Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Myth; The Legend, Reality

I laugh every time "Anonymous" posts a belief or information they want people to believe to be factual and accurate. I cringe at times when these posts are directed at people who have little if any opportunity to defend themselves. I have not edited, deleted or in any other way censored comments to my BLOG (two exceptions related to a known person making a comment meant to hurt someone). Rumors in law enforcement circles can take on a life of their own. The myths that grow from these rumors grow to folk lore status. Legends are made as well as demons.

In my 30+ years with the San Diego Police Department I have heard my share of rumors. I have heard the stories that produced these many legends and created as many demons. Many of the actions that elevated these people to "Legend" status generally had some kernel of truth, but over the years the story had morphed into something that vaguely resembles the actual event. Rumors generally start these stories, as the story is passed from one set of lips to an open ear; jumbled in a brain half soaked in alcohol; then repeated with a harmless detail being either added or deleted to make the story more entertaining or important.

There were the people who wanted to create their own "Legend Status" and would embellish upon an incident to make it bigger than reality. There was a Lieutenant who retired and moved to Washington who comes to mind. His was a storied career if you listened to him tell the story. He became a legend, even if only in his own mind. This person was slipping in status and stature and sought to increase his "Legendary Status." He became the center of attention in the mid-eighties when he alleged officers from the SDPD kidnapped him from his home in Washington, shot him in the ear, leaving him for dead, in an attempt to assassinate him for reasons that today are still not clear. Reality is, it never happened as described, but he achieved his "Legend" status and was the focus of attention for quite some time.

In 2006, I retired from the Poway Unified School District's Board of Education (PUSD). I served for twelve years (3 terms) and always held the belief members of the Board of Education should have a vested interest by having children in the schools, to serve on the board. My children had both graduated and I had served my time. I announced my retirement from PUSD and made plans to focus on my responsibility at the time of representing officers as a Director for the SDPOA. When I announced my retirement from the PUSD, I was interviewed by a news reporter who asked if I had any other plans for politics. I said I had considered running for the City Council and would explore that possibility in the future. These comments were seized upon by a couple of POA members who found this to be some sort of conflict (serving as a board member for the POA and exploring a run for City Council). I found myself defending a statement of future aspirations and what effect if any this would have on my ability to represent the members.

Let's fast forward to comments made in my last BLOG post. Someone (Anonymous) asked if I would consider running for Mayor in 2012. Flattered someone would think I could be a candidate in 2012. Reality is that person was most likely just home from the bars and was sporting a nice buzz at 0207 hours and not thinking clearly. But I appreciate the support all the same. Then "Fed Up City Employee" posted they heard somewhere I had considered a run for city council and would I still consider doing so. I can't use the same argument; Fed Up posted at 0921 hours. Maybe this poster is an old timer still working patrol and just got home from working graveyard and stopping off to have a couple of stress reducing beverages and just got home feeling the same buzz. Then an Anonymous poster writes, "Can anyone say skeletons?" I am not sure, but I believe this person was making a comment about my skeletons, in some way insinuating this would be a deterrent for such an action.

I am fortunate to live in a house large enough to have multiple walk in closets to house all of those skeletons. But as I move from closet to closet and change the Fabreeze odor reducers, I take stock of these "Skeletons" and their importance in who I was, who I have become and who cares. I laugh at many of these "skeletons" and how some became legend and reality from myth. I am not going to deny I have done and said some stupid things over my 30 years around this organization. I am not going to hide from the mistakes I have made in my life and place blame with others or shirk my culpability for these transgressions. The difficult task is addressing those skeletons created through myth and becoming legend. I laugh often at comments and actions attributed to me. If R.D. Brown did half of what has been attributed to him, he would first be over 100 years old and second he would either be in jail or dead. I feel like R.D. at times.

Make no mistake about my skeletons; I have them like all of us do. I do not have any that would cause me to shy from making a run for City Council. I am pretty much an open book and have accepted responsibility for my shortcomings and while I may not be perfect (OK, not even close) I would challenge anyone who is, to step forward and make a difference. Speaking to the issue of seeking a seat on the City Council, I am flattered when people ask me if I would consider doing so. I have spoken at length about the possibility of making a run at District One's seat on the City Council. I have explored options and discussed with various individuals that possibility.

Today, December 20, 2009, I have no plans and very little desire to take on that challenge. The "Anonymous" posters who cast stones and aspersions while slinking behind a computer screen, have such little credibility, their words and veiled threats are meaningless. My reasons for declining to thrust myself into that arena are many. The least of which are my skeletons or the anonymous posters. The ability for one person to affect the change necessary to rite this sinking ship is far more than my abilities and temperament would allow. I also refuse to adhere to the play book of either the Republicans or Democrats. I am a registered Republican and would not prostitute myself or my beliefs to garner their endorsement. I refuse to change my affiliation to Democrat and am left with moving to Independent or "refuse to state" to garner support. The seat is currently held by a Democrat and the Republicans are working to find a stalwart supporter of Sanders and the agenda of the downtown power brokers. That person is NOT me.

I am growing more concerned each day with the tone of those elected to represent our interests. The continued bashing of city employees and our wages and benefits by the press and politicians has grown tiresome. The lack of honest dialogue and refusal to make structural changes, have created a hostile work environment. The press and politicians have all found fault with promises made over years of negotiations and rather than offer solutions and reasonable modifications, have simply taken the politically expedient road by eliminating years of earned benefits and wages. The continued call for reductions and elimination of wages and benefits resonates with those taxpayers who have found themselves struggling to survive. Lacking solutions, we are left to defend the status quo which is a no win situation. We must move past that and offer reasoned changes to our benefits. To do otherwise is giving in and giving up.

The Board of Directors with the SDPOA is working hard to address issues of importance to its members. What is important? To me, the issue of "Retiree Medical Insurance" is the most pressing issue needing a solid answer. Being one of those hired before 1986, the retiree medical issue needs to be addressed before any other. To an officer who has twelve to fifteen years of service, this may not be the issue of most importance to them. Preservation of benefits should be the number one priority of all of us. To do this, we must be willing to find ways to sacrifice in areas less important so the future can be preserved. If the City moves to eliminate retiree medical in this year's contract, you can be assured there will be another exodus of officers from an already decimated department. The mayor knows this and does not care. If anything, in his eyes, it is a plus to eliminate those in the DROP or at retirement age from the city's payroll. The need to seek a solution to this pressing issue could not be greater.