Valley Leadership 2006 Woman of the Year

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HORIZONTE host José Cárdenas talks to Luz Sarmina, Valle del Sol‘s president and CEO, about being selected as Valley Leadership’s 2006 Woman of the Year.

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." Fines and jail time could face day laborers and people who hire them. We'll talk about the bill being discussed at the State Legislature. Plus a civil rights leader's honored this month across the country, hear from people who supported Cesar Chavez's fight for farm leaders and meet Valley leaderships 2006 woman of the year. These stories and next coming up on "Horizonte."

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Jose Cardenas:
State lawmakers are talking about many measures targeting illegal immigration in this year's session. One of the proposed bills is House Bill 2589. Under this bill day laborers and those who hire them for work could face fines and jail time. Joining us to talk about this proposed legislation is the bill's sponsor, State Representative John Kavanagh. Also here to talk about the other side of the bill is House Minority Whip Representative Steve Gallardo. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte". Representative Kavanagh, let's talk first about the specifics of the bill.

John Kavanagh:
Well the bill really has two parts. The first part deals with the unsafe conditions and traffic that day laborers congregating in streets or near streets cause when they solicit work and thereby disrupt traffic. We're making that a misdemeanor so that police have some enforcement powers to control it. The second aspect increases the penalty for trespassing on the private property of another. We're talking mostly parking lots. For the purposes of day labor when signs prohibit it or you've been asked by the owner to leave the property. That increases that but it still stays a misdemeanor but it goes one level up.

Jose Cardenas:
On the first part of it, what would somebody have to do to be guilty under this statute?

John Kavanagh:
In order to make the bill constitutional, we had to very narrowly -- tailor it very narrowly. It's only illegal if you're standing in or near a public street, soliciting labor either for yourself or if you're an employer trying to get employees, and in so doing you must also disrupt the flow of traffic. When those three requirements are met then it becomes an illegal act and the police can enforce.

José Cárdenas:
If it's early morning, somebody drives by and picks somebody up to have them work for them but there's no disruption of traffic there's no crime?

John Kavanagh:
No disruption no crime. All three elements must be present. We did that because we wanted to narrowly tailor it for the problem which is the safety aspect and to keep it constitutional.

José Cárdenas:
Now the trespassing part, do you have to have the property owner complain first?

John Kavanagh:
Yes. The property owner has to post his property or walk out and tell the offending parties that he is in control and he wants them to leave. Then they must remain in defiance of his request.

José Cárdenas:
What's the current status of the Legislation?

John Kavanagh:
It has passed the House of Representatives. It went through two House committees. It passed by a full vote of the House. All the Republicans voted for it and we got a couple of Democrats also which I was very pleased about. It will have its first hearing in a Senate committee this Monday afternoon.

José Cárdenas:
Representative Gallardo, is this the answer to the problem of the traffic hazards that supposedly are caused by this?

Steve Gallardo:
Definitely not. We're not actually going after the root problem of the actual situation. This is just bad public policy. It's interesting. A couple of years ago the Arizona State Legislature thought they were going to take care of the day laborer situation by putting handcuffs on local governments from opening up and operating day labor centers. What we found out and what happens to be the unattended consequences was now without day labor centers you're finding two or three times more day laborers standing along the street trying to seek employment. The root problem are contractors hiring day laborers. There's a reason why we don't have day laborers standing in the corner of 15th Avenue and Encanto is because there's no one there to hire them.

José Cárdenas:
You're talking about the address for the State Legislature?

Steve Gallardo:
Exactly. Exactly. If we were wanting to really get to the root problem of this particular issue, let's go after those contractors who are hiring the day laborers. Let's take away that incentive. If you take away the incentive of hiring day laborers we're going to take away the problem. But the true solution to this is allow city government and local municipalities to open and operate day labor centers. We've seen that along Thomas and 36th Street in front of Pruitt where day laborers were standing in front of the Pruitt Center. Let's open up a day labor center, get them off the street into the facility where now the safety issue is gone, where folks can go in and actually hire folks in order to work at different jobs throughout our valley. But the issue now becomes right now is day labor centers.

José Cárdenas:
But doesn't this Legislation actually go after employers?

