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Local News June 13, 2006


Prayer at Commencement Ceremony Creates Controversy

An Escondido Charter High School teacher, Randy Harmon, offered a prayer ‘in the name of Jesus’ during the commencement ceremony on June 2nd.

Complaints came forward that this prayer violated the separation of church and state and that there were other students at the school that were non-Christian and that such a prayer was unfair to their religious beliefs, of lack thereof.

The chief complaint was filed by Nina Sugawara, whose daughter, Katherine Brothers, attended the school. Ms. Sugawara, who is Jewish, was so offended she contacted the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The ACLU subsquently sent a letter to the school asking that it stop having prayers in school.

Charter schools, though independent of their local school districts, are still funded at least partially by public mondy and thus are subject to the same laws regarding separation of church and state that apply to the public schools.

The school’s executive directory, Dennis Snyder, affectionately known by students, faculty, and the community as “Coach” because of his many years as a popular football coach at Escondido High School, is well known for his strong religious beliefs.  He credits the late Chick Embry, former Escondido High School coach, for having led him to Christianity.

In spite of being one of the more popular and visible individuals in the local community, “Coach” Snyder has drawn criticism from respected civil rights organizations and agencies for trying to impose his religious beliefs and moral viewpoints on his students and faculty.

“Coach” Snyder told The Paper “I received the letter from the ACLU. I wrote them back and told them we had taken care of the issue.” Asked how, he responded that there typically is only invocations at commencement exercises. “We’ve had an invocation at our Grand Opening, at some special occasions . . . but it’s not a regular thing. I personally have not given an invocation on campus.” He went on to say that he has adopted a policy that no organization or individual would be allowed to refer to any particular diety when giving an invocation.

Asked how he would respond with those restrictions if he were asked to again give an invocation, Teacher Randy Harmon said, “I’d probably decline the invitation if I were not able to refer to my own belief.”

Thumbs Up for Downtown San Marcos, According to Residents

Following a six hour workshop last Saturday, many of the approximately 100 residents who attended enthusiastically supported preliminary plans outlined for them by San Marcos city staff.

The San Marcos Creek project will likely feature a pedestrian oriented area with upscale shops, condos, offices and all tied in to the natural scenery of the San Marcos Creek.

Traffic, as always, was a concern for San Marcos and this was no exception. City staffers, however, confirmed they have plans for providing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic.

Preliminary plans call for 1725 condos, 575 apartments, 1.1 million squre feet of shops and 600,000 square feet of office space on some 100 developable acres.

Dead Fish Plaguing Lake San Marcos

From a distance, Lake San Marcos is a lovely, placid pond amidst beautiful and expensive homes. A lovely retirement community.

Up close, the lake is not nearly as pretty. In fact, it has been rather unsightly for years.

Now, not only is it not very pretty, largely due to the agricultural runoff which has created heavy algae, but that same problem appears to be suffocating thousands of threadfin shad fish . . . many of which have floated to the surface and have given off a putrid smell.

Lake manager Alan Miller says it’s a natural occurence caused by low oxygen in the lake due to the recent abrupt weather change which likely caused the bottom layer of the lake, full of muck and algae, to rise to the surface, thus denying the sensitive threadfin shad of sufficient oxygen to survive. The more hardy fish apparently have weathered the storm.

Meantime, administration officials at the lake management firm said they would continue to pick up the dead fish and dispose of them until such time as the lake returned to normal.

Letters to the Editor

Subject: "A House Divided"

Truth will prevail!

We are original homeowners within "La Strata" and purchased our property based on "Protective" CCR's tied to the area’s General Plan and part of State Law. We have the right to protect our interests through enforcement. CCR’s have been upheld in similar cases before the California Supreme Court. CCR's are conveyed to protect our individual rights to privacy and conforming construction to maintain the neighborhood character. One violation does not negate others.

Rodriguez is not the victim. He is subjected to CCR's and limited in what he might do. Issues regarding drainage, grading and restoration to conform to original appearance are specific.

Questions unanswered by Rodriguez:

· What property line identification was provided to City Officials? (Homeowner to provide survey)? Or, Cantwell’s Retaining wall?

· Who authorized removal of the common fence and placement of a Porta-Potty over the property marker?

· Why was a 10 - 12 ft tarp erected and extended to the Cantwell's Oleander hedge concealing the expansion?

· Who determined a 16 ft addition could be added and maintain a 7.5 ft setback when there was only a 20 ft. side yard as stated in Mr. Gentry's request for a variance?

I am sure factual documentation, not "Let's Pretend" will prevail and responsible parties will be held accountable.

-Harriet Way

The Annual Fashion Show, staged by the Lake San Marcos Executive Women’s Golf Club

Models from the Lake San Marcos Executive Women’s Golf Club, modeling their finery. Left to right: Judy Moen, Sandy Hinds, Dot Fogerty, Jan Axtmann, Debbie Worthey, Jean Holt, Sutton Martin Smith, with Martin & Co., supplier of the clothing, and Jan Houston, Moderator




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