Bog News December 2020
NEWS FROM THE BOG
All the News that the “News” Doesn’t See Fit To Print
“Perhaps in our lifetimes we will not succeed. Perhaps things will only get worse. But this does not invalidate our efforts. Rebellion — which is different from revolution because it is perpetual alienation from power rather than the replacement of one power system with another — should be our natural state.”
— Chris Hedges
Is published © Scott D. Egan who is responsible for its contents. Any part can be copied, just acknowledge source and buy me a beer. And not some cheap crap. A Dragoon or Voodoo Ranger, preferably “Higher Plane” IPA. Also a shot of Irish is good, but again, not the cheap crap. If you can’t spring enough for Jameson level whiskey, frickin’ forget it.
Fighting City Hall and Winning!
In a stunning unanimous reversal of a unanimous decision the Mayor and Council had made at their previous (November 17) meeting, the redistricting scam they tried to implement was met by a strong and united front by the El Rio Coalition and the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association, along with members of other coalitions and neighborhoods. And what was the council’s explanation for trying to slip one by the electorate without notification to thousands of voters being removed from their ward? IT WAS THE FAULT OF COVID, OF COURSE!
Barrio Subaco, Jollyville, Joaquin Murrieta Park, El Rio Center and Trini Alvarez Golf Course stay together on the westside, even though it was clear that the council member representing the area — Lane Santa Cruz — wants to ditch the area from her responsibility.
Many of us westsider’s — knowing her connection to Regina Romero and the “G” machine — were doubtful that she could exhibit any independence and just do the right thing. Some (like me) had wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. The grace period is now over and there is no doubt anymore. Like her model Santa Romero, Santa Cruz has proved that she will be a faithful servant of the powers-that-be, to the detriment of the people she is supposed to represent.
None of us were fooled when she got her best friend to praise her at call to the audience during the council meeting, but accusing us of employing “Trump style tactics” was a little rich even for such a loyal sycophant.
We thought exercising our 1st Amendment rights — collecting a petition of over 350 people in a few days, going door to door to educate people on what the city was planning without their knowledge, encouraging people to call the Mayor and Council on their opinions — were tactics in the finest of the American tradition. But such are the personal, vengeful, and petty attacks that many of us have come to expect from them.
What exactly is the problem they are trying to fix?
The excuse used by the Mayor and Council for their original redistricting plan was that there is an ethnic imbalance on the council and they therefore needed to pack more minorities in Ward 3 in hopes of gaining another non-white council member to “balance” out the racial disparity between the population and the council representations. (Why not pack Ward 2, 4, or 6,? Don’t ask me).
The complaint is the ward officers do not adequately represent 45% of the current minority population. But the ethnic breakdown of the six current city officials, (minus the vacant seat at Ward 3) is far over that:
Three of them (the Mayor, Ward 1 and 5) are Mexican-American, one (Ward 4) is Asian-American, and two are “white” (although hardly Anglo-Saxon).
Monday, December 7th, the day before the council meeting, a hearty group of residents held an important press conference in front of the Ward 1 Office to protest the redistricting plan. There was only one staff member at the ward, a very nice woman who offered us water and the use of the bathroom. I personally thanked her for her kindness, and we proceeded with the press conference. Prominent citizens stepped forward in support, such as the noted attorney and activist Bill Risner, former Ward 1 City Council Member Bruce Wheeler, former state representative Wenona Benally, Hollywood President Patrick McKenna,long time activists Raul and Jean Ramierez, Miguel Ortega, Raul Perez, Salomon Baldenegro Jr., Trish Muir and others. But most impressive were a number of young and articulate Chicanas from Barrio Subaco who spoke so
Instead of appreciating these important and passionate voices from the community who — in the middle of a viral pandemic — chose to go out to a press conference and exercise their fundamental rights to petition their government, Santa Cruz dismissed us all as being stuck on “1970’s romantic notions” and “throwing rocks.” (?) I doubt any of those young women who spoke at the press conference were
THE PUMP DON’T WORK CAUSE THE VANDALS TOOK THE HANDLES!
Santa Cruz has now publicly suggested that we were somehow involved with vandalism at Ward 1, which (allegedly) happened the night after our press conference. She claimed it ”unsettling when these actions feel like a direct intent to scare and intimidate a brown femme council
For the safety of our community and neighbors the Ward 1 office will continue to remain closed. We will still be taking calls and checking our emails regularly. Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions or concerns. 520.791.4040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SO WHY WAS STAFF THERE AT NIGHT???
person and their staff.” She connects it, without any evidence, to the redistricting issue and “gender based violence” and how our barrios are “tainted” with “toxic machismo and misogyny” and that “these intimidation tactics are unacceptable.”
