Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mark Salvaggio: Musings on a chance encounter at Taco Bell and a long career in public service

The last time we visited Mark Salvaggio the former city councilman was in a public spat with Chad Vegas, the boy-pastor turned trustee of the Kern High School District. Mark has never been one to mince words and his tendency to wax poetic tripped him up more than a few times during his long career in public service. Salvaggio is now on staff with Supervisor Michael Rubio's office but he's not busy enough to take time to drop me an email full of bitter-sweet memories, not unlike Ryan O'Neal's character "Preppy" in the 1970 movie "Love Story." In Mark's words:

"I went to Taco Bell after leaving my job with Supervisor Michael Rubio yesterday afternoon... ran into a young male African American city of Bakersfield employee. We smiled and shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. We talked about the tough budget times for both the City and County... After (he)left, I got my order and sat down thinking about how nice it was to see him and talk a little shop. Moments later, (he) came back into Taco Bell and asked me ...if I was coming back to the City as a Councilman again.... He said the talk around city government is that I would be back. I took a deep breath and smiled with regret. I thanked (him) for asking me this question and told him I was honored to hear that some employees are still thinking about me. I mentioned how at times I missed my work as a Councilman but had no plans to run again. He said everyone missed me a lot. My heart and throat swelled with both joy and sadness. We said goodbye again. This was the second time I have run into a city employee who said the same things about how I would be back.

"Sometimes I yearn for public service again. I had a good run, a good time though making a clean sweep of 576 consecutive meetings without an absence and never ducking a vote due an apparent or real conflict of interest. I served with 21 council members and four mayors and three city managers and five police chiefs and four fire chiefs... The best service is public service and knowing who you are, where you came from, and why you are there: to take all calls and make no problem to small. I continue to live to fight."

I don't think we have heard the last from Mark Salvaggio yet. I think he misses us.

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