Fr. Dean McFalls, St. Mary’s Church, Stockton, CA
Special to Bilingual Weekly
I’m writing from a picturesque island in Puget Sound called “Vashon”, just west of Seattle, where I’ve been re-uniting with a very important group of friends. Just over thirty years ago, we launched our 7,000-mile walk called the “Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage”. The Trident Nuclear Submarine Base in Bangor, Washington marked our beginning point, and in the United States we landed ten months later the day the Vietnam War Memorial was dedicated. Beginning again in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, we crossed the border to the North on Good Friday and eventually reached Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, by Christmas Eve. All told, thousands of people would join us at one point or another. But only twelve that began from Bangor actually completed the walk together.
Here, in the same kind of rain that drenched us in Washington State and in Ireland in 1982 and 1983, we twelve, with other walkers, and a flock of children from seven to twenty-seven, are celebrating the difference this Walk made in our lives and in so many others. We had preached with our feet and our presence in so many broken and conflicted places to the need for peace in every dimension of our lives. The world had looked so bleak when we began. And it would be in worse shape by the time we finished.
But we had been changed. All of us have carried on our commitment to justice, to reconciliation, to compassion and to life in all of its stages and expressions. The children with us come from a variety of ethnic groups and worship in a variety of faiths. As we shared our stories from the past three decades, we were all deeply moved by the hand of God at work in having brought us together, moved us with a common purpose, and carried us along in our respective journeys of faith.
Our senior member, Fr. George Zabelka, died ten years ago. He had been the Catholic Chaplain who blessed the bombing missions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those two fateful days of August 6th and 9th, 1945. When he visited the devastated cities afterwards, his life had changed forever. At 67, he suffered a great deal on the walk, but considered this a small price to pay in order to witness to a better world, a more humane way of being than war upon war, and the unending threat of destruction.
Soon, I’ll be in Poland. Several dozen priests from around the world will gather for a reteat. Before that concludes, and four of us head for Vienna, and then I, alone, for Croatia, we will all visit Auschwitz. There, untold thousands of innocent human beings were worked to death or simply executed and burned to cinders for the sake of a madman’s lunatic ambitions.
I know the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, indirectly, a consequence of Hitler’s demonic aspirations and the unholy alliances he forged with Italy and Japan. We knew that as we walked across the United States and heard, again and again, that the Soviet Union was poised to strike. None of us have stopped working for a better world, despite all the reasons people put forward against our vision. But three things are certain: the world remains in very bad shape, the solution is far beyond our powers, and in spite of this, each one of us still has our part to play in the redemption of the world. God has so ordained things that the fate of the world depends, strangely, on whether or not we cooperate with His plan for our redemption.
Dr. Noe Mora, once a 10 year old immigrant from Mexico is now Dentist running his own family practice alongside with his wife Dr. Edith Mora in Stockton. Continue reading
STOCKTON, CA- Sixteen students from Santa Clara University (SCU) took a 257 mile stroll through the State of California for a class on Social Justice and the arts. They began in Ocean Beach on June 14th and their path took them through Stockton on June 19th — their destination Yosemite. Father Dean from St. Mary’s church connected with the fifteen students that made it to Stockton and he created a full itinerary of various educational opportunities in hopes that they learn about issues facing Stockton and the Central Valley. Continue reading
By US President Barak Obama
Coaching my daughter Sasha’s basketball team is one of those times when I just get to be “Dad.” I snag rebounds, run drills, and have a little fun. More importantly, I get to watch Sasha and her teammates improve together, start thinking like a team, and develop self-confidence.
Any parent knows there are few things more fulfilling than watching your child discover a passion for something. And as a parent, you’ll do anything to make sure he or she grows up believing she can take that ambition as far as she wants; that your child will embrace that quintessentially American idea that she can go as far as her talents will take her.
But it wasn’t so long ago that something like pursuing varsity sports was an unlikely dream for young women in America. Their teams often made do with second-rate facilities, hand-me-down uniforms, and next to no funding.