Wow. She “feels” all this, so it must be true. How can one refute her “feelings”? I happen to strongly feel that it was some old white Republican woman from the foothills that did the damage. This pinche gringa caused it in order to propagate the falsehood that some violent Chicano macho committed the crime! I know this to be true because I “feel” it so, and very strongly — which is as good of proof as provided by Santa Cruz in her public
accusations against us. How does that “feel”?
I have asked for a police report on this supposed horrible act. There must be proof that one of us did this, or this is defamation of our character. No response yet from TPD… and of course NO MEDIA COVERAGE on any of these issues.
The last time there was such an act was the mysterious “brake-in” at the ward when council member Regina Romero was there. None of the alarms were set off, the security cameras did not work, and there was no signs of forced entry — the only thing that was “stolen” was the council members hard drive — conveniently ripped off right after she received a public records request for documents regarding her plans to sell the El Rio golf course to developers. This was right after the city
attorney’s office lost all their records on the sale as well. Quite a crime ladened city we have, damn vandals everywhere.
What is so unfortunate, of course, is that real misogyny exists, but — newsflash! —it does not only occur just in the barrios with some chingones. These unfounded accusations — by an elected official no less — totally denigrates real acts of intimidation and sexism. Jussie Smollett was just a flunky actor for chrissakes — but a city council member has an enormous amount of power and influence. Santa Cruz is one of four who can hire or fire a police chief, city clerk, or city attorney. She can tell her staff who to serve, and has a say what is on the agenda for consideration. She can direct resources wherever she wants.
Fortunately, thanks to westside organization, the one thing she can’t do is dump the El Rio neighborhood out of Ward 1. (At least not for now… but they
are returning to the issue in 6 months).
As a white man (well, Irish — the “other” white meat) who has lived in the barrio for most of my adult life (since the romantic ’70’s) I have been a member of several important organizations that are or were all predominantly and historically run by women. The El Rio
Coalition, at least the newly re-emerged ERC “II” that saved the golf course from privatization, was run, lead, and kept together by a true organizer: Ceci Cruz. Even stuck outside of Tucson during the pandemic, she helped run the show this time as well.
As a founding member of Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association I can tell you that since 1989 up until last year (when Patrick was elected) all our BHNA President’s have all been women but one (Steve Leal who could not serve a full term due to illness) From Isabel Garcia to Margaret McKenna, to the current women on our current board of BHNA, women have played a prominent role in our hood. The great Fiesta Grande was run by women. The Barrio Neighborhood Coalition was founded and lead by an inspiring woman. The current dynamic and awe-inspiring current leader of the Pima Area Labor Federation is a woman.
Are all these people and organizations who expressed their opposition to this redistricting macho woman haters? What does Santa Cruz think of the articulate young Chicana’s from Subaco who spoke up? Self-hating femme’s?
But no matter all the crap they threw at us, and no matter what they attempt to do to intimidate us in the future, we proved something that no one can refute:
The people united can never be defeated!
Thank you, people.
ACTION ALERT: Casa M aria Catholic Worker H ouse is
calling for a moratorium on evictions and a suspension of utility
cut–offs until the pandemic is under control:
Please sign the petition “Elected Officials of Pima County: Extend the Moratorium on Evictions in Pima County:”
The goal is to reach 1,500 signatures. You can sign the petition here:
“Feed the poor they call you a saint. Ask why there are poor and they call you a communist.”
— —Dorothy Day
And you can always help out by sending a generous contribution to them at:
401 E. 26th St., Tucson AZ
! Hasta La Victoria Siempre ! 5
Bog News December 2020
THE OTHER SIDE:
Bog Notes will always try to provide the other side…
Former Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (who, along with Regina Romero tried to sell off the Trini Alvarez El Rio Golf Course to private developers) was appointed Chair of the Redistricting Committee (by council member Kozachic) and Charlene Mendoza acted as Vice-Chair.
While the former Mayor has remained silent (the only blessing in this whole debacle) Ms. Mendoza has not, to which we are equally grateful. Below is her public comments on Facebook in defense of Option A to divide the westside. My comment in response were also published on line, and follows.
“I was in the middle of writing something
else when I was contacted by a few folks
who are having “all the feels” about the
Redistricting Advisory Council’s
recommendations to Mayor and Council
about moving three precincts. Full
disclosure: I did serve on the committee
as Vice Chair. In the midst of what felt like
100 million other things and COVID, 7
appointees, one from each Ward and one
from the Mayor, worked for two months,
held meetings, including one open to the
public for comment with both options
presented, worked. For myself, I
dedicated hours outside of the meeting,
examining all potential options, tapping into my deep love of the community I was born in, raised in, raised my family in, which generations of my family have done as well.
