[note: Tim Sheridan is the Democratic candidate for Congress in CA-42, which is located in Riverside County, California].
Recently, the Riverside County, California newspaper Press Enterprise denied my request to respond to an op-ed that 20-year incumbent Republican Congressman Ken Calvert wrote for the newspaper regarding the situation in Murrieta - which is in California's 42nd Congressional District.
Here are the facts -
July 10, 2014 - Mr. Calvert wrote an op-ed entitled: "Sensible Immigration System Needed;" (Later Mr. Calvert changed the title of the op-ed on his website.)
July 11, 2014 - I emailed a contact at the paper asking to respond to it;
July 14, 2014 9:12 am - My contact at the paper forwarded my request to another individual at the paper;
July 14, 2014 9:42 am - The individual in question emailed me and wrote that he would be happy to have me submit an op-ed. He cc:ed the person who organizes content for the newspaper's opinion pages;
July 14, 2014 9:49 am - The person who organizes content for the newspaper's opinion pages emailed me noting that the op-ed should be between 700-750 words;
July 14, 2014 5:02 pm (7 hours later) - The person who organizes content for the newspaper's opinion pages emailed me again. He wrote:
Hi Mr. Sheridan,
I wanted to follow up with your op-ed request.
I understand you would like to respond to Ken Calvert's piece on immigration. With that in mind, please format your op-ed as a stand alone piece on the topic.
Our readers would be better served with an original, thoughtful and timely commentary piece, rather than point by point critique of Calvert's piece.
By that time, however, I was almost finished with my op-ed;
July 15, 2014 10:05 am - I emailed my submission;
July 15, 2014 - The Press Enterprise rejected the submission. The person who organizes content for the newspaper's opinion pages wrote:
Hi Mr. Sheridan,
Thanks again for this submission.
However, this piece seems to critique Mr. Calvert's piece on a point by point basis. It would better serve our readers if you wrote an op-ed, with a narrative stating why you are concerned with the issue.
Address the problems you see with the issue of immigration, not with Mr. Calvert's piece individually. By addressing the problems within the big picture (of immigration), you can offer up solutions as you see fit.
Of course, my submission was a point-by-point critique of Mr. Calvert's piece. The Press Enterprise had allowed Mr. Calvert to criticize the president. I thought it appropriate to point out the role that Congress played.
I would note that Mr. Calvert's Op-Ed has at least two versions you can read. At the bottom I am providing links to his Congressional web site version and to the Press Enterprise website version. Also, please note that the title was changed when Mr. Calvert posted it on his website.
Candidate Sheridan Responds to Ken Calvert’s Recent Op-Ed on Murrieta Situation
As a candidate for Congress in California's 42nd Congressional District against 20-year incumbent Congressman Ken Calvert, I asked to respond to Mr. Calvert's op-ed piece published on July 10, 2014 in this newspaper. The Press Enterprise's editorial staff kindly agreed to allow me to do so. [note: This was written before the Press Enterprise withdrew its offer.]
At first glance, the op-ed, misleadingly titled "Sensible Immigration System Needed," purports to be a thoughtful critique on how Congress should deal with the situation that recently occurred in Murrieta, and the immigration issue as a whole. After reading the first few paragraphs, however, it becomes clear that the piece is simply Mr. Calvert's attempt to shield himself from the fact that he has failed to lead on the immigration issue in Congress, even though he has represented districts close to the country's border for two decades.
As we have come to expect from Congressional incumbents who become entrenched in Washington, Mr. Calvert uses the tried and true technique of “the blame game" to take the focus off his own failed record. We should not be surprised - it's what life-long politicians like Mr. Calvert do when they do not want to take responsibility for an issue. In this case, Mr. Calvert blames President Obama. In fact, Mr. Calvert references the Administration in three of the first four paragraphs of the op-ed, implying that the President is the sole cause of the problem.
In the fifth paragraph, Mr. Calvert finally gets around to mentioning the actual law that caused the situation in Murrieta. Unfortunately, he fails to note two important facts about it: first, that he voted for it; and second, that President George W. Bush signed the bill into law before Mr. Obama became president.
Is it any wonder that the public does not trust those in Congress?
In the next paragraph, Mr. Calvert writes that he will be working with his colleagues to "provide the resources for an effective strategy" to deal with the issue. Don't hold your breath - we've seen how Mr. Calvert and his colleagues have dealt with the immigration issue in the recent past. In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill on comprehensive immigration reform; however, when it was sent to the House, Mr. Calvert and his colleagues did nothing - in fact, House leadership even refused to bring it up for a simple yes-or-no vote. As a 20-year incumbent from a district so close to the country's border, Mr. Calvert should be a leader on the issue. He isn't. At the very least, Mr. Calvert should be pushing the House leadership to allow a vote on the Senate's bill. He hasn't.
In the eighth paragraph, Mr. Calvert says that he will not support immigration reform until we establish strong enforcement policies. Again, he fails to mention that the Senate's bipartisan bill does just that by greatly increasing border protection. In fact, that's why Senate Republicans supported the bill in the first place.
Then, true to form, Mr. Calvert returns to the blame game. Continuing in the eighth paragraph, he says that the current crisis is not because Congress has failed to pass legislation, "it exists because of the failures of multiple administrations to enforce current laws and protect our borders." Yes, he blamed "multiple administrations." I assume that he is referring to President George W. Bush. Evidently, when assigning blame, friends are fair game too - especially when they are not around anymore.
In the next paragraph, Mr. Calvert returns to placing the blame on President Obama alone, this time asserting that it is the President's "willful disregard for democratic institutions" that is the problem. In an attempt to give some validity to the claim, he uses the word "context" in the next sentence, but does not actually offer any - or any specific examples either. Evidently, Mr. Calvert believes that blaming someone while using words like "willful disregard" does not need specifics.
Finally, Mr. Calvert ends by saying that if the rule of law is not respected, our country might erode into one that resembles the failed governments in the countries that the immigrants are fleeing. It's not clear why he makes such an assertion, given that the process in Murrieta specifically followed the law that he voted for.
We need a representative in Congress who will stop blaming others, take responsibility and be willing to work to resolve tough issues - like immigration. In the 20 years that he has been in Congress, Mr. Calvert has not demonstrated that he is willing to do that. In fact, that is exactly what he told us in his op-ed – he will not or cannot do it. It's time to elect someone who will.
To contribute to or learn more about Tim Sheridan's campaign visit http://sheridanforcongress.com
To read Mr. Calvert's Op-Ed as posted on his Congressional web site: http://calvert.house.gov/...
To read a different version of the Op-Ed from Mr. Calvert, this is a link to the Press Enterprise archive: http://www.pe.com/...