May 26 2010 12:00 AM

Announce our respect for Chavez

Many invisible privileges come to Americans with white skin and a comfortable existence. Among these is the privilege to ignore what really matters to the non-white and less well off. Honoring Cesar Chavez with a street name is a chance for Lansing’s majority culture to finally recognize what is important to the city’s Spanish-speaking minority. In 1967, when Chavez’s new United Farm Workers Union marched from Saginaw to Lansing, Michigan ranked third among states in the number of migrant farm workers — workers who by law earned less than the minimum wage and received no worker compensation benefits. Chavez’ leadership, dignity, personal sacrifice and persistence corrected these injustices in Michigan and earned him a place in the first rank of America’s labor leaders.

Chavez’ message was that, as a nation, we need to make a shift from what is cost-effective and convenient to what cares for people. This message still needs repeating today, and lies at the heart of whether to rename a prominent street.

For Lansing, whose workforce’s middle class status is grounded in a history of union representation, honoring a great labor leader seems fitting. For Lansing, which now can show that our city cares more about the pride and accomplishments of an important minority than it cares about the cost, announcing our caring to the world seems like a privilege.

— Gene Townsend Lansing

Correction on pay

Thank you to Kyle Melinn for reporting on local election races after the filing deadline, especially county commissioner races.

I would like to correct one thing reported in the story, though. I am the commissioner in the 5th district (south east Lansing) and am running for reelection in the Democratic primary in August. My opponent has been distorting my record, and Melinn’s article continues that distortion.

My opponent has been criticizing me for supporting Commissioner pay raises in these tough budget times.

In the 2007 resolution, I voted to eliminate the commissioners’ pay raise for 2009 and reduce the raise for 2010. I have also returned my pay for three meetings so far to match county employee furloughs. I did this starting at the beginning of the year, before I knew I would have an opponent. So, I contributed back my pay raise for 2010. My opponent is also telling people that I have been unrepresentative of my district, but he just recently moved in to the district so he really doesn’t know.

My opponent is either purposely distorting my record, or he just doesn’t understand how county government works. Either way, I hope that voters in the Democratic primary in the 5th district will consider me based on my actual record and not on the falsifications being spread by my opponent.

— Andy Schor 5th District Ingham County Commissioner