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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Chipotle workers protested on Dec 22 at a Chipotle Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. No results yet. Watch the video at

Monday, December 20, 2010

“The Death of the DREAM Act”.

By Silvia Uribe

Latinos are not only disappointed, but also frustrated by the failure of the DREAM Act  in Congress. The main problem was not that Republicans wanted to derail it– everyone knew that - but that Democrats didn’t have their act together, and some joined the Republicans and voted against it. With those 5 Democrat votes against, the DREAM Act fell 5 votes short from passing. If those 5 Democrat votes would’ve been pro DREAM, the bill would have reached the Senate floor, and could have passed by a simple majority.

Unfortunately, this shows the reality of the Democratic Party. It is disjointed, and unable to organize one vote. This leaves Latinos out in the cold, and with no clear option as to which political party to turn to. Maybe now is the time for an Independent candidate to come forward for 2012, uniting the Latino vote and taking it away from both parties.

Even worse, is that the DREAM Act failure comes on the heels of the passing of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy reversal, which allows for gays in the military to be as openly gay as they may. The country is focusing in celebrating this great success, of course, however, very little has been said in the media about the irrational vote on the DREAM Act.

Why irrational? Because who can possibly think that the youth - who didn’t come to this country willfully, but were brought by their parents - who will become well educated adults, paying their taxes, their social security, expending in consumer products, is not something that our country will benefit from? We’re talking about 1.2 million immigrant youth in this group, according experts. Republicans, frankly, are blindly obsessed with fighting anything that could appear like an amnesty. Whether it could be beneficial or not, they don’t care.

As upsetting as the failing of the DREAM Act is, it is not surprising to those who have been paying attention to the writing on the wall. When the Democrats had the majority in both houses, the Democratic leadership wasn’t able to cash in on that political power. Now things have changed, the fight for the presidential race on 2012 is on, and Republicans will for sure obstruct anything that Obama wants to do.

Although Republicans say that they are interested in passing a comprehensive immigration reform, it is not expected that they will act on it, until “our borders are secured”, as they have expressed. But, curiously enough, they keep opposing the bills that fund border security. It seems that the “statuos quo” is working fine for them. In the meantime, we can expect more abuse of power, and inhumane treatment for those undocumented.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


December 16, 2010

In relation to our previous posting, regarding CHIPOTLE "cooperation with ICE" we've received communication from CHIPOTLE's workers' representatives in Minnesota [NAIR_CC:7866]:

Thank you for forwarding this aticle. In Minnesota, we are working with the workers and they are supporting a boycott. From our meeting with workers there are three main demands for Chipotle: (1) that Chipotle tell the truth about what's going on -- they won't say anything to the fired workers or to the media; (2) that Chipotle give people more time, don't fire them immediately; and (3) that Chipotle pay them for their hours work and the year-end bonuses they are due. And they have the demand for ICE to stop these I-9 audits so this doesn't happen to anyone else.
In solidarity,

Anh Pham
It seems CHIPOTLE is not only "cooperating" with ICE, but also they're trying to make money out of their employees. Hmmmm...
CALL TO ACTION: SUPPORT THE BOYCOTT (and re-post this comment)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Dozens of Latino Chipotle employees across Minnesota and Wisconsin have been fired in the last week, and several workers who survived the cuts say they are being asked to train white workers whom they fear will become their replacements once the training is complete, a local blog reports.

According to CityPages, an online Minnesota blog, restaurant managers referred all questions to Chipotle's corporate headquarters in Denver. Chipotle released the following statement to Fox News Latino:

"We are fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Minnesota in response to a request for documents they have made. Chipotle is extremely proud of its diverse and talented workforce, and is saddened by the loss of some excellent employees."

There is no confirmation that all of the released employees have been fired due to their document status.

The number of fired employees -- at least 80, CityPages reports -- could still grow. The Minnesota Immigration Rights Committee has stepped in to condemn the firings and represent the now jobless employees.

Workers gathered at then Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis on Tuesday to share their stories and discuss their options.

---- o ----

CALL TO ACTION: Let's not eat at CHIPOTLE. Pass the word.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

When Thinking Immigration Reform, Also Think Integration Management*!

By Silvia Uribe

It is a well known fact that Immigration represents a challenge for most countries these days. Another fact is that immigrants are blamed worldwide for most maladies that countries face, although most of the time the blame is based on everything (prejudices, stereotypes, suspicion, and racism) but facts. 

In the U.S, past the habitual blame and the political fight regarding the undeniable need for an Immigration Reform is the undisputable priority that represents the well being of the country as a whole. Republicans and Democrats need to understand that our country is more than their narrow, incredibly limited and painfully castrating – to the people – political strategies.

Immigration policy is a serious concern. A concern that our government needs to tackle immediately after this midterm election. Republicans and some Democrats consistently oppose a reform, and later blame the President for not being efficient, and for not making good on campaign promises. Our society cannot afford to wait any longer on the Immigration issue. Otherwise, the price could be too high.

However, an Immigration Reform that covers only a path to legalization, border security and sanctions won’t cut it. It needs to include a well rounded Immigrant Integration Management* piece as the core of this reform. The financial resources to accomplish this could be available by redirecting them from the presently funded failing methods to “control” our borders.

Under this policy framework, things like race relations, ethnic dilemmas, language skills, and the gap in education, plus inter-state cooperation, addressed in the Berne Initiative from December 2004 would be put into play.

Studies have demonstrated that although by law there’s no segregation in our country, there’s a lot of it happening from coast to coast. Ethnic groups are not willing to mingle with each other, and as a result, there’s no understanding, and of course, no trust among them.

Moreover, ethnic groups are constantly bombarded with negative information about each other and the division among them could become unsolvable if we don’t address the problem fast, head on, and with determination.

Fear and distrust of each other is fueled by political parties every time these want to accomplish something, stirring an effervescence that could bubble up without control. When groups are so polarized, it is only a matter of time before serious confrontations erupt.

As a country, we’ve lived in denial about this for many years. Now, with such a large Latino minority we can do it no more. It is by addressing the issues, promoting understanding, and integrating the different ethnic groups that they can get to trust each other and work in a concerted effort. This is the kind of political strategy that will propel all of us to the peaceful, bright and thriving future that we all envision.

If our goal is to remain as one of the world’s financial and political powers; one that is relevant, and able to lead in a global economy, it is in our best interest not to allow any minority group to fall behind or be disenfranchised. This is particularly important, in the wake of rapidly developing economies such as China and India, and should be made the number one priority for our representatives in both houses.

It is time to demand that they pass an Immigration Reform with a well thought out Integration Management* component.

