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Arcadia Mayor Amundson, Council Unmoved by Heartfelt Speeches Requesting Change of Community Breakfast Speaker

Mayor Amundson was surpised a speaker made reference to NOM – which he claimed he had no relationship with – However, the speaker pointed out it was on his Facebook page – Photo by Terry Miller

The divisive decision by Mayor Amundson to bring Focus on Family’s H.B. London to Arcadia in March is having some significant repercussion in the community.

During Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting, nine area residents spoke passionately and powerfully about Mayor Amundson’s decision to have city funds pay for a speaker from the anti-gay organization such as Focus on Family at the community breakfast in March. Their statements were both honest and moving, and two speakers got choked up to the point of tears during their statements. The Arcadia GSA showed up in force with a number of students, two of whom gave passionate statements.

Arcadia resident and junior at Arcadia High School Willa Zhang made the following statement Tuesday night…
“My concern tonight is regarding the proposed keynote speaker at this year’s Mayor’s Community Breakfast, Mr. H.B. London, Jr. As vice president of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, Mr. London represents an organization with a marked intolerance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in both their homes and communities.

One of Focus on the Family’s most harmful and hateful campaigns is their continual fight against the prevention of bullying.1 Why is it that Focus on the Family would aggressively condemn school policies that try to protect children and promote tolerance? This group defines anti-bullying programs as “gay activism in disguise” and accuses LGBTQ advocacy groups of wishing to promote political agendas.1 While 90% of LGBTQ students experience either physical or verbal harassment, Focus on the Family maintains the stance that intolerance for homosexuality will promote their “100% zero tolerance for bullying.”

Though Focus on the Family may have been founded in Arcadia, I believe that its views are not the best representation of the community’s views. Our schools teach and our community embraces diversity, but this group’s rhetoric threatens people such as myself and others.

The Mayor’s breakfast always represents a “wonderful celebration of community spirit, inspiration and friendship.” Wiping tears away from her eyes Zhang cooncluded by saying… “In respect to the community, I ask that you reconsider your invitation to Mr. H.B. London to speak at the Mayor’s Breakfast.”
Another speaker was a tear filled mother whose son is gay and has been bullyed and harrassed at Arcadia High school. Marsha Aizumi also sent an e-mail to Arcadia Weekly and other media as well as to the mayor and council asking Amundson to reconsider.

Aizumi said her son faced “harassment and bullying” at Arcadia high as a result of being gay. She felt the matter very serious said she and her husband are deeply upset by Mayor Amundson’s choice and felt a more tolerant speaker would have made a better choice.

Rick Eisenlord, M. Div., Good Shepherd Church Pasadena – was another speaker who said he found it objectionable that the Mayor chose H.B. London to speak. Attempting to make a final point during his alloted time, the Mayor abruptly cut Eisenlord off at exactly 3 minutes.
When S Debra Evans, from the Lationo Quality Alliance, concluded her remarks during public comment, Mayor Amundson asked Evans where she had heard of his support for an organization called NOM- National Organization for Marriage. Denying he knew anything of the organization, Evans pointed out that, in fact, Mayor Amundson has a link to that organization on his Facebook page. The Mayor then uttered something that was indecipherable. A check on Facebook Wednesday morning confirmed that Amundson does, in fact, support the National Organization of Marriage or NOM which has strong conservative ideas of conventional marriage and does not support gay marriage.

No member of the public spoke in support for the Mayor’s choice during this council meeting
Mark Potok of the Southern Povery Law Center told Beacon Media that they have classified Focus on Family and NOM as “Hard Core Anti-Gay” groups.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is dedicated to fighting same-sex marriage in state legislatures, was organized in 2007 by conservative syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher and Princeton University politics professor Robert George. George is an influential Christian thinker who co-authored the 2009 “Manhattan Declaration,” a manifesto developed after a New York meeting of conservative church leaders that “promises resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same sex marriage.”

