“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us…”
So begins the bestselling novel in history, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, a treatise on life in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, two cities he presents as equally matched in their struggle during a time of economic and political unrest.
We have two cities in our region that like London and Paris of the late 1700s, are at a critical juncture in time with important decisions being made about their futures. Except in our tale the year is 2015, one city is named Moreno Valley, and the other city is actually Perris – same name, different spelling.
The City of Perris
In Perris, we are on the eve of an important special election to fill an open city council seat. The successful candidate will play a crucial role in working with the current council and mayor to champion policies that will shape the economic future of the city. This new council will decide if it will focus on trying to diversify its economy or join too many of our other Inland cities and continue to add to the square footage of warehouse space and distribution centers.
In a field of six candidates, one grabbed my attention immediately. At a recent candidates’ forum Malcolm Corona, a Perris native who went away to college at UC Irvine and returned to Perris to teach and coach the next generation, said he wants to stop the trend of sending our best and brightest students away to be educated and forcing them to relocate to other regions in search of quality jobs and opportunities for self-improvement. He wants them to be able to consider their hometown as a place to start and grow their own families. And if the last two elections are any indication – with voters choosing to replace veteran council members with younger, new, well-educated leaders – he should be the front-runner. The residents of Perris clearly want change; they want a new vision for the city, they want good quality jobs along with a good quality of life.
The City of Moreno Valley
In Moreno Valley, tables are appearing in front of grocery stores and other locations around the city with campaign workers asking residents to sign petitions if they want to bring 20,000 permanent jobs to the city. On one sign, they couldn’t spell “permanent” correctly, but that’s beside the point. The petition is an important element of the “Moreno Valley Workforce Training Initiative” whose very title is a misleading obfuscation of truth designed to confuse residents. The measure, officially proposed by Moreno Valley resident Robert D. Harris, but paid for by the developer of the World Logistics Center, filed by its legal team, and executed by its well funded “grassroots” entity the Moreno Valley Jobs Coalition, is an attempt to circumvent the various pending lawsuits against the City of Moreno Valley after the city council approved the massive warehouse project without an adequate plan to mitigate its impacts on the transportation infrastructure, air quality, and other environmental concerns.
With this process the initial approval can be repealed and the project plan can be enacted by ordinance or the city council could even decide to adopt the measure without taking it to the voters if more than 10 percent of the city’s registered voters sign the petition.
“The lack of transparency on the part of World Logistics Center worries me,” one reader said in an email to me last week. “I have asked each person gathering petition signatures who was sponsoring the endeavor which is how I found out it was the WLC. The entity sponsoring the petition was not clearly identified.”
There are themes of duality, revolution and resurrection in Dickens’ tale…and ours is no different. Stay tuned for next week’s installment as I present a close reading of the polarizing rhetoric that permeates the Moreno Valley Jobs Coalition’s campaign and a dissection of the semantics of the Optimus Project’s public education efforts in the city of Perris.