“Cesar Chavez, Saturday Closure, and Fiona Ma”

by on April 14, 2006


I know that it may come as a shock to the rent control crazies that there are housing needs out there that are not related to them and their never ending crusade. It’s called homeownership. While they don’t support it, the rest of us who are not stuck in the sixties do.

It’s interesting but also sad to see them fighting so vigorously against change. Particularly with long philosophical diatribes and political attacks when clearly, “it’s all about the money.”

Irving Jacobs

Dear Editor:

In Steven Chapman’s April 13th piece “Saturday closure It’s about time!” he states in supporting the Saturday closure of JFK drive in GG Park that “the people of San Francisco have been outmaneuvered by private interests.” That a rather interesting choice of words given the fact that it was the “people” who voted for Prop. J authorizing the construction of the underground garage and it was also the “people” who voted for last years measure authorizing the second entrance. Now he seems to be supporting a measure that would nullify the voters’ rejection of the Saturday closure of JFK drive in Golden Gate Park.

Isn’t it hypocritical for Mr. Chapman and other so-called progressives who constantly preach the virtues of the public will and the sanctity of the ballot box, throw those beliefs out the window when the voters won’t do what they want by trying to pull off a disingenuous legislative bypass deliberately designed to nullify that vote, saying that the voters were “confused” or has he said “outmaneuvered?”

If Mr. Chapman feels that the Saturday closure idea has merit then he should take it back to the voters, the outcome of which I would have no problem with. To do anything less is just hypocritical and shows a distain for the very “people” he so strongly claims to champion.

Mr. E.F. Sullivan, San Francisco

Dear Randy,

I’m disappointed that you chose not to print my letter when I sent it earlier on 4/1/06, offering a different perspective about cesar chavez. i’ve included it below. it’s pointless to print now, as the whole interest has passed on to other things, Fiona Ma, for example.

Makes me have less faith in progressive-type movements when things like these don’t show up. gives one the impression that your concern here is not so much dissemination of information, but dissemination of the information you want to get out there.


Dear Editor,

I would like to offer a different perspective about the Cesar Chavez movement:

I grew up 2nd generation Mexican American, in the central valley, on a 40-acre grape vineyard.

My grandparents came over from Mexico and worked the fields. At some point in their lives, they were able to purchase land here. My father, too, worked the fields. While I didn’t work local fields, I worked on my fathers vineyard. Our family was large and we lived in a 2 bedroom house until my sister reached puberty*then, my father converted one-half of an already small living room into her bedroom. We live in poverty until most of us were out of high school and were able to make a living for ourselves.

Back then, my father had to utilize immigrant workers to get his crop harvested. He paid the going rate for work performed, provided them with a restroom, and, while not running water, he provided them with a 50 gallon commercial container that dispersed water, that was always available.

This seems a bit extreme to me now, but I also remember talk of the Cesar Chavez movement attempting to come onto our ranch and mobilize the workers. My father’s response to this was to mobilize all the males in the family (uncles/children), and arm us with rifles or guns at every entry point to our property. Fortunately for everyone, Cesar was probably more concerned with the larger farms and this never happened.

We never had a healthcare program. We always went to the local Legionnaires hall and lined up with all the other families who had to get shots, etc. It was, therefore unlikely that my father was able to provide healthcare for his workers.

I remember the infamous Grape Strike as being terribly detrimental to us. We couldn’t sell our entire harvest, which basically kept us in poverty for several years afterwards. As the community in which I grew up was comprised of numerous small family owned farms, it wreaked havoc on the lives of these people as well. And this was just a small area south of Fresno.

I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for what Mr. Chavez was finally able to accomplish. It is especially important today in this climate of corporate greed and union busting and fear mongering by the bush administration regarding illegal immigrants.

I’m reminded of the recent “Don’t Spend a Dime” day (don’t recall the exact name). I don’t know how successful it was, but the message I kept hearing was to simply not spend any money. I can only assume that most people did just that. In doing so, this hurt several local small businesses/farms. Had the message been more specific to not purchase brand names; not to patronize shops like macy’s/nordstroms, etc.; and instead, to purchase locally from your nearby small business, farm or cottage industry it could have been much more effective. For all the good these types of ‘movements’ or actions ultimately have, there needs to be an awareness of adverse consequences perhaps not always in the direction one wants or is expecting.

Matt Magaña

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