My Turn: Heritage and the right to celebrate it
I read the My Turn column (Setting the arena record straight) in the March 19 issue of the Sierra Sun, and after reading it I must admit, I was both confused and irritated by the lack of factual accuracy and its sub-textual anti-Hispanic tone.As my previous letter to the Sun indicated, a group of four local Hispanic businessmen have asked the Recreation and Park board to rent them its McIver Arena for one day when its not being used by the local horsemens association for the purpose of putting on a charreada. A charreada is a combination band concert, dance and an exhibition of traditional Mexican vaquero skills including bucking horse and bull riding, roping and a ladies side-saddle, drill-team performance. Its not a contest and no prize money is paid. I was asked to be the organizer because I have many years of experience with rodeo production.In her comments, the My Turn author correctly stated that any events that present a risk of harm to the animals during a charreada were outlawed in California during the Pete Wilson administration, yet she insinuates that exactly such events will be presented in Truckee. The author then goes on to wonder why I didnt include a reference to these same events in the last letter I wrote to the Sun regarding the proposed charreada. What she didnt bother to mention, however, was that she was in the room during my presentation to the Recreation and Park Board, and tape-recorded that section of the meeting. Thus she knows, although she didnt share with her readers, that I expressly told the board that none of these illegal events would be part of the Truckee charreada (not to mention the fact that they are against the law, even if many things go on in Mexico that arent allowed in the U.S.). Presumably she also knows that I reiterated that same fact to the Horsemens Board on Feb. 20 at the organizations general meeting. I attended the meeting at the boards request. She didnt attend this meeting. However, the Recreation and Parks general manager, Steve Randall, did attend. At that same meeting, the stock contractor whose animals will be used during the charreada also addressed concerns that were expressed regarding the issue of animals bought or leased from slaughterhouses, and assured those present that none of his stock is either acquired, or disposed of, in this manner.In her column, the author also states that the members of the Truckee Donner Horsemen do not claim rights to the arena, while in the very next paragraph she states, had the writer come to the Horsemen first and made his request known before going to the Recreation and Park District and done it in a timely manner, perhaps he could have found a place in the 2007 calendar. Initially, if the Horsemen have no claim to the arena why would I or anyone else contact them first? If youre trying to rent an apartment, do you call the landlord or a tenant? As a matter of fact, however, for over three weeks and as a matter of courtesy to the Horsemen, I did try to contact the president of their organization, (via e-mails on Jan. 16 and 19, and a phone call to the Horsemens phone on Jan. 23) to make sure that our event didnt conflict with anything they had planned, and never received a response.An additional mistake of fact contained in the column was the claim that the arena was established by the McIvers for the use of the Horsemen and to provide a place to hold the Truckee Championship Rodeo. In fact, it was not. It was created by a group of locals headed by Salty Gebhardt and including Anne and Rudy Knudsen, Walt and Betty Sitre, Steve and Tam Lieberman, Doc Wiser and family, Dr. Donnelly and many others, who spent five years raising the money to build the arena for the use of the entire community. The McIvers never owned the property, and didnt build the arena. Nevertheless, the arena was named for Jim McIver for all the good he had done in Truckee throughout the years.Finally, and my irritation may be showing, all I tried to do was rent the McIver Arena for one day to put on an event. Its taken almost three months of arguments, meetings and wasted time, not with Recreation and Parks but with the Horsemen. It isnt the duty of the Truckee Donner Horsemens Association (I assume the writer represents the Horsemen), to approve or disapprove of anyones use of the facility. But only to confirm that on any given date their organization hasnt made previous plans to use the arena, so that conflicts are avoided. Beyond that, the local Hispanic community has every right to celebrate their heritage, within established legal and moral boundaries, and not to have those celebrations limited, as the author suggest they should, to Mexican Independence Day.Rusty Pauli is a resident of Truckee.