Friday, August 19, 2016

• NAACP Community Meeting In Wildomar

The fourth in a series of community meetings in SWRivCo (the previous have been in Temecula, Murrieta and Menifee) was held in the community room at Animal Friends of the Valleys.

The moderator was Pastor Willie J. Oliver, Jr. On the dais was Pastor Trevor Mabry, Lake Elsinore council members Steve Manos and Bob Magee, Wildomar Mayor Bridgette Moore, Wildomar councilmember Marsha Swanson and Captain Leonard Hollingsworth of the Riverside Sheriff's office (Police Chief of both Wildomar and Lake Elsinore).
Left to right: Pastor Willie Oliver, Pastor Trevor Mabry, Steve Manos, Bob Magee, Bridgette Moore, Marsha Swanson and Leonard Hollingsworth.


Also, in the modest sized crowd, were the city managers of both Wildomar and Lake Elsinore (Gary Nordquist and Grant Yates respectively), RivCo Supervisor Kevin Jeffries and Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale.

After some brief introductions, and some ground rules (like: allow people to finish their thoughts, be respectful and don't take things personally), the first question was addressed to the panel:

What does community look like to you?

They all pretty much agreed that community is the people in the area with no special attention made to superficial differences. From there the discussion went to the audience.

It can be difficult to recap a meeting such as this one. I can tell you that it was positive throughout, and I went away from it encouraged. Though I'd like to see more community participation in such meetings in the future.

I'm going to pick out my favorite quotes of the night to give you an idea of what transpired. 

• Community is our neighbors, our businesses, our schools. It's everything that comes into our lives and affects our lives. 

• My grandparents immigrated here, to the US, from Mexico. My grandfather became a citizen and fought in World War II. My grandparents on my mom's side came from Poland, so I'm a Mexican-Pollack. (audience laughter)

Wildomar Mayor Bridgette Moore

Our community is small, we're mixed, we have many people —blacks, whites, Hispanics, first, second, third generation [immigrants]. That's one of the things that attracted me to the community, because we are all different. Yet, we all like each other. The other thing I like about our community is that we are all hard workers. 

Wildomar Resident Courtney Kemp

• (In reference to a previous comment about filling jails)

As far as fill the jails, the law enforcement is paid for by taxpayers because we want the bad people, regardless of their hue, to be kept away from people that are trying to live by the law. Had people not committed crimes, they wouldn't be caught up in the system to begin with. 

• Discipline is a good thing, discipline doesn't mean hitting someone. You have standards and expectations for your children and you have them meet them. It doesn't mean go get a switch off the peach tree so I can tan your hide. 

Wildomar Resident Joseph Morabito

• Answering, How do you feel about "Black Lives Matter"?

My first thought is that it's very sad that we have to have Black Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter. I think it's sad that that's where we're at right now. I understand where all of them are coming from, but I also think that each and everyone of them are flashpoints. 
Captain Hollingsworth demonstrating "throws up a wall".
I know that people are using [them] to stimulate conversation, but I think often times it goes beyond stimulating conversation and it throws up a wall. It causes people to get angry, and it just turns into an argument.

• (Who gets mad when they hear "Black Lives Matter"?)

I think a lot of people do, and people get angry when we say "All Lives Matter", people get angry when we say "Blue Lives Matter", and my point is, I don't think we should be here to fight. We should be here to learn. We should be here to try and understand each other, and I think we should be here to talk to each other, and I think we should be able to sit across the table from each other drink coffee, but if we throw up words and phrases that cause that conversation to stall, I think it's a problem.

Captain Leonard Hollingsworth

• It doesn't make a difference where you grew up, it's the choices you make, and what you —each one of you do with your life, you have the choice.

• I know that our children here have choices. I was speaking mainly of my own grandchild who was in trouble. He made the wrong choices. He was raised just like his sister and brother who didn't make the wrong choices. I have kids that have excelled, I have kids that have not. All brought up in the same family in the same way. I'm talking about personal choices about your life.

Wildomar Councilmember Marsha Swanson

• Having grown up here, I grew up in an area that was fairly diverse. Growing up it felt like, being someone of color —I'm half Mexican and half Greek, my friends used to call me Greexican by the way, I never felt like I wasn't afforded opportunities to succeed. I never felt marginalized. I think what that does for me personally is it makes it hard for me to understand some of the challenges that are happening other places. 

I remember going to Philadelphia and going through the neighborhood and seeing the kids in the streets, and the (small) size of the houses, and the poverty. Thinking to myself, for the first time, if I had grown up here, how would I get out of this?

• I don't know if it's so much about color, because I've had friends that have gotten in trouble, gotten involved in gangs, ended up in jail. Some of them are white, some are black, some Hispanic, and I think it was mostly about the choices.

Lake Elsinore Councilmember Steve Manos

• There was a period in this country's history where there were signs in storefronts that said, Irish Need Not Apply. As a person of Irish descent it significantly impacted my family. Black Lives Matter is a response to some significant events, and I believe that it will go to the wayside, like the Irish need not apply signs went by the wayside years ago.


