CONSIDER THIS: Give Atoms For Peace a Chance

Managing Editor

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

There’s plenty wrong with this city. Some people are rude, others scheme and there are those who lie so often that they’ve forgotten how to tell the truth. Among their most significant accomplishments include widening a rift that’s divided the community. Congratulations.

Sadly, the people I’m referring to are adults. Even sadder, they believe that garnering the support of a thousand or so people from a community where 25,000 reside, 11,800 of which are registered voters, somehow awards them absolute power. Newsflash: All that means is that you haven’t been able to motivate more than 10 percent of the voting population to head to the polls. I wouldn’t brag too much about that.

But there’s another side to San Benito that, while often mistaken for “passion,” represents something much more admirable – perhaps benevolent. Take, for example, this weekend issue’s front page article about school district employees’ response to recent tragedies. Literally thousands of dollars have been donated in the form of monetary contributions to families mourning the untimely deaths – in separate incidents – of a 7-year-old girl and a 38-year-old bus driver. There was also the case of sick days donated to a longtime maintenance worker battling cancer; he needed the extended time off to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. These donations and gestures came straight from the pockets and hearts of San Benito CISD employees. Well done.

While not tugging at the heartstrings quite like the aforementioned instances, also take into consideration the pride San Benito residents have for their sports teams. No matter what controversy is brewing at the time, we all wear purple and gold during the Battle of the Arroyo and cheer side-by-side; we all cheer for our band, cheerleaders and belles, and we all hate Harlingen.

So how is it that we can be unified in sporting and extracurricular activities as well as supportive of members of the community during their time of need but so heavily divided in matters that concern the entire town? Of course, I’m talking about education, economic development, infrastructure and emergency services. Should we not be as united, as enthusiastic about these issues as we are about the Greyhounds? Should we not find it in our hearts to extend a hand of kindness to our leaders, and our leaders to their constituents? I often find that some people’s initial reaction to anything they disagree with is to undermine and ridicule. These tendencies, however, go beyond passion and arrogance, pride and prejudice. Consider the irony in the fate we’ve made for ourselves, that while so much work has been completed to advance the city we’re still defined by the controversies spawned from said work.

San Benito is a city of music, art, culture, free spirit and, yes, good people. It’s where you can drive down a street and find some of the best pan dulce around, an old school conjunto dance hall and a place for local alternative bands to play all within a two-block radius.

In fact, it’s interesting to note that the idea for this column came when I was listening to the new Atoms For Peace album. I thought to myself, “If only I could get School Board President Yliana G. Rodriguez and Vice President Anna Cruz in the same room, or Chuy Aguilera and trustee Oscar Medrano.” I was so moved by one particular song on the album that I believed, in my mind, that the music could act as a sort of icebreaker, something everyone in the room could enjoy despite their differences – sort of like the way we all find common ground when rooting for the Greyhounds. And in that moment – when everyone is off guard – maybe, just maybe they’ll listen to reason.

I know it’s naive to wish for this, but it’s better than the alternative: cynicism. So why not “give peace a chance,” as John Lennon once said… or in my scenario, give Atoms For Peace a chance. After all, I refuse to believe that the answer to all the fighting and bickering is more fighting and bickering. This is not San Benito. This is merely how a few people from San Benito, who happen to be in positions of power and influence, react to adversity, sadly.

Read this story in the March 3 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

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    • Get Out on March 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm
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    Huerta’s family member at SBHS is getting everything she wants from the high school principal. Talk about throwing your family’s name around.
    It is real easy to verify this. Just watch for an upcoming agenda item for SBHS….iPads anybody!!

    • Nancy D on March 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm
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    This SBCISD Board is having another special board meeting to approve items. I hope that they are not getting feed Meals at these meetings. More money down the drain.
    There is a board committee meeting tomorrow -Monday- 5:30 concerning more paperwork for TEA. Can’t this district get this right? They gave a $13,000 pay raise to the lady responsible for this and they still can’t get it right!
    I see that on Tuesday the Policy Committee is meeting to get rid of the retire rehire employees. 4 policies are going to change. By the regular board meeting on march 19th, it will be too late for anyone to voice their concerns.
    Insurance agent on the agends for Tuesday along with an energy savings company that last time this came up, a board member voiced his concerns, and it stopped. But, when dinner meals are paid for, just see the pictures, anything is fair game for our tax dollars! And get this, a new truck… Was it in the August budget and if so, why are we buying it now?

    • Petra S on March 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm
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    Mr. Editor, I hope you or your staff will be at the SBCISD board committee meetings this week. You will see the people who the BOARD President has in mind to hire at the upcoming board meeting. She would certainly be surprise to see you there or SB NEWS. I hope June A figures out the 3″s plan. They are setting her up for May 2014. We can’t wait! The “friends” are talking.

    • WeThePeople on March 3, 2013 at 11:32 am
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    I couldn’t disagree more, Mr Editor.
    Take off your rose colored glasses for a moment, and consider the following.
    It has nothing to do with “peace” and our community, and everything to do with honesty and accountability.
    When those in elected office use their position to fuel their own egos and exploit the system for whatever they can get for themselves or their compadres, you can forget about peace.
    As long as you have individuals in these positions that are vindictive, hateful people as they spend significant time figuring ways to retaliate against those that oppose them, you can forget about peace.
    I do agree with one of your statements, Mr. Editor: it’s naive to wish for this.
    Long Live John Lennon.

    1. I think you misunderstood the title of this column. It’s supposed to represent common ground, finding something (such as the Greyhounds or our propensity to help others during times of crisis) that we can all agree on and move forward from there. Besides, it’s far better to have faith in this city as opposed to remaining cynical, to be hopeful as opposed to becoming jaded — even if it is naive. I believe in my hometown in a spirit that others do not. It’s unfortunate that more do not feel the same way. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your commentary.

