Orange Coast columnist Shawn Hubler has known Los Angeles Times reporter Ruben Vives since he was a teenager, coming to her house with his mother — Hubler's Guatemalan nanny. He was like many skateboard-riding OC [see below] kids, but when he turned 18 he also became illegal — a secret that becomes more poignant now that he and colleague Jeff Gottlieb are presumed contenders for a Pulitzer Prize for leading the paper's coverage of the Bell city scandals. Hubler helped Vives find an immigration lawyer and get a green card so he could stay in California and go to college. Hubler writes in the April issue:
A dozen years have since passed. Our children no longer need babysitters. The nanny has moved to another state. The boy graduated from high school and enrolled at Cal State Fullerton. A clerical job at the big daily newspaper paid his tuition. Three years ago, the editors gave him a shot at reporting. Go cover this little city, they told him: the City of Bell.
Now Ruben Vives—the boy who was almost sent away—is a contender for a Pulitzer Prize for helping alert Californians to a massive municipal rip-off. He’s still too polite to tell his own story, but I persuaded him to let me tell some of it for him, because I wonder how many more kids are out there like him—good kids with dreams, who’ll make us all proud if we can just get past some of the hard lines we draw.
* Noted: Hubler emails that she and Vives both lived in Whittier at the time, not in Orange County.