In Defense of Fernando

I live in the Alisal Union School District and I have worked with Supervisor Fernando Armenta for 25 years. I do not always agree on every issue, but I have found Mr. Armenta works and votes for what he believes to be the best interest of the residents of the Alisal. 

The Alisal school board is understandably upset that the state of California took over their school district because of its abysmal performance record. The school performance has improved greatly since the state takeover. I am not surprised morale would be low in such a situation. Mr. Armenta was not responsible for the takeover, or the school districts low performance (“Anger over school district takeover sparks Armenta recall effort,” May 5-11). He simply supported it as in the best interest of the students. 

The fact that Mr. Castañeda and Mr. Armenta were friends confirms my opinion of Mr. Armenta’s integrity. The best interests of the children in the Alisal district seems to be more important to him than protecting his friend’s position. I can understand Mr. Castañeda would be angry and upset. None of this justifies him comparing the politics to the “infamous mordida of Mexico.”

I have not spoken to either Mr. Castañeda or Mr. Armenta on this subject. These opinions are my own. I would be interested to know how many of the 60 people in this nameless group live in the Alisal area. My guess is many are teachers and administrators who live outside the Alisal. - MacGregor Eddy | Salinas 

Pick on SVMH Right!

Mary Duan is such a leftist tool – and a pedantic one at that (“Unemployment spikes, while the boss rakes in millions,” May 5-11). Mary, did you actually sit in on the board meeting where Downing was awarded his massive pension? If so, I’m sure you were able to record how everyone on the board voted. Right? Just because there’s a nurse on the board and so-called regular working person, they must’ve both voted against Downing’s big payout. What a leftist dreamland narrative. Knowing the composition of that board, it’s not hard to believe that the vote awarding Sam Downing all that lucre was 5-0. In fact, before you throw out baseless allegations, why don’t you make a PRA (Public Records Act) request and ask for the minutes of the SVMH board meetings so that you can see exactly how every member of the board voted and read their comments? 

All of this info about Downing’s pay and benefits came out during the 2008 campaign for Measure W – a parcel tax that would’ve raised nearly half a billion dollars for Downing and SVMH to spend on a seismic retrofit and renovation of the hospital. City Watch produced a 3x5 four-color card with one side detailing the excessive pay and bonuses of SVMH’s top brass, while the opposite side showed homeowners how much their property taxes would be increased by passage of “W.” The card worked and helped defeat “W” with nearly 80 percent of the votes cast being “no.” By the way, this reflexively leftist, high-tax-loving newspaper endorsed Measure W and would not even look at any material that was critical of the tax or the motives of the hospital. Like I said, the Monterey County Weekly is nothing more than a tool for the establishment and the status quo. - Iconoclast | via Web

Seeking Sam

I think the media is missing the main story (“Unemployment spikes, while the boss rakes in millions,” May 5-11). It isn’t Sam Downing’s retirement package. It is why Sam, after 40 years of major leadership and high visiblilty in the Salinas community, chose to have someone else announce his precipitous retirement (2 weeks??) and then make no comments to the media about that announcement. There must have been a major disagreement between Sam and the Board of Directors for this to occur. And interestingly, to have someone so handy in the wings, the interim CEO (for $10,000 per week) who happens to have most recent experience as a hired gun in another tax district hospital. There is more to this than the media eyes are seeing. Something does not sit “right” here. - Carol Voss | Prunedale

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