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DOWNEY - We were talking about the hilariously funny recent roasts of Charlie Sheen and Roseanne Barr on Comedy Central and Sally M. Havice, a decade removed from her six-year Sacramento stint representing the 56th District (which included Downey) in the California State Assembly, said: "I'm used to being roasted in the Assembly and, for that matter, in the ABC Unified School District board of education where I also served prior to Sacramento. The only difference is I was being paid while I was being skewered, especially in the Assembly. If this is the case, I said to myself then, I might as well do the right thing. No matter what you do, you'll get criticized anyway. So I resolved to steel myself against any possible adversity. But you've got to arm yourself with a purpose. Once you have this, I told myself, I can be impervious to anything."
And so Havice, who has been known for speaking her mind and advocating fiercely for her favorite causes (and deemed by not a few as 'feisty'), survived the rough-and-tumble of state assembly politics. She was termed out in 2002 and resumed her teaching career at Cerritos Community College.
A Bachelor of Arts English cum laude and a Master of Arts graduate in linguistics of Cal State Long Beach, she has taught English composition and literature, full-time for 37 years, and part-time for two years, at the college; her teaching load had also included, until this year, speech communication.
"But once you're out of elective office," she said, picking up the narrative thread of her Sacramento experience, "you feel powerless. A great many people turn out to be very unkind. They hold a grudge even. And you find you have no recourse. The only consolation is you can sleep nights without the use of medications."
Her thoughts on the loss of her political influence flowed on: "I think this lack of influence is what bothers me sometimes because I remember when I was instrumental in restoring the installation of crossing guards in one of the cities in my district. I remember another time when I authored legislation that created the largest urban nature conservancy in California led to a flood control project that has benefited the city of Downey."
(Havice, among other things, had also championed the need for "better, safer public schools where our children can grow and learn" as well as education legislation providing, as one example, for an "expanded access to after-school programs."
"I learned many interesting things and lessons during my time in Sacramento," she went on. "I think it became clear to me, for instance, that my forte was in bringing people together and forging a consensus. I suspected I had this talent, but it really manifested itself when I was serving in the Assembly."
"Another thing I learned, by osmosis, was, if you surround yourself with idiots, you'll be perceived as one yourself. And thus, the lesson is never be afraid of hiring people smarter and more knowledgeable than you are. This is true whether you are in politics or not."
"Another principle that was etched in my mind was, you can always learn to agree to disagree, debate and compromise on the issues-but never your principles."
She says she thought life in academe would henceforth be one long, peaceful, intellectually stimulating experience after walking through the storms of political chicanery she had been through, but nooo...its halls can be dystopian, too, she said.
Havice says she wonders at times what kind of impression or impact Cerritos College has on international students when they go back to their home countries. (Especially when they pay full tuition and they have to take ESL classes).
Havice, who is listed as having been born in Los Angeles on Oct. 16, 1937, has three sons: Edward, a physician; Raul, a police officer; and Joseph, a computer scientist, and at least nine grandchildren.
Her mother, also named Sally and who will turn 97 next week, resides in Fontana with Havice's sister; she has mixed Spanish, Dutch, and Mexican Indian blood. Her deceased dad, who was of Dutch and Irish descent who originated from Champaign, Illinois, never received any formal schooling and worked as a mechanic. "But he was very smart," says Havice. "I taught him his ABC's, but he helped me with my math until we came to long division."
In addition to her teaching, Havice says she is still very much a keen observer of the passing scene.
Published: August 16, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 18