Golis: Calling our better angels

  • Protesters block traffic along Mendocino Avenue while protesting the death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, December 10, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

<i>"It hurts to have people hurl insults at you, scream at you, threaten you and falsely accuse you of things you have not done ... this is grief and anger in its darkest form ..."

— Supervisor Shirlee Zane, posting to Facebook last week after protestors disrupted a Board of Supervisors meeting.</i><br>

For our hometown, it's been a tough seven weeks. The shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez broke our hearts and left us worried about the future. The aftermath exposed divisions of class, ethnicity and geography that were too long ignored and won't be healed without a generosity of spirit all-around.

The tragedy also revived the factionalism that has distracted the local political class from the real work of building a stronger community. In the new year, we'll be waiting for the grown-ups to step forward.

In the past weeks, the responses from elected officials have been instructive, if not always inspiring.

As best it can, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors appears to be working through a list of tasks intended to promote communication and bring services and resources to the low-income neighborhoods of southwest Santa Rosa.

Meanwhile, the responses from the Santa Rosa City Council have gone from non-existent to merely wooden, as if someone is coaching council members on what they're supposed to say and do in moments like this. At a critical time in the city's history, City Hall remains captive to timidity, secrecy, acrimony and litigation.

In this season of charity, it is enough to say that the situation is embarrassing.

Local government is not going to solve the biggest challenges so long as politicians are content to bicker over the smallest ones. Before Santa Rosa can become a city that overcomes divisions between the haves and the have-nots, between east and west, it will need to put aside the divisions between the haves and the haves, most of them residents of the same northeast neighborhoods.

It would be sad to think that it took the death a 13-year-old boy to teach us there is work to do.

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