Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker

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A discussion with Mayor Keno Hawker and Phil Austin, President of the Mesa Hispanic Citizens and member of Multicultural Coalition for Economic and Social Justice. Austin’s group is looking for the City of Mesa to address the city’s day labor center, Cesar Chavez holiday, diversity in hiring and promotions, police review board, and adequate housing plan.

>>José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." A coalition of citizens in Mesa say their concerns regarding Hispanic issues are not being addressed by Mesa city government. Tonight we'll hear from the City of Mesa and a member of the coalition. Also, global trade strategy between Arizona and Mexico, one of the topics at this week's Arizona-Mexico commission meeting in Phoenix. We'll hear more about their plans.

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>>José Cárdenas:
The Mesa association of Hispanic citizens formed the multi-cultural coalition for economic and social justice. The purpose of the coalition is to review and assess policies they believe the city has failed to properly address. The coalition claims their 6 point agenda of Hispanic issues is not being properly addressed by Mesa city officials. Here is what is on that agenda. A day labor center, police review board, and adequate housing plan, Cesar Chavez holiday, lack of diversity in hiring and promotions and a minority and small business contracting program. The city says they are addressing points on the agenda. Joining us is Phil Austin and Mesa Mayor KENO Hawker. Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizonte." Phil, you're president of the Mesa association of Hispanic citizens which formed the coalition, is that right?

>> Phil Austin:
That's right, Jose.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tell us a little about the coalition and why it's being created now.

>> Phil Austin:
The coalition is made up of a diverse group of individuals from Mesa. And I want to correct something here. The coalition believes these issues go beyond just concerns of the Hispanic community but of the communities represented by the coalition, and there are African-American, Native American, and anglo representatives, as well as cross sections of the religious community, Protestant, Catholic and Jew, and various organization, community based organizations, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic in Mesa. But the association, Mesa association of Hispanic citizens back in August after the police shooting involving Mario Madrigal, when we believed that the city wasn't appropriately or timely taking steps to develop or study the issue of a police review board, we created our own committee, and over the past few months, that committee has been meeting and reviewing and to make recommendation regarding the -- their police review board. In fact that committee in April made its recommendations and said th

>>José Cárdenas:
Is it that that led to the decision to form this coalition?

>> Phil Austin:
That's correct. And, again, the study committee said that the city did not only act in regard to the police review board but also in regard to the housing task force recommendations and recommendations that -- of bodies it had created in regard to the day labor program, and, again, the concerns of members of the coalition when we approached them, when the association approached different representatives from different groups, was that, yes, we are frustrated that the city wasn't acting on key issues.

>>José Cárdenas:
I want to address as best we can in the time we have as many of those issues as we can get, to but first, Mayor, in a statement you released in response to the announcement about the formation of the coalition, you said you welcomed its formation, you welcomed involvement by citizens. What did you mean by that?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Just as it stated. Any time we can get additional information from citizens group, it's welcome.

>>José Cárdenas:
Do you think that the criticisms that are being leveled at the city generally, as I said, I want to get the specific issues, are legitimate.

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
I think some of the criticisms are based on review boards that are established and -- to give direction to the city council. You have to remember that the city council members are also citizens, too, so to say there's no citizen representation in the police department or in review boards I think is a little bit false currently. But I think that it's -- you know, any time that we can improve our processes and listen to suggestions from outside, certainly willing to do so.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about the issue that Phil indicated was the genesis at least for -- at least one of the causes for the creation of the coalition, the police review board. What's the latest in terms of that issue?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
The committee is pretty much wrapped up their deliberations and voted 14-1 to forward a report, and I have a copy of that in front of me here, to the city council. So the city council will be addressing that issue and seeing whether they want to accept all the recommendations, modify some, and form a police review board or not. Our charter currently prohibits a citizen police review board. So what would it take is actually a ballot initiative to change the charter to allow the formation of a police review board.

>>José Cárdenas:
Phil, have you read the recommendations?

>> Phil Austin:
Yes, I have.

>>José Cárdenas:
And is the coalition supportive of them?

