Leftovers Column: City’s image takes a beating
By Jennifer McLain and Tania Chatila, Staff Writers
Article Launched: 10/05/2008 11:04:48 PM PDT
It’s been a rough few months for the city of Baldwin Park’s image.
Residents still are concerned about school board member Sergio Corona’s arrest in May on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
He currently is facing misdemeanor charges of vandalism, resisting an officer and driving without a license in connection with the arrest.
Then last month, Baldwin Park Councilman Anthony Bejarano was booked on suspicion of public intoxication.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office said last week week it would not be filing charges against Bejarano, who said he was not drunk the night of his arrest.
Still, the incident has stirred unrest in the community and has brought to light a question that often goes unanswered in the political realm – just how high should the ethical and moral bar be set for our public officials?
We put the question out there and got some interesting responses from anonymous readers of the Leftovers blog.
Here’s a sample:
— “Let’s face it none of us is perfect in our personal lives…, we go through divorces, we have children who occasionally get in trouble, we occasionally say things in frustration or in the heat of the moment that upon reflection we wish we didn’t say, we sometimes get our facts wrong.”
— “Yes, we do hold our elected officials to a higher standard, especially when they are representing us at a public event.”
— “I’m not saying we treat our elected with kid gloves in terms of their policy positions or in terms of factors which might impact their ability to act fairly, honestly and impartially. But I don’t care to know about him having a simple argument with a spouse or that his or her kid got a D on their algebra exam or that (on one isolated) night they may have seemed a bit tipsy…”
— “Character does matter.”
Our elected officials have been in the news a lot lately over questions of ethical behavior among themselves and their relatives.
Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke’s son was recently detained by the sheriff’s department in a case where a reserve deputy’s .45-caliber revolver and vehicle were stolen. Beilke’s son wasn’t charged, but two of the 17-year-old’s friends were.
Last month, the teenage son of former Irwindale Councilwoman and Baldwin Park Chief Deputy City Clerk Rosemary Gutierrez plowed his car through a neighbor’s wall while driving home around 4 a.m.
A police report was not made, no one was arrested, no one was hurt and neighbors decided not to press charges on what was classified initially as a hit-and-run.
Then in El Monte, Mayor Ernie Gutierrez – who is not related to Rosemary Gutierrez – took a lot of heat for allegedly showing up at a city event drunk and shouting vulgarities.
In May, city officials prepared a report looking into Gutierrez’s actions, but concluded the allegations had no merit.
We see this all the time – someone in the public spotlight, whether they be authorities, politicians or entertainment superstars, slips up and all of a sudden their abilities to perform come into question.
Only voter turnout will tell us how much constituents really care.