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The Barbara Renaud Gonzalez show

Two new members of the board of directors of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Cynthia Segovia and Javier Guevara, sat for their first time last week with four veteran members. Chairman Juan Aguilera called the meeting to order.

GCAC President R. Bret Ruiz and board members Patricia Celis and Laura Hernandez sat with their backs to the audience at a portable table in the Guadalupe’s theater.

A Spanish-language TV cameraman jostled for the perfect angle as the meeting, declared open to the public thanks to a new policy of the Guadalupe directors, got under way.

One of the first items on the agenda was “citizens to be heard,” and self-promoting freelance writer Barbara Renaud Gonzalez stepped into the breach to speak her mind. But first, she asked someone to focus her video camera on her, ostensibly so the footage could be published on her eponymous vlog. “You operate in a very unconscionable way,” she told the board after she recited her curriculum vitae.

Aguilera interrupted her when she criticized Ruiz’s tenure at the center. “No personal attacks. We’ll be happy to speak to you afterwards.”

Aguilera avoided discussion of the topic on everyone’s mind: Ruiz recently has come under fire for alleged ill treatment of the center’s employees. He fired Mary Jessie Garza, the former education director, and Public Relations Marketing Manager Dolores Zapata Murff is on leave from the Center after she reportedly filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination complaint against the Center with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The chairman said the complaints were aired “all over the media. This is a personnel matter. We have to respect the privacy of those individuals. Our silence doesn’t mean that we don’t care. We’re working on this matter and we’re trying to resolve things.”

Gonzalez, who blogs regularly and copiously about her mission to oust Ruiz and the current board of directors, told the board to “move on and let us rebuild the Guadalupe.”

More people filed more complaints during their allotted three minutes.

Santiago García, aide to District 5 City Councilwoman Patti Radle, delivered a letter from her to the board.

“I’m sorry that I can’t be with you this evening,” read Radle’s letter, dated the same day. “The reason I wish I were with you tonight is because I understand that the strain of controversy surrounding the Guadalupe Cultural Arts organization has gotten to a very volatile level.”

Radle urged the board to “take immediate action in responding to the concerns of the community and accusations as we have seen appear in the media `see “Culture War,” February 8-14`. Not addressing the issues immediately has allowed the issues to fester and has been a discredit to the reputation of the organization. To wait so long is an injustice to the complainant, to the accused, and to the community.”

“There has been a lot of turmoil,” said Mara Posada when she took the podium to address the board. “We are here in support of the ogranization and the artists who built it. Support the barrio, however rasquache it may be.”

For a definition of “rasquache,” see the above-referenced article in the Current. However, any given conversation with Gonzalez reveals that a pinche gringo who attempts to define the word is, well, rasquache.

Meanwhile, Isaac Alvarez Cardenas stepped up to give the board some sound criticism for the manner in which they conducted the meeting: “You should face the audience.”

Chairman Aguilera responded that the board had only recently opened its meetings to the public, and promised that future board meetings would be set up differently. He didn’t say whether they would speak into microphones so the audience can hear what they’re saying.

“If you feel you’re being ignored, that’s not the purpose of this board,” Aguilera said.

Now, for some positive news about the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. The 25th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival is set for May 10-14 at Rosedale Park. The musical performers’ lineup will have been announced by press time. Check upcoming issues of the Current and for details.

By Michael Cary

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