Tidbits - August 25, 2011

* Eric Quezada, Longtime Mission Community Organizer, Dies 
  (Rigoberto Hernandez, Mission Loc@l)
* Re: Portsiders' Comments on Juan Cole's "Top Ten Myths
  about the Lybia War" (David McReynolds)
* Ashford, Leiber and the Soundtrack for a Multiracial 
  America (Ellen Dannin)
* Re: The Excluded Workers Congress: Reimagining the Right
  to Organize (George Fish)
* Fabulous Bernie Sanders Speech (Video)
* Labor Day History - "The Long Memory of the Triangle Fire"
  - one hour program (Nan Rubin)
* Isabel Allende cancels Chile tour in support of student
  demands (Juventud Rebelde)
* Re: Request to all Portside Readers (Lynn Lane)


* Eric Quezada, Longtime Mission Community Organizer, Dies

by: Rigoberto Hernandez

Mission Loc@l
August 24, 2011


    Eric Quezada with a group of supporters during his
    campaign for District 9 Supervisor.
    http://tinyurl.com/3pafph4 Photo credit: sashax, flickr)

Eric Quezada, 45, a critical figure in the affordable
housing movement in the Mission, died early this morning at
his home in Bernal Heights.

Quezada, the son of Guatemalan immigrants, moved to the
Mission with his family in 1971 after their San Fernando
Valley home was destroyed in an earthquake. In the '90s he
emerged as the center of many social justice movements
throughout the city, especially those involving affordable
housing, land-use issues and immigrant rights.

He was a founding member of the Mission Anti- Displacement
Coalition, and at the time of his death was the executive
director of Dolores Street Community Services.

Only those close to Quezada knew he had cancer. In 2004 he
was diagnosed with alveolar soft-part sarcoma, a rare, slow-
moving cancer that afflicts mostly children and young
adults. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with it are dead
within five years. Quezada would survive for seven.

During that time he ran a grassroots campaign for supervisor
of District 9 in 2008; had a daughter, Ixchel, now 3;
married another community organizer, Lorena Melgarejo; was
elected to the Democratic County Central Committee; and
mentored a generation of community activists.

"He always had a lot folks around him and was always
building a strong movement with strong leaders," said
Charlie Sciammas of the environmental justice organization
PODER, who worked closely with Quezada at the Mission
Housing Development Corporation. "He was building something
for the long term. It's not just one person, it's many that
build it together and work in those struggles and those

During that time Quezada was also, according to Oscar Grande
of PODER, a notorious fiend for salsa music and an avid
saxophone player. "Particularly salsa dura, a lot of the
'70s stuff," said Grande. "He was purist in that sense." The
two DJ'd together at benefits for numerous nonprofits and
progressive candidates. "We worked hard together and we
played just as hard. He was a salsa animal."

Quezada lost the election for supervisor to David Campos,
but the two became close friends. "The two people whose
advice I trust the most are Tom Ammiano's and Eric
Quezada's," said Campos, who would often confide in Quezada
about issues going before the Board of Supervisors. "He is
rare in politics. The more you get to know him, the more you
like him and the more you respect him."

"When I think of the Mission District, I think of Eric and
all that he gave to those of us working here, to those
families, to make it a more just place," said Maria Poblet,
executive director of the housing rights nonprofit Just

John Avalos, District 11 supervisor and mayoral candidate,
recalled a rally held at Horace Mann Middle School in 2000
to protest the Planning Commission's policies during the
dot-com boom.

"Five hundred people were raising their hands," said Avalos.
"It showed him as a leader. Someone who can move a crowd. He
had that kind of influence."

Eventually, chemotherapy wasn't enough to halt the spread of
Quezada's cancer. He left for Germany a month ago to seek
experimental treatment, but returned when that, too, failed.
He died at home, surrounded by his mother, brother and wife.

News of his death has many community organizers and local
progressive politicians grieving for a man who, they say,
always put other people and the causes he was fighting for
before himself. Many organizers said they will continue with
the work Quezada started. As Melgarejo posted on her
Facebook page: "Eric Quezada PRESENTE! La lucha sigue!"

Poblet recalled talking to Quezada recently about her quest
to increase the influence of people of color in elections.
Quezada was having trouble breathing - his lungs had been
damaged during treatment - but all he wanted to do, said
Poblet, was talk politics.

"I don't want to talk about doctors," he told her. "I want
to talk about building the social movement. We should do
this again and we should do this more often."

"And that," she said, "was the last time I saw him."


