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A Walk on Rodriguez's Side of the Street

July 06, 2002

In the June 29 edition of The Times we read about four Anglo teens from an upscale neighborhood in San Diego beating five elderly Mexican workers with clubs, robbing them of $2 and then, when on trial, being "truly sorry," apologizing and being jailed for 90 to 120 days of a possible 12 years after their lawyer did what the elderly innocents probably did--begged for mercy.

In the same edition we read of a local hero, comedian Paul Rodriguez, giving freely of himself--his time, his money, his attention--to kids from El Centro, not many miles from San Diego.

In so doing, Rodriguez is setting an example of the fine person who hopefully dwells within all of us. As a token of appreciation, a street (no, a boulevard) named for him is opposed because he isn't dead or because guidelines haven't yet been established. I am amazed, saddened, outraged.

In 1985, I was a member of the '50s group Sha Na Na and had the pleasure of knowing Rodriguez, who opened for us on that summer's tour. I found him to be a warm and thoughtful person who cared deeply about his family and community.

He told me that there was one man, a sergeant in the Army, who encouraged him to read and who turned his life around. Rodriguez may be that one man for many who observe his generosity of spirit.

In this time of ominously escalating racial intolerance and apathy, if there is a petition to be signed to put Rodriguez's name on a street, avenue, drive, place, lane, circle or boulevard, please put my name at the top.

Guerin Barry

Los Angeles

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According to Rodriguez, race determines where you live and how much money you earn. Not achievement through hard work, but race. That's some message of hope for the poor working families of El Centro. No matter what they do or how badly they struggle, they're doomed to live in poverty because Rodriguez doesn't believe Latinos can rise above their lot in life.

Say goodbye to the American dream, El Centro residents.

Dave Mickel

Los Angeles

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