E-mail letters, June 16 2011

Plagiarism wasn’t what
doomed McInnis’ campaign

If you’re former Congressman Scott McInnis, you’ve probably been dreaming about holding up an official report telling the world you’re innocent.
And it sounded like McInnis relished telling exactly that to Daily Sentinel columnist Rick Wagner, who interviewed McInnis on a radio show May 26.
McInnis told Wagner that an investigation by Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel had given him “complete vindication” but “just a little too late.”
The Sentinel’s Charles Ashby blogged June 13 about a letter from “Friends of Scott McInnis” claiming that McInnis was “completely and honorably” vindicated.
Say what?
McInnis has been cleared to practice law, that’s true, but vindication, no.
The plagiarism problem doesn’t go away just because McInnis told his research assistant in advance not to plagiarize, which is what the Attorney Regulation Counsel report states.
Still, McInnis didn’t need an official report for voters to forgive him of plagiarism. Most of us know that important people like McInnis have ghost writers who make mistakes.
The problem was how McInnis handled the scandal.
No investigation will clear McInnis of acting like a mean, squirrelly politician last year. Nothing will make his behavior at the time look, shall we say, gubernatorial.
When the plagiarism story broke, McInnis’ campaign drafted a letter for his research assistant to sign, stating that the plagiarism was not McInnis’ fault. His assistant refused to sign, and explained himself in an explosive TV interview.
Voters would have come around to forgiving McInnis for not catching the mistakes of his ghost writer. A journalist would be fired immediately for massive plagiarism, but an honest and remorseful political candidate could have righted his ship.
But McInnis’ handling of the plagiarism sunk his campaign. He can’t clear his name of those mistakes. That was his problem then, and that’s what he’s going to have to live with.
Jason Salzman

California judge was wrong
to make gay marriage ruling

On Flag Day, I heard that a federal judge in San Francisco named James Ware decided that Judge Walker made a proper and impartial decision against Prop 8. Judge Ware said just because Walker did not disclose his
homosexual relationship did not mean Walker was not capable of making a proper and impartial judgement.

Judge Ware compared being homosexual to being a woman-or a minority. Problem is two reasonable people Alveda King and Gen.Colin Powell, who share the same genetic racial markers seen in the color of Judge Ware’s skin, seem to disagree with the judge when it comes to equating sexual orientation to race.

And any reasonable judge ought know there is a world of difference between being capable of something like impartiality and a proper judgment—and an actual act.

I have read that anti-Christian, immoral and unjust decision presented as a parting gift of Judge Walker, and I read the bit in The Daily Sentinel (in August, 2010) that suggested Judge Walker was wrong to decide this case, including the copy of the Judicial Code of Conduct.

When any judge makes law and violates the code of conduct by impropriety, the judiciary is harmed. And when that violation is reported and a fraternal or political decision is made to excuse that violation, the judiciary is harmed.

Sexual Orientation is a chosen behavior that cannot reasonably be equated with gender or race. And the history of the gay rights movement — when compared to the actions of Judge Walker — and his role concerning marriage, California style — suggest Judge Ware made another mistake he will not wish to revisit.

But not accepting accountability for one’s mistakes as a judge violates the code of conduct and warrants investigation.

Thank you, Daily Sentinel, for the August 2010 story.
Robert Burkholder
Grand Junction

Community is pleading
to keep Scenic open

I am writing regarding to the school board’s recommendation to close Scenic Elementary.  I understand the urgency to look for ways to reduce the budget by $14 million dollars.  I believe we are looking in the wrong direction, though.
Nine years ago, I was on a quest to find the best education for my then 5-year-old son. After many hours of visiting, researching and asking other parents about schools, we kept hearing about Scenic. At that point we decided to send our son there. This was the best decision we’ve ever made!

This school is the heart of our community. Beginning with the principal greeting you and your child in the morning, to the Friday morning flag ceremonies, to a collective group of caring, compassionate and dedicated teachers, to aides going above and beyond their job titles.  This is a community that will be greatly devastated by the closure of this school.

The children of our community are really the ones who will pay for this closure. The children who attend Scenic Elementary know that this is a safe place where they can be given an education, meals, and a caring environment. Please don’t strip our children of the quality education that they deserve and need. What a devastating decision this would be for the children in our community.
As a community we are pleading the school board committee members to look deep at the root of our district 51 budget crisis and explore other options besides the closure of a school that makes such a difference in our community.  There has to be other measures that can be considered. This goes far beyond an “old building” you are exploring to close, this is a community that will be displaced.
Sheli Nelson
Grand Junction

Closing Scenic Elementary
just doesn’t make sense

There are not enough words to describe what Scenic has meant to my family in the short amount of time that we have been a part of it. My son just completed kindergarten this year and he only spent half of that year at Scenic. He came from an overcrowded and impersonal school where he was just another kid in the crowd.

To me, that was just the way it was, but the first day I entered Scenic my eyes were opened to a whole new world. My son went from crying before school to loving school! What an amazing thing to see from a child.

I believe the foundation of education starts from Day 1 in kindergarten and should be a wonderful experience. What makes Scenic so special and what creates an education like none other in this valley are the people within the walls.

Principal Levinson and the rest of the staff are truly amazing people and one of a kind. They make this school safe, comforting, they all know each student by name and every student at that school knows that they matter. All of this combined creates the best possible learning environment and because of that Scenic has produced amazing test scores and children who leave the school to go onto middle school with an eagerness to learn more and to do better.

