Category Archives: Elections

There’s Some Buzz Going Around about 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NPR: Ballooning Importance of Latino Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Garcia Makes It Official, Is Running for Mayor

adrianpicLongtime lawman and public servant Adrian Garcia finally answered the question on Wednesday:  Will he, or won’t he? He will run for Houston Mayor, Garcia announced before dozens of friends and family members at the Lindale Park Community Center located in the Northside where he resides.

Stating he’s the candidate who can balance a budget, save taxpayers millions, and protect Houston families, Garcia added, “We commit to enhancing a quality of life that benefits everyone, from the wealthiest to the humblest, but never ignoring one for the other.”

In a speech in which he credited much to his wife and family, he reminded folks of what he was taught when he was young.

“I have done what my parents taught me to do years ago, and that is to simply work hard and do a good job”

Talking with several of his supporters, the one word that all agreed this campaign would be is tough, but that with their hard work and determination Garcia can come out victorious in the end.

Frankly, I’m glad he’s in the race, despite any concerns about a new right-wing Sheriff I might have. Bottom line, he was forced to resign, while others in the running get to keep their elected positions. Garcia in the race could add some excitement, as well as some ánimo to the electorate for a real discussion on the issues. I think Kuff just said something similar. Great minds!

It’s no secret, I’ve been critical of Garcia in the past, but he’s also served the community well all these years. I’m no one-issue voter; if so, I’d show up and not vote for any of them, right? So, let’s keep an eye on this race. Enjoy!

Update:  Holy mole , my buddy David Ortez was also at the announcement.

Video of part of stump in Spanish.

Obama Talks Tequila, Immigration; Clinton Talks GOPs 2nd Class Status Position

Well, my friends at Latino Rebels are none too happy about the Cinco de Mayo shindig thrown by El Prez at the Casa Blanca today. They went so far as calling it Cinco de Fallo.

After celebrating Mexicans and Mexican Americans, President Obama made the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform–which version, it is not known. Within 5 minutes and change, he mentioned Tequila five times.

Wait, 5 minutes, 5 tequilas, 5 de Mayo–I see a pattern! That speechwriter is a genius! [snark]

Anyway, moving on.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being credited with an aggressive speech on immigration reform. What I heard was the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform which includes a path to citizenship. So, the usual.

What may be the aggressive part was Clinton making a distinction between what she and Democrats want (citizenship) and what Republicans want (legal status).

“Now this is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side,” she said. “Make no mistakes. Today not a single Republican candidate – announced or potential – is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one.”

“When they talk about ‘legal status’ that is code for second-class status,” she added.

She added that her time as Secretary of State showed her the difference of countries that include “second-class status.”

“They never feel they belong or have allegiance…that is a recipe for divisiveness and even disintegration… we are a nation of immigrants,” she said. “Those who say, we can do reform but not a path to citizenship, would be fundamentally undermining what has made American unique… not just in my view the right thing to do for America, if you compare us to other countries.”

And while she said she was unsure if it would be among her first moves if elected president, she did say it would be a priority.

And that’s probably the smartest political move she can make–no promises of first term/first year action like the aforementioned current Prez. But with Obama’s executive actions in place (hopefully) that would be a starting point that includes some deportation relief.

Clinton also seemed to deviate from her position from last summer about warehousing and deporting little kids. Maybe.

“I don’t think we should put children and vulnerable people into the detention facilities because I think they are at risk—their physical and mental health are at risk,” she said.

I don’t know if that means immediate deportation or what. Or if kids get to stay with moms and families outside of prison walls. We shall see how this develops.

Obviously, the issue is very complex and working with Republicans who offer a “status” that some may be willing to accept in order to avoid a prison cell and a bus ride to the border (even if it is second class status) will make the debate a lot more interesting–or, the same old debate.

And that’s today’s immigration news.

Bad Ideas for Cinco de Mayo Political Logos

…and memes.

