Tuesday, August 2, 2016
[Kings County] Opinion: Does character matter in politics?
Blog note: this article references a recent grand jury report.
As we approach a historic election in November on who will be the next president of the United States, one question is asked every year. Does personal character matter in our elected officials. That is a question that seems to take on less relevance with every election cycle.
Americans have become more tolerant of flaws in our elected officials. But does it really matter? We are all human beings, and we know that none of us are perfect.
A perfect example of this question is what's going on our local City Council here in Hanford. For almost a year now allegations have circled around the newly elected city Council person named Francisco Ramirez. The allegations range from wrongfully disclosing his campaign information when he ran for office in 2014, to lying and misrepresenting his educational background and community service. Allegations of wrongdoing on the Hanford city Council are not a new phenomenon. There have been lots of allegations made about local officials over the last several years. Not one of those allegations was ever proven. The only allegation in the last 15 years that was proven to be true forced a Councilman to resign. City Council person Dennis Sanchez reran for election in 2002 and did not reside in the district he wanted to represent. After being charged by the Kings County District Attorney's Office Mr. Sanchez eventually resigned his position.
The allegations against Mr. Ramirez have taken on a new twist. It seems legitimate complaints were filed with the Kings County grand jury, and the Kings County grand jury has investigated those allegations against Mr. Ramirez. In a recent report released by this year's grand jury it found that Mr. Ramirez had filed the wrong campaign statements with the fair political practice commission. The report also found that Mr. Ramirez did not open the appropriate checking account he was supposed to. Mr. Ramirez also admitted to misleading the voters about his educational degrees. Therefore these allegations of wrongdoing are no longer allegations but have been proven to be factual.
The question becomes whether or not misrepresenting one's background, filing the wrong campaign statements, and failing to conform to the rules and regulations set up by state government make a difference. Does anyone really care and is this a big deal? Does it really matter that we have a less than honest city Council person or city Council. And does the city Council care whether one of their own is less than truthful and honest. That's the real question I think. At the beginning of this year Mr. Ramirez on a three to two vote was selected to be the vice Mayor for the city of Hanford. Remember, the position of Mayor and vice Mayor are not voted on by the public. These positions rotate once a year and are selected each year by the five members of the Council themselves. Most people know of the last 20 years this is a very political charged process. Most times the decision on who represents the Council is a political deal cut over coffee or behind-the-scenes. Does who represents the Council to the public really matter to the Council members themselves.
Mr. Ramirez can solve the issue on his own buy just stepping down as vice Mayor and letting the Council choose a new one. But maybe it's better that he doesn't? Let us see how his four colleagues on the Council handle this matter. This situation will tell us a lot about Mr. Ramirez's character, but will also tell us about the character of our city Council.
There's an old saying that controversy builds character. I have found in life that controversy does not build character, but controversy in itself and more often reveals one's character. What is the personal character of our city Council members? And does anyone care.
July 25, 2016
The Hanford Sentinel
By Dan Chin, Hanford resident and former city council; member