Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Juliet Stipeche Joins Turner Administration

stipecheCongrats to one of my favorite great minds in the world, Juliet Stipeche, on being named Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Director of Education. It isn’t often when one meets such an intelligent and forward-thinking individual who has been able to push through the political muck and still end up being productive–and for all the right reasons. She’ll be great at this job.

Here’s the press release:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has selected former Houston Independent School District Trustee Juliet Stipeche to serve as Director of Education, a new position within the mayor’s administration.

“Juliet is very passionate about education and children and I share that passion,” said Mayor Turner.  “She is a visionary with transformative ideas.  Her collaborative approach of working with parents, administrators, business, law enforcement and neighborhoods will help achieve my goal of moving this city forward and reducing the income inequality that is so often the result of deficiencies in the education system.”

Stipeche comes to the mayor’s office from Rice University where she was Associate Director of the Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity.  She spent five years as a trustee on the Houston Independent School District Board, including serving as President in 2014.  Since 2007, she has been Shareholder of Counsel at Nagorny & Stipeche, P.C.  She has written and presented lectures on nearly 20 topics ranging from demanding excellence in education to empowering students in today’s world to educating for equity in Texas.  Her law degree was earned at the University of Texas and she graduated magna cum laude from Rice University with a B.A. in Political Science, Policy Studies and Religious Studies

Stipeche’s professional affiliations include membership in the State Bar of Texas, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Mexican American Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Texas Association of School Boards and the National School Boards Association.

“The creation of this new position is meant to compliment, not compete, with the hard work of our area school districts,” said Turner.  “Creating the strong, well-educated Houston of tomorrow will require everyone working together.  Juliet is the perfect choice for ensuring my vision gets implemented.”

“I am excited and deeply honored to work with Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is committed to building a City where educational equity and opportunity exist for every child regardless of zip code,” said Stipeche.  “I look forward to collaborating with fantastic community partners to build lasting relationships to promote educational excellence in the City of Houston.”

Stipeche joined Mayor Turner’s administration effective February 1, 2016.

Hillary Counting on Bernie’s Demographic Challenges

bernieIt didn’t take long for the other side of Bernie (Hillary) to come out telling us that as the states get browner, their candidate will win more. Talk about taking voters for granted!

These are the same kind of Democrats who’ve wanted to rely on demographics to win elections. And when nominated, it’s all about, “Yeah, let’s move to the right on certain issues, they’ll be with us anyway, right?” It’s the sort of mentality that has kept turnout rates low and mediocre candidates on our ballots.

Bernie Sanders’ platform is as close a match to how Latinos respond to issues based on most polling. And people are listening to the issues, instead of just blindly following. No doubt, Sanders’ showing in Iowa will cause more eyes to open. Will it be enough? Well, there’s still time to convince folks that we need to get behind a people-driven agenda, rather than the same ol’ tired messaging.

Latinos have much to think about:  34% of Latinos are still uninsured and it will take more than the ACA to get it done. Latino unemployment is higher than the national average. 2.5 million deportations later (and more on the way), Latinos are tired of being kicked down the road on this issue. Lack of access to college because of cost is wearing on the Latino demographic. The same ol’ message doesn’t motivate voters, especially those of us with much to think about.

The Sanders message is one of hope. We’ve learned from President Obama’s hope and change message that not everything gets put in place during an 8 year period, but we’ve also learned that how we attempt to push a legislative agenda can be cause for a deflated base. I doubt a President Sanders will start at the middle and move to the right on hot issues. If you want to have a powerful base that backs you up, then you have to fight for that base. The “No Se Puede” message of the other side is not something that is exciting, that’s for sure.

But if a campaign wants to ride on demographics, well, I guess that’s their prerogative. I’ll stick with Bernie Sanders.

 

Adrian Garcia Rolls Out Community Endorsements in Race for CD-29

adrian

Credit:  Garcia Campaign

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia held a press conference at Moody Park on Monday morning to announce endorsements from members of the community who reside in Congressional District 29.

Obviously, this is a response to incumbent Gene Green’s roll-out of Latino elected officials, recently. Pointing out persistent problems in the district, while pointing to Green’s record, various community leaders spoke in support of a change–and in support of the former Sheriff.

Here’s the press release:

Houston, Texas – Several community activists and leaders endorsed Adrian Garcia for Congress today, citing the poor conditions in communities across the district, and calling for new leadership in Washington, DC.

