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Dedication to public service comes at a price Tom Basinski | Sat, Jun 02 2012 12:00 PM

I'm a pretty nice guy, or so I keep telling myself. Every now and then I’ll get irritated at someone, usually a politician or public figure, and write about it. Sometimes I ask for an explanation or response from an elected or appointed official.

In the past I have taken issue with something Mayor Cheryl Cox has done. I have known Cheryl for a couple of decades. I like her personally, and for the most part, professionally. When I wrote something confrontational she called me up and we had a frank discussion. She didn’t back away or hide from me. For this I applaud her. That is what I expect from an elected official.

I also had an ax to grind with Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent, Ed Brand. I accused him of being a bully. Mr. Brand called me and invited me to his office to meet and talk. I went, after telling my wife if I didn’t come back, to tell the police my last destination. I thought Mr. Brand was personable and open.

Both Mayor Cox and Brand were stand-up people in responding to the issues I raised. That’s what we expect from our officials. Both of my encounters ended cordially.

In the past I’ve taken Assemblyman Ben Hueso to task for his stance on AB 1028 which removed one part-time person from the fire department and three retired part-timers from the police department. I had received conflicting information from the Public Employees Retirement System and the city’s Human Resources Department about the implementation of the bill.

Hueso is an Assemblyman and the mess started in the Assembly, so I wrote a column asking  for an explanation. Why were we getting rid of these employees that actually save us money? I’m still searching for ansers.

In the meantime Hueso has gone after a California Fish and Game official for participating in a mountain lion hunt in Idaho. But as far as I can tell, no explanation about the dismissed public safety people.

Of course I realize Hueso has been occupied. Yes, Hueso was very busy on Assembly Bill 2485. This bill, among other things, regulates vendors at our Interstate rest stops. Thanks to Hueso, if you stop to take a break you can also buy a regulated latte or some other kind of food and drink. Now that’s what I call “looking out for us.”

But what about our retired part-time workers at the police and fire department? The fire department person who was let go is back on the job coordinating the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer program. He’s doing it for free out of a sense of duty.

At the police department, the cold case homicide guy is working for free on a few cases that he just can’t bring himself to abandon. The shooting Range Master is also donating his time, while the computer guru is working until the end of the fiscal year.

What? Are these people nuts, these oft-described “hogs at the public trough?” No. They’re dedicated. They can’t simply walk away from an important job just because they won’t be receiving money. It’s called “dedication” and I would hope our elected officials would have the same dedication.

The other elected officials knew how to get in touch with me. I don’t think I’m difficult to find. I would even have a cup of coffee with Ben Hueso.  He could get a latte, and we wouldn’t even have to go to a rest stop. Don’t forget to vote Tuesday.


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anniej Says:

Wed, Jun 06 2012 10:20 AM

Sir: i too have found Mayor Cox and Ed Brand to be personable persons. however, i have not found brand to be a stand-up person.

i have never shied away from speaking my mind and sharing my opinions; however, i never loose sight of the fact that EVERYONE has an opinion - right? right - and i have never been so self consumed to believe, for even one minute, that i am always right. i have learned from others who have had differences of opinion.

"Dedication to public service comes at a price". while i would never paint myself as someone who has dedicated their life to public service, i have always thought of myself as a nice person - my spouse has many times in the past 35 years warned me about my pollyanna views of the world and people.

i have always believed that we can agree to disagree and leave our disagreements 'in the board room' so to speak. however, my interactions the past three years involving the sweetwater district has done much to open my eyes to the fact that there are those who choose to 'win' at any cost. i.e., i use to be a constant blogger on the u.t. - however one of the board members took exception to that fact and basically had me banned. if i were to blog again i would have to call and have my comments personally authorized - something to do with the id's of any computer i ever used while blogging there.

while i believe that brand is personable, i do not believe he is good for the district. you see my opinion is - a strong leader leads - he does not follow - he does no allow himself to be used as a puppet. he does not take advantage for personal reasons.

i also take exception with brand circumventing the new state ab law and forming an association in order to collect his school retirement and his $20,000.00 a month salary. as well, i question john mccann not raising it as in issue - since i 'thought' mccann was against such practices.

then there is the issue of the continued borrowing of prop o funds under brand's leadership when mccann had assured us that the practice had been stopped.

i will then add the recent fiasco where a district employee was sent down to the chula vista yards to pick up RECALL signs that the RECALL folks has paid for. why is a district employee being used for such a juvenile act?

last but not least the 'alleged assault as claimed by mccann' - and the fact that brand did not sit johnny boy down and give him the big brother talk. "when i was a child i walked like a child and talked like a child - but when i became a man i put aside my childish ways" - no john if you pursue this nonsense it will come out of your own pocket.

i looked to Ed Brand for great change, i am still looking.....................

regarding Mayor Cox. now she is a stand up person. she does not speak with forked tongue - she tells it like she sees it - i have not always liked how she saw it - but i respected her for standing behind what she believes in. what more can we as citizens as for from our representative. she is not a whining poor excuse for a representative - and i have never found her to be vindictive.

and so Sir in closing i would like to say that i commend you for your dedication to helping make the south bay a better place to live. it is indeed persons like yourself, willing to speak their mind that challenges us all to take pause and give thought.

HOGS AT THE PUBLIC TROUGH - ah yes, i know about that - i, and others are battling them on a continual basis. we will not give up until change is brought about.

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