What changed? Well, 40 years ago, committed women from around the country, driven by everyone who said they couldn’t do something, worked with Congress to ban gender discrimination in our public schools. Title IX was the result of their efforts, and this week, we celebrated its 40th anniversary—40 years of ensuring equal education, in and out of the classroom, regardless of gender.
I was reminded of this milestone last month, when I awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pat Summitt. When she started out as a basketball coach, Pat drove the team van to away games. She washed the uniforms in her own washing machine. One night she and her team even camped out in an opponent’s gym because they had no funding for a hotel. But she and her players kept their chins up and their heads in the game. And in 38 years at the University of Tennessee, Pat won eight national championships and tallied more than 1,000 wins—the most by any college coach, man or woman. More important, every single woman who ever played for Pat has either graduated or is on her way to a degree.
Today, thanks in no small part to the confidence and determination they developed through competitive sports and the work ethic they learned with their teammates, girls who play sports are more likely to excel in school. In fact, more women as a whole now graduate from college than men. This is a great accomplishment—not just for one sport or one college or even just for women but for America. And this is what Title IX is all about.
Let’s not forget, Title IX isn’t just about sports. From addressing inequality in math and science education to preventing sexual assault on campus to fairly funding athletic programs, Title IX ensures equality for our young people in every aspect of their education. It’s a springboard for success: it’s thanks in part to legislation like Title IX that more women graduate from college prepared to work in a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it. The more confident, empowered women who enter our boardrooms and courtrooms, legislatures, and hospitals, the stronger we become as a country.
And that is what we are seeing today. Women are not just taking a seat at the table or sitting at the head of it, they are creating success on their own terms. The women who grew up with Title IX now pioneer scientific breakthroughs, run thriving businesses, govern states, and, yes, coach varsity teams. Because they do, today’s young women grow up hearing fewer voices that tell them “You can’t,” and more voices that tell them “You can.”
We have come so far. But there’s so much farther we can go. There are always more barriers we can break and more progress we can make. As president, I’ll do my part to keep Title IX strong and vibrant, and maintain our schools as doorways of opportunity so every child has a fair shot at success. And as a dad, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that this country remains the place where, no matter who you are or what you look like, you can make it if you try.
The piece was published in Newsweek
Special to Bilingual Weekly
STOCKTON, CA – On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, the Stockton City Council approved a Pendency Plan proposed by the City Manager, 6 -1. The Pendency Plan is essentially the budget and the plan that is followed for the day-to-day operations of the City while in bankruptcy. It identifies what expenditures will be reduced or suspended. The City will continue to pay employees, vendors and service providers. The focus of the City’s plan is the restructuring of above market pay and benefits and unsustainable long term debt. Adoption of the Pendency Plan assumes the City will file for protection under chapter 9 federal bankruptcy laws before July 1, 2012.
The overall proposed expenditure plan was originally presented on May 15, 2012, and amounted to $521 million for all funds; the General Fund, which is $155 million of the total budget, has a $26 million deficit. The General Fund was to be balanced by either deep service reductions, reductions in financial obligations through the AB 506 confidential mediation process, or by filing for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
The City Council has addressed $90 million in budget deficits over the last three fiscal years, primarily through reduction in employee compensation and program and service reductions. The City is already insolvent on a service basis and continued service reductions would harm the health and safety of its citizens.
The City and its largest creditors engaged in confidential mediation for three (3) months. The mediation allowed the City to work with its largest creditors in an attempt to restructure debt and agreements through a process establish by state legislation under AB 506. The legislation provides for a 60-day period of negotiations with an option to extend for an additional 30 days. The City and most mediation participants extended the mediation period through June 25. The mediation concluded without obtaining a comprehensive set of agreements sufficient to close the budget gap of $26 million. The City is fiscally insolvent and must seek chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. In addition to the bankruptcy petition, the City will file a motion with the courts to share information from the confidential mediation process.
“This is the most difficult and heart-wrenching decision that we have ever been faced with,” said Mayor Ann Johnston. “We must take this action to protect the health, safety and welfare of the entire City and begin the recovery process.”
