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March 12 , 2008

Editorials

Point/Counterpoint

Should a Citywdide ID Program be Instated?

THE ID WOULD SERVE THE POOR

By Dominik Mosur
Editor

A citywide identification program approved by the board of supervisors in November is set to debut in 2009.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who proposed the legislation, thinks it will open up opportunities and ease the struggle of highly disadvantaged groups like the homeless and undocumented immigrants.

This program may inject some normalcy to the often chaotic and dangerous lives led by these people by allowing them to establish bank accounts, rent out motel rooms and take advantage of public libraries and other city services.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that undocumented workers are targeted for street robberies because they often carry cash after jobs. Some banks only allow people with an ID to open accounts. The homeless frequently do not report crimes that are perpetrated against them because they too tend to lack ID’s, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for the police to process the reports that they make.

Living without the fear of being a potential target of crimes the people who are currently demonized as the scum of society and illegal interlopers can achieve new goals. One of these goals is getting an education.

Attending college can be the difference in breaking the cycle of homelessness and the path that leads unskilled laborers from abroad to assimilate into our culture.

However, such an opportunity can only be realized if you have the means to accumulate the funds for tuition and maintain a residence. The city ID card could be the tool that puts these basic necessities within reach.

Just think how many potential computer engineers, nurses, teachers, firefighters and others are languishing on street corners, in homeless shelters and in the back kitchens of fast food restaurants because of the inaccessibility to higher education.

e-mail: copy@theguardsman.com

THE ID WON'T BE EFFECTIVE

By Anthony Myers
Editor

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a municipal identification card system last November. These cards will be available at a cost of $15 for adults and $5 for children. Proponents argue they will allow homeless people without driver’s licenses to have a valid ID. Children will have critical information on a valid card. Undocumented workers will have an ID to open bank accounts with.

This is a noble idea. Everyone should have access to resources and not be subjected to discrimination. However, the ID cards themselves are not going to have the desired effect.

San Francisco taxpayers should not have to pay for an ID system. The city is facing a growing deficit and does not need to take on further administrative costs or responsibilities. If we are serious about ensuring people have access to bank accounts and other resources, we need to move forward as a country. There should be a loosening of regulations on access to resources regardless of country of origin, gender or economic status. This is a big issue in an election year and there should be a push to allow all immigrants full rights as citizens. The federal government has much deeper pockets than our fair city by the bay.

San Francisco is a “sanctuary city,” which means that officials do not have to cooperate with federal agencies to enforce immigration laws. Immigrants here have less to fear than in many American cities.

Making ID cards may sound like the right move, but the program set up by the board of supervisors may not even live up to its own expectations. The $236,000 grant that gets the ball rolling may not be enough to sustain the program according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This move by the board is mostly symbolic. It is a fine symbol, but hardly worth the material it is printed on.

email: calender@theguardsman.com


Opinion: Non-Credit Courses

BY MARTHA VALLEJO

STAFF WRITER

Questions arose in the California Community College Chancellor’s office about changing the number of times students can take non-credit classes. A Non-credit Committee on Course Repetition was formed by representatives around the state. To date, there has been only one meeting and no other meetings are scheduled.

Peter Goldstein, the vice chancellor of administration and finance, is City College’s delegate.

“The system is not broken and it doesn’t need to be fixed,” Goldstein said. “It is City College’s position not to run a limit, particularly for ESL, math and English, which shape most of our non-credit program.”

However, some administrators want limits on non-credit eligibility, which could harm enrollment.

Learning a second language for ESL students takes time. If students can take an English class only twice, the chances of grasping the language become slim.

Taking hold of a second idiom might be straightforward for some but for most it takes an extensive amount of time to move ahead in the intricacies of the language.

This is no small issue. To continue their education students must get a hold of English.

Taking math alone is a strenuous enough experience for most students even when English is their native language. And if English wasn’t already challenging, combine it with math and we have a bewildering mix.

Let’s hope our representatives will conclude what years of experience have taught us: we can’t rush students to pass certain classes that, simply put, just take time.

email: martha.vallejo@theguardsman.com


Editorial: Fidel Castro Leaving Doesn't Mean Change

BY MARIA UMANZOR

EDITOR

The resignation of Cuban president Fidel Castro has created mixed feelings for Cubans and non-Cubans, leaving many to wonder if there will be any significant change to the country.