“Gene Green should have been fired a long time ago,” said Ben Mendez, past Chair of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC).  “When you look at the poverty, the high drop-out rate, and the lack of economic opportunity in our district, we can only reach one conclusion.  Gene Green has stopped trying to make things better, and it’s time for new leadership.”

“I have known Adrian Garcia for more than twenty years, and have witnessed with pleasure and admiration his progressive involvement in community affairs,” said Houston Community College Board Chair Adriana Tamez.  “We have volunteered together at numerous community agencies, and when Adrian went beyond volunteerism to seek serving the community as an elected official his focus reflected his commitment to his hometown, especially the area of Houston where he was born and raised–the 29th congressional district.  Adrian’s deep roots in the district, his first-hand knowledge of the issues and needs of the district, his experience as a city and county public servant, the fresh perspective he has of the district, and his desire to give back to his own community are the perfect combination that makes Adrian Garcia the best candidate to become the next US Representative for the 29th Congressional District.   I’m voting for Adrian Garcia, and I want to encourage you to vote for him, too.”

“If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then it would be insane for us to send Gene Green back to Congress and expect conditions in our community to improve,” said Oscar Del Toro, a community activist from Pasadena. “For too long, we haven’t had a choice, but now we do.  We know Adrian, and he knows us.  I am proud to support Adrian for Congress, and we need to work night and day to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity for change.”

“Twenty-seven children were shot in Harris County last year, and we know of two accidental child shootings in the past week in Harris County,’ said Second Ward activist Jessica Hulsey.  “Gene Green voted against the Brady Bill, against child safety locks, for the assault weapons ban repeal, and for keeping the gun show loophole. We need to support Gun Safety Legislation now, so these tragedies stop.  Adrian Garcia is the best candidate to lead the fight.”

“I’m proud to have the support of advocates and activists who are on the side of the community and who spend every waking moment fighting for positive change,” said former Sheriff Adrian Garcia.  “We have real problems, which have persisted for decades.  Our district ranks as one of the worst in America when it comes to education, health care, and poverty – and each of these statistics speaks to missed opportunities and broken dreams for an entire generation of kids in our community.  Enough is enough.  We can do better, but we have to come together to get the change we need.”

“Gene Green acts like our friend in the district, but when he goes to Washington he consistently votes against us.  According to the EPA, we have the second highest risk of cancer in Texas caused by air pollution.  Gene Green takes $1.3 million from oil and chemical companies, and then votes against clean air and clean water legislation.  He has a lifetime A rating from the NRA while kids in our community are dying.  It’s outrageous.”

“Enough is enough.  We can do better, and we have to come together to get the change we need.”

Ed Gonzalez Slams Hickman’s Proposed Cuts at HCSO

cafeed2Ed Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for County Sheriff, came out swinging against current Sheriff Ron Hickman’s proposed cuts to dismantle an investigative unit and slashing the number of jail inspectors. Put another way, Hickman is making jail operations less transparent when much reform is needed.

“This is a very poor decision that shows a disappointing lack of judgment and leadership on the part of our current sheriff,” said Gonzalez. “At a time when more incidents of abuse and neglect continue to surface, we should be increasing transparency and oversight at the jail, not taking a step backward.”

Gonzalez pointed to a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle that “exposed avoidable in-custody deaths, civil rights abuses, beatings, unjust prosecutions of prisoners and allegations of medical neglect” at the jail.

“Pulling back on reforms to increase transparency and accountability not only compromises public safety, but also erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and the hard-working deputies and staff who are working to keep our county safe,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Sheriff. Offering over 18 years with Houston PD, he was also a murder investigator. While on the Houston City Council, he chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee and served as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Early voting begins on February 16 and runs through February 26. Democratic Primary day is March 1.

 

DC Reviews…Chente Barrera ~ Un Nuevo Amor

Grammy award winner Chente Barrera is back with his newest full-length release. This time, he’s also turned into a music mogul of sorts after partnering with fellow Grammy winner Gilbert Velasquez and Jorge Marroquin to form VMB Music Group, which released Chente’s new album, Un Nuevo Amor.

The album is Chente’s 9th album in his 17 year solo career. Previously, he was the long-time drummer and backing vocalist for Jay Perez. In 2007, Chente won the Grammy for Best Tejano Performance for his album, Sigue El Taconazo.

The title track was released in 2015 as part of a VMB compilation featuring their artist line-up and has enjoyed some time on the charts and continues to be a fan favorite. With a horn-driven lead-up to some amazing lyrics, Chente delivers this ranchera as only he can.

