Category Archives: 2013 Categories

KHOU 2015 Mayoral Poll Has Some Interesting Results

adrianpicNot surprisingly, the first poll of the 2015 Mayoral race has Sylvester Turner (16%) and  Adrian Garcia (12%) leading among likely voters. Because I’ve always thought that the entry of Adrian Garcia would change the dynamic of Hispanic voter participation, I was not surprised to see that among registered voters, with a larger sample of Hispanics, Garcia is in the lead 15% to 13%. In other words, because of Garcia’s entry, I’d put some weight on increased Hispanic participation in 2015 and voters who don’t usually participate. Wishful thinking on my part? Perhaps, but I don’t think of Adrian Garcia as an LVdP type of candidate–for those who want to make comparisons to San Antonio. In other news, KHOU reported on Wednesday night that among Anglo voters, Garcia held a 13% to 9% edge on Turner, which made the results all the more interesting.

turnerFor those who are surprised at the Garcia result, they must look beyond the usual Democratic club meetings and Dem activist Facebook posts, where there was much more animosity toward Garcia for his decision to run for Mayor. Perhaps a higher GOP sample may provide conservative candidates like King and Costello some higher numbers, and, in time, Republicans will find out who their “R” candidate is. This is just the first poll. Things will look different in the future.

Of course, there is the matter of name recognition. That Chris Bell is in third place in the poll shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s run locally and statewide. If indeed Democrats were oversampled, then that may be why Bell polled at 8% in the likely voter category. But among registered voters, he only polled at 4%, as did Stephen Costello (2% of likelies). Perhaps money and TV ads will help in this regard.

The polling questions on issues tell us that Houstonians like the direction Houston is heading, that they still like Mayor Parker, that they don’t want a sales tax increase or tax dollars spent on the Astrodome, but that they do want their traffic and roads fixed. Given these results, it may be that voters are looking for a positive, unifying figure, rather than an angry, blaming one–even with a higher GOP sample. Certainly, we can’t go by the opinions of non-Houstonians who comment in the Chronicle, right?

Perhaps we will see campaigns bolstering their messages, while others change them altogether. Or, the attacks may begin in some attempt to gain traction or attract the 50%+ who have not yet decided. Certainly, the results of the poll will be cause for concern for some in the check-writing-class of our local democratic system. Here’s hoping for a continually educative process, rather than one filled with negativity.

At least, that’s my take on this day.

Polls, as they as say, are just polls. Usually not the best measure of a race, but a measure nonetheless, they are still a snapshot from which to move forward. For me, at least, the poll did wake me up with the hopes of a more exciting summer.

PDiddie and Coby have their takes. Kuff has an excellent take, too.

Stay connected!

Obama’s Newest Deportation Program Slammed by Civil Rights Groups

Many of us have been waiting for the first assessments of President Obama’s “Priority Enforcement Program.” Would it be an actual new program, or just a re-branding of Secure Communities? I’ll let this press release  from the National Day Labor Organizing Network explain:

Civil Rights Organizations Slam DHS’ Latest Deportation Program; Call on DHS to Discontinue Use of Unlawful Detention Requests

Replacement for Discredited “Secure Communities” Program Suffers From Serious Legal Flaws that Expose DHS and Cooperating Law Enforcement Agencies to Liability

Wednesday, June 16, 2015—In response to new details released on Friday about DHS’s “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), prominent civil and immigrants’ rights organizations today delivered a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for an end to detention (“detainer”) and notification requests. The letter asserts that PEP—created as a replacement for the controversial Secure Communities program— suffers from many of the same legal problems that contributed to the agency’s decision to end the Secure Communities. As a result, local law enforcement agencies that choose to participate may face liability.

In the letter, the organizations call on DHS to discontinue the use of “immigration detainers,” which ask local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals in their custody after their authority to hold them expires. After a series of federal court decisions last year holding that immigration detainers fail to comply with the Fourth Amendment, hundreds of local law enforcement agencies across the country adopted policies prohibiting compliance with immigration detainers absent a judicial warrant or judicial determination of probable cause. DHS still does not provide a judicial determination of probable cause either before or after issuing an immigration detainer, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Litigation Director, said, “When DHS first announced PEP back in November, it acknowledged the need for reform in light of federal court decisions holding that immigration detainers do not provide a lawful basis to detain a person. So we were surprised to learn that DHS plans to continue issuing detainers through PEP that don’t comport with constitutional requirements. PEP creates a trap for unwary local law enforcement agencies, which will be subject to legal liability should they choose to participate.”

