Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back on those we have lost

Dalia Perez, left (in pink), with her family in 2009
The Scene has published its memorial issue for those whose lives Nashville lost during the past year, and on page 18 is the obituary of Dalia Perez that they asked me to write.

Looking back through the archives of this web site brings to mind other Hispanic Nashvillians we have lost over the last decade, including
  • Maria Oza Gonzales
  • Carlos Santos-Silva
  • Azucena Rios
  • Max Gomez
  • Tim Chavez
  • Rodolfo Padilla
  • Fermin Estrada
  • Aureliano Ceja, and
  • Greg Rodriguez
Their stories are tragic.  For instance, Max was only 5 years old, the first H1N1 casualty of Nashville. Find out more about each of the above individuals by clicking on the In Memoriam label at the bottom of this story, or on In Memoriam in the Index.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

41% Hispanic, Apollo Middle pilots world culture course and student laptops

Nashville's Apollo Middle School, which is 41% Hispanic, is piloting a world culture course and a student laptop program, and its principal is making other gains getting notice elsewhere in the district.

The Tennessean reported here on Principal Ron Woodard, in its series of profiles called Nashville's Peacemakers. Here is how Woodard described to the Tennessean the genesis of Apollo's world culture course:
Woodard created a mandatory world cultures course, in which students learn about different religions, customs and ethnic foods. The student body is 41 percent Hispanic, 40 percent African-American and 10 percent white.

"When I got to this school there was a definite lack of cultural understanding, which led
to problems," said the father of two. "It's so important to develop that understanding in middle school because it's really when you start figuring out your identity."
Other recent innovations at the school include a "Slammin' Summer Reading" program, with teachers volunteering time during the summer (featured in the video above), and the Digital Academy for Success in High School (D.A.S.H.), in which students work on laptops during the school day. D.A.S.H. is featured in this video at Apollo's web site and also this report by NewsChannel 5.

270 middle school students attend Apollo, according to the Tennessean.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ana Escobar named 2012 President of Davidson County Democratic Women

Update: Escobar has resigned from the president-elect position of the Davidson County Democratic Women, to avoid the appearance of partisanship in her role as a member of the Judicial Commission. Lynda Jones, who nominated Escobar to the DCDW presidency, said Escobar "was a delight to have on our board for a brief 3 months. She will always remain well regarded."

Nashville attorney Ana Escobar has been named the 2012 President of the Davidson County Democratic Women.

Escobar has practiced criminal law in Nashville for over fifteen years. She started her career defending indigent citizens in the Office of the Public Defender and later became a prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney, where she prosecuted mid-level drug organizations.

Escobar currently runs her own law firm - the Escobar Law Group - and is held in high regard by the local bar. In 2003, Escobar ranked second in a Nashville Bar Association rating of candidates for Davidson County General Sessions Judge.

Apart from her upcoming presidency of the DCDW, Escobar has held the following past and present community service roles:
  • Planning Commission for Davidson County, Tennessee, Commissioner
  • Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission, Commission
  • Nashville Bar Association, Board of Directors
  • Nashville Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Nashville Prevention Partnership, Board of Directors
  • Junior League of Nashville, Sustainer
  • Davidson County Election Commission, Commissioner
  • Nashville Bar Association, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee
  • Hands on Nashville, Board of Directors
  • Advisory Council, El Protector
Escobar was raised in Nashville and is a graduate of St. Cecilia Academy (1988), Vanderbilt University (1992), and the George Washington University Law School (1995).

Some information sourced verbatim from Escobar's bio.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The copycats are back

Photo by kioan. Licensed via Creative Commons.

An editorial in Rutherford County's Daily News Journal questions whether Tennessee should copy Arizona's approach to immigration, without crunching the numbers ourselves.

I asked a similar question at the Scene blog a few weeks ago: Are Tennessee's legislators lining up local experts to draft and subsequently testify about the legislation, or are they just taking instructions from Arizona?

It's hard to say you have a high regard for Tennessee and its citizens if you keep them out of the deliberative process and let other states write laws for you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History, students, Tennesseans take note of $2.3 billion decision on DREAM

The DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives on December 8, 2010 thanks in part to the votes of four Tennesseans:
  • Rep. Jim Cooper
  • Rep. Lincoln Davis
  • Rep. Bart Gordon, and
  • Rep. John Tanner
On December 18, the Senate refused to even vote on the merits of the DREAM Act, thanks in part to the votes of both Tennesseans there.

The DREAM Act would have allowed young Americans to fully participate in their communities and give back to their country, and it would have represented a net gain for the nation of $2.3 billion in revenue in the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Over the last few weeks, through events like food drives, blood donation and check delivery, immigrant youth leaders in Nashville and throughout the nation have been raising awareness of their importance to the fabric of this nation, as givers and caretakers in their community, as productive participators and leaders with a desire to serve and give back, and as financial contributors and generators of prosperity. Their potential $2.3 billion boost to the economy was embodied in a check that the Nashville DREAM Act Committee presented to the public on December 7.

Representatives Cooper, Davis, Gordon, and Tanner cashed that check.

Our U.S. Senators threw it away.

The following is the reaction of Stephen Fotopulos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
Senators Corker and Alexander have failed a critical test of leadership today and placed themselves squarely on the wrong side of history. Today’s vote was extremely disappointing, and we are heartbroken for all the young people who have poured their hearts, minds, and bodies into this campaign only to be abandoned by those who represent us in the Senate. At the same time, this is just the beginning of the next chapter of our struggle, and none of us will rest until the nation’s immigration laws reflect basic American principles of justice and fairness.
This following is the reaction of Raquel Flores, a student and leader of the Tennessee DREAM Act Committee:
To Senator Corker and Senator Alexander, we would like to say that we will remember today’s vote for the rest of our lives. You will not forget us, because we will not stop fighting for justice. To our fellow Tennesseans, we would like to say that we are your brothers and sisters, we are your children and we are Americans. We are the same as you and we invite you to join us in this struggle.

