July 11, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Latinos and the Davis Recall

Why should Latinos have an opinion about the current campaign to recall the governor of California, Gray Davis? The crude truth is that no one has asked us about it, but even worst, there has been no independent Mexican or Latino voice who has expressed a view in this regard.

  There is no doubt that the governor still enjoys the majority support from the Latino legislators, without any doubt considered the visible and recognized hierarchy of political leadership in the Latino community. However, the obvious problem with this situation is that with few exceptions most of all Latino California legislators - state and federal - belong to the same political party as Davis - the Democratic. Like it or not, they are compromised with the party and with the political destiny of the governor, notwith-standing the numerous and progressive legislative proposals they have presented, which respond to the immediate needs of Latino voters who gave them their electoral victories. Latinos represent more than a third of the population of the state and almost twenty percent of the registered voters.

  We encounter the same dilemma with the extremely few Latino labor leaders of the many trade unions throughout California. The number of unionized workers of the state’s labor force is probably the lowest in modern history - only 16 percent. If public employees are excluded from this calculation - state and municipal workers - perhaps the percentage does not even reach 9 percent of the total.

  Among Latino workers, the real truth is that 90 percent do not enjoy the benefits that are derived from a union membership card. The unions, almost without exception, belong to the State Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, which generally endorses the Democratic candidates - and for very good and obvious reasons. The federation has already expressed public opposition to the recall, and although it is not completely satisfied with the governor’s record, as several labor leaders have expressed to me privately, the alternative could be worst.

  According to a recent voter survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times, the majority of Latinos and workers (of all races) has indicated favor with the recall of the Democratic governor. The poll demonstrated that even amongst union members, the core base of political support for Davis, 69 percent did not approve of his performance. The logical extension of this dissatisfaction, however, does not reach the same threshold of support for his removal amongst these voters. Neither does there exist strong support for other possible alternative candidates, perhaps with the exception of Senator Diane Feinstein, although she insist! that she has no interest in appearing on the ballot - at least, not for the moment.

  Confronted with this historic civic challenge, and considering the Latino population growth and increased percentage of the state’s electorate, but especially the existence of the largest number of Latino elected officials at all levels of state government in our history, no one should consider it an act of disloyalty that a public discussion occur in the Latino community regarding the recall of Governor Davis.

  There is absolutely nothing wrong with openly posing the question - has Davis performed for the Latino community with respect to the vexing social problems, such as: the driver’s license issue, quality public and bilingual education, access to higher education, health insurance, and housing within the reach of the average wage of the Latino worker and family, appointments of Latinos to positions of social weight within the structure of state government, particularly the judicial branch, and others?

There is no reason why we should not enter into discussions with Republican and Green political personalities, such as Richard Riordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, Jr., Darrell Issa, and Peter Camejo - from those considered politically moderate to the conservative, and even the left.

A Latino dialogue about the recall of Gray Davis should be open to grassroots organizations of all constituencies and issues, the Mexican clubs of origin, parish associations of all denominations, intellectuals, artists, and social activists - all those that are not tied to a political party, but also those that follow the party discipline. An invitation to partake in such a democratic dialogue of clarifying positions and issues is dictated by the growing political maturity of the Latino voter. This old and NEW voter has every right to pose the difficult questions and expect a clear answer based on verifiable facts, not rhetoric or more promises.

No one should take the Latino voters for granted and think that they are stuck in the pockets of one or another political party. Electoral competition for our vote suits us much better.

Nativo Vigil Lopez
Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana

Gray Davis enemy of the people

In a recent editorial in your publication referring to the Davis recall efforts: “The most recent survey of the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 46 percent of Latinos reject the recall and 37 percent support it — better for Davis than the 51 percent of the general voting population that want him out and the 43 percent who would keep him.” (“On Latino Minds – Opportunity Knocks With Davis Recall Drive” published July 3, 2003 Vol. 27 No. 27)

I have lived in the South Bay since 1978. I have seen several governors in that time, both Democrats and Republicans. Gray Davis has been the best enemy of the people I have seen. Conservatives stand back and watch him veto programs that have support from both sides of the aisle thus stopping social welfare programs that would help the low-income workers. Liberals stop short of expressing their views because they fear getting someone even worse than Davis. I say it is time to vote for a governor that cares about Californians. When some of us struggle to make ends meet, it wears on all of us! What we need is jobs that pay a livable wage. We need justice in the workplace. We need a governor that stands for a self sufficient California. A California where all people can have a decent place to live, nutricious food on the table, and health care when they need it.

Peter Camejo, a Latino with the Green Party will run and in some poles he has more support than some of the Republicans who want to run against Davis and have lots of $ to pay for it. Peter Camejo will stand for something if he becomes Governor of California. He will support legislation that will create a state where we can all live freely and with dignity. If we are to get more diversity and human respect in our political system we need to have more people involved in the elections. That includes donations to those running and getting out the vote on election day. No campaign can operate well without support.

