Readers comments 12-20-19
I thank the Claremont COURIER for an opportunity to contribute to a community dialogue for improving our city’s feeling of civility.
There is no question that this nation, from coast to coast and states beyond, is less tolerant of our differences than what many of us grew up with. Beginning with our city of Claremont, we need to understand and come to grips with the reasons why we are now this way.
It will do no good to improve the situation if we just go in head-to-head and debate what our differences are and who is right and who is wrong; that will go no where. Instead, we need to settle on a common ground that whatever it is, we need first to all agree that it is not good for us to continue on the path that has slowly brewed from the date that John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Once we can agree that our present path is harmful to our democracy, to our city, and to the future of our children, we can consider the next step in our discussion.
A more tolerant Claremont
As I see it, the Claremont Civility Initiative aims to preserve and strengthen the longstanding local culture of tolerance and cooperation I described in my little essay the COURIER published last year: “The Spirit of Claremont: Seven virtues that keep our town a good and special place” (posted with background at interenvironment.org/claremont).
A local culture built on tolerance is a precious thing. Tolerance means being willing to endure beliefs different from your own, even if you strongly disagree.
In times like these, that can sometimes be hard to do. An essential first step is bolstering civility, not just in its narrow sense of good manners, but as showing genuine regard for others.
Good for the COURIER for taking the lead.
We the people
Last Friday night, as I was reading my COURIER, I was drawn to Kathryn Dunn’s column, “A new campaign for Claremont.” As soon as I finished reading, I quickly emailed her to let her know I wanted to be a part of the Claremont Civility Inititative (CCI).
It may sound formal, but really it’s all about people—it’s about us. “We the People” begins with me.
I loved Mother Teresa’s response when asked why she didn’t participate in anti-war demonstrations—that she would never do that, “but as soon as you have a peace rally, I’ll be there.” Her focus was to be for something, not against.
I have lived in Claremont for close to seven years, but I have lived in this valley for more than 70 years. (Wow!) I grew up in Monrovia, and my dad was mayor there in the 1960s, so I saw firsthand how difficult it is to be in leadership. Our family was involved in every aspect of the city, including business ownership, civic, academic and religious life; each one of these arenas provided opportunities to choose and learn the better way.
The lessons I learned then, and continue to learn now, is that “people are people.” But what is my response? How can I make a difference? We can we do make a difference?
I recently heard about a Facebook group in Claremont that offers free stuff to anyone who wants it. Not for resale, but to supply folks with things they need, and to allow other folks to get rid of things they don’t want. Their motto is: Give freely. Share creatively. It’s an organization built on gratitude.
Claremont has many people, organizations, groups and businesses, who make a difference and who go out of their way to help, to give service and to smile. We all would be astounded if we knew the level of kindness and goodness already going on every day Claremont. And yet…
It’s no accident the Mr. Rogers movie is out now, following the documentary about his life and wisdom. (Always what the world needs now, and true for our city as well!) He would want us to be good listeners. He encouraged truly paying attention to what another person was talking about, and he encouraged people to listen with not only their ears, but with their eyes, heart and soul.
I know it sounds so sweet, but it isn’t. We’re talking civility. (Glad that Kathryn chose that word!) We can all be kind to people who are kind to us…but what if they’re not? What if they come against us? How can we change our response when we want to shout back, or worse? What if we moved in mercy and grace instead?
Civility is simply defined as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.” As in, “I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect.”
Civility comes from the word civilis, which in Latin means “citizen.” I hope you will join me, as a fellow citizen, in the Claremont Civility Initiative.
I heard that Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Stark and Councilmember Ed Reece wanted a citizens budget working group in the worst way…and that’s exactly what they are accomplishing.
Ludd A. Trozpek
Budget working group
In regards to your story about the Budget Working Group published December 13, thank you for listing all of the applicants for the committee. Some of these people I know, some of them I consider friends, and some I don’t know.
My concern is that I see a number of people on this list that are either experienced public workers or nonprofit workers.
I hope that Ms. Stark and Mr. Reece are willing to look at applicants that are entrepreneurs and business people. The committee should have representation from people who have owned/operated a business with a large budget and staff. These are people that are totally responsible for making a budget work every day, or their staff doesn’t get paid.
We need an “eat what you kill” business sensibility on this working group if we are to grow Claremont into the city of the future.
Last week Jack Sultze wondered why the information about the budget surplus on June 30 was withheld from the city taxpayers and voters until after the November special election. Perhaps voter mistrust helped defeat the sales tax measure. I am interested in hearing the city’s response.
Also, Jim Belna wrote an interesting letter about the police and the city budget. I have wondered why the city refuses to even consider an analysis of contracting with the sheriff’s department, especially since I read a few months ago that our police chief earns more than the police chief of the city of Los Angeles.
With public safety at 48 percent of the budget, perhaps it is time. It is desirable for Claremont to have its own police department; I think we can all agree on that. But is it essential?