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Despite feelings of some, Garcia not interested in apology from Ott

Thursday, September 25, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Although some members of the Hispanic community are seeking an apology from City Manager Marc Ott for allegedly showing disrespect to some of their leaders last month, former Mayor Gus Garcia said Wednesday, “I’m not particularly interested in apologies.”


Along with former Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, Garcia is the best-known member of the group of 11 Hispanics who met with Ott on Aug. 18. “We went to tell him what we thought needed to be done,” Garcia said, referring to “getting on track on affirmative action and the MBE/WBE ordinance.”


Although that meeting was tense, according to Garcia, he has since met one-on-one with Ott and “we had a nice discussion and I gave him some recommendations” on minority contracting.


On Wednesday, some members of a group called Unidos de Austin had arranged a meeting with Council Members Mike Martinez, Sheryl Cole and Lee Leffingwell. That meeting did not happen because of an invitation sent to the media to attend either the meeting or a related press conference. Garcia said that although he was part of Unidos when it was founded in the wake of the killing of Daniel Rocha in 2005, he is no longer associated with it.


Rita Gonzalez Garza said Wednesday that the group never intended to invite the press to the meeting and that the person who sent out the email notifying the press, Peggy Vasquez, was not authorized to do so. Gonzalez Garza identified herself as a past co-chair of the group and released a written statement from the group’s current co-chairs, Edna Uregas and Dan Arrellano, as well as herself. She said Vasquez is not a member of Unidos, which Gonzalez Garza described as representing the Hispanic community on issues ranging from education and civil rights to diversity in city contracting and hiring.


“Unidos de Austin looks forward to meetings and continued dialogue with the Council, City Manager Marc Ott and key department heads to address the concerns of the Latino community in regards to minority contracting and diversity in top management at the city and to improve relations with city management, ” Gonzalez Garza said.


Cathy Vasquez Revilla, who was also at City Hall to speak with the press, describes herself as “a life-long East Austin resident from a family with five generations living in Austin.” She said she and her sister, Peggy Vasquez, thought they were part of Unidos and that Gonzalez Garza does not represent the community because Gonzalez Garza lives in Round Rock.


Vasquez Revilla was not at the August meeting with Ott, but said, “we expect (the city manager) to apologize to the Hispanic community for disrespecting 11 members of our community.” Asked whether her group represents the entire Hispanic community, Vasquez Revilla responded, “Well, duh . .  . yeah.”

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