Monday, December 4, 2017

Public Policy Final Exam: Review of the Garbage Can Decision-Making Model

Public Policy Final Exam: Review of Garbage Can Decision-Making Model
Garbage Can Decision Making Model
  • Goals: Emerge Spontaneously
  • Means/End Analysis: Means independent from Ends
  • Test of a Good Decision?: If participants agree the problems and solutions matched

Context: The incident prompting me to review the “Garbage Can” Decision-Making Model was the San Antonio City Council vote to remove the Confederate monument located in downtown Travis Park.

The prelude to this vote was the events surrounding a racial and politically charged protest held in Charleston, West Virginia where enraged citizens vehemently argued with each other in the streets over whether statues representing the Confederacy should be allowed to be removed from public places. As tensions grew increasingly hostile between the engaged parties a riot broke out and a woman was run over by an irate protestor who charged his vehicle into the crowd. She eventually died from her wounds suffered from this road rage. The typical media frenzy ensued and a public cry was put out across the nation by activist groups and other political and administrative figures to remove any public symbols representing the Confederacy and its tainted legacy of slavery or any other remnants of “institutional racism” leftover from the Civil War or Jim Crow era, whether this be statues or high school names or what have you.

In San Antonio, a local coalition of community activists, consisting of college professors, former public office holders, and the activist organization Black Lives Matter, had recently failed in their efforts to persuade and influence the SA city council to include measures of accountability concerning negligent police officer action in the recently renewed contract between the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Officers Association. The activists swiftly changed the mission of their crusade to jump on the national bandwagon and, sure enough, a Council Consideration Request (CCR) was soon submitted to SA City Council by District 1 Councilman Robert Trevino and District 2 Councilman William “Cruz”.

The means of the activist coalition group to hopefully achieve the ends of their newly forged goal of eradicating any hints of institutional racism in civic arenas? Same as last time: this activist coalition who would characterize itself as non-violent consistently acted pro-virulent toward any authority figure representing the establishment and outright dismissed any opposing viewpoints no matter how logical or rational the counter-arguments. They threw justice, as an attribute of individual action, out the window and instead replaced it with their own brand of justice with undertones of “by any means necessary.”

A perfect storm of a policy window emerged and the activist coalition focused the aims of its agenda through all the right channels of the policy stream and SA City Council passed the vote, in which Mayor Ron Nirenberg disregarded the standard democratic process altogether for a CCR, by a margin of 10 to 1 with the lone dissenting vote cast by District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry for just that reason: “…we can’t do knee-jerk reactions. We have processes.” Later that night a contractor’s crane parked itself in front of the monument before midnight and by 3am the Confederate soldier statue and supporting obelisk were removed, as well as the model field artillery cannons which were attributed to neither William Barret Travis nor the Confederacy. A handful of activists rejoiced at the sight in the wee hours of the morning and local media outlets remained on site until the last piece was loaded up on the sturdy platform of an eighteen-wheeler rig. The statue removal cost $258,860 of city taxpayer monies.

And what was the test of this council vote as a good decision? Were any traces of institutional racism, in a city of historically low-profile racial or ethnic tensions, abolished once and for all? San Antonio’s downtown annual jazz music festival Jazz’SAlive, held in Travis Park for the past 34 years, kicked off without a hitch. No public mention was made on stage as concertgoers of all racial an socio-economic backgrounds relaxed to the live music performances and enjoyed hot food and cold drinks as they had always done since 1983. Local grocery chain HEB elected to move its annual Christmas tree lighting event from Alamo Plaza to Travis Park and placed the giant tree in place of where the Confederate monument once stood. For years families have made a tradition of attending the event, supplemented by a night time river parade of decorated river barges and other fanfare. Meanwhile, local activists remain waiting in the wings with their matching problems and solutions ready in hand, to be applied toward the pursuit of social justice at the spark of a moment’s notice.

