Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Democratic Leaders React to Debate, Patrick

State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia (Houston):  “We have not learned the lessons from the mistakes of Arizona. State government needs to get out of the immigration business. Senator Leticia Van de Putte knows that immigration reform is critical and that it takes more than rhetoric to lead. She knows where we’ve been and she knows where we’re going. She has the strength and foresight to bring Texas into the future.”

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (SA):  “Dan Patrick and the Texas GOP ought to work with and for the Latino community, instead they have been placing targets on their backs. They should know better. Dan Patrick is the embodiment of the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party platform. He’s anti-Dream Act, anti-early childhood education, anti-immigration reform, and anti-voting rights. Dan Patrick is reason why Republican Latino outreach is a joke.

I know where my community stands, I know who they stand with: it’s with Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (El Paso):  “Tonight, the people of El Paso experienced the real Dan Patrick. One who refers to our border regions as war zones and who does not recognize the rich culture between the United States and Mexico. We need leaders who understand how important family values and unity are to the Latino community. We need a strong female leader, and that leader is Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Armando Martinez (RGV):  “We need a Lt. Governor who fights for all Texans, not one who insults our region to score political points. Politicians like Dan Patrick continue to exploit border communities for political gain. His divisive language – the fact that he compares my home region as a war zone being invaded – shows just how out-of-touch he is with our community. This is why we need leaders like Leticia Van de Putte. Leaders who will fight for the future of our children no matter what background they come from.”

State Rep. Celia Israel (Austin): “Families in Central Texas and the Latino community understand education is the key to a better future.  I received that message loud and clear in my recent election as I talked directly to voters.  It seems Dan Patrick has yet to understand what voters are most concerned with.  Dan Patrick and his allies can’t have it both ways. He can’t try to court us while attempting to lessen educational opportunities for our kids.. His harsh rhetoric will not be forgotten by the voters this November when we elect Leticia Van de Putte as our next Lt. Governor.”

Leticia Van de Putte Campaign Statement:  “Tonight Dan Patrick repeatedly spoke of his vision of Texas in which there is only “one seat left” and of a Texas that no longer has a can-do spirit. Our state deserves a leader who will learn from the mistakes of Pete Wilson and Jan Brewer and fight for more seats and more opportunity for every hardworking Texan. That leader is Senator Leticia Van de Putte. That is why Republicans and business leaders across Texas are standing with Senator Van de Putte.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chairman:  “Mayor Castro did an excellent job tonight, valiantly representing our democratic values.  Dan Patrick showed us once again that Republicans do not represent mainstream Texans. Patrick does not understand that border communities in Texas are an important piece of the vibrant Texas economy. Texas needs a leader who understands business and what makes our state so exceptional, someone who understands the international relationships and rich, uniquely Texan culture pivotal to a prosperous future. Texas needs Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.”

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Recap: Pre-K, Anchor Babies, and Polls

wendyletiselfTuesday was a significant day for Democrats. First, State Senator Wendy Davis continued her onslaught against Greg Abbott’s plan to test toddlers. Abbott’s mouthpiece then complained that Davis wants to invest more in education, while defending Abbot’s plan which provides pre-K to a few chosen kids, and not all Texas kids.

Of course, there’s that matter of Greg Abbott being consulted on education matters by a white nationalist. Why Abbott hasn’t distanced himself from Charles Murray says a lot more about him than his pre-k plan.

Tuesday evening provided the opportunity to call-out candidate for Lt. Governor, Dan Patrick, who basically stated that he wants “anchor babies” to be born here, but not be citizens. And he stated this in the context of abortion, as if the mother who is crossing the border is even thinking of birthing and health care options that Patrick wouldn’t want available to her in the first place. And Patrick certainly doesn’t want to educate them or provide them with access to a college education because he’s saving the “last seat” for whomever he chooses, apparently.

At least that’s what I got out of it.

Mayor Julian Castro did more than just hold his own, defending the Texas DREAM Act (in-state tuition rates for undocumented students brought here as children and graduated from Texas schools). From the right-wing commentary on Twitter that I could stomach, it seems their main whine was that Castro came across as arrogant, so, it seems they would prefer a Mexican American kid who comes hat-in-hand to ask permission to speak? At least that’s how those comments came across.

