A Look at How Public Personas are Manufactured

rodrguz_crmn_hijkOne of the reasons that I keep my blog going is that there is a lack of historical context about the politics in El Paso that allows certain political factions to build, cultivate and create public personas for future political races. I have previously shown you how individuals, like Veronica Escobar, are allowed to be incubated on the taxpayers’ dime via schemes like the Community Scholars until they are ready to mount a political campaign. In addition, schemes like the Community Scholars allows individuals like Escobar to create a stable of like-minded candidates, like Jose Landeros, to put into positions of power, or run them for office, to keep their public policy agendas in play. There is nothing inherently illegal about how they do it, however their use of community dollars for their agendas is morally wrong and contrary to the ideal of a Democracy.

US politics has evolved into a public relations competition where the public persona becomes the central figure in the political races. Besides the incubation of public officials that I routinely demonstrate, there are also events happening in the background that is seldom seen by the voters. They happen over time and are designed to create a public persona for future candidates or community leaders that helps to keep the public policy agenda in place.

Like many of you, I peripherally watched the Lexmark wage dispute in Juárez the last few months. Wage disputes are complex with many facets driving them. This is especially true in Mexico where labor disputes are governed by a complex mixture of labor laws at the various levels of government and, although diminishing, the power exerted by strong labor unions that have dominated Mexico’s national politics for years. Not to mention the issues of national sovereignty that this latest dispute brought forth with the binational intervention by various groups.

However, my attention to the issue increased when it was announced that the Lexmark workers had settled with Lexmark. It will take a book to explain to you why this is an important settlement so for now I am only going to point out that the settlement is a huge triumph for the grassroots effort that worked behind the scenes to make it happen. You will have to take my word that this is a significant event in Mexico’s wage disputes and it likely the impetus for significant changes in organized labor in Mexico.

The significance of this was not lost on the politicos that suddenly appeared before the news media to take credit for the efforts that led to the settlement. Most of you understand that this is how it is done. What is seldom discussed or pointed out are the behind the scenes efforts to hijack efforts such as this. The hijacking has one purpose – to take credit for the efforts of the hard work by others for business or political purposes.

The Lexmark settlement was accomplished by the labor of many who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to mobilize support, organize outreach, collect funds and keep the news media interested. Above all there is the goal of creating enough pressure on government and corporate officials to force them to capitulate. For every hundred or so of these types of events, very few succeed in bringing attention to their goals and many do not accomplish the primary goal of achieving their intended purpose.

With so little victories, many of these grassroots efforts seldom involve high profile individuals and much less politicos from the onset. Oh, they will tell you that they support the cause and may even offer their faces for media attention, but they seldom get their hands dirty and do actual work.

The worker bees trudge along focused on the goal they intend to achieve. They are the majority working in the trenches while the minority, the politicos do what they do best – pretend to care about the community.

This is true for almost all, if not all, grassroots efforts. When the Lexmark workers settled it caught my attention and I started paying closer attention to my news feeds. Like clockwork, the politicos came out of the woodwork and fought for facetime before the various news media outlets.

And, as I expected, the behind the scenes public perception manipulations started. Yet, something interesting happened, I got to see first-hand how descaradamente (brazenly) some individuals just steal the hard work of others. On the Facebook group, Chucopedia, an exchange caught my attention between a few individuals including Miguel Juárez and Carmen Rodriguez.

For those of you that do not know, Carmen Rodriguez is an attorney who is married to Jose Rodriguez. Jose Rodriguez, as you know, is a current Texas Senator representing El Paso. He was formally the County Attorney during the time that much of the public corruption that sent many public officials to jail was happening at the County. What caught my attention was the brazen attempt by Carmen Rodriguez to take credit for something she had little, to nothing to do with.

I know this because although I was not actively following the Lexmark wage dispute I was routinely, sometimes too routinely, receiving updates about the issue from Miguel Juárez. In the many updates that I received and saw on the news media, I saw many hard workers working behind the scenes. Carmen Rodriguez was not among them.

Yet, as soon as it became apparent that the Lexmark workers issue was a huge victory, Carmen Rodriguez, with the help of others started to create the illusion that she was instrumental in the victory. As with all who steal other people’s hard work, Rodriguez injected herself into the dialog and started to create a false narrative by misusing the Lexmark wage dispute intellectual body of work that was created by the others.

Normally, the worker bees remain silent or are hoodwinked into believing that politicos or figures like Carmen Rodriguez have their best interests in mind and so they play along. Not Miguel Juárez, he had already experienced first-hand how the con works numerous times before, so he called out Carmen Rodriguez out on Facebook for misusing photographs of the Lexmark issue for her own outreach program.

From there ensued a back-and-forth about grassroots efforts and whether it’s about taking credit for the work that was done. As with all grassroots efforts, the effort is manned by diverse groups with different interests and of course each agenda fractured into their own subgroups. What I noticed though, was that Carmen Rodriguez went silent immediately after she was called out and refused to be engaged in the discussion. She let others defend her while she quietly took down the intellectual property she had misused.