>> Phil Austin:
The coalition hasn't met. The recommendations just came out the end of the week. We haven't at as a group had a chance to review them, but the concern is, again, as in the past, there have been task forces created by the city and yet the city has not acted. The city council, we're hopeful that we now have a recommendation -- I might add at the beginning, right after the Madrigal shooting, the reaction we got from the city was that they were not interested in establishing a task force to study it, and that's why our organization started it. They later did. We think because of pressure. And now they have a recommendation, and we're concerned that, again, the city may not act based upon that recommendation of its own task force as they haven't done in regard to day labor or the housing task force.

>>José Cárdenas:
Now, if the city does accept the recommendations that have been made, do you think that that would satisfy the concerns of the coalition with respect to that particular issue?

>> Phil Austin:
I think so. We're interested in getting -- we think that the city government, and again he mentioned that city council men are also citizens, but any level of government have specialized boards, both on the local, state and federal level, because the legislators don't have the time or expertise to address issues. The need for a board like this involving the use of lethal force is one of the most important advisory boards I think the city like Mesa could have and we are hopeful that the city council will take that recommendation and positively act.

>>José Cárdenas:
Mayor, when would that happen and when will the city consider this?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
I believe it's going to be addressed within the next month.

>>José Cárdenas:
The other issue that has been raised has to do with the day labor center. Phil, give us an overview of that issue.

>> Phil Austin:
Again, Mesa like many other cities across the country, particularly in the southwest, are seeing the effects of the global exchange of capital and labor that results in immigration of workers to where the capital is, where the demand is. So in Mesa streets there are individuals looking for work, and also the demand is by people -- individual contractors who want to hire them. But the problem is that they're on the street creating safety issues, creating health issues, creating perhaps crime issues and causing concerns about the neighborhood and neighborhood businesses there. The response by the city, and specifically the Mayor, is that this is a federal issue, and yet while he claims and the council fails to act and the federal government hasn't acted, the situation gets worse and the situation is affecting primarily the downtown and minority communities, minority businesses are suffering, and, again, since the council appointed a task force in 2001 that made recommendations that the city fu

>>José Cárdenas:
Mayor, as I understand it, this proposal or at least the issue has been under consideration for some time by the city. Why hasn't there been a decision yet?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
It was actually withdrawn by Mesa community action network that was going to establish a center and I think they were waiting for the outcome of an election because it became a hot political issue during the campaign. It was withdrawn at their request. Where does it stand now? Somebody is going to have to bring it back up and see also what the funding method is, where the location is, and it would require a use permit under our ordinances.

>>José Cárdenas:
Now, you issued a statement in response to the announcement by the coalition of their issues, and with respect to this particular issue, you said that you support a, quote, legal safe and orderly process. We are a sovereign nation and have a right to protect our borders, end quote. What did you mean by that?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Well, pretty much the way it's stated. We are a sovereign nation as most nation in the world would claim to be and one of the rights you have is to protect your borders. Our borders are actually a federal with that immigration issue and it's not state or municipal issue. So we have this difficulty in communication between what's a federal response and what's a city municipal response. We cannot deputize officers on a municipal level to have federal immigration powers. So what you have is you have kind of a rub between what might affect a city or a state negatively and the federal government's not interested in intervening.

>>José Cárdenas:
What would be a, as you put it, a legal, safe and orderly process you would support?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
A work visa. Let people come to this country, have proper identification, work, contribute to the economy, better themselves and families and return to their country of origin.

>>José Cárdenas:
So something along the lines of the guest labor --

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Absolutely. We support it wholeheartedly.

>> Phil Austin:
Again, this is another example of the city council and the Mayor's articulation of a program that's nothing more than burying their head in the sand. We have a situation here where there are, as in Mesa, as in a multitude of cities around the country, which have taken this issue by the horns and have adopted day labor centers, which have proved successful in mitigating the issues that are caused by employees or contractors standing on the street with all the safety and health and -- concerns. The issue is supported by the implementation of programs supported by the police department and the report card that Mr. Gilbert presented to the council reflects the success of these programs across the country. Mesa again doesn't want to tackle this issue because as the Mayor said, the council people are afraid they will be voted out of office by those who are opposed to, and I think really scared, of the advance or -- the rising numbers of Hispanics in the area.

