Category Archives: Local Politica

Chron Endorses Wu in HD-137

And DosCentavos agrees wholeheartedly with the Chron.

District 137: Gene Wu

When the federal government announced that it would start resettling Syrian refugees in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott looked at the fleeing families and saw a dangerous threat. State Rep. Gene Wu saw his next constituents. His southwest Houston district of Gulfton and Sharpstown might as well be the Ellis Island of Houston, serving as home to the waves of immigrants that come to our nation in search of freedom and safety. Burmese, Afghani, Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese, Libyans – Wu can tick off the timeline of new arrivals over the past several years. He knows who they are and knows he’ll be there to help. In the Legislature, he worked to pass an important bill that protected children who were victims of human trafficking, directing them to Child Protective Services instead of jail. And as a former Harris County prosecutor, he’s an important figure in the criminal justice debates in Austin.

I have nothing but respect for my State Rep. Gene Wu. He has represented us well and deserves another term–several more, if he wants them–in Austin. Along with his hard work, he has a great and responsive staff that is always available to help constituents when needed. The political reality for Democrats in Austin is bleak at times, so, we need Gene Wu there to not only get results for us, but to stand up for what is right.

Early voting begins on February 16 and goes on until February 26. Democratic Primary Day is March 1.

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.

 

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!

Ballot Change: Lane Lewis Now Unopposed for Party Chair

donkey-fightIf you visit the Harris Dems’ primary candidate listing, one will see that incumbent County Chair Lane Lewis is now unopposed. Recent At-Large 5 candidate Philippe Nassif’s nascent candidacy for County Chair has been declared ineligible for the Democratic Primary.

According to state law, a candidate for county chair must collect the signatures on a petition of 10% of the party’s incumbent precinct chairs. According to the Party, that number would then be 48. According to folks inside the Party, Nassif did not meet the required number.

Although the decision of eligibility on all candidate applications was left to Chairman Lewis, Lewis went further and sought the opinion of an election law counsel and of the Democratic Party Primary Committee, who also agreed with the result.

Nassif has informed his supporters in an e-mail about the situation:

Even as I accept the decision, I was very disappointed to receive this news. The signature process is a precise one and requires 48 legible signatures from current precinct chairs. It also requires that none of these chairs sign more than one petition for a single race, yet some had forgotten they had signed Lane Lewis’ petition during the summer.

Here in Harris County, our democracy has been dealt a setback. The process to challenge a sitting party chair is convoluted and flawed, and the number of signatures I received displayed a level of anxiety with our party leadership that needs to be addressed immediately. My challenge of Lane Lewis’s chairmanship was never personal, but it was meant to send a strong message that change is needed in order for our party to start growing again and winning big.

That message has been sent.

Convoluted and flawed? Sure, but it’s also allowed by state law. How to change that? Talk about convoluted and flawed!

Anyway, Nassif isn’t done serving the party and Democrats and will be of service. As I told a friend of mine who I had been advising on a possible run, you don’t have to be a candidate or an elected official to be of service. There’s always fundraising for candidates and causes, or, I don’t know, doing every we can to increase voter turnout.

 

 

2016: Ann Harris Bennett for Tax Assessor-Collector

annbennettI’m glad to see that our family friend Ann Harris Bennett has filed to seek the Democratic nomination for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar in 2016.

“I am honored to announce my candidacy for Harris County Tax Assessor Collector & Voter Registrar on the March 2016 Democratic Primary ballot.  I am dedicated to serving all citizens of Harris County with the integrity, transparency, and efficiency they deserve from this office.  My focus is to make the necessary changes to upgrade the office and bring it into the 21st century.  I intend to serve the people free of political cronyism and dysfunction.”

Bennett has been a strong candidate over three countywide races, but in 2012, she came less than 2400 votes short against Mike Sullivan in the race for Tax Assessor-Collector, despite being largely outspent by the well-funded Republican. That’s .2%, folks.

No doubt, Bennett has built up some name recognition and strong connections with Democrats, as well as voters, in general.

Here is her press release announcing her 2016 run. You can follow her on Facebook, or on her website.

 

 

#StaceSlate Goes 5-2; Houston Elects Turner

Thanks to not picking in a couple of races, I went 5-2 with my City of Houston run-off picks. Congratulations to Sylvester Turner, Chris Brown, David Robinson, Amanda Edwards, and Mike Laster, AKA The StaceSlate. Of course, I am saddened to lose my own CM Nguyen–but not by much. And about my friend, Jason Cisneroz, I will say that he’s not done yet.

Here are a few thoughts that came to mind as the vote was coming in:

21.36%:  Turnout was sad, to say the least. It is safe to say that if over 700K other Houstonians really cared about their city (other than standing in line for hours at Krispy Kreme or spending the time to find a matching arm cast for their #99 jerseys), we’d have some major wins on election night. I don’t know what the solution is, but while a few non-voters may have issues with those in the running, at some point one just has to chalk it up to laziness and lack of caring. Or as my favorite t-shirt states:  Los Pendejos No Votan.