The Chipotle Fail

hillyo

The Stereotype

hillyo2

 The Good Ol’ Days!

yeb

 Cinco Mas!

cruz5

The Obvious

rubio5

A Cinco Non-Message (Actually, this one works for me!)

bernie5

VOTE ALIEF PROUD; VOTE YES ON BOND; Info on Alief ISD Position 4

As I mentioned previously, I support the Alief ISD Bond. It is long overdue, much needed, and the investment will reap returns for students and families. Read more about the bond here, then vote early.

Alief ISD Position 4

There is also a special election for Position #4 of the Board of Trustees. On the ballot are:  Celia Morgan, Gigi Myung, Dedre Jefferson, and Natasha Butler.

Morgan is a former Alief ISD teacher; Myung works with a local automotive retailer; Jefferson, according to the internet, has worked for Alief ISD as an educator; and Butler describes herself as a single working mom on her website and has been involved in the Bond committee and PTOs.

Morgan published her response to AFL/CIO questionnaire and to Alief TSTA.

UPDATE:  Richard Shaw of AFL-CIO informed me that Natasha Butler earned their endorsement.

I haven’t decided whom to support, so, I’ll be doing some more research and getting back to you.  I will say that the sample ballot PDF took a long time to load which is why I barely found out about this particular election.

Click on image below to find your early voting location.

The Price of Ramen Noodles Is Too Damn High!

Update After the Oberg Story: Did you know that it would take 6.8 million packages (at 25 cents each commissary price) of ramen noodles to pay the Harris County consultant who has saved the Jail money? No, this info was not in Oberg’s report, not that there was much of anything else.


ABC13’s Ted Oberg is doing a story on a no-bid contract that the Sheriff has given to a consulting firm. According to the Sheriff in one of ABC13s ads promoting the report, the consultant has saved the county a lot of money.

One thing I noticed from ABC13’s teaser is that the money paid to the consultant comes from profits from the jail commissary. So, that means that the overpriced ramen noodles, cupcakes, sodas, and other items bought by the inmates is paying for it. That’s a lot of ramen noodles eaten and no tax dollars wasted, at least at first glance.

I have to wonder if there’s a story to this. I would think the bigger story is that the price of ramen noodles is too damn high. Either that, or it’s sweeps week for the local news.

We shall see.

UPDATE:  The HCSO/Sheriff Adrian Garcia released this statement on the savings to taxpayers over the years.

When Sheriff Adrian Garcia took office in 2009, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was overspending its budget by about $58 million annually. In fact the agency had balanced its yearly budget only once in a decade.

In 2015, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has come in under the budget allocated by Commissioners Court for the fourth consecutive fiscal year.

Fiscal Year 2015, as it was known in county government, ended Feb. 28. After allowing for all accounts to settle from the previous budget year, the HCSO is celebrating another year of successful budget discipline.

“Keeping the people of Harris County safe is our top job,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. “Safeguarding public funds and protecting the pocket books of tax payers is a close second.”

“We are keeping the lid on crime for the 1.7 million people in the unincorporated areas of the county while keeping the door shut against monstrous budget deficits,” the sheriff added. “We accomplish this on the front lines with deputies on patrol and in the back offices where employees with business backgrounds eliminate financial waste.”

Some of the biggest savings have come from drastic reductions in overtime pay to staff the county jail, inmate rehabilitation programs that reduce repeat crimes, management of supply contracts and wider use of generic medications for ill inmates.

In the previous three years, budget savings allowed the Sheriff’s Office to put more deputies on patrol. About 90% of the $422 million budget for FY15 was allocated for law enforcement payroll.

“We’ll continue to work with Commissioners Court and other stakeholders to make sure we have the resources to preserve Harris County as a safe place that people choose every day as the place where they want to live, work and raise a family.”

Another Great Candidate Brunch in Kingwood

I’m the Emcee while Kevin McManis, Prez of KAD awaits my turn-over of the mic.