>>José Cárdenas:
As the Mayor indicated, one of the objections that's state against day labor centers is that, at least some perhaps, a majority of the people would be served, are here without proper documentation. Is that a legitimate criticism?

>> Phil Austin:
I don't think so. I mean, again, the issue is that what's going on now is the greatest transfer of capital and labor in the history of the world. We have a demand here, and unless the company -- the country changes its economic structure and starts paying double or triple the salaries it wants to pay for construction workers, other workers here for work that's done by immigrant labor, then you're going to continue to have this influx, regardless of whatever laws you pass.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let me move onto some of the other issues that you've raised. Mayor, housing is one of the issues that the coalition has raised, and the lack of affordable housing. What's your view on that?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Well, if they're raising it as a Mesa issue, it doesn't have any legs. County-wide there's about a 99% housing gap, if you look at the -- some of the statistics from HUD and Mesa is at 5%. So we're half of what the county average is as far as having housing -- low-income affordability gap.

>>José Cárdenas:
So you think Mesa is actually a leader --

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Mesa should put up a sign and declare victory and say good job, Mesa. We have a housing stock for all different income levels from starters on up.

>> Phil Austin:
I totally disagree because there's a gap of 7500 affordable housing units for low-income people in Mesa. Again, the Mayor is misdirecting the argument.

>>José Cárdenas:
Is the Mayor right Mesa is a leader in this area --

>> Phil Austin:
Yeah, it's probably doing a better job of Chicago or Los Angeles, too. But the fact of the matter is we're dealing with issues of Mesa, and Mesa has a problem in filling the gap for affordable housing. But I think the rejection, what the Mayor and council is doing in not accepting the housing task force is throwing the baby out with the bath.

>>José Cárdenas:
What did they recommend?

>> Phil Austin:
They recommended increasing housing production to meet population growth, to reduce the housing gaps in the upper and lower echelons.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let me ask the Mayor. Has the Mayor in fact rejected those recommendations?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
No, we have not. It hasn't been adopted completely by the council because there were some parts of that that had to do with mobile homes that got --

>>José Cárdenas:
Those sound like reasonable recommendations, though. Do you support them.

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
I think as a goal, absolutely. What I'm talking about is Mesa has done a wonderful job on low income housing. In fact, we're the low income housing provider for Mesa, Scottsdale -- Tempe and Chandler.

>>José Cárdenas:
Phil, Cesar Chavez holiday; why is that important?

>> Phil Austin:
I think the importance is exemplified of one of the council moves who said, who is Cesar Chavez. Mesa has between 80 and 100,000 inhabitants who are Hispanic. There has never been a city councilman who is Hispanic. The membership of the higher levels of management in Mesa, there's no Native Americans, there's no African-Americans, until fall, there are -- fall of last year, there are no Hispanic Americans.

>>José Cárdenas:
And this is part of the reason for the issue on promotion?

>> Phil Austin:
Right. But on Cesar Chavez is the issue of recognition of the participation of the existence of the Hispanic population within Mesa that, again, Cesar Chavez is a hero to the Hispanic community, one who changed the paradigm of Hispanics being beasts of burden in the field to serving on the table and making decisions that would affect the future of themselves and their prodigy. Cesar Chavez exemplifies how through peaceful working with the system we can create change, and this is the lessons we want to teach our youth, that it's important to make those changes.

>>José Cárdenas:
Mayor, do you support the creation of a Cesar Chavez holiday?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
We have a civil rights holiday right now, and my thought when it was created, it should be for all civil rights and all leaders we can pay homage to and I think Cesar Chavez is certainly in that category, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, the list goes on and on.

>>José Cárdenas:
So you think the city has addressed this issue?

>>Mayor Keno Hawker:
I do. I thought the Hispanic agreed with honoring Hispanic civil rights in that way. I did not like the Martin Luther King label on it, I liked the civil rights holiday. It's kind of coming back. Everybody wants a holiday --

>>José Cárdenas:
Do you oppose a separate Cesar Chavez holiday?