Michele Delehanty
Chula Vista

On Latino Minds — Opportunity Knocks With Davis Recall Drive

(“On Latino Minds – Opportunity Knocks With Davis Recall Drive” published July 3, 2003 Vol. 27 No. 27)

It is certain that a recall election will shake up the state’s power structure.  And to be expected that some Hispanic / Latino politicians are willing to step up to the plate.  If the political chaos that some predict, added to an already desperate economy, does materialize, even a very strong replacement governor may end up going down in history with all the blame.

The recall yes, recall no arguments are a lot like the arguments over capital punishment.  One side says that it doesn’t stop murder. The other side says maybe, but that murderer will never kill again. Ditto for “capitol punishment” - Recalling Davis will not stop political corruption, but that particular corrupt politician will never have the chance to turn his back on the will of the people again. 

Barbara Vickroy
Escondido CA

Bush should learn a lesson from 1776

Our  President’s statement on July 4th that the spirit of 1776 still echoes around the world, sounded like a typical Bush bombastic faux pas.

However, in retrospect, he did make sense. The spirit of 1776 embodied the desire of people to throw off the yoke of tyranny and suppression by an occupying power. Is this not what the Iraqi people are trying to do? 

The British had committed none of the transgressions in colonial America that we have in Iraq. They were not invading the homes of the common people, commandeering their possessions and shooting women and children; they had not turned large areas of this country into rubble; they had not scattered cluster bombs and radioactive waste on our cities; nor had they destroyed this country’s infrastructure or attempted to commandeer our resources to reimburse their chosen contractors to “rebuild” at exorbitant cost. Their only oppression was to attempt to recoup their expenses for the Seven-Year War by taxing Americans.

Mr. Bush should learn a lesson from 1776 - it is impossible to impose your will on people, thousands of miles away, who only want their freedom and are willing to die for it.

Charles Prendergast
Via email

Teachers without students

In a July 3 memo to the San Diego Board of Education, Mary Hopper, Chief of the District’s Office of Instructional Support states, “The district’s massive investment in professional development is based on the recognition that improving teacher knowledge is essential to raising student performance.” And, of course, the memo continues extolling the merits of, and psuedo flexibility of, our staff development endeavor.

Omitted is the identification of the amount of district funds this “massive investment” is gobbling up, and any connection with the immediate needs of the children in the district. If one just identifies the numbers of individuals with full qualifications as teachers working outside the classroom, as I did previously, one comes up with nearly 300. And the cost for their salaries (and a few consultants mixed in) is about  $18 million. That doesn’t count any money for substitute time, prorata pay, or workshops. I call these people “teachers without students!”

  But we presently have a crisis in the district pass rate for the California High School Exit Exam. The recent district report shows high numbers of students who have failed one or both portions of the CHSEE required for graduation. These are children that will not EVER directly benefit from the efforts of the staff developers, or of the work of the math/literacy administrators. They and their parents (and the district) are facing the immediate fact that unless something is done very soon that they will not graduate on time. I don’t think these children or their parents care about the long-range benefits of staff development. They are concerned about their high school success. I share their concern, however I do not agree that the standard should change.

  And while everyone in the state wrings their hands, and PRAYS that the state will bail us out by extending the HSEE deadline, or by reducing the score needed for passing; in San Diego we could be taking these at-risk kids and providing them with diagnostic analysis of their deficiencies and helping them to pass. We have the resources, and we have the need to act accountably.

  Why not use all these expert “teachers without students”... one-on-one if we have to do it! Give after school and evening instruction to those who have failed to pass the test; develop diagnostic techniques to assist them to find out what they need to learn; and give them intensive assistance by the most qualified (by definition... these teachers without students are supposed to be the best we have).

We cannot sacrifice these students for some ambiguous future mission of instructional improvement. If these “teachers without students” are so good... then use them to serve our kids, Now! Otherwise we are letting a generation slip by!

John de Beck
School Board Member
San Diego City Schools

Why doesn’t Mexico pay for medicare

In your article “ Health Net of California is the First Health Plan in the Nation to Accept The Mexican Matricula as a Form of ID” (published July 3, 2003, Vol. 27 No. 27).

The only Mexicans in this country who need a Consular Matricula for identification are illegal aliens. Legal immigrants are issued documents of identity by the U. S. Government.

According to Marta Lara, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, these illegal aliens are twice as likely to be unisured, so is Health Net treating them for nothing, or are the taxpayers footing the bill.

Mexico is concerned about the treatment of it’s citizens in this country, so why doesn’t pay for their medical care?

Health Net offers a special program “Salud con Health Net” which is designed to provide afforable quality care for “Latinos and their families.”

If Health Net can provide affordable care for “Latinos” why can’t they provide the same care for citizen?

Frank D. Thurlow
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent (retired)
Vista, Ca.

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