Steve Gallardo:
No, it doesn't. That's one of the things -- this is one of the misconceptions of this. If you look at the definition it says a reasonable person that person is willing to be employed. It doesn't go after the actual contractors. If we were interested in going after a contractor let's make it nice and clear. Let's put an amendment in the Senate that says we're going to go after those folks who are hiring them. If you go after the incentive you go after the root problem.

José Cárdenas:
Representative Kavanagh, I thought it did have language about targeting employers.

John Kavanagh:
It does. It makes it illegal to either solicit work for yourself as a laborer, but it also makes it illegal to do the same thing while trying to recruit day laborers. The bill does both.

Steve Gallardo:
And that's one of the misconceptions. Because the operative word is soliciting. If you look at the definition of soliciting, you have to be a person who's willing to be employed. A contractor is not the one being employed. It is the person standing out on the street. Again, but the main issue is day labor centers. We want to take care of these issues. We want to take folks away from the corners of our streets. Let's create day labor centers. Let's take the handcuffs off our local governments, allow them to open up day labor centers where they can be able to employ these folks. The bottom line is, there's actually jobs out there. Otherwise they wouldn't be standing out there. And contractors wouldn't be able to go out and hire them. If that's the case let's open up day labor centers and make it nice and safe for not only the contractors but those folks seeking employment.

José Cárdenas:
Is that the answer, though?

John Kavanagh:
The answer is, your original question which Representative Gallardo unfortunately didn't get a chance to answer was, will this bill stop the problem of disruption on the street. I would have to think that if this bill is enforced by the police it will. Because it makes disrupting traffic under these circumstances illegal. If the police enforce it it will solve the problem. In addition one of the other objections which Representative Gallardo had was the fact that we're not going after employers. He is the only person who has ever suggested that this bill doesn't go after the employers.

Steve Gallardo:
Show me in this actual bill that states that we're going to go after contractors. Many Republicans in the judiciary committee stood up and said, you know what? This is not the solution. A year from now we'll be back in this Legislature addressing the same issue. The worst problem are contracts going after them. If we really want to truly solve this issue let's open up day labor centers, take the handcuffs off the municipalities, allow them to clean up the streets. Right now the legislature continues to want to tell the government, the local governments, pre-empt them from actually taking care of the problem. I think that's the solution.

José Cárdenas:
And I do want to talk about day labor centers. But Representative Kavanagh --

John Kavanagh:
It clearly states that it is both types. Legislative council has said that.

Steve Gallardo:
Where? Don't tell us show me.

John Kavanagh:
There's no need to yell.

Steve Gallardo:
I'm not yelling.

John Kavanagh:
No need to get excited.

Steve Gallardo:
Okay. I'm not excited. Show me where it says.

John Kavanagh:
It basically says for the purpose of soliciting personal employment or the employment of another by offering to provide labor, by offering to provide labor or service in exchange for money of other things for value and for the purpose of soliciting labor services or another person, etcetera, etcetera. It covers both. Legislative council said it both. You were the first person who ever suggested and misread the statute.

Steve Gallardo:
Let's go ahead and make it nice and clear. Let's offer an amendment, Mr. Kavanagh, let's offer an amendment in the senate that makes it nice clear that we are going to go after those contractors that are seeking the day laborers.

John Kavanagh:
The contractor goes on the -- do you deny -- [overlapping speakers]

John Kavanagh:
Do you deny that he's not covered by this law?

Steve Gallardo:
It doesn't say that. [overlapping speakers]

José Cárdenas:
Let's assume gentleman that amendment was put there to clarify?

José Cárdenas:
Let's assume that that language was there to your satisfaction in terms of that specificity. Would you support this Legislation?

Steve Gallardo:
Yes. Because now we're not only going after those folks that should not be standing on the side of the street, let's go after those folks that are causing the problem. You're going at it from both angles. At the end of the day, though, I think if you really want to solve the issue, the jobs are there. Contractors are needing them. Otherwise they wouldn't be hiring them. Let's open up day labor centers. Why not go in that direction. You ask the owner of Pruitt's and he'll tell you probably right now, he wishes he had a day labor center right along Thomas so he would not have gone through the frustration he has gone through over the last year.

José Cárdenas:
So Representative Kavanagh why not a day labor center? Isn't that a more reasonable solution?

John Kavanagh:
This bill is not meant to be a comprehensive immigration reform. This bill deals with one problem that people are complaining about all over the state, particularly in metropolitan regions.