*Integration Management: Organization of constituent elements into a coordinated, harmonious whole to achieve specific goals.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Give Your Input

Whose fault is it when adolescent kids take the wrong path in life? Give me your 5 cents.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monique Limon Knows What She's Talking About

By Silvia Uribe

Monique Limón is not the only one, but she is definitely a shining example of a success story from our high schools—and her story is just starting.

I met Monique Limón this summer during the Education Achievement Summit in Santa Barbara, organized by Just Communities among others. It brought together important stakeholders and showed all participants what an open and sincere dialogue plus the decision to improve our school district can accomplish. The summit had around 80 participants.

It didn’t take most participants long to be interested in what Limón had to say. The points she made were crucial, and her eloquent way of presenting them was not only smart but refreshing. Coming from someone who is not only a former student in the Santa Barbara School District, but whose meteoric career path has made her a highly ranked administrator at UCSB, her observations packed a wallop. She knows first-hand what our schools already offer, and what they lack. Then, I learned that she was running for Santa Barbara School Board of Trustees.

After that day, I’ve had several opportunities to talk to Limón and to learn more about her and about what she stands for. Limón is a petite woman who’s all vitality and smiles. In her eyes, however, one can see the strength of someone who’s determined to fight for what she believes. She appears to me to be a true leader.

I asked her to share a little bit with Grapevine readers, considering the influence that she would have over Goleta Valley Junior High, San Marcos High, and Dos Pueblos High, which are located in our backyard.

How would you describe yourself?

“I am a native of Santa Barbara and a product of our local schools and community. I am committed to enhancing the educational and career opportunities for Santa Barbara residents through my work as an educator in our community.”

In short, what's your background?

“As a Santa Barbara local, I began my education as a first generation. college-bound, English as a Second Language (ESL) student and transitioned into honors and the GATE program. I earned my BA from UC Berkeley and MA in education from one of the country’s top graduate schools in education: Columbia University, Teacher’s College.

“I have spent much of my professional career working with and mentoring students of all ages as well as working with families in Santa Barbara County. As a program advisor for the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), I coordinated the Parent School Partnership program, and financial aid workshops for all high school seniors and parents, and facilitated the “Transfer: Making It Happen” (California Senate Bill 1898) program for local schools in our district. In my current position at UCSB, I serve as the assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program, where I provide leadership and manage a U.S. Department of Education program. I am also an instructor for Interdisciplinary Studies Courses for undergraduate students at UCSB.”

Why now, and why the School Board?

“My experience as a teacher, administrator, and program manager over the past eight years has allowed me to develop a deep and complex understanding of public education. I am committed to continue enhancing educational and career opportunities for our community. My knowledge and understanding of our educational system brings a much-needed perspective in student learning and achievement to the San Barbara School Board.”

How will your previous professional experience help the board, the students, and the parents?

“I have been an effective educator and a promoter of higher education in our community. I have worked with more than 3,000 junior high and high school students and more than 400 parents advising them on issues such as college prerequisites, financial aid, and career opportunities. These experiences have and will contribute to decision-making on the school board level. It is important to have leaders who are not only qualified to make policy and fiscal decisions, but who also understand the impact these decisions will have on our students both in and outside of the classroom.”

Name your three main goals to accomplish.

“As a member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education, I hope to address the challenges of budget cuts by drawing upon my experience working with state and federal educational programs that required responsible fiscal oversight and expect quantitative and qualitative outcomes. Student achievement is a historical problem that requires stakeholder engagement and starts with parent involvement. Our schools face many challenges and also battle with the realities of shifting priorities determined by the daily needs of our schools and demands/impact of state policies. I will work to achieve the right balance between our state and local priorities to work toward sustaining successful schools.”

Why should people vote for you?

“As someone who has been part of the Santa Barbara community for more than three decades, I bring a diverse range of experiences that include serving on a county commission, local nonprofit boards, and managing programs focused on student achievement and increasing parental involvement. My work in education, our community, and understanding of our local schools gives me a winning combination of experiences that are needed for our school board.”

By now, you probably agree with me that this candidate is like no other, in her background, her vast experience, and her energy. To volunteer or to learn more about Monique Limón’s campaign, please go to her Web site or send an email to

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Also published at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Latinos lack strategy for an Immigration Reform

By Silvia Uribe

Politics in the U.S. is like a soccer game: each player has a role on the field, each is equally important for the team, and the team has a strategy, and a goal. We Latinos certainly have an abundance of players, but we are not yet organized as a team, and unfortunately, we lack strategy, and our goal is a blur. This is why Latinos rarely score in politics, and victory is a pleasure we seldom enjoy.

If this sounds a little harsh to you, think again. Today, The Pew Hispanic Center’s (PHC) published the results of a survey. Among other things it tells us that "immigration does not rank as a top voting issue for Hispanics. Rather, they rank education, jobs and health care as their top three issues of concern for this year's congressional campaign.”

How can this be? If Latinos don’t see the Immigration Reform as the most important issue, why should others? If this is not important enough for Latinos to demand, and vote for - with 11 million undocumented Latinos – then why should it be important for those that benefit from a disorderly situation?

When will we, as Latinos, be able to recognize the political power that we could have? When are we going to wake up to a reality that is very obvious to everyone, but ourselves? Everyone else in the U.S. seems to understand that the Latino vote is crucial, but since we don’t go out to the polls, they keep just promising stuff, and giving us a rhetorical piece that may sound good, but in the end, continues to harm our own, our brothers and sisters’, and our children’s future.

The good news is, according to the same survey, as a group, Latinos are still very much in support of the Democratic Party. “Two-thirds (65%) of Latino registered voters say they plan to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district, while just 22% support the Republican candidate, according to a nationwide survey.”

The bad news is that, when it comes to actual intent to vote, only “51% of the Latino registered voters said they feel motivated to do so, while 70% of all registered voters said they are absolutely certain they will.” This is what I’m talking about, and this happens time after time.

It is encouraging to see that most Latinos realize that the Democrats are the party that has more concern for Hispanics. The point is that our tendency of not showing to the voting polls can only harm us, particularly with a pending Immigration Reform now, and in the future, with the Education Reform.

We seem not to understand timing, and timing is of essence in politics.

Interestingly enough, the PHC survey also found that 58% of Latino registered voters who have had conversations about the immigration policy debate with someone are more motivated to vote in the upcoming election compared to the 39% who haven't.

Whoever said that people should not talk about politics was wrong. On the contrary. We need to talk about the important political issues that affect our life. We need to inform others, and encourage them to vote. We need to tune-in. We cannot waste more time.

It is now, and it is us.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino Perspective.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Want Money For Defense? Pass The DREAM Act.

