Since the publication of my article on the Dec. 10 city council meeting, I have received a lot of comments from the public on how I, as a reporter, covered that meeting.
Now, full disclosure, our normal reporter who covers these meetings, my esteemed colleague Hector Hernandez Jr., was covering another story that night and asked me to fill in for him.
I had asked Hector for some background on the city council, as I am still a new reporter at the Highland Community News. He told me to take notes on what items on the agenda were passed and take note of any public comments that were made to the council.
Little did I know what I was about to experience that night.
What was supposed to be a simple city council meeting turned into a shouting match between two serving members of the Highland City Council with the new mayor-elect sitting in-between the members as they went at it for about 10 minutes.
Now, as a reporter, this isn't my first time seeing or hearing something like this; before I switched over to being a local reporter I hosted and produced an international radio show for four years, five days a week.
Part of my job was to cover the headlines from around the world, nationally and what was going on in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C., which included the back and forth between the two major political parties you now see on the cable news channels every day.
One of the reasons why I chose not to renew my contract with the network I was with at the time was because of the same stories going on every day, and I decided to go back to my roots, local journalism.
So following that shouting match, the following question appeared in my mind: When did Washington, D.C.-style politics start happening in local politics? And a more important question when did these “shouting matches” become normal in modern-day society.
I, as a reporter, actually had to experience this: A couple of weeks back at one of the many meetings I have to cover as a reporter I happened to get into a heated conversation with a general manager of a radio station group in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
He asked me what I thought of the impeachment hearings going on at the time in the House Judicial Committee. I told the manager that I was not following the hearings, as I had been busy covering local issues for our publication.
The manager then said I had insulted him and that I was ignoring an important piece of history.
The president of the democratic club Tim Prince, was also part of this conversation, looked at the manager saying “Come on man, he is a local reporter, this has got nothing to do with him.”
The manager then looked at me and told me, “Not only did you insult me but you also lost the argument.”
Now, to be clear, I did not initiate this conversation.
I did not know not following something is now considered an insult, and if this is now going to be how social etiquette is conducted in a conversation with someone, then I foresee a very troubling trend starting in our society as a whole.
I even often question people in my own profession on how they conduct themselves to their co-workers and how they interact with the public in the field.
I am not saying we can't have debates or discussion, but that we as a society need to be more respectful of each other's opinions and beliefs.
Unfortunately, what I observed that night and what many people are seeing throughout this country is a social divide that has not been seen since the 1960s and '70s.
The LA Times interviewed people across the state of California in an article last week in which some said, "They are wearying of the partisan divide," and are "getting sick of the anger they hear coming out of Washington." Another person with no party affiliation said of the recent impeachment hearings, "The hearings and vote will only further divide an already polarized country," and that the political parties should work together.
Now let's pause for a minute and think about those last two words "work together," when was the last time our two political parties worked together?
Some say it was 2008 or 2006 while others say it was May of 2001 when President Bill Clinton presented a balanced federal budget to Congress which was then signed by President George W. Bush in February of 2002.
So the question I have for you the reader and the rest of the country, to paraphrase Rodney King, Can't we all just get along?