In addition to legal concerns, the letter also criticizes PEP as contravening the recent recommendation from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “decouple” federal immigration enforcement from local policing.

Said Salvador Sarmiento, NDLON Legislative Director, “PEP is completely out of step with the national conversation on the need for policing and criminal justice reform. We question why DHS is continuing to entangle local police in immigration enforcement when the President’s own Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended against doing so. The result will be the same kind of deterioration of police-community trust that we saw with Secure Communities.”

DHS responded to the widespread criticism of the Secure Communities program in November with plans to discontinue it; however, ICE’s new PEP forms and informational material, released last Friday, suggest PEP is little more than a re-branding of the same flawed product.

The letter and more info on PEP available at: www.ndlon.org/en/pressroom/press-releases/item/1148-release-civil-rts-groups-slam-latest-dhs-deportation-program-demand-dhs-discontinue-unlawful-detention-requests

DC Reviews ~ Los Texmaniacs – Americano Groove

grooveGrammy Award winners, Los Texmaniacs, are back with a new studio album–Americano Groove. The new album is bold, offering a variety of music:  Tex-Mex, cumbia, country, funky Latin rhythms, and other familiar stylings in music.  Throw in a star-studded group of guests like Alejandro Escovedo, Kevin Fowler, Joe Ely, Rick Treviño, and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and you have the makings of a collector’s item. It truly is an Americano Groove.

Down in the Barrio kicks off the album; a tune filled with social commentary about barrio realities and solutions. Escovedo joins in on this one while the band provides a solid rhythm. Ya No Te Quiero Ver is a sped-up polka
“tell-off” tune that allows Josh Baca to flex his acordeón abilities and Max Baca isn’t too far behind with a bajo sexto solo. How Can a Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly has that Tornado-esque feel created by Augie Meyers’ organ while telling us the story of a heartbreaking woman. How Long Is Patient is a Baca-delivered ballad, with help from Tania Marie, centered around the strumming of a bajo sexto and an electric guitar–a pretty awesome combo.

Country star Kevin Fowler joins the production on Adios Mamacita–a fun Tex-Mex rockabilly tune about a crazy, yet fun, woman. Known for their power polkas, Max and his nephew Josh Baca on acordeon take us back to when polkitas were played with a bajo sexto and acordeon around a camp fire with Muchachos Alegres. Then, the legendary Joe Ely joins in on I Wanna Known Your Name, in another Tex-Mex rocker of a song.

Herido, a haunting ballad about love ending, is aptly delivered by drummer/guitarronista Lorenzo Martinez. Como Te Quiero is a ranchera that has gained popularity at live gigs and was showcased at the 40th Anniversary concert of A Prairie Home Companion. With the traditional conjunto sound with slide guitar thrown in, this tune will definitely be a favorite.

Rick Treviño proves he’s still got it with the country tune Big Night in a Small Town. Los Texmaniacs add in what can be called a cumbita raza, Mentirosa, with its barrio slang, and Lobos-esque style and harmonies; not to mention a searing guitar solo by David Hidalgo. And the album ends strong with Polka Palitos, again, done in the traditional bajo/acordeon style of the old days with a strong full conjunto ending.

The album was produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, a legend himself. There’s an obvious tell of his involvement with how easily various non-conjunto instruments are mixed in. More than the obvious risk-taking in doing a different kind of Tex-Mex album is the feeling of how fun it may have been to record this project. To have been a fly in the wall of that studio.

Anyway, look for the album online. Since I really wanted the liner notes to this one, I found it at Wal-Mart this morning. Get your copy today!

Houston Mayoral Candidate Forums – This Week!

