Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Arresting Development

This week from the Valley's new independent weekly, The Paper of South Texas (DISCLOSURE: I do freelance editing for the publication): School police arrest a union organizer for trespass when she sets foot in the McAllen Independent School District bus barn.

Hortencia Armindariz works for Service Employees International Union. She says the district cops never warned her she was trespassing before slapping the cuffs on. The real reason for the arrest, district employees say, is that she's teaching school workers to stand up for their rights:
Throughout the past several months, Armendariz has been working closely with transportation and other MISD employees to help them learn how to inform the administration about problems that workers are faced with, explained Rosa Medina, an MISD school bus assistant and union member.

"We have problems with the distribution of hours, here in the transportation department. We don't have enough food-service staff to handle cooking food for all the schools," Medina said.
But the McAllen school district administration doesn't like being questioned. It extends to the supposedly open forum during board meetings, in which board members refuse to allow employees to talk. When non-employees try to bring up problems, they get muzzled as well:
A union organizer mentions an administrator's name, then a board member stops the discussion to proclaim that names can't be mentioned in open forum. An organizer mentions the phrase access to open forum, and a board member quickly states that the organizer is off topic. One organizer in the last school board meeting tried to circumvent restrictions by relating the district's silencing of speech to the history of the Chicano movement. The board allowed the organizer to mention the Chicano movement, but not to draw a connection with the district's public forum policy.
District officials don't want to respond to questions about this issue:
Phone calls placed last week by The Paper of South Texas to the MISD Information Office, as well as e-mails sent to superintendent Yolanda Chapa and board member Sara Tippit, remained unanswered as of press time.
The answer is clear -- McAllen school officials think they're above scrutiny.

6 Comments:

Blogger JB said...

What can be done to force the administration to honor their open forum? As far as I know, only a mandamus action. I wonder, would The Paper or local activists be willing to go that far?

7:01 AM  
Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

Its no sectre that the yolanda chapa regime is one of terror and supression of free speech. I hope SOMEONE looks into this and the obvious civil rights violations. As a long time cop , I know that BEFORE I arrest anyone for criminal trespassing, He/she has to be told to leave, at least (in my opinion) twice, BEFORE I arrest ANYONE. Something is not rigth herer, people. I believe very much in law and order BUT this my friends, is not law and order.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Junkbox said...

I dunno about unions. Wasn't this one of the reasons we fought communism for over 50 years?

Unions are a mafia of a select few, where the lazy benefit and the industrious are not rewarded.

RESIST!

5:21 AM  
Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

My experience with unions is that they're good at squeezing cash out of you, then they give some of the cash on questionable "politicians", usually extreme liberals. THEN when you finally NEED a union they aren't much help, except to help their own. But free spech is still an earned right around her as far as I know. THAT's my problem with the MISD. Anyone can refuse to join a union, its that simple.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Mack Harrison said...

The point isn't that unions are good or bad; it's that the union organizers are getting muzzled -- even arrested -- when trying to help workers invoke their rights.

10:47 AM  
Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

So what you're saying mack is that at the misd, there are no such things as civil rights? Free speeeh? No right to assembly? Unless you toe the misd/tippet/chapa line? Now THATS scary !

6:07 AM  

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