Speaking to media after the meeting, S Debra Evans said she beileves Mayor Amundson twice illegally interrupted two speakers (the agenda states quite clearly that state law prohibits the City Council from discussing topics or issues unless they appear on the posted Agenda). Evans said the students and other speakers who were there to oppose Amundson’s Focus on Family choice were extremely respectful and courteous and felt the Mayor was not equally respectful. According to Evans, during the “Reports” portion of the meeting, the Mayor “lashed out against the brave speakers, insulting them and accusing them of “hate speech” and “intolerance”.” “Quite simply, Mayor Peter Amundson demonstrated last night that he is an embarrasment — both to himself and to all of Arcadia.” Evans told Beacon Media.

Councilmen Robert Harbicht Gary Kovacic advised the audience that the Mayor was free to choose whomever he wished to speak at the Community Breakfast, and that just because Focus on the Family stands for a few things with which some people might disagree, that is not a reason to prevent Mr. London from speaking at a City-funded event.

Marsha Aizumi was also brought to tears Tuesday evening

In a recent statement sent to this newspaper, Mayor Amundson said:

“The theme for my Mayor’s Breakfast is “Celebrate Family.”

Arcadia is a Community of Homes, a community of families.

Focus on the Family was founded in Arcadia, by Dr.James Dobson.

I, like thousands of parents, found Dr. Dobson’s books like “Dare to Disciple”, “The Strong Willed Child” and “Bringing up Boys” very helpful to raise my family.
No organization in the world has done more to support the American family than Focus on the Family.”

Organizers opposed to Mayor Amundson’s choice are planning their own community event on the afternoon of Sunday, February 27. They are also in the planning stages of protest on the morning of Friday, March 4 prior to the Community Breakfast.

February 2, 2011

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21 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Arcadia Mayor Amundson, Council Unmoved by Heartfelt Speeches Requesting Change of Community Breakfast Speaker”

  1. Greg Bolinger says:

    It seems very deceiving to write an article that looks like a report of the news that occurred when it is really an editorial. The opening line, “The divisive decision by Mayor Amundson to bring Focus on Family’s H.B. London to Arcadia in March is having some significant repercussion in the community.”, has nothing backing it up in the way of proof. Just because a small group of people (9 & with supporters maybe 30) don’t like the decision doesn’t make it divisive. If Mr. Miller could show that 30-50% of the Arcadia residents thought it was wrong then he might have something. Without support it is just Mr. Miller’s opinion. What are the “repercussions”? Again, Mr. Miller gives no support of this statement. Space limits me to the first sentence, but the article is riddled with these kinds of unsupported statements.

    • Claudia says:

      Hey Greg,

      Great! Instead of complaining, why don’t you create a poll?

      As a youth resident of Temple City, I can guarantee you that I will be involved in this event even though I do not attend Arcadia schools. I also think that it’s a huge step forward for people to come forth and share their stories, and it definitely isn’t about the amount of people stepping forward. The assumption that there are only “maybe 30 [supporters]” is also inaccurate as many people may not choose to show their support openly for various reasons. Due to the uncertain and fluctuating nature of opinions, it is virtually impossible to take into account all of these factors without further research. In other words, it is implausible to assume there there are only “maybe 30 [supporters]” within the Arcadia community as well as throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

      I’m also a little saddened by your subjective and biased review of this article.

      • Greg Bolinger says:

        Claudia,

        Your missing the point. Mr. Miller assumed a lot of things without supporting them with facts. When writing an argument the author needs to support their claims on some sort of factual basis. There will always be people that disagree with any decision. Making it sound like there is a great uproar needs to have some sort of evidence that it is so. It is very tough to find something that 100% of the people will agree with. “maybe 30 supporters” was just an estimate of those in the room. I am saddened by your sadness…and your reply is unbiased?

