Your Afternoon Read: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a Happy Star Wars Day as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff rounded up coverage of the voter ID appellate hearing at the Fifth circuit last week.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos weighs in on the overall disgust for the TX Governor’s cowardice. The C.T Freaks Win: TX GOV Panders to Paranoia.

Socratic Gadfly wonders if, given this was not the first outbreak, having other information about the Food and Drug Administration from whistleblower Ken Kendrick and more, if we can really trust the FDA that much when it claims Blue Bell and other ice creams are safe.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Rep. Todd Smith and any other reasonable Republicans left in Texas to come collect their party.

Bernie Sanders declared for the Democratic nomination for president, and not even the events of Baltimore could keep him from extending his news cycle through the weekend. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports on the money part of the equation in the opening days of his campaign, and wonders if the stark differences between he and Hillary Clinton might actually produce a meaningful primary contest.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why so many Texas Republicans act to enable rapists.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Hooray, Obamacare is working, The Good News About Healthcare In Texas For Everyone But Republicans.

Neil at All People Have Value said as shameful as Governor Abbott is to pander to the Jade Helm paranoia, there are in fact serious reasons people believe crazy things. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

HISD Trustee Anna Eastman explains her standardized testing philosophy.

Susan Criss asks if anyone can call us a “Christian nation” if it is a crime to help people or pets.

The Texas Election Law Blog previews the arguments in the voter ID appeal.

Quoting the 2015 Teacher of the Year, the TSTA Blog says we do not separate people into groups that are more deserving than others.

Unfair Park and Paradise in Hell both wonder why Greg Abbott is giving comfort to the tinfoil hat crowd. Harold Cook may have the best explanation for it, and RG Ratcliffe joins the fun.

Texas Watch excoriates the Senate for choosing insurance company profits over families and businesses.

Mean Green Cougar Red gives his thoughts on the proposed I-45 rebuild in Houston.

Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez demonstrates some of the tools and technologies that a modern campaign can use.

Texas Vox documents the vote on the latest assault on the environment and local control.

Fascist Dyke Motors recaps her story so far.

Bad Ideas for Cinco de Mayo Political Logos

…and memes.

The Chipotle Fail

hillyo

The Stereotype

hillyo2

 The Good Ol’ Days!

yeb

 Cinco Mas!

cruz5

The Obvious

rubio5

A Cinco Non-Message (Actually, this one works for me!)

bernie5

5/1/15 – Tonite! Tomas Q. Morin and Paul Otremba at Brazos Bookstore

FB Event

Come hear Tomas Q. Morin read from his recently published translation of Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu and Paul Otremba read from his recently released book, Pax Americana.

Today, 5-1-15 at 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 77005

Well, I’m excited about seeing my friend, Tomas. We’re both SWT (Texas State) grads and haven’t seen each other in 17 years. I knew him when he was a student serving as a tutor for Bobcat athletes and I was their academic advisor. Here’s his professional bio:

Tomás Q. Morín’s poetry collection A Larger Country was the winner of the APR/Honickman Prize and runner-up for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award.  He is co-editor with Mari L’Esperance of the anthology, Coming Close: 40 Essays on Philip Levine, and translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. His poems have appeared in Slate, Threepenny Review, Boulevard, Poetry, New England Review, and Narrative.

Paul Otremba’s Bio:

Paul Otremba is the author of two poetry collections, The Currency (Four Way Books 2009) and Pax Americana (Four Way Books 2015). Born and raised in Minnesota, Paul studied English and Philosophy at the University of Minnesota before receiving his MFA from the University of Maryland and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston.

Paul has published widely in journals, including The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Literary Imagination, Forklift, Witness, and multiple appearances on Poetry Daily. In honor of his poetry, he has received scholarships and a fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a Barthelme Memorial Fellowship, a Krakow Poetry Seminar Fellowship, and a prize from the Academy of American Poets.

His essays, poetry reviews, and food writing have appeared in Tikkun, The Houston Chronicle, Spoon Magazine, and in the anthology American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics. Paul is an Assistant Professor of English at Rice University.

So, come check out these fine poets.

Hillary Clinton Didn’t Say Anything about Mass Immigrant Incarceration

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonHillary Clinton was being embraced by her supporters today for her speech on law enforcement and incarceration reforms. But missing from this puzzle was the piece that explains billions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives affected–immigrant incarceration.

