In the community where I live the city council is in process of spending $200 million on a modern street car that would run about a mile from the arts district to downtown and back. I find that astounding since city officials have been claiming city government is broke and they’ve been laying off police and fire personnel. So we have $200 million for some pet project but we don’t have $1 to fix the growing number of pot holes on our streets or pay for additional police and fire? I don’t get it. Amazing how there is ALWAYS money for some politicians pet project. And they want to discuss austerity??? I don’t think so. Not until I see them ax their pet projects like this WASTE of a street car that no one is going to ride. Oh, we’ve been there before when we had an old street car that people road for a short while and then they had to ax it. And to top things off most of the arts district and downtown is shut down for the next few weeks or months so they can lay tracks and etc and that has business owners yelling at the top of their lungs. But they yell to no avail as the city council doesn’t care if their business get any business as it is all for their PET PROJECT costing taxpayers $200 million. And further, this modern street car will NOT benefit the community as a whole but a few elite select crowd that hang downtown! One would think the council would do what is best for the ENTIRE community like FIX THE STREETS or pay for more police to keep us safe from the Mexican drug cartels that are now moving in. But I guess not.
This is just one more example of absolute government waste and one more example of government having their priorities messed up. It is total waste in this era of “austerity.” I guess the council’s thinking is that everything BUT the pet project must suffer cuts. And that brings me to something else that is on my mind lately.
The school system once had a Mexican American Studies program that is now defunct. It became a controversial program and was suspended by the school board after the State Attorney declared the program violated a new state law and after threatening to withhold millions of tax dollars in state funding if the program was not shut down. The claim was that the program was “racist.” This has been going on for awhile now and what has now happened is that it has caused a split in the community between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Former school board members who put the program into place years ago are outraged that it is suspended and defunct and they point out that all the present school board has done is to divide the community along racial lines. I agree!!
At last night’s school board meeting students and supporters of the program set off smoke bombs inside the meeting and tied themselves together as they began to protest the firing of the program director.
As I recall when the State Attorney General’s Office ruled against the program the claim was that it was a racist program that promoted racism and taught that Arizona was a part of Mexico and should be again. These charges were denied by MAS teachers at the time. Fact is Arizona was actually a part of New Spain as was most of the American Southwest at one time. Famous Spanish priests and explorers like Marcos de Niz, Father Kino, and Coronado explored Arizona and established Spanish Catholic missions in the 1690s and early 18th century. Spain established fortified towns (called “Presidos”) in the state. In 1821 Mexico gained independence from Spain and what is now Arizona became part of the Territory of Nueva California (also known as Alta California) under the rule of the newly independent Mexico.
During the Mexican-American War in 1847 the US marched troops into Mexico City and occupied it and claimed much of Northern Mexico including what is now Arizona. In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and with that treaty the US paid Mexico $15 million dollars to Mexico for Arizona and the Southwest except for the lands south of the Gila River which were still a part of Mexico. That treaty ended the war between the US and Mexico and Mexico ceded Alta California to the US as part of the terms. In 1853 the land below the Gila River was acquired from Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase and Arizona became a part of the US Territory of New Mexico. In 1861 during the US Civil War the southern part of New Mexico seceded from the US and joined the Confederacy. Arizona was also recognized as Confederate territory. In 1863 the western half of New Mexico Territory was declared the Arizona Territory by President Lincoln. Finally in 1912 Arizona became a US State.
So, Arizona began as a territory owned by the King of Spain. After Spain granted Mexico independence it began part of Mexico. It then became a US territory and then a State. So the claim by MAS that Arizona once belonged to Mexico is true but it belonged longer to Spain. As for returning it to Mexico I do not support that idea. I don’t wish to live in Mexico under their corrupt regime.
In March of this year the controversy over the MAS ended up in federal court. In that hearing both students and teachers claimed that the Arizona statute was unconstitutional. Critics claim that the law is vague and goes over board. Well what law doesn’t in Arizona? They claimed the law violated the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne argued it did not. Horne, btw, is the former Educaton Secretary and was so at the time this controversy began. He claimed the law merely prohibited public schools from teaching rcial resentment, ethnic solidarity, and teaching courses aimed at one particular ethnic group. Horne claimed the MAS program was a political course that was one sided and emotionallly charged. He pointed out to complaints about the program from other students and teachers. Horne also claimed that in MAS classes teachers fashioned a “cult like” behavior in Hispanic students and discrimination against non-Hispanic students based on race. Horne held the position that if Hispanic students wanted to learn about their ethnic history then that should be done in the home not in school. Students and teachers in the MAS program said that was not possible as most Hispanic parents don’t know Hispanic history.
Horne, at the time, said he wanted to see public schools teach about all ethnicities and teach good American citizenship and individuality. When the federal judge finally ruled he denied the request to bring back the MAS program.
So I began this article with a complaint about the city council and their pet project of the street care costing us $200 million and pointing out they can’t fix our streets because they claim they have no money to do so. And I end this article with a report on a now defunct Mexican American Studies Program with government claiming one thing and students/teachers claiming another. And I’m suppose to trust what government says when they lie to us about fixing our streets but dig up $200 million for some stupid street car that will only benefit a select few? I don’t think so. Arizona has always had a problem with ethnic pride and they’ve historically made certain to shut it down ASAP. For instance, Arizona was the last state to adopt the MLK Holiday and that only happened when they discovered tourism and conferences were costing them millions in lost revenue because the state would not recognize the holiday. Had it not been for that discovery I’m sure Arizona still would not be recognizing it! And then we have the now infamous SB1070 targeted at illegal immigrants. Fact of the matter is Arizona is a very prejudice and racist state and always has been! I do NOT believe their claims about the MAS program just as I don’t believe their claims about having no money to fix our streets. It’s time to start exposing Arizona for their corruption and racism. In this 21st century such things simply cannot be tolerated. This isn’t 1912 anymore! Arizona needs to be dragged into this century and their “good ole boy” network put to an end.