January 6, 2006

2005: A Year in Review

One that most would like to forget

By Daniel Muñoz

2005 was a tough year for all concerned. It is not going to be a year we will remember fondly. Natural disasters dominated the news, as did political corruption. The war in Iraq with the milestone of the 2000 soldier being killed, and still counting. The price of gas drove many of us to mass transit. Yes, it was a tough year but there were also some good memories that we will take with us into the New Year.

In 2005 there was much that the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the Save Our Centro Coalition would work out their differences. In June Michael Klam wrote of this hope in his entitled “Centro Cultural de la Raza: A New Beginning.” Pictured is Victor Ochoa.

In this our first edition of the New Year, and the beginning of our 30th year of publishing, we will review the year and touch upon some of the stories that were covered in the pages of La Prensa San Diego.

January 2005 started the year as most years start, with the Governor of California and the mayor of San Diego making their state of the state and state of the city addresses, outlining their agendas for the coming year.

For Mayor Dick Murphy, the reluctant mayor, little did we know that this would be the first and last state of the city in this his second term which would throw a city already in turmoil further into the abyss.

Nationally, a debate rages on over the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States. Gonzales, a Texan and a loyal Bush supporter, is chastised by many in the Hispanic community for his role in the torture of war prisoners writing an opinion that the U.S. doesn’t have to abide by the Geneva Conventions, citing them as obsolete when he served as Legal Counsel in the Justice Department.

January set the political climate that would carry us throughout the year.

In February several local issues came to the forefront that would make consistent headlines through the year.

We started the New Year with a new San Diego Unified School Board that began the process of dismantling the Blue Print for Student Success and they bought the contract of Superintendent Alan Bersin.

In Chula Vista yard signs started showing up along Roosevelt Street that stated “No to Españada.” The Roosevelt Street Coalition and Crossroads II joined forces to preserve the integrity of their community.

In National City the community cry was No to Eminent Domain. National City City Council seemed bound and determined to impose eminent domain on the Westside of the city. The threat of eminent domain scared the residents and at the same time galvanized the community to confront the city council on this issue. It would be an ongoing issue in 2005.

Overcoming adversities: Bernice Ramirez a Barrio Logan student wins $10,000 scholarship. Story published January 21.

Writer Katia Lopez-Hodoyan did a two part series on the contaminated waters that spewed out from Tijuana and spoiling the beaches in Imperial Beach/Coronado. This is recurring issue that affects the South Beaches. This two part article received widespread recognition and received a First Place award in Health and Science from the San Diego Press Club.

Lastly, but not the least, newly elected City Attorney, Mike Aguirre, has grabbed the city council at its base and started shaking. The fallout was predictable and loud, the power structure wasn’t used to an independent City Attorney.

The lead story, the first week of March, was “Hecho en Memorial.” The parent association at Memorial Pool in Logan Heights were proud of their children that participated in the swimming leagues only to find out they were forbidden to cheer on their children in Spanish and that the T-shirts they had made up with the words “Hecho en Memorial,” were banned from being worn at the pool. The parents banned together and organized to get answers from the city as to why this discriminatory practice was taking place? This story would continue on, but with the sense of empowerment derived from their organization the parents were able to create change at Memorial Pool. Si se puede.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Gracia Molina de Pick’s 75 years of life and accomplishments were recognized during the month of March.

Lalo Guerrero considered the father of Chicano Music passed away March 17 at the age of 88. He will be remembered by generations of children in Mexico and the U.S. who grew up with his “Ardillitas” (squirrels), and his parodies such as, “Tacos for Two,” “Pancho Claus,” “Elvis Perez” and “There’s No Tortillas,” have brought laughter to Chicanos and Anglos alike. His songs about Cesar Chavez and the farm workers, the braceros, martyred journalist Ruben Salazar, and the plight of illegal aliens, have chronicled Chicano history and inspired his people.

In light of the on-going war with Iraq and with the mounting casualties a clause in the “No Child Left Behind” was the authority of military recruits allowed on campus to looking for future soldiers, which upset many within the Hispanic community. The recruiters were extremely aggressive in pursuing students and that they seemed concentrated in low income/minority schools caused parents to question what was going on.

Sadly in April we mourned with the rest of world when Pope John Paul II passed away.

