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Education for all kids

Kids are back in school again, and hundreds of nervous students now have their first couple of weeks under their belts. They've met their trained teachers, received instructional materials, and are learning in welcoming, updated school buildings.

But for millions of children and youth around the world, that first day of school is only a dream. A staggering 263 million children and youth are out of school globally. It doesn't have to be this way.

With U.S. support the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has played a major role in getting tens of millions of kids a quality education globally. But GPE will need the continued support of Congress to continue progress.

I hope we can count on our representative to co-sponsor the bipartisan GPE resolution (H.R. 466) to ensure more kids access the possibilities created by going to school.

Bob Leppo

Santa Maria

Thankful for lady at DMV who 'passed it on'

My wife recently had to renew her driver's license, and had a difficult time getting an appointment due to a busy DMV. She called again the next day and they said if you can be here in an hour, you can take your test.

So we hurried to get there and even set aside the $33 in cash. Hurrying is harder at 83. In our haste, we left the cash at home and at the DMV got as far as paying the fee only to discover we forgot it, and had no checks.

Here is the great part: A young lady next to us in line had been observing our dilemma, and pulled out her checkbook and said to the DMV representative, "I'll take care of it," and wrote a $33 check to pay our fee.

I asked her for her address so that I could repay her, but she said "forget it." While my wife was taking her test, I asked the lady several times for her address so we could repay her, but again, she said "forget it." 

How generous is that? So to her I say "Thank you very much." Words that are somehow inadequate in this act of kindness. So again we all get a lesson on how to "pass it on," a helping hand at a crucial time, to someone else.

Lloyd Wetherbee


Santa Maria resident wants 'seat at the table'

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After two years of planning, community meetings and a formal recommendation from the Planning Commission, our City Council decided not to listen to the community, the Planning Commission or its Recreation and Parks Department.

Instead, they listened to the developers who don’t want their projects to cost a little more, even if the money is spent on beautifying our city with public art. Increasing the cost of their projects by one-quarter to one-half percent would be too expensive.

Mayor and council going against their own Planning Commission is wrong. It can only be done if new information appears that the Planning Commission did not consider. That is not true in this case. So why negate the Planning Commission’s hard work, then appoint another group to come up with a new plan, and with no community input?

A developer on the Planning Commission recused himself because he represented the special interests that would be chiefly affected by the plan. How then can the city choose two developers for this new 7-person planning committee? Do different rules apply when you go around the Planning Commission and its recommendations?

Who runs the City of Santa Maria? The city manager, the mayor and council, or the people with the most money in the community who get “our representatives” to do “their” bidding?

At this same meeting, the council appointed a new city manager, with no community input. The mayor promised transparency in the selection process, but there was none. All discussion happened behind closed doors.

Elections for two new city council members are coming in 2018. It’s time our voices were heard. We want new leadership that responds to the people and not just to developers and other moneyed interests. We want a seat at the table.

Gale McNeeley

Santa Maria