José Cárdenas:
Isn't that what day labor centers are designed to deal with? You put people in a safe environment and the people who want to hire these people can hire them without disrupting traffic.

John Kavanagh:
I don't think there was any law that stops anybody from opening a day labor center. But you know what? Yourself, myself, I suspect yourself and most viewers probably never had to either stand on the street or go to a day labor center for employment. We have newspapers, we have help wanted ads. I mean, I don't understand why suddenly a government or anybody has to open up a day labor center to get employment. What has suddenly happened that's changed our country where you have to have these special centers? Why can't you go to a newspaper? Why can't you walk into a store that says "help wanted." why can't you do it in the way they've done it in this country for hundreds of years?

Steve Gallardo:
First of all to assume that any of these day laborers are immigrants is false.

John Kavanagh:
I didn't assume that.

Steve Gallardo:
We're not talking about immigration. It has nothing to do with immigration. It's about public safety, it's about making sure that not only the traffic that's going through our streets is safe. It's making sure the local governments have the ability to govern their cities. This Legislature wants to pre-empt cities and towns from governing their own cities. If you let the city of Phoenix or any other jurisdiction to be able to create day labor centers in the areas in which they feel is needed, why not? Why are we putting the handcuffs on the city of Phoenix? That's the issue. When you start talking about really truly going after the root cause, it's creating day labor centers, allow these people to get off the streets into a facility that's safe not only to the workers but to contractors that are hiring them. And also frees up the streets where we don't have any type of traffic problems. That's the issue. You're going in the wrong direction. [overlapping speakers]

John Kavanagh:
Obviously you want to argue about everything but this bill. The people are upset about the safety problem. The people are upset about private property being trampled by these individuals that don't respect businesses. [overlapping speakers]

John Kavanagh:
And this is a solution to the problem. [overlapping speakers] [overlapping speakers]

José Cárdenas:
We're about out of time, gentlemen. Last question and it will have to be a short answer, Representative Gallardo. Will the governor sign this Legislation if it gets out?

Steve Gallardo:
If it gets out of the Senate we will ask the governor to veto this piece of Legislation. Let's attack it by the root cause of the problem, let's attack it realistically and practically. Let's take the handcuffs off local jurisdictions.

José Cárdenas:
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

John Kavanagh:
Thank you

José Cárdenas:
This month people are celebrating the life of civil rights leader and farm worker Cesar Chavez. Chavez founded the United Farm Workers Union and led walk outs of Arizona fields in the campaigned for better treatment of migrant field workers. Last year Nadine Arroyo gave us a look at the past and present work of Cesar Chavez.

Nadine Arroyo:
It has been 13 years since Cesar Chavez's death. And although he is gone, his struggles and visions are very present. Over the years his followers and former organizers of the United Farm Workers Union have worked diligently to keep his dream alive. They sponsor annual events, visit the Santa Rita Center where the U.F.W. often met before taking their demands to the street, and they educate the young about the peaceful struggles their community overcame decades ago. If you ask these faithful supporters they'll tell you it still feels like as if it was yesterday.

Farm worker:
First of all they don't want to recognize our union, United Farm workers committee. We've got the majority of the workers signed up and cards giving the authority to represent in the collective process but they won't recognize the union. Furthermore 250 workers walked out of the fields.

Interviewer:
Your father is a contractor. Can you tell me something about his position and you're here at the vineyard.

Farm Worker:
Well he quit because he didn't think it was fair, the prices they were paying. He wanted them to be fair to them. So we decided to go ahead and join the union. So that way we could all see if we could get the union going.

Farm Worker:
A social revolution is what it is. And it's long overdue. And Cesar Chavez is going to win. He's going to win because he has people such as you following him.

Nadine Arroyo:
It was the 1960's and farm workers, especially Mexican farm pickers, united under one man's vision to receive what he often repeated. Fairness for the migrant workers on the fields.

Nadine Arroyo:
Cesar Chavez began a movement that gained national recognition and support from well-known national figures. From Bobby Kennedy and Coretta Scott King to Joan Baez.

Joan Baez:
First of all I have a very strong personal love for Cesar and I barely know him. Which must come from recognizing a person who's committed and devoted and is a beautiful soul. Secondly, because of the work that he's done nonstop.