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
Yes, $860,000 for another holiday in Mesa.

>>José Cárdenas:
We need to wrap up. Final thoughts from both of you?

>> Phil Austin:
The coalition was formed out frustration again with again the inability of the council to tackle troubling issues. It's particularly exemplified when these issues have been addressed successfully by other cities like Tempe, Phoenix, Tucson and the county and the goal of the coalition is to move the council to address these issues, which particularly affect low-income minority communities in Mesa and to respond and really react to the call for help.

>>José Cárdenas:
Mayor, last word.

>> Mayor Keno Hawker:
We have a charter form of government. I know there have been Hispanics that have run for city council. Their message was not accepted by enough citizens to get them elected. They still have that opportunity and I welcome the discussion with the coalition.

>>José Cárdenas:
Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us tonight. Governor Napolitano wants Arizona to focus on trade with the Mexican state of Sonora. The Arizona-Mexico commission was formed to help develop that relationship.

>> Reporter Larry Lemmons:
The Arizona-Mexico commission is a cross-border organization fostering Arizona's relationship with Mexico. It also provides leadership by improving the region and offering opportunity for business and personal growth. The commission is chaired by the governor of Arizona. Here are some of the AMC values. Ethical and honest, business focused, regionally minded and border conscious, dedicated to community, and committed to cultural, social and educational awareness. Governor Napolitano wants Arizona's international trade efforts to go beyond the traditional focus on the Mexican state of Sonora. This week the Arizona-Mexico commission and its Sonoran counterpart, the commission's Sonora Arizona will meet at a plenary session in Phoenix. The goal is to discuss global trade strategy. Governor Napolitano went on a trip last month to Monterrey and Nuevo Leon, Mexico. She met with business and political leaders. Napolitano has attended plenary sessions last year in Hermosillo and in Tucson

>>José Cárdenas:
Joining us to talk about this week's meeting is David Randolph, border coordinator with the Arizona-Mexico commission. Thank you for joining us. Tell us first about the Arizona-Mexico commission.

>> David Randolph:
The commission was formed over 40 years ago by governor Paul Fannin, and it's a public-private partnership. The governor is the chair and we have a private sector president, currently Victor Flores of the Salt River Project. It has a Board of Directors which includes some of the governor's cabinet and also prominent private sector individual.

>>José Cárdenas:
What was it formed to do?

>> David Randolph:
It's designed to perform a lot of functions. One very important function is working with the Sonorans. We have ten committees set up, a variety of issues dealing from arts and culture to tourism, for example, and we work very closely with them developing programs in these fields. And, of course, it's very focused toward the private sector trying to promote economic development and trade.

>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand it, the two commissions get together twice a year, once in Arizona and once in Sonora and these are the plenary sessions and the one coming up this week is one of those.

>> José Cárdenas:
Give us an over view of the plenary.

>> David Randolph:
Thats correct. The Arizona-Mexico commission hosts the spring plenary which will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week. The governors bring together their cabinets and all the committees and they meet for several days and deal with all the issue that you could imagine along the border dealing with Arizona and Mexico. The governor has been very interested in making the Arizona commission more action oriented with tangible results. I think you're going to see a lot of this play out in this plenary session where the committees are going to be producing a variety of very action-oriented item.

>>José Cárdenas:
And then what happens to their recommendations?

>> David Randolph:
The various committees will then proceed to work on them throughout the next six months. Just to give you an idea of some of the things that are going to be happening there, the border issues committee that I work with is going to be looking at federal programs and ports of entry, things such as the Sentry lane, a dedicated commuter lane we hope to have open in Nogales. A similar project where we're working with federal agencies and the border trade alliance for what's called a fast lane, a special lane for trucks at the Mariposa port of entry. It's a very innovative approach. This is just one committee. We'll have lots of committees doing various other things, for example, the emergency management committee, which was just formed last year, is producing an M.O.U., memorandum of understand on mutual cooperation on border issues.