By Silvia Uribe

It is time to start talking about Immigration again. Like I predicted sometime ago, it looks like President Obama will try to pass an Immigration Reform before 2011 is over. If there’s one thing that Obama doesn’t need or want is to face this issue right before midterm elections. In reality, passing a reform next year, will gain him the points he needs to win the reelection in 2012.

By the same token, Obama’s already drained image, and lack of character will make it almost an impossible task, counting necessarily, on the stubbornness of the Republicans in the Senate.

Our appetite for a much needed Immigration Reform increased this week when we had the Dream Act delivered as an appetizer. On Tuesday, Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader announced that he will place the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act), inside a defense funding bill set to go before the Senate next week.

Under the rigorous provisions of the DREAM Act, qualifying undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6 year conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service. The DREAM Act has bipartisan support, and we need the vote of 60 senators to pass the bill.

We, of course, need to take into consideration that these young people are here illegally through no fault of their own. Their parents brought them when they were minors, and they have grown up, and learned to love this country, their country. It is these same youth that we’ve encouraged to apply themselves, study, become better persons, and better citizens. When they are ready to do just that, Republicans like John McCain, want to take the rug from under their feet by loudly opposing the Dream Act. With this move, Reid is basically forcing the Senate to pass the Dream Act in order for funds to be allocated for defense purposes.

He must be of the same opinion as the great politician and educator Edward Everett who once said “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” On the other hand, misleading politicians like McCain prefer not to have the people of our country well educated in order to manipulate them at their will.

Some others, within the GOP also expressed their disapproval. They don’t want to start the conversations on immigration, and much less on anything that has to do with what they mischievously call an amnesty.

President Obama acknowledged that the Immigration Reform in general and the Dream Act in particular has enemies, but sent a clear message to Latinos when he recently said "don't forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you. Don't ever believe that this election coming up doesn't matter. ... Don't forget who your friends are." Obama also said “I’m not walking away from this fight...”

However, what’s most important is that Latinos cannot sit back and do nothing. We need to vote, and be politically active. We have power in numbers. Why let others decide? We need to learn how to fight for a common purpose, one that will take us all ahead. We need to unite, and look for the benefit of our children, and for their right to live legally and peacefully in the country we call ours: the United States.

We seem to only be 5 votes away from the 60 votes needed to pass this bill. We can do it if we all help.

CALL TO ACTION: To support students' dreams in five minutes by making just two phone calls. Please ask Senators Hatch and Bennett from Utah to support the DREAM ACT. To reach them, please call the Capitol Switchboard at 1-888-254-5087. If this number is busy, please call 1-202-224-3121. Please consider asking five people you know to join you in making calls.

For information on who to call and for a script to make your call click

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Burning Of The Koran - A Dilusion Or A Plan?

By Silvia Uribe
September 10, 2010

Terry Jones is the man who was, or is planning to burn 200 plus Koran (Quran) against all better judgment. But, who is this character anyway? And how did we get to learn about him and his plans? Yes, what he’s planning to do is outrageous, but what’s really interesting to me is that we know what this ‘pastor’, in the middle of nowhere – a town called Gainsville, Fla – is planning to do. Isn’t it strange? Not only that, but ‘miraculously’ – pun intended – he got the attention of the mass media.

I didn’t even know how this frenzy started. So, in searching the internet, I was able to find that the earliest mass media report that appeared was from August 12, 2010 by Fox Orlando. Interesting coincidence. In their report, they cited a Facebook page for the “Dove World Outreach Center” as the source of the Koran burning announcement.

Being the Facebook fan that I am, and having seen other outrageous events announced there before, I launched a search for their page, but the results that Facebook produced related to this name showed no ‘official’ page or announcement. I found a few pages created against this group, and against the nonsense they stand for. These groups compiled a few thousands of people joining the opposition ranks. So, I had to wonder, was Fox the original source “uncovering” this story?

Then I learned from Terry Jones himself that they worship while carrying a gun. In that particular interview he said that Jesus would do the same, even if this act would induce violence because “he [Jesus] was not always nice.” With those statements, who can give him the benefit of the doubt? What became clear to me is how easily a man like this can be manipulated with the promise of power, money, and fame.

Think about it. He is a nobody. Not even a good speaker that could clearly articulate why he wanted to burn these books. Jones is a man that at his old age has only been able to gather a flock of 30 to follow him and his ideas. It is too late for him to dream about leaving anything relevant and good for posterity. But his irrational ambition would settle for the opportunity to leave his name imprinted somewhere, no matter that it is in the dark records of our nation’s craziest. What the hell!
Those who claim to be the only ones who understand Christianity, and the only ones that can interpret our Constitution, would also be capable of coming up with the idea that Jones claims as his, and use him as a puppet. Also, thanks to Fox News they can make this be known worldwide. Why would they? To harm the present administration internationally. This, of course, will translate in political gain. Clever plan!

These Machiavellian minds’ purpose is instilling distrust of one another, and ultimately fears of one another. Nothing new. Divide and conquer is the oldest strategy to gain power.

Except this time, they could have dragged us all into seriously dangerous business.

Fortunately, it was reported, that Jones put a halt to his plans and no burning will take place, provided that he receives a promise that a Mosque will be relocated from “Ground Zero” in New York. Weird. He despises Muslims, but he trusts their word? Not very congruent.

However, much damage has been done, and repercussions around the world are taking place already.

The scariest thing of all is the fact that our country is at close risk to be underhandedly, and hopelessly ruled by those Machiavellian minds that are willing to do any-thing to get the power, and have no limits to their ambition.

Hold on to your Holy Book!

Cross-published on

Friday, August 20, 2010

Watch Out! Not All Doctors Are The Same...

­­­­August 21, 2010

By Silvia Uribe

Doctors exist to make people’s bodies heal, and work well. That’s a pretty general expectation of doctors everywhere. How are doctors supposed to accomplish this? It varies from culture to culture. Some may heal with “magic”, while others, like in some Latino cultures, with rubbing and massaging with ointments, combined with some sort of witchcraft also known as “limpias” (to clean the body and the soul). Other cultures fight illnesses with thin needles, or with herbs that bring relief to those who suffer from ailments.

Regardless, there are some steps that body healers have to follow. 1) They need to take the time to listen to their patient, ask the necessary questions, and assess what the problem may be. 2) They need to determine a treatment path – ranging from an aspirin to a surgery, and everything in between – and to evaluate the results of such treatment, and 3) If the treatment is not working, doctors are supposed to re-evaluate the situation and make adjustments to the treatment.

Logically, the common thread that runs through all these steps should be a constant flow in the communication doctor-patient-doctor.

