Local Spin: Character Study
Names in the news, and why they matter still.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I admit it. I was jealous. Weekly arts writer/calendar editor Walter Ryce landed some astounding interviews this past year (Cheech Marin the art collector, a strange night on the town with actor Tom Sizemore) and was compiling a greatest hits list for the New Year’s edition. Food writer/managing editor Mark C. Anderson was plowing through back editions in the conference room on Tuesday afternoon so he could provide a comprehensive year-in-review in his “Edible” column. (The original Edible Monterey, might I add.)
Where was my fun list?
Then I remembered: I’m the editor, I can put together a list if I want to. Below are some of the names from our pages that most resonated with me through 2011, because of what they represent: justice and injustice, our ability to prevail in the face of adversity, or fall to our most base nature.
5. Rogelio Serrato, Greenfield resident and father of four. Serrato was in his home last Jan. 5 when a Monterey County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant in the mistaken belief Serrato was involved in the New Year’s Day shooting of three at the Mucky Duck in Monterey. Officers deployed a flash-bang device, the house caught fire and Serrato, who had meth in his system and was hiding in the attack, was later found dead. Officials now admit he wasn’t involved in the shooting; his family has filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death suit. The county absolved itself of wrongdoing.
4. U.S. Navy Petty Officer Jason Daniels, formerly known as Jason Knight. Daniels graduated from the Defense Language Institute, served six years as a Hebrew linguist and was bounced out of the military twice for his refusal to keep quiet about being openly gay. Last December, he sued in federal court, asking for reinstatement.
The Monterey Peninsula resident got his job back earlier this month and will begin studying Farsi at the DLI this spring; perhaps his dual skills in Hebrew and Farsi will help the country that so foolishly rejected him negotiate peace in the Middle East.
3. Rachael Short, photographer and gallery owner. Just six months after an October 2010 car accident left the vivacious Carmel-based photographer paralyzed with a C5-C6 fracture, Short allowed Weekly contributor Adam Joseph into her home in what became a deeply philosophical look at how Short’s life had changed, and what she planned to do about it. Two months ago, Short opened her first show since the accident along with Evynn LeValle at their EXPOSED Gallery. The collaborative A Miniature Show features works no larger than 6-by-9 inches from 13 photographers, some famous (Tom O’Neal and Kim Weston, for example) and some up-and-comers like Michelle Magdalena. But even more than showcasing great work done in a small format, A Miniature Show proves that not even paralysis can keep the creative mind of a good woman down for long.
2. Edward Fitz-Henry, Catholic priest and accused child molester. Word came from a friend who sat astonished during a Sunday Mass at Madonna del Saso church in February and listened while an Archdiocese official reported that Edward Fitz-Henry – Father Eddie, as his flock calls him – was being investigated for child molestation. A 21-year-old victim filed a John Doe civil suit against him and the Diocese, alleging the priest assaulted him in the sacristy.
Fitz-Henry’s case is in process. The John Doe plaintiff has moved from the area because of harassment. The priest’s defenders launched a website decrying the fact that Fitz-Henry’s stellar reputation was falling victim to revenge, greed or both.
1. Steve Collins, ag industry consultant and former County Water Resources Agency board director. What is the opposite of noblesse oblige (the obligation of the nobles)? Noblesse ordonne (the demands of the nobles)? Whatever the phrasing, Collins and his friends seem to possess it in spades. While working as a public official on the $400-million Regional Desalination Project, Collins also was helping an engineering firm win a hefty chunk of the project, a job arranged for by Jim Heitzman, general manager of the Marina Coast Water District, and Curtis Weeks, former G.M. of the county Water Resources Agency. The county spent nearly six months and $250,000 to investigate itself and Collins for conflict of interest – and absolved itself while putting the blame on Collins.
He was charged last month with six misdemeanors and 33 felonies, including violating state conflict of interest law and charging ag client Ocean Mist for work he didn’t do. And as if to prove the theory of what nobility demands, he was charged with two more felonies and a misdemeanor last week, this time for allegedly trying to coerce a witness, Ocean Mist vice president Dale Huss, into not cooperating with prosecutors.
MARY DUAN is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.