For almost 50 years, many Cubans have been waiting for the day Castro would not only resign from office, but disappear.

Castro announced he would not be seeking re-election, leaving his brother Raul Castro as his successor. Raul as president will be the same as having Fidel Castro still governing Cuba, so the hope of seeing Cuba free from the communist regime is still pending.

Carlos Perez, a City College student, born and raised in Cuba says Raul has always been there and nothing has changed, although he recognizes that not having Fidel Castro as president might result in an “opening conversation” to change. But it won’t be a relevant one.

Like Carlos, many other Cubans have not been impressed with the news.

In the Spanish-speaking press, I have heard Cuban exiles in Miami say they believe the “only way to make changes in Cuba is if Fidel Castro dies.” For them, hope started back in 2006 when Fidel fell ill and temporarily ceded his powers to Raul. During that time, many Cuban exiles all over the world celebrated the possibility of freedom.

These exiles have been fighting for years to see democracy brought to their homeland. Let’s remember that the current regime denies any kind of democracy and human rights to its people. Cubans don’t have the right to choose their own leaders. Also, they can’t travel to other countries and, as Carlos says, Raul has always been beside Fidel, so things won’t change.

As a matter of fact, some U.S. politicians have already said they won’t start a dialog with Raul. President George W. Bush said he won’t as well as the Democratic candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

It’s not pessimistic, but I think there will only be change in Cuba when the embargo with the United States is lifted and the exiles can return to their island and see their families again.

Fidel Castro’s resignation is not a reason to celebrate. Those who expect an end to the Communist regime still must wait.

email: editorials@theguardsman.com


All I Can Do Is Write About It

BY DOMINIK MOSUR

For me, looking at the magnified image of a pair of bald eagles is the sanest way to spend an early afternoon.

The modern world is too scary for me. In the news, you read about wars, murders, disappearing species and epidemics on a daily basis.

Unlike earlier incarnations of our species like the hunter-gatherer and subsistence-farmer, who faded into obscurity, modern industrial-man seems bent on going to his demise in clouds of explosions, toxic pesticides and germ-resistant diseases.

For six years now, our country has fought a war in the Middle East. It is true that we haven’t had another attack on American soil since 2001. But since the start of the “War on Terror,” our nation has been steadily overcome with economic problems. The California budget deficit is just one symptom of a greater ill.

Environmental successes like the delisting of bald eagles from the federal endangered list are offset by reports of salmon populations — ironically a major food source for the eagles — being at historical lows.

We are now being told by the State of California that a decision has been made to spray a moth pheromone over nine counties in the Bay Area including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco. According to the Chronicle, at least 500 people reported being sickened when a similar spraying operation took place in Monterey and Santa Cruz last summer.

I watch as the male bald eagle gives a piercing call before flying to joining his mate on the nest. Forget about reality, I live in the moment.

e-mail: copy@theguardsman.com


On the Record

Will the proposed changes to Muni’s routes affect you? If so, how?

Dominic Barsetti,
Criminology

“If they get rid of a lot of routes, a lot of people will be affected and screwed out of service. If they change the L or the K, I’ll be affected.”

Hao Wu,
Business Administration

“Once when I was waiting for the 36, the prediction said 17 minutes. 17 minutes and no bus. The prediction was 30 minutes, 30 minutes and no bus. It was 30 more minutes before the 36 arrived.”

Jason Phillips,
Undecided

“Muni needs to run faster. I’ve waited over 30 minutes for the 44, and it’s too crowded.”

Grayce Davis,
Women Studies

“I take Muni everyday. The limiting of the 43 is very upsetting because I take it to school, volunteering and work. I wish they wouldn’t, but I’m not sure what they can do to fix it.”

Ben Safdie,
Undecided

“I’m not really for Muni changes, but buses should run more frequently in certain areas. The 29 is always crowded with little or no standing room.”

Angela Cheng,
Business

“Muni wait predictions are off and there should be more running buses for the most used routes at busy times.”

Jason Rosenberg,
Nursing

“It is not affecting me at all. I just take a few of the major ones­ — the K, L and 28. They are so frequent. I am never worried about being late.”

By Lindsay Carsud and Michael P. Smith