Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus Releases Agenda

From the Inbox, thanks to State Senator Jose Rodriguez, Chairman of SHC:



Austin – Leaders of the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC), along with grassroots, business, and subject matter leaders from Latino/a communities across Texas, announced the results of a year-long effort to identify policy priorities in five key areas.

“Members of the Latino/a communities across Texas expressed a consensus around the areas of education, health care, economic opportunity, immigration, and civic engagement,” said Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the SHC. “As our state’s former demographer, Dr. Steve Murdock, has warned us for years, if we continue to ignore the needs of the Latino and other minority communities in this state, we ignore the future of Texas at our own peril.”

Hundreds of people attended the six SHC regional Latino/a summits, which took place over the course of 2014 in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley.

“It was statewide, and it was non-partisan,” said Senator Garcia, Vice Chair of the SHC. “We have heard our community, and we are taking our marching orders seriously. We are prepared to work hard on both defense and offense. I can promise you we will keep fighting to ensure our voices are heard regardless of what is to come.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, on behalf of MALC, said: “Texas is at a crossroads. We can embrace our opportunity to keep Texas great into the future… This is called a Latino/a agenda, but this is really a Texas agenda.”

“The Latino/a population in the state of Texas is greater than the population of every state in our union with the exception of six. In Texas, there is no such thing as an issue that is not a Latino/a issue. For the first time, you see a unity among Latino/a organizations and elected leaders,” said Joe Cardenas of HOPE, Hispanics Organized for Political Education.

Highlights of the report, which can be found on the Senate Hispanic Caucus’ website include:

  • In the education arena, the Latino/a community overwhelmingly supported fixes to the school finance system, bilingual education programs, greater access to higher education, and ending the use of high stakes standardized testing. “The taskforce talked to 70 organizations involved in education at the federal, state and local levels, as well as to individuals in business and administration, classroom teachers and parents, and grassroots leaders. Once we went through the problems they shared with us, we came up with overarching themes. School finance was number one for everybody,” said Dr. Patricia Lopez, education taskforce co-chair. She added, “The SHC agenda gets at the heart of the problem in public education and higher education.”
  • In the area of health care, the biggest priority was improving access to care.  As Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities and taskforce chair stated, “…there was really an insistence across the board that the first issue of concern was closing the coverage gap in Texas, which essentially leaves over one million uninsured U.S. citizen adults without an option for affordable coverage because they’re excluded from the A.C.A.’s marketplace and excluded by our legislature’s choices from Texas Medicaid. That’s affecting our economy by denying us an estimated $6 to $8 billion a year in additional federal health care revenue and anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 jobs that Dr. Ray Perryman and Billy Hamilton have estimated would be created if we moved forward with closing that coverage gap.”  There was also strong support for programs and incentives to increase the number of health care providers in border and rural areas. The recommendations included the utilization of promotoras, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants.
  • On the immigration front, there was passionate support for keeping in-state tuition for Texas Dreamers and opposition to Arizona-style local enforcement of immigration laws. There was also strong support for greater access to driver’s licenses, or permits to a lesser extent, to create safer roads for all. “We’ve worked with educators, administrators, business, and faith-based groups who say we need to capitalize on the investment we’ve made in the people who are and will continue to contribute to our state,” said MALDEF Attorney Celina Moreno, taskforce co-chair.
  • In terms of creating more economic opportunities for working Latino/a families, participants supported reforming predatory lending practices, raising wages, and incentives for college and saving programs.  As Rene Lara with AFL-CIO and taskforce co-chair said, “Texans need a pay raise, and Latino/a workers in Texas need a pay raise. It’s that simple.” Ann Baddour, Senior Policy Analyst at Texas Appleseed and taskforce co-chair, added, “When all of our communities thrive, we all thrive.” In discussing income disparity, Baddour emphasized that “businesses need mentorship and access to capital.”
  • Perhaps most importantly, discussions about civic engagement in the Latino/a community focused on more opportunities for voter registration and less obstacles to voting, including online voter registration, reducing restrictions on deputy volunteer registrars, expanding the acceptable forms of photo identification at the polls, and incorporating civic engagement and registration processes at high schools across the state. Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and taskforce chair, underscored, “Voting is not only an American value, it is a right we must fight for.”

Additional background information:

During the October 2013 Latino Summit in Austin, the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) assembled five taskforces in the areas of education, health care, civic engagement, immigration, and economic opportunities. During the latter half of 2014, the SHC hosted six regional summits in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley. At these regional summits, educators, community activists, students, civic leaders, and service providers were given an opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations made by the SHC taskforces. The discussions were meaningful and added significantly to the development of a Latino/a policy agenda informed by the community.

TPA Round-Up

Well over two-thirds of the Texas Progressive Alliance thinks this legislative session is off to an inauspicious start as we bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff reviewed the state of play in the mayor’s races in Houston and San Antonio.

light seeker at Texas Kaos writes a thought-provoking article about how we can create a more inclusive prosperity and save democracy at the same time. The Great Progressivism Debate, Part 2.