        • Claudia says:

          Greg,

          It’s “you’re.” There is no need to be “saddened by [my] sadness,” your tragic grammar error is quite disappointing in itself. There will definitely be people that will continually disagree with any decision made by anyone of relative importance, however your earlier comment showed that you were unable to support your claims also. That was my point.

          • Greg Bolinger says:

            Sorry, I was in a hurry. My claim was supported by the estimate of how many people were in the room. That is why I included it.

      • Vincent Bonner says:

        Bollinger will be in lock-step with Amundson; they are both products of the same small school of intolerant people headquartered at the end of Farna Ave.

        • Manzhu Cheng says:

          Vincent is correct. The mayor has been affiliated with the organization Kare Youth League and Rio Hondo Prep for over 30 years. He does not represent the community of Arcadia rather the narrow minded views of the group he most closely associates with and relies on for “spiritual guidance.” Actually quite surprised the mayor did not bring up his allegiance to Kare Youth League during any of his council meetings?

          • Ross S. Heckmann says:

            Mr. Cheng and Mr. Bonner: Would you please describe with reasonable specificity the organizations “Kare Youth League” and “Rio Hondo Prep” which are purportedly headquartered at the end of Farna Ave. I have lived in Arcadia since 1998 and I never heard of these organizations until they were referred to in a recent article published in Monrovia Patch about former Monrovia City Councilperson Dan Kirby. http://monrovia.patch.com/articles/former-councilman-and-logo-designer-shares-his-enthusiasm-for-serving-his-community
            But that article didn’t really say much of anything about the organizations either.

            Still more importantly please present evidence that such persons and/or organizations are intolerant (other than you disagree with the position they take on homosexuality). If the sole “evidence” of intolerance is that they disagree with you on the issue of homosexuality, then please make that clear. Thanks.

  2. LARRY CARNOT says:

    Long live the Mayor

  3. Terry Miller says:

    Dirk L. Hudson says:
    January 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm (Edit)
    From the foregoing, I conclude that Mr. London is an excellent choice for for the annual Mayor’s Community Breakfast in March (formerly Mayor ‘s Prayer Breakfast). I would be extremely offended if those opposed to free speech for advocates of traditional marriage succeeded in censoring his appearance.

    REPLY
    Dirk L. Hudson says:
    January 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm (Edit)
    Jan. 30, 2011

    This editorial by Terry Miller claims (1) that the mayor’s choice of speaker for the Mayor’s Breakfast is “controversial” and (2) that residents are supposedly “upset” by the choice of speaker. I am unaware of any “controversy” over the choice (other than on the part of Mr. Miller) or residents (other than Mr. Miller, if he is a resident). It seems more likely that the supposed “controversy” arises from the money obtained from the homosexual dating advertisement placed in the paper.

    Dirk L. Hudson,
    a genuine Arcadia resident

    REPLY
    Terry Miller says:
    January 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm (Edit)
    Dear Genuine Arcadia Resident:

    Sir, for the record, there is a large contingency of those Arcadia residents opposed to the Mayor’s choice that has been well documented.

    Could you please point out the advertisement to which you refer?
    Thank you,

    Editor

    REPLY
    Ross S. Heckmann says:
    February 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm (Edit)
    Dear Terry Miller: I am not Mr. Hudson but I can guess that what he is referring to is that when you go to webpages of your newspaper that refer to gay-related stories, sometimes a gay-dating internet advertisement pops up (on my computer, on the right-hand side at the top). I don’t know much about internet advertising but I don’t know that your company is getting any share of the revenue that the gay-dating serving must be paying to someone in order for the advertisement to pop up. At any rate, while I do think your sympathies on this controversy are quite evident in your news articles, perhaps overly so, overall, I very much appreciate your newspapers and their value, especially in its reporting on local matters that larger media companies do not cover. I deplore those who refer to your newspapers as “throwaways”; if people throw your newspaper without realizing their value, that is their loss. Appreciatively yours, Ross S. Heckmann

    REPLY
    Don Murphy says:
    January 31, 2011 at 7:18 pm (Edit)
    H.B. London is a great choice for the Mayor’s Breakfast. He married my wife and I 21 years ago and I’m proud to say was very influential in our lives as he pastored the Pasadena Nazarene Church. I’m sure that same sex marriage would be the last thing he would be speaking about. He is a man that cares for others and would be inspirational to those that attend. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there just looking for things to protest and get people and the press worked up about nothing.