The Pendency Plan includes no measurable service reductions. The Pendency Plan includes; suspending payment of bonds, claims and long term debt paid by the General Fund; shifting some funds to other sources; modifications to terms of labor and employee agreements that reduce costs; more employee salary and benefit reductions, including reduction and ultimately elimination of City contributions to retiree medical insurance.
“We appreciate all those who have worked hard to help us address this crisis,” said City Manager Bob Deis. “While we did not meet our financial goals through the mediation process, we hope that what we did achieve will help us to exit from bankruptcy quickly. We are still negotiating with some creditors. We will honor tentative agreements reached during the additional negotiations, and we will continue to talk with our creditors.”
The majority of the City’s budget is not impacted by the City’s fiscal crisis. The total budget of $521 million includes $366 million in restricted funds, which cannot be used to resolve the General Fund crisis. The $155 million General Fund provides for services such as police, fire, libraries, parks maintenance and administrative functions. This funding comes from property tax, sales tax, utility user’s tax, business license tax and other sources, all of which have experienced significant declines for the past four years.
“Like corporations, such as American Airlines and General Motors, that have or are going through bankruptcy, we will continue to operate and provide services,” continued Deis. “We will use this opportunity to restructure and come out of bankruptcy with a stronger, healthier and sustainable future.”
information provided by the City of Stockton
(bw) STOCKTON, CA — “These women are courageous, have perseverance, and lots of strength,” said Connie Martinez, co-chair of the Adelita Awards at the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery while explaining that they selected women who are not necessarily in the spotlight. “There are a lot of women that do not have the opportunity to have a university degree; but they work really hard throughout their lives.” Continue reading
California has hundreds of irrigation districts and more than 1400 dams, which divide, divert and route water all over the state, but one district in particular is garnering national attention.
The Merced Irrigation District (MID) is in a relatively small town of 80,000 people, but it manages the famous Merced River, which runs through Yosemite Valley and is formed from its world-renowned waterfalls. The river has long been protected by federal Wild and Scenic status, which means it can’t be encroached on by a dam, as Yosemite’s Tuolumne River was long ago. But that status is now threatened due to bill H.R. 2578, a measure that among other things would amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to make way for a spillway project. The project would flood 1700 linear feet of the wild river, a small section, but in doing so could rollback protections on all Wild and Scenic Rivers.
This could set a dangerous precedent. First, it might be 1700 feet, then it might be 17 miles, and then Yosemite’s El Capitan and Half Dome might be accessible only by power boat. And there is the vulnerability of the rest of America’s rivers to consider.
And the project doesn’t make sense.
MID’s New Exchequer Dam has a capacity of a million acre-feet, which is more than the annual average flow of the Merced River. The project would add 70,000 acre-feet of storage, but in critical dry years, it would yield only 15,000 acre-feet. By California standards, that’s not enough water for one-thousandth of one percent of the state’s population. And it’s expensive. The stated capital cost is $40 million, not including operation and maintenance costs, or debt servicing, which can double the price.
So why make such a costly proposal?
The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, has publicly stated in a McClatchy News Service story, “It’s a small step. We need thousands of jobs in the Central Valley, and we need many more projects like this.”
The claim is that more water storage will bring jobs, help farmers and provide a reliable supply. But California’s 1400 dams have rarely fulfilled that promise. Instead, in the last 20 years, Merced County’s unemployment was, at its best, 10 percent, and, at its worst, 20 percent. Today, the rate hovers around 17 percent, and it’s not for lack of water. In the drought years of 2007, 2008 and 2009, California agriculture generated the highest revenues on record, and agricultural work increased by 2 percent, while construction work decreased by 44 percent and trade work by 46 percent. Drops in employment were related to the recession and the housing crisis, not the drought.
There is little correlation between increased water supplies and a better living for most Central Valley residents, as poverty rates remain high in both wet and dry years.
