We Don't Oppose Charters

We at United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO) are grateful for coverage of pressing educational issues, but after reading "Comprehending Einstein" (News & Views, July 3) we feel there are misunderstandings about our position and role.

UTNO does not oppose charter schools. In fact, UTNO president Dr. Brenda Mitchell recently attended a meeting to announce the application for a charter school that is a combined effort of Green Dot charter schools and the United Federation of Teachers, our sister union in New York. We have also worked with the board of Einstein Charter by sending a crew of 15 American Federation of Teachers union-member volunteers from around the country to renovate Einstein facilities.

However, we do have concerns about the lack of an adequate accountability structure that allows serious abuses of power to go unchecked for months. Teachers and parents came to UTNO when they had nowhere else to turn. That no teachers were quoted in the article is a product of an atmosphere of fear, an atmosphere that is remedied when teachers and other school employees have a voice to advocate for a better environment for children.

Until there is a frank and honest discussion about not only particular schools but also school systems, conditions can never improve for children in New Orleans.

Christian Roselund

Communications Director

United Teachers of New Orleans

Sportsman's Lament

In the recent legislative session, House Bill 919 by Rep. John Alario would have given the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) a small percentage -- 1/20 of 1 percent -- of all state sales taxes, roughly $38 million to $42 million annually. While many other states use this funding mechanism, LDWF gets no money from the state general fund. Instead, it relies on self-generated revenues, which have fallen in recent years.

Hunting, fishing, boating and similar outdoor activities generate more than $5 billion in annual sales in Louisiana. House members unanimously approved HB 919, as did the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Nevertheless, Gov. Blanco tried to pull the rug out from under HB 919 in the final days of the session. She claimed to have found a separate source of permanent funding for LDWF -- $18 million a year from oil and gas revenues in the Attakapas Wildlife Management Area. Unfortunately, that is less than half what HB 919 would have generated. HB 919 would have allowed LDWF to maintain its current operations, not to expand or create new programs. Now LDWF may have to cut some programs -- and close some WMAs.

This is a sad day for sportsmen in the "Sportsman's Paradise." Henry M. Mouton Lafayette In reference to "Da Winnas & Da Loozas" (Politics, July 3), you're a little presumptuous in crowning Jindal king. The election is not over. The battle has not even begun.

Walter (Boasso) came out swinging. I'll tackle the issues.

Jindal's voting record will ultimately be his demise. HR2643 is a prime example of how he puts party politics over Louisiana.

My gut feeling is that if Jindal does not win it all in the primary, he will lose. The next few months promise to be exciting on the political front.

Anthony "Tony G" Gentile