However, some doctors don’t even deserve the title. They’ve seem to have forgotten one or more of these logical steps, starting with taking the time to listen. They seem to think that communication with the patient is not important, thus cutting it to a bare minimum, and relying on what the nurse refers to them, and what the records in front of him read. You may know the kind. These doctors I’m talking about whoosh in the room, ask you how you feel, start writing by hand or in the computer, and whoosh out before you know it, just to go onto the next patient whooshing again. Sometimes they barely look at you. Sounds familiar?

My elderly friend Graciela went through a terrible experience after a knee surgery followed by an infection, her doctor left her bed-bound for months on end. It was as if he had forgotten about her. All that time, he just let her suffer from great pain and desperation. The infection prevented her wound from healing, and he wouldn’t do anything about it. She became so frail, that we feared for her life.

Finally, after almost a year, and pushed to see her by her frequent calls, he decided to take the infected prosthesis out, place an anti-biotic pack in its place, and get rid of the infection that way. What he never told my friend was that, after the infection was gone, he wasn’t planning to replace the prosthesis, and that his “treatment plan” was to leave her without the use of her leg for the rest of her life. No options or intelligent reasons were given to her for this decision. Obviously bothered by her inquiries, he only told her that by doing what he said the risk for another infection would be reduced.

As you can imagine, she emphatically insisted on the fact that she wanted to be mobile again, but his position was firm. She finally had it, and told him that she wanted a second opinion. At first, he look surprised, and maybe a little scared, then he became defensive, and seemed mad at her for “changing plans at the last minute.” My friend asked “what plans?” He told her that he had scheduled another surgery to take the anti-biotic pack out of her leg the following week, which, of course, he had not previously discussed with her.

Now, with a new doctor, and a surgery coming up, she is expected to walk again, and have a normal life.

It seems that some in the health field get too comfortable (particularly in towns where they don’t have a lot of competition) and become insensitive to their patients’ needs. They may be bored or tired with what they do, and they start doing their job just for the money, and not because they have the passion to do it anymore. They don’t want to answer questions, or to explain themselves in a way that their patients can understand. They neglect their patients and put them at great risk.

As patients, we should not put up with their attitude.

Fortunately, there are others whom deserve to be called doctors. They practice medicine for the right reasons, and devote the necessary time to understand what’s going on with their patients. They confer with them and help them understand the benefits of their recommendations, and address their concerns. They are not lazy. They keep themselves up-to-date with new treatments and preventative measures. They’re good not only with the “easy cases”, where everything goes as planned. They’re also good when things get tough, and the results are unexpected and difficult to deal with.

That’s the kind of doctor patients respect, admire and trust. Not the health “line workers” that do their job with the automatic pilot on, but the ones that are knowledgeable, dedicated, and ethical health professionals.

My virtual hat is off to the latter ones.

Cross-Published on

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Word Has it!

By Silvia Uribe

August 8th, 2010

In Santa Barbara, we all know that a business' best advertisement tool is word of mouth. But, positive word of mouth is not cheap, and it doesn't come easily either. A business has to maintain a high standard in the quality of whatever it is they offer. Be it a service or a product, word of mouth can take any business to complete success, or it can unmercifully destroy it.How is it then that businesses gamble with their reputations is beyond me, but unfortunately they do; particularly restaurants, of which we have abundance, with a great variety of cuisines and flavors. Competition is the name of the game.

Particularly today, when online social networks allow us to post our opinions about a business, and have the potential for hundreds, at times thousands of people to see it, word of mouth should be taken more seriously now than ever. I guess some popular eateries feel that they'll be at the top forever and, at some point, they feel they can set whatever rules they want. They get used to hearing the register machine's sweet "ka-ching" sound, and they forget about why they're there, and most importantly, about the customers who put them where they are.

I'm one who believes that every customer should be treated equally well, and that the restaurants' good service, and their facilities should be available to everyone who pays their prices, no questions asked. Service standards should not be based on the best interest of the employees, but on the customers'. Otherwise everyone loses, from the employees, to the customers, and the restaurant itself.

With this in mind, and based on information meticulously gathered last month at various social encounters, I created a list of the main 20 reasons why people would stop going to a restaurant, or even worse, would give it a bad rap.

1. Bad food (of course)

2. Not letting people sit where they want unless they have dinner (and the waitress explaining that "those who have dinner - not just appetizers - leave more tips"

3. Lousy service

4. Not bringing water when customers are seated

5. Servers and managers chatting with customers, as opposed to serving

6. Charging for to-go containers

7. Burning the food

8. Cutting too many corners

9. Split plate charges

10. Not reminding large groups (6+) that the service charge is already included in the total

11. Dirty restrooms

12. Turning people away before their closing time

13. Bringing cold food from the kitchen

14. Chipped porcelain and/or dirty silverware and table clothes

15. Strange "findings" in the food

16. Overpricing

17. Waitperson's poor personal appearance and manners

18. Overall lack of cleanliness

19. Waitperson's lack of proper training

20. Slow service

(Thank you to those who contributed their opinions.)

These reasons would somewhat vary if we were in Mexico, where flavor takes precedence over what are considered "less important things". The list would be a lot shorter.

Here is the perfect example, and my recommendation for a Mexican Taqueria; Lilly's Taqueria . You guessed it - they only sell …tacos. Lilly’s is located right where the freeway meets Chapala Street in Santa Barbara.

The place is not particularly pretty, although it is very clean. There are no waitresses, but you get your food as soon as you finish ordering it. And, they serve you on paper plates, but the ingredients and the flavors are high quality and very traditional. At a price of $1.49 per taco, you cannot believe the quality of their meat.

Now, if you are a taste bud adventurer, Lilly’s Taqueria is the best place to try some Mexican cuisine meat delicacies, and order some “lengua (tongue), cachete (cheek), or tacos de ojo (eye ball)”. Daring huh? Mmmm…mmmm

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective

Cross-published at

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Power of Listening

By Silvia Uribe

Jul 24, 2010, 9:15 AM

"Please, don't hang up on me" I heard a voice say on the other side of the line. It was a small voice, a quiet one. "You don't know me, and I don't know you. I don't even know your number. I just dialed some digits without looking. I promise you won't hear from me ever again, but please, don't hang up on me. You don't have to listen or say anything, just don't hang up on me."

I frequently work with victims of crime. Also frequently, I'm asked how can I deal with so many horrific stories, and their painful consequences. Every time, my answer is the same - because I know the power of listening.

The woman on the other side of the line did not know that I was 19 and quite naïve. I was still living with my parents in Mexico City, and I was over-protected. Surely, she never imagined the impact that her story would have in my life. The phone's ringing woke me up abruptly, and I answered instinctively. Although at 3:00 a.m. my brain function was not the sharpest, I was able to perceive the despair in her voice.

I responded, "esta bien" (ok) to her plea for not hanging up. After that, I didn't open my mouth or produce a sound again …for almost two hours.