The latest developments in the Houston mayoral contest posted by by PDiddie at Brains and Eggshad Adrian Garcia dropping hints and Chris Bell throwing his hat in.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of Henry Cuellar acting like a crony capitalist Republican. Why can’t Cuellar represent his constituents?

WCNews at Eye on Williamson notes the demise of the 2/3rds rule in the Texas Senate. That’s what happens when 60 percent of 30 percent “govern” our state.

Guess who’s offering middle class tax hikes, asks and answers Egberto Willies.

Neil at All People Have Value got inspired by some concrete at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport.

Bluedaze has more on fracking and Texas earthquakes.

Dos Centavos wants to know if Sheriff Adrian Garcia is going to give up that post and run for mayor of Houston, and had some thoughts about the fallout if he does.

Texpate opined about Dan Patrick’s Senate committee assignments, and John Coby at Bay Area Houston repeated the prayer that opened the 84th legislative session last week.

jobsanger graphed a poll that showed 26% of Americans believe God picks the winners of football (and baseball and basketball) games.


And here’s a few more great blog posts from around Texas.

Prairie Weather observes that, for progressives, there’s just not a lot to like about Hillary Clinton.

Speaking of taxes, Socratic Gadfly proposes a Texas goods and services tax.

Grits for Breakfast interviews Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas.

Texas Vox warns about the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) that Congress recently passed.

Trail Blazers reported on the immigration protestors that interrupted Rick Perry’s speech in Iowa over the weekend.

Political Animals observed that the new first lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott, headlined the anti-choice rally over the weekend in Austin.  Because of course.

Dwight Silverman documents a year of living without cable.

Concerned Citizens contemplates the meaning of the MLK Day march and the #ReclaimMLKmovement.

SciGuy has five can’t-miss space events for 2015.

The Lunch Tray concludes that new ag commissioner Sid Miller is being deliberately dishonest in his “cupcake amnesty” proclamations.

Minding Houston explains the current state of mental health funding in Texas.

Lisa Falkenberg pens the second-worst poem ever about the end of Rick Perry’s reign as governor.

(thanks to PDiddie for added reads)

Enter the Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest

From Juan Tejeda:

Attention visual artists and graphic designers. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center wants you to submit a poster for the 34th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest 2015. The Overall Winner receives a $1,000 cash award and the winning selection becomes the official poster for the 34th Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio 2015 to be held from May 13-17. A Top Selection and Honorable Mention poster will also be selected in the middle school, high school, college level, and open categories. Deadline for submission is February 7, 2015. For the complete rules & guidelines, click here. FEBRUARY 7, 2015 DEADLINE! 

Bell Announces for Mayor

The thing about being the first out of the chute is that you get some press and you get an opportunity at a first strike against your opponents. Chris Bell announced for Houston Mayor today, as reported by the Chron, and, along with promises to fix streets and traffic lights, is trying to get ahead of any criticism that might be thrown his way.

“I know my competitors will do their best to try and define me. They might even talk about some of the political races that I have run and lost,” Bell, 55, said. “And that’s fair game – because if it’s necessary, I’ll talk about the races they’ve run and lost.”

Really, if all the candidates try to do is protect their legacies and define others’ legacies, then the 2015 campaign will have been a waste. Instead, let’s get the voters interested in actually showing up in November (and December). Let’s hope the Chron and their writers don’t try to define the candidates based on win/loss records; instead, helping to highlight the discussion of ideas.

Anyway, that’s one down. Who’s next?


Chris Bell to Announce for Mayor on Sunday

Chris Bell, former Congressman and Houston City Council Member, is set to announce his candidacy for Houston Mayor on Sunday afternoon. This will be Bell’s second run for the post (last run was 15 years ago) and he’ll become the second progressive-leaning candidate to announce a run in what will likely be a crowded field.

This is a serious election. Folks should get to know their candidates, so, here’s an opportunity to learn about one of them.

Thoughts on Viernes…01232015

A Little Observation

Looks like the imminently possible announcement of Adrian Garcia’s mayoral campaign has set off a little bit of everything as far as attitudes go on social media. At least from anecdotal evidence, it would seem many of my Latino pals are very much in favor of a mayoral candidacy. On the other hand, many of my non-Latino friends who work hard as Democratic activists have set their attitudes on “groan” because they don’t want to lose the progress that has been made with Garcia in office. Honestly, I can’t blame either group. Like him or not, this is huge, if it does happen.

Ricky Muñoz of Intocable Interviewed by Billboard Mag

Billboard Magazine featured an interview with Ricky Muñoz, founder of the supergroup Intocable, as they are set to release their 20th Anniversary Live album, XX. Based just south of Laredo in Zapata, TX, the band has enjoyed steady climb in the Mexican Regional genre. From their founding, they’ve been called just about anything:  Tejano, Mexican Regional, Grupero, Norteño. What they are is a band that borrows from styles they grew up listening to, including rock themes. They’ve sold out entire stadiums in Mexico, Colombia, and here in the USA. This blogger has been a fan since ’94 when I found their CD at Turntable Records in Austin.