Friday, May 5, 2017


No vale nada la vida polémica
La vida polémica no vale nada
Comienzas siempre llorando
y llorando así se acaba

por eso es que en este mundo
la vida polémica no vale nada

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Writers Resist: SATX Invitational

The Anarchist's Pledge (draft)

With legs weak and hands full, I rise
to face your nation and realize
I cannot clutch my heart to salute
I pledge no allegiance to any flag

Monday, November 7, 2016

Political Violence of Global Capital - Lecture Recap


Annotated Notes

Political Violence of Global Capital: Dispossession and Repression in the Global South
- lecture by Jasmin Hristov

- explanatory limitations and conceptual barriers exist in literature and media
- paramilitarism is a transnational phenomenon
- paramilitary violence is in direct correlation to class domination

Major Explanations
·         1st argument: organized violence relation to economic equality
-          Poverty/inequality vs. a culture of consumption – no opportunities – involvement in gangs or other criminal activity
·         2nd argument: due to rural-urban migration
·         3rd argument: growth in illegal economies
-          Need violent regulatory mechanisms

·         4th argument: weak state institutions/corruption
·         4th argument: weak state institutions/corruption
World Bank Statement
-          1 in 4, 1.5 billion people, live in violent conflict outside of violent norms
-          Overcoming conceptual barriers
-          Non-state violence is not necessarily anti-state violence
-          Paramilitary violence can be carried out for politically dominant special interest groups
·         Major corporations have used paramilitary violence (Coca-Cola, Chiquita banana)
Definition of Paramilitary Violence
-          Armed citizens funded by sectors of economically/politically dominant classes with military/logistical support to carry out function
-          Paramilitary violence has political objective to preserve status quo, this enhances state institutions
Function of Paramilitary Violence
-          Repression
·         Suppressing popular movements
-          Dispossession
·         Land, agriculture
Colombia: Laboratory of Paramilitarism
-          Two waves (1960s + 1980s)
·         State-led effort, elite support (external enemy)
·         Elite-led effort, state supported (internal enemy)
Human Rights Impact
-          Over 6 million internally displaced, living in destitution (no institutions/infrastructure)
-           80% of union deaths occur in Colombia, unionists assassinated
-          3,500 labor unionists murdered since 1985
-          Massacres committed as tool of violence, fosters culture of fear
-          Unionization from 12% in 1988 to 4% in 2009
-          0.4% of population owns 46.4% of total land
-          81.5% of agricultural land used for mining, agribusiness
Paramilitary Violence in “Post-Demobilization” State (2006-2016)
-          2013, 27 unionists, more than 70 human rights defenders were killed
-          First 5 years, 1.5 million displaced, 205 unionists were murdered
-          2015, ONIC reported 35 killings and 3,481 indigenous displaced
-          Death threats reported
Three Principles of Paramilitary Violence
1.       Paramilitarism as a multidimensional phenomenon
-          Economic, political, military
2.      Structural social phenomenon
-          Offensive/proactive instrument
-          Requires violence to reproduce itself
-          Paramilitary group - dispossession/repossession
3.      Dialectical relation to state/paramilitary groups
-          Paramilitary would not exist w/o state
-          50 years of massacre created
Weak State Argument
-          If you have a country with paramilitary groups outside of state, it does not indicate a weak state
-          Who benefits from violence? Who are victims?
Paramilitarization Indicates Transnationalization of States
-          Making available resources for resources, labor, markets for global capital
-          2005 à 2016, mining boom
-          Peace and Justice paramilitary group
·         Murdered 122 and displaced 4000 people in Chiapas
Paramilitary vs. Cartel Violence
-          Political/economic model vs. singular illicit activity

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall Session Writing Lab - Week #6 - Departure

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Fall Session)

Writing prompt
  • Describe the view from your point of departure

Departure (Poem draft)

You walk the cliff's edge
to the place where what you've gained
you no longer hold and what you've lost
you cannot mourn because your journey
was meant to travel beyond acquisition

From this point you survey the vastness
and yearn for the calls from the unknown
when you realize you can't turn around when
the glares and shouts threaten to nail down
the canned heat long hidden in your heels

The outstretched arch of memory and the scope
of the countours of your soaring experience
have carved out the framework of lifetimes to come
and all you have to do is step forward.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Session Writing Lab - Week #5 - Democracy

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Fall Session)

Writing prompt
  • Voice your ideas for democracy

The citizens storm city hall wielding justice, accountability and action.
The administration shouts them down with allegations of disrespect, disruption and apathy.
To which the citizens reply, Do you know what apathy means?
A staunch indifference to the unimportant.

If the majority rules, it's the majority of dissent.