Among her defenders was Debbie Nathan, one of the administrators for Chucopedia. Initially, the long thread calling Carmen Rodriguez out for her con, mysteriously disappeared from the Facebook group. Nathan claims she has no idea how it disappeared. When some started asking about the coincidence, Nathan brought back the dialog and added her own comments about how much she admires the work of Rodriguez. What is interesting is that Nathan recounted some history between herself and Rodriguez. Yet, I find it interesting that the dialog first disappears and when questions arise it is put back on by the same administrator the posted glowing comments about Rodriguez. Conveniently, it seems like a conversation was had about silencing the dissent and when it became apparent the disappearing a thread was not working it was brought back along with glowing support for Rodriguez.

I had seen this before and immediately realized what was happening.

I believe that Carmen Rodriguez was attempting to create the illusion that she was highly instrumental in the victory that is the Lexmark wage dispute settlement. As an attorney she would benefit financially by creating a fictional dialog that it was her leadership that led to the victory. It would likely open up a new or bigger revenue stream for her.

But, in addition to her legal work, imagine the following scenario.

In El Paso, mobilizing voters is the hardest thing to do. People are basically lazy and do not vote. Currently, the public policy agenda in El Paso is driven by using public funds to create the illusion of prosperity. To keep the agenda, you need to keep certain politicos in office. They need to win elections.

How do you do this?

Easy, you create an illusion that someone, like Carmen Rodriguez, is the defender of the downtrodden and has a public record to back it up with. Down the road, in a political race not too far from now, either Carmen Rodriguez will endorse the candidate that best defends the needs of the pobrecitos, or she runs for office herself. Her ticket, as the defender of the pobrecitos, is the notion that it was her leadership that led to the victory of the Lexmark wage settlement.

It would be easy for her to maintain this illusion because historical records that explain what really happen seldom exists. As they say, history is written by those who win.

Unfortunately for her, she was called out for her attempt to hijack other peoples’ hard work and this blog has documented that effort for others to consult in the future.

11 thoughts on “A Look at How Public Personas are Manufactured

  1. “…their use of community dollars for their agendas is morally wrong and contrary to the ideal of a Democracy.”
    ———————————————————————
    Well, Martin, you know that I am no fan of the Horde, but what is your suggestion for identifying and grooming young talent for positions of responsibility, elected or not? You can have random choice, i.e., someone gets 25 signatures and files for office and you get what? Our City Council?

    Or you can get a candidate who has shown some ability to manage a program, however the program is funded. Don’t look to business because we don’t have any; this is El Paso where pretty much all the responsible jobs are in public sector.

    My preference is for candidates who have shown how they do things by their participation in public affairs, e.g., boards and commissions or holding a responsible job or office. Unfortunately, the level of public participation here is very low. El Paso is the only place I have ever lived where the average person doesn’t care about their city.

    So we get what we get.

  2. I took the material down which Paredes cites because I cannot communicate with the individual who put it up. I can’t use a link, nor does a “comment” box like this one appear below the posted material. As an administrator of ChucoPedia, this is a concern because the site is committed to enabling discussion. And certainly facilitating it when individuals are criticized — they should be able to respond. I assumed when I saw the impossibility of responding that the person who had posted was blocking response. When I realized I had no way to demonstrate that, I contacted the person posting and asked if he was blocking. He emailed back and said he wasn’t. I then reposted all the material that I took down: I had saved it. It’s pretty amazing and distasteful that Paredes hasn’t emailed me, picked up the phone, messaged, etc. — any simple thing to do a basic reality check. ChucoPedia has three administrators, all of us long time, award-winning border journalists with almost 100 years of experience among us, including in the national press. We take our curation of ChucoPedia very seriously and will strive, as always, to keep it as open to content and comment, and as factually responsible, as possible, using the community itself, and its sense of honesty and decency, as our major “wiki” for truth. We thank you in community for your thoughtful support.

  3. Debbie Nathan contacted me by email on Saturday, & made the comment, not that she couldn’t communicate with me personally, but that people generally on ChucoPedia either couldn’t read my comments, or couldn’t respond because there was no comment box. Since a couple of threads flourished on the Lexmark/ Rodriguez subject, & I was able to respond myself, this explanation for deleting my comments is dubious. Nathan deleted my remarks because they strongly criticized Ms. Rodriguez, & challenged the arguments of several of her defenders, who harshly criticized Miguel Juarez for objecting to Rodriguez usurping his & others’ Lexmark worker support.

    However, Debbie Nathan didn’t merely excise my comments, but entire threads that included both pro & con commentary. As for not being able to communicate with me, not only does she have my email address, but she could have messaged me on Facebook. I’m also a ChucoPedia subscriber, & numerous mutual friends have my contact info.