The lead-off tune, No Me Vuelvo Enamorar, gives us an indication of the direction of the album–Totally Tejano. Or, as Chente tells, “It’s time to get up and get down!” The following tune should also be a radio and fan favorite as Chente teams up with Raulito Navaira on Los Dos Amantes.

Chente has never disappointed on cumbias and  Te Extraño Tanto and Mi Vaquerita will leave fans satisfied and toe-tapping.

Backed by the introductory strumming of a guitar, some acordeon and a horn section, Chente gives us a drinkin’ song in Nada Mas Te Digo Adios. Delivered with all the emotions a song like this should have, Chente makes this song his.

No doubt, Chente and his backing musicians are apt at delivering the ranchera style of Tejano music–whether it’s keyboard, acordeón-, or horn-driven. Ya No Te Aguanto, Solo, Si Tu Te Vas, and Apenas Te Conozco are prime examples of such songs. Solo is my personal favorite with its smooth guitar strumming (Gilbert V), acordeón solo, and it’s beautiful lyrics.

Of course, we’re also provided a treat with the classic, Aunque Mal Paguen Ellas, sung by Chente and Genaro Aguilar of Los Aguilares. Of course, Los Aguilares recently celebrated their 56th Anniversary in the music business.

DosCentavos gives a tip of the sombrero to Chente for this great album, as well as for the six tunes he penned. Get your copy this weekend at Club Area 45 where Chente will be featured along with Boni Mauricio and Tejano crooner Ram Herrera. You can also find it online at VMB Music.

The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism

donkey-fightIt’s not a secret. I support Bernie Sanders. I support his platform.

I don’t mind debating actual policy with Hillary fans, and I’ve met one or two who actually debate, rather than just blindly follow.  Most will debate economic issues, or Bernie Sanders’ existence, but other issues, like immigration, are ignored.

I understand. You want to avoid an issue in which Hillary Clinton is terrible. No one wants to admit that Clinton wants to deport children and moms back to violent countries in which they will face even more violence. The simplistic “I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform” line is pretty much ineffective when we have tens of thousands in freezing private prisons and deportations are being stepped up. We want to hear solutions.

As Bernie Sanders steps up his game on issues, especially immigration, the Hillary fans are now coming up with new material:  We can’t afford Bernie’s ideas; We can’t pass it in Congress; We can’t!

In other words, Clinton will work from the middle to the right to convince Republicans, as if this worked for President Obama. The fatalism that has penetrated supposed liberals in defense of their candidate is quite sad.

That I first noticed these chants around the MLK, Jr. holiday makes it even sadder. Martin had a dream, remember? Suppose white allies back then told him he couldn’t get all he was calling for.

Oh, that’s right, they did.

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action; “who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Now, I won’t dare compare Bernie to MLK, but we can agree that ideas of social and economic justice are quite similar. Recently, even Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez stated that Bernie Sanders’ platform is similar to that of La Raza Unida Party as he endorsed Sanders. Ideas and pronouncements that brought thousands to Washington, DC and that once empowered and excited Texas Mexican Americans enough to vote in huge numbers are once again being discussed because of Bernie Sanders. Yet, “we can’t”?

Frankly, the oft-stated “she can get things done” quote that Hillary fans are selling is also pretty annoying. It’s a reminder of the last eight years in which the Obama administration gave away the store to the Republicans prior to beginning negotiations on any given issue. Immigration reform is a great example as President Obama stepped up deportations (numbering 2.5 million) as a means of convincing Republicans that Democrats were “tough” so they would pass reform. Watered down legalization was discussed over citizenship. Instead, a co-opted immigration reform movement looked weak, and Democrats even weaker and inhumane when they didn’t call out the administration for the deportations and human warehousing of children and mothers in private prisons. And all efforts failed. Meanwhile, we’re left begging the Supreme Court for deportation relief for a few without any real rights for the migrants who might benefit. I’m sure Hillacrats are secretly mortified that the Supreme Court may side with the administration and “hurt Hillary’s chance.”

Now, all of us who want justice are being told to wait our turn, and to elect someone who can supposedly pass (watered down) legislation. If it’s in the same way as President Obama, then we’re sure not building an excited progressive base for 2016. Let’s recall that we had an excited base in 2008 only to return to failed Democratic pragmatism, thus demoralizing said base (I give you the 2010 midterms as an example of what happened). If you want to excite voters, then you must call for what is needed, not for what we can maybe, sorta get, if even that. Let’s excite the electorate and win big, then we can negotiate later with the backing of a committed base. But we need start with what we want.