The outcomes, ultimately, were a debate that has been avoided in Washington DC, where it should be occurring; some face-time for an up and coming Democrat; a free 1-hour ad for Dan Patrick that mostly confused his supporters (he was against anchor babies before he was for them); and an opposition video chock full of statements like, “I’m not tough” and Patrick’s favorite descriptor, “anchor babies,” for Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, Leticia Van de Putte. (Texpate has more.)

So, while the Democratic base got some continued energy from the webcast, it did also get dealt some reality with the latest Public Policy Polling results. Davis and Van de Putte and the Democrats have a lot of work to do statewide, but they knew that already. This past weekend, the Davis campaign hit over 55,000 doors statewide and continues a multi-faceted calling campaign to prospective voters. The campaigns a quite active at different fronts, and that’s a good thing. The uphill battle is not necessarily that Republicans outnumber Democrats, it’s that people don’t vote because they’ve become indifferent. And these prospective voters will not appear on a polling call list either. No doubt an uptick in energy is needed to excite voters, and that is achieved with a message that matches up to the voters that Democrats need showing up in November. I see it coming together.

 

 

 

 

 

Tweet del Dia: No Latino Love for Ted

Tuesday: Julian Castro vs All Anti-Latino Republicans

The Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, will be debating Dan Patrick on the issue of immigration on Tuesday, 4/15. Really, the good Mayor will be debating the entire Anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party since Dan Patrick represents the most divisive segment of Texas politics.

Frankly, I am of the opinion that this shouldn’t even be called a debate. Dan Patrick has never offered an ounce of fact in any immigration-related comment he has given. Instead, Dan Patrick has portrayed immigrants and Latinos as disease-carrying criminals who are invading Texas, which his base just loves to repeat. I expect some good facts from Mayor Castro, so, at least his side of the debate will be educative.

Mike Thomas with the SA Business Journal provides the details.

What began as a challenge over immigration policy posed on Twitter will culminate in a one-hour forum where the two politicians will discuss their views on immigration and border security at the Univision San Antonio studios. The discussion will be moderated by Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, and will be streamed live on Univision41.com and TexasTribune.org beginning at 6 p.m.

I’ll be checking it out, for sure.

Bloggers Talk on Politics Done Right

Politics `Done Right (Bloggers)

Thanks to Egberto Willies, I’ll be joining him, Kuff, Katherine from BOR, and Tiffany from Liberal America tonight on KPFT 90.1 for an episode of Politics Done Right.

Tune in Monday 9:00 PM on KPFT 90.1 FM (Houston Area)

Livestreamhttp://KPFT.org (Entire USA) – Podcasts: <here>

Call (713) 526-5738 to talk to me on air.

Have you ever wondered why when you watch CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC they are invariably featuring the same news? Have you ever wondered why most of the issues that have material effect on your life are never really covered? Have you noticed that the news of today is shallow and un-researched?

This is all by design. An uninformed, a misinformed, an ill-informed populace is one that can be controlled. The arbiters of our news domain are mostly discredited.

Luckily good reputable bloggers are starting to assert themselves. They are providing quality prescient news to their followers. They are making a difference. Going forward they must take the mantle if the reversal of a poorly informed citizenry is to occur.

The show will feature four bloggers that are making a difference in local, state, and national news. Katherine Haenschen of BurntOrangeReport.com, Stace Medellin of DosCentavos.net, Tiffany Willis of LiberalAmerica.org, and Charles Kuffner of OffTheKuff.com will discuss these issues. We will discuss why bloggers are important, why the traditional news media is discredited, and the crowd sourcing of news by citizens.

Give me a call at (713) 526-5738. That is 713-526-KPFT. Remember you can also send me a tweet to@egbertowillies. Let us engage. It is politics done right.

I’m looking forward to an interesting talk. What I say may end up shocking you!

Thoughts on Viernes…04112014

Stop It With The Bush Loving

Bush #3 calls immigration “love” and the right-wing goes crazy and national pro-migrant groups get enamored. What is up with that? Did he release a policy proposal on making 11 million undocumented folks citizens? Did he call on President Obama to stop deportations? Will he cease and desist on previous calls for a whole new Bracero program? All answers, simply, are NO.

