By Daniel Munoz, Jr.
2014 is done and we are now on to 2015 which at first glance appears to be an exciting New Year with change in the air. But, before we say hello to 2015 let’s take a look back at some of the more interesting stories that were published in La Prensa San Diego in 2014.
2014 was the year of Politics: Three Hispanics ran for mayor in the three largest cities in the County. School Board elections were an important part of the story. And, the politics of immigration was a yearlong highlight.
Then there was the Ferguson killing of a young black man – “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.”
The year started out fast and furious with local politics. In the city of Escondido, Olga Diaz, who serves as a city council candidate had decided the time was right to run for mayor of that city.
Olga’s decision to run was met with a lot of enthusiasm among the Democrats and Hispanics of that North County city. The City of Escondido had earned the distinction of being a xenophobic, racist, city and the hope was that Olga Diaz would be a breath of fresh air for this stale city government.
Olga received a lot of support, a lot of money to finance her campaign, and with a lot of volunteers Olga ran an efficient and effective campaign. But in November, despite a well-run campaign with a positive message, this was not enough to overcome the Republican stranglehold on this city’s politics. It wasn’t even close and a very disappointing loss for Ms. Diaz and even more disappointing for the Hispanic community that will once again have to live in a community where they are perceived as a second class citizen.
While the Olga Diaz mayor race was an important race, the more exciting campaign was that of David Alvarez, council representative for District 8. David Alvarez wasn’t the first choice for the Democratic Party but when he finally accepted the opportunity to run, he outperformed a strong field of candidates. In a special primary campaign he was selected as the Democratic candidate to face Republican Kevin Faulconer.
The Alvarez campaign for mayor was an exciting campaign that drew a lot attention both locally and nationally, he even received the endorsement of President Obama! It was the talk of the town and many folks became vested in the campaign.
Despite the hard work and the enthusiasm behind the Alvarez campaign it wasn’t enough to win the seat of mayor. The disappointing aspect was that the Hispanic voter, especially in the South Bay, did not come out in any great numbers for Alvarez. That and the fact that Faulconer did more than hold his own in the minority districts did not help the Alvarez campaign. While Faulconer was holding his own in the minority communities Alvarez couldn’t overcome the strong support in the Republican districts.
The other race for Mayor was that of Mary Salas for mayor of Chula Vista. This race did not receive all that much attention and was not that exciting from the beginning. This race was a foregone conclusion long before Election Day and the campaigns reflected that fact. Mary Salas won a comfortable race that made her the first Hispanic female mayor in Chula Vista.
At the beginning of the year, President Obama gave his State of the Union speech where he would lay out his plans for the year and ideas for the rest of his term. Sadly immigration was barely mentioned. Immigration had gone from a top priority of his administration to a point of ‘let’s see what we can get passed.’ Immigration action would only take place after the mid-term elections at the end of the year.
President Obama and the Democratic Party decided not to bring up immigration prior to the November elections. All year long immigrant rights organizers demand and called for comprehensive immigration reform. After the elections President Obama proposed immigration reform that could ultimately affect 5 million workers. No immigration reform here just work permits for those already in the States working. The rest of President Obama’s immigration policy dealt with border security, again no reform here.
The troubling fact with President Obama’s immigration reform was that by waiting until after the elections, his plan fizzled on Election Day when the Republicans sweep into office. There was no excitement or reason for the Hispanic voter to go to the polls and elect Democratic candidates. Now President Obama is depending on the Hispanic community to rally behind the plan and to pressure a Republican controlled Congress into action. Only time will tell but the sense is there is no immigration reform and little too late for action.
First there was the young Black man Jordon Davis who was shot and killed by Michael Dunn a white man in Florida for playing his car stereo too loud. The white man basically didn’t like the loud music and the fact that it was a Black person not obeying him to lower the music. The jury convicted Dunn on three counts of attempted murder but couldn’t come to an agreement on the more serious First-Degree murder charge.
In August, in Ferguson, Missouri, 18 year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer, it has been said that his hands were up when he was shot, this description has been disputed. The fact was that he was unarmed and a distance away from the officer, despite this Officer Wilson shot at Brown 12 times. This was a Civil Rights issue and the federal government became involved. After a lengthy Grand Jury investigation Officer Wilson was not charged with any crime, calling his actions justified. The Grand Jury Report set off a whole new wave of protest. The initial response by the Ferguson police to the protest was over the top, rolling out assault vehicles and employing military style tactics and weapons.
This issue had many layers to it and it gained the attention of the nation! But this was not the only police shooting and killing of an unarmed Black man.
