Last Updated on September 27, 2015 by Alex Brown-Hinds

What was a local city councilman doing in a motel room with drug paraphernalia, “a little bit of” methamphetamine, and seemingly under the influence of a controlled substance?

Last week Perris Councilman Julio Rodriguez joined the Inland Empire’s “councilmen gone wild” crew when he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of a controlled substance after he called the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to report a theft at his Red Lion Inn room.

He joins other councilmen in the region who recently found themselves under arrest for felony charges while in office – Chas Kelley and Robert Jenkins of San Bernardino, and Marcelo Co of Moreno Valley.

Julio Rodriguez's Facebook campaign page

At 28 years old, Rodriguez is the youngest member of the Perris City Council. He was born and raised in Perris, leaving only briefly to attend UCLA for college. After completing his degree he returned to his hometown with a desire “to give back to the community that gave so much to him”, he said in an interview after his election in 2012. He had no previous political experience, no civic leadership experience, just a “desire to serve the residents.” He ran an unconventional campaign only spending $500 and not sending out any mailers, no significant number of campaign signs, no phone banking, just a “grassroots campaign.”

He said after his swearing-in, “I am excited for the opportunity to bring further diversity to this council – not only because I am Latino, but because I am 30 years younger than my colleagues.” While it’s admirable that this young man wanted to give back, I just wonder what other qualifications he had that not only prepared him for this important position but showed residents – those very residents that he said he wanted to serve – that he was ready for the job.

Diversity is important. Having new and innovative ideas is important. But having the ability to fulfill the job you’ve been elected to do is most important, and it seems to me that as voters we need to do a better job of vetting our elected leaders before handing over our cities, reputations and tax dollars. Our city councilmembers are supposed to be custodians of our local government. They are expected to work with their fellow councilmembers to set the overall direction of the city, consider the welfare and interests of the municipality, and develop and evaluate its policies and programs. If they are not qualified to do these things, putting them in office is just setting them, and our cities up to fail.

With those duties and responsibilities in mind, I’d like to leave you with five of Ben Franklin’s “13 Virtues” for community and civic leadership we should expect of our city leaders as they manage our resources, serve as custodians of our municipalities, and set policies that directly affect our lives:
Temperance – control what you say, do, and consume
Resolution – make decisions and then act
Sincerity – do not be deceitful
Industry – be useful and never idle
Moderation – avoid extremes

Rants & Raves Readers Respond

Building Cities 3.0 Here in the Inland Empire

I think the city leaders have to make a decision whether the Empire’s future lies in warehouses full of goods or offices full of people creating the products, and technology that creates and moves the products around the world.

I recall when we first created our technology company at the dawn of the Internet revolution. We had problems raising funds to grow the company. These problems persisted despite all our efforts…Right now, I am working with some partners on developing a new revolutionary technology, but I am most certain I would not be able to keep our office here because the funds and the support are not available.

As a resident of Riverside for over 30 years, I would prefer to keep the technology here, but the chances are slim.

If the area wants to attract the drivers of job growth, technology should be prominent in the mix.

Toyin Dawodu
Managing Partner
Capital Investment Group

Fathers & Daughters

Thank you for acknowledging the important role that a father plays in the life of a daughter! Children are a blessing that comes with great responsibility. It is not always the way in which a father works that is important but that they take the time to be present, care, listen and give the best advice they can from their heart! Thank you Paulette for sharing such an important message!!

Gary S. Thomas, Ed.D.
San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Champions Among Us

Thank you for advocating for our hometown heroes. There are so many of them.

One of the programs I am most proud of at The Community Foundation is the scholarship that we, together with our donors, give each year. Most don’t know that we award $1.5 million dollars each year to scholarships and educational grants to universities.

Many of the students are just like the students you described. I am touched and energized by these students and am so happy that you honored them.

Thank you for the great work you do for our community!

Sharilyn Hunke
Director of Communications
The Community Foundation

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