For another year, I had the honor of emceeing the Kingwood Area Democrats Spring Brunch and Candidate Meet-n-Greet. It’s probably the only time you’ll catch this lowly blogger at a country club, but I must say, the staff at Kingwood Country Club did a great job–great bacon!

Dems in the northern reaches of the county had the opportunity to shake hands with and listen to candidates for everything from Houston Mayor to Humble ISD trustee, and even a couple of 2016 candidates.

Candidates in attendance included:  Mayor – Sylvester Turner and Marty McVey; Council At Large 1 – Lane Lewis and Chris Oliver; Council At-Large 4 – Laurie Robinson, Larry Blackmon, and Amanda Edwards; Council At-Large 5 – Durrel Douglas and Philippe Nassif. For Humble ISD Pos. 7 – Nancy Morrison and Robert Scarfo; and Pos. 6 – Dr. Johnny O’Connor. For 2016, Judge Mike Engelhart who is seeking re-election; Steven Kirkland who will run for the 334th; and Joe Stephens, a Galena Park trustee running for JP Pct. 3.

Obviously, not all candidates showed, but as I told the crowd about the importance of Kingwood area Democratic votes to candidates’ bottom line at the end of election night, I also stated that decisions are made by those who show up. Like any group, voters enjoy retail politics and want to get to know their candidates. That said, the club does invite all candidates to visit KAD at their regular meetings since we’ve got seven months to go.

Some Highlights:

State Rep. Turner spoke a little bit about his work in the Texas Legislature, while also highlighting his years of leadership in various committees. Beyond his political work, he has also built businesses, such as a law practice and a title company. He gives credit to his hard-working employees for allowing him the time to serve in Austin. Marty McVey also highlighted his business experiences and how he would be able to bring that to the horseshoe to address issues like transportation and infrastructure.

Lane Lewis put on his Democratic Chairman hat to give a short update on the Party’s happenings. Needless to say, the Party is busy! Wearing his candidate hat, though, he concentrated some of his remarks on drainage as the evening before the rains caused his elderly parents’ home to flood.=Lewis stated that Houston needs someone who will advocate for the people on Council. He also hit on other issues regarding transportation and infrastructure. In fact, those seemed to be the issues of the day. Chris Oliver stated he wanted to bring his policy-making and budget-making experience on the HCC Board of Trustees to Council. He stated his experience in this regard would easily transfer to the tough decisions that need to be made on Council.

Larry Blackmon highlighted his experience as a teacher and in life. That he wanted to bring the peoples’ voice to Council. One issue he brought up was the need for Council to award contracts to the best bids, rather than the lowest bid as a means of ensuring a longer-lasting infrastructure. Laurie Robinson launched an impressive speech in which she spoke about her experiences about being called to action after Katrina. She led the way in finding housing for 16,000 folks who were at the Dome, and that when Ike hit, she was among those ensuring water and ice stations were available throughout the city. She also touched on her DC experience with helping write the Medicare prescription plan law. Finally, touching on her project management experience, Robinson feels she can utilize that experience to solve the city’s challenges. Amanda Edwards touched on her experiences in law school, New Orleans, and her return to Houston to a life of public service. A public finance lawyer, she stated she already helps to build cities and infrastructure and that that experience is needed on Council.

Philippe Nassif touched on his experience working in the nonprofit world, at the White House, and in the community. After stating that City Council needed a community organizer, his opponent Durrel Douglas agreed, and then provided his own experience with various community groups, such as TOP. While Nassif touched on his diverse background, Douglas offered his idea of a municipal ID for the undocumented to ensure people can come out of the shadows–at least locally. Both are running energetic campaigns with the hopes of unseating a over-funded right-wing incumbent Jack Christie.

I wish I could write more on all the candidates’ statements, but I was busy emceeing and not live-blogging or live-tweeting–or even taking notes. Still, I can’t say these candidates made my November decision any easier. I urge all to start paying attention now and not a few weeks before the election. So, stay connected to DC for the latest.