• We heard about discipline earlier, discipline doesn't have to be a physical act. Discipline ought to be by example. The Example that my parents set for me was, get up everyday, go to work, work hard, and do the right thing. I learned from watching them what the right thing was. I took that, and then transmitted that to my son.

Our responsibility as parents is to show our children what it means to be adults and positive members of society. Irrespective of our cultural backgrounds. We're all here together, we are a melting pot. 

• I came from modest means and my parents taught me, you're never too poor for soap and water, and being polite doesn't cost you a thing.

• I keep coming back to education and civility. We have to make sure that our young kids stay in school. If you were ever in sports you heard loud and clear from the coach, "Nothing good happens after midnight." Where are your kids at midnight? They need to be home. They need to finish their homework. They need to be ready for the next day. 

Lake Elsinore Councilmember Bob Magee

The most impactful part of the evening, at least how I saw it, was from Dr. Shirley Johnson. Below are a few highlights. I'd loved to have posted all of her comments, but the room had bad acoustics and the recording wasn't that great in spots.

Even Memorex wouldn't have been able to get a good recording out of that echo chamber. 
Dr. Shirley Johnson in yellow in the upper left portion of the picture.
 Tonight we're here because there've been shootings of African American males. Where I think sometimes we stumble is that the ones who got shot were actually committing a crime. I don't know the story of every single person [that's been shot by the police], but every person that was shot by a police officer wasn't in college, they didn't have a book [in their hands]. 

• I'm an educator, this year we had African Americans, for the first time, not graduate (from her school?). I didn't see, not one community member come up to the school and talk to me about it. 

If they're not graduating from high school, guess what they're going to do. They're going to break into your house. 

• So one of my students that didn't graduate went to Oceanside, to the beach, and he ran out of money. He saw some nice white people on the beach enjoying themselves and and he went up to them, and almost killed those people —beat them half to death.

Suppose [he would have] killed them, there would have been a riot in Oceanside. But he almost killed those people, we have to call an ace an ace, and I'm sorry, as an educator —I came from the South. I was in Memphis when Martin Luther King got shot. I chopped cotton, I picked cotton. I have two PhDs because I went to school.

• I've been in the NAACP for 35 years. If we don't start telling parents, and just say, "Look black people —African American people, we really do need to get it together. Because, you know it's not all the cops fault. The guy was stealing, and the last one that got shot was stealing a Jaguar."

I'm just calling an ace an ace, if we don't start putting things where they're supposed to be as African Americans —It's us, it really is, we really do have to do a better job.

Dr. Shirley Johnson, NAACP Executive Board Member

• I was [raised by] a single parent. My mother actually raised my sister and I, but she impressed upon us from an early age, the golden rule. I believe it starts with respect. You've got to give respect to get respect back. Then you've got to take personal accountability for your actions.

Lake Elsinore Resident Gil Brown

Those were the quotes that impressed me most. I found there to be plenty of other valuable input too, but I think I wore down my transcription ability for the time being.

My opinion on BLM is that if the media had sought to put positive views, like the ones I heard at this meeting, front and center, instead of the views that have fanned the flames of division and anger (though they sell newspapers). There wouldn't be the same high level of distrust out there that we are told is happening.

I say "are told" because I NEVER see it in person, or hear about it locally. These tensions, perhaps are just under the surface, but I treat people as individuals, and that's what I get in return.

There are two community events coming up in Wildomar in the next couple of weeks.

The first is dubbed as a Resource Summit where local churches and nonprofits are coming together at Wildomar Council Chambers on Monday, August 29th at 6:00pm.

The other will be in the community room at the VFW and the topic is Anti-Bullying. That'll be at 7:00pm on Friday, September 9th.

•        •        •

I almost forgot something. There were three young children in attendance (probably ages 4, 6 and 10) that were there before I arrived, and there until after I left. After the conclusion of the meeting I approached Pastor Willie and asked if he knew them (I sort of guessed they were his children, but prefered to remove all doubt by asking).  

He told me they were his kids, and I complimented him on their behavior. Putting up with such a long and dull (from a kid's perspective) meeting... and with no electronic gadgets either.

Reminds me of a time when I was out to dinner as an 8 year old with my parents. Halfway through our meal an elderly lady came up to the table and gushed about "how well behaved the children were" (there were three of us boys, ages 8, 7 and 3). My mother was indeed pleased but asked rhetorically after she'd left, "Was she blind and deaf?"

•        •        •


Success isn't measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace. 
—Mike Ditka

Wildomar Rap is as disciplined as the day is long... during the Winter Solstice that is.

9 comments:

  1. Dr. Shirley Johnson is very wise. There are shootings that are unjustified and others that are. Each part of the community needs to fix their problems. Bad cops need to go to prison, just like any other criminal. If BLM were represented in the press this way, it would go a long way towards not fanning the flames.

