Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's Going on the Canyon

The Lagunan is back! After a computer crash, moving household, and other time-consuming energy-suckers too mundane to mention, I am happy to be back at the keyboard and ready to inform, comment, and ask what y'all think here at my teensy little blog.

A lot has happened in the past month to capture a local's attention! I'll take on just this one today ('cuz it makes my blood boil):

- The Minutemen and their ilk have turned up the heat on the day labor site in the canyon. They come from miles around, beckoned by the fear-mongering cries of Eileen Garcia (don't let the name fool you - she sets one straight about being a proud lily-white northern European who changed her name a few marriages ago). Newcomer Eileen and a horde of people from far outside Laguna Beach think they know what is best for our town and are fighting dirty to get the day labor site closed down.

Um, just who do they think does all the grunt work around here? Who does Eileen have doing her household chores and gardening? Who built her house? Who does she think buses the tables and preps the food at the restaurants she and George dine at? Why would she believe that closing down the day labor site is a good thing? Does she really believe that Laguna has a surfeit of Nordic-looking college kids looking to pick up a few extra bucks over the summer by working for $10 an hour?

To me, and to most of the people I know who aren't willing to engage in this issue, this crowd is just plain mean. Who would deny a person a day's work by repeating the mantra, "It's illegal! It's illegal!"?

The dirty secret is that our federal and state governments have long looked the other way regarding immigrants doing our most basic jobs because we can't have a functioning economy or enjoy the quality of life we do without a hard-working class of people, legal or no. City manager Ken Frank says that the city is required by federal law to provide a safe hiring place, and we already have a good solution.

We do. Eileen and others who echo her fearful cries are too new to town to remember the corner of North Coast Highway and Viejo Street -- there were usually dozens of young men hanging out awaiting a day's work. They made a mess and created a traffic hazard. What we have now -- an organized method and orderly place for the day workers in the canyon -- is a good answer to a problem we simply have to deal with. Where there is wealth (i.e., here) there will be those who enable the leisure class through the sweat of their collective brow. The truth is, we need them, and they need us. Chasing workers out of town and stirring up trouble for the city isn't going to help anyone. There are many more productive, positive ways to make a difference in the community, and I hope these people understand the error of their thinking. But I won't hold my breath.

- On a lighter note! (Whew!) If you want a slice of local flavor, head to the Sawdust Festival this Friday, August 3! It's FREE for locals. Stroll around and watch the glass blowing, buy a toe ring, check out the pottery, and toss a penny into the mill fountain and make a wish for Laguna to retain its charm and neighborliness even as shrill debate threatens to divide its residents.