Instead, Bernie Sanders’ opposition seems to want more of the same. And this needs to change. Because “We can’t!” should not be in our political vocabulary as Democrats. If that’s the response to Bernie Sanders, then, spare me.

TPA Round-Up; Back on the Horse

flomeIt’s been a pretty emotional couple of weeks.

After spending an enjoyable Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Day after Christmas, my mom (Mama Flo Medellin) fell ill on the 27th, spent a few days in the ICU, then spent a couple of weeks in hospice until she passed on peacefully surrounded by her children, grandson, and son-in-law. We appreciate all of the messages, calls, texts, and personal visits from family and friends from all over, including some of our local elected officials and candidates. Special thanks to State Rep. Gene Wu and his awesome personnel who offered a Texas House resolution honoring my mom. Particular thanks go to my buds in the Texas Progressive Alliance who attended mom’s memorial service and offered the kindest words. I’m grateful.

And, now, it’s back on the horse time. Here’s this week’s TPA Round-up, which includes a link to Mom’s “Flobituary.”

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that Alan Rickman is attending a David Bowie concert in heaven as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff describes the qualities he wants in a County Commissioner to succeed the late El Franco Lee.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos continues her series on the state’s top three leaders, their hopeless pandering and lack of vision. The Texas Blues: Living in a place run by the Three Stooges of Bigotry, Snake Oil and Malfeasance.

SocraticGadfly, anticipating last Sunday’s Democratic Debate, took a cold look at the new heat, primarily on Hillary Cinton’s side, between her and Sanders, on single-payer health care vs. gun nuttery.

Before the last GOP debate, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs sensed desperation in the air. After it, the smell of fear lingered like… well, you-know-what.

CoudBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is glad that there are regulations to keep our food, air, water, pharmaceuticals, workers, and consumer products safe. We need more and better, not worse and less.

Neil at All People Have Value noted the passing of baseball Hall of Famer and Negro League star Monte Irvin. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The TPA is greatly saddened by the passing of Florencia “Flora” Medellin, and extends its deepest sympathies to her family and many friends.

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

Grits for Breakfast pinpoints the underlying legislative problem that proponents of police body cameras will have to solve to achieve real transparency.

Better Texas Blog reviews the changes in penalties for not having health insurance.

Tamara Tabo laments how little we all know about our rights when we are pulled over by a police officer.

The Great God Pan Is Dead selects his favorite art books from 2015.

Paradise in Hell ponders Greg Abbott’s constitutional tantrum.

Juanita revels in the latest Ken Paxton revelations.

RIP: Florencia (Flora) Medellin

floFlorencia “Flora” Medellín was reunited with the love of her life, Anastacio “Tacho” Medellín, in heaven on January 13, 2016, surrounded by her children, grandson, and son-in-law at Methodist Hospital West in Houston, TX. She was born November 5, 1930 to Jesus Serna and María Teran Serna in her beloved home town, Crystal City, Texas.

She grew up in Crystal City, traveling as a migrant worker, with her family, to the cherry orchards of Wisconsin, the tomato fields of Indiana, and the agri-fields of Texas and North Dakota. In the summer of 1949, her family pulled up their Texas roots and relocated to Decatur, IN, in search of a better life. While living in Indiana, she worked as a chicken plucker in a poultry processing plant, steam-press operator in a dry cleaning shop, and even considered training as a nurse in neighboring Illinois. Alas, her mother’s tears stopped her from pursuing her dream of becoming a healthcare worker.

flopopIn the Spring of 1959, while she was visiting relatives in Crystal City, she reconnected with her childhood friend and neighbor, Tacho Medellín. It was a whirlwind romance, with them spending entire days at the Popeye Baseball Tournament, at a carnival (where he won so many stuffed animals for her she had to give many of them away), and driving around Crystal City—with his sisters, Mary and Concepcion, acting as chaperones. As promised, he traveled to Indiana to ask for her hand in marriage and make plans for the wedding. They were married October 17, 1959 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Decatur, Indiana.