In New York on July 17 Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo confronted Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes on the streets.
Although there was no weapon or physical confrontation between Garner and the several police officers that surrounded him, they tackled him and put him in a choke hold. Despite Garner scream that he could not breathe the Officer keep applying pressure until he choked Garner to death. In this case, as with the Ferguson case, the Grand Jury acquitted the officer of any wrong doing. Again protest around the country ensued.
A sidewalk for a poor community would not normally be considered a huge story but it was an important one, not so much as to the story but to how the city leaders view the residents and community of San Ysidro. The residents have for years have petitioned and protested for a safe walkway to San Ysidro High School. In April the community held a rally highlighting the dangers of walking a small dirt pathway along Otay Mesa Road. District Representative, David Alvarez, agreed with the community members in April and in June it was announced that there was a plan to construction a sidewalk. It all sounded good to the community until they realized that it was a plan with no money attached to it. The rest of the City Council agreed to fund other projects, such as bike-ways in La Jolla, but not the San Ysidro plan.
In April the South Bay school board scandals finally came to a conclusion with Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez pleading guilty to accepting gifts above the legal limit. There was a question if both Cartmill and Lopez could continue to serve on the Board while awaiting sentencing. The final legal conclusion was that they were precluded from serving on the Board and this would open all Sweetwater Unified High School District Board seats for election.
Scandal impacted all of the School Board races in the South Bay which in turn created opportunity for sweeping change, but not without its controversy. Though found guilty of a misdemeanor criminal act this did not preclude Jim Cartmill or Bertha Lopez from running for political office and both signed up to run for the offices they were forced to abandon after their guilty pleas. There was a question if either one could actually win, you never know in politics, but common sense prevailed and both were trounced at the polls. This led to a whole new Board at Sweetwater.
San Ysidro School Board which had its share of scandal this past year saw a change in direction with two new board members elected, which created a new power majority that is committed to transparency and a new direction for the district.
The same could be said for the Chula Vista Elementary School District which saw three new board members elected creating a whole new dynamic on this board. Out were some of the representatives that reflected the good old boy system and in were three new board members who better represented a Democratic elected board.
Prop B and Prop C was about the Barrio Logan community’s right to have a say in their environmental health versus big business desire to do pretty much as they please. Barrio Logan developed a community plan that would rezone housing away from industry and future development. The City Council approved the plan, despite heavy opposition from shipyard industry. Failing to stop the plan at the city council level the shipyard industry forced the issue onto the ballot.
It was your quintessential Goliath versus David battle of big money versus the low income, minority community. In this case despite the support from the progressive community for the community plan the Barrio Logan Community Plan didn’t stand a chance against the Republican support and big business support and money. The community plan lost and for the Hispanic community it was just another reminder of their lack of political power.
In June the world became consumed with the World Cup. The United States held their own making to the knock out round where they lost in overtime to Belgium despite US goalie making a record 15 savings during the match. Mexico also had a good tournament making it out of the first round only to lose to the Netherlands on a controversial call, in the knock out round. It was an exciting tournament where we saw the United States improving as a national team.
The politics of immigration took an ugly turn during the summer when a record number of immigrant children from Central America started showing up at the border overwhelming US Customs and the Border Patrol. This shouldn’t have been that big of a story but it blew up when the right wing, xenophobic segments of our society started showing up protesting the housing of these children in federal facilities.
The city of Murrieta made a name for itself when these racist showed up and blocked a roadway and three busloads of children headed to a federal facility. These folks embarrassed themselves yelling and screaming insults at these young children, the immigration issue had sunk to an all-time low!
Ayotzinapa became a common word around the world after the protest in Mexico over the 43 missing male students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. The students, whose photos have practically become iconic images in Mexico, were detained and disappeared by municipal police officers in Iguala, Guerrero. It appears that the Mexican government is somehow involved in the cover-up and the involvement of drug cartels with the killing of the 43 students. Protestors around the world are seeking answers to the 43-disappeared.
These stories, along with pictures published in the review, are a sampling for the major stories published in La Prensa San Diego. As we review the 52 issues published each year we are reminded of all the stories, all the issues, and all the individuals that we cover and talk about throughout the year. In this short review of the year we are unable to highlight all the stories but we invite you to visit our web page at any time you can review the year.
Here at La Prensa we are proud of the stories that we have brought to you our readers throughout the year and it is our hope that we were able to bring a better understand of the Hispanic community and issues that we deal with on a daily bases.
Happy New Year – Feliz Año Nuevo!