Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Courage - Letter To My Boxers

Dear Christian and Lyle (both of you are back),

This letter is long overdue.  I'm sitting right now at Denny's at 12:39 am on Friday night because this letter is important to write.

About ten days ago, you and I and the rest of boxers went to a City Council Meeting.  In fact, there were 21 of us.  18 of us were made up of high school students.

I'm proud of all of you.  I know it must be tough to speak in public - at such an official meeting.  Many of the boxers told me it was nerve-racking to speak in front of so many old, white guys in suits.

But remember, as Winston Churchill said, "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities . . . because it is the quality which guarantees all others."

Well you did it.  I did it.  And what we had to say was important.

My favorite part about that night was giving you the pep speech.  In it, I asked you, "How many of you thought this week that you could make a difference?"

No one answered.

So, I responded, "I'm here to tell you - you can.  We have.  We got our boxing hours back.  We've made a change once.  We can do it now.  We'll do it again.

"I know that someone here this week was told they were stupid.  They were useless.  I'm here to tell you - that's not true.  You are somebody.

"I don't just say that.  We've been here before.  We spoke.  We were heard.  We made a difference."

And anyone who has been following this blog - know that's true.  The boxers have earned their space and place in the City and in the hearts of the people.

All 21 of us spoke.  I think the most powerful message that was given was by Michael.  He said, "I don't even know why we're here.  We're here in front of the Council Members to ask that our head boxing coach get paid more than 40 cents for being here for 14 years."

As usual, I ended our public stoning of the Parks and Recreation Director.  I had a lot of questions about the competency of this guy.

Why would anyone ask the directors of an organization to approve a raise of a part-time employee?  Come on?  Is he really that stupid?

I guess he is because he put it on the agenda.  A director that gets paid over $200,000 a year had to ask permission from the board of directors if he could give a part-time employee a few dollars more an hour.  Can you believe it?

(Really, what he was trying to do was not give Julian his raise.  And he wanted the Council Members to say no so he could wash his hands clean of the decision.  Then tell us, it's not my fault.  It's the Council.  See what kind of person he is?)

Does that mean all 145 part time employees in Baldwin Park have to ask the City Council for raise?  Does it mean all the employees have to do this?

Even then, I heard Council Member Pacheco didn't want to give Julian a raise.  No doubt, the whisperings of the Director in his ear.

I find it hard to believe that over the 14 years the director has worked for the City of Baldwin Park and that during that period, the city paid him out over one million dollars.  Can you believe it? 

The whole thing is absurd and shows you what type of people run Baldwin Park.  The incompetent and the greedy.

But, that is beside the point.  You and I - we are the light.  We are the salt.  We are the truth.  And although individually, we have our brokenness and our weaknesses and our inadequacies, together as we spoke, united in a cause that went beyond us, we shone brighter than the stars of heaven.

Afterwards, we took you out to the best pizza place in Baldwin Park.  A small business owner actually paid for your meals, although Julian and I paid for your drinks.

You all looked so happy together.  You all looked so proud of yourselves.  You all had the right to be.

We're not finished yet.  The war against corruption wages on.  The truth and our love for our boxing gym will prevail against the present darkness.

Join the fight.  Share the story.  

Yours truly,

Paul "the boxing lawyer" Cook

PS: Your efforts work.  Rumor is that the Director had a mental breakdown.  Poor thing had to go on stress leave.  For $200,000 a year, you would think that he could handle some stress.

And as one person told me, "What?!  He's stressed for not being able to give an employee a raise."

I said, "I guess so."

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