We are deeply grateful to those leaders in the US House and Senate who brought the DREAM Act to the floor and demonstrated courage in their support of it. We also join in celebrating the victory for our gay brothers and sisters, who are closer to being able to serve proudly in the US military without being forced to live the lie of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ There are many forms of oppression, and we turn our anger today into steadfast determination to end them all.

We will keep on serving the country as engaged, active citizens, even as we wait for our citizenship to be recognized and valued. We, the members of the Tennessee DREAM Act Committee, will not give up. We are stronger and more united than ever, both in Tennessee and around the nation. We will continue to fight for the dreams of all and we will win.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fabian Bedne declares candidacy for Council seat in District 31

The Argentina-born Nashvillian Fabian Bedne recently announced that he would be running again for Metro Council in District 31, a strip of the southeast part of town that includes sections of Old Hickory Blvd., Nolensville Road, Holt, and Burkitt. The candidate's announcement was covered by In Session, which also provides a little context about the race for that seat.

What caught my eye most from the announcement:

  • "Fabian Bedne, res­i­den­tial designer and small busi­ness owner..." (that's right - he launched his own business Organicus recently, after working for a while at architectural firms)
  • "Bedne named Attor­ney Bob Tuke as his cam­paign trea­surer" (big name - was the Democratic nominee for one of Tennessee's two seats in the U.S. Senate)
  • "This dis­trict has con­tin­ued to develop sus­tain­able growth areas and has become a model on how to eat, work and play right in your own neigh­bor­hood and it’s a place that has been won­der­ful to raise my family.” (reveals Bedne's passion for livable city planning)
  • "Neigh­bors from Brent­wood and Lenox Vil­lage, to Cane Ridge and Anti­och are all sup­port­ing my campaign.” (give you a feel for where the district is)
  • "Bedne and his fam­ily have lived in David­son County for fif­teen years, includ­ing thir­teen years in Dis­trict 31 and he cur­rently oper­ates his own busi­ness here. He was until recently, a Com­mis­sioner with the David­son County Board of Zon­ing Appeals, and cur­rently serves on the advi­sory board of the Nashville Area Habi­tat for Human­ity, on the Board of the Hous­ing Fund, and Com­mu­nity Nashville, and on the David­son County Lead­er­ship Coun­cil of the “Com­mu­ni­ties Putting Pre­ven­tion to Work.” He is also the chair of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee of his home subdivision." (updated résumé)

For some deep-dive context on Bedne himself, check out the various stories about him at, such as the following...
...and also check out some of Bedne's guests posts, including these three essays: wishes Bedne the best in his campaign.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hispanics at the top of Music City: six people who led important non-Latino Nashville institutions in the 2000's

L-R (top): Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham
L-R (bottom): Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, Raul Regalado

The six people who appear above have been the Hispanic leaders of non-Latino institutions in Nashville at various times since 2000.  Over the last decade, they have been at the very top of organizations with clout in this city, with four of them heading government bodies and two of them heading non-profits.  Two of them were named "Nashvillian of the Year" by the Nashville Scene.

These leaders are Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado. Their bios are below.

Dr. Pedro E. Garcia was Director of Schools for the Metropolitan Nashville Public School ("MNPS") system from 2001 to 2008, the second-longest  tenure at the top spot in district history.  Garcia oversaw 139 schools serving a student body population of 75,000.  After just one year in the job, the Nashville Scene named him 2002 Nashvillian of the Year for his "revolutionary" approach to the school system.

Garcia was born in Cuba and arrived in the USA in 1962, at the age of 15. He was part of Operation Peter Pan, which brought 14,048 children to freedom from communism. He lived in a Miami camp for refugees until his parents arrived months later. In 1963, they moved to Iowa, where he learned English and graduated from high school. He earned his B.A. degree from Kansas University; his master's degree is from San Diego State University and his doctorate degree from The University of Southern California in 1983.

Garcia is currently Executive in Residence for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Greg Gonzales is currently the head of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, having been named Commissioner by Governor Bredesen in 2007.  Governor-Elect Bill Haslam has announced that Gonzales will stay on in that position following Bredesen's departure in January.

As Commissioner, Gonzales serves as Tennessee's chief regulatory officer of all state-chartered depository and licensed nondepository financial institutions. The department supervises approximately 12,000 financial institutions and companies doing business in Tennessee. Prior to being named commissioner, Gonzales served as acting commissioner beginning in December 2005. He previously served as assistant commissioner and general counsel. In his role as assistant commissioner, he was responsible for coordinating the provision of legal advice to the commissioner and the department.

Gonzales was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University in 1980 and earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1984.

State Senator Dolores R. Gresham is the Chair the Senate Education Committee and the Co-Chair of the Joint Education Oversight Committee of the Tennessee State Senate.  A Republican, Gresham has represented District 26 since 2008, having also served in the State House of Representatives from Tennessee's 94th District in 2002.

Gresham holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of the Incarnate Word, Masters of Arts from Loyola University New Orleans and a Masters of Science in Administration from The George Washington University. She served in the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Gresham is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants to the U.S., and the first Latina State Senator in Tennessee history.

Giancarlo Guerrero is the Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, a position he accepted as of the 2009-2010 season.  He is the Symphony's eighth Music Director and its first since the opening of its new home, the $123.5 million, 1,844-seat Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Guerrero was previously Music Director of Oregon's Eugene Symphony, a position he held for six seasons.  Guerrero has also guest-conducted many major American orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. He served as Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999-2004 and made his Minnesota Orchestra subscription debut in March 2000 leading the world premiere of John Corigliano's Phantasmagoria on the Ghosts of Versailles. Mr. Guerrero made his European debut with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and his UK Debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Costa Rica, Mr. Guerrero began his musical training in Costa Rica as a member of the Costa Rica Youth Symphony. He received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University in Texas and his master's degree in conducting from Northwestern University in Illinois. Mr. Guerrero's principal conducting teachers were Michael Haithcock, Stephen Heyde, Victor Yampolsky and Guillermo Scarabino. Prior to his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, he served as Music Director of the Tachira Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.

