Virginia McCullough

Have I missed the  mark, or, like a true archer,  do I strike my mark?
Or am I a prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?"
Cassandra, as reported by Agamemnon


Mayor Jerry Brown,  doesn't your city have a heart?

It was announced yesterday that the Vallejo Police Department will scale back efforts in the search for missing Xiana Fairchild.  Announcing that the police task force will be cut in half leaving only 12 or 13 members devoted to finding Xiana, Department spokesperson Lt. JoAnn West stated that there is no longer a need for a large task force because fewer tips were coming in to the station.

The pretty 9-year old with the long, dark hair and the gap-toothed smile has been missing since December 9, 1999.  The videos of a playful Xiana taken by her uncle have become a part of homes around the nation.  It is difficult for mothers and fathers not to think of Xiana as a member of their own family.  She has won our hearts.

Apparently not everyone thinks that way.  The City of Oakland, California considers flyers featuring Xiana to be a blight according to Public Works Supervisor Jamil Blackwell.  Blackwell was unavailable for comment yesterday but an assistant acknowledged that Blackwell's office has been deluged with phone calls from angry citizens questioning his decision to remove the flyers from light poles and other public structures.  Citing Oakland Municipal Code 5.06 that prohibits posting handbills, the public works employee pointed out that the city has placed "post no bills" on its light poles.  Blackwell's office has taken the position that all hand bills, including missing-person fliers, are subject to removal by city crews.

Volunteers at the Xiana Fairchild Volunteer Center only learned about Blackwell's decision last Tuesday [2-22-2000].  News reports quote Blackwell as saying that he first tried to contact the center in mid-January.  The Public Works Department is standing by its position that Xiana's flyers are the equivalent of graffiti and a blight and will continue to be removed.  Any citizen can easily realize that this should be a public relations nightmare.  But Blackwell doesn't see the issue in that light.  Instead he is quoted in the press as bragging about how clean his city is compared to the messy light poles in San Francisco and Berkeley.  This gentleman demonstrates a lack of perspective that is truly amazing.

Mayor Jerry Brown's office had no comment about the issue.  It would appear to this reporter that Mayor Brown is running a clean city but one with no heart and compassion for missing children.  The volunteers who took the time to pick up the posters and walked around the city placing them in places where they could be easily seen should be angry.  It is hoped that the Mayor's office will realize the difference between rock concert advertising, the garish signs posted by politicians, garage sales ads and the heartfelt plea to bring a missing child home.

It would only take an exception to be written into the Oakland's Municipal Code 5.06 to send the clear message that Oakland cares about all missing people.  Would it be too much to ask the Mayor and the City Council to address that issue?

Copyright 2000 by Virginia McCullough