Second Thoughts: Great need reveals great fortune
by Jon Mendelson
Nov 23, 2012 | 6200 views | 6 6 comments | 838 838 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During the Thanksgiving season, it’s typical to see media reports that focus on the great need in our communities.

Just a week ago, the Press revealed a dearth of turkeys and slew of demand slamming Tracy Interfaith Ministries, putting in doubt whether Tracy’s workhorse charity would be able to supply even 500 Thanksgiving food baskets.

Only days before, 20 miles to the north in Stockton, that city’s newspaper of record reported that a local food bank expecting Thanksgiving requests had only seven turkeys on hand.

Both cases seem to show the heartbreaking want gripping our county, state and country.

But in a way, they also show our great wealth and fortune — because in both instances, the community rallied to meet the need.

Thanks to a rush of donations, Tracy Interfaith was able to hand out nearly 1,000 dinners with 100 turkeys left over, according to Director Darlene Quinn.

Local churches supplied 315 of the meals, while one man bought and dropped off 100 turkeys, Quinn said.

“As usual, the people in Tracy came through for us, so we’re going to make it,” Quinn said 12 minutes before the charity closed for the day on Thanksgiving Eve.

In Stockton, the line at the food bank stretched well down the block Monday, Nov. 19, but money and food raised in less than two weeks ensured that 2,500 people would have a feast instead of an empty table on Thanksgiving Day.

We should not underestimate the crushing need and wrenching struggles faced by so many of our neighbors.

But it’s worth remembering that only a blessed community has the ability to round up so much in so little time.

Former candidate stands on principle

It’s likely that the Tracy City Council, once Councilman Bob Elliott steps into his role as San Joaquin County supervisor, will choose to appoint Elliott’s replacement rather than spend as much as $250,000 on a special election.

And drama is already swirling about who should replace him, though any official action will have to wait until Elliott formally resigns.

Roger Birdsall, who ran unsuccessfully against four other people for two council seats in the Nov. 6 election, dropped his two cents into the mix during the public comment period of the Tuesday, Nov. 20, council meeting.

Instead of campaigning for Elliott’s soon-to-be-empty spot, Birdsall endorsed Ray Morelos, who finished third behind Nancy Young and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel. Birdsall finished last.

Birdsall said following voters’ lead in selecting Elliott’s replacement would show that votes and transparency, not “backroom deals,” matter most when it comes to Tracy politics.

“There shouldn’t be any hats in the ring. We had an election, Ray came in third,” Birdsall said.

There’s a counter-argument that says Morelos, Birdsall and fellow candidate Charles Manne all lost their election bids and that no one was voting for a third council member. The council, so the argument goes, therefore has a duty to approach filling the vacancy as a clean slate.

But what can’t be argued is the noble nature of Birdsall’s stand.

It’s uncommon to find someone in politics at any level who puts principle ahead of self-interest. For that reason alone, Birdsall’s words should carry significant weight.

• Second Thoughts is a personal opinion column by Editor Jon Mendelson. Share your thoughts at

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November 27, 2012
Thank you Mr. Birdsall for being a man of honor. I agree that the people of Tracy has already voted and the top three voters should be placed on the council.
November 27, 2012
If Mr. Birdsall is appointed by this council and then refuses to serve he will truly be a man of honor. I do appreciate his comments at the city council meeting. Thanks Roger.
November 27, 2012
jarbuckle -

I agree with you, but in order to get appointed, Roger would have to apply in the first place. something he made clear he would not do. It is interesting that we have not heard a peep from Mr. Manne on the subject as to whether he agrees or disagrees with Mr. Birdsall on this issue. Its moments like these, as the old phrase goes, that separate "the men from the boys".
November 26, 2012
Way to go Mr. Birdsall! You are one class act!!
November 25, 2012
Sounds like we screwed up by not putting Birdsall on the council. Whether you agree or disagree with what Mr. Birdsall said, I think we can all agree that the City would've profited having someone like him with integrity and principle on the council. I hope Mr. Birdsall considers another run in 2014.
November 25, 2012
Yes unfortunately people did not get to know Mr. Birdsall and gave of Maciel again. Not a good decision.

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