Why would there even be a consideration to take this away? It makes no sense any way you look at it! Will it really save money in the long run? Is it really better to overcrowd another school and hope all the kids eventually adapt? These children are our future and it’s time we realize that. My life and my children’s lives would not be the same without Scenic!
Shannon Lynch
Grand Junction

Scenic staff sends message
that students, school matter

Very often we hear about what is wrong with public education.  Today I am writing about what is right —Scenic Elementary.  Scenic’s CSAP scores consistently rank among the highest in District 51, and for this reason alone the school should remain open. However, what makes Scenic so special cannot be measured on a standardized test. What makes Scenic special is its principal, Doug Levinson, and his staff of dedicated teachers and support personnel.

For the last 20 years, students at Scenic have begun the school year with a home visit from their principal, Mr. Levinson. He rides his bike to each child’s home, brings each child a pencil, and invites the child to begin a new year.

Every morning during the school year, Mr. L greets these same children on the sidewalk as they arrive for school. He shakes their hands, zips their coats and ties their shoes. He knows them all by name. On Fridays, rain or shine, he leads them in the Pledge of Allegiance at the school’s flag pole, and distributes Principal Awards to those students that are putting forth an extra effort to “Work Hard and Be Nice” (the school motto).  He plays kickball with them at recess, reads to them in their classrooms, and reads with them individually.  These things are important. 

They are important because they send a clear and consistent message to the students — you matter and school matters. They are important because they foster a sense of community, and demonstrate an exceptional level of dedication — one that is exemplified by all on the Scenic staff. 

I sincerely hope that the district recognizes Scenic for the treasure that it is, and chooses to act in the best interest of the children and the community by keeping it open
Michelle Shaffer
Grand Junction

Don’t take away the
special atmosphere at Scenic

We are writing this letter regarding the potential closure of Scenic Elementary.  It would be an absolute travesty to shut this wonderful school down for too many reasons to list in such a short letter.

Our son attended Scenic from kindergarten through fifth grade as a school of choice student.  The very first time we walked into Scenic we knew it was the perfect place for our son to attend school.  The secretaries and staff were so warm and welcoming, and after Principal Levinson introduced himself to us, he knew not only our son’s name but our names from that day on, greeting us every day as we got out of our car to walk our son into school.

You can never replace the family community that Scenic represents. When someone is in need, everyone is there to help. This includes every single staff member at Scenic as well as the families who are lucky enough to attend Scenic.

Our son received the best education that any child or parent could ask for from the absolute best teachers, as seen not only from his test scores, but from the tests scores every single year of the entire school. That can only happen because of the wonderful principal, teachers, aides, and the entire staff working together with each other as well as with the families.

Also, the parent involvement is wonderful at Scenic because people want to be there.  Every single person who walks through the doors of Scenic Elementary is treated like they are family, like they are special. What goes on behind the scenes that no one ever sees unless you are fortunate enough to attend Scenic is teachers and staff and the whole Scenic community working together to make each child who enters Scenic Elementary have the best learning environment and learning experience possible while they are at Scenic, whether it be for one month or six years.

Scenic teaches our children to be nice and hard working, and prepares them to be successful in whatever they do, no matter where they go, so please do not take away the W.H.B.N. (Work Hard Be Nice) that Scenic kids not only partake in while they are at Scenic but take with them forever
Daren and Kris Biggs
Grand Junction

Scenic was wonderful
for parent and teacher

I was deeply saddened to hear about the possible closing of Scenic Elementary School. My first introduction to Scenic Elementary was shortly after we had moved to Grand Junction 22 years ago. Our son was not having a positive experience as a first grader at our neighborhood school and so I, being an educator, went searching for a different learning environment for him. I vividly remember walking into the lobby area of Scenic and it immediately felt comfortable and friendly. We were warmly welcomed into the Scenic “family”. Our son thrived there!

I was very fortunate to experience Scenic both as a parent and as a teacher on the staff for 15 years. I worked with two principals Tom Parrish and Doug Levinson. When we moved from the Grand Valley to Denver, I left my heart at Scenic. The best years of my teaching career were at Scenic. The staff, the students and the parents were outstanding to work with. I have wonderful memories of hiking in Beebe Canyon with my classes, the all-school Cultural Fair, Art Week, the Back to the Books BBQ, flying kites at recess with my students and Friday mornings gathered around the flag pole for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Levinson is an outstanding principal. He has had many opportunities to move to other schools and advance his career within the district, but he always chose to remain at Scenic, with his “family.” He is amazingly dedicated to this school, the students, parents and staff.
I am certain that the school board, along with the Scenic community, can find a way to keep Scenic’s doors open. It is a truly special school – unlike any other in the district!
Lyn Danielson

Scenic instilled in kids
a sense of accomplishment

As my daughters and I sat at our dining room table eating their celebratory graduation dinner this year, their sense of pride and accomplishment filled the air like the warm aroma of home-baked cookies.  Their sense of pride and accomplishment is the direct result of the unique and special culture at Scenic Elementary, which I immediately identified while interviewing four elementary schools prior to our elder daughter entering kindergarten. With other family members being in elementary education nationwide, I have the exposure and knowledge to confidently state Scenic is simply the best of the best.
It is imperative for School District 51 to keep Scenic Elementary open not only for the children who attend, but for the whole school district to use as a role model.  Until recently, most, if not all, elementary schools participated in a field trip to a Pumpkin Patch owned by Dr. and Mrs. Jouflas.  Mrs. Jouflas shared with me her unbiased observation that the children of Scenic were the best behaved of all the children who attended.  A testament such as this cannot be disputed and must be considered with considerable weight when looking at the future of Scenic and our school district.
While budget cuts necessitate action by this school board, closing the school that raises the bar for all other elementary schools would be imprudent.  From the best principal to the hands-on teachers, from the personable administrative staff to the supportive Scenic families, the continuation of Scenic Elementary is in the best interest of Mesa County by supporting our greatest resource, our youth, in showing them that Working Hard and Being Nice truly is the best for their successful future.
Kimberly A. Stone
Grand Junction


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