I■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
n Hemet, scaring seniors is a surefire way to pass legislation or other issues, either by city council or ballot. Some of you may remember when we lost $7 million dollars to build a library. Councilman Almanrode led the charge by making a big to do about how it would lower the value of homes which scared seniors. The money went to Cathedral City.
Now comes an organization called The Hemet Gatekeepers, operating out of 151 N. Thompson St., across from Weston Park in downtown Hemet. I attended a meeting that appeared to be about crime in Hemet and what to do about it, at Hemet Christian Assembly last Saturday morning.
The audience was mostly seniors, shouting “amen” and “hallelujah” after every other sentence spoken from the podium. I was reminded of the holy-roller prayer meetings I was forced to attend as a child back in the hills and hollows of Southern West Virginia. Speaking from the podium was Pastor Steve Norman (who also heads up Hemet Christian Assembly and The Gatekeepers), Jim Lineberger from Community Pantry, Mayor Linda Krupa, Fire Chief Scott Brown (in uniform), Police Chief Dave Brown (absent uniform) and Councilwoman Karlee Meyer.
It has been a long time since I listened to so many speakers, one after another, relating how God talks to them. If so, maybe if they heeded his advice earlier we might have a better community. I thought church and state were separate organizations and supposed to be kept apart. At least that’s the way I interpret the United States Constitution’s First Amendment.
Maybe I got it wrong.
The subject was about how much crime emanates from Weston Park, which has become the poster child of the City of Hemet’s crime problem. Most of the solutions offered were to condemn the Valley Chronicle’s publishing of facts about the way this city operates. Councilwoman Meyer was the only speaker not to place some kind of blame on this paper for the crime problem in this valley. It is easy to say a newspaper publishes untruths. I would challenge those who attack us to show us where we were untruthful and I’m sure our editorial staff would issue a public apology.
Seniors in the audience were “amening” as though the Holy Ghost had just landed in their midst. How easy it is to persuade some folks, especially in a church. I got nothing against anyone’s religions or beliefs, but mixing government and religion makes me want to puke.
If they really want to clean up “crime” in Weston Park, put some cameras and night lights in it and monitor them from Hemet Police Headquarters. Doesn’t Measure “U” provide for that kind of public safety?
I moved here 34 years ago and have grown to love this city and its friendly people, and have made more friends here than anywhere else I’ve lived in my 93 years – but sometimes city government tries my patience. Just sayin’.
Raymond Strait, Registered Voter