So again, why is MID advocating another dam project? The simplest answer is to manage more water to serve its customers. “My goal is to store water in a wet year and use it in a dry year,” said MID General Manager John Sweigard. One of his primary concerns is replenishing the underground aquifer, which is being depleted.
That’s a valid concern, but it overlooks the major problems caused by surface water storage. It’s well documented that dams are destructive to the natural environment. The Central Valley once had natural wetlands, rivers and seasonal lakes. The Merced River was part of an ecosystem that connected the Sierra Nevada to the sea and brought life to the valley, in all forms, for all species. In the last century, 95 percent of Central Valley wetlands have been lost. Once plentiful salmon are heading towards extinction, and the area is now home to 91 threatened and endangered species. And dams and diversions are a major contributor to the deterioration of California’s Bay-Delta ecosystem, where more than 750 species live. Thirty-three delta species are endangered, and likely to go extinct within the next 25 to 50 years, if not sooner. Scientists have clearly established the need to increase in-stream flows to resuscitate the system.
And how is California going to do that? It will have to reduce use, and the cheapest, most cost effective way to do that is via conservation, improved efficiency and better water management.
An enormous amount of water is lost in its delivery. Many water districts lose about 40 percent of their water just sending it down leaking canals or decaying irrigation ditches.
According to MID’s annual report, in 2010, MID delivered 277,789 acre feet of irrigation water to approximately 1,900 fields farmed by 1,400 customers. An operational loss of 40 percent is about 100,000 acre-feet—which is significantly more water than can be provided by new surface water storage.
That said, much of that water goes into replenishing the aquifer, which is used by farmers in dry and wet years. But the aquifer continues to get depleted despite MID’s recharge efforts, which sets up a never ending cycle of overuse, followed by increased surface water demand.
Meanwhile, MID is not compensated financially for replenishing its aquifer, which forces it to sell water out of district to compensate for losses. This March, MID voted to transfer 15,000 acre-feet of water to the San Luis Water District (SLWD) at $176 per acre-foot. Notably, that’s the average amount of water that will become available from the dam spillway project in critical dry years. The in-district cost of water is $18.25 per acre-foot.
Water management problems can be solved, but not with the build-now, plan-later approach. Charging for ground water use would be a start. And there are many more ways to become efficient, as demonstrated by existing technologies already in use. But instead, the issue has escalated to the political realm and is tied to a bill passed by the House, where fair dialogue and subtle detail gets drowned out by loud rhetoric. The devil isn’t in the details. It’s in ideology of winners and losers, and we’re all going to lose if we continue down that route.
MID is asking Congress and the people of the United States to rollback protections on all Wild and Scenic Rivers, by allowing a spillway project to encroach on the Merced River for a relatively small amount of water. This direction has never led to enough supply, only more consumption and demand.
Since the creation of the act in 1968, no protections have been removed from any of these rivers, and less than one-quarter of one percent of America’s rivers are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, while more than 75,000 large dams have encroached on 600,000 miles of American rivers.
“The designation is a promise to the American people. We will protect this river from new dams and diversions, not just today, but for generations to come,” said Katherine Evatt, a 23-year-river-activist working to protect the Mokelumne River, north of Yosemite. “The most recent Mokelumne dam proposal was the sixth in the last 30 years,” she said. “We have to constantly fight them off, when we’d rather concentrate on restoring the river and getting the salmon and steelhead back. We need a way to secure permanent protection, and the wild and scenic designation is the only way.”
There are many ways to solve our water management problems, but encroaching on America’s last wild rivers isn’t one of them.
Update August 07, 2012: New information details voluntary deferred action for those who have never been in deportation proceedings. Read more here. http://bwnews.us/2012/08/06/who-and-where-the-dreamers-are/
(bw) WASHINGTON, D.C.- U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on June 15, 2012 that new procedures would be in place for immigration deportation proceedings deferment for certain young immigrants.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.” Continue reading
CALIFORNIA – At 13 years old, Gretel Quintero came across the border from Mexico to the United States without documentation: her single mother had a dream of a better life for her children. Continue reading
New America Media, Video, Rochelle Riva Bargo/Video by Josue Rojas, Posted: Jun 19, 2012
STOCKTON, Calif.–Come November, 21-year-old Michael Tubbs may become the youngest City Councilman in Stockton.