A. Gregory ("Gregg") Ramos was the President of the Nashville Bar Association in 2004, and he was President of Catholic Charities of Tennessee from 2007 to 2008. Ramos is also the other Hispanic Nashvillian of the Year besides Pedro Garcia.  Ramos received that honor from the Nashville Scene in 2008 because he "works tirelessly to make Nashville a better place for people of all races and backgrounds."

Ramos received his B.A. degree from Arizona State University in 1977 and his J.D. degree from Arizona State University College of Law in 1980. Upon graduation from law school in 1980, Mr. Ramos started his legal career as an Assistant Prosecutor in Phoenix, AZ, where he tried over forty (40) jury trials in four (4) years. In 1984, Ramos moved to Nashville, where he ultimately co-founded the law firm North, Pursell, Ramos & Jameson PLC.  Ramos was named among the "Best of the Bar" by the Nashville Business Journal in 2009, and he maintains a general civil litigation practice with an emphasis in the areas of personal injury, employment law and workers’ compensation.

Ramos was born in Arizona. His father was born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican nationals.

Raul Regalado has served as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority since 2001, and he is past Board Chairman for the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

As President and CEO of the Airport Authority, Regalado directs the overall planning, development and operation of Nashville International and John C. Tune Airports. Approximately 10 million passengers and over 79,000 tons of cargo pass through those airports annually. The terminal complex includes a 900,000-square-foot passenger terminal with 47 air carrier gates and up to 78 commuter parking positions. The airports contribute $3.74 billion in economic activity and $1.18 billion in wages and more than 39,700 jobs annually to the regional economy. They serve a trade area of 79 counties in Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama.

Regalado received a degree in aviation management from Embry‐Riddle Aeronautical University.  He also has completed graduate level course work with the USDA Graduate School and Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management. He has more than 42 years of experience in aviation, including eight years in the private sector and more than 28 years in the public sector.  Regalado retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve after serving 29 years in various active duty, Reserve, and National Guard senior leadership positions, and where he received numerous awards

Regalado holds an instrument and commercial pilot certificate for single and multi‐engine airplanes, helicopters, floatplanes, and gliders; owns his own airplane, which he flies for business and pleasure; and has logged approximately 3,800 hours of flight time.

Regalado is originally from California.

The information above is quoted verbatim from, excerpted from, or paraphrased from Wikipedia and from the official bios of Pedro Garcia, Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

State law track record shows silence and anonymity are important to Tennesseans, even more than immigration

Music City Center construction
The State has called off its investigation of illegal employment at the Music City Center construction site.

This past July, State Rep. Mike Turner (D) filed what appeared to be an unsigned, unsubstantiated report requesting an investigation by the Department of Labor into the immigration status of the workers building our new city's convention center.  Turner referred to anonymous sources who ultimately remained silent, which prevented the State from acting on the report, according to In Session (H/T: TCP).

Only 28 times since Tennessee's 2007 Illegal Alien Employment Act went into effect has someone filed a complaint alleging immigration violations in a workplace, according to Tennessee Report, which also points out that 13 of the 28 complaints had to be dismissed because of allegations made by people who weren't willing to back them up.

That number now goes to 14.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haslam adds three and a half Latins to extended family

Mark Emkes
Governor-elect Bill Haslam has named Mark Emkes, a Latin-savvy businessman with 3 "Latins" at home, as the new Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Emkes, who stepped down as CEO and Chairman of Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas earlier this year, was named to the finance commissioner post by the Haslam transition team yesterday. Emkes has extensive experience in Latin America, having lived in Mexico from 1990 to 1997, where he served as president of Bridgestone's subsidiary there, and in Brazil from 1997 to 2000, where he served as president of the subsidiary in that country. Emkes moved to Nashville in 2000 and headed all Latin American operations from here, until he was named CEO in 2002.

Emkes told the AP that his experience of working outside of the U.S. for 21 of the 33 years in his career "just opens your vision completely to the world" and "helps us appreciate other customs, cultures and languages."

Some of Emkes' time abroad was spent in Spain, where he met his wife, Conchi. Emkes told the AP that he lives in a family of Latins:
"My wife is from Spain, our son was born in Brazil and our daughter was born in Mexico," he said. "So that's three Latins against one North American. It's not easy in my house - I'm always outvoted."
I'd say, "Bienvenidos" to the incoming finance commissioner and his household, but the Emkes have been Nashvillians since 2000.  The Haslam press release says that Mark Emkes, wife Conchi, son Jonathan, and daughter Astrid are members of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Brentwood.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This cartoon by Barry Deutsch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fair hearing

Over at Pith in the Wind today, look for my post about whether Tennesseans will get a fair hearing on immigration. It should be posted before too long, if it hasn't already been posted by the time you read this.

Update: Here it is.

Monday, December 6, 2010

R.I.P. Dalia Perez 1995-2010

Dalia Perez
The obituary of Dalia that I wrote for the Nashville Scene is here.

Click here for the most recent update I have on the family.

Another Nashville teenager has lost her life just days away from her birthday. Last year, it was 18-year-old Maria Oza Gonzales. This year, it was 15-year-old Dalia Perez.

Young Dalia died in an early morning house fire last Thursday. She had already saved her 11-year-old sister Samantha and was going back in to rescue others.

Dalia was a student at Overton High School. The Saturday before the fire, she was celebrating her "sweet 15" birthday party, also known as a quinceañera, with friends and family.

Donations are being accepted for family members who lost everything in the fire. Ages and sizes and donation details are in this WSMV report and in this e-mail from Ruben de Pena of Metro Nashville Public Schools Student Services.

WKRN reported that more than 100 people came to a vigil Friday night outside the home. A Facebook page set up to honor Dalia indicates that a funeral will be held today at 4pm and a memorial will be held Tuesday at 1pm at the Sagrado Corazon church.

