The Star-News


He's a dancer not a fighter

Sat, Dec 03 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

Most writers, or those who think they are writers, wonder if anyone reads what they write. I’m no different. I write something about the police and I don’t hear any direct response, but I hear “things.”

Many months ago I wrote about something fishy that happened to an off-duty patrol officer. Department members confidentially told me I had “ruffled some feathers.” I angered the parents of the cop I wrote about and I expected a drink in my face at an event we both attended. I never had to use the small towel I brought.

Over the years, while in social situations, I have developed a way to avoid those who don’t like me. I call it a “dance” where I stay on the opposite side of the room from those who don’t care for my company. A problem surfaces if there are too many non-friends there. I run out of places to move.

Another cop became incensed when I wrote about tricks cops play on crooks to arrest them, or get them to admit guilt. He accused me of “selling out” the police for “a buck.” I wondered who leaked the amount I make an hour writing this column. My second reaction was to dismiss him as a fool. Crooks don’t read my column. Besides, the tricks police use that I wrote about have been in practice for years.

I wrote about the loss of an ethical compass by Sweetwater School Superintendent Jesus Gandara. While attending a civic event, wearing my trademark fedora in the buffet line, I sensed someone staring at me with laser intensity. I turned to see Gandara. I smiled at him and said, "Try the Lumpia. It’s great.”

Later, when I wrote about my seminary days in San Antonio I actually received a signed message from someone. The writer lamented the fact that we seminarians had to wear blazers with the seminary crest on the breast pocket when we attended the co-educational university. “You guys could never get lucky dressed like that,” he wrote.
“Uh, Mike” I responded, “We weren’t trying to ‘get lucky.’ We were studying to be priests. We had that celibacy thing, ya’ know?”

I really don’t know how many read this column. And, I certainly don’t have a clue how many like it. Every now and then I’ll be in the grocery store and someone will say, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who writes that thing in The Star-News?” I answer that I am, hoping they’ll say they like it. They usually go back to examining the apples. Oh well.

I see where interim Sweetwater School District Supe Ed Brand is not allowing successful middle school students from charter schools to enter the SDSU direct admissions program called “Compact for Success.” Brand said the kids, in order to be eligible, must leave the charter schools and enroll in Sweetwater District schools by the seventh grade.

Where I come from that’s called “extortion.” Brand’s weak reasons are just that, weak.

The denial of admission to the program also smacks of jealousy because many of the charter schools outperform those in the Sweetwater District. Brand’s reasoning is disingenuous because he said it was to the kids’ advantage to go to Sweetwater District schools. How then, does he justify the superior scores from the charter schools?

I also see where Brand’s bullying tactics are now seeping into the realm of athletics for the youngsters. A Union-Tribune article reported Brand directed the South Bay Family YMCA to drop charter and private schools from a middle school sports league. Brand won’t admit it, but the issue is all about money, and not the kids, and that’s very sad.

After reading the U-T article I felt sorry for Lisa Johnson, the associate executive director of the local YMCA. She was quoted as saying, “We just want to be inclusive and have as many students play sports as possible. We are just a vendor.” I’ll bet what she said privately was better. Ed Brand is not only extorting the kids and their parents. He is bullying the YMCA. That is despicable.

Ed, what say you? I’ve never met Ed Brand, but if we are ever at the same social event, I won’t dance away. I don’t avoid bullies.


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