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Gilroy, CA
Monday, September 24, 2018
The bizarre events of December 2015 will be long etched in Gilroy’s political history. Mayor Don Gage stunned the city by resigning without warning a year before his term ended, effectively handing the reins to his political ally, Perry Woodward. The handoff allowed Woodward to run as an incumbent—but not before the duo pushed through approval of a massive farmland annexation that would have, along with other planned developments, made Gilroy one of the Bay Area’s biggest cities—a sprawling urban mass of 120,000 residents, more than double the city’s population today.
It’s a question that has been taken up, sometimes quite offensively, on social media sites recently. We’ve watched some attacks against Mark Turner, president of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, because he is against Measure H, which would put voters in charge of limits on growth rather than leaving it to elected officials.They condemn him for being from Morgan Hill, as if suddenly, a man who has put his life into Gilroy for 14 years doesn’t qualify to have an opinion.In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more involved in the community than Turner. Try going to any city event, weekday or weekend and not seeing him. It’s almost impossible.He was a pastor at South Valley Community Church starting in 2002 and took over the Chamber in 2013. He’s been a fundraiser and auctioneer who has raised $250,000 for Gilroy nonprofits.He started the Bread of Life program to distribute food from local grocery stores to needy locals. He received a Community Hero award in 2007 from a Glenview neighborhood group and the Community Leadership Award in 2016 from the local American Legion Post. He’s the head of the Gilroy Police Foundation. He eats most of his meals in Gilroy and does most of his shopping here.The online attacks on Turner beg a question: with 80 percent of residents here commuting to work in Silicon Valley and spending 40, 60 or 80 hours a week there and others, like Turner, spending most of their time here, who qualifies as a real Gilroyan?We asked Turner for his opinion and we’ll be asking others. We’d like to hear from you as well on this issue.Here’s Turner’s answer:“One’s community is not necessarily confined to where one lives, but it has a lot to do with where one invests their time and effort. Every day 15,000 people commute out of town headed north for work in order to support their families and enjoy their lifestyle in Gilroy.“At the same time, there are those who don’t live in Gilroy but choose to work here, invest their time and resources here and do all they can to make Gilroy a better place. Are those who work here but don’t live here any less committed to Gilroy than those who live here and vice versa? “Of course not. All contributions to improve Gilroy and making it a better place for future generations should be welcomed.“The exchange of ideas, thoughts and opinions only advance the opportunities for a better community. Gilroy is fortunate to have dedicated community leaders who support local charities, serve on boards of local nonprofits, contribute financially to local causes, assist the underprivileged, patronize local businesses and invest their time right here in Gilroy. Many of those individuals don’t live here but have adopted this town as their own.“In the current debate about what’s best for Gilroy’s future, let the discourse occur in the public square or on whatever social media platform one chooses. But let that discourse be civilized. When those on either side of an issue choose the lowest form of expression by name-calling, belittling, intimidating and indicating one has no credibility because ‘one doesn’t live here,’ they simply discredit themselves and the cause they represent.“As Rick Warren once said, ‘We’re better together.’ When the dust of Measure H finally settles, we still have to work together for a better Gilroy. It will be much easier if we haven’t offended one another with vicious attacks and attempts to disgrace and dishonor each other.“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve Gilroy, its people and its businesses and will continue to do so in the community I love and call my own.”    
What a difference a mile makes.
“This has been the best year yet,” said Christine Vatuone, CEO/executive director of pregnancy resource center Informed Choices, one of 25 community-based organizations distributing information at Party in the Park at San Ysidro Park on Aug. 12.Featuring a climbing wall, jump house, live DJ music, dance performances and an assortment of games and prizes for the kids, the final installment of the fourth annual event series aimed to beat its previous attendance record set last month, when 650 people strolled, cycled or drove to the eastside 9-acre park.“Two hundred and fifty was our largest attendance before,” said Brian Hames, coordinator of the event, which aims to create safe, community spaces in neighborhoods with a history of gang activity.“We want to raise awareness and provide information on the many resources that are available to people,” said Hames, adding the event was modeled after Los Angeles’ Parks After Dark and is similar to Viva Parks! in San Jose, a series of free public events that focus on health and wellness resources, physical activities, and community engagement.In a half-circle of tables around the handball courts were representatives from agencies including CalWorks, Planned Parenthood, Santa Clara County Re-Entry Resource Center and clinics providing free health screenings.Getting a jump on Attendance Awareness Month in September, employees of Gilroy Unified School District were also on hand, reminding parents to get their children back to school on the first day of classes and promoting “Challenge Five”—encouraging students to have less than five days of absence per year.Jennifer DelBono, GUSD program administrator for school climate and student attendance said the district is looking at ways of partnering with local businesses to incentivize student attendance and hopes to launch a program soon.“We have such incredible partnerships in Gilroy,” she said.Gilroy resident Michael Martinez said he’d been going to Fifth Street Live downtown on Friday nights this summer but decided to come to the park with his seven-year-old son, Brayden, now smiling widely with his new balloon hat and pirate sword, after seeing a flyer at soccer signups.Over at the face-painting booth, Hollister residents Emma Torres and husband, Gabriel, with their three kids, Emily, Andrew and Bianca, looked through their goodie bags.“There is a lot of good information about the local nonprofits,” said Emma, who saw the event notice in Out and About magazine and decided to check it out. “We all run into people that could use this type of help and if we have these resources, we can pass it on to them.”
We can’t help thinking of Gertrude Stein’s sentiment about trying to find her old Oakland home, “There’s no there there,” as we drive into Gilroy.
Have you ever wondered if a doctor was prescribing you an expensive drug rather than a cheaper alternative because of payoffs he or she has gotten from the drug companies?
Have you ever wondered if a doctor was prescribing you an expensive drug rather than a cheaper alternative because of payoffs he or she has gotten from the drug companies?

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