And Then There Was One: Latinos are now left with one Latino on the Council table–Robert Gallegos. As I half-jokingly, half-seriously told someone close to Gallegos, he’s also reppin’ us brown folks on the west side of town. Some will say we shouldn’t break things down by race or ethnicity, but I say those folks miss the mark with their hopes for some sort of utopia. No one understands a community better than someone who has had close to similar experiences–at times it may be socioeconomic circumstances, other times it may be due to similar negative experiences at the hands of right wingers. Of course, sometimes, ethnic representation isn’t all it is cracked up to be, and to this, I thank Amanda Edwards for handing Right-Wing Roy Morales an embarrassing loss. Ultimately, representation is also about standing and defending against what is wrong in the world, so, we have a responsibility to elect the right people. It would just be nice if we could elect a few brown people; especially citywide. Hint-Hint:  2019 At-Large seats!

2016: Whether it was the city elections or the coming Democratic Primary, I’ve heard (and read) friends of mine bemoan competitive races. There were folks upset we had Turner, Garcia, McVey, and the other guy who called himself a Dem but endorsed the right-winger in the run-off, but it made for great discussion (for those listening). It’d be nice to coalesce behind one candidate early-on, but that’s not what democracy is all about. Besides, we all want there to be a coalescing behind “our” candidate. The 2016 primary will have some competitive races, and already I’m getting friend requests and follows from some of the competitors. And that’s the way it should be, if we’re really into that democracy thing. Sure, it might get negative, ugly, we may see law firms trying to buy candidates, and churches violating the separation of church and state (which I hold dear) by endorsing candidates, but until we decide to really fix things, then complaining about competitive elections because we like a particular candidate and not the other doesn’t help democracy. Actually, none of the aforementioned stuff helps democracy and is a reason some people may not vote, but that’s for another discussion–if we really want to have it.

Congrats to the winners; serve us well.

 

 

 

 

Ed Gonzalez Files for Harris County Sheriff

cafeed2Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez announced through Facebook that he had filed to seek the Dem nomination for Harris County Sheriff.

This afternoon I officially filed for a place on the ballot to serve as your next Harris County Sheriff!

I’m a proud life-long Houstonian and have spent the last 24 years as a public servant. As our city’s Mayor Pro-Tem and as an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, I’ve dedicated my career to: crafting innovative and effective solutions to modern-day crime issues, transforming government through the use of innovation and technology, improving mobility and infrastructure, and ensuring that our city’s future leaders have access to world-class educational opportunities.

As your next Sheriff, I’ll keep our families safe, the budget balanced, and criminals off our streets. I’ll ensure that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is transparent, efficient, and responsive to the needs of every neighborhood. Thank you for your support as we embark on this campaign!

With Gonzalez’s entry into the 2016 political scene, we have an exciting candidate with a record of effective service to the community. As Mayor Pro-Tem, his reach has gone beyond the District H he serves. And, as he finishes his third term, he’s kept on working hard for Houston as was noticed this past weekend with the opening of CafeCollege Houston–a service for all Houstonians who want to go to college or find information on how to change careers and earn workforce certifications in which Gonzalez played a major role in developing. Obviously, his service as a local police officer gives him an edge in regards to political viability and the ability to manage HCSO.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our countywide slate in 2016.

 

CafeCollege: A Great Community Resource

I had the chance to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for CafeCollege Houston–a brand new resource for the community to assist school kids and adults with college-going services.

After San Antonio, under then-Mayor Julian Castro, developed something similar, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez came up with the idea and brought it to Mayor Annise Parker this past summer. Within a few months, along with funding provided by Gonzalez’s budget, a partnership was created between The City, Houston Public Libraries, and ProjectGRAD. Soon after, a location was set-up at Near-Northside’s Carnegie Library.

The Mayor Pro-Tem gave me a quick pre-show tour and I must say it’s an impressive location that will get anyone excited about college.

Café College Houston is a “one-stop-shop” for teens and adults to receive help in finding the right college, SAT & ACT preparation, college admissions assistance, career guidance, and help applying for financial aid. Whether attending college to get a degree or work on a certificate for a professional trade, Café College Houston will have experts offering support through each step. No one is too young or too old to get started.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez believes that “Café College Houston will transform the way that our communities learn about educational and career opportunities. I’m proud to launch this initiative in District H and to bring this important resource to our children and families. Folks from across our great city will be able to apply to college, search for financial aid, get career guidance, and prepare for acceptance exams — all under one roof. Café College Houston will empower our citizens and allow every Houstonian to achieve their dreams.”

Café College Houston is an innovative public-private partnership between the City of Houston, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez, the Houston Public Library, Project GRAD Houston, Houston Municipal Courts, and the City of San Antonio. Café College was first implemented in San Antonio and is one of two statewide pilot programs for the Texas College Access Network.