This week, I have invited our Publisher Emeritus to address a pressing local issue in our community, an unwarranted attack on Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, one of our most dynamic city leaders and the first African-American and first woman to lead that city.
I recently read an article by Jim Steinberg in The Sun Newspaper about members of the Sierra Club protesting the Fontana State of the City address being given by Mayor Acquanetta Warren. The article states that the city issued permits for nearly 4 million square feet of commercial construction, which will bring good paying jobs to the city. Apparently the hundreds of people who were on the inside listening agreed with Mayor Warren, giving her a loud applause as she presented highlights of Fontana’s progress, including a report that last year’s 400 home construction permits are expected to double to 800 in 2017.
While Mayor Warren was giving this good news, Sierra Club members marched outside in costumes like “Smoggy the Bear” which reminded me of the way the Klan would go marching down the streets of Fontana not that long ago in their white sheets with hoods over their faces so know one will know who they are. To the Black community the reputation of the Sierra Club has been one of elitism with a racial history of not being inclusive when it comes to our issues or having us as members.
The protesters carried poster signs that read “Warehouse Warren Has To Go” and “Greed Got Us Here,” however the person hiding his or her face in the “Smoggy the Bear” outfit is quoted as saying in effect the progress of Fontana means congestion and air pollution to the area. In my opinion what does a “bear” know about running a city or providing jobs so residents can raise, educate, and grow their families?
Now while I am not a Fontana resident, I have worked in the city for over forty years in various positions at Kaiser Steel, Southern California Edison, and Kaiser Medical Center, so I’ve seen the city grow from rags to riches and from racial division to one of inclusion. I remember hiring Frank Solano back in the 1970’s and he said, “Hardy I never thought I could work at this hospital because the welcome mat was never extended to Mexican-Americans.” He saw the racial lines drawn in Fontana with the large Mexican-American population below Valley Boulevard and Blacks above Baseline Avenue. I told Frank part of our job with the hospital was to change that culture without creating hostility or displacing people.
This brings me to ask the question: Why is the Sierra Club protesting the mayor’s progress? Is something more sinister behind those costumes hiding the true identity of the people and organizations? I recently learned that the Fontana Democratic Club was discussing the plan to recall Mayor Warren for reasons no one could articulate to the club other than “we have the numbers so we can do it.” It’s my understanding that Senator Connie Leyva was leading the discussion. There should be a good reason to recall or remove someone from office other than “we have the numbers,” whatever that means.
Now one thing I know about the good people of Fontana is that they know what good leadership is in their mayor and will not fall for what people in hoods are protesting about or want to recall a mayor who has been good for them.