Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Barrio Hollywood: If You Don't Live in the Barrio, You're Not Allowed to Vote in Our Neighborhood Association

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 12:36 PM

Barrio Hollywood residents voted last week to change the rules of who's allowed to be a voting  member of the neighborhood association. 

Voting rights in the association are now exclusive to those who live in the barrio. Meaning, if you are a business or property owner whose home isn't in the barrio, you can't vote on neighborhood issues.

(Here's the story Arizona Public Media's Amanda LeClaire produced. You need visuals and audio to get a sense of the emotions that were flying in the meeting.)

Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association President Kacey Carleton, who supports businesses being part of the voting process, sent out this email days after last Thursday's vote, (here's part of it):
Hello Neighbors,

The special meeting held last night resulted in a deciding vote for Proposal 2 of Article II of the BHNA bylaws. Despite the effort which went into it, the voting process was again full of indiscrepancies and the balloting problematic. The count was overwhelmingly in favor of a Resident Only membership making any formal complaint of the process fruitless.

The formation of an election committee will be discussed at our monthly meeting in September.

The special meeting was called for a discussion and vote of the bylaws since many claimed at the July 2nd meeting that they had had no opportunity for discussion. The majority of the attendees last night clamored for the vote to take place immediately and were not interested in any discussion or contribution.

The meeting and vote were engineered to focus solely on Article II of the bylaws when the special meeting was called to discuss and answer questions of the entire document. The remaining Articles will be on the Agenda of the September meeting for a vote. 
Residents and businesses originally voted on the issue July 2, but those results were nullified because: A. Carleton apparently sent out a last-minute announcement that the voting session began at 5:30 p.m. and the original 6 p.m. Residents say business owners showed up to vote early and then left. And, B. When talks of amending the bylaws reached the ears of the city of Tucson, the Office of Integrated Planning threatened Barrio Hollywood to de-register it as a neighborhood association, should they vote for a bylaw that would exclude businesses. The city later said that as long as businesses can weigh in on what goes down in the neighborhood, even without voting rights, it means the bylaws are inclusive and the barrio is not up for punishments. 

Turns out talks to amend the bylaws have been going on for more than one year. At the time, 25-plus-year neighborhood association president Margaret McKenna was voted out and replaced by Carleton, someone many barrio residents see as a complete outsider, working hand-in-hand with City Councilwoman Regina Romero to allow for gentrification and get back at Barrio Hollywood residents for putting their foot down when the city tried selling the culturally historic El Rio Golf Course to Grand Canyon University, a private, Christian entity. (Romero told the Tucson Weekly she has never fueled any issues in Barrio Hollywood, and she is neutral in this whole thing. I went more into detail on what's been happening in this Thursday's issue.)

Some business owners such as Charlie and Diane Hernandez of Pat's Chili Dogs, said they felt they weren't being heard by the previous administration, so they voted her out.

Here's an email we got from Sal Baldenegro, a long-time Barrio Hollywood advocate:
Estimadas/os: This is a follow-up to my recent e-mail describing the events, re: Barrio Hollywood and the attempt to lessen the impact of Barrio Hollywood residents in favor of outsiders, and asked for your support of Barrio Hollywood residents.

Long story short: Barrio Hollywood residents won!!!! The bylaw change that would allow only Barrio Hollywood residents to vote in Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association matters won overwhelmingly—69-13. The details are below.

To put things in perspective, it’s important to know that:
1. The attempt to dilute the voting power of Barrio Hollywood residents did not originate in Barrio Hollywood. This attack on Hollywood was orchestrated by outside political forces who want to do to Barrio Hollywood what was done to the downtown barrios during the so called “Urban Renewal” (which really was a “Mexican Removal”) campaign in the 1960s: destroy its cultural-historical memory, run the current residents out and gentrify the area and thus destroy the political viability and activism of the west side.

2. This attack on the west side is rooted in the El Rio Coalition-II beating back the plan promoted by the Ward One City Councilmember and the Mayor to convert the historic El Rio/Trini Alvarez Golf Course into a complex of high-rise condos and apartment buildings and commercial establishments, which would have permanently and irreversibly changed the character of Barrios Hollywood and El Rio, including the local Hollywood businesses.

Barrio Hollywood peeps have always prided themselves for being 100 percent pro-business. The residents I spoke with point to the Fiesta Grande and the renovations to Grande Avenue as some of the many ways they have pulled strings for the businesses in the area. They just don't want businesses to take advantage of their voting rights in the neighborhood, as residents say some businesses did in last year's election of the new neighborhood association president. Business owners can still attend meetings and voice their opinion. 

The deep-rooted division dwells into gentrification and alleged political retaliation against Barrio Hollywood from the city, some residents say. 

(I'll have more info on this week's issue.)

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