Claremont Insider: Church & State, Revisited

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Church & State, Revisited

From the More Things Change file:

The Insider has learned that the circle of people officially associated with the Yes on Measure CL campaign has widened from the original three - Bill Fox, Mike Seder, and Lee Jackman - to include insurance agent and Claremont 400 heavyweight Randy Prout, former Claremont United Church of Christ pastor and current city Human Services commissioner Butch Henderson (photo, left), and former Human Services Chair Suzanne Hall, wife of the ubiquitous Ken Corhan.

We shouldn't be surprised to see Prout or Henderson or Hall/Corhan, popping up in the Measure CL campaign. All were associated with the 2005 Preserve Claremont campaign that tried to derail the candidacy of Claremont city council member Corey Calaycay. We should also remember that the PC campaign was as much about censoring council member Jackie McHenry and keeping then-City Manager Glenn Southard in charge as it was concerned with barring Calaycay from the council.

That the current school bond campaign and its supporters don't mind twisting the truth shouldn't come as a surprise either. During the 2005 city council election and after, Henderson, who seemed to use his position in our town's main church to unduly influence people to support the Claremonsters' agenda, was a spokesperson for the Preserve Claremont campaign and was quoted in the Claremont Courier on 2/19/05. In that article, Henderson admitted not only that his campaign employed manipulative tactics, but that such games are a natural part of any political campaign, even one involving the Claremont UCC's head pastor:

Mr. Henderson responded to a complaint he had heard that the [Preserve Claremont] ads were "manipulative".

"Of course they are," he said. "That's what politics is all about. Claremonters like things to be real nice. They say, 'Let's do powerbrokering behind the scenes and be real nice.' But politics is about leaders. Mr. Calaycay s running for office and we're trying to get factual information out about him."

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It mattered not a whit that the "factual information" Henderson alluded to consisted of nothing more than rumor, innuendo, and outright lies, much of which was supplied by city staff. But, rather than being shocked that a former man of the cloth would engage in such self-acknowledged manipulations, we should expect it.

We can't help but recall the last Claremont Unified School District Measure Y bond campaign in 2000. During that lead up to that campaign, school district officials held a public meeting at which residents who lived near Claremont High School showed up to protest the planned use of Measure Y money to put a football stadium in at the high school.

When it became clear during the meeting that the football facility plans were going to imperil Measure Y's passage, the district officials took a break, held a quick sideline huddle with Superintendent Keeler calling signals, and then reconvened to assure the audience that no Measure Y dollars would be used for the high school stadium. At that meeting, one Butch Henderson, who happened to live very near the high school, stood up and said he was happy with the district officials' plan to accommodate his neighbors.

With no opposition from the Towne Ranch neighborhood, Measure Y passed by a little more than 100 votes citywide. Within a matter of a few years, the district, flush with Measure Y dollars, installed the permanent football field, lights, and bleachers at the high school. In fact construction workers are installing a second course of permanent seating right now.

So, yes, the neighborhood was lied to. But in Claremont anything associated with the school district approaches a certain religious fervor, complete with a kind of priesthood to deliver CUSD's holy word. The truth is whatever that priesthood says it is. As Pastor Henderson could tell them, all's fair in politics and war.

Not a Stadium