Search for Pedro Garcia fizzles
January 9, 2012
EDITORS NOTE: See the Pedro Garcia letter at the bottom of this story.
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
For a guy who doesn’t seem to exist, Pedro Garcia is the talk of the town in Cambria.
That’s the name printed at the bottom of a Dec. 15 letter faxed to the editor of the local newspaper, The Cambrian, a letter which simultaneously praises Chris Adams, superintendent of Coast Unified School District, and excoriates a parent and student.
But despite the best efforts of many in the small oceanside community of 6,000 — including those of a private investigator, and a parallel probe by CalCoastNews — “Pedro Garcia” is nowhere to be found.
A clue to his identity, however, might be found in the printed heading on a fax copy of the letter provided by the newspaper, which reads: “Chris and Julie Adams” and “530-242-0282.” That telephone number was issued to the Adams while they lived on Chancellor Road in Redding three years ago, is still listed with the Adams, and is currently operative. Dialed numerous times by CalCoastNews, the number simply rang.
In part, the Cambrian letter writer asserted that “the Hispanic community respects and appreciates ALL that Superintendent Adams, the school board, the principals, counselors and teachers do to meet our students’ and families’ needs.”
Longtime Cambria resident Monica Soto Raethke said she was baffled when she read the letter in The Cambrian.
“My curiosity leads me to think, why is this man writing this letter in support of the superintendent?” she said. “Who is this Pedro Garcia? Given that I am Latino, too, I felt compelled to find this man.”
Soto secured a copy of the letter from acting editor Bill Morem at The Cambrian, and conducted a database search using the faxed letter’s imprinted telephone number. She said she was “puzzled and shocked” to discover who appeared to be responsible for the fax. Then, she went to The Cambrian office to verify the fax’s source information.
“Could it be possible that the Adams made up this man?” Soto wondered this week. “I have been in this town for over twenty years and know my Hispanic community very well, and I don’t remember knowing or hearing of a Pedro Garcia with kids in the schools. I have been PTA president. How do I not know this man or his kids?”
Extensive searches by CalCoastNews of several databases turned up only one reference to “Pedro Garcia” in Cambria. Three addresses were provided.
The first, 2112 Main Street, does not exist; it’s a large, undeveloped lot. At the nearby Redwood Cafe on the opposite side of the street, an employee “thought” he remembered a Pedro Garcia who “moved away a long time ago, a long ways away.” The second address is a single family residence that has been occupied by the same couple for 23 years; they have never heard of a person named Pedro Garcia. And the third is a post office box for which information is not available.
The Adams did not return CalCoastNews’ telephone calls to their home, but according to a follow-up commentary last week by The Cambrian’s editor, Bert Etling, “…the Adams deny any knowledge of the fax.”
In addressing The Cambrian’s role in the apparent hoax, Etling confessed to being mystified by the whole affair, but concurred that printing the letter without ascertaining its writer was a violation of newspaper policy. The editor wrote, “We can’t confirm who Pedro Garcia is, and accusations have been made that Adams himself wrote, or at least sent, the letter.” But, added Etling, “(That) doesn’t seem likely.”
Jude Basile, a parent, said the faxed letter was fraudulent, and that all indications point to the Adams. “Our prisons are full of people convicted on much less evidence. Who else had any motive to have that letter published?” he asked. “And what does this say about truth and integrity?”