The morning after the fire, the Tennessean published an above-the-fold, front-page story about the fire and Dalia's tragic death. Reporting were Chris Echegaray and Andy Humbles, with this powerful lede:
Dalia Perez wore a purple gown on Saturday to her quinceañera, the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday in Hispanic culture, marking the transition from childhood to womanhood.

On Thursday, she acted like an adult, racing into an inferno to save her 11-year-old sister from the blaze that consumed their home at 4563 Artelia Drive in Antioch.
Video from WKRN:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest blogging at the Nashville Scene

My first post as guest blogger at the Nashville Scene
(Notice on the right-hand side: it quickly became the third-most commented on post)

The Nashville Scene has a blog called Pith in the Wind. I am its newest guest blogger.

Check out my first post: How Alexander, Corker Could Boost Republican Momentum for DREAM Act

Read the post, and let me know what you think. You can comment over there or over here.

This will be an ongoing thing, but I'm still going to be blogging mostly over here. On the days I post over at Pith, I will try to let you know. For those of you on Twitter, you'll get a heads-up @muybna as well.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Practice your Salsa and your Spanish all December long

Spanish-language conversation groups and salsa dance parties are happening all month long, all over town. If you were looking for an excuse to get out of the house...

Wednesday, December 1, 6:45 p.m.
FREE MCTango and MCSalsa Beg./Int. Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Second Avenue
Nashville TN 37208

Wednesday, December 1, 7:00 p.m.
Latin Dance Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Hadley Park Community Center
1037 28th Ave N
Nashville TN 37208
(615) 862-8479

Thursday, December 2, 6:30 p.m.
Charlemos Spanish coversation group
Royal Oaks Tower
4505 Harding Road.
Call Elizabeth Braswell at 615-202-0482 if you need help with directions. Your contribution of a bottle of wine or a snack is welcome.

Saturday, December 4, 7:00 p.m.
¡FELIZ NAVIDAD! The Music and Dance of the Romance of the Season
Free and open to the public
Join gallery F. and the Foreign Language Acting Group (F.L.A.G.) for an evening of holiday music and dance celebrating Nashville's Spanish speaking community.
Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Call 615.320.4651 or email
For more info contact Jaz Dorsey at or 615.915.0891
Download PDF flyer here

Tuesday, December 7, 5:30 p.m.
Latin Dance Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Coleman Park Community Center
384 Thompson Lane
Nashville TN 37211

Friday, December 10, 9:30 p.m.
Funtopia Fiesta at Mad Donna's
Whether you went to stay lingering at the bar watching the sleek dancers or join them for a steamy dance, come and join our friendly group for a fun time. Cover charge is $7. Door opens at 9:30pm with a basic salsa class taught by one of our instructors.
Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, House, Samba and other fun rythms will be played all night by DJ Blanco and DJ Pablo on Friday December 10th at our East Nashville venue.
Mad Donna's
1313 Woodland St.
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 226-1617

Saturday, December 11, 8:00 p.m.
Sentir El Ritmo Dance Company Holiday Social and Dance Party!
¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Global Education Center
4822 Charlotte Pike
Nashville TN 37209

Tuesday, December 14, 6:00 p.m.
Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group
Check calendar for location.

Saturday, December 18, 10:00 p.m.
Navidad En Fuego at Lime
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
A classy evening of salsa, cocktails and beautiful people.
Enjoy the best mojitos and margaritas in Nashville, while listening to some of the worlds best salsa music mixed by DJ’s from the salsa capital of the world.
RSVP here (Ages 21+)
1904 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
615 429-1430

Tuesday, December 28, 6:00 p.m.
Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group
Check calendar for location.

Friday, December 31, 10:00 p.m.
Año Nuevo En Fuego! (New Years Eve)
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
A classy evening of salsa, cocktails & beautiful people.
Enjoy the best mojitos and margaritas in nashville, while listening to some of the worlds best salsa music mixed by DJ’s from the salsa capital of the world.
RSVP here (Ages 21+)
1904 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
615 429-1430

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nashville youth give back at Thanksgiving, yearn for DREAM Act

The Nashville Scene's Pith in the Wind blog covered last week's Thanksgiving DREAM Act rally by Tennessee youth who have been outstanding in every way but aren't allowed to give back to the country they grew up in, due to an immigration status over which they had no control.

Steve Haruch covered the young people's collection of food for the needy, and Betsy Phillips remarked on the uphill battle for the legislative fix these kids are hoping for.

From the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
“We are optimistic for a brighter future in which we will be fully accepted as what we already are, true Americans,” said Karla, a DREAM student. “We study hard, are honest and are active in our community. Like true pilgrims, we have the energy, the talent and the desire to give back in full to the country that raised us.”

These new pilgrims, brought to this country as minors by their parents, spoke about their desire to further their education and become contributing citizens of this country, the only home many of them know. They asked Senators Corker and Alexander to support the DREAM Act, which will be reintroduced in the following days in the Congress of the US. This piece of legislation, first presented in 2001, would allow thousands of undocumented young students to attend college, gain legal status and become productive members of our nation.
WPLN reported in September that Senators Alexander and Corker say the Dream Act needs to be a stand-alone bill with its own debate, but when the Dream Act does come up this week, watch them filibuster it, to prevent the debate and (as a result) the vote of the majority. (Why the Senate doesn't just force them to talk for hours on end about these deserving students, until they tire and the filibuster is broken, is beyond me.)

As for the substance of the DREAM Act, it's a lite version of immigration bankruptcy: a qualifying applicant would get a fresh start in exchange for proving good behavior and making certain future commitments. The DREAM Act is for kids only.

As I've said before, dedicated youth who have no individual culpability for the fact that they don't have a visa deserve at least one chance to earn legal status. It's for those who demonstrate personal responsibility in the circumstances they can control, like their studies and extracurricular activities. Instead of wasting the beneficial America-child relationship that has been developing throughout their young lives, we should be realizing that these people are already our assets - already "us" - and we must make sure our laws see them that way.