They returned to Crystal City where they raised their children, were active in the community, and were co-owners of Medellin’s Texaco for over 30 years. Aside from running their business and raising their kids, Flora and Tacho were avid sports enthusiasts, often willing to travel throughout south Texas to support the Crystal City Javalinas at football and baseball games—a hobby they traced back to their courtship.

flopop2After her husband’s untimely death in 1990, she lived with her children, Sylvia and Tacho Jr. in Austin, then moved to Fort Worth with Toni, Ben and Benny. During the twenty one years she lived with the Briseños, helping to raise her grandson, she lived in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Kingwood (Houston), Denton, and Cypress, where she made lifelong friends along the way.

Once she had the opportunity to travel, she took full advantage, visiting family in Decatur and Fort Wayne, Indiana several times and took a road trip through the Smokey Mountains.

During her time in Pennsylvania, she enjoyed hiking through the snow at Valley Forge Park, visiting all of Philly’s wonderful museums (the Ben Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art were her favorites). Touring Pennsylvania Amish Country, visiting Hershey Park (where she ate all the chocolate bars she could get her hands on), and visiting Atlantic City, NJ were all items that she was able to scratch off her bucket list.

While residing in Oklahoma she enjoyed visiting several reservations, the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, attended PowWows, and picnicked at Lake Tenkiller. Taking a trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days and attending the Daddy of ’Em All Rodeo was one of her favorite western road trips.

On her many trips to New Mexico to visit her grandson at college, she visited Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and made a pilgrimage to El Santuario at Chimayo. In a life filled with highlights, watching Benny graduate from college, perform at the Greer Garson Theatre, and sing with the Santa Fe Opera were amongst her proudest moments.

When she could still travel, she also enjoyed visiting friends and family in Crystal City and San Antonio.

Flora was an active and committed Democrat, working through social media to “Flo the Vote.” She loved holding court at political events, attending Senate District and State conventions, and staying up late on election night to watch the returns. She and her family hosted political fundraisers for various candidates for public office (even some Republicans attended and donated just so they could have some of her famous tortillas). Casting her ballot by mail every election was a priority—even when she was being wheeled in to surgery or recovering from a serious illness. As she grew older and more frail, she would remind her kids to order her ballot by mail as soon as she could because she wanted to cast her ballot and have it counted in case she “didn’t make it” to Election Day. She was an active member of the Kingwood Area Democrats, Democratic Women of Denton County, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, ROADwomen, and South Denton County Democratic Club (SoDeCo).

In 2012, she embarked on a new adventure in Assisted Living where she made many new friends, took up new hobbies like oil painting, jewelry making, and pokeno, and enjoyed her new found independence. Her final residence was at Solera at West Houston where she loved the crafting, gaming, sing-a-longs and therapy pet visits.

Left to mourn her passing and celebrate her life are her children, Anastacio Medellín Jr., Sylvia Medellín, Maria Antonia “Toni” Medellin; son-in-law Benjamín A. Briseño (all of Houston); her grandson, Benjamín Alejos “Benny” Briseño, Benny’s “honey bunny” Taylor Servedio, and her great-grand-cat, Beatrice of Los Angeles, CA; adopted daughters, Veronica Gamez and Charlene Valda Tanner; adopted granddaughters, Ariadna “Ari Hayek” Orozco and Andrea Ramos; brothers Jesus Serna, Louis Cerna, and Hector Serna (Karen) of Decatur, IN; sisters Maria de Jesus Serna Espinola, Guadalupe Serna Garza, and Herminia Montalvo (Jose) of Fort Wayne; brothers-in-law Manuel Medellin Jr (Beatriz) and Manuel Cerna (Regina); her aunt Virginia Guerrero Teran of Crystal City; her best friend Elena “Nena” Puente of Crystal City; her comadre Maria Ana “Nena” Vera Guzman of Corpus Christi; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and fellow DWDC alum Judith Banks Ford and Jan Marie Goode. She also leaves behind friends from coast to coast, numerous Bingo Buddies, and Crafting Comadres at Solera and at Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Jesus and Maria Serna; her beloved husband, Anastacio Reyes Medellin; adopted son, Mike Kelley; sisters Aurora “Lolly” Serna and María “Maruka” Serna Ortiz; brothers Rodolfo Garcia, Elias Casiano, Eriberto “Beto/Bob” Serna, and Jose Z. Serna; beloved sisters-in-law Consuelo “Connie” Serna, Tomasa “Tommy” Mendez Serna, Olivia Coronado Serna, Mary Medellin Juarez, and Concepcion Medellin Garcia; brothers-in-law Olegario Medellin and Joaquin Medellin; pets Poochie, Lobo, Precious, Chico, Sugar, Chato, Steven, Guero, Gertie, and Jackie.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial donations be made to the following, or to your favorite progressive organization, in her honor:

Because Flora never could stand to see anyone hungry: The Houston Food Bank 535 Portwall Street Houston, Texas 77029 713-223-3700 HoustonFoodBank.org

Because Flora believed that everyone deserved to live the American Dream: FIEL Houston 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 fielhouston.org

Because Flora was convinced that they key to success for women was the ability to understand and control their reproductive system: Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. Promotoras Program (community health workers) 4600 Gulf Freeway Houston, TX 77023 713.522.6363 ppgulfcoast.org

Because Flora wanted to see a Democratic President supported by a Democratic Congress: James Cargas for Congress Cargas for Congress 2450 Louisiana #400-777 Houston, TX 77065 713 581 0072 jamescargas.com

When Happy Holidays Wasn’t Offensive

mexmasWhen I was 19, I used to work for a company owned by a dude who was a Jehova’s Witness. Among his clients back in the early 90s were a major call center run by the state Republicans and one call center owned by a certain Bush consultant we all love to hate and blame. Now, I’m not sure the CEO voted or not as he was very conservative when it came to his religion. But he was a huge supporter of Republicans in one way or another. (I still remember the scowl on his face the day Ann Richards had her inaugural parade right outside 111 Congress and I had to control my huge smile as I delivered the company mail.)

During the Christmas holidays, he wouldn’t allow employees to have Christmas stuff decorating their desks because of his religion, and when we’d leave for the long holiday weekend which included Christmas, all we could say was “Have a nice holiday.” (We were instructed by our supervisors to ensure we didn’t offend him.)

So, when I hear Fox News and right-wingers and born-agains complaining about red cups and the War on Christmas, I always remember my old conservative boss whom I had no choice but to comply with. Luckily, I was a big liberal then and had no problem respecting his wishes and his religious freedom, while my co-workers complained in the breakroom.

Funny how the state Republican party and the big right-wing consultants who used his service never complained about him, but cause a huge ruckus about the “war” on Christmas that us lib’ruls are supposedly waging. And don’t get me started on the idiotic “politically incorrect” signage that some businesses put up, as if it makes them any more Christian or patriotic than anyone else.

Anyway, Happy Holidays, One and All!

2016: Brandon Dudley for Tax Assessor-Collector

dudley.jpgAnother friend of mine, Brandon Dudley, has also filed for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. I’ve known Brandon since his 2010 run for a judicial post here in Harris County, and I appreciate his work on the Wendy Davis campaign in 2014.

He has served my own State Senator Rodney Ellis for a decade as Chief of Staff and General Counsel, and his work in criminal justice reform is very impressive.

Here’s more on Brandon:

Brandon’s commitment to public service began at an early age, working in programs for at-risk youth while attending the University of Texas at Austin. Brandon worked as a juvenile counselor after earning his degree, and went on to the Graduate School for Social Work at UT-Austin to further develop his administrative skills in the field of public service. After graduate school Brandon came to Houston to create and direct outreach, crime prevention, and community economic development programs for at-risk youth.

These experiences inspired Brandon to attend the University of Houston Law Center, where he twice received the Public Interest Fellowship Award. This also led him to pursue legal and policy advocacy work in the areas of criminal justice reform, economic fairness and voting rights.

After graduating from UH Law School and being licensed to practice, Brandon worked for the Innocence Project, which works to secure the freedom for those wrongfully convicted and advance criminal justice reforms. He later served as managing consultant for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition’s Harris County Project to advance “smart on crime” reforms to improve public safety, increase fairness and justice, and save taxpayer dollars.

Read more on Brandon here and his platform is here.

I’m running because the right to vote is an essential component of our democracy, and ensuring that freedom is protected for all eligible voters is key to holding our government accountable.

But right now too many citizens’ freedom to make their voices heard in Harris County is under attack by intentional barriers making it harder to vote, tactics that wrongfully deny eligible voters their freedom to vote, and antiquated voting systems that are prone to mistakes, cause long lines, and increase taxpayer costs.

I’m running because the people of Harris County deserve a Tax Assessor that’s standing up for all us, not working against us.  A Tax Assessor that will fight for a fair and equal tax system and protect our freedom to vote, so we can have the Harris County we deserve.

We deserve better schools for our children, an economy that works for all of us, fair and equal justice, and a Harris County that treats all people equally and fairly.

But we have to stand up for it. We have to fight for it.  And we have to vote for it.

Stay informed, folks!