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  Commentary April 1st, 2010

The Editor 

Mr. Pennywhistle

All of the tv stations from San Diego came . . . Evelyn and I dropped our normal Tuesday night routine of finishing the paper for transmittal to the printer, just so we could attend.

The Megan's Law Forum was held at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, in the beautiful 1500 seat theatre (about 40% full, probably 10% of that figure was media).

A waste of time and resources.

We had panelists: Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler, Senator Mark Wyland, Assemblyman Nate Fletcher, Chief of Police Jim Maher, High School Superintendent Ed Nelson, and Elementery School Superintendent Jennifer Walters. The program was moderated by Mayor Pro-tem Dick Daniels.

Anytime you have five or six panelists and attempt to have each of them speak to a given issue, you just blew a hole in the boat. Can't be done and get anything meaningful accomplished. It was nothing but a big show and accomplished very little.

There were presentations that went on way too long, political posturing, comments made that were common sense answers to simple questions; one did not need a forum for that.

Only one panelist really hit the mark:
Assemblyman Nate Fletcher. He spoke of the need for changing sentencing laws, locking the violent sexual predators up for life without parole; they cannot be rehabilitated.

Big applause.

Diverting money to building more prisons . . . instead of $500 million for couches, desks, etc, spend it on prisons and parole officers, rework the prison budget system. We spend $45,000 per year per prisoner . . . other states do it for half. We also have grossly overpaid prison guards (thanks to political payoffs) . . . and enforcement of existing laws as well as the newer, stronger laws.

Big applause.

Sadly, these laws can’t be passed overnight. They have to go through the legislative process and that takes forever. If the legislature drops the ball then we will have to go the initiative process and the people will get the job done.

We did get to pass out a lot of our current issue of the paper, which deals with Registered Sex Offenders living amongst us. So I supposed that was worth something.

But, if I had it to do over, I would not have gone. It wasted my time and I don't like people to waste my time.

Meetings, if they are good meetings, accomplish something. Not just talk.

The intentions were good. The people who put this all together were great. I have the greatest admiration for George Weir, who developed the idea, for the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, and the various sponsors who supported it. Individually, each panelist is an outstanding member of the community. But we wasted their talent. We wasted a resource. The format needs to be reworked.

We didn’t do diddly squat.

And that’s not a good result form any meeting, let alone a community forum that hopes to help solve a major community problem.

Nice try. But the forum, even with all that talent behind it and partipating in the effort, was a bust.

We can do better.

We need to rework the format, get a realistic presentation put together, provide for more Questions and Answers, and involve the public more than the officials. Then it just might fly.





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