Pretty Darned Petty, Folks

I’m sure y’all have read that TUSD would not allow this year’s César Chávez march to kick off at Pueblo High School. I’ve been a participant in the march for more than a decade and this is the first time the start has been moved to another location.

Apparently, they could only do the march from Pueblo if speakers didn’t talk about the controversy surrounding the Mexican American Studies program or criticize school board members.

Thin skinned, aren’t we, folks?

Heck of a precedent for local public spaces. How ’bout Tea Partiers can’t have rallies at city parks if they criticize mayor and council? Maybe we tell ASU fans not to cheer at Arizona Stadium?

Keepin’ It Classy: Bruce Ash Lies About a Dead Woman

Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash used Monday’s edition of Buckmaster to make an unfounded attack on the reputation of Judy Burns, the recently deceased member of the Tucson Unified School District board.

Allegations like that are a lot easier to issue when the person involved can’t say anything about it, eh?

Kudos to Paul Eckerstrom for offering up a defense, hard to do when the charge comes out of nowhere. David Morales called into the show to stand up for Burns and posted the segment on his blog.

What Was Weak Last Week

My occasional summary of things I missed talking about last week only involves one thing, and it’s a biggie: the release of the study of TUSD’s ethnic studies program.

I’ve been reading a book called The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by James Martin, SJ. The section I read last night dealt with the concept of indifference. Martin points out that this doesn’t mean you don’t care about the answer, but that you care enough to carefully consider the facts before making the decision. He compared indifference to a balance scale. The pointer should be at zero before you start trying to weigh things. He uses the example of an unscrupulous merchant who puts a thumb on the scale to guarantee a result as violating this concept.

To his credit, John Huppenthal didn’t thumb the scale. To torture the metaphor, he had an assistant carefully weigh things, but he already had the ticket written up and ready to present to the customer ahead of time. Did he even look at the report that taxpayers paid $170,000 for?

Money quote from report:

No observable evidence exists that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department promotes resentment towards a race or class of people. The auditors observed the opposite, as students are taught to be accepting of multiple ethnicities of people.

The funny part is, there is criticism of Mexican American Studies and broader complaints about TUSD in the report. Huppenthal may have seen those if he had actually read it.

Back for More

I didn’t say much about the TUSD board meeting the other night, and I really should have. There were other solid accounts of the meeting, though, like the one that Mari Herreras wrote on the Weekly’s blog.

I got a call last night from a friend who is supportive of the ethnic studies cirriculum, but was confused about what would be so bad about cutting it back to electives. I told her that my concern with that is that the structure that the program offers is a big part of its success.

More than that though, who is to say that narrowing the program down to a few electives is going to satisfy Tom Horne and John Huppenthal? Although this is being painted in some quarters as a reasonable compromise, I have my doubts it will tone down the vehemence of attacks from opponents. Their problem isn’t the number of classes that students in the program are taking, their problem is with the content of those classes. A politician looking to ride this ginned up controversy upward (I’m looking at you, Horne) can and will make hay out of this no matter if ethnic studies is a program, elective or a lunch time club meeting on alternate Thursdays.

The other thing I worry about is if TUSD folds on this one because they hope to “compromise” to keep the wolves at bay, what happens if next legislative session, some back bencher looking for fame gets an urge to come after “radical” or “offensive” books that get taught in English classes? What about evolution or sex ed? It ain’t exactly beyond imagining given what we saw this session.

By the way, you can pass a motion to adjourn durring executive session? Since when? And whose bright idea was it to reschedule the meeting for May 5th? They might have known about that one if they took a Raza studies class.

To Spite Their Faces…

So, on Saturday I was talking to Terry Goddard and Bruce Babbitt. I bring this up because one benefit of this blog is it gives me the chance to name drop once in a while. Okay, more than once in a while. I mean, aren’t you impressed by all the important people I run with?

Tom HorneAnyhow, we ended up talking about Tom Horne. Both Babbitt and Goddard mentioned how they remember, way back when, that Horne was a young Democratic activist. I’ve heard this before. Sometimes, I wonder if his transition to the man whose rhetoric verges uncomfortably close to race baiting is a result of an actual ideological journey or political expediency taken way too far. It doesn’t matter, really. The results are the same.

Not so to the people at Sonoran Alliance. In one of their latest posts, they claim credit for Horne’s poor reception at a meeting of the arch-conservative PAChyderm Coalition. An attendee at the meeting handed out a copy of an earlier post detailing Horne’s “Democratic Activism.” The Alianza boys seem to have made making Horne unpalatable for a statewide primary their latest crusade, going so far as to encourage their readers to print out a PDF of their report to distribute at conservative meetings.

Hey, I’m tempted to say “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Keep up the good work boys.” I said that his rhetoric gets close to race baiting because I’m trying to be charitable to the guy. At the very least, his jihad against ethnic studies programs is an attempt to use TUSD middle school students as a prop to further his political ambitions with little regard for the consequences.

Now here is the funny part: despite the record that Horne has built over the last few years, they are ready to take him down because, get this, he donated to Walter Mondale a quarter of a century ago. The trouble was not just that he was a Democrat, but that he voted against the sainted Ronald Reagan.

Wow.

I guess I could go on about how ridiculous Republican idol worship has gotten that they are willing to defenestrate a guy for not showing the proper reverence for Reagan back when the Pink Cadillac was still open on 4th Avenue. Instead, I’ll just ask: is this any way to grow their party?

Ever Have a Party and No One Came?

The Democrats are hunting for a mayoral candidate now. Steve Leal was such a presence in the race that it kept many others from seriously making a go of it. The trouble now is finding a candidate that is more than just a name on the ballot. Yesterday, Daniel Scarpinato floated the name Roger Pfeuffer, the Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District. Pfeuffer would probably enjoy the mayor’s office, given that it is free of many of the headaches that come with running a school district that large. But, a Pfeuffer candidacy has already been declared a non-starter, most importantly by Pfeuffer himself.

Now the worry is this: with no “big name” candidate running on the top, Democrats are getting edgy about turn-out. Yes, 2005 featured no mayor’s race and Democrats swept two Republican incumbents from office. But the two incumbents were damaged goods, and Republicans were so thoroughly demoralized (the election was weeks after Hurricane Katrina) it was hard for them to get volunteers jazzed about the race. The 2005 turnout was 61,548, and turnout in 2003 (which featured a mayor’s race) was 77,857. Without an exciting mayor’s race, what will there be to bring out voters?

Ironically, the early strength of Rodney Glassman’s campaign may exacerbate this problem. The amperage from Glassman’s campaign was enough to drive his strongest primary opponent from the race. But one also has to remember that Glassman has also so far drawn the only Republican opponent in this race, and a serious one too, Lori Oien. As of yet, there are no Republicans running in either Ward I or Ward IV (Scott Egan pulled papers to run but has aparently decided against it). If Democrats are convinced that Glassman has this “in the bag” and there are no other races to drive turnout, and in the meantime the Republicans only have one candidate to throw their resources at, this could be a problem for Glassman.

Rodney Glassman & Dennis DeConciniShould this scenario come to pass, Glassman has the advantage of team that understands the problem here. Katie Bolger (who one political pro I know refered to as “turn-out queen”) is not one to take this race for granted, and the word is that David Steele (who knows the value of turnout from his days heading up Dennis DeConcini’s field effort in 1988) is on board to help out with media. Most importantly is the candidate himself, I’ve seen few candidates more enthused about running for office than Glassman. If he can keep that up, he won’t have a problem.