A hero within the Chicano community, Corky Gonzales, passed away in April, he was 71. A successful boxer in his youth, Corky will be remembered for his poem in 1967 entitled “I am Joaquin,” and as founder of the “Crusade for Justice,” and “Escuela Tlateloco.”

April Fools Day, April 1, was the day the Minuteman Project descended on Arizona to guard the border against “illegal aliens.” The minutemen consisted primarily of middle-aged white men who had nothing better to do, but they got what they wanted – publicity. There were more reporters and camera crews there than actual minutemen. They were able to ride this wave of publicity for several months.

Chicano Park celebrated 35 years of existence in April. The community felt betrayed by the City of San Diego, land that was promised to the community, but was being bulldozed for a California Highway Patrol sub-station. The community came out in masse and claimed their park.

“Celebrating 35 Years of Chicano Park” by Michael Klam. In 2005 Chicano Park celebrated its 35 anniversary and Michael Klam brought us the story. Pictured areTommie Camarillo and Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez (seated) chatting with friends.

La Prensa San Diego took part in the California Council for the Humanities essay contest by asking our readers to submit an essay project from immigrants writing a letter home. San Diego resident Alex Montoya was selected as a grand prize winner in this statewide competition.

City of San Diego mayor, Dick Murphy announced his resignation on Monday April 25. Latinos applauded this resignation and looked forward to a fresh start.

In May La Prensa San Diego made a major announcement, they had partnered up with KUSI TV-9 bringing a Hispanic perspective to the local news. Award winning reporter Katia Lopez-Hodoyan would be presenting the stories from La Prensa every Friday morning.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s praise of the Minutemen and suggest that they are welcome in California draws the wrath of the community. This is a major misstep by the Governor and continues to erode the support he once enjoyed within the Hispanic community. He would later back track on this statement saying his lack of English skills caused him to use the wrong terminology. Nice excuse, but who is kidding whom?

The City of Los Angeles has its first Hispanic mayor since 1872 with the election Antonio Villaraigosa. This is a new day for Hispanic politics.

After Dick Murphy resigned his seat as mayor of San Diego the candidates started lining up to replace him in a special election. The major players would include Jerry Sanders, Donna Frye, and Steve Francis.

Ricardo Raúl Pozos y Garay wrote a story of the resurgence of the Brown Berets as the gathered to protest and confront the Minutemen in Arizona and on the California border.

In June the discussion and opposition to CAFTA was an ongoing discussion. The Central America Free Trade Agreement would remove virtually all trade barriers on goods entering the U.S. This proposal was opposed by the Hispanic Caucus and with many in the Hispanic community. It would eventually pass.

It has been a five year boycott of the Centro Cultural de la Raza by the Save Our Centro Coalition. The two sides had drawn a line in the sand. Chicano muralist Victor Ochoa decided that he had to sue the Centro to retrieve and preserve his art work. This issue had gotten nasty and it wasn’t going to improve.

In National City the National City Middle School (a part of the Sweetwater Unified High School District) the oldest school in the district had been promised a make over with Prop. BB funds. Five years later and they were still waiting. Frustrated parents of the school started protesting and demanding accountability. This story was to take a dramatic twist later in the year.

The U.S. Patriot Act was up for renewal. 45 days after 9/11 the Patriot Act was passed with hardly any discussion. This time around Congress would not fast track the proposal.

From 1942 to 1964 the Bracero Program provided guest workers to the U.S. with funds deducted from their paycheck that was collected by the Mexican government and owed to the workers. This money had never been paid. Following years of protests and pressure the Mexican Congress approved a special fund to compensate former Mexican guest workers.

Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham is exposed for receiving an illegal gift of $700,000. This was only the tip of the iceberg.

Governor Schwarzenegger waited to the last minute but he finally decided to call for a special election. His focus was on redistricting, unions, and wresting control over the state budget.

In July the minutemen had planned on setting up along the San Diego/Tijuana boarder but cancelled their plans when the Chicano/Hispanic community came together to protest their planned presence. Viva La Raza!

The race for mayor is well underway and Steve Francis a virtue unknown is making a name for himself. Donna Frye holds the advantage over her Republican counter parts, but we are only talking about the Primary here, the real race will come in the General Election.

Old Town San Diego changed hands from Diana Powers as Bazaar del Mundo to Delaware North and renamed it Plaza del Pasado. The new vision for Old Town to reflect the early San Diego period of 1821 to 1872.

