As a retired former high school and college athlete, I am concerned with the condition of Don Nicholson Stadium playing field at Kimball High. I happened to catch the report on Channel 3 on April 14. My first reaction was that Kimball had a beautiful stadium and the parents and coaches must be making it out to be worse than it really is. Being retired and having some time on my hands, I went to Kimball on April 15 after school to see if I could look for myself. The track team was practicing, so I was able to walk out on the field to see firsthand what condition the field was in. What I observed was shocking. How could a field that was only five years old have these kinds of problems? There were noticeable low spots in the turf where it appears to have sunk. When I looked across the field, it looked like there were waves on the surface. There is also a 3- or 4-inch-high edge where the field turf meets the track. It was obvious that there is something drastically wrong with this field. For the Tracy Unified School District to say that the field is safe is blatantly negligent. This is not what the taxpayers of Tracy paid for. In my opinion, the Kimball field is an accident waiting to happen.
During my visit to Kimball, I was able to speak with a couple of people. I asked why no one spoke up when the TV crew was there. I was told that TUSD gave orders that no one was supposed to talk to the Channel 3 reporter. That included coaches, custodians and the athletic director. Apparently, TUSD sent the district PR director to Kimball to represent the district’s position. I was told that this young man had only been an employee for a couple of months and in fact had never been on the Kimball campus. What could he possibly know about the situation? It is clear that he was only stating the position he was told to present.
In conclusion, the people of Tracy paid for a field that is safe and not a threat to the many athletes and students that use it. It clearly is not in good condition and something needs to be done about it. The fact that the TUSD officials have known about this situation for three years and yet we still have the problem is inexcusable. It is time for TUSD to take responsibility and fix the field before someone is badly hurt or injured. Before we approve another bond that will give TUSD millions of our taxpayers’ dollars, they need to step up and do right by the students of Kimball High School and take care of this dangerous situation.
Jack Streben, Tracy
Tracy City Council or Tracy City Politburo?
Many people may not know this, but the old Soviet Union had a constitution that, on its surface, mimicked in many ways the constitutions of the Western democracies. One of the rights set forth in the Soviet constitution was the freedom of speech. However, as a practical matter, if a person sought to exercise that right to criticize the government, they were picked up in the middle of the night and hauled off to a labor camp in the Siberian Gulag, or just “disappeared”.
During the April 15 City Council meeting, there was a council discussion concerning limiting the public’s right to address the council at its meetings. During that conversation, Councilman Robert Rickman expressed grave reservations that deviating from current practice could have a chilling effect on the citizenry’s freedom of speech and its right to address their government. Councilman Charles Manne also expressed reservations about imposing unreasonable limits to public comments, as did Mayor Brent Ives by way of warning future councils to tread carefully on this issue.
What concerned me the most was Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel’s vociferous support of limiting comments to five minutes per person. Does that mean that Mr. Maciel would also limit the presentations of developers and consultants to five minutes each on projects before the council for approval, or give them more time? If these favored individuals were given more time than the rest of us, then you have disparate treatment that has a chilling effect on the “unfavored ones’” right to free speech, in direct violation of not just the Brown Act, but the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.
Mayor Pro Tem Maciel should reconsider his position on this issue unless he wishes to be addressed as Comrade Maciel rather than as Mayor Pro Tem Maciel.
