Leftovers column…

This week’s installment:

It was a week of public statements in the San Gabriel Valley last week.
Two elected officials in two different cities — El Monte Mayor Ernie Gutierrez and
Baldwin Park school board member Sergio Corona — finally talked about controversies that have surrounded them since May.
Gutierrez and Corona had been relatively tight-lipped on their respective issues despite plenty of buzz circulating in their cities.

Accusations that Gutierrez was drunk, groped his girlfriend and shouted vulgarities at a May 3 city-sponsored event quickly made their way to a council meeting, when resident Henry August called Gutierrez’s alleged behavior an embarrassment to the city.
The claims prompted an investigation by the city, heavy criticism from angry residents, and even concern from some Gutierrez’s colleagues on the dais.
But Gutierrez didn’t say a thing — until Tuesday — when he denied acting inappropriately.

Ironically, Corona, arrested May 22, made his first public appearance Tuesday at a school board meeting. During his encounter with police officers, Corona was stunned twice with a Taser after he allegedly vandalized a Baldwin Park home.
A police report included alleged statements from Corona indicating he had taken drugs the night he was arrested, provoking a debate in Baldwin Park on whether the longtime board member should resign.
Even the City Council pulled support from under the 34-year-old, agreeing he should step down.
Aside from a brief statement to to a community newspaper denying allegations of drug or alcohol use that night, Corona was absent from two board meetings following the arrest. He didn’t return more than a dozen calls from this paper seeking comment.
On Wednesday, when Corona told the paper he took “full responsibility” for his arrest, Corona also said he hoped the paper understood why he wasn’t talking
initially.
He said he was going through “personal issues,” and was trying to get better.

While it is understandable why people sometimes don’t comment on controversial issues, it makes you wonder how the public perceives an official that doesn’t come to his or her own defense until months later, if at all.
Communications experts have said that when public officials decline to comment on controversial matters, they often give the perception that they are hiding something, are unaware or don’t care.

“It can sound like you’re afraid to answer the question for fear it will incriminate you,” according to Ian Taylor and George Olds, who authored the book “Never Say ‘No Comment.’”
“The public perception is that you’ve done something wrong, otherwise why would you be hiding or withholding information.
“Saying ‘No comment’ is like saying ‘We’re guilty.’”

We’ve seen many San Gabriel Valley politicians keep mum on contentious issues. La Verne Councilman Steven Johnson has declined comment several times on a pending conflict of interest charge.

If officials would just be open from the start, the public might be more understanding of their explanations and less inclined to write them off.
In fact, residents in El Monte and Baldwin Park had hoped that Gutierrez and Corona would speak up sooner, and respond to their concerns.
In the end, saying something is better than saying nothing at all.

  • Anonymous

    Dear McLain:

    Officials might be more willing to open up if the reporting was done in a more objective fashion. In way that examined all sides of the story: allegations and facts in favor versus allegations and facts against. Scrutiny of the motives of accusers might also benefit the public. I am sure you view yourself as an ethical person out to crusade for the public good etc. But I am afraid that in your zeal to “get at the unvarnished truth” you seem place an undue amount of faith in the integrity of accusers who may themselves be less than ethical and who may also be spinning facts to further their own ends which may not necessarily be in the public’s interest either. Your coverage all to often seems to be slanted in favor of one warring political faction over another; taking sides if for those in politics not for reporters – no matter how sincerely you feel one side is “more honest” than the other. I agree officials should talk but I can’t seem to blame them when news of their alleged misdeeds is all but CONCLUDED before they’ve even had a chance to take the podium. Your postings also have a sarcastic tone which betrays a good deal of conclusory thinking your part. You have the potential to be good.

    Finally, there is nothing “IRONIC” about Cornona appearing at a meeting – that is what he was elected to do until he resigns, is ousted or is rendered incapable of serving. I think the word you were looking for was “SUPRISING”

  • Hanging Out

    Anonymous:
    For someone who reads an article so carefully….how’d you miss the name of the author? You really need to make sure exactly who you are attacking.

  • Sucka Fool

    Haha, what an Anonymous douche! All for not

  • El Gato Malo

    I think you mean, “All for naught,” Mr. Fool.

    It’s the unfortunate nature of the beast that newspapers tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive. You’ll never see headlines like, “Thirty-Five Million Social Security Checks Delivered on Time” or “Road is Repaved Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget.” Indeed, it was on this blog just two weeks ago that the authors admitted their paper completely blew off the dozen or so Fourth of July parades and carnivals in our humble little valley.

    Yeah, reporters need time off. But, really: The paper still comes out on July 5th. SOMEBODY’S still working on the Fourth of July. It shouldn’t take a shooting or an accident to make the newspaper.
    Politicos often manage to hit several Fourth of July events in a single day, so it shouldn’t be that hard to keep someone on the payroll on a holiday and have them drive around and visit a few of the community events. Get a few colorful quotes, snap a few shots, and you’ve got a handy little story that’ll make people feel good about their community.

  • Anonymouse

    Gato, I couldn’t have said it better. Good news doesn’t sell papers. Controversy sells papers, which in turn allows reporters to purchase gasoline to take a day off at the beach. But it’s not the reporters’ fault. It’s just the society in which we live in. People love finding out about other’s faults. For some strange reason, it makes them feel better about themselves. The reporters just give the public what it wants.

  • Anonymous blogger

    Grow up bloggers. No one is forcing you to read any of these blogs. If you can’t deal with others peoples right to express their opinion just…blog off.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is not with people have a right to their own opinion. People have a right to their own opinion. You don’t have a right to make up your own facts however.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is not with people have a right to their own opinion. People have a right to their own opinion. You don’t have a right to make up your own facts however.

  • Passing thru…

    To Anonymous…
    Don’t confuse opinion and fact. This is a forum to express an opinion. The following is from Wikipedia:
    “An opinion is a person’s ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something. An opinion is not a fact, because opinions are either not falsifiable, or the opinion has not been proven or verified. If it later becomes proven or verified, it is no longer an opinion, but a fact”.

  • Anonymous

    I think your attribution WIKIPEDIA, that impecable source of accurate “facts” says it all. I guess the lesson here boys and girls is that truth is whatever you say it is….all that matters is that you really really believe it and keep saying it over and over and over again. Some of you people would have made great fascist propagandists.

  • Passing thru…

    You prefer Merriam-Webster?
    “Main Entry: opinion
    Pronunciation: \-pin-yn\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin opinion-, opinio, from opinari
    Date: 14th century
    1 a: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter b: approval, esteem
    2 a: belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge b: a generally held view
    3 a: a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert b: the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based
    opinioned \-ynd\ adjective
    synonyms opinion, view, belief, conviction, persuasion, sentiment mean a judgment one holds as true. opinion implies a conclusion thought out yet open to dispute . view suggests a subjective opinion . belief implies often deliberate acceptance and intellectual assent . conviction applies to a firmly and seriously held belief . persuasion suggests a belief grounded on assurance (as by evidence) of its truth . sentiment suggests a settled opinion reflective of one’s feelings “.