Check out the photos of the event here.

Thanks to the Kingwood Area Democrats for inviting me back. KAD will always be my second family and the Dem club which started up my local political involvement. Best of luck in 2015-2016.

Kingwood Area Democrats

 

Latino Turnout: Are Latino Candidates The Answer?

You may recall I wrote about attending a League of Women Voters low voter turnout forum a few weeks ago. Local professor Richard Murray stated that 2016 could be a good year for Latino turnout if either political party runs a Latin@ VP candidate.

He further cited that 2002’s campaign by Tony Sanchez actually increased Latino turnout throughout the state. I recall Sanchez’s ads and they hit at the hearts of Mexican Americans–I certainly enjoyed them. But when Rick Perry ran ads tying Sanchez to drug dealers and money laundering, even White Democrats believed Perry and voted for him in large numbers.

We’re at 2015 and we’ve had a first test of the assertion that a Latino on the ballot helps drive Latino turnout. Post-election research showing how Chicagoans voted is quite interesting. Hispanic voters gave almost 70% of their vote to Chuy Garcia, while 66% of white voters and 58% of black voters went to Emanuel. As far as the other demographics were concerned, it’s not like Garcia was far from their issues, but they stuck with Emanuel for some reason. Perhaps Latinos were looking for change, but certainly a progressive Latino candidate did help increase Latino turnout in Chicago, according to Latino Victory Project, although numbers were still low.

Will Houston get to test this assertion next? I think it is safe to predict that a left to center Latino candidate for Houston Mayor could increase Latino turnout, but will the end-result be the same as Chicago? Would there even be a run-off? I guess it all depends on if Houstonians as a whole embrace a Latino candidate. Chicago showed a tendency, but obviously not a full embrace.

Obviously, Murray’s assertion is that there be a Latino VP candidate in 2016 to give either party a major assist, but I’m talking about a major Latino candidacy at the top of the ballot. After yesterday’s results, I tend to think results elsewhere would be the same. Latino candidates not only have to campaign to a diverse electorate, but against big money interests, and they also have to combat right-wing, anti-Latino sentiment coming out of state legislatures.

Still, I think it needs to be continually tested, rather than have prospective Latino candidates remain in their comfort zones. Certainly, it would ensure a response to those who would make Latinos a political scapegoat.

Anti-Latino Bills Move Forward in Texas Senate

Credit: Denver Post (Click to Enlarge)

I think this is the most unsurprising news of the week. A Texas Senate subcommittee on “border security” moved two bills forward that would, (1) Legalize racial profiling of Latinos for immigration purposes, and (2) Stop in-state tuition rates for immigrant students whose families have more than established residency in Texas. Both bills move on to a full committee. Of course, all of this happened after dozens of students and advocates testified against both bills versus a few who spoke in favor.

While Republicans call these bills changes in policy, the targeted nature of these bills says a lot more. Anti-Latino attitudes by Republicans have once again come up to the surface and more lies are spread about the community. Some will call it fear, I’ll call it downright bigoted policy-making for their own political purposes.

Then there are those who will say that Latinos need to vote in larger numbers. I don’t disagree, but the caveat is that Democrats need to do a better job of defending Latinos and immigrants, instead of playing to right-wing voters by talking anti-immigrant nonsense with some delusion that they will earn their votes. Frankly, these attempts at “centrism” remind me of Rahm Emanuel working with racist Tom Tancredo on immigration reform.

Whether Republicans will come to their senses and kill these bills is still up in the air. Obviously, there’s a race against the legislative clock. How hard they work for these nonsense bills versus bills of dire importance will further show us what they are really about.

Update:  Earlier today, this post caught my attention. In other words, SB1819 (in-state tuition ban) can be beaten. It’s time to deluge Republican senators with phone calls telling them to vote NO on SB1819 if it reaches the Senate floor.

UPDATE:  Both bills (sb185 and sb1819) were approved by the full committee and will be sent to the full Texas Senate.