The trial of City Council members Ralph Inzunza, Jr., and Michael Zucchet finally came to an end with both being convicted of wire fraud conspiracy, corruption, and extortion. After the trial report Raymond Beltran brought to the pages of La Prensa the story of one juror the story behind his two-month ordeal. It was a unique look at what went on with this juror in this highly publicized trial.

“National day of protest against the Iraq war in San Diego” Photos and text by Luis Alonso Pérez. While World Bank and International Monetary Fund executives where celebrating their annual meetings in Washington D. C. over 100 thousand protestors marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, until they reached the White House, demanding the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Pictured: Youthful Chicanos/as gathered at City College in preparation of Peace March to Balboa Park.

The Primary elections are held and it is Donna Frye versus Jerry Sanders to see who replaces Dick Murphy; meanwhile the city now is on its third mayor for the year. After Murphy resigned, and interim mayor Zucchett was convicted, Tony Atkins took the helm as inter-mayor until the General election.

With the General election just four months away the special election called for by Gov. Schwarzeneegger starts to heat up. The nurses union and the teachers union are unrelenting in their attacks on the Governor and in the end they were successful.

August is all about picnics, beach parties, and summer vacation, normally. But this is not any normal summer. There are political firestorms everywhere. In National City the issue of Eminent Domain still dominates city hall meetings. In Chula Vista it is a question of height limits and community character with Crossroads II leading the fight against developers. And then there is the City of San Diego and Pension Fund debacle (unfortunately this is going to be a major topic in ’06 as well). The Unions, mayoral candidates, the City Attorney, City employees, and City council members are all at each others throat. The only ones making out on this whole deal are the lawyers and the audit firms who continue to live in the lap of luxury while earning millions of dollars.

One person who is focused on the importance of a summer vacation is President Bush. The President goes home to his ranch to enjoy several weeks of R&R but instead of rest and relaxation he is confronted by a single mom, Cindy Sheehan who camps as close to his ranch as possible with one goal in mind – to ask the President ‘Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?’ She started out alone but by the time the President had called it quits on his vacation this one woman had galvanized a peace movement across the nation.

Immigration, the war in Iraq, and hurricane Katrina are the topics that cover the pages of La Prensa in September.

The war in Iraq has lost public support and more and more people are questioning the U.S. role in this war, the continued loss of life, and the mounting cost to maintain this war.

If there was one good thing that came out the devastation from hurricane Katrina was the unselfishness and willingness to dig deep in providing support and dollars to the victims of the hurricane. Too bad our government could not respond as well as a nation of individuals.

If it is October it means we are talking politics with the Special Election to be held the first week of November. Of particular interest was a sales tax proposition in National City, this one issue would change the direction of this city in the near future.

Political pioneer Edward Roybal passed away in October as did Rosa Parks.

Also making news in October was the disparity in the funding disbursement between Grossmont Community College and Cuyamaca Community College. Both colleges are in the same district sharing a budget yet Cuyamaca the smaller campus in student enrollment is getting the lion’s share of the budget for new construction. This raises some serious questions about the formula used to disburse the funds and justify the cost.

In November, after five years of protest over the direction and control of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, between the sitting board of directors and a group of Chicano artists under the banner of Save Our Centro Coalition, are finally set to sit down and hold their first public meeting. The idea was grand, until the Centro board decided to have armed security guards present. This was an insult to the Chicano artist group and the meeting never took place. Que lastima!

Finally the elections are over and the Governor is dealt a humbling blow when all of his initiatives go down to defeat. In National City the sales tax is defeated which humbles the city council and the mayor, they assumed they had this one in the bag but were defeated by a coalition of community members. All of a sudden the Eminent Domain issue becomes a moot point when support for it on the city council dries up and the finger pointing begins. This is a victory of the residents of National City.

Though not on any ballot, the issue for Chula Vista and height limits comes to a conclusion as well. The residents and Crossroads II claim victory when the city council decided to include a height limit in the General Plan Update. This also dooms the Españada project.

In December, well we just concluded this month which makes it still fresh in our memories.

It was a tough year, but we got through it. If you are interested in any of the stories carried in La Prensa San Diego throughout the year you can view them online under our Previous Editions link (http://laprensa-sandiego.org/archieve/months.html) and there you will find the full complement of stories carried in 2005.

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