By Herman Baca
On Tuesday Mayor Ron Morrison and the National City (NC) coun-cil appointed Jess Van Deventer to fill Louie Natividad’s vacant council seat on a 3-1 vote. In a city where the minority population is Anglo (12%) and the majority (88%) is comprised of, Mexican (62%), Filipinos (16%), Afro-American (5%) and other ethnic groups, the vote (to me) was reminiscent of what existed from 1948 to1993 under South Africa’s apartheid system. Under apartheid, 10% of the white population (assisted by sellout paid blacks) governed 90% of the majority black population.
The appointment of Van Deventer raised the question, what is the difference between the apartheid system that existed in South Africa, and NC? The answer to me is there is little difference. Van Deventer appointment was orchestrated by Mayor Ron Morrison with the disgraceful assistance of 2 rubber-stamp Hispanics (Frank Parra and Rosalie Zarate), a political appointee is the same political tactic used against the black majority population under apartheid.
The fact that Jess Van Deventer was appointed comes as no surprise to many of us in the Chicano community. Van Deventer is a known political quantity to our community. For decades he has been a member of the good old boy network, a businessman with large property holdings, especially on NC’s Westside (OTNC), and is an old political retread that has served as a city councilman, on NC planning commission, and as a San Diego port commissioner. His voting record has been one of consistently voting for pro-business interests, against NC’s residents and especially poor residents.
The appointment of Van Deventer by Mayor Ron Morrison obviously has come at the expense of the interests of 88% of NC’s residents. This was done by Morri-son politically lining up the same old entrenched economic and political interest groups (most of them outsiders), that have historical run NC. Vested interest groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, police, fireman unions, Mile of Car owners, and controlled, “rubber stamp” Hispanics.
Ironically, the above happened on the very same day that the U.S. was celebrating CHANGE in Washington, D.C. with the inauguration of this nation first elected Afro-American President, Barak Obama. This fact I am certain was not lost on those who witnessed the appointment of Van Deventer at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Immediately after Van Deventer’s appointment phone calls and e-mails were received at our office directing political anger at Mayor Morrison from both the Chicano and Filipino community. Many residents perceived the appointment as an act of total disrespect to both communities, and accused Mayor Morrison of “machine politics,” and of a blatant political power grab. Others simply asked, what happened?
After dealing politically with NC’s power structure for the last 40 years in my opinion what happened is:
1. There exists a structural systemic political problem caused by the ever-changing demographics of NC i.e. a shrinking Anglo minority with economic and political power that controls, and a majority of have nots that have no economic or political power.
2. Van Deventer appointment resulted (partially) because of the following:
· Ex-councilman Louie Natividad’s, after serving for 6 years, failure to politically inform anyone, consult, or inform the community of his planned resignation. His failure assured that Mayor Morrison and his money supporters would appoint his successor,
· The failure of “Hispanic” candidates to educate, politicalize and organize their community. Most naïvely and apolitically believed that social service type individuals, cocktail attending political organizations, and endorsements from high profile politicians (not from NC) would get them appointed,
· Failure to comprehend that Mayor Morrison was playing with a “stacked deck” and failing to call for a special election. The above allowed Morrison to setup his bogus selection process and then make it appear that Van Deventer appointment was cost affective, and “democratic.”
· Failure to comprehend that Mayor Morrison and his money interest supporters orchestrated Van Deventer’s appointment because Morrison wanted and needed 3 solid votes (Zarate, Van Deventer and his) on the council to continue his pro-business political agenda. That Van Deventer would be selected was public knowledge as I was personally informed a week and a half before he was appointed.
Many in the Filipino community have asked why Morrison was able to politically deny the Filipino community (16%) political representation? I cannot speak for your community, but since you asked my opinion is that,
1. The Filipino community split their base during the election by running 2 inept candidates, one a liar, and the other a self-serving member of the NC Chamber of Commerce, who in the end didn’t even support her. Because of those facts Morrison was able to discount both candidates, along with the newly formed Filipino Voters Coalition that had announced that the appointment of a Filipino “would be a first test of its emerging political muscle.”
Whatever the reasons were the political facts remain that Mayor Morrison blatantly politically disregarded and disrespected the interest and concerns of 88% of the residents of NC. Unless persons involved with politics in NC start to understand the above, Mayor Morrison will continue to represent business supporters, and ignore the concerns and interests of NC majority population!
Herman Baca is president of the Committee on Chicano Rights in National City.