She told me her name. I'll call her Laura. Hers was a story of perennial misfortune, and overwhelming guilt. She was twenty-nine years old. At eight, she was abandoned by her parents, to take care of her four-year-old sister. From what she said, it was as if they mysteriously disappeared one day, never to be seen again. Laura and her sister were almost starving and homeless throughout most of their childhood. Laura never attended school, but made sure her sister did. Laura became a prostitute while raising her sister, and continued to provide for her until, one day, "sis didn't come back from school". She was told that a bus ran her over, and she died on the scene.

Time went by, but not fast enough for Laura. Out of loneliness and desperation, she became prisoner of an addiction to alcohol and other drugs. I remember thinking that she was bright and surprisingly well spoken for someone who didn't have any schooling. I guess her intelligence was one of the very few things that life couldn't take away from her.

"No one ever did a thing to help. No one ever cared." Laura repeated several times during her monologue. Most of the time that she was speaking, she was also crying. No, not crying. She was sobbing. I cried with her. She didn't hear me.

I had so many things to ask, and so many things to say, but everything seemed so irrelevant compared to her need to be listened to. She was pouring her heart out, "for the first time," she said, and I became the still vessel of her emotions. At that age, I never knew that someone could go through so much pain. The contrast between my life and hers was abysmal. I was able to see a different reality, painted by someone that I didn't know, and that I couldn't see. I realized, probably for the first time, how lucky I was.

Her story got to a semi-ending. She became calmer, her breathing was easier, and her speech slower; it was way easier to understand what she was saying. I kept quiet.

"Are you there?" - she asked, taking me by surprise. "Uh huh" "Were you listening all this time?" "I w…" - I had to clear my dry throat "I was"

Laura started sobbing again. I was confused. "Before dialing this number - she explained - I had dialed four other numbers. Each time I asked the same thing - Please, don't hang up - and each time the person hung up. You were my last call. I was ready to commit suicide, but you cared."

I, of course, didn't have an answer to that.

Laura reassured me that I wouldn't hear from her again, and profusely thanked me. She hung up. I didn't…not for a while. I needed to recover from the experience.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-published at

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Human Tsunami

By Silvia Uribe

Jul 10, 2010, 9:45 AM

Santa Barbara's community events are great. Whether it is the Summer Solstice Parade, Fiesta, the Arlington Soccer Screenings, both Christmas parades, and other events - you name it - I'm usually there. My favorite, however, is the "human tsunami". You know - the mass passing underneath the freeway after the 4th of July Fireworks Celebration.

This one has become some sort of ritual for my friends and family. Ten to fifteen of us gather on State Street for a cup of coffee and some good conversation. Around 7:00 p.m., we start our pilgrimage down to the beach, or close enough to it, to enjoy the multi-colored lights and the loud booms of the fireworks, while also people watching.

When the show ends, we start walking back. It is a great sight when standing at the top of the street we can see others going under the bridge. Some run, others jump, and most walk. When they get there, everyone yells at the top of their lungs, or whistles, or makes noise in any way they can. IT-IS-LOUD! Some use their phones, while others use their cameras to capture the moment.

People in our group hold hands, creating a human chain in order to stay together and down we walk. Those who are not as noisy move their heads, pretending disapproval, the rest get more excited by the minute - everyone laughs. Other individuals walking next to us do the same. We exchange some words while we can hear each other. They are complete strangers, but we make them part of our group. We pose in their pictures and they pose in ours. It happens every time. Happiness flows - we all contribute to it.

If you have ever been to the Olympic games, or to a Soccer World Cup, you know what I'm talking about. It is the same kind of feeling of unity.

When the human tsunami comes out on the other side of the freeway, it is over. It quickly vanishes like the bubbles on the ocean's foam. The magic ends. But it leaves each one of us with a warm, positive feeling in our heart, and with the desire and the commitment to be there next year to re-live the experience.

There's an immense amount of good energy every time that a mass of people gather, and moves around in celebration of something. Some enjoy being active participants, while others, a bit less actively, enjoy with other's enjoyment. But whichever category one belongs to, the energy is contagious.

Maybe I like these things because of my Latino heritage and culture, which is, for the most part - and this is no secret to anyone -gregarious and loud. We say that when two Latinos get together, they have a conversation. When three Latinos gather, it is a party.

But there are other reasons as well.

Miraculously during these events, the old and the young, the able and the disabled, private individuals, celebrities, the rich and the poor sit next to each other for a couple of hours, completely oblivious of who the others are. We can relate as simple human beings, no strings attached. During that time, we can all share the same space, and the same kind of experience while exchanging a brief, casual conversation with one another.

This fact alone is enough to make me feel hopeful.

I also cherish the anonymity and the freedom that all these events promote. One can stand, sit on a chair or on the ground, dress fashionably or do the complete opposite. We can be extremely loud or completely quiet. We can sing, dance or do nothing. We can eat, or drink, or do both things. We can bring our whole family, be with a group of friends or come alone and spontaneously join others. Or, we can wear costumes, specific makeup, a festive headpiece or go natural.

We won't be judged by the same standards that we usually are. We are all free, and for the time that the celebration lasts, accepted as we may be. No prejudices.

This gives me enough reason to be there.

Our celebrations are a reflection of our town, our community, our families, and about each one of us as individuals. Peacefully gathering in mass with no other purpose than to be happy and make others happy is - in my book - a very healthy way to relate to each other. That's why tourists come to Santa Barbara.

On the other hand, I very much resent those who not being able to do this, engage in criminal activity during our celebrations. Thankfully, this happens very sporadically, and when it does, the rest of us don't let them take over our town, our festivities, and our sense of security.

Next year, come and join your friends and neighbors in the human tsunami, and all other celebrations. You won't regret it.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-published at

Cosmetology Academy Futures

Making Money Doing Hair and Make up.

By Silvia Uribe

During difficult financial times, the ones who can still pay the bills are those who have a specific skill or craft to offer, while many others scramble for the few jobs available in a tight market. Good promotion of a good service helps these lucky—oops, I mean skilled—individuals do better than others who may be job hunting for months on end. They can be more independent.

I chose cosmetologists as an example because of the many options available in their field, the good tips, and the commissions. Griselda Rosas, cochair of the Santa Barbara City College Cosmetology Academy could not agree more.

“The beauty of our industry is its flexibility,” she said. “We work seven days a week, if we want; we can work in the mornings, or on weekends. With salon chains, people can move around, and be transferred from city to city, keeping their seniority. They can assist other well-situated stylists, and learn more at the same time. Cosmetologists can make good money by selling products and getting the commissions. When they have a clientele built, their income can be really good.”

