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Re: Jim Washburn's “Stray Not From Righteousness” and R. Scott Moxley's “What Can You Buy for $82,320?” (Oct. 6), your articles on the closure of the government child-care program operated through the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE).

Let me share with OC Weekly readers my personal reflections, as well as addressing the factually incorrect information revealed in the Weekly's most recent diatribes on this issue.

Much to the chagrin of the Weekly's staff, the state Department of Education and the OCDE have recently successfully negotiated the transfer of our programs to private providers who will assume the child-care responsibilities for our families and children. They will begin shortly the operations of all child-care programs in the same physical facilities and hopefully with all the same staff. While a successful transfer was always anticipated by our staff and administration, your previous commentaries gave Weekly readers the mistaken conclusion that our families and children were going to be left in the streets without facilities or programs for child care. This was never even contemplated.

Also missing in previous Weekly discourses is the fact that the OCDE will continue to administer a more desirable second type of taxpayer-financed child-care programs. These programs are privatized, voucher-like and transferable to any approved facility. They are known collectively as “alternative payment programs.” They allow income-eligible families a choice in child-care facilities with community organizations like the YMCA and neighborhood churches. What's more, lost in the Weekly's writers' opinions is that OCDE has held numerous job fairs to give our good-quality teachers and staff opportunities for employment in these new child programs.

Weekly critics Moxley and Washburn also purposely omitted important points such as the decision to privatize government child-care programs was made unanimously by a politically diverse school board and administration. It was certainly not precipitated by any individual effort or by a “right-wing, Bible-thumping Republican,” as Moxley and Washburn would like Weekly readers to believe.

In finding common ground with Weekly writers, I do agree with their reflections on several areas of our department's decision. I concur that there is much wasteful spending in government, as is well-detailed in Moxley's article. I am also in agreement with Washburn's criticism on the short and inadequate notification process of closing the child-care programs. I felt the whole issue could have been better communicated by our department to the families we serve and our staff.

Individual concerns are also raised because of the abundant class-warfare rhetoric and pejorative personal attacks. Such unfortunate biased journalism leaves Weekly readers with an unbalanced perspective on this issue and adds to the public's apathy and despair toward public policy. Additionally, quotes attributed to me were unfortunately taken out of context from an article I authored that was previously printed in The Orange County Register. For the record, I was never contacted for clarification on any quote.

Finally, as it appears to be the consistent policy of the Weekly to demonize their political opponents, at the very least I should have been personally interviewed and quoted on the grounds of journalistic genuineness and credibility. In the end, the Weekly's coverage on this issue is untrustworthy.

Dr. Ken Williams
Member, OC Board of Education
Costa Mesa
R. Scott Moxley responds: Our stories on the OC Department of Education's daycare debacle were straightforward and accurate. I focused on the absurd notion that county officials with a $4 billion annual kitty couldn't find a measly $400,000 per year to keep afloat the highly touted low-income child-care program. Those same officials had no trouble spending $12.8 million during the previous six months on such expenses as ballpark landscaping ($784,950) and subsidies to politically connected businessmen ($530,000). Washburn wrote about how the county's poor are consistently the targets of hardcore conservative ideologues.

Which brings us to Williams himself, a Traditional Values Coalition disciple. A public-school trustee who keeps his three kids in a private academy, Williams first won office four years ago blasting what he called an “unfortunate celebration” of “diversity and multiculturalism.” If anyone is responsible for the confusion surrounding the closure of the county's child-care program, it's this guy. Days after his board voted to kill the program, Williams wrote a high-profile Sept. 24 Orange County Register column. He might have used the space to reassure worried parents and others of the board's intention to transition children to publicly funded, privately managed child care. He did not. Instead—vintage Williams —he used it to publish a frightening right-wing screed that attacked child care. Government-run child-care programs, he wrote, “lay a blueprint for cradle-to-grave social programs administered by the federal government.” Never mind that the programs his board killed were locally controlled and incredibly successful. For Williams, the question is merely ideological: “Why should the governmenttake [my emphasis] the most vulnerable of society and put them in government institutions?” Were kids really being rounded up and taken from unwilling parents? And finally, Williams was not interviewed because his ample public statements were unambiguous.

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