I was thinking about a tale for this week’s column about how a real bank robber would feel when watching a film about a make-believe gangster, with anticipation it would be an easy read as my muse seemed intent upon escape from current events, when we hit a road block. And I’m talking about a literal roadblock.
The “we” was me, one other passenger and the driver on the MST Number 84 bus and the roadblock, on a street in San Lucas, was caused by Supervisor Chris Lopez’s pick-up parked crossways in the middle of the street. While the bus driver was unaware of any planned roadwork on his route, I knew why Chris was there, which is why I was on that bus nine days ago. It’s a great little story about little voices getting big results.
If this were a reporter’s story, it would include a whole lot more facts and figures and quotes, but this is just a story that struck a chord with me back when I first became aware of it some two or three years ago; I don’t have the exact date, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that young people, guided by those whose mission in life is educating young minds, were heard by their elected officials and the politicians responded.
When newly elected to the Third District Supervisor seat Chris Lopez visited the stately San Lucas Elementary School, he asked the students what they wanted for their school, for their town, for their lives. I’m sure at the time there were myriad responses with some common to everybody, so some focus was needed, and Superintendent Jessica Riley is all about focus. There is not space here enough to go into the many programs and activities she has brought to the district, so I’ll go on to the main instigator in this case, one Tom Carvey.
Tom is a teacher at San Lucas who, after Supervisor Lopez’s visit, referred to Dr. M. L. King’s words, “I have a dream,” and posed the question to the students. “What are your dreams?” And with that urging the focus became the community, and one thing the community really needed was street repair and new sidewalks. With that, a letter-writing campaign was set in motion and those letters, the smallest voices of a community, were read, and the young people were heard, and finally the men and equipment are there working as you read these words.
Two of the letter writers, Irie Velasquez and Syril Resendez, can be seen in a photo on the front page of last week’s Rustler, shovels in their hands in the middle of a line of students, ready to turn over the first shovel full of a dream they all helped make come true. Among the townspeople in attendance were Miguel and Maria Lomeli, whose daughter was also a letter writer; but as Supervisor Luis Alejo reminded us, many parents were unable to attend as they were out working the fields. But the support from all corners, government, school and civilian, was apparent as the long-awaited work began; and isn’t that what community is all about?
King City columnist does not shine
As all writers of opinion columns know, once the words are out there one has to be willing to accept whatever reader response one receives, which responses are best found on the same forum as that of the column. In the case of my column, or any column or news article, any pro or con opinions may be expressed in either a letter to the editor or, with publisher permission, a column of equal word length.
Now, usually my columns warrant no such public response, but one published in the May 18 issue of the Rustler is one of those I thought for sure would elicit a public response because surely the subject matter was such that someone out there was going to be offended. And although I was aware there were negative responses, none showed up publicly and, frankly, I find that bothersome. If you have something to say, say it. But I did get a communiqué, which made me re-read my words and I’d like to address that here.
Without going into a lot of detail, readers can refer to the original, what I did was criticize (though I have sought for one, no other word suffices) the actions of two of King City’s police officers. No matter that my intent was to lament how policing had changed in the decades since I was young, the finished product was an opinion based on ignorance and grounded in sarcasm.
This is not what any police department needs, public criticism without solid foundation; and as I thought more about the situation I realized I had done what I saw as the main offense of the local police of a decade ago: I picked on people who couldn’t fight back. The two officers who were subjects of the column had no recourse to state their side of the story, and that is patently unfair. But they have an advocate in the person of Chief of Police Keith Boyd, who like all chiefs backs his staff when they are in the right, and there is no question that in the situation detailed in that column they acted professionally within the law.
So, with all that in mind, let me offer my sincere public apologies to both the officers, names unknown, to Chief Boyd and to all members of the King City Police Department; my words were unworthy of myself and certainly unfair to all of you and I am sorry for them.
And a personal thanks to Chief Boyd for the conversation, out of which I hope will lead to an enhanced professional relationship. And, by the way, Chief, the Stars and Stripes out front of the station is a little frayed; life goes on here in the Valley.
Take care. Peace.