The Cosmetology Academy is right here in Goleta, and if you’re about to decide on your future career, this could be an excellent option. “From working for a cruise line, or as a makeup artist in Hollywood, as some of the graduates do, to working at a salon, or doing home visits, program participants can choose the career path that best fits them,” said Rosas.

As an experienced cosmetology instructor, with 10 years working at the academy, Rosas enthusiastically explained:

“We have 115 students at this time, and we always have a waiting list. Every time there’s a new class we have to turn people away. We have two programs — cosmetology and esthetics. You have to decide if you want to be a cosmetologist, an esthetician, or both.

“Some of the classes that we offer are: manicure and nails, pedicure, hair cutting, hair styling, permanent, color, high lighting, hair relaxing (for very curly hair), up-do’s (for special occasions), curls, makeup, waxing, eyebrows, and tint for brows or lashes, plus electric treatments for the thinning hair (which work really well.)

“Cosmetologists are trained on everything, whereas estheticians concentrate on facials, makeup, and hair removal.

“We also teach them basic bacteriology, chemistry, anatomy, and electricity.”

Rosas proudly shared that the Cosmetology Academy graduation rate is 80 percent.

When asked about the skills necessary to be a successful cosmetologist or esthetician, she did not hesitate. “The most important one is people skills,” she responded. “Eighty-five percent of this line of work is based on how we relate to people. When clients feel good, they will for sure go back to see that person again.”

I asked about men who attend the school, and Rosas mischievously laughed as she explained. “Usually, the number of men students is small. Right now, for instance, we only have two. The reason is simple: They will be surrounded by many women here. Before making a decision they need the approval from their girlfriend or their wife.”

Students at the academy can graduate in 11 months, and immediately afterwards take their California State Board licensing exam in cosmetology and esthetics. “The written test is not difficult at all,” Rosas said. “The greatest difficulty is the speed. Although graduates know how to do things, they need to do it within certain time.” She added that once they are licensed, cosmetologists may go one to earn the hours required to become a licensed cosmetology instructor.

The academy also offers services to the public. “We have a lot of students and they need the practice. We can take walk-ins, or make appointments. Our prices are half the average price, and the advantage is that students are never in a hurry. Our clientele includes many senior citizens, and they don’t like to feel rushed.”

Rosas shared her reasons for teaching at the academy. “I never thought I would be an instructor,” she said. “This was not on my list. But once I did it, I loved it. Here, I see the students’ progress and I feel that my day was worth it. It makes me really happy.”

Five Important Things to Remember About the SBCC Cosmetology Academy:

1) The Cosmetology Academy is conveniently located at the Magnolia Shopping Center in Goleta, and it is open to the public.

2) They do hair and skin care.

3) Prices are extremely affordable.

4) Students are eager to do a good job.

5) Students are constantly monitored and supervised by instructors with more than 25 years of experience in the field.

To contact the Cosmetology Academy, call (805) 683-4191, ext. 2, or go visit them at 5160 Hollister Avenue.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-published at The Independent

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kids on Leashes?

By Silvia Uribe
Jun 26, 2010

As someone who was raised in a Latino household, there are some things that I cannot completely understand in the American culture. Parents who gear their child up with "body harnesses" is one of them. Why would they want to have their kid on a leash?

I have raised my two daughters, who were like any other children - active, busy little children who were always discovering new things - interested in everything. As most parents, I too had the fear of them stepping off the curb, or getting lost in the middle of a busy street or in a crowded store. I can understand that part, but the leash part is too extreme.

Humans, no matter their size, should not be chained, nor leashed. I find this humiliating.

The fact that children are little should not translate into the assumption that they cannot understand what we tell them. They might be little, but they're not stupid. Actually, they are far smarter than we believe.

It seems like leash-ready parents have missed a very important point: Children can learn whatever we teach them. It gets better. The younger they are, the more they can learn. It simply takes for adults to put in the time and the effort in teaching them in a way they can understand.

The problem of children getting inadvertently away from their parents is one that my family solved several generations ago. Since my great grandma's time, children have been taught to be safe on the streets or anywhere where crowds were present - which in my over-populated Mexico City this means everywhere.

Here lies the secret. They make the little ones watch for the adults, as opposed to expecting adults to watch out for them. Simple tactic. Basically, by switching roles, they got rid of the problem.

My mother, for example, would say something like, "We're going shopping (or any other activity) so I'm not going to be watching you. You can move around as long as you don't lose sight of me. I'll be moving around too, so you have to pay close attention. If we get separated, I won't know where to find you, and I will have to go home by myself." I totally believed her.

And, she would always close with, "This is mommy's time, you need to behave, watch me and don't interrupt unless it is something very important."

And, so I did, and I never felt unloved or traumatized by this.

I did the same thing with my children, and I was usually able to shop peacefully, to talk to people, or to simply take a nice stroll without either having to constantly run after or be interrupted by my children. It was not that difficult to make them understand that their safety was very important to me, but that it should be more important to them.

With that approach, they also learned that when we were out and about as a family, we all had the same right to enjoy our outing, and that having to run after them all the time was not fun for us parents. They learned to think about others and not only about themselves.

Of course, we made sure that our family activities included things they liked, like running in the park, and playing on the swings. My husband and I fully participated with them. Likewise, when we were doing more ‘adult' activities like visiting with friends or having a cup of coffee downtown, we made sure to explain to them that the expectation was for them to also participate with us.

Today, my children would tell when asked that they were always happy, normal kids who enjoyed being active. They would also tell how they were constantly looking back to see what their parents were doing, and where they were going.

We were always vigilant, but they were mostly able to control themselves … no leash was necessary.

Talking to children, and teaching them reasoning skills, should start from day one. As parents, we should be the ones who guide, set clear boundaries and impose loving discipline. It is our responsibility to teach them leadership by example.

Of course, parents have to invest more time than they would by placing their children on a leash. But, by doing so, they will learn communication skills, respect for authority, and ultimately, a positive and respectful family dynamic will be created.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-published on

Monday, June 21, 2010

Familiar Names at Cieneguitas Cemetery in "Noleta"

By Silvia Uribe

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A reader sent me a great study by Neal P. Graffy, written in March 2001, called “The History of the Cieneguitas Cemetery.” The burial ground is also known as La Patera Cemetery, due to its location (but not to be confused with the current La Patera Cemetery), and "Old Catholic Cemetery" due to its administration by the Franciscan fathers.

According to Graffy, the graveyard in the Santa Barbara area following the arrival of the Spanish was located at El Presidio, founded in 1782, followed by the Riviera Cemetery, on the lower Eastside of the city, in or about 1846. Then, in 1870, a Catholic cemetery was established on the edge of the foothills above the town, where the St. Francis Hospital was later built. The Cieneguitas Cemetery followed in 1875, and Calvary, the one on Hope Avenue, in 1896. Cavalry is the only one that's still open.

