By Arleana Waller

OpEd to the Editor

1000+ signatures to say NO to Calcot was disregarded in the same manor the Southeast voice continually is disregarded. Four members of the Bakersfield City Council, Weir, Smith, Freeman, and Gonzalez decided to neglect or respect the voices and feelings of taxpaying citizens of Southeast Bakersfield and vote in favor of the homeless shelter on Brundage Lane. In essence saying their backyard has more value than the residents in the Southeast.    

From the bottom of my heart I want to say congratulations and say thank you to all those that came out to the MLK Community Initiative forums and meetings, wrote letters, emailed, and signed the petition.  We were united and our voice was heard, it was NOT respected. Some in our community may feel that this is why we don’t vote and refuse to participate because “they” don’t hear and will do what “they” want to do anyway, no matter how the people vote.  Let me flip the coin and say it’s the fact that we DON’T vote in large enough numbers, the fact that we ARE NOT counted in the Census AND ARE NOT engaged, which make elected officials, believe they don’t have to listen. What I want you to understand and learn is that now you know the rules, let’s learn from this process, lets continue pushing for what you deserve in the Southeast community, the basics that every other community have.  Remember, each and every one of you now is empowered and educated because you have been introduced to the process. You matter, your voice matter and if they don’t listen, we know what to do now. Don’t allow this “lost” to get the best of you and become discouraged. Politicians only respond to votes and money. Guess what?  We as the Southeast community have both!!!! Let’s now play chess!

Here is a proposal and plan for us to consider and execute:  First, if each of us register twenty others to vote, not only in March, but in November, and get them to the polls to vote for those that have our agenda in mind. Enough voting for folk just because they show up for a photo op and never return with resources or that they have high name identification. If the representative can’t move “OUR” needle we move them out.  The decision might have turned out differently if there were more folks on the council that had our best interest in mind. Thank you to Rivera, Sullivan and Parlier for having the courage to do right by the Southeast residents, a community in double digit unemployment, thank you for listening to them. Next, let’s keep the committee together and ensure that the city keeps its promise to ensure black business owners and vendors participate in the building of this facility. Lastly, if you do not live in the MLK/Cottonwood area and believe in our cause please step out of your comfort zone and run for office in your ward. It’s time for humanity, we must become involved in the political process.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends.

Arleana Waller
Real Estate Developer