    • Reforming San Benito on March 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm
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    Excellent editorial, Mr. Rodriguez. Thank you for identifying and bringing to the fore the crux of what is lacking in our city today: The heart and spirit exhibited by the school district employees and this community is not reflected in our leadership.

    The unity and passion we feel for our sports teams is a reflection of the honest effort put forth by each boy and girl in the spirit of competition. Win, lose or draw it does not really matter for, in the end, we find pride and community in the transparently honest efforts of our youth.

    We are a community of humble people. Many of this community are direct descendants of migrant workers and grew up working the fields themselves. This is largely a blue-collar city, not a population of the privileged class. Some know how to read, some do not. Some have college educations, many do not. What this community does have that is greater than what many other communities have is a sense of caring for one another and an honest work effort. The people know when another is giving an honest effort and when they are not. They champion the honest effort and distance themselves from those who fake it.

    What we have now are leaders who believe they are privileged, which is why we cannot champion them. They take our tax resources and spend them outside our community in places like Rancho Viejo, Austin, China and who knows where else when our very own boys and girls are on the verge of losing a club that is valuable to their development and sense of community.

    These privileged leaders are awarded $10,000 raises when others get none. They are awarded assistants, and assistants to assistants. These privileged leaders borrow money and indebt this community deeper on the pretense of fixing our streets, then authorize the purchase of new vehicles which were not budgeted prior to borrowing the money to fix our streets.

    These privileged leaders believe they can circumvent policy, rules and laws and not have to answer to the community. They ignore requests by our media, our de facto voice who we trust to keep us apprised of what is happening in our community. They ignore our requests for answers as if we are not relevant, and when they do answer, it’s usually double-speak or outright deception.

    Our current leaders, city and school board — save Mrs. Cruz, Mr. Medrano, Mr. Leal — do not reflect the values of this community. Our parents taught us to care about one another, as evidenced by the actions of the district employees. They taught us the Bible and God’s word, to be humble not arrogant, answer when spoken to, work hard for what we want and respect the efforts of those putting forth effort. These are the values that define the people of San Benito, which our leaders either seemed to have forgotten or never learned.

    As the Bible teaches us, the meek shall inherit the earth. Come May 2014, the meek shall inherit the seats up for election.

    • Alvin on March 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm
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    About the children my foot! When that gang of 4 travels they take everyone and more to the conferences. I sure hope SBCISD is not paying a dime for any extra rooms. Hear again about the DISTRICT CREDIT CARD that BOARD PRESIDENT wants. All board members get reimburse when they return. I hope that has not changed. Guess someone needs to ask that question to the supt. or at a board meeting.

    • Danny R on March 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm
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    Richard, you have got to be kidding! What about this whole mess does that GANG of 4 NOT GET! We have not forgotten what TEA TOLD YOU MRS. PRESIDENT. Doing a RFQ was just a way to hide the final plan. If they placed it at a special board meeting then that is going too far. Let us just see if it will be on March 19. Mrs. Board President, when are you going to learn? TEA will be getting a call and a copy of this agenda thanks to you Mrs. Board President Elementary Principal at LOS FRESNOS CISD.

    • Richard on March 2, 2013 at 11:29 am
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    I read the agendas posted for next week. Guess who is on the agenda? The insurance agent! Let me see, could SIG be the new agent. Let me predict, julian will somehow make the motion June will second and the vote will be 4 – 2. Remember it is all about children and traveling to conferences for the four. I am sure new agent will host many a dinner at the conferences, not illegal just the way it is.

    • Sergio P on March 2, 2013 at 10:59 am
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    Yes, I too believe. If we all join together WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
    However, where are the actions of all those people 1,000+ who voted these SBCISD and City officials into office? Where do they stand? If those 1,000+ voters are not outraged by their elected officials then as a community where do we go?

    • Sergio P on March 2, 2013 at 10:53 am
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  1. I was born and raised in San Benito. I’m aware of what this city’s people are capable of; I just happen to believe they’re capable of more. That’s something I believe we can all agree on, I hope.

    • ART on March 2, 2013 at 9:32 am
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    I agree Sergio P!

    We’re not in Kansas anymore!!

    So true and so sad!!

    • Mister X on March 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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    “This is merely how a few people from San Benito, who happen to be in positions of power and influence, react to adversity, sadly.”

    Any person, who got into their position with the promise of power and influence, will react badly when faced with adversity that goes against the brightly-polished facade they worked so hard to create, and they will fight to the death to make sure that illusion will never be shattered. It takes a brave person – not the ones you mentioned, alas – who will say, ‘I know I did wrong, and I am sorry.’ and will work to fix the problems they created.

    • Sergio P on March 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm
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    Mr. Editor, The “so called elected leaders” in this community do not care to ask anyone, except their close friends (just go have breakfast or lunch with them in town) what is the climate of the town or district. The SBCISD Board members, especially the board president, as a group are to blame. They have disrespected the many many dedicated employees of this district. I being one of them.
    Word on the street is that the Huerta’s family member at SBHS is getting everything she wants from the high school principal. Talk about throwing your family’s name around. We are here to educated all children not just the children of specific families. It is real easy to verify this. Just watch for an upcoming agenda item for SBHS. Let’s see who is willing to risk it by doing the right thing and question the logic with 12 weeks of school yet.
    Mr. Editor, your words are perfect. The only problem with them is that you forgot you’re not in Kansas anymore…you’re in San Benito.

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