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‘The only way’
Former El Centro head surprised but undaunted by mayor’s critical comments
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Randy Ertll said he was taken aback by comments made by Mayor Bill Bogaard regarding his decision to leave El Centro de Accion Social after serving eight year’s as the nonprofit agency’s executive director.
While a number of local community leaders praised Ertll for his work, Bogaard, who typically does not publicly criticize local activists, lit into Ertll, who in recent years has found himself at the forefront of a number of major issues involving police misconduct, immigration and homelessness.
“El Centro has played an important role over the years in supporting and schooling Latino youngsters in our community, and that area of El Centro activity appears to have diminished the last couple of years,” Bogaard said.
“Randy has been occupied with other activities, such as books that he has written,” Bogaard is quoted saying in a story that appeared in the Tuesday edition of the Pasadena Star-News. “It’s possible that his professional interests have evolved from the core programs at El Centro and that he is going on to pursue so to speak the next phase of his career.”
Bogaard stood by those comments on Wednesday morning. “Randy seems to be pursuing a new direction in his career as an author and a speaker. This is an opportunity for El Centro to take a fresh look at its mission and confirm its commitment to providing recreational and educational opportunities to Latino youngsters,” the mayor said.
Ertll, who once served as a spokesman for the Pasadena Unified School District and has written two books, one on growing up in El Salvador and the other on the life of a community activist, did not respond directly to Bogaard’s criticism. He instead defended what he sees as his role as an activist working for a nonprofit.
“I would say that I raised over $3 million in eight years, and that money has helped thousands of students,” said Ertll, who most recently criticized the council for cutting $25,000 in community block grant funding from El Centro. “We are in the trenches, on the frontlines of helping kids. I would say we have had a transformative influence on people’s lives.”
In a letter to the agency board of directors, Ertll, who recently won the Harry Sheldon Memorial Award presented by the city’s Human Relations Commission for humanitarian service, called his work at El Centro a “labor of love.”
“I am very proud of how we improved our community members’ lives,” he wrote. “It is now time for the next new director to come on board with his/her fresh ideas and inspiration to share with all.”
Ertll said he doesn’t have another job lined up, but is awaiting the release of his second book, “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7,” due out in September.
“The role of a nonprofit is to advocate,” Ertll said. His advice for the person who will take his position: “Do not be afraid to speak up and point out the inequities in Pasadena,” he said. “That is the only way we are going to make progress.”
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Kudos to Randy for holistically addressing the needs and concerns of the population that El Centro serves. Providing educational and recreational opportunities is only a component in addressing greater policy issues in the community such as homelessness, police misconduct, and immigration. Feel good solutions are not true solutions to chronic problems.
posted by Klee on 5/31/13 @ 10:05 a.m.
It is disappointing to read Mayor Bogaard’s remarks. The success of El Centro is evident and certainly due to Mr. Ertll’s efforts. Mr. Ertll’s dedication and passion for improving the lives of Latino youth in Pasadena, and the rest of the United States, is unwavering. He was worked tirelessly in Pasadena and I am certain that his drive to address issues of inequality and social justice will dictate his future endeavors. I am convinced that he will make a positive impact on a larger scale and will continue to work toward improving the condition of Latino youth in all neighborhoods, not just Pasadena. I wish Mr. Ertll the best of luck as he continues his calling as a youth advocate through written works and public engagements.
posted by lrchacon6 on 5/31/13 @ 12:49 p.m.
I am disappointed at mayor Bogaard’s criticism of Randy Jurado Ertll. I wonder if the mayor knows the amount of personal sacrifice a community activist like Randy made to direct a low budget community organization like El Centro of Accion Social , did the mayor knew the long hours of work and the endless weekends of commitment Randy spend during his 8 years tenure. Instead of questioning Randy decision to leave, why the mayor dint work with El Centro board to secure better funding for the educational programs He claims decreased during the last two years. One common issue among community activist is the burn out due to the excessive workload and low salary. If something the mayor should learn is how to keep good citizens like Randy working in Pasadena. He should support with money and actions organization like El Centro. The new Executive Director will find a small and low budget organization doing more with less money in better shape thanks to Randy leadership. The next Executive Director will find the same economical challenges. It is time the mayor and Pasadena city council pay more attention to the poor and low income people from Pasadena, they should increase the city funding instead of cutting it.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church
posted by RicardoMoreno on 5/31/13 @ 03:47 p.m.