The status quo, by contrast, constitutes a blockade to our high performers. By doing nothing, we have accidentally embraced the concepts of the doomsday clock and the misery strategy, even though you'd prefer the DREAM Act every time in a blind taste test. To those skeptics who would embrace doomsday and misery as "sticks" to use against parents, consider how inconsistent it is to withhold support for the DREAM Act. You can't be in favor of the sticks for the parents but offer no "carrot" to the kids for their good behavior here. (If you're still not convinced, go back and look at the immigration bankruptcy concept, which addresses your concerns about lawbreaking.)

To those who are convinced, you can take action in favor of the DREAM Act by visiting - and from there, you can contact your legislators.

For previous posts on about the DREAM Act (going back to 2004!), click here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

R.I.P. Maria Oza Gonzales 1990-2009

Maria Oza Gonzales
12/1/1990 - 11/28/2009
A year ago yesterday, Nashville teenager Maria Oza Gonzales died crossing Gallatin Road, after she got off one of two jobs she was working at Opry Mills.  She was less than a week away from her 19th birthday.

Maria's mother, Lisa M. Gonzales, is pushing for improvements in pedestrian safety after no charges were filed against the man whose vehicle struck her daughter.

Stories about the vigil recently held by Lisa Gonzales, and the reform she is asking for, aired this past week on Channel 5 and Channel 4.  Earlier this year, Channel 5 reported on the video that was released that showed the moment of impact, and on the decision not to file charges against the driver.

Stories that appeared last year following the collision appeared on Channel 5 (story about a fund being set up), Channel 4, the City Paper, and on the Nashville Police web site.

The text of Lisa Gonzales' Petition to improve pedestrian safety is here:
I, Lisa M. Gonzales is calling out to the Great City of Nashville, TN. I come to the people of Nashville to assist me in making Nashville a safer community. I know a lot of people seen the News footage of my daughter Maria Oza Gonzales whom was killed on November 28th 2009 on Gallatin Pike in front of K Mart.
What I am requesting is that the city of Nashville Tennessee place side walks, crosswalks, better lightening through this area.

I am also requesting that the speed limit to be reduced to 30mph in the said locations that is coming close to a school zone in such case that where Maria Gonzales was killed. I am also requesting that the two bus stops be placed inside the K Mart parking lot as you see in the Wal-Mart stores. The other bus stop in question needs to be removed or a cross walk with cautions light signs also need to be placed to allow drivers to know that there is pedestrians in that area trying to cross the road.

To many peoples lives have been taken and nothing done to the person whom has killed these people. I believe by the community as we stand to do what is right and make a difference we are making a change for the better of the community safety. Last year alone over 400 people have been seriously injured and or have lost there lives leaving there families, friends and loved ones in devasted and missing there beloved one behind.

I also believe that the law needs to be changed that if proven that the driver of the car is speeding or under the influence no matter of what coloring of clothing the driver will be facing 15 to 25 years in the state prison for murder.

Please sign this petition and help change Nashville to make it a better and safer place for our children children. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Thank you for taking your time to sign May God Bless and Keep you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The right thing

Pearls Before Swine

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stalking Turkey

Oconostata, from the official seal of the
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Happy Thanksgiving! Speaking of pilgrims, Indians and turkey, have you ever seen the Indian in the official seal of Nashville and Davidson County?

The official seal - reproduced in its entirety in the official city/county flag - features Chief Oconostota, a Cherokee "king" also known as Stalking Turkey.

And even though the seal was designed less than a half century ago, it contains elements of the seal used by the city much earlier in its history. As a result, no one knows why Chief Oconostota is featured in the seal, much less why he is holding a skull. Or even if that is really him.

Here's the leading theory, courtesy of the Friends of Metro Archives:
The brave is the symbol of America and is holding a skull and his implements of war which he and the great white father, Gen. James Robertson, buried between them at the ceremony of peace.

The tobacco is the Indian's gift to the white man and the source of wealth and cultivation of our land. The eagle, only bird that neither flees nor fights a storm, but flies above it, symbolizes superiority, judgment and strength in the face of danger.
Leaves you wondering, though, doesn't it? Like something is still unexplained.

Has Betsy Phillips written a ghost story about this yet?
The official seal of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ken Marrero

Ken Marrero blogs over at Blue Collar Muse. Here's his connection to Hispanic Nashville:
I was born in the mid 50s to a Missouri farm girl and a young draftsman in the United States from Puerto Rico and before that, the Dominican Republic. This makes my lineage a bit more interesting as my father was an illegal alien here in the US...
Marrero talks about historic events during his life, including one around the time of his birthday, in this post about remembering September 11.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Truly thankful

A while back, I put out the call for ad ideas based around one of these three stock photos of construction workers and homeowners. The above ad is the product of that brainstorm.

The ad shows two people visiting their home, under construction, with the wife shaking the hand of the construction worker. There are two captions. The first shows what the homeowners are thinking:
We'll always be thankful for your work - except if we go into politics.
And the second caption carries the message of the ad:
At Thanksgiving, avoid politics. But in politics, don't avoid the immigrants you're thankful for.
This message does not just refer to politicians like Meg Whitman who gratefully accept work without knowing the workers' immigration status. Many Americans are in the same boat. We have had suspicions about the status of immigrant workers we've met face to face, we say thanks every fourth Thursday in November for the blessings those workers have made possible, and then we forget those blessings when immigration politics come up.

We know we should be more thankful than that.

Feel free to share the ad, and Happy Thanksgiving.