>>José Cárdenas:
Most of these committees have a Sonoran counterpart, is that correct?

>> David Randolph:
That's correct.

>>José Cárdenas:
So there would be a delegation, as I understand, about 200 Sonorans --

>> David Randolph:
That's correct. The governor will be leading the Mexican delegation and you'll have probably four or 500 people, both Americans and Mexicans, attending the plenary.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tell us a little bit about some of the other activities. You've got the committee meetings going on. You mentioned one task force, I believe, on border issues. What else will be discussed?

>> David Randolph:
There are a lot of things that are going to be happening. For example, on Thursday there is going to be a special forum on the health of children in the border, the environmental health, just looking at how environmental factors can affect children on the border. Looking specifically at issues like environmental triggers for asthma attacks, pesticide and lead poisoning and the need to have education, environmental and healthcare specialists on both sides of the border really form a partnership. We'll have a meeting on battered immigrant women, looking at their special needs and -- for access to legal services and for healthcare, for example. On the U.S. visit program, this is the Department of Homeland Security's automated entry/exit program. This is going to be affecting everyone at the border. It's already in place at our airports. And we have the director of the program coming out, and he'll be giving a two-hour workshop on the program which will roll out at the end of the year at our

>>José Cárdenas:
In fact, I understand another keynote speaker will be Dr. Jeffrey Trent, the head of the Translational Genomics Research Institute?

>> David Randolph:
That's correct. We will have a special workshop also on T-GEN.

>>José Cárdenas:
Which has some relationships with the Mexican counterpart?

>> David Randolph:
That's correct.

>> José Cárdenas:
There will be other officials in attendance, including, I understand, the Mexican ambassador. Can you tell us a little about that?

>> David Randolph:
That's correct. Mexican ambassador Carlos Alberto DE casa will be delivering the feature presentation at our Saturday morning session.

>>José Cárdenas:
What do you think are the most important issues that will be discussed at this plenary session?

>> David Randolph:
We're focusing obviously on economic issues, those are very important in trade issues. One of the governor's top agenda items is economic development, trade, particularly the CanaMex trade corridor, the corridor passing through Arizona into Mexico. We will have a meeting of the task force on Thursday, and CanaMex is one of her -- one of the governor's highest agenda items. Occupied much her discussions with President Fox in November. In March she went to Nogales and met with the governor where they talked at great length. We're hoping to have a memorandum of understanding come out at the plenary.

>>José Cárdenas:
Earlier this week America West indicated they may stop their recently inaugurated flight to Monterrey, Mexico, one of the leading industrial centers of Mexico. Do you think that's going to be a subject for discussion at this week's plenary session?

>> David Randolph:
I don't know if that will be a subject for discussion at this session because this is really focused on Arizona and Sonora.

>>José Cárdenas:
What's the significance of that announcement, though?

>> David Randolph:
I would certainly hope they would continue the service. As you know, just a few weeks ago the governor headed a delegation down to Monterrey for some very successful discussions and I'm certainly hoping that that will stimulate the economic ties between Arizona and Monterrey.

>>José Cárdenas:
We've just a little bit of time left. You won't say this, so I will. I know you're one of the foremost experts on the border having spent quite a bit of time with the state department. This was your area of specialty. What in your mind are the single most important issues affecting U.S.-Mexico relations and border issues?

>> David Randolph:
Well, right now, of course, the trade issues are very important, and immigration issues. Actually on the immigration side, we have David Aguilar, who is the chief of the border patrol, who will be coming and talking about the Arizona border control initiative, the dealing with the migrants crossing the border and the deaths in the desert. Those are two of the very top agendas, agenda items.

>>José Cárdenas:
Good luck on a successful plenary session.

>> David Randolph:
Thank you, Jose.

>> José Cárdenas:
Again, the theme of this week's plenary session is Arizona and Sonora, partners in the global economy. It started today Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Pointe South Mountain resort in Phoenix. For more information go to the Arizona-Mexico commission's website at WWW.AZMC.ORG. Thanks for watching tonight and watch us next week on "Horizonte." I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Keno Hawker: Mayor of Mesa;

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