I received the following letter yesterday.
Laura, First, I also would like to see Efren resign. But I did not believe that was necessary last summer. And you might like to let me have it, because I placed so much value on the things that he had done for students and families. I know that many people would like to support change and improvements in Roseland. Efren’s actions and results exceeded everything that I had seen collectively in the thirty years that I have been a city official and teacher. And there are many good people working on Roseland issues.
Because of the many services and courtesies extended by Efren on behalf of students and their families, I may feel more betrayed than you. You may have always been upset with him. (And since some electeds have had that effect on me, I understand.) I always felt that what he did (and having watched the trial video, I know much more than before) was very serious, but I also felt that returning to the days of good wishes and little action in Roseland was a very high price. I also believe in AA and change and second chances. The reasons I changed my opinion some months ago, with a very heavy heart, do not matter. And I do not see yet that his removal can be compelled. Maybe public pressure will make a difference.
The teacher you refer to in the Bohemian taught in the room behind mine for five years. Until his arrests, Efren had been what that teacher said, so far as the teacher knew up until the arrests. For the past few months, the teacher has felt even more betrayed than me. His change of heart occurred after the meeting where you heard him speak. Although I disagreed with Efren about a number of vital issues before his arrests, I also saw that what he was doing for Roseland residents no one else could do or, given their other responsibilities, took time to work on. As he sought and accepted more and more positions beyond the Board, I saw signs that he was under overwhelming stress. It was his choice. I never saw him drink excessively. I was never with him after none or ten and never in a bar or at a party. And he has big problems in addition to drinking.
I would ask for a little understanding that even if some of us disagreed with Efren on issues, we might also feel grateful for many important things that he did do. Likewise, I know that you have personal reasons for indignation that I do not know the details of. I wrote a letter to his attorney last summer describing many good acts of Efren. I regret that I did that. I made it clear that I knew nothing about his misconduct or its seriousness and that felt that the criminal justice system would address the incident.
I don’t like seeking more suffering for someone who clearly has alcohol and other problems or his family (his disabled sister is a friend of our neighbors). But I have now conveyed my thinking to friends on the Board, who did not ask my opinion. We all have far greater issues to work on than Efren Carrillo’s status. I hope that this ends soon. And I wish for him both recovery and change (that will take much longer than his current term). And, more important, I wish for whatever services the victim needs.
Thank you for your service and engagement in the community. It takes a lot of work. And it makes a difference.
Here’s my response:
Thanks for the letter. I appreciate it. I’m not going to “let you have it,” but I want to you to understand where I’m coming from.
Full disclosure: I never supported Efren. He came out of nowhere (and I’ve been involved in the community for many years), was backed by Doug Bosco, and took advantage of Rue Furch’s unfortunate tax situation. What the PD never reported about their boy was that he was a carpetbagger, and his home on Waltzer was also behind on taxes. Gee. Imagine that.
Yes, Efren Carrillo has made himself many photo ops, visited some classes, called kids before they were shipped off to Afghanistan, and he’s a boy wonder. A hero. What people failed to notice was that the good looking young Mexican man was doing *easy* stuff. Nothing complicated there. But how about the things that didn’t make it into the media?
Efren Carrillo, the American Dream, the son of undocumented immigrants, remained SILENT in the face of the mailer for David Rabbit a few years ago. A mailer that relied on race baiting and fearmongering to win the election. Even Shirlee Zane, while still supporting Rabbitt, denounced the mailer. Carrillo was silent.
A few years ago Operating Engineers 3 went out to organize a West County business. Many of the employees turned out to be undocumented. The owner of the business, a big developer and supporter of Carrillo, told OE3 that he would call Homeland Security and have his employees deported if the union didn’t back off. Chris Snyder, who relayed this story to me, called Efren and asked him to call the guy and ask him to not deport his workers. Carrillo refused. REFUSED! This is a man with no values.
I also have other stories of abuse of power, like things going on with animal control, including refusing to meet with community activists who see a need for Spanish-speaking animal control officers. He didn’t even return their calls. So much for “all he’s done for the Latino community”! Oh, yeah, he played basketball with some kids. That makes up for everything, right? I have not liked Carrillo for a long time, and in fact, he ended up on my “dead to me wall” after the OE3 incident.
There have always been all kinds of rumors floating around about Carrillo the playboy, the pig, but it was mostly hearsay.
And then his July arrest happened, and people came out in support of him, talked about how wonderful he was, what were the motives of this woman, etc. And something snapped in me. This was the highest-ranking Latino official in the county? And people were standing up for him? The woman’s story rang true to me, why call at 3:40 in the morning, him arrested in his underwear, not accusing her of getting mad in the middle of a romantic tryst…no, I believed her. But many didn’t. He and they blamed alcohol, but that was not alcohol-fueled behavior, that was sexual predatory behavior.
And here, all these months later, yes he was found not guilty of the ridiculous charges, but he admitted everything she accused him of doing. And people are still supporting him, or remaining quiet, because to come out against him would be worse than condoning the terrorizing of a woman. Because women don’t matter as much as a man’s reputation.
I am beyond outraged. I am a woman, and I have two grown daughters; our safety and piece of mind is apparently not worth much. We need to be forgiving, we need to move on. We need to keep in mind who the real victim was here: Efren Carrillo. This is what is referred to as “rape culture.” And I will have no part of it. I will not “normalize” Efren Carrillo.
Yes, I believe in redemption. I believe in resurrection. I believe that we are better than our worst actions. I believe that I need to forgive as I ask to be forgiven. But this is not freely given by humans. He has to work for it. He has to take responsibility for his actions, which he has not done. He will not even begin to go down that road until he resigns. I hope he works out his demons, but he has to do that away from public office, not on my dime.
Please understand that I do what I do from a place of values; this isn’t about money or fame. I’m here on this earth to make a difference. I have a voice, and I’m not afraid to use it, and I try and use it in support of those who don’t have one. I don’t always do it well, or in a measured manner, but I truly believe that to be silent in the face of gross injustice is to be complicit. I refuse to be complicit.