For more proimmigrant ads, click here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to visit Cuba: MTSU Professor Ric Morris explains on Sunday radio show

Photo by neiljs. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Part of Boston Globe's Scenes from Havana

Dr. Ric Morris, associate professor in the MTSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, will discuss opportunities for students and faculty to study and conduct research in Cuba at 8 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 21, on “MTSU on the Record” with host Gina Logue on WMOT-FM (89.5 FM and

The program, known as “Project Cuba 2011,” will take place at or near the University of Havana. There also will be two hosted weekend excursions outside of Havana—one to Santa Clara, Topes de Collantes and Trinidad, and one to Pinar del Rio.

“Because what we hear about Cuba is highly politicized, few Americans have an accurate picture of what Cuba is really like,” says Morris. “We have a moral obligation to be fully informed about the complex history Cuba shares with the United States, rather than have this history interpreted and explained to us by others. Visiting Cuba and seeing it first-hand is a first step in fulfilling this obligation.” has more stories about Cuba - Nashvillians with Cuban heritage, Cuba's connection to the Nashville Zoo, Cuban music and food in town - here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Free movie showing Friday of Welcome to Shelbyville, a high-profile documentary featuring work of Welcoming Tennessee

Out of all of the movie stars in the Volunteer State, Welcoming Tennessee is the newest.

Welcoming Tennessee, a project of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, is featured prominently in the documentary film "Welcoming to Shelbyville," which will be shown in a free screening tomorrow, Friday, November 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Scarritt Bennett's Laskey Great Hall, 1008 19th Avenue South, in Nashville.

The documentary, which bears the name of the Middle Tennessee city where it was filmed, is part of the Independent Television Service’s (ITVS) Community Cinema program. It will screen in over 90 communities in May 2011, to be accompanied by broadcasts nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens.

This May 2009 article in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette newspaper describes Welcoming Tennessee's work in Shelbyville:
TIRRC launched its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (WTI) in 2006, and began to focus on Shelbyville in last year, beginning with a billboard campaign, followed by several events held by the organization in conjunction with local groups such as El Centro Latino.

Events in Shelbyville included a presentation by members of the Hispanic and Somali communities along with information about WTI; a citizenship clinic; a "unity and understanding" rally held at the Fly Arts Building with the Bedford County Chapter of Statewide Organizing for Justice; and another recent gathering involving the Somali community.
Here is what The New Republic had to say about the film:
What is remarkable about the Shelbyville story is that during the course of the year-long filming, long-term residents of the town start to change. You see the complexities and the fluidity of the way both immigrants and residents make adjustments to their way of life, to their way of thinking, and to their way of interacting with each other.

How did this happen? It is likely that if a grassroots collaborative called Welcoming Tennessee had not stepped in, things may have gone very differently.
The free screening tomorrow will be followed by a panel with individuals featured in the film. Light refreshments will be provided.

The trailer is here and below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nashvillians are in Chile and Argentina this week to forge health care business ties

Composite photo of Nashville's "Batman" Building
and Entel Tower in Santiago, Chile by John Lamb
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Nashville Health Care Council are in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina this week, on their Ninth International Health Care Trade Mission. According to the Chamber and the Council:
This International Health Care Trade Mission is the first of its kind to South America. Led by Jack O. Bovender, Jr., retired chairman and CEO of HCA, it is a unique opportunity for delegates to gain unparalleled insights on the delivery of health care in Chile and Argentina while setting the stage for future collaborations and exchange of best practices.

This executive-level international mission is an opportunity for delegates to:
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of the health systems in Chile and Argentina;
  • Meet in small settings with U.S. Embassy leaders and Chilean and Argentinian government dignitaries;
  • Establish high-level contacts among private industry leaders, financial services executives and entrepreneurs, professional service organizations and industry associations;
  • Learn about business development opportunities in the broader South American region from leading experts;
  • Gain expertise from other U.S. companies already doing business in South America; and
  • Benefit from the unparalleled leverage and access provided by an executive-level mission.
The City Paper recently interviewed Caroline Young, president of the Health Care Council, and Janet Miller, chief economic development and marketing officer at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce about the mission, and this was Miller's response to the "why Latin America" question:
As we looked for potential destinations, we were surprised by the number of Nashville companies doing significant business in the region — names like Thomas Nelson, Gresham Smith and Gibson Guitar. So the general information that we’ll learn on this trip will also be helpful in a broader business sense.
The Nashville Post is publishing "dispatches" from the group this week, including this Monday dispatch and this Tuesday dispatch, in which parallels were drawn between the business opportunities following Chile's earthquake and Nashville's flood.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ingrid Betancourt at Vanderbilt today

Ingrid Betancourt (photo courtesy
of Ingrid Betancourt)
Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six and a half years as a hostage in in the Colombian jungle before her rescue in 2008, will be signing her book Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle at 4:30pm today at the VU Bookstore. A reception hosted by Vanderbilt CLAS follows at 5:30pm in the Board of Trust Room of the Student Life Center, and Betancourt will deliver a keynote lecture at 7pm in the Student Life Center Ballroom. Details below.

From Vanderbilt:
Guerillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, kidnapped Ingrid Betancourt as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency in 2002. She was held captive six years in Colombia’s rain forest until she was liberated in 2008 with 14 other hostages in a daring rescue staged by the Colombian army.

She brings her story to Vanderbilt University, Tuesday, Nov. 16, where she will give a public lecture at 7 p.m. in the Student Life Center ballroom. Tickets for the lecture are on sale now. The university’s Speakers Committee, a student-run organization, is sponsoring the event.

Betancourt will also sign copies of her newly released memoir, Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle, at the Vanderbilt Bookstore from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are free to Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff and must be picked up in advance at the Sarratt Student Center box office. Only one free ticket may be picked up per person with Vanderbilt ID. General public tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or General admission tickets are $10. Tickets are $5 for non-Vanderbilt students with valid school or university identification – these tickets are available at the Sarratt Student Center box office and Ticketmaster outlets. For more information, call 615-343-3361 or 615-322-2471 or visit

Betancourt, the longest female hostage held in captivity, has become a global human rights activist meeting with world leaders and campaigning for the release of more than 700 hostages still being held captive by FARC.