Celia Arambula:
I'm getting Goosebumps. It was very empowering. It's empowering even when you recall it because there was a spirit. There was a spirit about Cesar of community. And he brought the awareness. We knew we were making history. And it would reach a point during those days and even beyond where a little power can be intoxicating. We knew we were making history.

Nadine Arroyo:
A native Arizonan from Yuma, Cesar Chavez began his path into activism in the 1940's after serving two years in World War II and working in the fields. He urged farmers to become registered voters. In the 1950's, he officially joined an organized group, the Community Service Organization. By 1962, he formed his own movement, the National Farm Workers Association, later changed to the United Farm Workers. During that time it was a group that was neither acknowledged nor accepted.

Benito Abeytia:
We started knocking on doors. Well, everybody was slamming doors on me. I came this close to quitting and saying, I can't do this. But I knocked on one door and I ran into a gentleman that was in his 80's already. And he was actually a member of the "wobblies" Worldwide Workers of America who tried to organize farm workers during the "grapes of wrath" time during in the 20's. So he was a supporter. So he invited me. In after that he provided me with food, a house, a car, everything. And he set up rallies for me. A little house. That was one of the critical things that we used.

Nadine Arroyo:
In the late 1960's Cesar Chavez began a fast to call attention to the migrant farm workers cause. He was determined to raise awareness of the problem, to the point that elections were even affected by his movement.

Voter:
I'm really enthused over the Governor. I think mainly it's because he has his issues and points that mostly the Chicano people and Mexican Americans in Phoenix and Arizona are backing.

Celia Arambula:
We turned the politics of the state around. We got a lot of the Latinos and Blacks elected to our state offices.

Nadine Arroyo:
Individuals, groups and organizations like the teamsters tried unsuccessfully to stop Cesar Chavez and take control of the United Farm Workers. In 1977 an agreement was made. The U.F.W. gained the rights to represent and organize farm workers. From higher wages for grapes and lettuce pickers to protesting toxic pesticides on grapes, the U.F.W. successfully and peacefully ended strikes with signed collective bargaining agreements.

Jose Cortez:
If I hadn't learned to repress or to control that anger, I would still be saying, "do you remember la huelga" but now I say, we remember la huelga but we also understand what it meant and that it was part of a social movement to bring about changes to empower our people. And we need to pass this message on to our youth.

Nadine Arroyo:
Today many say Cesar Chavez continues to be present in the community and in each struggle it undertakes. Proof is in the debates and marches held often throughout the state of Arizona and in other parts of the country. As they put it, when you hear their chants, you are listening to Cesar Chavez, his people and their dreams.

José Cárdenas:
Over the past 50 years valley leadership has recognized men and women who have positively impacted the community through their leadership roles. Joining us is one of those leaders being honored as the 2006 woman of the year Valle Del Sol C.E.O. and president since 1995, Luz Sarmina. Luz, welcome to "Horizonte." We've had you here before because you had one of the top agencies in the Valley Valle Del Sol. Tell us just a few words about Valle Del Sol which you've been heading for the last 11 years.

Luz Sarmina:
Valle Del Sol is a community-based organization. And we focus on creating opportunities for people. We really believe through our 23 different programs that we help change lives through the services and the classes and all the different thing that is we do. It's really important that people have an avenue for help. Valle Del Sol is that avenue for many many people. Every year we touch probably 21,000 people. That's a lot of people.

José Cárdenas:
As we noted in the introduction to this piece, the Valley Leadership Awards have been given out for over 50 years. But it's been 52 years since a Latina has been honored. What does it mean to you to get this award?

Luz Sarmina:
I'm very humbled. Because, wow, all these people, great people throughout our valley that gets it -- that get so much work done for us, for me to be selected I was totally surprised. I really was. But it's a pleasant surprise. And they got me, too.

José Cárdenas:
You are very deserving.

Luz Sarmina:
Thank you. But what it really means is that it's time for all of society to recognize that people like myself are here making a difference every day. Yourself. You received that award. It is very important for people to recognize that women, too, are leaders, and that Latina women are leaders. So it's really, it's a milestone. It's a very important first step. I'm hoping that in the future there will be many more Latinas who get this award.

José Cárdenas:
Now, before we go on to talk about some other aspects of the award itself, when is it?

