Category Archives: City of Houston

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

 

 

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.

City of Houston: Is 2015 Going To Be Interesting?

Well, there’s no doubt that there are folks running for Mayor in 2015–good, OK, and awful–and there are those rumored-t0-be candidates–good, OK, and awful. The Chron’s Schleifer provided another report on where things seem to stand, especially regarding the possibility of a Latino candidacy.

Obviously, the biggest name is that of Sheriff Adrian Garcia. There are a lot of folks who would be excited for this kind of run, but there are also Democrats who are thinking about the ramifications of this for 2016, including my favorite Senator Sylvia Garcia.

“You’re going to be giving them an early 2016 gift,” said Democratic Sen. Sylvia Garcia, who had the sheriff at her home this month and expressed concern about a run. “Nobody wants a Latino mayor more than I do, but it’s got to be the right time.”

While there’s a lot of buzz about Garcia, folks should know that if he were to announce, he is done as Sheriff.  Those thinking about 2016 argue Garcia is needed on the ticket to help down-ballot Democrats. And then there’s even more to think about which I’m sure people are avoiding talking about. I do agree with Kuff that the 2016 Prez candidate will help down-ballot folks a lot more than someone like Garcia who has enjoyed support from the other side of the aisle that may not have really transferred to those down-ballot Democrats. If our incumbent Dems can’t win during a presidential election year, then our problems are much bigger than missing one of our anchors.

Anyway, the article mentions a host of others, including local State Rep. Sylvester Turner, who has been labeled the front-runner and top fundraiser. Still, I’m sure there will be plenty of cash available for the top tier candidates and their consultants and staffers.

Of course, At-Large 1 seems to have gotten interesting with a Chron article telling us that Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Lane Lewis has tossed his hat in the ring. I had also heard about Phillipe Nassif’s candidacy. I’ve heard other names, too, but I haven’t seen anything remotely official. Once all the candidates are announced, t’ll be a pretty diverse race, which will make it all the more interesting and a race to keep an eye on. Texpate has more.

Some fear some nastiness in this and other races, but as I’ve told folks recently, we need some contentious battles to get peoples attention. Let’s face it, elections generally have been boring affairs, other than for the volunteers and activists and the consultants. If candidates can commit to lively, productive discussion and debate, all the better. If the people aren’t caring enough until they get mad about bathrooms and charitable meals way after election season, then there’s a bigger problem in this game we call democracy.

More to come, I’m sure.

 

 

Update: Houston Dept. of Health Extends Hours for ACA Sign-Up

From the Inbox:

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will open four of its multi-service centers on Sunday and extend the business hours late into the night at six centers Monday, giving uninsured people a last chance to enroll in a health plan before the Affordable Care Act’s deadline.

Uninsured residents can set up an appointment for one-on-one help from HDHHS’ certified application counselors at the centers by calling 832-393-5423. The counselors are able to help residents compare health plans and find one that fits their budget and health care needs.

Multi-service centers opening from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 30, are:

  • Denver Harbor MSC, 6402 Market Street
  • Northeast MSC, 9720 Spaulding
  • Southwest MSC, 6400 High Star
  • Third Ward MSC, 3611 Ennis Street

HDHHS’ centers extending hours until 10 p.m. for the enrollment deadline date of Monday, March 31, are:

  • Denver Harbor MSC, 6402 Market Street
  • Northeast MSC, 9720 Spaulding
  • Southwest MSC, 6400 High Star
  • Magnolia MSC, 7037 Capitol Street
  • Hiram Clarke MSC, 3810 West Fuqua
  • Sunnyside MSC, 9314 Cullen

HDHHS will set the last ACA enrollment appointments with its counselors for 8 p.m. Monday. The appointments are on a first come, first served basis.

Documents needed to enroll during an appointment include:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship: social security number or copy of U.S. passport for all family members
  • State residency: driver’s license, housing lease or utility bill
  • Income:  W-2 forms or pay stubs; unemployment or disability; social security, pension and retirement income; or copy of 2012 tax return
  • Current health insurance: policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about job-related health insurance
  • Immigration status or legal residency: Immigration document status numbers.

More than 114,000 people in the Houston area already enrolled in one of the more than 40 low-cost ACA health plans available in the region.

HDHHS set up an ACA call center as part of the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a group of 13 agencies helping people obtain insurance coverage through the ACA.

Certified application counselors and outreach staff with HDHHS and the other agencies in the collaborative have met face to face with more than 152,000 area residents since the enrollment period began in October. They have also reached out or distributed ACA brochures and information to approximately 538,000 people.

Uninsured residents can also sign up for a health insurance plan online by visiting HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

 

#GetCovered – Houston Dept. of Health Will Be Open on Sunday

From the Inbox:

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will open four of its multi-service centers on Sunday and extend their business hours next Monday to help people sign up for a health insurance plan by the Affordable Care Act’s March 31 deadline.

HDHHS will open Acres Homes, Denver Harbor, Northeast and Southwest multi-service centers on Sunday, March 30, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will also extend the four multi-service centers’ business hours on Monday, March 31, until 10 p.m., setting the last ACA enrollment appointment for 8 p.m.

Approximately 99,000 Houston-area residents have enrolled in one of the more than 40 low-cost ACA health plans available in the region. Those without health insurance have only one week left to sign up.

Residents can set up an appointment for one-on-one help from certified application counselors at HDHHS by calling 832-393-5423. The counselors are able to help residents compare health plans and find one that fits their budget and health care needs.

The phone number connects residents to an ACA call center that HDHHS set up as part of the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a group of 13 agencies helping people obtain insurance coverage through the ACA.

