Dear SFGN Editor:
In your news articles about The Pride Center, you make the assertion more than once that children regularly use the playground there. This is factually inaccurate. The reality is that children very rarely (if ever) use that playground. And any parent of a young child who would permit their child to use that small, non-fenced playground (which is located with a parking lot on two sides) without adult supervision would be negligent. Everyone who uses The Pride Center regularly knows that the playground is not much more than a public relations stunt.
The law is what it is, and Clarence was responsible for obeying the law regarding his proximity to a playground. But to be very clear, since the playground is rarely used, and since children should never be there unsupervised, no child was ever endangered by Clarence's employment in that regard.
Furthermore, Clarence's main "failure" was that he never said "No!" Need someone to clean-up after an evening event? Ask Clarence! Need someone to set-up for a morning event? Ask Clarence! Need to use the coffee-makers? Ask Clarence! Need someone at the front desk? Ask Clarence! Need to use the video equipment? Ask Clarence! Mr. Alalouf criticized Clarence for fixing the sound equipment (as requested) during an event when children were present. Does anyone think for one moment that any child was "endangered" because Clarence entered a room filled with parents and their children?
Clarence worked a great many hours "off the clock." And in order to be available at The Pride Center at any hour during the day and evening, he moved into a small room with a shared bath which was nearby and for which he paid $900/month. This also represented a violation of Clarence's sex-offender registration because of its proximity to a daycare facility.
It seems that everyone assumes that Clarence Collins is an evil man because of a horrible crime committed 25 years ago. Those of us who know Clarence know that he is now a good-natured soul with mild cognitive impairment who is basically benign. He certainly rehabilitated himself through 15 years of unselfish service at The Pride Center. I am not suggesting that Clarence should not be required to follow the law regarding sex offenders. But I am stating categorically that no child was ever endangered because of Clarence's employment because he never had the occasion or the opportunity to be alone with any child for any reason.
I hope that you will publish these facts which are certainly relevant to an accurate understanding of The Pride Center controversy.
Edward A. Slough