Having finishing reading the appellate justices' ruling that effectively ends the "enemies list" case against Capistrano Unified School District, let me just remind everyone of something ...
I'm not taking sides here or saying the justices are right or wrong in their decision that former Superintendent James Fleming and Assistant Superintendent Susan McGill should have tracked down the names of the unhappy constituents in their duties as overseeing the district.
But I was there. My name was on the list. Well, not the list from the Registrar of Voters, but another list. Remember, there were two or three.
The problem at the time wasn't whether something wrong had been done, but that the district refused to admit anything had been done. I remember near-violent meetings in the old Ed Center where parents and others whose names were on the list demanded to know why their names (and notes about where they lived, where their kids went to school, etc.) were on a district list.
Nobody at that time said "hey, we know folks are unhappy, we're just trying to figure out why."
Instead, Fleming said again and again and again that there was no list. Then-Trustee Marlene Draper shook her finger at the crowd and said there was no list.
Yet there were three.
So legally, the justices ruled that the district had the right to put together a list of unhappy constituents (it wasn't in their purview that the Registrar of Voters should not have allowed district people to see the petitions in the first place.)
But practically, I'm not sure the residents, constituents will ever really know. When former Public Information Officer David Smollar -- who seemed like a white knight for releasing the lists but now seems as involved as anyone -- made them public, Fleming's story was "Oh, that list. We made that list to see if the district's computers had been hacked and email addresses stolen."
He hadn't remembered, he said, and apparently talk of that list didn't trigger memories of the other lists, either.
And the denials went on long enough that those who knew of the lists had time to call Fleming (he notoriously didn't use email) and say "hey, we did make some lists, and here's the reason why." There's even discussion in the Grand Jury procedures about McGill telling Fleming about one of the lists early on, but that wasn't the list they were talking about at the time.
Maybe it was all innocent, but we'll never know how come the public wasn't just told that in a straightforward manner. And if it was all innocent, it's just as sad that careers and legacies and reputations were damaged and destroyed when such a simple -- and apparently legal -- explaination existed.
It all comes down to trust, and the public trust in government is very, very fragile.