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    Replies
    1. I agree.

      I'm very "pro cop" but I'm even more "ANTI bad cop". They make everyone's life more difficult, especially those of the good cops that too often get painted with the same broad brush.

      Delete
  2. The real question that needs to be asked is, where was the community?
    As is usually the case in the city of wildomar, little or no notice of this event can be found anywhere.
    The City of Murrieta did a similar event.
    The City of Murrieta made sure to get a mention in the Press Enterprise (with a follow-up article).
    The Murrieta Patch had an article before the event.
    The City of Murrieta’s facebook page mentioned it.
    The Murrieta Police facebook page had it posted before the event.
    The mayor of wildomar sure didn’t make an effort to get the word out, and “After the Flap Rap”, although giving the community a nice story (with as little photographic exposure of the audience of possible so as to not embarrass the city by showing the low turn-out) made no mention of this event before it happened.
    You did mention 2 upcoming events one of which is currently poorly advertised, the Community Summit. The second one, Anti Bullying meeting can be found nowhere.
    You, for whatever reason, left out the biggy, dealing with homelessness being held in the Wildomar Mayor’s office (per Julie Kai of Gods Fan Club aka Project T.O.U.C.H) on September 22 from 4:30-7:00 pm. This one was buried in the comment section of a Murrieta story about helping the homeless.

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    Replies
    1. My understanding is that this was an NAACP event. There wasn't even a flyer about it and I only found out the day before (from the Mayor's facebook page). The anti-bullying meeting was mentioned by Pastor Willie, and he asked for people to share the info, also no flyer at this point. It seems that they don't have a big mailing list. I'm not on it, and probably still am not on it because when I signed in I didn't add contact info.

      The September 22nd meeting you mentioned isn't on my radar.

      I always look in the Press Enterprise for Wildomar mentions, and neither the Vet Expo nor the Wildomar night at the Storm were in the Community Calendar section either. Funny that the Storm game was mentioned, but not that it was Wildomar Night or Scouts camp night either. But the PE did mention Squeaky Clean Comedy and a U2 tribute band in our area instead.

      As for pictures of this community meeting at AFV, I took only the one that showed the audience. There might have been 20 people there that weren't city officials (maybe only 15). As it was, the one picture that showed the audience was shot after I got up and walked to that part of the room where I could use my wide angle lens (Obviously it's not that wide of an angle). There were three more tables on the other side of the room and less than ten people at them.

      I thought about mentioning it before hand at the Wildomar Rap facebook page, but there were no flyers provided and that's not how I usually use that page.

      Delete
    2. So with all that notice how many showed up at the Murrieta meeting?

      Delete
  3. Not so quick slick, the September 22 meeting was confirmed by you to Julie Kai
    comment on an article in the Press Enterprise @ http://www.pe.com/articles/kiler-809239-homeless-idea.html#article-comments
    "Joseph Morabito Just confirmed with Mayor Bridgette Moore. It will be on Thursday, September 22 from 4:30 to 7:00 at Wildomar City Hall. Thank you!
    Like · Reply · Jul 30, 2016 2:56pm"
    It appears from the comments that you have been to a previous meeting of this group in Murrieta at the Salvation Army facility.
    As to the NAACP meeting there is nothing on the mayors facebook page.
    I will ask Pastor Willie for info on the Bullying meeting at the VFW so as to put it on the Patch and NextDoor.
    The point being in bringing all this up is this city does a poor job of reaching out to the community about all the events happening weekly, except when they wish to discredit the activist, then their myna bird at the P.E. is more than willing to churn out what ever the city wishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I was at a Salvation Army meeting about the homeless. There is already a group that meets for the same purpose that I went to about a month earlier, it was in Temecula, but had elected reps there (Brian Tisdale for one).

      I followed the link you provided, and it was about tiny houses (which is why I had gone to the Salvation Army meeting, it was on the agenda but never really addressed.) I don't remember seeing her reply to me. Facebook notifications aren't reliable. That said, I heard that the meeting (September 22) is to be moved to another site TBD.

      What I saw on the Mayor's FB page was a copy of a PM she'd received that she shared.
      Here's a link to the image.
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209849903305442&set=pcb.10209849903785454&type=3&theater

      I do agree that the city should have a facebook page, and I hope that the new website they've been talking about will be updated daily and comprehensive. I'd also like to see cameras at the council and planning commission meetings too.

      Delete
  4. The city is responsible for getting the word out about CITY events. Other events are the responsibility of those leading those events. Certainly with numerous Fb groups, PE, the patch, each group having its own fb and websites the information is out there. At times it seems like our local buzzkill is less focused on substance and helping the community and more focused on armchair quarterbacking and chastising citizens for not participating or the city for not doing more (hard to tell sometimes who he is mad at). But hey, keep pulling those document requests on whatever floats your boat. Because THAT is a good use of city resources, feeding the addiction of a nosey Nellie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always enjoyed your no BS approach.

      Delete

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