It is a demonstration of poor leadership skills on behalf of the mayor of Pasadena to criticize one of its best, brightest, and ultimately – most committed. Randy has a long-standing career in TRUE public service, and especially in this era of economic turmoil which often slides into more social instability, he has used the Centro’s capabilities to positively affect, impact, and struggle for the Pasadena community. 8 years is as long as TWO presidential terms, and we should look forward to Randy’s next phase of leadership which has not had the glorification or “fat cat” lobbyists of D.C. or Sacramento. We all deserve to have access to the history he has so sensitively documented in his writings. SHAME ON THE MAYOR OF PASADENA. HE SHOULD RETRACT HIS THOUGHTLESS STATEMENTS AND GIVE RANDY A MEDAL FROM THE CITY OF PASADENA!!!
posted by lisamramos on 6/02/13 @ 12:35 p.m.
El Centro has been around since 1968. It has broken the heart of just about everyone who ever worked there. It is a thankless and impossible job. Congratulations to Randy for surviving 8 years of it. Best wishes for your future.
posted by Vivavilla on 6/02/13 @ 07:57 p.m.
In the few years I have known Randy Ertll, I have never doubted his commitment to under-served, disadvantaged populations, Latino or otherwise. I was personally involved with Randy’s “Summer School in the Park” program at El Centro, wherein students from pre-K through high school were engaged in many orderly groups reading books, doing artwork, having discussions with various teachers overseeing their work. I was an invited author speaker and, as a lifelong educator, was very gratified to see the focus on learning that prevailed. Randy cared deeply about Pasadena’s youth.
I know that being leader of an ethnic minority advocacy group in any city can be a daunting enterprise, with limited financial resources and lukewarm political supportiveness. My hope is that, going forward, the leaders of our great city will keep Pasadena’s demographics in mind, and will commit to strengthening El Centro, to go beyond lip service, and realize that putting financial and human resources into helping ALL our disadvantaged people is the best course of action in any civilized society. My thanks and best wishes for Randy as he moves onward in his life.
Randy was a wonderful director for El Centro as well as a leader in the community. He devoted time to all of the students and youngsters within the community. He will be truly missed, but it was his time to pursue even greater things. The new director will bring new ideals, and hopefully retains some of Randys ideals. He was a great mentor and he will be missed
Thank you Rogelio. Remember, you will one day run for City Council or be our future Mayor in Pasadena.
Randy, I sure hope you go on to write about the truth and the racism that permeates in this town. Start with the Mayor himself who does/did NOTHING for the kids you served. You can then start connecting the dots to all of his handpicked puppets who do NOTHING for the kids other than take up space and support the status quo.
I drive past El Centro every morning and was surprised to see the scaffolding around El Centro these last few months. I thought finally!… the mayors wife, who fights to protect buildings all over town, finally got to her husband to help El Centro. Funny thing is the Humane Society’s new building across the street on the SW corner of Del Mar and Raymond went up rapidly… while nothing seemed to progress at El Centro.
I think I remember seeing the Mayor show up for the photo-op on Dia de Los Reyes. A real king/leader would have brought the ‘gifts’ El Centro deserves. Shame on mayor Bogaard!
Randy was a great leader and hope the next director can come with new ideas and is as open minded and caring as Randy. He will be greatly missed by the Latino community and those he has helped.
Randy was a great person he helped many of us in the program!!!!!
Randy was a great director for el Centro but like he say a new director come with new ideal that can improve el Centro but it’s sad at the same time because he have help many students.
I wil miss randy because he help me alot to improve in my life and in school
Randy has been a non stop proactive presence for Latino youth in Pasadena in his position as Executive Director of El Centro de Accion Social. He lives and breathes the concept of investing in and empowering the people in the community. He is an authentic, sincere, skilled organizer and director. In addition he is a terrific writer and speaker. I am certain that he has inspired an endless number of people to believe in themselves and to forge ahead. You go Randy! Can’t wait to see what you are up to next, but, we can be sure whatever it is, that it will make the world a better place.
Thank you Randy for keeping the doors open I Was surprised by the Pointed comments from City Hall My answer to them Randy is the Rose bowl
Boy is this city ripe for new leadership on the council. It’s going to be hard for an incumbent to win the next election. If they’re not ineffective they’re apathetic. That’s not good for this progressive town.
Book Signing & Discussion at Edward R Roybal Foundation
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2013 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: 5253 E Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Book Signing at Vroman’s Bookstore
Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Vroman’s Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
Book Signing & Discussion at Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF)
Date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Location: 401 N. Garfield Ave., Montebello, CA 90640
Dear friends, I am currently in the process of updating my web site/blog. I apologize for the delay in posting updates & news articles. New postings will be up soon.
Do you want to know how to write and publish a book? To tell your own story – from your heart, soul, and mind? This is an opportunity to get useful, practical information, and how to tools and insights from the author of the bestselling book Hope in Times of Darkness: A Salvadoran American Experience and upcoming book The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7.
Date: Thursday, April 18, at 6:00 PM
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