On the new CSUS president, Zimmerman jurors and crop report

July 28, 2013 

Editor's note: Our third-quarter visiting editors share views on a topic of their choice.

Fernando Beltran

Everyone has his or her own standard for what makes a good leader. My standard got its beginning during my years as a U.S. Marine. During that time, and in all the years since, I have seen both the best and worst examples of leaders. One universal truth I see for all leaders is that no one gets to his or her spot on the spectrum alone.

I am very pleased that California State University, Stanislaus, permanently filled its leadership position. I've met and spoken briefly to the new president, and I am very hopeful about his stewardship of the campus. This president comes to the job with the requisite CSU experience and familiarity to be a very good leader. I see the new president as naturally and uniquely positioned to do some really good things for the campus and the students, staff, faculty, and community it serves. I am confident he has both the skills and commitment necessary to build teams from among disparate groups to move the campus forward.

But, as I said at the beginning, no leader gets anywhere alone. The biggest question now is how, or if, the president will address problem areas that remain on campus and contributed to the leadership style and atmosphere of the last president. The best leaders I have ever seen have demonstrated a skill and willingness to identify and correct problem areas, even the most sensitive and difficult ones. To that end I, and many others, watch the new president and continue to hope.

Beltran is an academic adviser in the Educational Opportunity Program at California State University, Stanislaus.

Tim Glidewell

I followed with interest the George Zimmerman murder trial. I don't know for sure whether Zimmerman did indeed get away with murder or whether he fired the fatal shot in self-defense. What I am convinced of is that the jury of six women got the verdict right.

I am not an attorney, judge or a legal expert. My opinion comes from serving as a juror in six trials and five times as the foreman. All the jurors that I served with were committed to following the law and the judge's instructions. That is not always an easy assignment as each juror may have their own interpretation of evidence presented or may be instructed not to consider something they heard but was determined out of order.

I have been very surprised on occasion when some jurors did not immediately agree on the facts of a case. For those who have served as a juror, this is not surprising. That's why in California it takes 12 people to agree on a decision. Jury deliberations are serious business when one has the fate of an individual in their hands; it is an awesome responsibility.

Serving on a jury is a privilege and a civic duty and one not to be avoided. The six women in Florida served the system well. Given the evidence (or lack thereof) in this case, they were faced with all kinds of "reasonable doubt" and as such came to the correct verdict of not guilty. Was Zimmerman proved innocent — defined as freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil? No. The jury was not asked to consider innocence but whether he was guilty under the law based on the evidence presented. They did so. They fulfilled their civic obligation and deserve our thanks.

Glidewell, of Modesto, is retired president of Skeet's Insurance Service, Inc.

Tom Orvis

Each year the ag commissioner rolls out the annual crop report from the previous year to the Board of Supervisors. This is an eagerly anticipated event because human nature is that people always want to get better. 2012 was no exception — Stanislaus County farmers and ranchers increased their gross farm gate revenue by 6 percent, from $3.07 billion to $3.28 billion. It is also drawing a lot of interest because our perennial leading crop, dairy, has fallen under hard times for the past few years and almond acreage has been exploding. The difference now is only $4 million. Next year we could see the top crops change places when many of those new almond acres come into production.

The public looks at that and usually says, "Look at all of those rich farmers and ranchers!" Notice how we use the term "gross revenue." That's before expenses. By the time many farmers get done paying the bills, the bottom line looks like many other families' — the margin is slim. Many farmers get paid once a year as well, so they are operating on credit for most of the year.

So many of you are no different from many local farm families — your checkbook is thin and you still have bills to pay. The farmers just have it on a larger scale and their office is a nicer place.

It was interesting to listen to the comments of the supervisors as they heaped praise upon our "economic engine" and the economic multiplier of nearly four times. They made comments about the valuable resources of the soil, water and climate and how unique it is. It begs the question, why can't we get three of them to vote to protect this wonderful resource known as our farmland?

Orvis, a resident of Oakdale, is governmental affairs director for the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

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