“I will not feel totally free, not happy, as long as one of my companions remains jailed in the jungle,” she has said.

During her presidential campaign, she had been a critic of FARC and her platform was built on her promise to curb drug trafficking, corruption and the FARC’s methods of kidnapping innocent people. She had met with FARC leaders to encourage them to end these practices before becoming a victim of their rebel tactics.

Betancourt has received numerous international awards, including the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, The Prince of Asturias Prize of Concord, The Prize Grinzane Cavour and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She also received the first Woman of the Year Award 2008 from the World Awards Association for her commitment to democratic values, freedom and tolerance.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nashville in middle of pack to host World Cup if FIFA awards 2022 tournament to USA

Bill Clinton needs your autograph.

Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, and the United States are the remaining countries in the running to host the 2022 World Cup (the USA dropped its 2018 bid when Europe emerged as a favorite for that year). Odds for the selection of the 2022 host make the U.S. a strong contender, but Australia is confident, and support is surging for Qatar. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will make the USA's final sales pitch to governing body FIFA on December 1, and the decision will be made and announced December 2 in Zurich.

Nashville is one of 18 U.S. host cities in the running if the USA wins its bid. Residents of those 18 cities are trying to demonstrate their fan support by signing a petition at, and Nashville is currently in 9th place, dropping one spot after Atlanta moved up. See the leaderboard here. The list will likely drop to 10-12 cities if the USA is selected as host, and Nashville isn't the only mid-sized city in competition; Indianapolis is currently ranked #2 in number of resident signatures on the petition.

Nashville fans, soccer fans, and Nashville soccer fans can sign the petition here or in the space below. More enthusiasm out of Nashville helps Music City's bid as well as the U.S. bid as a whole. Make sure Bill Clinton has your signature before he makes his final pitch.

Stories connecting Nashville and the World Cup can be found on here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wow indeed


Friday, November 12, 2010

Tennesseans repulsed by "rat" imagery in legislature

"The Fool Pied Piper"
Editorial cartoon, Puck magazine, 1909
If your family was in the U.S. a century ago, perhaps they were the intended targets of the cartoon above, which appeared in Puck magazine to caricature immigrants as criminally minded rats following the tune of Uncle Sam's "lax immigration laws."  You would certainly hope that your American ancestors weren't the ones drawing or supporting this vile image.

Fast-forward 101 years, and State Representative Curry Todd reveals that the same kind of sentiment is alive and well in the people's house - our Tennessee legislature. Caricaturing pregnant women as rats from his seat on the Fiscal Review Committee, Todd figuratively produced the Puck cartoon from his coat pocket, drew a woman's face on one of the rodents, added in a pregnant belly, and stuck in her mouth a piece of paper marked, "CoverKids application."

Tennesseans are repulsed by the filthy sentiment.

Here is an excerpt of what Renata Soto e-mailed to Conexion Americas' mailing list:
Rep. Curry has not had the decency to offer a genuine apology for his statement. Instead, he says that he wished he had used another "more palatable" term to describe these unborn children - "anchor babies."  More palatable to whom? Not to me or anyone who cares about treating people with dignity.
Here is an excerpt of what Diana Holland wrote to Rep. Todd:
Oh, and when and if we meet, I can also share with you information and my experience with illegal American immigrants in Argentina, where living as “undocumented immigrants” has become an American, ex-patriate sport over the last 10 years – oh, and no worries, we don’t refer to them as rats or any other kind of critter; we just call them (and you) “gringos”. I hope this is not offensive…
Read Soto's full response here and Holland's full response here.

Last night in Memphis, representatives of the Tennessee Equality Project, Latino Memphis, the NAACP, Workers Interfaith Network, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center gathered to call for apology and accountability (see TEP blog post here and Commercial Appeal article here).

Soto's response also has a list of suggestions for concerned citizens who want to contact Rep. Todd.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day "Rat"

This veteran and his mother are the "rats" Representative Curry Todd was referring to.

As for me and my house, we honor the service of all.

My prayers go out to Rep. Todd, whose bitterness of heart is on display in his "rat" comment in the video below. Mr. Todd, may this bitterness and negativity not consume you, the larger legislative body you occupy, or the population of our great State of Tennessee.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vanderbilt study shows death jobs go to Mexican immigrants

Photo by Mhd Badi. Licensed via Creative Commons.
From Vanderbilt University:
Vanderbilt value-of-life study shows Mexican immigrants fare far worse than other immigrants, U.S. natives

Mexican immigrants found to work in higher risk jobs with little wage compensation

It has been long suspected that Mexican immigrants often work on dangerous and unpleasant jobs for low pay. New research by Vanderbilt University Law School professors Joni Hersch and W. Kip Viscusi provides hard evidence on the risks and rewards for risky jobs. They find that Mexican immigrants are concentrated in jobs with high risk of fatality, but they receive little wage compensation for these risks.

Hersch and Viscusi found that Mexican immigrants are in jobs with fatality rates more than one-third higher than other workers, but they do not receive higher pay for these risks. In contrast, other immigrant groups are similar to native U.S. workers in both their job risk levels and wage compensation for risk.

Hersch and Viscusi used U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Current Population Survey, which has a large sample size, and the New Immigrant Survey, which provides more detail about the characteristics of immigrants than other data sets.

“Non-Mexican immigrants as a group are similar to native U.S. workers in terms of the average job risks they face and their compensation for those risks,” said Viscusi, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics and Management. “But Mexican immigrants are the outliers, especially when it comes to fatal injuries.”

Hersch and Viscusi find that the evidence is consistent with the theory that Mexican immigrants face different labor market conditions than do native U.S. workers and even other immigrants who are not Mexican.