    REPLY
    Tom Eggebeen says:
    January 31, 2011 at 10:29 pm (Edit)
    There are dozens of people available for a Prayer Breakfast who would truly bring a word of peace and hope to the audience; someone from out-of-Focus on the Family would only deepen the division that exists in our society and add to the ill-will. James Dobson, head of Out-of-Focus, has been one of the principle forces behind the so-called “culture wars” – an illusion rather than a reality, but an illusion that has, nonetheless, truly hurt our nation. Dobson and cohorts are poor representatives of the Christ they claim to honor and hardly equipped to address the real issues and needs of the day.

    Anyone who pays any attention to these organizations knows how poisonous they are.

    The Mayor should sit down with some area clergy from progressive churches to find a candidate for the prayer breakfast.

    The Mayor can, and should, make a better choice.

    REPLY
    Ross S. Heckmann says:
    February 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm (Edit)
    The Wikipedia article on “LGBT rights opposition” states in part, “Many forms of Abrahamic religions, including evangelical Christianity,[26] Catholicism,[27] Mormonism,[28] Orthodox Judaism,[29] and Islam,[30] hold the view that gay sex is a sin and that its practice and acceptance in society weakens moral standards and undermines the family.” I believe this statement is correct. I haven’t followed Focus on the Family lately but I have a good impression of both the organization and its founder, Dr. James Dobson. They are of course opposed to homosexuality, but they do not advocate hatred, bullying, or persecution of gays. It would be very unfair to put them in the same league as somebody like Fred Phelps.

    REPLY
    Gail Rolf says:
    February 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm (Edit)
    Focus on the Family, a religiously motivated and well-funded group has continually promoted demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. The “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and news organizations. Over the years I have heard the founding president, Dr. James Dobson, condemn homosexuality by linking it to alcoholism, drug abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors. Dobson’s advice to young people struggling with the issue is to try and change their sexual orientation.

    Arcadia is a wonderful city, rich in culture and diversity. It does not need the negative publicity that will accompany the presence of a representative from a ministry known for its opposition to equality and civil rights for all its citizens.

    REPLY
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  4. Vincent Bonner says:

    Vote Amundson out.

  5. Laura says:

    Fantastic that the community is coming forward to say to inolerance and to say no to the politicians who support them. Keep fighting the good fight. All change starts locally. Great work Deb and Willa!

  6. Vincent Bonner says:

    Ross S. Heckman:

    I have neither the time nor the resources for a journalistic investigation; therefore, I am only able to give a quick response to your query as opposed to your request to “present evidence.”

    As a child and adolescent I was a member of Kare Youth League for seven years and I attended Rio Hondo Prep for two years. I have a close family member who is an alum of RHP and was involved with the organization for over a dozen years. KYL and RHP and Pearl Prep should all be viewed as one in the same – they are all run by the same people.

    This organization is an insular group of zealous Christians who do not appear to tolerate anyone who cannot follow their ultra-strict code of living. They do not accept the beliefs and practices of homosexuals, Buddhists, Catholics, divorced people, anyone who’s had sex outside of marriage, anyone who drinks wine with dinner, anyone who’s had an abortion – the list could go on and on.

    My children will never be allowed to participate in that organization. I advise anyone with a child to steer clear of these people. The organization preaches intolerance to its followers (mostly children – the adults in the organization grew up within its ranks and know no other life) and teaches children to hate themselves if they cannot follow the rather unreasonable code of living that is required of its members.