Arts Forum
Wednesday, June 3
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Asia Society
1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004


City Budget & Economic Development Forum
Thursday, June 4
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Location: University of Houston Student Center South (ballroom)
UC – Building 565
126 University Drive, Houston, TX 77004


Area Labor & Community Organization Forum
Saturday, June 6
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Location: Talento Bilingue
333 S Jensen Dr, Houston, TX 77003

Americans United: Bills Threatening Church/State Separation Defeated

I got some good news from Americans United for Separation of Church and State in the inbox. Some pretty awful bills were killed with the end of the Texas Lege session this week. Here’s the story:

The Texas legislature introduced a variety of bills that threatened to violate the separation of church and state that is vital to true religious liberty. But, thanks to your action and hard work, these bills were defeated! Here is an example of some of the problematic bills that did not pass:

Anti-Sharia Bills:Texas House Bills 562, 670, and 3698 did not mention Sharia law specifically, but were really motivated by anti-Muslim animus. Their purpose was to combat the unfounded fear that Sharia law could be applied in Texas courts. This precaution is unnecessary as Texas courts are already empowered to refuse to enforce foreign law judgments if they violate Texas and U.S. laws.  The bills’ only effect, therefore, would have been to spread anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Voucher Bills: Senate Bills 4, 642, and 1178, each would have created a different kind of voucher scheme. Whether in the form of a “scholarship,” “grant,” or tax credit, these voucher programs would have funneled taxpayer money into primarily religious schools, violating our country’s commitment to the separation of church and state.  Studies show voucher programs do not improve academic achievementor provide greater educational opportunities for disadvantaged students.  According to multiple studies of the District of Columbia, Milwaukee, and Cleveland school voucher programs, students offered vouchers do not perform better in reading and math than students in public schools. They also often lack accountability, oversight, and civil rights protections.

So-Called “Religious Freedom” Bills: The Texas legislature introduced over 20 of these so-called “religious freedom” bills that could have trumped the civil rights of all Texans, and the LGBT community in particular. House Bill 4105, which was later added to House Bill 2977, attacked marriage equality specifically. Even if the Supreme Court decides this month that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, this bill would have prohibited state or local public funds from being used for an activity that includes the licensing, support, or recognition of a same-sex marriage. This bill would have also codified a particular religious view of marriage to the exclusion of other religious views held by many Texans.

House Bill 3864 would have allowed state-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against potential parents for religious reasons. For example, adoption agencies could have refused to place a child in a good home with a same-sex couple, previously divorced individuals, or adherents to a religion with which they disagree. Not only would this bill have permitted government-funded discrimination, but it would have placed the child welfare agency’s interest above that of a child’s.

Thank you for contacting your legislators and helping us defeat these bills! There will be no legislative session in Texas in 2016, but please watch for our Federal action alerts and help to make a difference defeating bad bills in Congress!

As long as right-wing zealots exist, these bills will continue to re-appear. Thankfully, good activists exists who advocate for those who are constantly under attack.

Adrian Garcia Campaign Announces Grassroots Organizing Experience

The Adrian Garcia for Houston Mayor campaign announced a pretty awesome opportunity to earn some organizing experience–and it’s paid.

Adrian Garcia is a product of Houston, and is personally committed to empowering Houstonians to own a piece of his campaign for Mayor. Typically, campaign internships are unpaid, which tends to severely limit the diversity of the applicant pool. The Adrian Garcia for Mayor campaign is committed to cultivating the next generation of Houston grassroots organizers by offering those accepted a monthly stipend of $500.

Over the course of the eight week program, Fellows will:

  • learn and implement modern grassroots organizing best practices
  • learn requisite technical skills for grassroots organizing
  • empower volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhoods together

With comprehensive training and support from Deputy Field Directors, Fellows will empower and train volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhood’s voter contact and volunteer recruitment activities.

Requirements:

  • A minimum of 20 hours a week
  • 20 hours a week must include nights and weekends

You should apply if:

  • You thrive in a fast-paced environment, surrounded by people from various and diverse communities
  • You are a natural leader, with strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • You are both a self-starter and upbeat team member

We’d be especially interested in your application if:

  • You are bilingual
  • You have knocked doors or made phone calls for a campaign before

Empowering and developing volunteers within our organization is a cornerstone of our campaign. Fellows will be tasked with providing volunteers the tools and resources they need to organize their neighborhoods.

I can vouch for your future bosses, which includes one of the architects of Annise Parker’s historic 2009 victory. So, if you want to be a part of the Adrian Garcia campaign, apply.