On everything else, Bush #3 is still anti-Latino. He hates health care access for poor people. He wants to dismantle public education. He is not pro-woman/pro-choice. And, worst of all, he’s another Bush. Let’s just stop the love affair before it really starts. OK?

The Houston NDO Thing

Seems like there’s a lot of chisme and scuttlebutt as to where Mayor Annise Parker is headed with the non-discrimination ordinance she is working up at City Hall. Obviously, something is needed, and I’m on the side of those who want something that affects private businesses, too. My buddy Texas Leftist has a pretty strong opinion with which I agree. Texpate wants an NDO, too. Others who are supportive of NDO and the Mayor seem to be pushing folks to get involved, call Council Members, and not place it all on Mayor Parker.

I’m not sure what to think. Unlike President Obama who made a Dem Primary campaign promise for immigration reform in 2007-08, Mayor Parker didn’t make any specific promises. But there’s no doubt the community expects action from the Mayor. It’s not a good spot (politically) to be in, I’m sure. So, from my end of things, I’ll keep watching from the sidelines and support folks like Texas Leftist. One thing is for sure, simply comparing and settling for what other cities got shouldn’t be the goal. Houston can do better.

Music Break – Flaco and Max – Beer Drinking Polka

 

DC Review – The Mavericks at House of Blues

Well I sure did enjoy another energetic, well-performed concert by The Mavericks at House of Blues-Houston. Opening with early hit, Tell Me Why, tossing in hits from throughout their 25-year career, adding some hits from their latest, “In Time,” and as we say in South Texas, adding a few other non-Mavs oldies “de pilon,” The Mavericks once again proved why they are one of the most versatile bands out there.

DSC01230

Raul Malo fronts The Mavericks at HOB

Song after song had a crowd of over 1,500 loyalists dancing, singing along, and shouting their support. And as good as the band is, the crowd seems to energize the band as much as the band energizes the crowd. When it comes to The Mavericks, it really is a people’s band. And that was perhaps the best experience of the evening–the Mavericks fans.

I arrived early and stepped into the HOB restaurant for a beer. The crowd there was mostly loyalists, and a couple of ladies sat with me at my table while I waited to close my tab. Right off the bat, one of the ladies goes into her Mavericks story and how she’d only been a fan for a year or so, but that “In Time” had really helped her through some rough times in her life. Music does soothe the soul, and Mavericks music is probably best for it.

Later on, when I was finally inside the venue, another fan who came in from LaFayette, LA and brought his friends from The Woodlands gave me his Mavericks story. He had been a fan for years and just felt they were the best band in existence, given front man Raul Malo’s unequaled vocals. He had seen them in LaFayette, came to Houston, and looked forward to seeing them at the New Orleans Jazz Festival later this Spring.

Of course, there’s my local friend Jesse who brought his two kids to their first Mavericks concert. From his reports on Facebook, they loved it. I hear they are also big fans of Mavericks squeezebox specialist Michael Guerra. But it just goes to show that the Mavericks attract all ages and backgrounds.

Another friend, Javier and his wife came to enjoy the concert, not realizing the straight 2 1/2 hour concert would have so much music. Javier, though, did recall seeing the Mavs 20 years ago at Billy Bob’s Texas during his TCU days.

And on the way to the elevator after the show, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair just enamored with the band. He had gotten his first glimpse and listen of the Mavericks from their recent PBS special. He was filled with excitement after the show. I expect he’ll be at more concerts in the future.

So, I could go into a long, drawn-out review trying to remember as much of the set-list as possible. (They did play a lot of music!) Eddie is still is the best guitarist out there. Paul still drums like a beast. McFadden still tickles them ivories oh so well. The horn section which includes Max Abrams on the sax still wails. Michael Guerra is still a squeezebox master. Robert is still the funny guy and strummer. Filling that bass line quite well is Jay Weaver. And Raul Malo still mesmerizes the crowd with some amazing vocals.

That said, a good mix of the new and old is what folks in Austin, Fort Worth, Helotes and the rest of the cities in the tour should expect. Go check ‘em out! And if you haven’t purchased “In Time,” get it!