    It frightens the bejesus out of me to see that Amundson has become mayor of Arcadia. Now I don’t know exactly how much power Amundson has as mayor, but I cannot hold my tongue when I see something like the Focus On The Family speaker at his community event. Arcadians need to know who is in the mayor’s office. Amundson will say something like he has high moral values, he believes in god, he is dedicated to the community, he is concerned with the welfare of his fellow citizens. Hogwash. Amundson’s loyalty will be to the organization of which he is a product. I do not trust him as mayor. The mayor should be a servant to ALL citizens. Trust you me, as long as he’s part of that organization, he firmly believes that those who are not toe-the-line-Christians are not deserving of all the benefits and privileges that every Arcadia resident deserves.

    My own experience with this organization has had a lifelong devastatingly negative effect. One day, there will be someone who interviews the scores of former members and students who will state similar experiences in varying degrees. One day, a published report of these interviews will be easily accessible.

    Amundson is one of these people, loyal to the organization. I don’t want him as mayor of Arcadia.

  7. I don’t think there is a “neutral position” on this issue. You either are a vile bigot, or you’re opposed to vile bigotry. The Mayor is clearly making a statement that he despises gay people. That’s not a neutral statement, and it should not be reported as if it were. I think the newspaper’s line was obviously correct.

    The Mayor is using public money — tax money — to bring in a representative of a disgusting anti-equality organization, who will preach that some members of the community are worth less than others. How would you like your tax money spent to support someone who thinks you are worthless, and who wants to strip you of your rights?

    And, for the schoolkids, this public support of hatred will make their lives harder. An intolerant environment is hardly conducive to learning. You cannot excel in school when all your effort goes into surviving.

    TRiG.

  8. Manzhu Cheng says:

    This is in response to Ross, you want “evidence” of intolerance? Interview the mayor, and ask him his views. Not surprised that you’ve never heard of Kare Youth League or Rio Hondo prep. It is a rather small organization that has been around since the 50’s. You and I would not be able to volunteer or teach at their youth league or school because they only hire from within. Many of their views are cleverly disguised through their sports program and school. Their beliefs are ultra-conservative, and they do not associate with any other church. Membership to their church is exclusive to their students, staff, and some family members. Upon graduation from Rio Hondo Prep, students are expected to continue volunteering within the organization or leave. Marriage is also exclusive to members of their church. Tolerance of homosexuality? Not a chance.

  9. F. Clark says:

    Our mayor has chosen to insert his own religious views into an event that should be open, inclusive and non-confrontational. If he wishes to invite Focus in the Family representatives to his home, read their books or go to their churches, all well and fine.

    But it is clearly a different thing, when as Mayor, he is imposing his own personal religious views on the city he represents. In doing so he separates and divides the very community he was elected to represent. In my book that is NOT the job of a mayor.

  10. John Valdez says:

    I can vouch for the comments of both Vincent and Manzhu.

    I, too, was a student athlete at Rio Hondo Prep/Kare Youth League, and I do remember Peter Amundson as a young adult member of the organization.

    Let the members of Kare Youth Church believe what they want to believe, but keep your religious ideology out of government.

    Mayor Amundson’s choice of guest speaker at his tax-payer supported event is but a minor reflection of the views espoused by the leadership of Kare Youth Church/Kare Youth League/Rio Hondo Prep/Pearl Prep.

    Like Vincent, I would never let my own children anywhere near that cult-like organization.

    Vote Peter Amundson out of office.

  11. Trevor Finchamp says:

    You say let Kare Youth League believe what they want but then you go on to call them a cult-like organization. You’re appearing to vouch for tolerance based on the side your taking but you’re in turn bashing another group’s beliefs which makes you no better.
    I too was a member of Kare Youth League and Rio Hondo Prep. I was never the model citizen by their standards, and I sometimes thought their rules were extreme and their beliefs were strict, I see now a few years later that whether you think they are crazy or not they are an organization filled with incredibile leaders that care about others more than anyone I’ve ever met. And criticize their methods all you like but they continue to send good people out into the world year after year, much like yourself I would imagine, since its clear your heart is in the right place.
    I, too, am an advocate for tolerance, the GLBT community included. And while I may not be close enough to the issue to know all the facts, I would say that Amundson has chosen the speaker because of his stance on FAMILY not his anti-gay beliefs. The Focus on the Family organization is something Arcadia should be proud to say originated in their city. While they may have some beliefs that not everyone agrees with, what organization doesn’t? Sometimes it’s more important to focus on the big picture, similar to how people should look at KYL/RHP.