It’s no secret that there is much waste in the form of immigrant-hunting in this country. Policies that federalize local cops to participate in immigrant hunting, incarceration, and deportation have been given steroids by the Obama Administration, while Republicans ask for more. . Republican-led state legislatures threaten “show me your papers” and racial profiling laws while awful policies are already in place. These policies have increased the distrust that immigrants and Latinos have of the police

When the media- and politically-driven hysteria about thousands of Central American children and women escaping violence and poverty came about, Hillary Clinton was among those calling for their immediate deportation after they’ve spent the whole time in inhumane private immigrant prisons–no opportunity for release or legal assistance.

So, when Clinton didn’t include this boondoggle that affects families and that has needlessly locked up and deported innocent working people with little-to-no record, and let’s not forget, little kids, it was very noticeable. Perhaps not to her hard-core fans and supporters who are proud apologists for her and the Obama administration, but I certainly noticed it.

It shouldn’t be this easy to ignore the obvious as a presidential candidate with little to no opposition (apologies to Bernie). If we are to have a conversation about police and incarceration reform, then it must include immigrant incarceration and deportation reform. Treatment of immigrants in these private prisons is just about as bad as cops killing people of color on the streets. Clinton and all candidates cannot pretend it doesn’t exist.

CityVoter Best Charity Contest – Vote Neighborhood Centers

Houston.CityVoter.com has an online contest where visitors to the site pick “Houston’s A-List,” including the category of Best Local Charity.

There are a lot of good ones listed, but one of the most impactful organizations is Neighborhood Centers. So, join me, and vote for Neighborhood Centers!

Note:  You’ll have to sign up to the site, but it’s easy! Voting ends May 31st.

VOTE ALIEF PROUD; VOTE YES ON BOND; Info on Alief ISD Position 4

As I mentioned previously, I support the Alief ISD Bond. It is long overdue, much needed, and the investment will reap returns for students and families. Read more about the bond here, then vote early.

Alief ISD Position 4

There is also a special election for Position #4 of the Board of Trustees. On the ballot are:  Celia Morgan, Gigi Myung, Dedre Jefferson, and Natasha Butler.

Morgan is a former Alief ISD teacher; Myung works with a local automotive retailer; Jefferson, according to the internet, has worked for Alief ISD as an educator; and Butler describes herself as a single working mom on her website and has been involved in the Bond committee and PTOs.

Morgan published her response to AFL/CIO questionnaire and to Alief TSTA.

UPDATE:  Richard Shaw of AFL-CIO informed me that Natasha Butler earned their endorsement.

I haven’t decided whom to support, so, I’ll be doing some more research and getting back to you.  I will say that the sample ballot PDF took a long time to load which is why I barely found out about this particular election.

Click on image below to find your early voting location.

The Price of Ramen Noodles Is Too Damn High!

Update After the Oberg Story: Did you know that it would take 6.8 million packages (at 25 cents each commissary price) of ramen noodles to pay the Harris County consultant who has saved the Jail money? No, this info was not in Oberg’s report, not that there was much of anything else.


ABC13’s Ted Oberg is doing a story on a no-bid contract that the Sheriff has given to a consulting firm. According to the Sheriff in one of ABC13s ads promoting the report, the consultant has saved the county a lot of money.

One thing I noticed from ABC13’s teaser is that the money paid to the consultant comes from profits from the jail commissary. So, that means that the overpriced ramen noodles, cupcakes, sodas, and other items bought by the inmates is paying for it. That’s a lot of ramen noodles eaten and no tax dollars wasted, at least at first glance.

I have to wonder if there’s a story to this. I would think the bigger story is that the price of ramen noodles is too damn high. Either that, or it’s sweeps week for the local news.

We shall see.

UPDATE:  The HCSO/Sheriff Adrian Garcia released this statement on the savings to taxpayers over the years.

When Sheriff Adrian Garcia took office in 2009, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was overspending its budget by about $58 million annually. In fact the agency had balanced its yearly budget only once in a decade.

In 2015, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has come in under the budget allocated by Commissioners Court for the fourth consecutive fiscal year.

Fiscal Year 2015, as it was known in county government, ended Feb. 28. After allowing for all accounts to settle from the previous budget year, the HCSO is celebrating another year of successful budget discipline.

“Keeping the people of Harris County safe is our top job,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. “Safeguarding public funds and protecting the pocket books of tax payers is a close second.”

