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Councilman's Critic Under Fire Herself

July 13, 1989

I am writing in response to the letter you received from a Downey woman who was appalled (by) an article concerning Norwalk City Councilman Marcial Rodriguez ("Councilman's Tie to Gang Criticized," Times, June 29).

Barbara J. Hague solicited an apology from Councilman Rodriguez and advised him not to run for reelection due to his comments in the article. Rodriguez mentioned that gang youths seek a sense of belonging similar to those who seek . . . membership in organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. I didn't hear him condone their negative activity. Hague also spoke out against the councilman because he reported that while growing up he associated with many youths in his neighborhood who identified with that neighborhood gang.

Well Ms. Hague, I feel sorry that you felt that the article was appalling. In contrast, I found the article quite refreshing. It's nice to hear of an individual who chose positive alternatives in an environment that could have easily led him down the wrong path.

I have been working with gang youths for 13 years. I am currently a parole agent in South-Central Los Angeles and address this problem on a daily basis. Many find time to sit back and complain about these terrible times. Rodriguez is not only concerned about these conditions, he is working toward change.

When I was employed as a counselor at a facility in Norwalk, where many of these youths are incarcerated, on occasion I would see Rodriguez in attendance at functions in support of our program. He wasn't there to solicit votes or get his picture in the newspaper. He was there because he wanted to be there. It is refreshing to see an elected official speak out with ground-level insight into this matter. It is apparent to me that Councilman Rodriguez is knowledgeable of the Hispanic gang subculture in the community. I am confident that he will encourage good decisions toward the development of programs to assist in alleviating this widespread problem.

Mr. Rodriguez, I never met you personally, but I take my hat off to you. Norwalk is lucky to have someone like you leading the community. Ms. Hague, I never met you, but Downey should consider itself fortunate that it does not have someone like you guiding the city. Limited focus such as yours can devastate a city. I challenge you to seek positive solutions to better our community, not to ridicule those putting energy and effort into curtailing this problem.


Pico Rivera

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