section, and there’s a part in there that says “Don’t vote yet, see who we think you should vote for and why.” You know, that’s so disturbing to me. It’s none of your business to push who you think people should and should not vote for. You should have a non-biased opinion as journalists instead of trying to push what you think or don’t think on people’s minds. Voting itself is an individual constitutional right, and it’s not to be manipulated. I’m extremely, extremely disappointed to read that. That’s not your place. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to write in there.Anonymous | via Voicemail
(Editor’s note: If you were “extremely, extremely” disappointed by reading the endorsements-are-coming notice in last week’s paper, you probably want to avoid the next page.)