More Border Surge Realities

ef6ca-shrp2Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron offered up even more strong evidence regarding the lack of a need for Rick Perry’s Border Surge. Long story short:  The image provided by Rick Perry and other politicians about violence on the border doesn’t match up to crime stats.

The statistics also inject hard numbers into a debate that has been raging since a spike in unaccompanied children crossing the border captivated public attention last spring. The spike started subsiding before the surge and continued to trend downward, leading Republicans and Democrats to argue about the role the extra troops played.

Republicans also have said the surge was needed to combat crime brought by foreign gangs and drugs, while Democrats have questioned the value of the more than $100 million price tag for a region they described as safe.

State officials have largely used anecdotes to illustrate how the surge has succeeded in combating organized crime. A classified report to lawmakers obtained by the Chronicle in February listed examples of encounters with cartel members, immigrant “stash houses” and more, but it lacked detailed data.

The numbers DPS has released have mixed state efforts with federal and local law enforcement and concerned illegal immigrant apprehensions, drug seizures and interactions with gang members, which do not speak to overall crime rates.

Surely, the waste of tax dollars at the hands of Republicans should speak volumes as to future political implications, whether they affect Rick Perry’s presidential bid, or the future of Abbott, Patrick, and the rest of these alarmist Republicans who will blame immigrants for just about any problem caused by Republicans. Unfortunately, when top-of-the-ballot Democrats attempt (miserably) to co-opt the issue for their own political gain, it’s hard to participate in the usual point-and-blame game Dems usually play against Republicans.

Of course, there are those Dems who seem to do it correctly.

“DPS has been unwilling to release this information, and now we know why,” said state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston. “These numbers show that what our Republican leaders have been telling us has not been true.”

Of course, we need solutions; in this case, to stop the waste of our tax dollars on political war games that make for great campaign photo ops. Unfortunately, that takes ejecting the current people in positions of power. It is said that voting matters, but it takes strong, progressive-minded politicians who are willing to fight for what is right to earn those votes.

There’s Some Buzz Going Around about 2016

donkey-fightOne of the best sources for local political news, especially if you’re not an insider, is the Facebook. Whether it’s an actual announcement or someone putting out feelers with the hope of getting some attention, you find out what’s going on. Here are some of my observations, thus far.

President:  Looks like former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will be joining Sanders and Clinton in the race for the Dem nomination on May 30. I’m a fan of O’Malley’s, actually. He would be the only one of the three to have made a strong statement in support of the Central American kids–or, at least nothing hateful that called for jailing and deporting them; at least not without legal representation and due process. I haven’t seen any policy pronouncements about Latin America, but at least Maryland wasn’t involved in the Honduran coup. All this said, I’m leaning O’Malley at this point.

The Local Judges:  When I emceed the Kingwood Area Dems brunch the other day, 151st District Judge Mike Engelhart was hard at work collecting signatures for his re-election campaign. I noticed thru FB that 127th District Judge Ravi Sandill was back on the trail for his re-election campaign. Former 165th District Judge Josefina Rendon FB-announced a run for her former seat. Immediately after Judge Al Bennett was confirmed as a Federal Judge, former District Judge Dion Ramos announced he would be running for Bennett’s old 61st District bench. Kristen Hawkins announced for the 11th District Court. Out in Precinct 3, Galena Park ISD trustee Joe Stephens, whom I met at the Kingwood shindig, seems to be running hard to replace retiring Judge Mike Parrott as Justice of the Peace.

There are also some exploratory campaigns that I’ve noticed, including Ursula Hall for the 165th District; Shawn Thierry for the 333rd District. Joe Montemayor has been putting out feelers for a possible JP3 run, too.

And given that there has been some stepped up activity by others who have run for something in the past (patriotic and partisan meme sharing and attending all sorts of events), there may be others. No doubt, we may see some Democratic Primary battles, and that’s probably good thing, even though some of the candidates may not want to be in these battles.

Sheriff:  It is becoming more and more obvious that a Democrat needs to announce for Sheriff–and soon. Given the Republican new guy’s hiring practices, it seems we need a Democrat. Anyone? Anyone?

If you’re actually running in 2016, let me know at my contact page.