    Others who participated in the discussion were not only able to read what I wrote, but they commented profusely in response. I have previously experienced Ms. Nathan deleting threads that became heated, or whose contents she disagreed with. There was even some off-line speculation prior to her most recent actions as to whether & when she would pull the plug this time.

    When she contacted me Saturday, she seemed to contradict her current admission of deletion. Nathan told me that someone had said that several posts were missing, & she implied she wasn’t aware of what had happened to them. There was an impression given by her that this was an anomalous technical glitch.

    It’s actually relatively common, if reprehensible, for blogs & lists to censor controversial material. There’s at least one other prominent El Paso Facebook page, where these deletions occur with alarming frequency. So, this wasn’t a shock–just a shameful example of underestimating the intelligence of the readership.

    My concern isn’t so much having my considered opinions carelessly trashed, but the attempt to justify it by prevarication, & blaming me for the editor’s actions.

    1. Robb Chavez
      Really who takes Debbie Nathan seriously much less believe she is capable of telling the truth. For Debbie it’s all about what is convenient at the time to what she is supporting or pushing and she never let’s truth get in her way.

  4. For some time now I have been following the censorship crisis at Chucopedia. The original model, as it was initially presented, was that it was going to be a place where information about El Paso and the borderland would be freely distributed and accessible. It was promised that discussion about relevant topics would be allowed. This has not been the case. As I have written previously, censorship in any format is wrong. I have debated Ms. Nathan before about how to keep discussion from devolving into trolling or irrelevant attacks upon others. I do not have the answer to the problem of discussion hijackers but as you can tell from the comments on my blog, I believe I have reached a happy medium where discussions about the topics that I write about can be had without censorship while keeping the topic at hand. Ultimately, it is the community that keeps the discussions alive and relevant. What I have seen from Chucopedia is the heavy handed stifling of discussions deemed as contradictory to the sensibilities of the administrators. I have personally witnessed several instances of discussions arbitrarily shutdown without any showing that it violated the terms and conditions of the Facebook group. The latest example is best exemplified by the comment by Debbie Nathan and the response by Robb Chavez. We need a place to store, share and discuss open records requests and the general borderland scene. But it must be welcoming and open to all points of view. In that vein and in borrowing on the original notion of an open place for storing original source materials, organizing and having open discussions about the borderland I have decided to launch chucopedia.news. As some of you know, I recently launched a Facebook-like app that I believe will be perfect for a borderland discussion group and thus the new chucopedia.news site will be based on that. I look forward to seeing what an open and transparent social media outlet will look like as the new site develops. If any of you are interested in helping me administer the site, please let me know. The more diverse group we have building it the greater the benefit the site will be to all. Keep an eye out this week as I officially announce the launch.

  5. “…censorship in any format is wrong” – Martin Paredes

    Yet you routinely censor in the comment section of this blog.

    You’ve deleted material and never seem to have a criteria for doing so other than you don’t like what is being said.

    You shouldn’t point finders at others for what you do routinely Martin.

  6. Gabby, I have never seen any editing on the blog, could you be specific?

    Why shouldn’t the local pols embellish their records. People don’t vote and the ones that do, believe everything that is said. No one does fact check.

    Look how long it took to expose the safest city lie? Apparently lying or embellishing is par for the course in El Paso. The pols lie without consequences so why not ?

    Ms Rodriguez is a perfect example of one that personalizes politics and demonizes any one that is not in agreement with her. I would say she is typical of Democrats in El Paso that vote as told or tells others how to vote. While I admire that she is protective of the Senator, she over reacts.

  7. If you notice Martin didn’t deny it. He often leaves a note about why something was deleted. Although sometimes he doesn’t. It’s his blog so he is free to do that, but he shouldn’t say all censorship is wrong when he conducts the same practice.

    1. Gabby, I seldom engage readers on my blog because as I have stated before, the comment section is reserved for the readers, such as yourself, to express their opinion. I always leave a note when I delete a comment or make changes to it. The only exception is the removal of SPAM, which is an automated process. But you already knew that.

      My comment policy is clear. Comments that include inappropriate language is edited. More often than not, I remove the links to other websites or blogs but leave the comment intact. I do this to discourage using my blog for the SEO of other websites or blogs. Although, there are times I do leave the link in place. Comments that are SPAM are automatically removed. Comments from trolls, or those attempting to shut down a conversation are deleted but I leave a note in place.

      Thanks for reading my blog,
      Martin

  8. I routinely disagree with Martin on immigration issues and have yet to see a comment deleted. We may have opposing views on politics and immigration, but in my experience this site allows open debate and disagreement with no editing of polite opposing views.

  9. I just read the real reason no one votes in El Paso, Texas. Lets read the honest reason no one votes in Chucolandia. The major majority of this city lives either at home still, (con mi mom and dad) or chingando child support from – someone, anyone- el que sea and either on some form of government assistance. What is at stake for these people? Win-loose , no matter so why vote.

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