Appointing a Hispanic Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Representation

UPDATE @ 11AM:  Longoria was reappointed to the Port Commission by a vote of 9 to 6 according to Tweets coming out of City Hall. I stand by my comments, of course.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
John F. Kennedy


The debate over the Port of Houston board appointment continued at City Hall on Tuesday as members of the community had the opportunity to speak in support of the nominees:  Union leader Dean Corgey and Republican funder and appointee Janiece Longoria.

Some in the establishment Hispanic community make the argument that by simply re-appointing Longoria, the Hispanic community is represented. Far from it. I recall national organization LULAC promoting the nominations of Torturer Al Gonzales for AG and Miguel Estrada for a federal judicial appointment.

Gonzales called the Geneva Convention “quaint,” and Estrada did not support the doctrine of judicial review, which groups like LULAC have used effectively to bring changes to discriminatory laws. Ultimately, they wanted the brown face (or the Spanish surname) as if it was some sort of prize. If anything, I argue Gonzales set us back as a country, and thankfully, Democrats beat back the Estrada appointment, even when LULAC was crying “racism” (a low point for LULAC, in my opinion).

As someone who was born into part of the  civil rights movement in South Texas and as the son of a Union man, I learned who was for me and who was against me regarding policy, especially among Mexican Americans and Latinos. And, frankly, I don’t find the Hispanic nominee in this case all that supportive of my beliefs given her political appointments from Rick Perry and the checks she’s written to him in return. Although I would expect the conservatives on Council to support her, I would not expect it from Latinos who call themselves Democrats.

Local establishment Latinos need to cut the BS about wanting representation in numbers and demand representation in policy. We are under attack and the one they are supporting just helped elect someone in the political party that threatens the Latino community–the Party of Debbie Riddle.

Now, beyond the partisan and racial politics, there is the question of what interests are supported on the Port board.  It is safe to say that working men and women–the very people who even work at the port–are not represented. And let’s face it, the demographic of those who work at the port looks like Houston. Dean Corgey, as a Union leader and and someone who made his living on ships, is the right choice.

Here’s Corgey’s Bio:

Dean Corgey is vice president of the Seafarers International Union’s Gulf Coast Region.

A lifelong resident of Houston, Corgey began his career with the SIU in 1973 after graduating from the entry training program for merchant mariners at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Md.

He later sailed as a chief engineer for G&H Towing Company and continued his vocational education at Piney Point, where he earned a chief engineer/limited ocean Coast Guard License.

Corgey came ashore in 1979 and worked in Houston as an organizer for the SIU. He subsequently worked as a patrolman and, in 1986, became the SIU’s Houston port agent. He became an assistant vice president in 1988 and vice president of the Gulf Coast Region in 1990.

Corgey also serves as a vice president of the Texas AFL-CIO; as secretary-treasurer of the West Gulf Ports Council of the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department; and on the executive board of the Harris County AFL-CIO. He also served two terms on the Coast Guard’s Towing Safety Advisory Committee. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Area Maritime Security Committee for the Port of Houston/Galveston and as chairman of the City of Houston Ethics Committee. He is a member of the board of directors for the Houston Maritime Association.

Corgey is married to Theresa Mangiameli Corgey. They have two sons and are active members of First Baptist Church.

Corgey will serve the interests of the working people, which is a much needed on the Port board.

If we as Latinos want representation, we need to earn it by voting in numbers and ensuring progressive, forward-thinking Latin@s are appointed to these positions. Otherwise, we’re just grasping at whatever we can get to keep our numbers up, and that can bite us on the hind-side at so many levels.

Our City Council is elected by the people, not the check-writers who want influence, and it seems some of our Council Members must be reminded of that fact. Here’s an opportunity to do the right thing:  Thank Longoria for her 8 years and move on to new leadership on the Port board that is representative of the working people.

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