Claremont Insider: Wilderness Park Mail

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wilderness Park Mail

We got a note the mail from a thoughtful, concerned reader responding to Tuesday's post about the damage in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park:

SUBJECT: Scraping the Wilderness Park
DATE: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:30 AM
TO: Claremont Buzz

Hi Buzz -

Yesterday you wrote: "If a private landowner had done what the city did, these groups [you mentioned Sierra Club, Claremont Heritage; I'd add the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy, since I'm a board member] would be all over the hapless private party. But since it's the city creating the damage, they hold their tongues, giving tacit approval to the actions with their silence."

I don't think it's a matter of holding tongues and giving approval. Rather, I think it's shock that something so egregious happened, and no one really knows where to go or what to do. It's one of the Insider's founding tenets: who does the City report to? And why do the individuals working for the City hide behind the fa├žade of 'The City'?

It's also somewhat analogous to a family of kids (all of us) and parents (the great city of Claremont). When a private landowner (a kid) does something wrong, then -- yes -- another kid (Sierra Club, etc.) tells on them to the parent (the city), and there are repercussions. Who was that guy who took his own bulldozer up to his property below Johnson's Pasture and scraped off some 'picnic' areas? That was quickly reported to the City and stopped.

But what do you do when you witness your parents do something terribly wrong? Who do you go tell? Well, if my memory serves me, you whisper to your siblings and friends, and you wake up each day feeling a bit more disillusioned about your upbringing.

I think that's what the silence is here. It's not approval. It's dumbfoundedness. Maybe you tell the Claremont Insider and take some pictures, but is there a top-down state organization that can give the City a penalty? Don't think so. Is there a bottom-up grass roots groundswell of disapproval that can change this outcome -- either current or future? What is the outcome if the Sierra Club or Claremont Heritage drafts a statement of disapproval of the City's actions? Not much, truth be told.

As with all analogies, this family one breaks down when you push it far enough. We're not kids. The City isn't our parent. We're all adults here. The City is supposed to work FOR us. I'm sad and disillusioned.