PROBE: Feb. 18, 2002

February 18, 2002

QUESTION: Why does the El Centro parent object to spending more money on a "special education" child than on a "normal" child? It costs more money to meet the special needs of the handicapped child.

I don't begrudge the money spent on children who will get few pleasures enjoyed by other children. I am not part of the "special education lobby." I don't have a "special ed" child nor do I work in special education.

To live in a community means helping others. I believe there is an obligation for the community to look out for its weaker members. — Strong, Seeley

The PROBE reader may have responded to the same instinct. When it looked like special education advocates were "piling on" in their reaction to a "Voice of the People" letter-writer, she jumped in on the side of writer.


That's OK. Flying letters are safer (and more fun) than flying rocks.

We confess the first thing we ever had in print (if you don't count the Holtville High saga) was a "Voice" letter. Nothing prepared us for the fury a 200-word letter can generate.

We took the side of the farm workers in the 1961 lettuce strike. Some people didn't speak to us for 10 years — there may still be a few people mad at us.

QUESTION: I have been working as a child-care provider for the Imperial County Department of Social Services since October. I have not been paid for over two months.

I still don't have my December check. I have called and called. I am still taking care of the child because I know the child's mother needs to keep working. When I called the last time, a welfare supervisor told me to quit calling. I need the money. Can you help? — Unpaid, Calipatria

You will get your December check this week, promised Gary Andrews, a DSS program director. The January check should be paid in a week or two, he said.

You fell through the cracks when your "client's" case was transferred in December from CalWORKs to Social Services, Andrews said. After Andrews inquired, CalWORKs found your file. A DSS employee is working on your January check now, he said.

FAN THE SMOKE — It's been three years since state law banned smoking in bars, yet some bar owners refuse to comply. I have reason to believe at least one bar owner has friends in the El Centro Police Department.

On two occasions of which I have personal knowledge, it was reported to the police that people were smoking. Ashtrays were out and patrons had their cigarette packs on the table. By the time the cops got there, the ashtrays were gone, the cigarettes nowhere to be seen and no one was smoking.

When I called the police to ask about the response to the complaint, I was told "they" were "warned" but told further that smoking in bars was not really a "priority" complaint. — Tobacco Coalition Member, Imperial County

If you knew how few cops were working on any night in El Centro, you wouldn't want them at a bar frequented by senior citizens busting over-age smokers.

On the other hand, if the place does get cited on a smoking violation, the bar owner can draw a hefty fine, somewhere in the neighborhood of $750.

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