Claremont Insider: Where Are They Now?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where Are They Now?

Claremont, being a just and righteous city, has no tolerance for people who get involved in smear campaigns. People who spread lies and misrepresentations during campaigns end up deservedly shunned. Or do they?

Homer "Butch" Henderson was a spokesperson for the Preserve Claremont campaign in 2005. That group was a political action committee with two goals: censor then-Councilmember Jackie McHenry, and defeat council candidate Corey Calaycay. They failed in both, but many of them were around again in this year's city election engaging in a below-the-radar campaign in support of Mayor Peter Yao and candidates Linda Elderkin and Sam Pedroza, both of whom won election. They also succeeded in their other goal of defeating Councilmember Jackie McHenry's bid for re-election.

Back in 2005, Henderson was still the head pastor at the Claremont United Church of Christ (UCC). He must not have believed in the separation of church and state because he seemed to use his position in the community to try to garner support for the Preserve Claremont effort. Also involved as spokespersons were Claremont Human Services Chair Valerie Martinez and Councilmember Paul Held, who similarly seemed to think they could parlay their official positions into support for their smear campaign.

Even when the backlash against Preserve Claremont began, Henderson never renounced the Preserve group or their tactics. Never once did he speak publicly about the false information his group published in a full-page Courier ad.

And, after the election, after then-City Manager Glenn Southard had resigned and left for a position with the city of Indio, Henderson gave a long sermon on Good Shepherd Sunday, 2005, on the subject of leaders who were good shepherds. In his sermon Henderson mentioned such good shepherds as Moses, David, Jesus, and...Glenn Southard! What select company!

Since that time, Henderson has retired from the pastorizing business. Now he's occupying himself by being the chair of Claremont's Youth Master Plan Steering Committee. In addition, the recently updated Youth Master Plan also had the input of such Claremont 400 luminaries as former Mayor Suzan Smith, current Councilmember Ellen Taylor, Claremont Board of Education President Joan Presecan, Board of Education member Steve Llanusa J. Michael Fay, Helaine Goldwater, and Teddie Warner.

The powers-that-be in town apparently have forgiven Butch for his non-transgression (in their eyes), at least enough to put him in charge of the Youth Master Plan Update.

Do they extend the same charity of spirit towards the victims of their Preserve Claremont campaign of 2005 and their whispering campaigns this year? How about it Butch? The quality of mercy is not strained....


Ironically, page 6 of the Youth Master Plan Scorecard indicates that as far as decreasing "incidents of intolerance of differences," the community needs to improve. Ya think? Or as another Homer would say, "D'oh!"

How about we start by acknowledging the intolerance on the parts of our own community leaders? This group self-righteously lays claim to an almost saintly level of tolerance, but is itself guilty of the worst sort of clannish, small-town pettiness. We think we all can do better.