Ruben Hernandez

Ay, what a year!

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FEBRUARY

Phoenix celebrates Arizona’s statehood

Valentine’s Day 2012 was a salute to the special relationship between Arizona and the rest of the United States. That was the day the Grand Canyon State turned 100 years old, and Centennial projects and festivities blossomed in cities across Arizona. The events were organized by the state’s Arizona Centennial Commission and the non-profit Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation. Its vision was to “inspire all Arizonans to appreciate our state’s rich past, celebrate the present, and, together, create a vibrant and sustainable future.” In downtown Phoenix, Washington Street was turned into an area for Centennial events. The nearby Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center mounted an exhibition titled,100 Years of Latinos in Arizonato honor our state’s Hispanic history and legacy.

Gay Mexican lover derails sheriff’s campaign

Paul_BabeuThe second month of 2012 was when ultra-conservative Pinal County sheriff, Paul Babeu, had his campaign train to Arizona’s 4th Congressional District seat derailed after he was – literally – caught with his pants down. Media exposés claimed that the elected lawman threatened his Mexican, male and undocumented lover with deportation. One investigative article revealed that the then-popular Pinal politician had sent a near nude photo of himself to a gay magazine. Babeu claimed he was the “victim,” but his campaign contributions dried up, his poll numbers plummeted, and he was forced to settle for his eventual re-election to sheriff. 

MARCH

Disgraced legislator admits he stole from non-profit

Honorary-Comm_Richard-MirandaIn mid-March, longtime lawmaker, Richard Miranda, admitted that he looted $145,000 while serving as executive director of a west Phoenix non-profit. Forced to resign his elected position in February, he pleaded guilty in court to charges of wire fraud and tax evasion in March. A Democrat from Tolleson who represented state Senate District 13, Miranda had sold a building owned by the non-profit, Centro Adelante Campesino, and used a big chunk of the stolen money to pay off his credit card debts. He had served 13 years in the Arizona legislature. He was subsequently sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. 

Garcia named Phoenix top cop

On March 26, Daniel V. Garcia, previously Dallas’ assistant police chief, was announced as the new chief of the Phoenix Police Department. Garcia’s strengths include experience with community patrolling and enforcing immigration laws with respect. He was the first top officer in a generation to be hired from outside the city’s police force. Garcia replaced former chief, Jack Harris, who was forced to retire after Phoenix officials set up a citizens’ committee to deal with protests against police actions. Phoenix Council member, Michael Nowakowski, said he’s glad that Garcia speaks Spanish and has the potential to establish good relations with Phoenix residents, over 40 percent of whom are Hispanic.

APRIL

Thomas loses legal license

On April 9, former Maricopa County attorney, Andrew Thomas, and his former deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, were disbarred by a panel convened by the Arizona Supreme Court. The panel described the former prosecutors as unscrupulous, hypocritical and self-centered. Another former deputy, Rachel Alexander, was suspended for six months and one day. Thomas was criticized by some Latinos for interpreting a state anti-immigrant smuggling law to include undocumented immigrants who hired smugglers to transport them into the U.S.

Matuz named to Time’s 100 most influential

matuzIn mid-April, Time magazine named Valley undocumented immigrant/DREAMer Dulce Matuz, 27 years old, to its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Matuz, who graduated from ASU with an engineering degree, is a leader of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. She pressed political leaders, including President Barack Obama, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain, for passage of the DREAM Act. Matuz’s recognition by Time validated her and thousands of other DREAMers who came out of the shadows and proclaimed themselves productive – albeit not yet legal – Americans.

Study connects Latinos’ education with state’s economic future

“Dropped,” a study produced by the ASU Morrison Institute, drew a grim picture of the  economic future for Arizona if state leaders fail to address its Latino education gap. This report was a follow-up to the 2001 landmark study, “Five Shoes Waiting to Drop on Arizona’s Future.”“Dropped”focused on the consequences for Arizona’s future economy if no action is taken to improve the educational advancement of our state’s future workforce.

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