Being honest, the options presented to Mayor and Council were not the best one, there was another option considered by the committee, that I think took us much closer to the equity and justice I hope for and work towards in our City. It involved six
moves. However, the committee voted to send these two options forward to the Mayor and Council. I do personally believe the Option selected by Mayor and Council was the best of the two choices.
There is more to this than is being publicized. This is not just about El Rio, nor does it have anything to do with GCU or anything else. There are constraints presented by our City Charter that make clear the only way moves can be made. To be clear, moves had to be made. The RAC meets and needs to act when the number of residents in each of the six Wards is not within the Standard Deviation of equal.
Some of the constraints, which you can read about for yourself if interested are things like Wards must be contiguous, Hispanic voting cannot be diluted, etc. When you begin to consider how to deal with some of the constraints, the options available become quite limited.
The Mayor and Council were presented with two options from the Redistricting Advisory Committee that had representation from every ward. The option that Mayor and Council voted to move forward with (Option A) involved three precinct changes. The other option (Option B) involved only one. Both options addressed the need for redistributing the number of people in each Ward so that each Ward was within the acceptable Standard Deviation. However, only Option A begins to address the historic inequities that have been institutionalized into the structures of our City.
In our City that has a population that is approximately 47% POC, that is not our representation on council. Tucson has historically packed Ward I and Ward V with a higher percentage of POC than the other 4 Wards. In essence, this has concentrated our voting power by segregating it into two wards. This type of packing leads to less overall representation. Yes, our communities have made the best of it. Yes, our communities have built and thrived. To me, we have done the work and we deserve the representation.
! Hasta La Victoria Siempre ! 7
Bog News December 2020
By moving these three precincts, several things will be achieved: the population of all six Wards is closer to the same (and within the acceptable deviation according to City Charter) and increases the voting power of POC in Ward III while keeping it approximately the same in Ward I, V and VI. As several of the committee members said on record, just because a solution is simple, it doesn’t make it right.
To be clear, the RAC committee made the recommendations, they did not come from the Mayor or any Council Member. I served on the committee that made the recommendations to Mayor and Council after two months of meetings, including a meeting that requested public comment. I know that I posted about this experience on Facebook regularly as did at least one other committee member, Marion Chubon, to try to make this more transparent and available to the public, because COVID isolation, etc. I know this involves changes that on one hand are difficult, but, on the other, begins to address the historic and systemic racism and Ward packing that is a part of Tucson’s past. I am hopeful we can all come around to thinking about long term political representation and power, working to increase POC’s representation and voting power in all six of Tucson’s City Council Wards and, like many before us, making hard choices to move toward equity and justice.
There is no conspiracy. There is not an attempt to somehow sneak things through in the dead of night. The only surprise to me in the process was that CM Steve Kozachik made a motion for a vote during the Study Session. It was not expected. In fact, a bunch of us had turned in Requests to Speak because we expected that it would come up during the City Council Meeting.
On a personal note, a bit sad and disappointed that there was not more of an attempt to talk and/or dialogue before folks jumped on the there must be a conspiracy and Mayor Romero and CM Santa Cruz have x,y,z.
Happy to talk more with anyone who is interested in dialogue. Please share with those who are concerned about this issue.”
! Hasta La Victoria Siempre ! 8
Bog News December 2020
We should all appreciate Charlene Mendoza, the Redistricting Committee Vice- Chair, for posting her defense of the City of Tucson’s preferred option to redistrict over 12,000 residents from three wards as opposed to 5,000 people in one ward, which achieves the same required population shift. Since we have not heard a peep from the Chair of the committee — former Mayor Jonathan Rothschild — I assume that her statement is the accepted position of the committee.
Ms. Mendoza indicates the hardship she faced attending “meetings” for “two months” during the pandemic crisis which included one of the “meetings” being open to public comments (at least for those who have a computer). I hope that she can likewise appreciate the difficulties of community people organizing against this city scam during this health crisis as well. In less than two weeks we have held more than just two meetings on this issue, organized a petition drive and leafleted neighborhoods door to door during the same pandemic. And we did not have the full backing of city staff and Tucson’s haughty political establishment to do so.
That being said, many of us have questions about her committee’s recommendation that was accepted (and inappropriately voted on during study session) by the Mayor and Council, with final ratification scheduled for December 8th.