 

Victory of Sorts on MAS

My initial reaction.

My initial reaction.

Well, the tweets and the chisme will tell you that the State Board of Education voted to add courses in Mexican American and other U.S. ethnic group studies by a score of 11 to 3. Sounds pretty huge, right?

I started watching the debate this afternoon and found out there had been a change to the proposal and much was being said about that dreaded term of which I am not a fan, “local control.” After a little and not so contentious debate, it passed easily, but I couldn’t help but ask:  What just passed? Bottom line:  It’s a step, but far from what is needed, which is full inclusion in the overall curriculum.

Nonetheless, a big DC tip of the Sombrero to the #LibrotraficanteNation, el Librotraficante Tony Diaz, and the entire crew for doing all of the leg work. It’s not easy to convince such a contentious board to move forward on something like Mexican American studies, and the work and hours they put in is to be respected and commended.

Although NBC had some of the story, The Trib had a better description of the events.

Instead of making Mexican-American studies an official high school course, the Texas State Board of Education has settled on a tentative compromise that would allow school districts to decide whether to offer the course.

“It wasn’t necessarily what we were hoping, with a stand-alone course for Mexican-American studies,” member Marisa Perez, a San Antonio Democrat, said in an interview after the meeting. “But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

In an 11-3 vote, board members added the class — along with African-American studies, Native American studies and Asian-American studies — to the list of instructional materials that publishers will develop for Texas social studies standards in the 2016-17 school year. That means schools will have a list of state-approved textbooks and other resources to choose from if they opt to give the class.

My friend and fellow Bobcat Joe Cardenas passed this statement along from HOPE:

Texas HOPE (Hispanics Organized for Political Education) welcomes the opportunity to implement a greater understanding and exposure of the contributions made by Mexican Americans in the establishment and development of Texas through the fostering of Mexican American Studies in public schools throughout the state. Texas HOPE and its sister organizations have long called for the inclusion of the role of Mexican Americans in the History of Texas so that a comprehensive and accurate accounting of the impact of the Mexican American community may be better appreciated by all Texans especially the millions of students throughout the classrooms of the state. Organizations such as MALDEF, the Hector P. Garcia American GI Forum Org. of Texas, Texas LULAC, and Texas HOPE have actively advocated in the past before the SBOE and its committees as well as the Senate and House Education committees for a more “truthful” History of Texas in the state’s adoption process of textbooks and development of curriculum. These organizations have been successful in their advocacy leading to the inclusion in Texas’ Social Studies books of Dr. Hector P. Garcia, the Green Flag Republic, Jose, Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara, and the Battle of Medina, as well as preserving the inclusion of Cesar Chavez and Dr. King.

However, Texas HOPE will not minimize the contributions of Mexican Americans, Tejanos/as, or other Latin Americans by relegating the teaching of those contributions to an optional elective course that the state may or may not develop and/or school districts may or may not adopt. Texas HOPE and its members will continue to advocate for the comprehensive inclusion of the contributions of Mexican Americans throughout the core curriculum that all Texas public school children must take! In light of the tremendous contributions made by Mexican Americans to all facets of Texas culture, cuisine, music, vocabulary, laws, and art, and given that Hispanics today make-up 38% of the population of the state and that 52% of all students in public education are Hispanics, it is increasingly vital and necessary that the state of Texas recognize the full implementation of the Mexican American experience into the lore of the state for all Texans to learn and appreciate so that the future of Texas and her children may be rooted in the truth and the knowledge that Texas is truly exceptional.

Texas HOPE clearly understands that the task before the State, TEA, SBEC, the SBOE, the school districts, and the Mexican American community is that of developing curriculum standards that reflect the inclusion of these contributions in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) across the curriculum taught today in public schools. However, in order for that to begin to happen, all parties must agree that a changing paradigm in developing curriculum is necessary in order to have these contributions infused into the whole curriculum. It is disingenuous for any party to feign sincere progress in this regard without actively seeking the necessary inclusion of Mexican American experts in this process. It has been the habit of the State and its institutions to develop bills, standards, policies, and statutes without the input of Mexican American stake-holders.