“We are keeping the lid on crime for the 1.7 million people in the unincorporated areas of the county while keeping the door shut against monstrous budget deficits,” the sheriff added. “We accomplish this on the front lines with deputies on patrol and in the back offices where employees with business backgrounds eliminate financial waste.”

Some of the biggest savings have come from drastic reductions in overtime pay to staff the county jail, inmate rehabilitation programs that reduce repeat crimes, management of supply contracts and wider use of generic medications for ill inmates.

In the previous three years, budget savings allowed the Sheriff’s Office to put more deputies on patrol. About 90% of the $422 million budget for FY15 was allocated for law enforcement payroll.

“We’ll continue to work with Commissioners Court and other stakeholders to make sure we have the resources to preserve Harris County as a safe place that people choose every day as the place where they want to live, work and raise a family.”

Help Out Some Kids to go to Prom and To Dress For Success

My good friend Jose Manuel Diaz has been busy raising funds to helps some young men go to prom in some nice duds. These same duds will also help them to dress for success, providing them some nice clothes for interviews, college events, etc.  I’ll let him explain.

Help make a deserving 2015 graduate’s prom dream come true! Not only that, but let’s help prepare them for the future! When prom time comes around, many think of helping the young ladies and get them ready for their prom, but for a moment, I’d like to shine a light on the other side, and help out the young men at the MiddleCollege High School at HCC Gulfton. These wonderful young men, despite all their struggles are about to graduate. What better way to send them out in the world by showing them that we have faith in them, believe in them and want them to succeed? We are raising funds, not to rent them a tuxedo, but to buy each one of them a quality suit that will not only benefit them in looking great for prom, but will help them dress for success in the future. Every young man needs a proper suit for interviews, etc. , and for $50 per student we can make that happen. I’m not asking for you to give that full amount, anything helps, even just a dollar will make a difference. Let’s set these 20 young men up for success. Let’s let them know that we care about them, and know they are our future.

Jose is about 1/2-way there and you, my friends, can help him get closer to his goal. You can make a donation at:  http://www.gofundme.com/r2jwuhc

Middle College at Gulfton helps kids who don’t really feel comfortable in a traditional high school setting. This alternative ensures kids not only succeed in school, but can also earn credits to HCC. The school’s principal, Diana del Pilar, is a good friend, too.

Great cause!

Another Great Candidate Brunch in Kingwood

I’m the Emcee while Kevin McManis, Prez of KAD awaits my turn-over of the mic.

For another year, I had the honor of emceeing the Kingwood Area Democrats Spring Brunch and Candidate Meet-n-Greet. It’s probably the only time you’ll catch this lowly blogger at a country club, but I must say, the staff at Kingwood Country Club did a great job–great bacon!

Dems in the northern reaches of the county had the opportunity to shake hands with and listen to candidates for everything from Houston Mayor to Humble ISD trustee, and even a couple of 2016 candidates.

Candidates in attendance included:  Mayor – Sylvester Turner and Marty McVey; Council At Large 1 – Lane Lewis and Chris Oliver; Council At-Large 4 – Laurie Robinson, Larry Blackmon, and Amanda Edwards; Council At-Large 5 – Durrel Douglas and Philippe Nassif. For Humble ISD Pos. 7 – Nancy Morrison and Robert Scarfo; and Pos. 6 – Dr. Johnny O’Connor. For 2016, Judge Mike Engelhart who is seeking re-election; Steven Kirkland who will run for the 334th; and Joe Stephens, a Galena Park trustee running for JP Pct. 3.

Obviously, not all candidates showed, but as I told the crowd about the importance of Kingwood area Democratic votes to candidates’ bottom line at the end of election night, I also stated that decisions are made by those who show up. Like any group, voters enjoy retail politics and want to get to know their candidates. That said, the club does invite all candidates to visit KAD at their regular meetings since we’ve got seven months to go.

Some Highlights:

State Rep. Turner spoke a little bit about his work in the Texas Legislature, while also highlighting his years of leadership in various committees. Beyond his political work, he has also built businesses, such as a law practice and a title company. He gives credit to his hard-working employees for allowing him the time to serve in Austin. Marty McVey also highlighted his business experiences and how he would be able to bring that to the horseshoe to address issues like transportation and infrastructure.

