Breton on Leadership

Strong and superb advice in his column in the Sacramento Bee; advice that sorely needs to be embraced by leadership in our region.

 While local leadership, with few exceptions (think Rancho Cordova, for one example) has been sadly lacking, the recent strategy presented to clean up the North Sacramento area of the Parkway is a very good case where local leadership has stepped up with a successful strategy to stop the large-scale illegal camping that has made it unsafe and environmentally toxic to venture into. 

An excerpt from his Bee column.

“Just as you don’t teach a child to succeed in life by trying to be someone else, you don’t build a city or a region that way either.

“You succeed by being the best version of yourself that you can be.

“You identify your assets and you maximize them, and you identify your weaknesses and work on them.

“You set specific priorities and you stick to them, even if they are hard and thorny, complicated and messy to deal with.

“This is what is lacking in Sacramento, a region of assets yearning to be made priorities.

“Sacramento doesn’t need its influential people to seek inspiration in Denver. It needs its influential people to stand up for the American River Parkway, 23 miles of urban wildlife adjacent to downtown that could be a showplace – but is a dumping ground of illegal campers, felons and registered sex offenders.

“Sacramento doesn’t need its movers and shakers to soak up the coolness of Portland in the hopes it will rub off.

“Sacramento needs its movers and shakers to pick a local cause, an undervalued asset, and rally behind it.

“How about this one: Cesar Chavez Plaza.

“It’s right in the heart of Sacramento, across the street from City Hall. For the 22 years I’ve lived in Sacramento, Cesar Chavez Plaza has been a dump.

“Talk to any cop who patrols downtown on a bike and he or she will tell you: The same street people who have been there for years populate Chavez park. Registered sex offenders who juice up their court-ordered ankle bracelets at the downtown library and then wait for free food to be handed out by one group or another too often populate Chavez park.

“Why are Sacramento “leaders” looking for fixes in other cities when what needs to be fixed is right under their noses?

“I’ll tell you why – because it’s hard. Because people will object, they’ll say it’s cruel; they’ll pack the council chambers and scream for hours.

“It’s not cruel. It’s not wrong. It has to happen.

“We’ve reached a tipping point in Sacramento. When Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna has to worry for the next six months over whether he has contracted HIV from a hypodermic needle that pricked his thumb during a volunteer cleanup of DiscoveryPark, you know something has to change.

“When the downtown, the River District and the American River Parkway – the heart of this region – are potentially wondrous assets diminished by blight and political cowardice, you know change has to happen right now.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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