Miguel Pulido Touts “Accomplishments” for a City in Crisis

Mayor por vida Miguel Pulido has benefited from the credible charge that one of his main rivals, Alfredo Amezcua, hasn’t thoroughly articulated an alternative vision for the city of Santa Ana. However, a quick visit to www.miguelpulido.com reveals a similar lack! With a month left before the election, the Mayor’s got “issues.” Click on his website under that very button and it says “coming soon!” As stated previously, the day when Santaneros head to the polls is rapidly approaching. However, there’s not even a typical vague statement about improving schools or even the ubiquitously lobbed out slogan “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Perhaps an incumbent Mayor whose reign is almost as long as my very own time here on Earth feels not the need to state his case for the future. Perhaps he feels as if his record of accomplishments speak for themselves.

Mayor Pulido’s website does just that. On the front page, bullet points are listed detailing his supposed achievements over the years. For the purposes of analysis, two will be selected for critique. First, the Mayor’s website touts his economic achievements for the city as it reads, “Santa Ana continues to attract and retain jobs and businesses. We have one of the most vibrant economies in Orange County.” Only, a “facts and figures” website from none other than the city itself spells out an unemployment rate of 15.7% as of March 2010! This is probably the widely used and grossly misleading “u-3” unemployment statistic. The real story of unemployment in Santa Ana is very likely to be much more dire if better indicators such as the “u-6” measure were employed. How the Mayor can say what he says on his website with terrible job losses in his city is beyond me.

Secondly, Pulido touts among his achievements gains in education, only they are deemed narrowly in terms of funding. Money is important. The Mayor’s website states, “Helped secure over $320 million in funding towards Santa Ana Unified for classrooms and repairs.” Of course, this makes no mention of context or performance, however. Much as I hate to use API index scores, Santa Ana Unified has some of the “worst” schools in Orange County according to them. What that means to me, is that under the current pedagogical model employed in public schools, API scores are sometimes little more than another statistic indicating socio-economic status. Nevertheless, a proactive partnership can be much more viable in bucking the confines as much as possible by embracing bilingual instruction, culturally responsive education and critical pedagogy. SAUSD shouldn’t go begging for “Race to the Top” money either as that is just another dead end. Mayor, proclaim your accomplishments as you may, the status of your city calls for a vision for a new way forward, not revisionist gaze backward!

Other dishonorable mentions include “city enhancement” and Santa Ana’s enriched cultural atmosphere. I agree that culture is in abundance in the city, especially in contrast to the corporate plaza model that makes other cities in OC so pre-planned, so boring. However, the cultural hustlers that I have come to know do not speak well of city governance in terms of support of their homegrown grassroots efforts and institutions. Imported cultural institutions have been much more generous benefactors. Over the course of this year’s race for Mayor, much attention has been focused on Amezcua’s failures in vision, but Santa Ana under Pulido has spawned social statistics that cry out for a true progressive agenda to be articulated. Amezcua, in his OC Metro profile, noted home foreclosures, a jobs crisis, and failing schools. Pulido lists partnership with schools and retaining jobs as “accomplishments!” If the Mayor truly underwent a “progressive” transformation this year, his rhetoric would be reflective of that.

While arguments over Brown Act violations and other political blogosphere chatter about matters of less importance have dominated, another Santanero loses his or her job, has their home foreclosed, is failed by the SAUSD, gets their car impounded by a supposed “DUI” checkpoint and can’t make a viable cultural imprint on the city they have called home all of their life despite all of their talents. If Amezcua hasn’t seized the moment before him, Pulido is resting on his supposed laurels and banking on the reliability of his political machinery to ensure victory. Meanwhile, Santa Ana suffers…

About Gabriel San Roman