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The next generation

Randy Ertll announced his resignation from El Centro de Accion Social. Eight years ago, when Randy took the helm, I thought, “Change is coming.”  I looked forward to supporting this young leader (as I had with his predecessor, Linda Ramos) with new ideas and energy for social change and the promise of developing new forms of movement building. Looking at leadership across generations gives us a chance to discover a new vision, ideas and skills to build on.     

Different generations with similar visions have their own touchstones that they share with their own cohort. The touchstones include the ways they see an issue, cultural norms, communication approaches and change strategies. In my multigenerational cohort, we endorse values of appreciation, inquiry, justice, fairness, equity, sustainability and linkages to education. Collectively we offer voice and scale to marginalized and disenfranchised populations. Social change/justice activities unite staff and stakeholders as participants in praxis. Education is the heartbeat that sustains us.

Randy Ertll is an author and plays a critical role in our ever-changing multicultural community. For eight years Ertll offered the opportunity for public officials, business leaders and stakeholders to challenge their preconceptions about what leadership talent looks like. Leading a nonprofit should generate excitement and fulfillment but it takes work to develop a methodology to work across generational divides. It’s critical to acknowledge that each generation sees leadership issues and approaches from their experience and intuition. Ertll is no different.

Mayor Bogaard may have a different vision of the core mission of El Centro de Accion Social in supporting education for young Latinos in Pasadena. Educacion extends far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. What Ertll brought to El Centro and gave freely to the community is the willingness to embrace diversity, differences and launch a grassroots movement that seeks to build awareness and provide opportunities to develop the next generation of leaders.




Kinder, gentler milk

In a recent editorial for JAMA Pediatrics, David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, points out that people can get plenty of calcium, vitamin D and protein from healthy plant-based foods, including leafy greens, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, and they don’t need to drink cow’s milk — which is often a significant source of additional sugar and calories. I hope his comments will prompt more people to wean themselves from cow’s milk and eat tasty vegan foods instead.  

Cow’s milk isn’t healthy for humans — it contains saturated fat and cholesterol and has been linked to a variety of health problems, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, asthma, bronchitis and even osteoporosis. This is because animal protein and sodium leech calcium from the bones, causing bone deterioration. 

Dairy-free milks are healthier — and kinder — than cow’s milk. Soy, almond and rice milks contain calcium, iron, fiber, potassium, and other essential nutrients — but not the cholesterol or excess fat or sodium found in cow’s milk. They’re cruelty-free, too. See peta.org for more information and free vegan recipes and product suggestions.   




The T-word

In a story I read recently, the author states, “The word ‘tranny’ ... elicits the same reaction from a transgender person that the n-word or ‘faggot’ elicits from an African American or homosexual.”   

If this is the case — if the reaction is the same and the intention is the same — why is it OK to print “tranny” and “faggot” but not OK to print the “n-word”? It’s an interesting question. Why is it still OK to say “tranny” instead of “t-word” or “fag” instead of “f-word”?

Surely, making this kind of distinction between these three equally offensive labels lessens the implied badness of two of them. Isn’t this perhaps part of the reason that LGBTQ rights are still so undervalued in this country?




The First Amendment
of Facebook

I feel compelled to respond to a letter regarding Facebook and the First Amendment. It appears the author has the concept backwards.    

Our founding forefathers wrote our Constitution so we would not again suffer tyranny. If you disagreed with the King, heads would roll.

Years later, our First Amendment continues to be vital for our free society, as it allows us, the people, to speak our minds without fear and, yes, even be critical of elected or appointed public officials.

The First Amendment allows us to enjoy freedom of speech, just like writing a spiffy letter to an editor without worry of beheading (whew!). Because of this great amendment, we enjoy a free press. We can say whatever we feel, even on social media, regardless of whether or not it may haunt us. Twitter away. 

Yet, however you dice it, the First Amendment protects free speech regarding public officials. Washington was called a murderer; Jefferson a knave and insane; Henry Clay, a pimp; Andrew Jackson, an adulterer; Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant were called drunkards; Lincoln was called a half-witted baboon and a ghoul; Roosevelt, a traitor; Eisenhower was charged with being an agent of the communist conspiracy. 

Poor taste? Probably. An American tradition and protected speech? Yes. 

Our First Amendment was not set up to protect a public official’s Facebook information (of any party) from being discussed. Political discussion of public officials who serve the people is a constitutionally protected right and one of our proudest and most valued American traditions.

Thank you, First Amendment — we have not forgotten your greatness due to the clamor over No. 2.


~ Michael Vail, Ventura



Re: “Filling the void,” June 20

It’s interesting to note the strides that Asian Americans and Latinos have made in elected office in Pasadena’s neighboring cities in the San Gabriel Valley. Former Congresswoman Hilda Solis and current Congresswoman Judy Chu come to mind.  However, it seems that as long as people stay in their places and don’t stir up controversy, everything is fine. An activist long ago made a point about stirring up the comfortable establishment and siding with the outsiders of that time. In fact, many of today’s establishment leaders probably worship this activist every Sunday. 



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