Texas HOPE welcomes a sincere discourse that will move the contributions of Mexican Americans beyond an optional elective course to one that is inclusive of these contributions across the curriculum in consultation with Mexican American experts and stake-holders who will be decision-makers in the process rather than by-standers. The probability of Texas’ 1,028 school districts opting to provide Mexican American Studies as an elective is low; especially when one takes into account that approximately 800 of these school districts are rural school districts who neither have the funds nor the capacity to develop or implement the course; the issue is further compounded by the fact that 64% of all teachers in Texas are non-minority and not likely able to effectively teach such a course. We as stake-holders will also be taking a risk if students don’t sign-up for the course or if only Hispanics are attracted to the course. The danger is that the State will say that there was no interest or that it is the only place in which to teach Mexican American contributions. Clearly, the Latino organizations of Texas view education as the centerpiece of their agendas because the future of Texas and of our community is increasingly in the hands of those persons who have walked the halls of Texas public education classrooms.

 

Texas Gets a Hire in DNCs Voter Expansion Project

Recently, you may have heard of a video VP Joe Biden made to bolster voting rights in America. In fact, it is part of a push by the Democratic National Committee to expand voting in America, ensuring voting rights for all Americans. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced four new hires in Ohio and Texas–two states in which voter protection has become a priority.

“With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts that no other organization can bring to bear,” she said in a statement.  “Voting laws are rapidly changing, and our Voter Expansion Project will make sure that Democrats – and all voters – across the country are able to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.”

In Texas, it was announced today that the project’s state director will be Sondra Haltom whose work protecting the rights of voters during a stint at the Texas Democratic Party is widely known.

A native Houstonian, Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. ETVT tracked election legislation proposed in both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, monitored litigation on voting rights, served as a resource on Texas election law, and educated Texans about the voting process.

“Protecting and expanding the right to vote has long been a struggle in Texas but the challenges have been magnified in recent years,” said Haltom. “In order to fight back against the barriers being erected to voter participation, it is vital that this work happen year-round. That’s why I am so excited to be a part of the DNC’s effort to ensure that all eligible Texans are able to fully participate in their democracy.”

Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and lead the TDP’s Voter Protection Program and their efforts to fight illegal redistricting maps, voter suppression efforts and voter ID legislation. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.

Here’s more from President Bill Clinton on the project.

Hi- and Low-Lites from the SBOE Hearing

No doubt, there was some great testimony by supporters of Mexican American Studies, including DC-friend, Tony “Librotraficante” Diaz and Recognized author Dagoberto Gilb. Of course, Mexican American Studies was promoted and defended effectively, and it was made known that this would basically be a state-sanctioned elective whose curriculum would be developed and approved by the State and offered to the entire state. It’s a pretty simple proposal.

According to Juan Tejeda, faculty advisor at the Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, stated that 40 individuals testified in favor of the proposal, and only one testified against it.

The AP released this report.

The discussions also likely will preview some of the coming clashes over the content of new social studies textbooks the board is set to approve for use in classrooms across Texas this fall. In 2010, then Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga even stormed out of a meeting on social studies curriculum after failing in her efforts to include more lessons on Hispanic leaders, declaring: “We can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

The best question asked of the SBOE:

Still, that did beg for some questions that didn’t make much sense, but do speak to any future clashes over what is taught in the course.

As Diaz noted, the course would have to be approved first before any discussion of what is included could be had.

Obviously, Mercer was attempting to make things political in nature, rather than educational. But I agree with Diaz that if he wants to be a part of the discussion, what better way to get involved than by voting yes.

As far as Cruz’s inclusion, it could be said that maybe 65% of Mexican American voters chose the Anglo Democrat over Cruz and that Cruz constantly votes against Mexican American interests (health care, jobs, education/college aid). At least that’s what I’d contribute. That’s if Mercer really wants to get political. Otherwise, let’s make it about educating kids and move forward.

There was another question about whether indigenous Guatemalans were similar to indigenous Mexicans from SBOE member Hardy, whom I called out yesterday for basically saying Mexican American Studies came from Mexico. At least that’s what I think I heard. But that one would just be too easy to ridicule, considering she’s been a social studies teacher.

One thing is for sure. The naysayers effectively prove through their ignorance that Mexican American Studies is needed.