Monthly Archives: December 2012

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Just a few words…

Words always feel like a hopelessly inadequate response to a great tragedy. It makes me wonder what’s worse, an inadequate response or no response at all. I can’t answer that question other than to say a few words are all I have to offer, aside from a few tears. Words are what I do.

If it weren’t for the fact it happened, the senseless, brutal extermination of innocent children in their classroom would qualify as an unthinkable act, an act of barbarism that lies outside the horrific limits of human imagination. But it did happen.

Experiencing loved ones’ deaths has taught me to appreciate the value of shared grief and sympathy. They don’t change anything but they help in ways I don’t claim to understand.

So inasmuch as my inadequate words and my insignificant voice might add some small  measure of value to the sad chorus of sympathy and grief, they are sincerely offered and sincerely felt.


Hope for District 2

There’s definitely a place in this world for people who feel so passionately about a single issue that they devote most of their time and energy to that issue. Elected office in general and elected office in Redondo Beach is not one of those places.

The reasons are simple. When you get elected to serve a group of people, they have a right to expect you to devote all the time you have available to a variety of issues that effect them. Every hour you spend fighting for some obsessive cause is an hour you don’t spend tending to the needs of your constituents.

I have long held the opinion that serving on the Redondo Beach city council has evolved past the point where we can reasonably expect volunteers to have enough time to do the job right. A full-time job and/or a young family compete for a council person’s time, which is why I don’t currently harbor any aspirations of serving on the council. If you add a time-consuming crusade like forcing a local business out of the city, you just can’t expect to have enough time left over to do a job that requires more time than you have without the crusade.

My friend and colleague, Michael Jackson, has a flexible work schedule, a grown family and no crusades. I have worked with him and I know he’s a reasonable, hard-working guy who understands how government works and has a sincere desire to do what’s best for all Redondo residents.

I’ll have plenty to say about Michael’s candidacy as we get closer to the election. Today I want to point out he has the endorsement of the city’s police and firefighters associations. Follow his campaign by clicking here, He needs to unseat an incumbent, something that’s always difficult. Join me in helping him bring leadership and fair representation to Redondo Beach’s District 2 and the whole city.



We Lost One of the Good Guys

I often wonder whether the frequency and magnitude of tragedy in these times are actually greater than in the past or if it just seems that way because we hear about tragic events so quickly and so often. Super Storm Sandy and the Kansas City Chiefs player murder-suicide have recently assumed prominent positions on our ever-changing tragedy list.  Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was added to the list the weekend of December 1st when he died in the line of duty off the California coast.

Some tragedies on the current list seem to connect with us more solidly than others.  No one close to me was seriously affected by Sandy but I know people who live in some of the hardest hit areas. I didn’t know Jovan Belcher but like many other Americans, I know about the sport that made him famous. I never met CPO Terrell Horne III but I know a little bit about the job he performed. This tragedy connects.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with various Coast Guard personnel from Admirals to non-military employees and every rank in between. We worked on a variety of nationwide boating safety projects.

I always kept a lookout for the slacker or the unprofessional attitude among USCG personnel. Maybe it has something to do with getting the most out of my tax dollars. “All that money for taxes and he/she doesn’t know the pointy end of a boat from the flat end.”

I kept looking for the weak link but it never materialized. There were no slackers and every member of the Coast Guard family that crossed my path performed professionally, competently and with a recognizable pride for the opportunity to serve his or her country.

As I got older, they began looking younger and younger. Eventually I was convinced some of them weren’t old enough to enlist. They came from places like Minnesota and Arizona where they probably didn’t get much sea time.

I learned that by the time their superior officers decided they were ready, their age or hometown didn’t matter. They had received first rate training for the jobs they were assigned. They were professionals.  I’m not sure whether you can teach enthusiasm and integrity but they also seemed to have picked tons of that up along the way.

Few of us interact with the other branches of the U. S. military when they’re doing their jobs. Their missions include little or no direct service to the civilian population with the exception of the National Guard.

We get to see the Coast Guard all the time as it enforces laws of the sea and other waterways. They rescue stranded boaters, provide emergency radio communications along all 3 coasts and the Great Lakes and provide a host of other services intended to save lives and prevent tragedies. CPO Horne was carrying out one of those other services, drug interdiction, when he lost his life.

Everyone who travels the U. S. coasts or Great Lakes by boat or ship carries the same little bright light with them. It’s the knowledge you’re never completely alone out there.

If fate casts you up on the rocks, you hit something or something hits you, someone onboard experiences a medical emergency or any number of other potential catastrophes beset you, one image can instantly improve the worst of what the sea can throw at you.

It’s a white hull with a red diagonal stripe across the bow or a red helicopter coming toward you. Because when you see either or both of those images, you know a group of well trained, professionals like Chief Horne has arrived. You know they will risk their own lives to save yours. You know you’re saved.

You can make donations to the Horne family through the U. S. Coast Guard Foundation.