Letter to the Editor | ‘Time to Let Go of Anger’

'It is time to heal the open wounds, hurt and mistrust that have caused so much trauma to our community'

PHOTO: Lauren Thomas | SouthPasadenan.com News | City Water Tower, South Pasadena (2007)

Letter to the Editor submitted by:

Gretchen & Vic Robinette
Bianca Richards
Lissa & Jim Reynolds
Lorena Manriquez
Gregg Kettles
Peggy O’Leary
John Vandercook
Lela Bissner

We are grateful to our City Council for hiring Sean Joyce as Interim City Manager. Our fervent hope is that this appointment will mark the beginning of the end of the dissension, blame and accusations that have characterized the atmosphere of South Pasadena in recent months. This past year has been a terrible time in our country and in our city.

It is time to heal the open wounds, hurt and mistrust that have caused so much trauma to our community. This, of course, means getting to the bottom of questions around the financial issues and other administrative matters under review but hopefully matters will proceed with more civility and less drama.

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There is always a place for inquiry, questions and disagreement. It is our responsibility as good citizens and good neighbors to demand transparency and accountability but not in a way that demeans others and sows the seeds of mistrust and blame. The times are hard enough, so let us as citizens stop the blame, let go of anger, forgive one another and get on with the work at hand.

There is lots to do.

Sean gave our city eight years of stability and strong leadership. We look forward to a continuation of his guidance and to a healing of all that has preceded this difficult chapter of South Pasadena’s history.






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  1. Thank you Ron, I couldn’t have said it better! My family has lived in South Pasadena for 24 years. I started paying attention to local politics a year ago, but when I questioned what was going on at City Hall, I was labelled a “complainer.” Our questions in regards to the financial health and staff turnover under former City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe threatened many residents’ sense of “South Pasadena Exceptionalism.” It couldn’t happen here! But, it did. Please watch the excellent film “Bad Education.” Based on a true story, when the residents realize money has been embezzled, their first thought is to sweep it under the rug because they’re worried about their home values.
    I might add that most of the demeaning, blaming, and anger was directed at those concerned citizens asking legitimate questions.
    Michael Cacciotti is my council member. He sent the threatening letter he received from “Mel Trom” to me asking for my feedback. He said the email was threatening him and his constituents who dared question the city’s finances. When I read the letter, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was indeed creepy. An “I know what you did last summer….” kind of threat. After that, I pulled down the shades at the front of my house out of an abundance of caution. Could this person be standing in the line with me at the grocery story? It was all very unsettling. But, no, “Mel Trom” was Marina Khubesrian sitting on the dais.
    I’d do and say all that I did again in a heartbeat, because it exposed our dysfunctional city government. Sean Joyce is a breath of fresh air, but he’s not a miracle worker. We can’t heal until all the rot has been excised.

  2. I have lived in South Pasadena for eight years. I became involved as an activist in 2015 when renters on Raymond Hill were being subjected to inhumane rent increases. I learned very quickly, that behind the veil of liberal politics, South Pasadena is more talk than action.

    The Council, which boasts their progressive stance (mostly on environmental issues but nothing else) turned their backs on renters. As the Council does, they formed an ad-hoc subcommittee to address housing issues in the city that resulted in the typical nothing burger of performative politics.

    I persisted. In 2019,I spearheaded along with my cohort John Srebalus the first renters protection policy in South Pas. We did it again, twice this year to protect renters during the onslaught of the pandemic. We continue to fight, raise our voices and flex our power.

    By paying attention to what happens between the walls of City Hall, I have developed a keen awareness of all that is amiss. From the failure of the Council to truly analyze and address issues and concerns brought before them, to online attacks by South Pasadena’s social elite on those who stood-up and said “Wait a minute!”

    Had I, among others, not dared to challenge the status quo, Stephanie De Wolfe, Marina Khubesrian and a conspicuously absent Karen Aceves may still be there wrecking havoc on our budget and God knows what else. The changes that took place recently would never have happened if we went to that gun fight with a copy of Emily Post and singing Kumbaya.

    I’m remain righteously angry about the many injustices and untruths, the lack of compassion and the abundance of cronyism that emanates daily from City Hall. I’m angry about the murder of Vanessa Marquez, the disregard for low income families, the leaf blowers, the cavalier attitude of the City Treasurer, the Council and staff toward fiscal transparency. I’m angry about my friends and me being publicly bullied by an elected official and accosted by her friends because we dared raise our voices and our hands and said “Wait a minute.”

    But what I think angers most about all of this are the women in this town who try to shush other women. I am consistently being told that the women of South Pasadena are the most progressive and supportive uber feminists around. Yet, myself and other women who resist the status quo, are constantly having a female finger wagged in our face for being outspoken and yes angry.

    Anger creates change. Silence, complacency and denial create distrust and stagnation.

    I will chose the former any day! Your tone policing is exhausting, ladies. Aren’t you tired yet?

  3. It Isn’t Nice
    Malvina Reynolds

    It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
    It isn’t nice to go to jail,
    There are nicer ways to do it,
    But the nice ways always fail.
    It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
    You told us once, you told us twice,
    But if that is Freedom’s price,
    We don’t mind.

    It isn’t nice to carry banners
    Or to sit in on the floor,
    Or to shout our cry of Freedom
    At the hotel and the store.
    It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
    You told us once, you told us twice,
    But if that is Freedom’s price,
    We don’t mind.

    We have tried negotiations
    And the three-man picket line,
    Mr. Charlie didn’t see us
    And he might as well be blind.
    Now our new ways aren’t nice
    When we deal with men of ice,
    But if that is Freedom’s price,
    We don’t mind.

    How about those years of lynchings
    And the shot in Evers’ back?
    Did you say it wasn’t proper,
    Did you stand upon the track?
    You were quiet just like mice,
    Now you say we aren’t nice,
    And if that is Freedom’s price,
    We don’t mind.

    It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
    It isn’t nice to go to jail,
    There are nicer ways to do it
    But the nice ways always fail.
    It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
    But thanks for your advice,
    Cause if that is Freedom’s price,
    We don’t mind.

  4. This letter sounds nice, but what does it really mean? Please give specific examples of the demeaning of others, blaming, and anger that you’re complaining about. The problems of our city festered for so long precisely because not enough people got angry enough. Many people looked the other way or defended what was going on, maybe even some who signed this letter. Anger was generated by the behavior of the city leaders. The people that became angry drove the effort to look into the Alison Smith case, call out the City Manager for lack of transparency and dishonesty, and call out and expose Marina Khubesrian for the very kind of bullying that she accused others of. The way to get rid of anger and mistrust is to remove leadership that makes people angry and distrustful. Now that we’re on a path to recovery that has been paved by people who got angry and did something about it, the things this letter complains about will diminish. But writing a letter complaining about the very natural response to a corrupt and dishonest period in our city’s history has me shaking my head.