NPR: Ballooning Importance of Latino Vote

donkey-fightNPR had an interesting article based on recent Pew Hispanic Center polling about the increasing importance of the Latino vote in 2016.

Much is being said about how Bush and Rubio on the Republican side have been courting Latinos; of course, there’s not much description as to how it is being done or how effective it has been.

Bush has used references to his support for what he calls immigration reform, which basically turns out to be a push for a second class of citizen based on work permits. Hillary Clinton pointed that out recently in a challenge to all of the Republicans on the immigration issue.

Today, the Clinton campaign released info on some new hires, including a Latino outreach director, Lorella Praeli.

Born in Peru, Praeli was brought to the U.S. by her family at age 10 to provide her with better opportunities; Praeli lost a leg in an accident when she was 2. The family moved to Connecticut and her mother, who was a psychiatrist in Peru, worked as a housekeeper. Praeli attended Quinnipiac University, where she graduated summa cum laude and where she also came out as undocumented and became active as a young DREAMer.

So, it looks like Clinton has someone who can speak to the realities of immigration and has organized on the issue, which is a good thing. Something else that caught my eye was this:

Praeli’s mother is currently undocumented, while her younger sister Maria obtained deferred action status through DACA and made headlines after confronting President and Mrs. Obama on immigration, also stating DREAMers were looking at the positions of potential candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Always the cynic, I hope that this is about standing strong on the side of deportation reform and immigration reform. Again, Clinton’s experience with Latin American relations and her call for immediate deportation of Central American child victims of violence is not something most Latinos see as a positive.

All of this said, there is a lot more to Latinos than immigration. Latinos support the health care law, an increase in the minimum wage, public schools, and want some real job growth. Latinos are increasingly pro-choice and pro same-sex marriage. So, it would seem that Latinos would still be on the Democratic side of things which should make increasing turn-out the goal of campaigns.

Certainly, the Republican outreach playbook is all about culture wars, as Ted Cruz proved yesterday. So, Democrats from the top to the bottom of the ballot need to excite Latinos, rather than just use the same old songbook. That Clinton is loved by Latinos isn’t news. But if the goal is to attract newer, younger voters to the “D” side from no-side, then energy and excitement are necessary; not to mention a strong stance on issues of importance.

Of course, let’s not leave out Bernie Sanders who has excited young voters. And I’m not sure what’s up Martin O’Malley’s sleeve, but the fact that we could have a little longer-than-short-term Democratic Primary could pump some energy into voters.

 

DC Post ~ TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is busy designing its own TexMoji as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is busy popping popcorn so as to fully enjoy the Jonathan Stickland soap opera.

Letters from Texas guest blogger Russ Tidwell explains what the SCOTUS ruling that invalidated Alabama’s Congressional redistricting means for Texas.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos examines the Texas founders’ vision for public education. As a teacher and scholar Lightseeker laments how far we have strayed from this noble goal. Why Texas Puts the Stupid into Educational Reform.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. It impossible to lower taxes in a way most Texans will actually notice without raising taxes on the wealthy and big business. That is The Texas GOP’s Tax Trap.

There’s a message from the last socialist mayor of a major American city to the various Republican and Democratic socialists running (in a so-called non-partisan race for) mayor of Houston. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wants everybody to understand that we are all socialists of a form or fashion. And that’s not a bad thing.

Texas Leftist attended the first ever Houston Artist Town Hall— a meeting of nearly 200 artists from across the region. As Council prepare a new Cultural Plan for the Bayou City, artists themselves met to make sure they contribute to those plans.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled that Texas Republicans are using our taxpayer dollars to publicly bash gay people.

Neil at All People Have Value observed Jade Helm operations in Houston. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Better Texas Blog reads a headline from the future about the short-sighted tax cuts of today.

Texas Vox mourns the passing of the anti-fracking ban bill.

Newsdesk puts on its tinfoil hat for a look at Jade Helm 15.

Paradise in Hell is amused by the effort to video stalk members of the Legislature.

The Current reports on Scouting for Equality and their crowdfunded work to get the Boy Scouts of America to repeal its ban on gay parents and adults.

David Ortez complains about Harris County’s role in killing the online voter registration bill.

Robert Rivard recalls the legacy of William Velasquez and wonders what he’d make of today’s turnout rates.