Dear Editor- Sticks and Stones

Dear Editor,

As we approach a very important election day in Culver City, the telltale signs and sounds are everywhere. You’d have to be blind or deaf not to know it. From door to door canvassing to the omnipresent lawn signs and weekly candidate forums, campaigns are in full swing.
On November 8, less than 15% of our eligible voters will turn out to elect two candidates in the 2011 school board election. With so few citizens voting, every vote really does count. Former candidate Roger Maxwell knows this too well, after finishing in a tie with incumbent Stewart Bubar in 2003, each receiving 1141 votes. Roger lost the election in a tie-breaking game of marbles: Stewart drew the only white marble from a full bag, winning the election.
With so much at stake, candidates and their supporters have been forced to become creative with their campaign strategies. And in my opinion, some of this creativeness has gone too far.
Before I continue, I want to everyone who reads this to be clear about a few facts that exist regarding Culver City’s elected officials. This goes for city council and school board.
• The time that they spend, which for most is at least 20 hours per week, is what I would consider volunteered. Do they receive compensation? Yes. I do not know the exact amount, but it is in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars a month and some level of health benefits.
None of our elected officials do their job for the money. So, I would assume that they do it because they care deeply for their community. This goes for those whom I support and those whom I disagree with. I am deeply grateful for their time.
• Regarding time, one must also acknowledge that the 20+ hours per week that these individuals spend helping our community is 20+ hours per week that they are not spending with their families, relaxing, watching TV, going to the gym, or a litany of other things.
• All of our candidates and standing school board members are our neighbors. They live in Culver City. Two of our school board members have children who are currently students in our district, and two of the candidates who are not incumbents also have kids in our schools.
Vicious character assaults not only affect them, but it also affects their families; especially those with children in our schools.
I have checked in to Culver City Patch several times daily for the past several months, like a bystander unable to look away from a train wreck. I have personally avoided writing an article for fear of it being tagged with vitriolic digital graffiti, as every article written about our schools or our candidates has.
Individuals in our community have used this and other forums as an opportunity to repeatedly attack the character of our elected officials and those running to replace them. The manner in which this has been done is unequivocally vicious.
In respect to Scott Zeidman, Kathy Paspalis, Laura Chardiet, and Jessica Beagles-Roos, four people whom I have immense respect for and with whom I have spent countless hours donating time and energy towards the betterment of all our schools’ children, I challenge any of the individuals who rant on this and other sites to use restraint, character, and above all civility when speaking about them and others.
Holding an elected office is a thankless job, and you enter into it knowing that not every decision will be popular. You also know that you will receive criticism along the way. However, this does not mean that it is right or humane to continually attack these people in a public forum because you have a grievance with them.
Some of the comments I read on this site go beyond the pale, and I am amazed to read that they also come from people who have children. I don’t know how I would explain myself to my kids if they could attribute some of these words to me. With that consideration, I implore readers here to consider your words with gravity. They can and do hurt, they can and do debase our community, and they can be destructive.

Dan O’Brien

Editor’s Note- Crossroads fully supports the expression of political opinions within the limits of what we consider civilization. There are big advantages to maintaining one’s manners, and we appreciate letters that applaud rather than catcall. If you want to be heard, speak well.

The Actors' Gang

1 Comment

  1. thanks Dan!! i appreciate your call to civility, although i’ve seen very little of the negative stuff on this site; it’s mostly on the Patch free-for-all, or the Ari fact-free zone. thank goodness my kids don’t read our yellow journalism online rags.

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