Thursday, February 23, 2012

TUSD's Hicks Recall Effort Begins Sunday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Former U.S. Senate candidate and community organizer Randy Parraz, of recall Russell Pearce legend and fame, will be in Tucson this Sunday, Feb. 26, 1 p.m. meeting with community leaders, members, activists and organizers interested in beginning a recall effort to force Tucson Unified School District governing board member Michael Hicks back on the ballot.

Recall paperwork is expected to be filed with the Pima County Schools Superintendent's office in the next two weeks. The meeting on Sunday is at 1 p.m. at the Valenzuela Youth Center, 1550 S. 6th Ave., South Tucson.

"I'm coming in to see what extent people in Tucson are willing to work on this issue and see if we can provide our expertise," Parraz told the Range.

Parraz said he hopes people who attend the meeting leave their affiliations or camps behind — Grijavalistas, Eckstrom supporters, Save Ethnic Studies and everything in between and on all the sides. From his perspective, Parraz said success will come from looking at this as a First Amendment issue and academic excellence versus political extremism.

"It's not about what camp you're from," Parraz said. "This is the type of thinking I am going to bring down here — what do you want and what do you need to make that happen? It's not about chanting and yelling, but what's an effective strategy to counter what's taking place in Tucson."

Parraz said he's excited to come to Tucson, but emphasized the work that needs to happen depends on who shows up to the meeting and who stays the course. In Mesa, when he and Republican Chad Snow joined forces to lead the Russell Pearce recall, Parraz said it was a group of 35 core people who "came in every day and weekend consistently over that 160-day period. We just need that core group of people walking in the same direction in Tucson and combined that with the biggest vision - hell they can change anything they want in Tucson."

Why a recall effort against Hicks?

Hicks has spoken out against the Mexican-American studies classes, but an interview he did recently on the Garret Lewis A.M. show on KNST AM 790/FM 97.1 is what's motivating the recall interests. During the interview, Hicks lied about where he was during the school board meeting on April 26, 2011 painting a picture of that he feared for his life and felt intimidated by the student protest. This is the school board meeting in which the student group UNIDOS took over the dais and prevented the school board meeting from continuing.

Hicks was filmed by Three Sonorans that evening walking into the meeting room, talking to MAS supporters and even the media. But what fuel the recall fire more, were his additional comments about students who participated in a teach-in at the University of Arizona, comparing the event to the Penn State child molestation case. The community demanded an apology.

Blog for Arizona's David Safier had a great post on Feb. 12 about communication he had with Hicks, and Hicks sad non-apology apology that didn't come through a TUSD governing board meeting in front of his constituents but a letter to a UA dean.

You can catch-up and read the post here. Here's the letter Safier refers to in his story hicks-letter-to-ua—-jones-02.10.12.pdf and here's a snippet from the conversation he had with Hicks:

Remember, earlier in the conversation, Hicks said I was putting words in his mouth when I asked if he thought any harm could have come to the students in the classroom. Now he was saying, in essence, yes, the students could have been physically harmed and, like Penn State, it's possible no one would have reported it.

I pushed a little farther and asked about this portion of his letter to Dr. Jones:

"I apologize for choosing to use Penn State in my comments about this concern. I understand how that can be interpreted as insensitive and inappropriate." [boldface added]

I said I'm not sure there is a question of interpretation relating to his Penn State comments. They clearly compared the UA situation to Penn State. Did he feel he went a bit too far during the radio show and actually said something that was "insensitive and inappropriate," not just something "that can be interpreted as insensitive and inappropriate"?

That question went farther than Hicks was willing to go. Soon after, he hung up. That was the end of the conversation.

Read past the jump for recall information from the Pima County Schools Superintendent's office.

Recall information from the Pima County Schools' website:

The process requires that a number of qualified electors residing within the school district demand his/her recall. Every public officer holding an elective office, either by election or appointment, or retention, is subject to recall from such office by the qualified electors of the electoral district from which candidates are elected to that office."

The process requires that a number of qualified electors residing within the school district demand the governing board member's recall. Recall Signature requirements are based on twenty-five per cent of the number of votes cast at the last preceding General Election for all the candidates for the office held by the officer, even if the officer was not elected at that election, divided by the number of offices that were being filled at the election. A.R.S. § 19-201.A.

A public officer must have held office for 6 months before a recall petition can be filed against him/her. The 6-month wait only applies to the first term of office of the governing board member is elected to consecutive terms. A.R.S. § 19-202.A.

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