Certified application counselors and outreach staff with HDHHS and the other agencies in the collaborative have met face to face with more than 151,500 area residents since the enrollment period began in October. They have also reached out or distributed ACA brochures and information to approximately 538,000 people.

Documents needed to enroll during an appointment include:

    • Proof of U.S. citizenship: social security number or copy of U.S. passport for all family members
    • State residency: driver’s license, housing lease or utility bill
    • Income:  W-2 forms or pay stubs; unemployment or disability; social security, pension and retirement income; or copy of 2012 tax return
    • Current health insurance: policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about job-related health insurance
    • Immigration status or legal residency: Immigration document status numbers.

Tweet of the Day: Payday Lending Ordinance Passes

I’ll give the big prize to Mike Morris of the Chron.

PDiddie has more.

Council Should Vote For Payday Lending Regs

It’s just the right thing to do. But if there are members of City Council who want to talk about “free markets” or claim they haven’t heard anything from the community, Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron has a hard-hitting article this morning, including quotes from those affected by the predatory lending practices of the industry. And then this.

Guerrero said it never occurred to her to call her councilman: “I just never thought the City Council was involved with, you know, all these little loan places out there.”

I asked the grandmother the same question: Why hadn’t she complained to her councilman about her struggles with the loan companies?

“The truth is,” she told me, “I’ve never had anybody like you come up to me and show some kind of interest. I didn’t know there was somebody out there who had somebody’s back. There’s a lot of questions that we the people have. But there’s nobody out there to hear us.”

Do you hear them now, Councilman Rodriguez?

C’mon, this is a financial issue for most families, why would most think about going to their Council member for help? A State Rep., maybe, but it’s obvious that some State Reps have been influenced by the same lobbyists and PACs, so, they probably would have met the same walls. That said, as Falkenberg mentions, the lack of movement by the Texas Legislature has now placed the opportunity to do something about this problem in the hands of City Council members, thanks to Mayor Annise Parker.

There are other members of Council who might use terms like, “personal responsibility” to describe those who cannot get ahead of these loans. But the practices, as described by Falkenberg and those interviewed, say much about the industry as it is today and how the loan process is designed to do exactly what it is doing to families. All a politician who is interested in “industry” dollars for a 2015 run for something has to do is open their eyes–or take off the blinders.

When I went off to college, my parents would worry about my finances at least a few times a year and wanted to make sure I had a few bucks in my pocket–usually as I waited for my grant/loan check to be released. So, they’d visit the local “loan company”–a pawn shop and short-term loan place. Everyone in town knew him as “El Pat,” a white dude who built his business and relied on the Chicanos in the town. High interest? Sure. Predatory? Certainly not how things are today. Then again, we’re talking about the late 80s. Years and years of Republican promotion of the “free market” have allowed the industry to run amok.

Are these businesses needed? And will these businesses still make sizable profits–even enough to pay for an extra lobbyist–with these regulations? Yes to both.

So, the smart thing is to simply vote yes–or at the very least, allow an up or down vote.

Kuff has some background. Texpatriate supports the regs, too.

Post #5000 ~ Some Thoughts

Well, the 2013 election is finally over and I’m proud to say that DosCentavos.net went 6-0, as far as picks go. Congrats to Robert Gallegos, Dwight Boykins, David Robinson, Zeph Capo, Adriana Tamez, and Robert Glaser who had some big wins against well-funded opponents.

There’s some concern about dealing with Kubosh (my at-large 3 “leave it blank” campaign garnered 6.5%, but there was even more undervotes in at-large 2!). Mayor Annise Parker is a grown-up and an effective negotiator. If everyone else plays the grown-up, then things should go smoothly. And if one is a first-termer on council, they should get to work and not “wait their turn.” The people deserve the best representation. Because as close as some of these races were, or,  as notorious as some of the member-elects may be, people will be deciding if one should be re-elected in 2015. (Texpatriate has more on this.)

There is also some concern about the lack of women on the horseshoe, and I agree with every concern. Heck, there are only two Latinos on the council, as always. But much like I don’t support just any Latino because they have brown skin (Morales), the same is probably true for other folks of other demographic groups, as was evident this year. People need to be judged on the issues, and I hope that most of the 4% who voted decided in this manner, rather than just for the mere demographic numbers game we seem to get caught up on. The real test is when someone who isn’t a woman, or black, or Latino, or Asian, or LGBT, or disabled, defends and represents whatever aforementioned demographic, or at the very least listens to those constituents. And that goes for conservatives, moderates, and liberals on the council.

The more important thing to come out of this local election is that the payday lending lobby/pacs took it in the teeth on Saturday as those they funded lost. So, where do the lame ducks stand now? Will they go with the will of the people? Or will they stand by their check-writers? If we’re going to be asking questions about City Council, then let us begin with a pending issue–because the last meeting of the City Council is this week.

On the 5,000

For those that have been reading for the last almost-nine years, and have looked at at least one of my posts, thank you. Blogging is fun, especially if you don’t take yourself so damn seriously. But I will admit, the occasional “you’re awesome,” feels good, too.

Thanks to those who have contributed, as I cannot take credit for all of the posts. But the blog sure can, and I’m glad I helped make you famous. Thank you to the organizations who have invited me to speak. Above all, thanks to those of you who have become great friends during these last nine years, whether one is a politician/officeholder, or a reader who is genuinely appreciative of a good friend (me).

Now, the  bad news. I’ll be getting caught up in politics during the first third of the year, so, my blogging may not be as plentiful. If you’re a fellow lib-lab who wants to submit something, by all means, do. I do plan on doing more Podcasting with my entertainment political commentary partner, Dr. Rey Guerra and others.

I’m no Marxist, but they’re good people. – Pope Pancho

A Video Message To Readers – Loving You by Raul Malo and Michael Guerra