Lane Lewis put on his Democratic Chairman hat to give a short update on the Party’s happenings. Needless to say, the Party is busy! Wearing his candidate hat, though, he concentrated some of his remarks on drainage as the evening before the rains caused his elderly parents’ home to flood.=Lewis stated that Houston needs someone who will advocate for the people on Council. He also hit on other issues regarding transportation and infrastructure. In fact, those seemed to be the issues of the day. Chris Oliver stated he wanted to bring his policy-making and budget-making experience on the HCC Board of Trustees to Council. He stated his experience in this regard would easily transfer to the tough decisions that need to be made on Council.

Larry Blackmon highlighted his experience as a teacher and in life. That he wanted to bring the peoples’ voice to Council. One issue he brought up was the need for Council to award contracts to the best bids, rather than the lowest bid as a means of ensuring a longer-lasting infrastructure. Laurie Robinson launched an impressive speech in which she spoke about her experiences about being called to action after Katrina. She led the way in finding housing for 16,000 folks who were at the Dome, and that when Ike hit, she was among those ensuring water and ice stations were available throughout the city. She also touched on her DC experience with helping write the Medicare prescription plan law. Finally, touching on her project management experience, Robinson feels she can utilize that experience to solve the city’s challenges. Amanda Edwards touched on her experiences in law school, New Orleans, and her return to Houston to a life of public service. A public finance lawyer, she stated she already helps to build cities and infrastructure and that that experience is needed on Council.

Philippe Nassif touched on his experience working in the nonprofit world, at the White House, and in the community. After stating that City Council needed a community organizer, his opponent Durrel Douglas agreed, and then provided his own experience with various community groups, such as TOP. While Nassif touched on his diverse background, Douglas offered his idea of a municipal ID for the undocumented to ensure people can come out of the shadows–at least locally. Both are running energetic campaigns with the hopes of unseating a over-funded right-wing incumbent Jack Christie.

I wish I could write more on all the candidates’ statements, but I was busy emceeing and not live-blogging or live-tweeting–or even taking notes. Still, I can’t say these candidates made my November decision any easier. I urge all to start paying attention now and not a few weeks before the election. So, stay connected to DC for the latest.

Check out the photos of the event here.

Thanks to the Kingwood Area Democrats for inviting me back. KAD will always be my second family and the Dem club which started up my local political involvement. Best of luck in 2015-2016.

Kingwood Area Democrats

 

DC Reviews: Jaime y Los Chamacos ~ Born To Be Bad

Jaime de Anda y Los Chamacos have released their latest album in years, Born To Be Bad, and, let me tell you, they haven’t lost their touch. Under the direction of Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and his brand new VMB Music Group label, Los Chamacos have offered up a strong collection of tracks, including some classic Chamacos tunes.

The first single, Todo Para Mi, is a very danceable ranchera with the noticeable participation of Velasquez on guitar. With a smooth beat in which one can either hold their partner close or take on a bunch of vueltas, this tune is definitely a favorite of mine. But, the album leads off with another great ranchera, Alma Enamorado, which is classic Chamacos.

Cuando Me Oigas Cantar is a hard-driving ranchera that leaves you no choice but to zapatear featuring Chente Barrera and Jaime de Anda as a duet. Little Joe Hernandez is also featured on Morena, Morenita in what is sure to be a memorable hit. And if that wasn’t enough, RGV legend Rene Joslin (also dad of Roel, Chamacos bajo player) appears on the classic Al Pie De Este Arbol.

Los Chamacos also take us down memory lane with a cumbia instrumental, as well as a remake of the classic medley, Mi Musica Favorita. While the original “Favorita” touched a bit on some of their favorite tunes made famous by legends, this new one adds lyrics and music to each tune–something they had done live for years. Of course, who can forget Ex-Novia? It’s on there, too with some great harmonies.

Conchita La Viuda Alegre, the tune about a happy widow, is another classic that Los Chamacos bring to life. Estrella Blanca is a classy bolero that brings out the acordeon and bajo sexto, along with some harmonies that make this a powerful tune. All-in-all, fans will enjoy this production.

I’ll have to say this:  Gilbert Velasquez has taken a classic Tejano Conjunto that had already made their mark and brought out a much bolder sound from them. That’s why I like indie labels, because this one in particular doesn’t do things in cookie-cutter fashion, in my opinion. Congrats to Jaime y Los Chamacos on this amazing production.

Los Chamacos are:  Jaime de Anda- Acordeon, Vocals; Eduardo Ordoñez- Bass and Vocals; Roel Joslin- Bajo Sexto; Ruben Mendoza- Drums, and Gilbert Fierros- Percussion.