Luz Sarmina:
It's going to be March 28th at the luncheon at the Biltmore. And there are tickets still available. So if anyone is interested in attending please call Valley Leadership.

José Cárdenas:
Now Valley Leadership has been around for a long time. But Valle Del Sol itself has been very active in developing programs to develop leadership within the Hispanic community. Talk to us about the Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Luz Sarmina:
Okay. The Hispanic Leadership Institute is celebrating 20-years of its existence. And it's really a monumental step. We began. As a program that you know-- when people looked at Latinos, we were invisible 20 years ago. But we weren't invisible to ourselves. We knew we were there and we knew we wanted to voice. That's why Valle Del Sol started the Hispanic Leadership Institute. And you know, we actually started that with help from the United Way. And it has gone stronger and stronger every year. Now we have three Hispanic Leadership Institute programs. One we've been talking about, win in Pinal County and one in the west valley. Then we have a grant from Kellogg doing community grassroots leadership development. It's called Community Power. And I'm totally dedicated to creating this voice. If we truly want to have a democracy, we all have to have a voice. Not just certain people. And we have to change our model. We can't continue having a hierarchical model that includes primarily white males at the top.

José Cárdenas:
What was the problem, though, that led to the creation of the leadership institute? You had Valley Leadership doing some of these same things and had been doing it for some time.

Luz Sarmina:
Valley Leadership as a member of class 1 -- so that tells you how long Valley Leadership has been around. I think Valley Leadership does a great job. Their focus is very different. They focus on issues. And it's very important if you're going to be a leader to know what the issues are and to be able to articulate your position about them. However, Hispanic Leadership Institute does that and helps Latinos get more rooted in their culture. Oftentimes the people who come to H.L.I. are one in a whole department. Maybe even in a whole floor who is the only Latino. And it's very alienating. So we really help people get in contact with their histories, their roots. We believe that we're here in this country. We're Americans. And we want to speak English. And it's okay. But we have to have a voice. And we have to know who we are in order to be a leader. Now, does leadership require Latinos? Absolutely not. Leadership requires ethics and vision and being able to articulate your position.

José Cárdenas:
Luz, there are many prominent Latinas that we see you, of course, Anna Maria Chavez in the governor's office Margie Emmermann, director of office of tourism. But are there still issues that impact Latinos more than they would Latinas in terms of being able to succeed in the leadership capacities?

Luz Sarmina:
I think that culturally there is a belief in many Hispanic households that girls don't necessarily need to go to college. And it's true in my humble opinion of all male, not just Latino males, that it's been a family model that's controlled by the male figure. Now, I think that there's a lot of change that has happened in the last 25 years. But it's still more of the women are in charge of the household and the men go to work. Even though women work now. But still there's been many studies that show that still men do less housework, less caring of the children, etcetera. And so that those issues particularly hit us harder. We have that strike against you. Your parents may or may not think you should go to college. Why would you need that if you're going to get married and have kids anyway? That's a bad message for a young girl. Our society needs every single one of us to be the best that we can be. That's what always makes this country great is that opportunity.

José Cárdenas:
Luz, we've got about a minute left in the interview. One of the things that Valle Del Sol really does to promote Hispanics and their successes is the Annual Profiles of Success Luncheon. Tell us about the nomination process and what we can expect this year.

Luz Sarmina:
This year it's going to be on Friday, September 7 at the Civic Plaza. The nominations have just come out. And you can get a nomination form on www.valledelsol.com. And it truly is a community process. It's not like I go around and tell my friends, here nominate this person or nominate that person. We don't do it like that. We want the community to put forth the names. And when I say community I mean statewide. So please, nominate someone who's made a difference. A committee of volunteers will look at all nominations and make the very difficult decision.

José Cárdenas:
Luz Sarmina, congratulations on your award.

Luz Sarmina:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
And we'll see you soon.

Luz Sarmina:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
We've set up links to Valle Del Sol and Valley Leadership on our website. Go to azpbs.org and click on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
Join us next week for a special edition of "Horizonte" as we profile actor and Latino art collector Cheech Marin. Thank you for watching tonight's show. I'm José Cárdenas for all of us at "Horizonte." Have a good evening.

Luz Sarmina: C.E.O. and President, Valle Del Sol ;

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