■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
These days, while many casually refer to Hemet as the new “armpit of California,” I like to think of it as the “Gotham City” of the real world. Past and perhaps present corruption, transients roaming our streets at all hours of the day, and criminals running rampant throughout the city at night. It makes me wonder if a Caped Crusader or a Dynamic Duo is what Hemet needs to whip this city back into shape…because the City Council sure as heck isn’t going to get the job done at this rate.
I want to first say that in my one experience speaking with Mayor Linda Krupa, back in November for an interview when she was known as Councilwoman Krupa, she was very sweet and exceptionally pleasant during our entire conversation. Since then, I have maintained that view of her and never saw any reason to think otherwise. However, after the City Council meeting of Feb. 28, my opinion has changed.
At the meeting (see related story in this issue) I, along with other local reporters and a group of Hemet citizens, witnessed a disturbing demonstration of both unjust favoritism and the deliberate alienation of an outspoken citizen.
Was it because Joe Males’ son was a U.S. Marine that he was allowed an extra three minutes to speak? Or was it because the City Council couldn’t stomach another lesson in City Management 101 that Corinna Moreno-Ramirez was denied an extension to speak? I wonder what Mayor Krupa would think if she knew that Corinna has a son currently stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado? Might she and the Council have been more receptive to her constructive criticisms? Either way, screeching “Sit down!” at a woman pleading for justice for her murdered son was simply pathetic.
In the Council’s view, Corinna and Co. are seen as just a series of potholes stretching along the lengthy, winding road that ultimately leads to Hemet’s fantasyland destination of positive image and good PR. Inevitably, the city’s leaders are going to have to hop out and change the tires on their truck to nowhere. Honestly, how many times are these pleas for help going to be ignored? A driver wearing a blindfold can only navigate on basic motor skills for so long before he ends up driving face-first into a wall.
I have met with several of the families brave enough to voice their concerns to city officials, and I can tell you that by hearing the pain in their voices and seeing the disappointment in their eyes, they have not yet received the attention they deserve. I wish I had the ability to tell them that “hey, we’re going to use every resource we can to get justice for [insert name of deceased family member].” The reality is I can only go so far given my position as a reporter.
It’s amazing what you learn attending City Council meetings. Things like how much each Council member adores and draws attention to the “rich” history and culture that resides within our city limits. But if the Estudillos, the Kinneys, the Johnstons, the Mayberrys, the Judsons, and the Whittiers could see Hemet now, they would be ashamed. Ashamed of these atrocities that occur on such a consistent basis in this once great city.
I would like to be proud of this city. I want to trust our police department, and I hope Measure U is the blessing that so many have been praying for. I have nothing against any one member of the Council, and I am no anarchist. I’d love nothing more than to congratulate our city government for its successes and its attention to every single one of its constituents. But right now, I cannot do that. Not when the mourning families of the innocent are being pushed aside, symbolically stomped on, and left to fend for themselves.
Whether the crime is coming from outside (as City Manager Alex Meyerhoff so gratuitously pointed out at the last meeting) or within, the fact is it’s happening on our streets, and more often than not, a Hemet mother wakes up in the morning with one less child.
So who knows? Maybe a crime-fighting, no-nonsense vigilante to clean up these streets is exactly what this city needs; maybe then these families can rest easy. Or maybe I’ve just been reading too many comic books. Whatever the case, the much needed eradication starts with people like Corinna, Joe, Aby Davila, and countless other capeless crusaders. These are the people of whom I am most proud.