Cieneguitas in Spanish means little swamps, and Graffy described the area as “an impenetrable jungle of small trees, brush, vines, ooze, flags, and swamp grass.” Way different than what it is now. Many of those interred at Cieneguitas were transferred to Calvary. It wasn’t until I had lived in Goleta for several years that I even became aware of Cieneguitas Cemetery, located in what’s commonly known now as Noleta, near the 4400 block of Hollister Avenue, right behind the County Coroner’s Office.

The particularly interesting thing about it is that it is one of the locations where veterans of the Mexican War and Civil War were buried.

It is important to mention that a study done by Edson T. Strobridge says that “the State of California, being located so far away from the more active scenes of the Civil War, was not called on to furnish troops for immediate service against Confederate soldiers, and no quota was assigned to it ... Nonetheless, war calls were eventually made upon the state for several regiments and battalions which totaled more than 16,000 men (plus the 500 men who enlisted in 1862 and became a part of the quota for the state of Massachusetts) and ultimately became a part of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry. With the exception of those who enlisted for Massachusetts, the California forces took no part in any of the great battles of the Civil War.”

Some of the names—most of which belonged to members of the First Battalion Native California Cavalry Company C—that you’ll see in the following list, compiled by Strobridge, who is from San Luis Obispo, on December 8, 1998, may also belong to ancestors of present residents whose families have been in the area for more than a century.

The following entries were originally made in Spanish. I’ve included the page number where they can be found in the Death Book, to make it easier for you to look them up for yourself.

Manuel German, 45 years of age, buried February 18, 1874 (p. 3)
Felipe Badillo, 56, buried July 23, 1884 (p. 8)
Vicente Ordaz, 52, buried May 21, 1879 (p. 39)
Antonio Maria de la Guerra, 66, buried January 29, 1881 (p. 53)
Bernardino Lopez, 65, buried January 10, 1884 (p. 65)
Antonio Rodriguez, 70, buried January 4, 1887 (p. 82)
Jesus Soto, 43, buried February 19, 1887 (p. 83)
Lino Ruiz, 40, buried November 8, 1887 (reinterred at Cavalry) (p. 88)
Clemente Espinosa, 42, buried January 16, 1888 (reinterred at Cavalry) (p. 90)
Francisco Cordero, 78, buried January 6, 1889 (p. 96)
Miguel Pico, 48, buried January 21, 1890 (p. 103)
Pablo Valencia, 68, buried July 13, 1891 (p. 112)
Jose de Jesus Cordero, about 60, buried December 14, 1891 (p. 113)
Jose Maria Ayala, 61, buried January 22, 1892 (p. 114)
Jose Maria Garcia, 57, buried August 3, 1892 (p. 117)
Juan Scolan (John Scollan) , 72, buried August 25, 1892 (p. 118)
Jose Rufino Leiva, 62, buried May 22, 1893 (p. 112)
Narciso Valencia, 48, buried November 3, 1893 (p. 124)
Jose Maria Valenzuela, 70, buried February 6, 1894 (p. 125)
Ismael Soto, 53, buried February 10, 1895 (p. 133)
Juan Ygnacio Valencia, 72, buried September 26, 1895 (p. 138)

It was not until October 23, 1895, in Death Book #2, that the entries are made in English rather than Spanish:

Jose Salvador Valdez, 70, buried November 17, 1895 (“in Catholic Cemetery”) (p. 139)
Nicolos Orellana, about 76, buried February 6, 1896 (“native of Chile, interred in Catholic Cemetery") (p. 141)

And the following entry marks the first burial in the new Calvary Cemetery, at 199 North Hope Avenue:

John C. Kays, 83, buried September 2, 1896 (“native of Ireland”) (p. 144)

The Cieneguitas Cemetery is definitely a trip back into our history. If you decide to visit, you’ll see pieces of sandstone that once made up a base for a headstone, or, perhaps, curbed the edge of a single or family plot.

I encourage everyone to contact me at with any topics about which you would like me to write in the future.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unfriendly Sidewalks

By Silvia Uribe

Last week I was in pain, and perturbed by the clickety-clack sound coming from my knees after falling hard on them. It was one of those, not only painful, but embarrassing moments. The kind we inevitably go through when tripping or twisting an ankle, and after making all sorts of unnatural, ungracious, and in the end, unsuccessful maneuvers in an effort to avoid the fall.

This time, the culprit was one of the many poorly maintained sidewalks of our city. I tripped, and like a dart, my body propelled itself a few feet ahead.

I landed next to a long line of cars waiting for a green light. As they slowly moved forward, several drivers stopped briefly and, through their windows, nicely asked if I was ok. (So much for my wish to be invisible, but it is very comforting to know that caring people surround us.)

Much to my disbelief, physically, I was ok. Saving face a little, I waved at them, signaling that I had no broken bones, and no acute pain. Then, I started the recovery operation - all the stuff that came out of my purse. It had opened at the time it hit the ground, allowing for my makeup, pens, phone, and other items to be dispersed all over the place. Nice.

My ego was a different story. It was badly bruised after the awkward moment. First, I was lying on the sidewalk; face down, for a few (very long) seconds. It felt weird, to say the least. Then, I sat (still on the ground) trying to clean some of the dirt from my new pants, and at the same time, feel my body discretely and assess for possible damages. Then, I came to the realization that I needed to get up. OMG! (Sorry, I'm getting used to texting.) That moment was the scariest of all.

There was nothing close to me that I could've used as a resting/pulling/supporting device. I knew I had to come up with the necessary strength in my legs and knees, and trust that they would push me up.

"I can do it, I can do it", I kept repeating to myself out loud, but I was secretly hoping for some invisible hands to lift me up. I counted "one, two, three, and…." I regained verticality. I was so proud of my accomplishment, I could have given myself a round of applause, but I refrained, since the whole scene was already odd enough. The show was over…. Finally.

Is it only me, or is our city in a major need for timely curb, and street repairs? During the time that I spend downtown every weekend, I see many people tripping, not because they're clumsy or distracted, but because more and more curbs are uneven, broken, or because the bricks are loose (as the picture shows) making them dangerous; particularly, and interestingly enough, for those who wear either high heels, or flip-flops.

And, what about our streets? The wear and tear of our cars gets incrementally accentuated with so many little, medium and big potholes (like the one at the off ramp of the 101 at Carrillo.) These take forever to be fixed, and when they are, the solution is deficient, and sometimes as bad as the problem itself.

Why wait so long? Or, even worse, why wait until something really bad happens in which the City may be found liable? They say in Spanish, "Mas vale tarde que nunca", which equivalent in English is, "Better late than never." I don't agree with that philosophy. In certain instances, it might just be too late.

