I was delighted to read [in the Winter 2009 SCM letters] that Perlita Dicochea is teaching a class in environmental justice! I am an SCU alum and former executive director of the Sierra Club. If you look at Mark Dowie’s critical book about the environmental movement, Losing Ground, you’ll see in an appendix the speech I gave on the occasion of the Club’s Centennial, back in 1992. I called for a better linkage of the civil rights and environmental movements. As Club exec, I was also proud to share a fast with César Chávez, and to attend the Mass in Delano, Calif., celebrating the end of that fast.
Just a note to give the sense that the work Prof. Dicochea is doing has long roots at Santa Clara, including the efforts of this old student of Political Science Professor Barney Kronick and Philosophy Professor John Shanks, S.J.
Michael Fischer ’64
Mill Valley, Calif.
Public financing: Napolitano was the first
In the article on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s visit to SCU last October [in the Spring SCM], I was surprised that nobody mentioned what is perhaps her most notable achievement: In 2002, she was the first governor elected in the United States without taking any large contributions from anyone (including herself ), thanks to Arizona’s then-new system of voluntary public financing for candidates for state office.
In 2006, she became the first governor re-elected with public financing, which precludes any large private contributions. Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut now have public financing, and it’s the way most of their state officials have been elected. These states now have, believe it or not, elections that money can’t buy.
In California, Proposition 15, the Fair Elections Act on the June ballot, would introduce public financing by starting with a pilot program for candidates for secretary of state. If a candidate gets 7,500 voters to each contribute $5, he or she qualifies for public financing equivalent to the average cost of recent campaigns for that office. The system could be expanded to other offices in the future.
Proposition 15 would finally begin to get California politicians out of the fundraising game, so they can focus on the state’s pressing problems, rather than dialing for dollars and going to lobbyists’ fundraising parties.
As an SCU student, I worked with Janet Napolitano on the campus-based Northern California Public Interest Research Group (NorCal PIRG) 1975–78. I haven’t talked with her since she went off to law school at the University of Virginia in 1980, following a year working for the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., where I lived at the time. But I’ll bet she’d support Proposition 15.
David D. Schmidt ’78
Check your liberal bias
In his letter in the Spring SCM, Bill Egan says he was startled by the reported weakness of SCU alumni giving and wondered “Why?” Speaking only for myself, I have not made any alumni gifts for several years because I do not like the direction that SCU has taken since I graduated in 1966. Some may call it “liberal” or maybe “progressive,” according to current definitions of those terms. SCU’s culture was liberal when I attended in the ’60s but more in the sense of being open-minded, willing to consider different arguments. But the boundaries of truth and morality according to our Catholic faith were always advocated with authority. Now, however, SCU’s “liberal” direction recognizes few if any moral boundaries.
Michael P. Diepenbrock J.D. ’66
Santa Rosa, Calif.
After reading the Spring 2010 copy of Santa Clara Magazine, I am beginning to doubt the value of a Jesuit education in terms of causing students or alumni to actually think and make good decisions. I read the issue from cover to cover and was struck by three major items.
First, I can’t understand why Janet Napolitano is featured as a good example of a Jesuit university product. Regardless of her religion (which her bio says is not Catholic), how does a Catholic institution totally ignore Ms. Napolitano’s proabortion stance over the years and her constant struggle with the Arizona legislature to insure that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not granted to fetuses? Although she accomplished quite a bit as attorney general and governor of Arizona, there are strong conservative opinions that she is over her head in her current position. I was edified to see that two of her “spotlight” gaffes were mentioned, but generally I saw the article as a puff piece to lend some sort of “celebrity” to the university.
Second, in “Bad Journalism 101” we are told that Sally Lehrman is teaching her students how to think, in her role as Knight Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Chair for Journalism in the Public Interest. It was no surprise to me that the two examples of poor journalism used in the article were critical of the bias in Republican/ conservative pieces. I don’t doubt that such pieces can be biased, but it must have been extremely difficult to find these examples in the morass of highly biased mainstream liberal media pieces that abound these days. Could it be that the liberal Mercury News has something to do with Ms. Lehrman’s focus?