The best response in the interview?

I am a third-generation Texan. My grandparents were born in Texas, my parents were born in Texas, my kids were born in Texas. I feel both [Mexican and American]. For example, during  the holidays, we eat tamales and Mexican food, but when it’s election time, I become a patriotic American and vote and listen.

Check out the rest of it.

Music Break ~ Intocable – Culpable Fui (XX) – Album Release 1/27/15



Is He Running? ¿O que?

Schleifer at the Chron reports that Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s announcement for Mayor may be imminent. Or at least that signals are being sent. Or that his biggest supporters and check-writers think he is. In other words, we’re still waiting.

adrianI think I laid out my concerns about Democrat Garcia resigning as Sheriff to run in a multi-candidate race for Houston Mayor in our podcast. At the same time, I admit that such a candidacy would be historic because he’d be far more progressive than most other Latinos who have run for Mayor in recent history. I think I’ve made my disagreements with Garcia regarding 287g/SCOMM pretty clear on the blog over the years. Still, I respect and like the guy because he’s been the big local winner.

A quick look at some of our hardest working Dems’ comments on Facebook (I won’t name names) and comments from a few I’ve spoken with, shows some real concern that, as Schleifer reports, we could end up with Sheriff Ron Hickman or Sheriff Allan Fletcher from the Republican side of things. Among other concerns are a complete turnaround in progress made at the County Jail on mental health, overall management, immigrant family visitations, and especially progress made on GLBT issues. But as the article states, he’ll seek out Republican support and money, so, how Garcia splits the difference and what issues he runs on for a “nonpartisan” race are yet to be seen, obviously. Perhaps he’d be the next person who can find the winning coalition needed to win without offending entire constituencies.

For voters who aren’t fans of perennial or multi-run City candidates, Garcia does offer himself up for the first time for this position, so, there’s always that. The other first-timers sit on the conservative side of things for the most part and with little crossover appeal.

Anyway, there will be a lot more to blog and chat about if Garcia does make the announcement. It’s obvious he can raise the money, hire the needed staff, and run a professional, disciplined campaign. So, for now, we still wait. Of course, some of us want to listen and ask more questions of some of the candidates before deciding which button to click in November (and December).

One thing’s for sure. Schleifer mentioned a possible point of attack against Garcia:  His lack of a college degree. Yeah, because, apparently, a police academy education is equal to basket-weaving? All I can say is that such an attack will incense Houstonians; no, it would be just plain dumb. It surely would piss me off. But we can go into that if it becomes a thing.

Kuff has some point-by-point thoughts that are a must-read. Also, Brains and Eggs, Texpatriate, and Texas Leftist have their own takes.

Funeral Arrangements for Reies Lopez Tijerina


Rest in Peace ~ Reies Lopez Tijerina, Chicano Movement Leader

In the middle of celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came the sad news that Chicano movement leader and icon Reies Lopez Tijerina passed away at the age of 88. Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez in a speech to activists once stated, “He was our Chicano Malcolm X.”

Tijerina, a former evangelist and fiery orator with roots in South Texas, has often been described as one of the major warriors of the Chicano movement that advocated for civil rights for Mexican-Americans across the Southwest in the 1960s and 1970s.

He relished the attention but preferred to be called an “Indo-Hispano,” a term he said more accurately reflected his ethnic and cultural heritage.

Tijerina, the only major Chicano activist who served time in prison, was widely admired and despised as the former leader of the Alianza, a militant citizens group in New Mexico, that sought to repossess old Spanish land grants in the Southwest. The group contended Mexican-American heirs were wrongfully deprived of their land.

He will be remembered most for his land-grant reclamation movement in New Mexico. One can learn more about Tijerina by watching the video below:


The Plot Thins…Houston Mayoral Line-Up Update

Schleifer at the Chron provides us an update on who is running for Houston Mayor and who is still playing with people’s hearts because the law won’t let them announce without resigning. It’s basically the same story as the one we provided on the DC Podcast, but this time, the plot seemed to thicken (or maybe thin) after a federal judge decided that the fundraising rules the City imposed on candidates needed to be taken out of the picture.

Regarding money, it would seem that State Rep. Sylvester Turner would be a leading candidate with $1 million in his state rep account, according to the article. CM Stephen Costello raised $250K since the demise of the fundraising rules (according to the article) and would add that to the $273K he reported recently. CM Oliver Pennington reported $116K, but also spent $126K in the last period. The rest of folks in the running, we’ll have to wait for the summer.

For the non-committals, Sheriff Adrian Garcia has $57K in his Sheriff campaign account after raising $175K in the last period and spending $350K. There isn’t a 01/2015 report for Orlando Sanchez, but his 8-day out report in 2014 showed him with $200K in outstanding loans .

Like we stated in the podcast, I’m not sure how the court decision on fundraising rules would affect anything. One thing is for sure; if one is a viable candidate with a fundraising operation at the ready, then there shouldn’t be a problem raising cash at any point during the year. Of course, getting an effective message out that raises awareness and  increases participation and turnout, well, that’s a whole other blog post.