Tubbs, a Democrat, announced his candidacy in February, three months before he graduated from Stanford University with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies.
In announcing his candidacy, he said he wanted to “re-invent Stockton,” once a flourishing agricultural community in the Central Valley, but now on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.
A “Rose in the Concrete”
Tubbs was born and raised here. Instead of talking about the city’s high crime rate, its high unemployment level or its budget deficit when asked to describe his hometown, Tubbs quotes a short poem by the late rapper Tupac Shakur that Tubbs believes reflects the future of Stockton:
“Have you heard of the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else cared.”
Sean Dugar, the western regional field director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), supports Tubbs’ bid for public office and refers to him as Stockton’s “bright, up-and-coming star.”
Oprah Winfrey sent him $10,000 after the two met in April on her visit to Stanford University. When she found out that Tubbs was running for Stockton City Council, she asked him to tell her about the city. Tubbs did—impressively.
The young candidate also has been endorsed by such groups as the Latina Democratic Club of San Joaquin County and San Joaquin County Democratic Party. Mary Ann Cox and Janet Rivera, Delta Board of Trustee members, also support him.
Against All Odds
Tall and with a boy-next-door look, Tubbs has beaten all odds in arriving at where he is today.
Born to an incarcerated father and a 16-year-old mother, Tubbs grew up in south Stockton, home to some of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. For years, the family lived on welfare.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone who went to college,” said Tubbs. “I knew I was going to go somehow, but I had no idea about all the things I had to do” to get there.
Through mentorship and a supporting family, Tubbs was able to graduate from Franklin High School with a 4.3 grade point average. He got accepted into Columbia University and Stanford University, but opted for the latter.
Along the way, Tubbs was honored as a Ronald McDonald Future African American Achiever and a Martin Luther King Youth of the Year, among a plethora of other recognitions. He also served as an intern in the White House.
Home to about 290,000 people, Stockton was one of the hardest hit cities in the nation when the housing market collapsed. People from across the state had thronged to it in the 1990s and snapped up property. Over 95 percent of housing units in Stockton were occupied in 2000, compared to 50 percent today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Stockton currently is more than $700 million in long-term debt and faces a budget deficit this year of about $26 million. Its home foreclosure figures are staggering–of the 100,014 Stockton houses with mortgages, 60 percent are underwater—worth less than the value of their mortgages. According to RealtyTrac, Stockton recorded one foreclosure filing for every 217 households during the first quarter of this year, almost seven times more than that recorded in San Francisco during the same period.
The city’s unemployment rate is more than 20 percent, and its crime rate is among the highest of all California cities.
The Stockton City Council voted to authorize City Manager Bob Deis to file for bankruptcy as early as June 26, if officials fail to negotiate with creditors. That would make Stockton the largest city in the nation ever to file for bankruptcy.
Opportunities for “Homegrown Talent”
Where others may see hopelessness, Tubbs sees his native town as a community “where every kid is given an opportunity to maximize [his or her] potential” and a city that “utilizes its myriads of assets and serves as a model for a thriving, diverse, community.”
“It’s going to take the homegrown talent that we’ve cultivated and educated to come back and bring those experiences and networks to the city,” said Tubbs.
Tubbs gained 55 percent of the total votes for City Council District 6, during the June 5 primary election against 52-year-old Republican incumbent Dale Fritchen. Both men will face off in the general election on November 6.
Tubbs will be the first challenger to Fritchen since he took office in 2008.
While others argued that Fritchen’s unimpressive showing was due to his opposition to the city filing for bankruptcy, there is no doubt that a large proportion of District 6 voters–who are largely from the Latino, Asian-American and African American communities–support Tubbs. They feel he will reconnect them to City Hall, from which they have felt isolated for years.
Having grown up in District 6, Tubbs believes he knows exactly what residents want. Staying true to his vision, he has done rounds of personal canvassing, which residents from that area have never experienced from other candidates.