Third, in the Tech Awards story I was embarrassed to see an award presented to Al Gore, who is now being revealed as the “Chicken Little” of the manmade global warming movement. His “man-caused global warming science” is being disproved more and more every day, now that East Anglia and the IPCC are under the gun for falsifying data and excluding scientific critics from publishing any opposition. Not only has he gotten rich off the carbon credits he deals in, his lack of effort to reduce his own carbon footprint makes him a hypocrite. Is this someone a thoughtful university should be pointing to as an example to its students?
It appears to me that Santa Clara Magazine is reflecting a liberal bias that Ms. Lehrman should look into. Too many of our universities carefully cultivate “diversity” based on race and sex, neglecting to diversify the worldview they promulgate. If there are conservatives on the campus, why do we see none of their ideas expressed in Santa Clara Magazine? I would be interested in seeing the diversity statistics for the university regarding the balance of liberal and conservative thought in the instructor and student ranks.
Jim Goetsch MBA ’95
San Diego, Calif.
Sally Lehrman responds:
Please don’t blame my introductory journalism students or the focus of teaching for the quality problems they found in “Bad Journalism 101.” They were asked to follow traditional media, blogs, and both conservative and liberal news sites. I liked Mansi Bhatia’s examples of their findings because they illustrated two common weaknesses in news reporting: sourcing and structure. Danielle S. Scharf ’10 identified the dangers of including multiple sources—but with primarily the same view—and then making unsupported claims. Morgan Doherty ’11 highlighted why good writing matters, especially when the subject is a hotly contested policy. Bad journalism deserves our attention because it undermines the sort of diversity in perspective and thought that Mr. Goetsch advocates. When alert, skeptical readers contribute to a site such as NewsTrust.net, they can help keep journalists on their toes and make sure the public has the information necessary for robust debate, whatever their political persuasion. Regarding conflict of interest, the Knight Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Chair for Journalism in the Public Interest was in part endowed by, but acts independently from, the San Jose Mercury News. I have never worked for the Merc or any of the Knight Ridder newspapers.
What’s in a name?
I am dismayed by Santa Clara’s decision to identify itself as “The Jesuit University in Silicon Valley.” In my view, this geographic designation adds nothing to the university’s stature and diminishes its reputation by commercializing its good name.
Henry Talifer J.D. ’67
Westlake Village, Calif.
Meditations on home
Thank you for the articles “Connect the Dots” and “This place we call home” in your Spring 2010 issue. I teach fourth grade California history. I used your magazine as a tool to emphasize to my students that immigration and Native Americans are not just textbook definitions to be found only in the past, but rather very real elements of our society that require attention and concern. I hope fellow teachers model history as an ongoing story and not just a thing of the past.
Lindsay Westby ’04, M.A. ’07
The longing of Native Americans in California for their ancestral homelands [in “This place we call home”] is poignant. Unlike their counterparts in such states as Arizona and New Mexico, here they seem to have left few if any visible traces of their past. Yet aren’t we all displaced from our ancestral lands—many leaving with reluctance.
Both my husband and I have European ancestral roots, and though we can go back—I to Ireland, he to Italy—we do not really find our place there. The human race has always been on the move. A Social Forum of the Americas T-shirt read one year, Todos Somos Extranjeros: We are all foreigners. I would like to go back to my Chicago childhood home, but many of the old, tidy, working-class, brick two-flats have been broken down, burnt out, and boarded up—waiting for gentrification when the present residents will be displaced. While we can try to keep and pass along important parts of our traditions, we also need to build new communities where we are. I’d be happy to see the Ohlone tribes receive tribal certification. Undoubtedly they have valuable ancient wisdom we might do well to heed. But in the end we might sing along with Carrie Bell, a deaconess in her Chicago church, who sang, “Just travelin’, gonna make heaven my home!” We have here no lasting city.
Betty Neville Michelozzi M.A. ’68
CORRECTION: The article “Breaking bread” in the Spring SCM incorrectly identified economist Mario Belotti as an emeritus professor. He is, in fact, the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Economics.