November 6, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
The Historic Arts Advisory Committee (HAAC) voted Wednesday evening, October 24, to place the Thomas Fallon statue at Pellier Park. It is not slated to unveiled until 1995.
At that meeting, discussions generally followed the format of the previous meetings. The chairman of the committee, Alex Smart. spent some time explaining that community participation in the discussions would be allowed but limited to no more than three minutes. This is the last meeting of the full committee until next year. The group will be meeting in three small groups of five members each. When and how often these committees will meet, is not clear.
The chairman’s decision to appoint the chairpersons for each of these committees rather than allowing each subcommittee to decide their own chairperson has been protested by Kathy Napoli, Patricia Roach and Javier Salazar.
Community input at the HAAC committee meetings has consistently been limited and this has created another issue since the formation of this very important committee. A person attending this last HAAC meeting told the committee; “I must tell you, I am ashamed to see how disrespectfully this committee treats the Mexican-American community – and I am not Mexican-American.” Another said. “This is the first Committee meeting I have attended and l am appalled at the manner in which the Chairman is conducting this meeting.”
The three Latino representatives serving on HAAC, Napoli, Roach and Salazar have been repeatedly ignored with their arguments given short shrift by the committee majority and the chairman. There is growing resentment at the cavalier treatment and there is now serious and continuing consideration by some as to whether to continue to support the committee under such conditions.
Members of the public in attendance have been limited in their ability to speak to the issues under discussion and, in fact, were told by the chairman at a previous meeting that community should not be assumed and was not a requirement, as the I-IAAC proceedings were not subject to public review. Sophia Mendoza says, “It was the public’s bringing of this issue to the attention of the City Council that led to the formation of PAAC, and now the group is limiting public input.” Mendoza also says that the Redevelopment Agency staff is “ramming the site selection down the communities’ throat.”
At the conclusion of this last meeting, which ended around 10:30 p.m. the Chairman had to be reminded that Mr. Hank Rosendin had been told that a report he wished to make, would be heard at the conclusion of the meeting, Rosendin had attempted to address the group when the HAAC chairman said he would entertain public comment at the beginning of the next meeting; but Rosendin was then told to speak later as his comments did not “pertain to the item under-discussion” (which was where to put the Fallon Statue).
Rosendin wished to share with the HAAC committee a message from a group, “Concerned Community for Art Selection Process and Representation.”
This group came together as a consequence of their concern for the manner in which HAAC was formed and because of the manner in which the meetings of that committee are conducted.
The Concerned Community group met at the East Side Senior Center, October 15. Twenty people from the community attended that it meeting. The Fine Arts Commission and HAAC were invited by a letter; announcing the meeting and inviting their attendance. The announcement was “hand delivered in a timely manner” to Alex Smart. The Chairman of both committees. Stuart said that he announced the meeting to the Fine Arts Commission but did not inform the HAAC members. It was hoped that a discussion would help in resolving the problems that have arisen.
The following is a summary of the concerns expressed by that group regarding the progress of the Historic Arts Advisory Committee, its policy decisions and other related issues including recommendations for their resolution.
They say that there was a “Flawed Process in Selection of the Historic Arts Advisory Committee.” They point out that seven of the eight persons chosen to represent the existing city commissions had supported the Fallon statue (in those other committees). The Concerned Community say that these HAAC appointees “continue to demonstrate a strong bias on every Fallon issue voted on.”
The Concerned Community also points out that of “eight of the persons chosen as ‘community representatives,’ four were known to the Fallon advocates.”
The group says that this committee member selection “created a 12 to 4 bias in favor of the Fallon statue.” They go on to say that a series of 11 to 3 votes in favor of the Fallon statue “confirms this bias.”
The group further points out that the first order of business for that committee should have been a thorough analysis of why the controversy occurred in the first place and to “develop recommendations for the improvement of city procedures.” This was not done.
The community group also pointed out that the HAAC committee has demonstrated “disrespect for public and historian input.”
The Concerned Community says that in spite of “overwhelming public testimony including that testimony of five historians either or outright opposing the selection of Fallon” to be commemorated by a statue (publicly funded) honoring him in downtown San Jose the subject “was never discussed” and, in fact, the public testimony appeared to have very little, if any, influence on the thinking of the majority of the appointees to the Historic Arts Advisory Committee.
The Concerned Committee’s report goes on to point out that the, “decision to keep the Fallon statue was made before the committee developed guidelines for the process for the selection of future historic art in San Jose.” They question the exemption of the Fallon statue from such criteria.
Among the recommendations of this group to the Fine Arts Commission and HAAC, is a request that four public hearings be held throughout the City of San Jose. They suggest that the meetings could be scheduled for January through March, 1991. They also suggest that the City hire a professional governmental policy analyst to review local procedures and make recommendations” (to avert similar controversies in the future.”
The Concerned Community also recommends changes in the manner in which public testimony is heard at such meetings (particularly by HAAC).
The Fallon statue controversy was the subject of the play presented by the Teatro de Los Pobres at the Friday evening “Día De Los Muertos” celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in San Jose. In the play, “Los Huesos de Tomas Fallon” the theme was a demand front our ancestors to redress the distortion of our history and to stop the exploitation of the Latino community as exempliﬁed by people like Thomas Fallon.
It is expected that the Historic Arts Advisory Committee will be taking its recommendations to the City Council for approval by that body at the 7 p.m. November 13 meeting. That date for the HAAC report has not been confirmed. To assure that you are present when
this important matter comes before the Council and that your testimony is heard, call either the Office of Cultural Affairs at 277-5144 or Kathy Napoli at 727-6595.