Call me a dreamer

Imagine being in a position of power and authority where you
single-handedly determine whether a business or enterprise exists
or desists in San Benito County. Imagine developing a
personal/business relationship with your boss who is an elected
representative and you are a public servant. Imagine knowing full
well that fraternization is illegal and yet knowing that the
relationship with your elected boss will be shielded and protected
fully by county counsel and the county District Attorney.
Sound like a good ol’ boy deal to you? Welcome to San Benito
County.
Imagine being in a position of power and authority where you single-handedly determine whether a business or enterprise exists or desists in San Benito County. Imagine developing a personal/business relationship with your boss who is an elected representative and you are a public servant. Imagine knowing full well that fraternization is illegal and yet knowing that the relationship with your elected boss will be shielded and protected fully by county counsel and the county District Attorney.

Sound like a good ol’ boy deal to you? Welcome to San Benito County.

In a representative government such as ours, public officials are supposed to operate under the guise of a fully transparent agenda so that conflict of interest issues and dictatorships are discouraged. Yet, we are only human and prone to corruption. So when politicians profit from their privileged position, favor certain individuals and tyrannize others, it is time to blow the whistle and demand full accountability of the system that represents the interests of all citizens.

Attorney Michael Pekin is the messenger, not the adversary. He has been hired by a group of individuals who, ostensibly, are sick and tired of the corruption they perceive has existed in San Benito County. It has been determined that Pekin has interest in property in the county, but his role is to advocate for his clients. Pekin has been arrested for falsifying documents among other charges.

What I think we are seeing is the last of the political witch hunts of this District Attorney’s administration. I personally can’t imagine that a conspiracy against the county exists in the person of Michael Pekin, especially when government is supposed to operate transparently. But I can imagine that the tyrants who are hell-bent to preserve the agenda of the good ol’ boy paradigm want to shoot the messenger to avoid having their indiscretions made public knowledge. Peyton Place has nothing on San Benito County.

Moving forward, there has been some renewed interest to revive the San Benito County Arts Commission. I’ll be speaking with Gary Byrne of the Community Foundation of San Benito County to figure out how that agency can attract and administer funds to support events that promote the arts in San Benito County. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t hear anything from professional artists, performing arts groups and the education system as to whether they’d like to support the arts. But in this case, the ball is just getting rolling and the fat lady has yet to sing.

What I think we really need here in San Benito County is a series of forums at the Vet’s Hall to address the following issues:

Infrastructure. Invite the San Benito County Water District and a private water/wastewater company like U.S. Filter to address the water/wastewater issues that affect all of us.

Business and Education. These days, you can’t have one without the other. Invite the Panetta Institute to moderate a forum addressing these issues. Invite Vision San Benito, Steve Kinsella, the president and CEO of Gavilan College. Keynote speaker: Carl Guardino from the Silicon Valley Manufacturers Group.

The Arts. Invite representatives from the California Arts Council to explain how to revive and organize the arts commission. Invite local artists to display their art and perform original content. I volunteer to play original compositions on the piano. Don’t worry, I won’t sing.

The trick is to attract and engage the youth and seniors, Anglos and Hispanics, union and management and teachers and students in such a way as to expect an outcome that can be realized.

I would challenge the educators to offer extra credit to students who participate in this process of building community through democratic principles. Call me a dreamer, but I was impressed and inspired by the forum hosted by the county supervisors at the Vets Hall this month. So I think we need to organize an agenda and produce a forum that will introduce our elected leaders to their constituents and build bridges between different agencies.

The vision is in place, we just need commitment to organization. Stay tuned.

Leave your comments