YOUR VIEWS Letters to the Editor

Special ed project result of teamwork

June 13, 2014 

Last week, Merced schools scored a major victory. A multimillion-dollar special education school, which had been in the works for nearly a decade, was set to be scrapped after the recession depleted funds and delays slated the project for expiration. County officials, including Superintendent of Merced County Schools Steve Gomes, approached both Sen. Anthony Cannella and me, to see if we could help. I am proud to say that after a month of tireless advocacy, the State Allocation Board reversed course and green-lighted this vital project.

The new school is designed to replace the county’s 40-year-old special education facility, which isolates disabled children from their peers and requires a two-hour commute to attend. The new 5,000-square-foot, $2.1 million expansion at Joe Stefani Elementary School is entirely state-funded, and allows special education students to be integrated with their peers, providing new local jobs in the process.

Sen. Cannella and I foraged a bipartisan coalition with the county and the members of the board. We fought hard not to let bureaucratic red tape interfere with a project that is going to improve the lives of Merced’s special education students for generations.

I want to personally thank Superintendent Gomes and Sen. Cannella for working with me and putting community first.

Adam Gray, assemblymember, 21st Assembly District, Merced

Conservation support appreciated

Last week, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, demonstrated his leadership in opposing HR 4742 in the House Committee on Natural Resources and ensuring that West Coast fishermen, coastal communities and our ocean environment can depend on a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act. I hope he continues to defend the act and make improvements that result in the success of the MSA and U.S. fishery management.

The fishing community and regulators have made substantial progress in several West Coast fisheries. Fishermen have stepped up to institute science-based management and back the economic and social benefits of fully rebuilt fish stocks.

I urge Rep. Costa to stand strong against proposals to weaken the core conservation provisions of the MSA. He deserves special thanks for supporting an amendment to HR 4742 by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, to protect our key environmental laws – the Endangered Species Act (16 USC 1531 et seq.), the Antiquities Act (16 USC 431 et seq.) and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 USC 1437 et seq.). Overriding existing environmental laws won’t improve management of our oceans and fisheries, and may exclude the public’s participation in critical fishery-management decisions.

Thanks for supporting the strong and successful conservation provisions of the current MSA.

Dr. Michael Martin, Merced River Conservation Committee, Mariposa

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