As for me, I followed my own advice and took matters (my noisy knees, and my all aching body) into my own hands quickly. I immediately scheduled a visit to the chiropractor and to the masseuse, to fix and pamper myself a little.

Now, I'm ready for another walk.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino Perspective.
Cross-posted at

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sex, Violence, and the U.S.

By Silvia Uribe
Sex represents many things for human beings. From the most sublime to the most sinful, anything related to sex has always a high rating. We know that "sex sells", and that is why the media keeps including sexy scenes in everything. Whether it makes sense or not, we get at least a couple of bed scenes almost in every T.V. show, every movie, and every play; books are not the exception, and music too, is plagued with sexual references.
One would think that the over-exposure to the sex theme would make us immune to its spell, but that's not the case.
But, if sex sells, violence and blood don't sell any less. It would seem that we are more interested in knowing who harassed, attacked, or killed someone, than in most important things that happen in our town, and in the world. We seem to crave all the gruesome details of say, a deadly attack on the street. We want to know which type of weapon was used, how many times was the person hurt, and where the wounds were located. If we can see the pictures of the gory scene, it is even better.
Like little leaches, we are never satisfied. The more blood the merrier.
As consumers, we are guilty of the extremely low level of intellectual content that we get in the media. We demand either instant gratification, in the case of sex, or ultimate disgust sprinkled with touches of anxiety, irritation and fear in the case of violence.
That's how we end up watching Nancy Grace type shows (you know that screechy voice repeating the same thing a hundred times) , or all the investigative shows like Dr. ‘G', Coroner, and other similar ones. Decades ago, it would have been unthinkable to have shows involving real dead bodies. It would've been not only disrespectful, but probably also illegal.
Whatever the reasons, we remain in front of the T.V. or buying books, or movies, that may shock us, but do not make us think. We are too lazy, or too afraid to put our upstairs machinery to work. "No thinking" could be our motto. We're becoming an instinct based society. Our desires, and adrenaline rushes take more and more of our time and energy, particularly our youth's, the future of our country and of our world.
By allowing our intellect's downhill trend to continue, we will have no one to blame but us when others, making good use of their brain, take over the leadership of our world. China is already, at least financially, stronger than the U.S. If children in China are not intellectually starved as ours seem to be both at school (in a broken system), and elsewhere in society, our destiny as a country is sealed. In China kids are having something more than video games as main dish, with sex and violence on the side.
While I was visiting there and struggling between my very rudimentary Mandarin and their no better English, I noticed many youngsters hanging out, and having animated, intelligent conversations with adults. They were enjoying each other, and learning from each other. Today, our perpetually "on the go" American culture neglects to promote this type of exchange. Our family interactions, for the most part, are limited to watching the extremely violent "24", the bed stories of "Gray's Anatomy" and the sexy bodies in skimpy dresses in "Dancing with the Stars". When these series end, our family "connection" is over.
Are we missing the point in looking for our country's enemies elsewhere? Maybe not, but if we continue overlooking the fact that what can bring our country down faster than anything else is our lack of deep personal connection with each other, and our lack of thought processing capabilities, we will be in deep trouble, real fast.
The good news is that it is not too late to change this downhill path.
Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.
Cross-posted at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Community Values Forum

Discussion of Car Impoundments and Secure Communities Program

By Silvia Uribe

Yesterday in Goleta, immigrants and their allies came together to talk about what’s happening in Santa Barbara County in relation to immigration.

The goal of the Community Values Forum, organized by P.U.E.B.L.O at San Raphael’s Church, on Hollister Avenue, was to create an opportunity for community members and elected leaders to learn about and discuss issues of immigration reform and local enforcement policies that affect our immigrant community.

Around 100 people, including a handful of elected officials, including Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara City Council members Grant House and Das Williams, and Goleta City Council member Ed Easton, were present at the forum. A representative of Congresswoman Lois Capps read a message from her boss, and a representative of Police Chief Cam Sanchez was also present.

Those attending the event listened to a very informative panel touching on two main topics. The first was titled “Car Impoundments in Santa Barbara: Good for Public Safety?” The second topic was the Secure Communities Program, and how it operates in our criminal justice system. Attendees were also able to hear a couple of very touching testimonies on how our immigrant community suffers the most consequences from these programs.

A study presented by Greg Prieto, from UCSB, showed that in 2007 and in 2008 the number of cars impounded at check points from people whose licenses were suspended or revoked due to previous DUI’s or for some other reason, was around 300 both years; whereas the number of cars impounded from those who had no license at all (as distinct from a suspended or revoked license) went from 900 in 2007, to 1250 in 2008. What this means, Prieto said, is that those checkpoints are not making our roads safer from dangerous drivers, as they’re supposed to, but are instead hurting the immigrant population.

From this presentation, attendees learned that the law states that if a person who has no license gets pulled over by the police, the officer can use his discretion to not have the car impounded immediately, but to give the driver a chance to have someone with a valid California driver’s license pick up the car and take it away. However, this discretion is rarely practiced, and the car is almost always immediately impounded. Prieto said that in San Francisco, as a result of public pressure, police allow for a 20-minute window for a licensed driver to show up.

Mateo, a 39-year-old man, in his testimony on this issue (in a compilation published by PUEBLO, called En Las Sombras del Paraiso, or In the Shadows of Paradise) said: “It is very traumatic having to drive without a license all the time. I fear an encounter with police. Because of this fear, and my nervousness, I make mistakes that give me away with police. Now I drive a $500 car, to reduce my loss in case the police stop me and impound my car simply because I don’t have a license.”

Melissa Keaney, from the National Immigration Law Center, informed the audience that Santa Barbara’s agreement with Secure Communities was made with the Sheriff’s Office, and that it started on January 5, 2010. She ennumerated some of this program’s irregularities.

1) ICE (Immigration Control and Enforcement) is not paying attention to racial profiling cases or to arrests with no reason.

2) There is no transparency: The Department of Homeland Security has not regulated any part of this program, and there are no records to be reviewed.

3) The numbers are not clear: None of ICE publications have information on Secure Communities and there’s no provision for data collection or for audits.

After listening to these presentations and the testimonies of a couple of people, Supervisor Carbajal made the commitment to meet with Sheriff Bill Brown to talk about the current situation and how we want Santa Barbara County to be fair with all its residents.

Likewise, Das Williams and Grant House said that they will start the conversation at the Santa Barbara City Council to talk about these issues. Ed Easton said that he will do as much as he can to promote this conversation within the City of Goleta government. A committee put together by PUEBLO will be formed to follow up on these commitments in order to further the movement against discriminatory and un-American Legislation.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at