Tubbs’ campaign promises resonate with the voters.
“It’s a different dynamic when you want to work for a city that you grew up and have memories in,” said Dillon Delvo, a Filipino-American resident of the district and principal of a charter school in Stockton. Delvo believes Tubbs can help revive the city.
Understanding the importance of empowering youth and wanting them to have an opportunity to go to college, Tubbs founded Phoenix Scholars in 2009, a nonprofit that provides free counseling on college admissions, mentorship and scholarship advice for low-income, first-generation minority students. During the program’s first year, all 93 of Phoenix Scholars were admitted to Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California or Harvard.
“A lot of these students were discouraged from applying to top schools or just didn’t really have the knowledge of how to do it,” Tubbs said. “Now they’re doing well and understand that they need to come back, help their community, and make sure that other students have the same opportunity.”
Above all underlying problems Tubbs expects to confront as a City Council member, he said he wants to return to Stockton to stimulate a college-going culture again and encourage postgraduates to return to the city.
Stockton’s “Harvest is Plentiful”
“I’m really hopeful and excited that people will come back and see that harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” said Tubbs. “It’s going to take that talent coming back, saying, ‘I don’t have to go (elsewhere) and do Teach for America. I can Teach for Stockton.’”
When asked why he wanted to go back to Stockton after graduating, when high-powered jobs could be his for the asking, Tubbs said he wanted to use his education and experiences to serve the community that raised him.
“I think it’d be a little selfish for me to go off and have a comfortable life and hear my Mom call me about the gunshots she hears,” said Tubbs, “or have my mentees text me crying because they lost someone close to them before they even turned 21 because of gang violence.”
Tubbs added: “All the connections I’ve made at Stanford and the people I’ve been able to connect with weren’t for me to just get rich. Making change is more important to me than going to the private sector and making a whole lot more money.”
Bilingual Weekly News
MEXICO- Stephania Cardoso, the newspaper reporter who disappeared on June 9 in the northern state of Coahuila, revealed in a short interview for Radio Fórmula on June 15 that she is alive and well and has her two-year-old son with her.
However, she refused to explain what has happened to her since she went missing or give her present location, and she said she would not get in direct contact with the rest of her family for the sake of their security.
“This is something of a miracle amid the continuing chaos to which Mexican journalists are exposed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope that Cardoso is found and placed in a safe location without delay. At the least sign of danger, a news organization and its staff must be given the protection envisaged under the new legislation making attacks on freedom of information a federal crime.”
Article 19’s Mexico director, Darío Ramírez, told Reporters Without Borders that Cardoso has been in touch with her newspaper, the Saltillo-based Zócalo, and that, as she had requested on the air, the newspaper is putting her in touch with the office of the federal attorney general and the interior ministry.
The Cardoso family told Reporters Without Borders they were delighted to learn that she was all right but confirmed they had not talked to her since June 8. They added that they hoped she would quickly receive the requested federal protection.
information provided by Reporters without Borders
When Mexico held its first presidential debate on May 6, it was caricatured publicly as a contest between a “Pretty Boy” (Enrique Peña Nieto), a “Quinceañera Doll” (Josefina Vázquez) and a “Has Been” (Andres López Obrador).
At the time, Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was the candidate to beat, leading both Vázquez, of the incumbent National Action Party (PAN), and López Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), by more than double digits in opinion polls. Continue reading
(bw) San Joaquin County — a low 25.9 percent of the county’s voters opted to have a voice on the 2012 primary election. However, San Joaquin was not alone, across the State of California; voter turnout averaged below 30 percent. Continue reading
STOCKTON, CA – Four out of seven City of Stockton elected official are up for re-election in 2012. The primary had few surprises; except, in the case of City of Stockton’s District 6. Continue reading
Edition #171, interview with Benny Dojer, AKA Doja
Primary Election San Joaquin County, Stockton City Primary Election, Mexican Elections, Latino Grad and Comerciantes Unidos Scholarships.