June 2, 1992
By Yolanda Reynolds
MACSA (Mexican American Community Services Agency) was picketed early Monday morning, June 1, by a group of long time community advocates. The group, members of La Confederación de la Raza, marched from C.S.O. (Community Services Organization) headquarters at 22 So. Jackson to MACSA headquarters at 130 No. Jackson. They say that they have not been able to have their concerns agendized at the Board of Directors meeting.
While picketing MACSA, the group chanted. “Wake up MACSA” adding “esos Vendidos“ (those sellouts). Maria Ortiz in the picket line and also a member of La Confederación, says that “MACSA tiene que ser de la comunidad, no de los politicos” (MACSA has to be there for the community not for the politicians).
Ernestina Garcia, a highly respected community leader, whose community activities, in the 60’s and early 70’s, along with other leaders of La Confederación, led to the ouster of a former Chief of Police in San Jose and resulted in the hiring of Chief McNamara, points to a number of causes for their grievances against MACSA.
Garcia says that MACSA has strayed from its original objectives which were to:
1.- do research and provide information regarding the social problems of the Mexican-American in the county.
2.- be a liaison between the Spanish speaking population and the general community.
3.- develop Mexican American leadership and self-expression.
Garcia says that La Confederación was told that it had to pay $25 per hour to use a room at MACSA – if the meeting was scheduled between the hours of 9-5; after 5 that rate was to increase to $35 an hour. Garcia and her group offered to pay the fee but were told that “Esther would decide the rate and availability of a meeting room.”
Another grievance involves the cancellation of meetings that had been scheduled by a committee that was formed as a consequence of the Mercury News articles depicting youth “gang” activities in the Eastside of San Jose.
La Confederación charges that MACSA canceled the meetings because the committee had decided, not only to have a day-long hearing before the County Human Relations Commission, but to also engage in several other activities; one was to hold a protest rally and the other was to picket the Mercury News headquarters in San Jose at 750 Ridder Park Drive. La Confederación feels that recent MACSA actions occurred to obstruct the proposed rally and picket.
The County hearings ﬁnally did take place, but even so there has been controversy over the proposed final report. Garcia says that the entire testimony of Cesar Chavez, relative to negative stories about farmworkers by the newspaper was omitted as were her 23 years of documented events that she had submitted as evidence that the newspaper has a long history of negatively stereotyping the Mexican/Latino community.
Garcia also protest the claim made in the summary that the report includes the sentiments and cooperation of both La Confederación and MACSA. The ﬁnal report has not yet appeared.
Rachel Silva, also a member of La Confederación, and others participating in the protest said that not only had MACSA’s attitude changed towards the community over the years, but it had also dropped some very important programs, such as “Words in Color,” a popular reading program for children. In MACSA’s early days that program was provided by volunteer San Jose State university work study students. They say that they want “MACSA back” and add that “It used to be a community Agency. Some even go so far to suggest ther replacement of the director, Esther Medina Gonzales. She has been there since 1983.
Medina says that “they (the protesters) don’t have the correct information and that they haven’t made an effort to get that information” adding that the “Board does not want La Confederación to use the building to use the building but that they were invited to address the Board but have not accepted the offer.”
MACSA has a $1.4 million operating budget and is paying off a $2.4 million loan for the construction of its new headquarters on Jackson. It receives $147,000 from the City and just recently was awarded another $280,000 for the new million-dollar anti-drug program, San Jose BEST that the City created.
MACSA has a fifteen members Board, half of whom must be associated in some direct manner in providing senior services. MACSA operates a large senior health care program. The Board meets every first Thursday of the month at six o’clock. The Board is not governed by the Brown Act but Medina says interested persons may call in advance if they wish to attend a Board meeting and with a note or letter to the Board President, Art Carbajal, request to be on the Agency’s Board Agenda.
MACSA has had 27 employees. Medina says that she just hired 12 new people for the San Jose BEST project.