When I started this blog I said that from time to time I would comment on current issues that affected the history of Duval County. One such issue, the Pan De Campo, is currently being heatedly debated on Facebook.
Via Facebook my dear friend and classmate José Lauriano Hinojosaasked for my opinion on the subject–as a former mayor of San Diego, which prompted Delia Ibáñezto add her desire to hear from the man who made “Telling It Like It Is” a popular column in the Duval County Picture. To which Carmelinda García added the Duval County Picture would be all over this story.
My initial inclination was to stay out of the fray. As the old saying goes, I don’t have a dog in this hunt or as our ancestors may have said, “no tengo vela en este entierró.” But, alas, I will venture a few comments in deference to my friends’ request. But I will do it my way–which is to say not on Facebook, which I do not believe is the best venue for serious public policy discussions. Instead I will use this blog to share my views.
First, let me say I will not address any of the current controversy. While many may have thought in the past that “Telling It Like It Is” was a column of pure personal opinion, it was not. My opinions were not based merely on what I thought; they were firmly based on what I thought of the facts that I had uncovered first hand. I have no first hand knowledge of what has been transpiring regarding the Pan de Campo Fiesta.
What I do know first-hand is that the Pan de Campo was founded and funded by Duval County specifically to benefit the community. It was never a private enterprise; it was always a community event. When the San Diego Chamber of Commerce took it over, it remained a community event as it did when the Rotary Club took it over. Secondly, the Pan de Campo is not only a community asset, that community is San Diego. In other words it belongs to the people of San Diego and no one else and it should be held in San Diego and nowhere else.
None of this is to criticize the current organizers, merely to acknowledge the facts. Indeed, the current organizers should be applauded for trying to keep the fiesta alive. Whether these efforts were carried out appropriately or not, I have no first hand knowledge.
I would also venture a suggestion to the mayor and city council, moving forward. One idea that I did not have time to implement during my two terms as mayor–because of the tremendous number of pressing problems we were addressing at the time–was the of creation of a “Fiestas Patrias Commission” to oversee, implement and regulate citywide festivals, parades and celebratory events. These would include the Pan De Campo, Fiesta Navideña, Fourth of July activities, homecoming parades, etc.
The city should provide a modest budget for the commission’s operations but most of their operating revenues should come from the events themselves. The commission should be composed of a cross section of citizens committed to the well being of the community. It would be a magnanimous gesture to include the current Pan de Campo promoter as a member of the commission.
Everyone should approach this issue and others like it as a community for the communityand not to bolster personal egos or to advance political agendas.
I can tell you from personal experience that those who serve in public office usually do in a selfless manner. There is no financial gain to serve on the city council. It involves long–and often thankless–hours. Let us remember that these folks came forward and offered themselves to serve, they allowed the community to pass judgment on whether they were worthy and the community said yes.
If these individuals have not lived up to their promise of service, the opportunity to make a change is at the next election. Meanwhile I would suggest that those involved in this debate agree to disagree; that they disagree agreeably.
I pray that everyone agrees to move forward as a community, as family.