The basis for choosing the
option of these massive shifts in voters (as opposed to the more simple option) which has been repeated by Mayor
Romero and Council Member Santa Cruz and echoed by Ms. Mendoza is that Tucson “has a population that is approximately 47% POC, that is not our representation on council.”
I hesitate to defend the city with regards to race based issues, but I find the “equitable representation” and “historic inequities” arguments lacking as the basis used for the justification of packing more brown residents into Ward 3. Out of the six current members (noting the negligent absence of Ward 3 council member) three out of six of these members are Mexican Americans. My math is terrible, but I think that is 50%. On top of those three, a forth member is Asian-American. That leaves two.
! Hasta La Victoria Siempre ! 9
Bog News December 2020
Kozachic doesn’t sound very Anglo-Saxon to me (although I could be wrong there). And then there is Cunningham (and us Irish have only been considered “white” for about 150 years). The former Mayor is Jewish. The city manager is “Hispanic.” What, pray tell, is the problem here?
This urgent need to pack Ward 3 to get more minorities on the council is a phony excuse based on actual percentages. So the simple option is the one that was rejected even though it is the logical one based on population equalization, lack of disruption of communities of interest, and common sense.
And in reality, while shifting thousands of voters to a different ward may sound like it can somehow add minority representation to the council, the fact is it will only have a political effect on the Primary Elections, not the General Election when votes are cast city-wide for Mayor and Council positions. Chairman Rothschild seems to acknowledge this by asking how to solve the “problem” if in westside Ward 1 “a Republican, while female who is very strong citywide, wins that election against a Hispanic — I’m not even sure how you would solve that problem, you know?”
No, you can’t “fix” a problem if all city-wide voters choose someone you don’t like, no matter how much you manipulate the wards. Kozachic won his first election city-wide as a Republican. There have been Republican Mayors and council members in the past. What this Mayor and
Council are trying to do is manipulate the Primary Election which gets to decide who runs city-wide. We may never know for whom this scam is to benefit until next years election, but be assured someone is being redistricted either in or out to benefit someones interest.
Ms. Mendoza eschews the notion of any type of “conspiracy” and says “this is not just about El Rio” or “anything to do with GCU or anything else.” But a reading of the transcripts of the redistricting meeting includes the approval for shifting 12,000 residents out of their ward without notifying them until AFTER the deed is done — the exact same tactic used by the council when tried to do with the sale of our public green space in El Rio for private developers. Here is Rothschild:
“.. it would be nice if I was in a precinct that was gonna move if I got notice of it, or potential precinct. But we don’t do that. That’s too expensive.”
Or this exchange:
“MR. SCOTT [committee member] : How are we gonna let people know that their precinct is changed?
CHAIRMAN ROTHSCHILD: Mr. – Ms. Stash or Mr. Randolph? I mean, how does that work?
MR. RANDOLPH: So, Your Honor, we will send notification to the residents letting them know that they have been moved to the, to an additional precinct.
CHAIRMAN ROTHSCHILD: But, but that’s after the fact, correct?
MR. RANDOLPH: That would be after the fact, yes, Your Honor. CHAIRMAN ROTHSCHILD: Okay. That answers your question, I think.”
It certainly answers my question. I did not find any objection to this after-the-fact notification in the transcripts on this from Ms. Mendoza. Over 12,000 residents will find out that they are not longer in the same ward by chance. Of course, those being shifted into Ward 3 will have no council member to address their issues.
During the city council’s study session one member asked about the appropriateness changing voting districts right before an election, and council member Fimbres responded “that’s why they are doing this now.” Clearly, this is a move to get some voters in or out of an area that will be politically advantageous to someone. It has nothing to do with correcting non-existent racial disparities on the council. It is a political “movida” pure and simple.
The fact that all this packing of the wards is going on while the Ward 3 council office has not filled the vacant seat is a clear dereliction of duty by the Mayor and Council. Of course, having one less vote on the council gives each of them more power to
manipulate. But Ward 3 residents should be outraged that they have no representation on the council to advocate for the ward’s interest. They had 30 days to do so, but like illegal voting during a study session, this council has no respect for rules and regulations — even their own.
Hopefully by their meeting next Tuesday when this terrible option is to be ratified enough council members will come to their senses and reject this terrible proposal. Then perhaps Ms. Mendoza can go back to doing what she does best: defending private charter schools against the interest of public education.
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“By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” — Oscar Wilde
HAVE A SAFE NEW YEARS EVERYONE!
! Hasta La Victoria Siempre ! 12