"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Friday, December 21, 2007

Legendary Singer Lydia Mendoza dies in San Antonio, Texas

Lydia Mendoza, born May 21, 1916, died peacefully last night in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 91.

If you don't know who she was, ask your grandmother, who likely remembers her and her twelve-string guitar at the
Plaza del Zacate in San Antonio, Texas, with the chili queens in the early 1930s. She sang, literally, for pennies, as part if a struggling musical family following the migrant route to Michigan and back, until she was signed to the Blue Bird label in 1934. One of her songs, Mal Hombre, was an overnight success, when she was just 17 years old.

She emerged as one of the few tejanas to gain national prominence in a time when few women were encouraged to pursue a musical career. Throughout her life, until she suffered a stroke in 1988, she was beloved for singing the songs of the poor, working-class mexicanos she came from, as
La cancionera de los pobres and La alondra de la frontera.

In 1982, Lydia Mendoza became the first Texan to receive a National Endowment for the Art's National Heritage Award. Her last public appearance was a tribute,
A Serenata to Lydia Mendoza, for her 90th birthday, presented by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at the Plaza Guadalupe in September 2006.

It rained that night, and Lydia Mendoza's illness prevented her from singing for the thousands who came just to show their
respeto to the woman who knew at least a thousand songs about their lives, their loves, their language, and their dreams. She learned the words to those songs when she was a little girl in Monterrey, Mexico, from reading bubble-gum wrappers, then listening in the shadows to the men who sang those songs, then teaching herself to play the mandolin, the guitar, the violin, the piano, the bass fiddle, and any instrument she picked up.

Adios, Lydia. I will remember you because my mother listened to your songs crying for my father who didn't love her. She cried as hard as that rain that last time I saw you at the Plaza, and that's how you always sang. You cried for her, didn't you, for all of us.

The memorial service is tomorrow, December 22, 2007, at the Guadalupe Church. Lydia Mendoza will be buried at San Fernando II afterwards. That's what Radio KEDA, the conjunto station, also known as Radio Jalapeno in San Antonio, has announced, playing her songs continuously since yesterday in tribute.

Muchas Gracias a Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, for writing the autobiography of Lydia Mendoza, Lydia Mendoza's Life in Music, Oxford University Press, 2001.

photo credits: Lydia Mendoza

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In San Antonio, Texas, Free Speech Lawsuit gets its day in Court

In Dallas, Texas, there is no cost for a "political" parade. Or in Austin. Or in Houston - for the first fifteen intersections. Political marchers aren't charged in Los Angeles or in New York City for taking to the streets.
But San Antonio, Texas is different. A new "Parade Ordinance" passed by the City Council on November 29, 2007, requires groups to pay thousands of dollars to march in the public streets. Though the sidewalks, the Ordinance says, are free.

In response, a coalition calling itself The International Woman's Day March Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.

The Injunction Hearing was held today in a packed courtroom at the Federal Courthouse by District Judge Xavier Rodriguez. After more than four hours of testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's witnesses, Judge Rodriguez decided to postpone his ruling until February 8th. The diverse group of witnesses, including Nadine Saliba, an Arab-American activist and Lorinda Carr, a disabled veteran who uses a wheelchair, answered questions from the plaintiff's lawyer, Amy Kastely, regarding the arbitrary and discriminating schema for marching organizers and marchers. Sabila testified regarding the $3000 fee she was quoted for an estimated 200 Arab-American women marching on the streets, and Karr testified about the difficulty of using the city's cracked sidewalks in a wheelchair. Graciela Sanchez, one of the Coalition leaders, stated that an activist planning a March for Darfur was quoted a $12,000-$15,000 user's fee - because the group - consisting of five runners with torches - wanted to be on the streets.

"It's your message, so you should have to pay for it...It's just like renting a house," said Mayor Phil Hardberger in response to the lawsuit, as reported in the San Antonio Express-News on December 20th.

photo credits: Mia Kang, Esperanza Center

Monday, December 10, 2007

Free Speech Advocates File Lawsuit Against the City of San Antonio

With a vote of 9-2, the San Antonio City Council passed a new "Parade" Ordinance that denies marching on the street without a substantial "fee." The new "Ordinance" allows selected "groups" to march for free:

1. At least two "Fiesta" Parades
2. The MLK March
3. The Cesar Chavez March
4. Diez y Seis de Septiembre
5. Veterans Day
6. Mardi Gras

The City of San Antonio is one of many cities around the country facing these restrictive ordinances and legal challenges to them. On December 20th, Judge Xavier Rodriguez will hold a hearing on the injunction that would prevent the City of San Antonio from enforcing the Parade Ordinance.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Herman Taylor, the recently-hired Assistant Procurement & Facilities Director at SAHA, has resigned after only two months reporting to Patrick Bourcier, Director of Procurement & Facilities - in shock at the contracting miasma at SAHA. Taylor, who is a professionally-certified public buyer, (know as CPPB), was the only procurement-certified manager at SAHA, says that he was appalled at SAHA's antiquated commodity code system that should have been updated "at least five years ago. "

Because SAHA has neglected using the government's national and efficient coding system for contracting, Taylor explained, the Housing Authority has little room for the many variations and categories of contracts that need to be established, reviewed, and re-configured according to governmental regulations.

SAHA has been under fire for the Mirasol Homes Public Housing Project, a westside community beset with poor construction and health problems linked to SAHA's contractual procedures.

Pursuant to his responsibilites while at SAHA, Taylor said that "When I went through and found the contracts, I went into the system and couldn’t determine what contracts were in place and the Director told me it (the contracts) was not accurate information." Taylor says there was no information on the contracts based on what was expired. So he’s (Bourcier) probably changing the contracts in the system – not in paper. So it lets him cover up the problem. Ninety percent of that (contract) information was not accurate."

Further, Taylor said there were "alot of contracts coming up for expiration," and they should be extended or renegotiated. And while many contracts are eligible for that, he made a list of "40 -50 contracts that need to be (newly) established." In other words, the contracts need to go out through proscribed governmental bidding procedures.

To get around the contracting slowdown created by incompetence, he said that SAHA is making non-profit procurement contracts via their corporate entities, to get around federal regulations. In other words, SAHA is using for-profit procurement procedures for non-profit procurement contracts.

Besides his professional buyer's certification, Taylor is also a real estate broker, mortgage broker, financial planner, securities representative, and has extensive experience with governmental contracts.

Bourcier's salary is near the range of "six-figures,' according to Taylor's estimation. Taylor also stated that he was writing a letter to SAHA's CEO, Henry Alvarez III, detailing his observations, and recommending that SAHA have two separate departments, each charged with Contract Management and Procurement.

Taylor says that while some people at SAHA wanted him to "shine," he had begun to feel he was hired to protect Bourcier, who has been at SAHA for a dozen years - and to "clean up" the Procurement Office without being given any authority whatsoever.

credits: Mirasol Homes, www.hobb.org/hobbv1/images/stories/Mirasol2.gif