August Musings

| August 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

When you average writing 7,000 words a week, there’s a possibility you may encounter what’s called, “writer’s block.” This may disappoint you, but so far it hasn’t happened to me.

Which is to say my Sentinel column for August is a collection of random thoughts, rather than a single theme, as is my norm.

I begin with the essential role played by Congressional staffs, specifically, those charged with finding answers to constituent problems.

When I was press secretary to United States Senator Charles E. Goodell, Republican of New York, I had a high profile job, which required me to deal daily with the New York’s press corps, the largest in Washington.

But while I liked my job and loved and respected Charlie Goodell, I knew there were many on our staff of more than 100, whose responsibilities were, at a minimum, equal to mine.

I refer to the senator’s case workers, the women and men who spent days and nights dealing with real life problems of real life people; problems compounded by government’s failure to address constituent needs, and who, in desperation, turn to their Congressional representatives or senators for help.

My days with Senator Goodell are a long time past, as in 47-years past, but I’ve never forgotten the critical role played by case workers, who were often the difference between their bosses winning and losing.

This fact, however, has been wholly missed by media. In my 51-years in and around politics, I cannot remember a single time a reporter wrote about a case worker, or the job of case workers.

A couple of years back I had a lengthy telephone conversation with the editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. My memory doesn’t tell me why I had that conversation, why I made that call, or why the editor picked up his phone, since he didn’t know me from Adam, and most editors do not talk to people they don’t know.

What I do remember is an impassioned appeal I made for his newspaper to write about case workers. To my knowledge, that didn’t happen – nor has it since.

Too bad, because it’s a story that needs telling; the kind of story that would actually cause people to think more highly of those in government; that there are those in Congressional and senate offices, in assembly and city council offices, deeply committed to serving you and me.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES ON SUNDAY, JULY 23, ran a story about California Congressional races. It was entitled, “Incumbents, rivals build up war chests.”

On the front page of its California section, The Times highlighted three Republican incumbents, Ed Royce, Mimi Walters, and Darrell Issa. The Times reports Royce has raised $3.1 million, Walters, $701,696, and Issa, $671,529.

But inside the paper, one read of other Republican incumbents who have drawn serious Democratic challengers. They include, Jeff Denham, Turlock; David Valado, Hanford; Dana Rohrabacher, Costa Mesa; David Nunes, Tulare; and Duncan Hunter, Alpine.

On the Democratic side in House races, the seemingly always embattled Scott Peters, has raised $1.7 million to thwart Republicans. In Santa Barbara, freshman Salud Carbajal, has $867,688 in the bank, while his likely GOP opponent, Michael Woody, has raised all of $5,000 (won’t be enough). In California’s 7th District incumbent, Ami Bera has raised $671,852, while his two potential challengers have yet to file.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, of California’s 53 Congressional seats, Republicans hold only 14, Democrats, 39.

In the 2018 Congressional races, expect the GOP’s number to slip – dramatically.

As a patriot I do not think that’s a good thing, but if Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, and Duncan Hunter, are voted out of office, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Jesse Unruh, the most powerful and influential speaker of the State Assembly in California’s history, famously said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Yes it is – and so long as we allow it to dominate our politics, it will diminish, if not destroy, our democracy.

TERRY SACK IS A BOSTON FRIEND OF MINE, as we share a love of baseball. Politically Terry is conservative, but he’s a really decent guy, so I don’t care that his politics differ from mine, because some things are more important than politics – like baseball.

I mention this because Terry recently posted on my Facebook page a lengthy profile of me that ran in the Washington Post, April 4, 1979. It was entitled, “Dining Out With George Mitrovich, San Diego’s Gentle Arm-Twister,”

The reason for the profile was 50 members of The City Club of San Diego accompanied my wife and me to Washington, DC, where I set up an agenda over three days, equaled by some; exceeded by none.

The centerpiece of our time in the nation’s capital was a dinner at the Federal City Club, which attracted some of Washington’s most celebrated and influential guests.

It was a night to remember, but in truth the profile piece in the Post had slipped my memory, so I am grateful to friend Terry for calling it to my attention.

One of my favorite lines in the story, which was written by Joseph McLellan, came from one of San Diego’s greatest citizens, the recently deceased Danah Fayman, who was then president of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, who said to the Post reporter, “George keeps us in touch with the world – those who want to be kept in touch.”

But maybe the best line belonged to the great Mark Shields as emcee, “George has this program of bringing Americans to California.”

That dinner was 38-years ago, but The City Club, 42 years and more than 1,100 programs later, is still “bringing Americans to California.” You might want to experience what that means.

You can do that Wednesday, August 23, when Dr. David Wilkinson of St. John’s College, Durham University, England, comes to speak on, “The Big Bang, Multiverse and Stephen Hawking: The Search for God in Contemporary Cosmology.”

Details at: www.CityClubofSanDiego.com.

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