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Whose Interest Does Baca Serve?

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By Hardy L. Brown

The moment my wife Cheryl announced her candidacy for the newly created 47th State Assembly District last year, I understood I could not be my usual candid self when it came to criticizing her opponents in my weekly editorial in this newspaper. While there were many instances that warranted criticism, my small editorial board would suggest a different course, and I was able to get through the primary election in virtual silence.

As a community newspaper publisher, I have been known to have a word or two to say when our elected officials make decisions that I believe are detrimental to the community we represent as well as words of praise when they do well. For decades I have interviewed candidates for the highest statewide offices to those running for local school boards and water boards. I am not swayed by the party affiliation, race, or gender. For 12 years I was an elected member of the San Bernardino Unified School Board of Trustees, governing one of the largest school districts in the state of California, so I understand the sense of civic duty and commitment to citizens that a person must possess to be a good elected representative. I call on that experience as part of my decision making process. I also talk to individuals who offer endorsements to learn more about the merits of the candidate.

With that said, this past weekend something happened that has caused me to lift my silence, primarily because Joe Baca Jr., the other democratic opponent in the race for the 47th, decided to attack me personally and the newspaper I own in an open meeting. I endorsed Bill Batey for Assembly and John Tavaglione for Congress, both Riverside area Republicans where my paper is headquartered, and according to Mr. Baca Jr. that angered the Democratic Speaker of the Assembly.

Now I do not recall this paper being paid for by the Democratic or Republican Party so I do not answer to any political figure, no political party, and no surrogates representing any one party. The last time I checked, none of them signed checks for my company nor do they pay any bills. In fact, they can’t even claim to advertise at any level of significance. Baca Jr’s tone was clearly one of intimidation, unfortunately a political tactic he learned from Baca Sr. who has been known to threaten anyone who doesn’t follow his wishes.

Both Bacas should understand that intimidation doesn’t work with me. Just ask George Pepper, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He tried the same tactics back in the 80s when I first bought the paper and worked at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana and openly advocated for good healthcare jobs for people of color – Blacks, Latinos, and Asians.

As a lifelong registered Democrat who owns the Black Voice Newspaper, I am free to endorse anyone I think will bring the best policies to our community regardless of political party, race, gender, or union membership. And in the case of Bill Batey, I have known him for years and he has been instrumental in championing policies that have brought new industries and jobs to Riverside County in his position on the March Joint Powers Commission. I also have known John Tavaglione and his family for decades and respect their multi-generational commitment to economic development and public service. I recall when the Tavaglione’s supported Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for governor but the San Bernardino Democratic Central Committee at the time wouldn’t support him because of race. I remember clearly, the late Bob Minnick warned them that race should not be a factor in their decision, but they didn’t listen.

I see similar problems with the San Bernardino Central Committee of today and I hope the state party leaders will not join in on local political party politics. Unfortunately, it is controlled by Baca Sr. and serves his family’s interests instead of the party’s interests. Too bad there are no Bob Minnick’s to stand up and speak out now.

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