The full study titled, “Immigrant Status and the Value of Statistical Life” is published in the Journal of Human Resources. It can also be found on

Monday, November 8, 2010

CCA, immigration and ALEC: the long-brewing national story you only recently heard of

A couple of weeks ago, National Public Radio ("NPR") dropped a bombshell on Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America in the form of a two-part investigative report accusing CCA of influencing Arizona's governor and legislature for the passage of that state's immigrant crackdown law, SB 1070, a measure that is characterized in the report as friendly to CCA's bottom line.

NPR even pulled a page out of the Rupert Murdoch media playbook, painting in ACORN-like dark tones a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council ("ALEC"). According to NPR, ALEC is where private industry members (including CCA) and public servants (including AZ legislators) crafted the wording for SB 1070, even though its meetings are not technically regulated as lobbying. NPR sees a lack of transparency in the birth of SB 1070 via ALEC, alleging that:
legislators were in the hotel conference room with the Corrections Corporation of America the day the model bill [that became Arizona's SB 1070] was written. The prison company didn't have to file a lobbying report or disclose any gifts to legislators. They don't even have to tell anyone they were there. All they have to do is pay their ALEC dues and show up.
The Nashville Scene ran with NPR's story. The national pro-immigrant blogosphere lit up at the news, as well. The Arizona Republic, however, a Gannett-owned sister publication of The Tennessean, was less enthusiastic, penning an editorial saying that NPR overreached in its investigative report.

What did our Nashville neighbor CCA say in its defense about the NPR story?  First of all, some facts about CCA's interests.

In January 2010, the Nashville Business Journal reported that "CCA already owns and operates six prisons in Arizona, which primarily house immigrant detainees and prisoners from other states such as California." Phoenix's local CBS affiliate KPHO reported earlier this summer that over 23,000 people were picked up in Arizona and transferred by local and state officials over to ICE since 2007, and "hundreds of them ended in up [in] CCA facilities." The total bill for the federal population CCA detains or incarcerates in Arizona is $11 million/month, according to KPHO. Former U.S. Senator from Arizona and current CCA board member Dennis DiConcini said in September that CCA is a top-50 employer in Arizona, employing more than 2,700 Arizonans and creating more than $400 million in economic activity in the state.

CCA readily reported last week that "population declines" at its facilities are a business risk. This past summer, Arizona media quoted CCA as stating, "We cannot support regulations that would result in the closing of facilities and the loss of hundreds of jobs in Arizona."

But the company issued a detailed statement flatly denying NPR's claims about CCA's alleged role in crafting the model legislation for SB 1070 and advocating for its passage, stating specifically that
CCA has unequivocally never lobbied or played any role in the passage of Arizona’s immigration law known as SB1070 and has had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the drafting or writing of the legislation The Company has neither directly nor indirectly attempted to influence immigration policy, including SB 1070, and absolutely did not engage anyone in the Governor's Office on the signing of that bill. As a long-standing stated company policy and practice, CCA does not in any way engage in matters related to legislation that involves inmate or detainee sentencing, criminal code changes or reform.
Accusations of CCA having cozy ties to lawmakers, even via ALEC, are not new or unique to NPR. Take, for example, this 2007 summary by CorpWatch:
[S]ome critics charge that the company's success is related to its deep rooted ties to elected officials. In addition to CCA's record of campaign contributions to the Republican Party since 1997, there are significant connections between executives and government officials. J. Michael Quinlan, former head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has been an executive at CCA for the past decade. CCA’s chief lobbyist in the state of Tennessee is married to the speaker of the house. And CCA is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that writes and pushes bills on policy such as sentencing guidelines.
In a 2008 episode of NOW, David Brancaccio reported, "The next prison market opportunity: companies say it is immigrant detainees," and the web materials for the NOW episode linked to ALEC.

The broader question of whether private prison companies lobby for overincarceration goes way back, long before CCA's mythbusting reports of 2008 and 2007, among others. A 1998 policy study on (a site CCA links to) answers the question this way: "There is little evidence of this kind of lobbying. Do private garbage collectors lobby against recycling? Do day-care centers lobby against birth control?"

So NPR's story attempted to compile such evidence, but it wasn't the first one.  The local CBS affiliate in Phoenix, KPHO, ran a story on August 31 of this year pointing out close connections between CCA lobbyists and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer:
Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaign chairman and policy adviser is also a lobbyist for the largest private prison company in the country [CCA]. Chuck Coughlin is one of two people in the Brewer administration with ties to Corrections Corporation of America. The other administration member is communications director Paul Senseman, a former CCA lobbyist. His wife still lobbies for the company.
National MSNBC host Rachel Maddow latched onto the KPHO reporting (and the Brewer campaign's backlash) in an 11-minute segment (video | transcript) days later.

Before NPR, KPHO, and MSNBC, however, there was The Daily Censored on August 6, asking the same questions. And before that, in June 2010, non-profit media outlet In These Times ran a story on CCA's ALEC and lobbyist connections as they purportedly related to each other and to SB 1070 (check out the degrees of separation between all the players, as illustrated in the attached graphic to the story).

A month before the In These Times story, the Phoenix New Times wondered aloud if Governor Brewer had a conflict of interest in regard to SB 1070, given that the number of
CCA execs contributing to Brewer include the company's top brass: Damon Hininger, CCA President and CEO; "senior administrator" Anthony Grande; Gustavus Puryear, at one time CCA's general counsel; Todd Mullenger, executive VP and chief financial officer; and so on.
The Phoenix New Times quotes CCA VP of Communications Louise Grant refuting the charge, saying that the company executives' individual contributions to Brewer were not meant to influence policy, and that SB 1070 would not be good for CCA.  In 2009, Louise Grant also disclaimed any CCA role in public policymaking, in extended statements to
We are not in the business of making moral decisions on U.S. public policy ... we've worked extremely hard not to get involved in the public policy decisions.
On May 22, 2006, The Tennessean, CCA's hometown newspaper, ran a story under the headline "Immigration crackdown creates opportunity for prison company."  This year, CCA was given Nashville Business Journal's Best in Business Award 2010 in the category for large employers.

CCA's full response to the NPR story is here.

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