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The Churches in Unity against San Bernardino City Council

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Hardy L. BrownThe Holy Scripture teaches us to be careful how we mess with the anointed ones, chosen by God, to teach, lead and shepherd their flocks. As you know, the San Bernardino city council led by city attorney Jim Penman and council member Wendy McCammack gave the First Church of Nazarene and its Pastor David Rhone an ultimatum soiled with half truths and false accusations to tarnish their 90 year good reputation in the city.

To me as a believer, God decided this was one issue where His chosen ones must take a stand against a city government decision to regulate who can or cannot attend their religious institutions. Unlike anything I have seen since the police killing of Tyisha Miller in Riverside has the clergy spoken so united against local government. They came to the podium last Monday evening one by one to voice condemnation, disbelief, outrage and disappointment with the council. They were Nazarene, Baptist, Pentecostal , Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominational of al l races and genders speaking for the council to rescind and apologize for their actions. However, prior to the clergy speaking, council member Rikke Van Johnson gave a compelling speech for his motion to rescind the previous ultimatum action of the council with an apology to the church and pastor. Before he could finish, a second came from Dennis Baxter and Tobin Brinker. That set the stage for the public to let their voices be heard.

As they spoke for and some against the action of the council , it occurred to me that people forget the church and its members are citizens who pay taxes. The church is made up of doctors, lawyers, educators, business leaders, union workers, publishers, elected officials and voters al l trying to help our fellow citizens with obtaining a better life. The church has a higher responsibility to protect the rights and freedoms of its members when it comes to rights. So when the council made its decision with the ultimatum it crossed the line of governing of the people to dictating to the people and the church said no way.

So in a five vote for and two against the council rescinded its previous action of an ultimatum to the Church of the Nazarene.

City Attorney Penman crossed the line that organized crime never crossed and that was messing with the church. However, after listening to Penman’s 20 minute response to their criticism, he sounded like Pharaoh when Moses went to free the Israelites. His heart got harder. Instead of Penman apologizing and moving on, he rationalized why he was right in what he did. It was a great day in the history of the city to see the Faith based community come together in support of justice and good government. And for you Mr. Penman you don’t mess with the anointed.

Virginia Marquez for 1st Ward

I have known Esther Estrada since the sixties when she was active in organizing and confronting the establishment for better government on behalf of the voiceless. She has, over the past years, served the citizens well while gaining valuable experience as a council member. While this is great Esther, it appears to me she has lost the zeal in her approach to exercising that experience on the council thus losing her influence. She has become more of a follower than a leader. Al so Esther has not attempted to engage in building relationships with the Black community within her ward which comprises a substantial portion of the citizens.

Now we have a newcomer in Virginia Marquez seeking to provide a fresh look at some old issues we face in the city. Virginia is new to politics but not the city and area. Her experience from working in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation could be that much needed asset as we tackle those seeking reentry back into our community. She presents herself as a person who is willing to listen before jumping to quick action as the council did recently with the Church of Nazarene.

The first ward has many issues in need of new energy and a cooperative approach with others on the council as we move forward. Therefore, I urge the citizens in the first ward to elect Virginia Marquez.

Fred Shorett for the 4th Ward

Fred Shorett is new on the council for just four months but is no stranger to the community of San Bernardino. He is a native of the city and has retired as a business owner and has a lot of experience that can help our city recover from years of bickering politics. During his short time on the council , Fred has shown constraint in some of the discussions of knee jerk reactions that have surfaced. Even during the Nazarene discussion, he cautioned the council that we pay staff to do a job and he does not expect them to cal l him on everything in the city. It is clear he wants to set policy and procedures for staff to follow and then al low them to do their job, while holding them accountable for their actions. This is sound policy setting and practices for council members to follow.

Therefore, I urge the citizens in the fourth ward to keep Fred Shorett as their city council member.

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