A Rush to judgment

I had a long conversation this evening with Tim Rush and shortly after our phone call ended, I logged onto this blog and noted that my co-blogger, Claudio Gallegos, had beat me to the punch, in addressing the Times article about Rush that has become the talk of Santa Ana. There is far more to this story than the Times reporter, Jennifer Delson, and Gallegos alluded to in their respective takes, so here is the rest of the story.

To understand Rush you have to know the whole story. He has spent a dozen years making up for a mistake that cost him dearly. Like Ted Moreno, the Santa Ana City Councilmember who was caught up in a sting, Rush ended up in prison, for a brief time, after being charged with embezzlement. Rush paid dearly for his mistake. He lost his real estate license, his wife, and his standing in the community. He went bankrupt as well – but he never gave up. He served his time and then his friends stepped up and helped him get back on his feet.

For Rush, the simple act of buying a home was a milestone – it symbolized the progress he has made in his life. However, Rush quickly found that there was no parking available in his new neighborhood, Wilshire Square. He asked his neighbors what the deal was and eventually he found that one of them was selling cars and parking them all over the neighborhood while waiting to sell them. As Delson reported, that miscreant finally got caught, thanks to Rush. Now there is more parking for everyone – even those who do not understand Rush.

There are in fact a great many people who misunderstand him. One of them, Sean Mill, has in fact attacked him repeatedly – on the Santa Ana Citizens Yahoogroup, in the blogosphere, and even by calling his current boss and trying to get him fired. The attacks are not fair. Rush paid his debt to society. He has been an upstanding citizen throughout the last dozen years. He has been honored by neighborhood associations and other civic groups. And now he even owns a home again, with the help of a good friend, and he is on the verge of regaining his real estate license. Mill does not appreciate any of that – he is an old friend of Moreno, whom Rush opposed, and is fixated to this day on revenge.

Rush on the other hand just wants to enjoy his home and his neighborhood. He never wanted to be the story, but the Delson article has changed that in a big way. He has told his story on the John and Ken Show, on KFI AM radio, and on Bill Handel’s show, on the same station. Tammy Bruce called him recently and he will be doing her radio show too. He has a story to tell and while his enemies call his complaints petty, the fact is anyone might be annoyed by these examples, as cited in the Delson article:

  • Rush called about four inoperable vehicles in a backyard abutting his yard.
  • Rush objected to graffiti on the walls of a garage that he could see from his back porch.
  • He called animal control officials more than a dozen times about a barking dog.
  • He told code enforcement officials that a neighbor had illegally built a driveway in the front yard.
  • More than two dozen times, he reported to police loud music playing at 8 a.m. on Sundays at a house three doors away.

Rush’s detractors do not address these complaints; instead they call him a racist. That is cowardly. Anyone can call someone an expletive, but it takes guts and brains to debate someone on the merits of an issue. Too many of his detractors are lacking in both qualities. The fact remains that Rush has had the brass to stand up to those who selfishly do what they want, even when they inconvenience others. I don’t think that makes him a racist.

What about his Latino neighbors? One of them told Delson that Rush “wants to change Santa Ana. He bought a house here. That doesn’t give him the right to boss people around and tell them how to live.” That may be true, but his neighbors likewise do not have the right to conduct illegal businesses out of their houses; tag their properties with graffiti; maintain ill-tempered dogs that bark at all hours; play loud music all night long, etc. Until they learn to live like civilized people, Rush will keep calling City Hall.

In a kinder, simpler world these folks would get together and work out their differences. But Delson writes that they even question Rush’s right to fly the American flag over his house – and that just isn’t right. The last time I looked, Santa Ana was part of the United States, and that is our flag. It is a symbol of the freedom that has made our nation a dominant force in the world. It is also a reminder that freedom is not free. Thousands of our fellow Americans have given their lives so that we may live freely. Living freely however does not give us the right to abuse our neighbors’ well-being.

There are some who are trying to portray this issue along political lines. Rush is a Republican, but I did not even know that. I had to ask him what party he belongs to. What he is doing is not a part of a GOP agenda. He is just trying to enjoy his home and his neighborhood. His neighbors may not appreciate that, but many of them left other countries to come here. They left to find opportunity, but also to enjoy the quality of life that is afforded to us here in the U.S. So why sully our country by breaking our laws and acting like anti-social slobs?

What Rush is doing may seem over the top, but until we live in his shoes, we cannot and should not reach that conclusion. He readily admits his mistakes, but now he is just trying to enjoy his hard fought recovery. I hope he finds a measure of peace. And I would ask his detractors to refrain from casting stones upon him. Instead, go to his neighborhood and see for yourself.

Too many homes are dangerously overcrowded and barking pit bulls and blaring music keeps everyone up at night. It is no way to live, but Rush is making the best of it. He has already been to the bottom – and I know he won’t stop until he gets to the top again. You have to admire that. It is quintisentially American to persevere against all odds. In fact I told Rush tonight that his story sounded like a movie plot. I won’t be surprised if this tale ends up on the big screen.

I hope Rush does not take umbrage at me for sharing his story with my readers. Mill has outed him for scurrilous reasons. I, on the other hand, feel that it is worth noting that Rush is himself imperfect – but he is trying to live a good life now. His motivation is the greater good, while Mill is moved by hatred and revenge. I suppose Hollywood will like that. You can’t sell a movie if it doesn’t have a good villain…

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.