  12. Trevor Finchamp says:

    -John Valdez and I’m sure others by the time I finish writing-

    You say let Kare Youth League believe what they want but then you go on to call them a cult-like organization. You’re appearing to vouch for tolerance based on the side your taking but you’re in turn bashing another group’s beliefs which makes you no better.
    I too was a member of Kare Youth League and Rio Hondo Prep. I was never the model citizen by their standards, and I sometimes thought their rules were extreme and their beliefs were strict, I see now a few years later that whether you think they are crazy or not they are an organization filled with incredibile leaders that care about others more than anyone I’ve ever met. And criticize their methods all you like but they continue to send good people out into the world year after year, much like yourself I would imagine, since its clear your heart is in the right place.
    I, too, am an advocate for tolerance, the GLBT community included. And while I may not be close enough to the issue to know all the facts, I would say that Amundson has chosen the speaker because of his stance on FAMILY not his anti-gay beliefs. The Focus on the Family organization is something Arcadia should be proud to say originated in their city. While they may have some beliefs that not everyone agrees with, what organization doesn’t? Sometimes it’s more important to focus on the big picture, similar to how people should look at KYL/RHP.

    • Simple Syllogism says:

      Trevor, I have met you and you have met me. You are bit younger than I, however we went to school together. The people at Kare are very sick people. How can you deny the arranged marriages and intermarriages (is anyone currently leading in kare married outside the organization? NO.), the preferential treatment of kids from Kare related children in school, the way we were encouraged to turn on each other in “devotions”, the way in which they psychologically brainwashed us to avoid talking to people outside of Kare, the way they compeltely decide your future if you choose to stay there? If you stay your future belongs to them. You become either a teacher, a bus driver or a coach. Nothing more, EVER. Everyone in my elementary and junior high class who stayed in kare are ALL married to each other without exception, and I know the same is true for your class as well. I remember the sermon where Kare kids were compared to clean white shirts, and outsiders were compared to dirty shirts. This was used as an analogy to help us avoid making friends outside of kare because we might “stain our purity”. I remember when a girl in school refused to try out for the softball team and then I also expressed that I didn’t want to try out and they quoted a Bible verse to her which said “It is better to tie a rock around your neck and drown in a river than to mislead youth”,, she was in sixth grade and they told her she should die for not trying out for softball. I know the boys were treated differently in their trips than girls, but the girls on my trip were put on a diet called “slim in six”, and starved and over exercised. On my trip We were 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. I still have the letters I wrote my parents begging them to send food, and when my parents did send food it was taken away from me. Older girls were made to put together a giant stage which they were unqualified to do. They could have easily been very seriously injured. How can you deny the amount of free labor they made the kids and parents do? I remember after being kicked out they invited me to their summer trip to “redeem myself” and they psychologically tortured me. They told everyone not to talk to me because of my “sins”, the girls took that advice and destroyed my property, and actively excluded me. They made me clean Mrs. Johnson’s trailer every day and every day I listened to her tell me I would probably go to hell. I was 12 years old. How on earth as an adult can you justify this behavior? I was not allowed to speak to my parents on my 13th birthday while on the trip. After I was kicked out, I returned a year later to go to a football game of theirs. my parents and I gave my friend from kare a ride home from the game only to find out that later she was suspended for associating with me. How do you justify this? I know you know this kind of stuff was very common in this school. You went there the same time I did. How can you be so blind?

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