The Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association met Thursday, January 7th, 2016 to elect their new leadership team.
Thus ends the era of the previous administration that was mired in controversy, which began with allegations of people from outside Barrio Hollywood coming to stack the vote during the date of the last election to oust the long-serving president. Then began the controversies of allowing business-owners who do not live in Barrio Hollywood a vote which would be like allowing someone in Oro Valley to vote in Tucson elections simply because they work here. This was combined with an attempt to limit the votes of life-long residents to one vote per household which would easily cut the voting power of citizens by more than one-half.
Despite the cold January rain outside, the room at the El Rio Neighborhood Center was packed, and with one Tucson Police officer present, independent third-party vote counters, and a team validating every person’s eligibility to vote, the outcome of last night’s election was clear and uncontested.
President: Steve Leal
Vice President: Manny Jacques
Secretary: Scott Egan
Treasurer: Joseph Uriarte
Public Relations Officer: Patrick McKenna
The significance of Barrio Hollywood cannot be understated. It is located directly off the freeway and within walking and biking distance to downtown.
As an independent community it has a long history of fighting gentrification and has fought for decades to avoid the fate of neighboring barrios such as the the one at the heart of Tucson that was completely bulldozed to create the Tucson Community Center.
Since its creation, the TCC has shifted focus from the Community to now being called the Tucson Convention Center with a focus on gun shows and gem and mineral shows. The TCC has cost the city of Tucson over a hundred million dollars in lost revenue and continues to bleed the city budget dry as Democrats pump millions into a site built on sacred ground as developers give them maximum campaign donations; some people refer to this failed financial reality of the TCC as the Curse of the Barrio.
Barrio Hollywood was also one of the birthplaces of Tucson’s Chicano Movement during the civil rights era. One of the few remaining green places left in an ever expanding city is at El Rio, and there was a historic fight to preserve El Rio for the People. Sadly many of those involved in the original fight to save El Rio are still involved in a new battle decades later to save the precious land. Embroiled in a years-long court battle to uncover the city’s deception when local city councilors were willing to sell-out (pun intended) this precious site to a homophobic for-profit private Christian college without input from the public.
The city has continued to defy the order of Judge Staring to release documents related to this case. Many have wondered why Staring did not enforce his own court order which continued to be defied by politicians, and many found their answer in Staring’s recent promotion to the Arizona Court of Appeals. In response, a lawsuit was recently filed against the Tucson mayor and city council-members directly for their “intentional lying and abuses of power” and violations of public records laws.
Any history of Tucson would have to include the story of Barrio Hollywood, but its story is not just relegated to plaques outside a destroyed barrio, but it is a story that lives today with all the citizens still living in houses that were lived in by their ancestors.
Nestled along the banks of the Santa Cruz river on Tucson’s west-side, the barrio continues to fight attacks from all levels of political entities, including TUSD which has closed down several local schools, such as Brichta and Menlo Park, and even the few public swimming pools in the area, such as the ones at Joaquin Murrieta and Menlo Park, were closed by the city over the past few years.
It is as if the city is literally trying to suck dry the will of its determined west-siders who oppose gentrification daily, but when viewed as just another chain of events in a centuries-long attempt to take over lands in the West in a modern-day Manifest Destiny, then one realizes the importance of barrios such as Barrio Hollywood in not only preserving our culture and history, but as a breeding-ground for new leadership that will continue to inspire the new generation of citizens ready to fight attempts to bulldoze barrios to satisfy developer’s dreams of destruction in the name of urban renewal.
Meet these new leaders in the videos below.
BHNA President: Steve Leal
BHNA Vice-President: Manny Jacques
BHNA Secretary: Scott Egan
BHNA Treasurer: Joseph Uriarte
BHNA Public Relations: Patrick McKenna