Steve Nicolaou, Tracy
Uncovered in California
I must respond to the letter to the editor from Ms. Jimenez, Covered California volunteer. I wonder if she comprehended the letter she was rebutting. As of today, I do not have confirmation of coverage with Blue Shield despite premium being paid; therefore, my enrollment to date has NOT been successful. In 2013, premiums in California increased an average of 50 percent in response to Obamacare with another increase predicted this year. As stated in my initial letter, my insurance premium on the private market doubled for a replacement policy and the only difference was the new policy had a deductible of about $4,000 greater. I’ll give Ms. Jimenez that preexisting coverage did not exist, but what a shame Obamacare causes such enormous increases. Again, I am not seeing the people being put first. Ms. Jimenez states that health care providers have the choice of whether to participate in Covered California, and thus choices are limited. When providers choose to participate in Covered California, they do so at reduced payment for services rendered, some up to 30 percent less than if they only participate on the private market. I get less choice and the insurance companies get more money. As a Covered California volunteer, Ms. Jimenez should know that what President Obama declares concerning extensions and reinstatement of plans is not binding. California did not extend any policies or reinstate catastrophic plans. She should also know that unless Blue Shield recognizes my family as enrolled, we are NOT enrolled. I would dare not use my Social Security number and hope that Blue Shield would step up. I can’t imagine dealing with that on top of the mess I am already dealing with. Still trying to obtain enrollment,
Diane M. Stone, Tracy
Voters chose higher health care costs
If one only looks at the new health insurance policies under Obamacare, it becomes obvious why the premium costs have slowed. The deductibles and co-payments of the new policies are enormous over what you could purchase in the market only a few years before so-called reform. Also, many services have been eliminated. Having sold insurance for nearly 20 years, I always knew the easiest way to reduce premiums was to increase the deductibles to my clients. People who get sick in the future can expect to pay a lot more out of their pockets than in the past. When I first sold insurance in the early 80s, you had a large variety of medical policies tailored to your individual needs to choose from. As government began to mandate certain medical services, other services were eliminated to absorb the mandated costs and many companies simply stopped doing business. Due to this “reform,” there are few companies and choices left to the consumer. Let’s get real, if you are going to give people coverage without caps, insure preexisting conditions and make the premiums of women the same as men, even though they have far more illnesses than men, then those costs have to be absorbed by all of us. Since we don’t want 20 percent increases in premium, the companies wisely elected to pass the additional risk along to us in the form of higher deductibles and co-payments. This is what most of you voted for, so now you can live with the consequences.
Scott Hurban, Tracy
Micke Grove opportunity
I serve on the board of directors of the Micke Grove Zoological Society. The zoological society is a nonprofit corporation serving the county zoo through financial support, educational opportunities and community involvement. I am delighted to report that this year, two Tracy elementary schools, Central and McKinley Elementary, have been awarded free zoo mobile programs. Each school will receive three zoo classroom programs for the students at their respective elementary schools. MGZS is able to provide these programs through awarded grants and sponsorships. We are currently recruiting for MGZS docents to serve as “Wild Guides” at the zoo. Wild Guides lead zoo tours, assist educational specialists with school programs and outreach events and assist visitors at our Discovery Stations located throughout the zoo. Requirements: Must be 18 years or older. Must attend the informational mandatory meeting scheduled Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in order to submit an application for consideration to become a docent. The meeting will be held at the Memorial Building inside Micke Grove Regional Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, in Lodi. The Memorial Building is located across from the zoo next to the Japanese Garden. For additional information or questions, contact Allison Meador, MGZS director of conservation education, at 331-2138 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Jimenez, Tracy
Thank you, council, for shelter funds
As a lifelong Tracy native and president of Animal Rescue of Tracy, I would like to applaud the City Council for approving additional funding to complete the first phase of the new animal shelter. The existing shelter is badly outdated and obsolete and located in a less than ideal location. I can remember the shelter being out there for as long as I’ve lived in Tracy. The time to replace it is long overdue, and now is the time. Don’t miss this opportunity.
The Tracy community is served by no less than five animal rescue organizations, many of which receive their animals directly from the Tracy Animal Shelter. There are other organizations, like Wings of Rescue, who also work with the Tracy Shelter to fly adoptable pets to other states for adoption. Through the efforts of these many animal rescue organizations and through the efforts of Mr. Ben Miller and his staff at the Tracy Shelter, Tracy has the one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the county. Just imagine what we could do with a state-of-the-art facility. We could save even more helpless pets in need of “furever” homes. The sky is the limit!
Ron Silva, Tracy