Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero knows that the people over whom she governs are going hungry, homeless, and left at the mercy of strangers; however, she told one of their potentially saving forces, an employer who would provide sustenance producing jobs, that there was no room at the Tucson inn for them.
That is how it appears, at least, to many Christians in Southern Arizona upon hearing the news that the Councilwoman was pulling her support for a Grand Canyon University campus on Tucson’s west side.
Romero advised the general public of her decision to turn away the desperately needed job provider in an op-ed piece for the Arizona Daily Star after she warned key activists in the barrios of her decision to “betray” them and “rob their people of jobs,” according to those activists.
Romero wrote that while she recognized that Tucson is the 6th poorest metropolitan area in the country and “…early financial estimates said the University’s expansion could create more than 1,000 jobs at salaries averaging $60,000,” she “…decided against pursuing the opportunity further.”
Romero noted that the University “could bring more than $500 million in growth to Tucson’s economy” over the next five years. She also reminded Tucsonans in her missive that “Twenty-five percent of our citizens and thirty percent of our children live in poverty. Half of our single moms live in poverty. At the same time, only 25 percent of Tucsonans have college degrees, even though people with a college education earn 80 percent more money.”
It was the scholarships that excited most of the adults in the Menlo Park area and Barrio Hollywood. They say that Grand Canyon is well-known for its generous scholarships and the students in the surrounding barrios should have a chance to go to a quality institution that shares their traditional (mostly Catholic) values.
The City of Tucson, according to its own staff, will be bankrupt by 2020 if not sooner. The City’s golf courses, which once drew tourists from across the globe, are now lying is disrepair from lack of funds.
The City has run the courses into the ground rather than outsource the management.
As a result, this year the Tucson City Council finally came to the conclusion that many of the courses should be closed. El Rio Golf Course, built right next door to Barrio Hollywood, was on the chopping block.
The course was never really valued by the neighborhood because the residents lacked the funds to take up the “rich man’s sport.” Elders discussed fighting the course from its inception. Some in the neighborhood expressed they did not want to hang on the chain link fence looking longingly into the property that should have been a community park rather than a playground for outsiders.
They fought it and were thrown in jail for their opposition. The course came and over time, they grew accustomed to it. At least it provided a little green in the concrete and dust jungle that surrounded them.
So when word got out that a major university was considering their neighborhood as a new home, they were almost optimistic. Maybe their kids could get a good education. It was also noted the City would build a recreation complex on the course and there could be intergenerational and multicultural communication and cohabitation.
Grand Canyon tuition is less than the public University of Arizona and offers smaller class sizes. The prospect for students in the neighborhoods, who were robbed of a quality education experience in the Tucson Unified School District for years, seemed too good to be true.
And it was. Their optimism began to wane when Salomon Baldenegro, a radical progressive activist and his cohorts, “who are still living in the sixties” as one resident put it, focused their identity-politics-race-war on the University. One elderly resident said, “Salomon wasn’t the only one who got his ass thrown in jail when we tried to stop the golf course all those years ago, and he doesn’t give one damn about kids getting an education.”
But they are wrong. Salomon is one of the most powerful forces behind the Mexican American Studies classes that were deemed by Judge Lewis Kowal to teach children resentment based on the color of their skin. Kowal, who listened to days of testimony about the hatred taught to young Tucson Unified School District’s students, found the classes in violation of state law last year.
Salomon does care about the students’ education. He cares that they are indoctrinated in Critical Race Theory based curriculum so that one day they will “transform” the world.
Still, residents want to know what is so wrong with traditional values. They want to transform kids’ world, too, but they say the west side is a heavily Catholic area and the people hold very traditional values. They want to know why a transformation from poverty to opportunity is being rejected. They question how a handful of radicals can keep an entire community marginalized.
Salomon and his cohorts are not marginalized though their numbers are small in comparison. Those few loud voices started making inroads with other City Council members to ensure the University did not stand a chance.
This weekend, according to one barrio resident, the LGBT community sealed the University’s fate.
Romero told the public, “Despite the many positives of Grand Canyon’s move to El Rio, I have always believed in listening to everyone. After hearing sincere concerns from my friends, allies and colleagues on this issue, I have decided against pursuing the opportunity further.”
It is her allies, and those of her husband’s boss, Congressman Raul Grijalva, that matter most in the west side. They are the ones who keep the status quo so that Grijalva and his cronies can continue to shake down small businesspersons for “mordida,” and they can continue to be “oppressed by the man.”
There is power in this oppression.
Menlo Park area activist, Lillian Lopez Grant, at Tucson City Council meeting