Words Matter

Anna Christensen

The April 24 edition of the Beachcomber reported that, Ben Goldberg, Parks and Recreation Commissioner for the City of Long Beach, has chosen social media to express his opinion that city golf courses, parks and beaches, as well as local businesses, should reopen on May 4, whether or not Governor Newsom (meaning the State of California), keeps current restrictions on social distancing in place. The disclaimer that his, now very public, statement was made as a private citizen does not cut the mustard.

First, Mr. Goldberg is advocating for measures that put our community’s health and safety at risk. Second, because he is a city commissioner, he is in a position to share his views with the city manager, the Health Department and City Council through the proper channels in a collaborative manner which respects the input of those with expertise in matters of public health. Instead, he has elected to use social media to claim that he speaks for the majority of Long Beach residents who share his opinion.

Third, he claims that there is an orchestrated campaign behind an illegitimate public policy that will result in more death, “the press will perpetuate the narrative that prolongs this shut down. Yes, people are dying for the disease, but more will die from the shutdown months later.” He provides no evidence for the above.

Goldberg has now “unofficially” broadcast a POV, which reveals that he is unfit to serve on a commission responsible for our parks and beaches and for ensuring the safety of those who visit them. My neighbors and most people in this city are doing our best to practice social isolation in order that this pandemic end sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, in Huntington Beach, public officials are ignoring requests that social distancing be enforced, beaches are full and crowds of demonstrators are demanding the “freedom” to get back to business as usual. A man wearing a mask was actually spit on – which leads me to one final, fourth, point.

Words matter and when they come from a public official or any person in authority, they gain additional power. In a time of crisis, it is easy to trigger mass hysteria and even violence. Mr. Goldberg cannot be unaware of what is happening around the nation and next door in the OC and has chosen to fan the flames. Responses to his “personal” online write-in campaign demanding that the city end restrictions to prevent civil unrest include a post stating, “It’s time to arm up and fight the good fight.” This is just as scary as COVID-19 and not what we want public officials in Long Beach to encourage. Mr. Goldberg needs to resign.



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