Death In District 7

San Antonio Express-News columnist Ken Rodriguez surely expressed the view of many local voters in his November 25 column when he branded District 7 Councilwoman Elena Guajardo a rat who betrayed the trust of one of her constituents.

Whether or not Guajardo succeeds in her re-election bid in 2007, she will be remembered primarily for the role she played in this year’s suicide death of George Dickerson, a Zachry Construction Corp. employee fired from his job after Guajardo informed his bosses that he’d sent her what she interpreted as a racially charged email from his work account.

Dickerson’s February 2 suicide understandably made him the sympathetic figure in this story, but Guajardo can hardly be blamed for finding his missive alarming. Complaining that Graham Central Station, a popular nightclub near his Oak Hills neighborhood, attracted patrons from “the lower class bad parts of the city,” Dickerson said the club needed to relocate, “thereby containing all of these very serious problems within the areas in which these types of criminal debaucheric behavior occur on a regular basis.”

Rodriguez, in a recent column, defended Dickerson as a truth-teller with a “legitimate complaint” about Graham Central Station, and willfully ignored the offensive part of the email: the suggestion that people in the poor sections of this city are accustomed to their residents behaving like wild animals.        

 What was interesting about the response to Dickerson’s death was how the attacks focused on Guajardo. Few people blamed Zachry, the company that fired Dickerson. Few people blamed the Express-News, the publication that put his job-termination story in print only hours before he killed himself. Guajardo was merely the whistleblower, but this tragic incident provided a reminder that too many people consider “whistleblower” a polite word for “stool pigeon.”

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