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 www.dreamactivist.org - and from there, you can contact your legislators.

For previous posts on HispanicNashville.com 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 lisagonzales38@gmail.com

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 wmot.org).

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.”

HispanicNashville.com 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 www.ticketmaster.com. 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 www.vanderbilt.edu/studentcampusevents.

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 gousabid.com, 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 HispanicNashville.com 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 http://ssrn.com/abstract_id=1394360

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 Reason.org (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 HispanicNashville.com:
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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cyrano, Capoeira, tango, tacos, and more: so many stories to tell, it's like herding cats

Sometimes I have so many stories in my inbox, it's like herding cats. Here are a few of the latest ones:
Diana Holland appears in 'Cyrano de Bergerac' by ACT 1 thru Nov. 13

Speaking of Diana Holland, her non-profit Tango Nashville has shut down, but a new group Nashville Tango Club was just launched

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition published its November Community Calendar, which includes Capoeira dance lessons (scroll down to see the full calendar).

A desperate Nashville couple pursues an expensive — and illegal — stem cell treatment in Tijuana.

Beloved taco truck Mas Tacos parks a permanent store in East Nashville

Nashville Councilman Eric Crafton calls himself a member of and spokesman for the failed 2008 English Only referendum - but for the first time he says he was not one of its leaders (presumably he's referring to the Virginia-based group ProEnglish, which accounted for over 90% of the campaign contributions)

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* wants you to save the date for its holiday event December 2 at The Standard (167 Rosa L. Parks Blvd), from 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tons and tons of statistics on the immigrant and native-born populations in Tennessee in 2008, by the Migration Policy Institute

Finally, check out this detailed comparison of employer sanction laws in South Carolina and Arizona. Tennessee put a similar law into effect in 2008, and, like Arizona's law, our Illegal Alien Employment Act has had little impact.
how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mariachi Los Camperos De Nati Cano performs tonight, CERRITO and Lane Brody release party tomorrow

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* announced a performance by Mariachi Los Camperos De Nati Cano tonight and a release party by CERRITO and Lane Brody tomorrow:
Great Performances at Vanderbilt
Celebrates Mexico's Bicentennial with Grammy Winner
Mariachi Los Camperos De Nati Cano
When: Wednesday, Nov. 3rd at 7:30pm
Where: Langford Auditorium
Tickets will be sold the night of the performance at the box office. For more information, please click HERE or email bridgette.kohnhorst@vanderbilt.edu

You are invited to a celebration in honor of
CERRITO and Lane Brody
and the release of CERRITO y Las Chicas de Country
including their #1 smash hit "South of the Border" 
When: Thursday, Nov 4th from 5-8 PM
Where: Sound Kitchen Studio (112 Seaboard Lane/Franklin)
RSVP required by Tuesday Nov. 2nd by calling PLA Media 615-327-0100 (my apologies for publishing this on November 3 after the RSVP deadline; maybe they'll make an exception...)

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stars and sky bridge culture and language: Adventure Science Center hosts Sesame Street planetarium show daily through December 5 (Spanish version on Saturdays)

Big Bird and Elmo from Sesame Street are visiting Nashville's Adventure Science Center through December 5 in One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.  In the Turner Theatre of the Sudekum Planetarium, Big Bird, Elmo and their new friend from China, Hu Hu Zhu, observe the Big Dipper, the North Star, the Moon and more as they discover how their cultures view the stars in different ways.

One World, One Sky runs daily. A Spanish version will run at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday through December 4, or to large groups or school groups with advance reservations.  A Mandarin Chinese version will also run at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays through December 5.

Before or after the show, preschoolers can explore Garden of Gizmos, an exhibit featuring interactive displays designed to explore the basic science of movement and plant growth through hands-on, family-friendly activities. Displays within the whimsical exhibit include

  • Groundhog’s Ground: While one participant directs a “groundhog” with a manual crank, other participants stand on grass and dodge the groundhog while learning how the animals move through the ground.
  • Bird Land: Using the flapping of birds’ wings as an example, this exhibit allows visitors to visually understand simple machines and engage with the display by turning a wheel and rod.
  • Bead Stream: Visitors are in control at this exhibit, moving strings of beads back and forth and observing how movement resonates down the different bead streams in waves.

Garden of Gizmos is included with regular admission to the Adventure Science Center, $12 for adults; $9 for children ages 2 to 12, seniors 65+, active military families (with ID) and college students (with ID). Tickets to One World, One Sky in the Sudekum Planetarium are $6 with general admission tickets, $4 for members. For more information about these and other exhibits, visit www.adventuresci.com.

Both One World, One Sky and Garden of Gizmos run through December 5.  One World, One Sky was produced by Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, Sesame Workshop, Beijing Planetarium and Liberty Science Center, with major support from the National Science Foundation. One World, One Sky is distributed by Evans & Sutherland.

Monday, November 1, 2010

People disappear from Clairmont Apartments

No one knows how many people disappeared from the Clairmont Apartments in Nashville on October 20.

The ACLU told The Tennessean that it was somewhere between 20 and 40 people.

Local law enforcement - Metro Nashville Police - said that it was "several" people, identifying three by name, and that they were all taken by the federal government agency ICE. Metro actually gives a lot of detail in its statement, but still no specifics about how many people were taken, what their names are, and if they were charged with a crime.

ICE issued a statement, but without any details about the missing. Its spokesman Temple Black has not yet responded to an inquiry by HispanicNashville.com

TIRRC and the ACLU say that apartment management could be retailiating for residents' complaints about the alleged living conditions:
Management has routinely ignored tenants' complaints about chronic maintenance problems, water leaks, lack of essential services, mold problems and widespread pest infestation. Several buildings have had limited or no water supply and no heat for months. Three weeks ago, Greystar abandoned the onsite management office, posting a sign to call a number that, when dialed, rang inside the empty office. Calls placed weeks ago remain unreturned.
If any criminal charges are ever brought against those taken from the Clairmont Apartments, the concerns would still include (1) was ICE looking for only a handful of people but end up taking away twenty or more bystanders; (2) in the process, did ICE violate a million or so required procedures; and (3) was the entire event initiated by an absentee landlord tired of dealing with complaints about living conditions?

By way of background, The Nashville Scene investigated alleged landlord misconduct against Hispanic residents in the exact same complex - in 1999. It was under a different name, owners, and management then.

No charges have been filed against Clairmont owners or management.
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