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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Big Announcement: Vanguard Announces Hiring of First Beat Writer

The Vanguard is very pleased to announce that it has hired its first beat writer, Simon Efrein. As we have mentioned previously, there are going to be a number of major changes that we announce this month. Here is one of the biggest. Mr. Efrein has written a short introduction about himself. Please welcome him to the Vanguard Community.

Hello there. My name is Simon Efrein, and I will be your first beat reporter for the Davis Vanguard. This is as new an experience for me as it will be for you, this being my first time penning articles for a blog. I figure the best way to get myself acquainted with the Vanguard is to first get you, our reader, acquainted with me.

My pedigree is somewhat out the ordinary, so I’ll try to work chronologically. I spent my years growing up on Kauai, the least industrious yet most beautiful island in the Hawaiian chain. The population of the island just happened to be around the same as Davis’s, hence the appeal of this little utopia in Northern California.

I came to UC Davis four years ago as an intrepid young mechanical engineer. Little did I know that very quickly I would decide that engineering was not for me. The classes are insanely hard, to the point where often most of a class will fail, but the curve will allow most students to pass. This didn’t appeal to any sense of intellectualism or learning for me.

Two quarters and two political science classes later, I knew my calling. Throw in a minor in economics for good measure and we have the degree that I walked away with. I have found politics to be infinitely fascinating in its nuances and significance, and yet it remains so misunderstood. To this day I am amazed at how few people grasp how their lives are impacted by those who make the law, and therefore of the importance of journalism in keeping lawmakers honest.

Speaking of journalism, my experience starts in my third year at Davis when I began writing for The California Aggie, UC Davis’s training ground for reporters of the future. It was there that I wrote for four quarters before disagreement between myself and a notorious editor from the Aggie (whom this publication has reported on) resulted in my parting ways with that newspaper.

It is here that readers of the Vanguard might become wary, but I assure you that some opportunities are too intriguing to pass up. I began an internship in the War Room for none other than the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a student of politics who is also interested in elections and voting behavior, the chance to work for one of the biggest names in politics, possibly one day in history, was too appealing to ignore. I wanted to expose myself to the inner workings of that operation, to see a powerful electoral machine at work. I would definitely classify my experience working there as invaluable.

My final quarter at UC Davis was spent in Washington DC, where I interned also at the governor’s office there. My responsibilities consisted mainly of attending congressional hearings and taking notes. I watched John Kerry debating health care, Barbara Boxer stand up for the environment, Chevy Chase testify on child obesity, and sat near Buzz Aldrin in a NASA hearing.

I also found that politics at the national level are totally absurd. For every two hours of hearing time, there was about fifteen minutes of information that anyone cared about. Tightly scripted, heavy on rhetoric, every statement was a power play either on an issue or for popularity as a maverick. This isn’t to say that there weren’t congressman fighting for good issues, but that the insane behemoth that Washington actually is made me realize how much I’d rather just come back to Davis and write for a blog or something.

As to my personal issues, I believe very strongly in our responsibility to keep a clean environment. I feel strongly about the rights of the individual. I would like to see Davis not become so overdeveloped as to be a commercial mockery of a quaint college town. When you look at all the areas surrounding Davis, Davis is the place to be, but only because it retains its integrity as a community. Davis is growing, and we have to be ever-vigilant so that it does not lose itself in the burgeoning environment.

Someone said to me “all politics are local” a little while back, and at first I didn’t understand what he meant. He was trying to tell me that the place things actually get done, where people get the chance to genuinely make changes for the better, are where they live and in their communities. I would like to do that for Davis, and I hope you enjoy my future stories.

---Simon Efrein