* Re: Portsiders' Comments on Juan Cole's "Top Ten Myths
about the Lybia War"

Very glad to see the responses. Cole's position struck me as
weak and his citation of Niebuhr almost distressing. (This
is not to dismiss Niebuhr's efforts to struggle with the
problem of evil and how to deal with it - in his case from a
Christian point of view).

I say distressing because, when the first threats of
violence were made by Gadaffi (and no two sources can agree
on the spelling of his name) there were a range of actions
which the Arab League or the Europeans could have taken,
including sending in observers, religious leaders, political
leaders, to force a halt to any killing.

Perhaps most distressing (in my view) is what this has done
to Cole's reputation. The hard fact is that NATO forces far
exceeded the mandate of the UN resolution, they actively
sought the killing of Gadaffi by air strikes, they were
responsible for a serious number of civilian deaths.

Libya was and is very complex. But the use of NATO was
absolutely wrong - that is an institution which should have
been dissolved the instant the Hungarian Revolution began in
1956, and it was clear that the West faced no credible
attack from the Soviets.

Thanks for running those comments.

David McReynolds


* Ashford, Leiber and the Soundtrack for a Multiracial

Yesterday, while traveling through an area of Pennsylvania
with poor radio reception, I heard a tribute to Jerry
Leiber.  The radio host saw in his songs a time of unity
when, he said everyone listened to the same radio stations,
same songs, and when everyone was united on what it meant to
be an American. In other words, more or less the same
message as Mark Naison's essay, but with something glaringly
missing - deep divisions on civil rights and war.

As the host continued, I figured out that this was a host
sitting in for Rush Limbaugh and much later that I learned
that two song writing legends had died on the same day.  But
one did not fit into the host's vision of history and what
it means to be an American.

Ellen Dannin


* Re: The Excluded Workers Congress: Reimagining the Right
to Organize

Overlooked in this long list of excluded workers are temp
workers, those like myself whose employers are temporary
employment agencies who provide contract workers to other
firms.  We are excluded from union organizing by a George W.
Bush-era NLRB decision, and we temps often get low wages, no
benefits, rigid requirements for vacation time off, as well
as the ire of organized labor, which too often doesn't see
us as "real" workers.  I had one local AFSCME leader,
District 62 here in Indianapolis, complain (at a Jobs for
Justice meeting of all places!) "You temps make more money
than my union workers."  Yeah, like at my most regular temp
job, where I've worked when work's available for the past 10
years:  the job requires a college degree but pays only
$10/hour, a rate stagnant since 2007, and a job at which
many of my co-workers and I had to agree to wage cuts to
keep.  So let's not exclude the temps from excluded workers!

George Fish


* Fabulous Bernie Sanders Speech (Video)


[Thanks to Ashley Boothby for sending this our attention]


* Labor Day History - "The Long Memory of the Triangle Fire"
- one hour program

The 1-hour Labor Day special "The Long Memory of the
Triangle Fire" will be aired this Sunday on Beyond the Pale,
the program of progressive Jewish politics and culture, at
Noon eastern time in WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC and streamed over

If you miss it, the program will be available on-line at

all comments welcome,

Nan Rubin


* Isabel Allende cancels Chile tour in support of student

Novelist claims supported the student movement in Chile and
said "what is happening is the tip of the iceberg, because
the underlying issue is the inequality of opportunity"

Cubadebate [log in to unmask] 
August 16, 2011 12:13:13 CDT

Google translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Writer Isabel Allende canceled her tour to be undertaken in
Chile together with the Ministry of Education in adherence
to the demands of students who have been on strike for three

"I was very excited, it was sad to have to stop, but what to
do if schools are closed," she said commenting on the
commitment it made after obtaining the National Literature
Prize 2010.

The novelist supported the demands of the student movement
in Chile, told the newspaper La Tercera: "The alternative of
a free and quality education is a basic demand. And profit
is part of the neoliberal system that no longer works. I
think what is happening is the tip of the iceberg, because
the theme is inequality of opportunity. "

"Young people are making a cultural revolution. Are the
Indignados [Outraged] in Spain, demonstrated disenchantment
through the riots in England. Just today there is no
political leaders, "said Allende.

The writer, who arrived Sunday in Santiago, decided to
change the route of the Ministry of Education for a series
of presentations of her novel "Maya's Notebook" in different


* Re: Request to all Portside Readers

as a Portside reader I want to thank you for all that you
do--i appreciate your work-

Lynn Lane



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