Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor | Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018

Denham stepped in to help save a life

Democratic challenger Josh Harder has repeatedly called Congressman Jeff Denham a “do-nothing,” but Rep. Denham has actually done more than anyone else in Congress to help my family save an Afghan US military interpreter, Muhammad Kamran, and his family from the Taliban.

Kamran had faithfully served the US mission in Afghanistan for more than 10 years before fleeing to Pakistan to live in hiding with his wife and daughters.

Kamran’s refugee case has been denied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for unstated discretionary “security concerns,” so his only hope was for a member of Congress to take a personal interest in his case. My dad and I traveled to Washington and met with 44 congressional offices, Democrat and Republican. Several expressed support, but none were willing to lead.

However, as soon as our own congressman declined to help, Rep. Denham stepped up without hesitation to lead 38 members of Congress in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, requesting to review the reason the case was denied. His staff is still working tirelessly on the case. Rep. Denham’s leadership on the Kamran family’s case and other bipartisan, humanitarian initiatives shows he cares about problem-solving and working across the aisle.

Leslie Abasta-Cummings, Merced

Smith’s agenda: Science, arts, more

As a UC Merced researcher who volunteers with Merced City School District and Merced County Office of Education on scientific activities, I am heartened to see candidates running for MCSD school board with impressive scientific backgrounds. That’s one reason I want Shane Smith on the board of my son’s elementary school district.

Shane was trained as a scientist at UC Davis and UCLA. He will be focused on preparing kids to join a modern, high-skilled workforce. He also works to provide access to the arts and will continue to engage with parents and the community on issues of importance to the education of our children. Shane will make sure we continue to invest in aspects of our children’s education that don’t show up on standardized testing. You see it in Shane’s passion for outdoor education at Camp Green Meadows. You see it in his work for the Merced Symphony’s Children’s Concerts. And you see it in his engagement in this community. Vote for Shane Smith for the MCSD board.

David Gravano, Merced

If you work, vote for Democrats

I’ve always tried to avoid being a one-issue voter, so kudos to the Republican Party for being wrong on so many, many issues the last two years. They’ve really made my choices easier this election. Rather than repeat what the other “vote Democrat” letter writers have been saying, I’ll just quote my grandmother: Anyone who works for a living and votes Republican has mush for brains.

Connie Warren, Merced

Why did Congress let this fund die?

America’s most successful conservation and recreation program expired on September 30. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was first passed in 1965 and has always enjoyed bipartisan support. It has funded local projects like the expansion of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area and Lake Yosemite Park. In total, LWCF has funded more than 1,600 projects across California, including baseball fields, hiking trails, wildlife refuges and more. Congress needs to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has done so much here in Merced County, as well as throughout the country.

Diana Cuevas, Policy

Intern, Environment California, Sacramento

Remembering the great Willie Mac

Read in about the passing of Willie McCovey (“Giants Hall of Famer was a fearsome hitter,” Page 1B, Nov. 1), a great athlete and humble person. Having moved from the Bay Area to Merced at age 10, Little League Baseball helped me meet new friends and settle in. Business people got together and made sure kids like me were included; I shall never forget.

A few years later, at age 14, I was asked to “chaperone” a bus full of Little Leaguers to Candlestick Park to see the Giants, including McCovey and Willie Mays. No player before or since could match the ferocity of this left-hander’s swing, perfectly balanced and graceful even when striking out.

When he connected, the sound was like no other as his screaming line-drives cleared the fence in what seemed like an impossibly low trajectory.

Willie Mac hit one that day (over 50 years ago). I still remember the sound when he connected and cheers from the kids. He rounded the bases larger than life, at least to us. Much has been reported about “Stretch” and his quiet clubhouse leadership. Must have been an unforgettable experience having him as a teammate.

Gregory Wellman, Merced

Little puppy never had a chance

I was traumatized by seeing a little chihuahua puppy hit and killed, run over twice! I can’t get this image out of my head. It was horrible. This little dog didn’t have a chance, trying to cross four lanes of heavy traffic. I beeped my horn thinking it might encourage him/her to continue, but it turned and ran into moving traffic. This happened at the intersection of Donna and Get at noon on a Friday.

I don’t blame those who hit the dog; I blame the owners. If you can’t be a responsible pet owner, then don’t have pets. Secure your fencing, put a collar on your pet and get them chipped. I am really upset at the owner for allowing me and others to witness this horrific incident. It will haunt me for quite awhile.

Sue Moreno, Merced

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