Category Archives: Texas Lege

Hi- and Low-Lites from the SBOE Hearing

No doubt, there was some great testimony by supporters of Mexican American Studies, including DC-friend, Tony “Librotraficante” Diaz and Recognized author Dagoberto Gilb. Of course, Mexican American Studies was promoted and defended effectively, and it was made known that this would basically be a state-sanctioned elective whose curriculum would be developed and approved by the State and offered to the entire state. It’s a pretty simple proposal.

According to Juan Tejeda, faculty advisor at the Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, stated that 40 individuals testified in favor of the proposal, and only one testified against it.

The AP released this report.

The discussions also likely will preview some of the coming clashes over the content of new social studies textbooks the board is set to approve for use in classrooms across Texas this fall. In 2010, then Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga even stormed out of a meeting on social studies curriculum after failing in her efforts to include more lessons on Hispanic leaders, declaring: “We can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

The best question asked of the SBOE:

Still, that did beg for some questions that didn’t make much sense, but do speak to any future clashes over what is taught in the course.

As Diaz noted, the course would have to be approved first before any discussion of what is included could be had.

Obviously, Mercer was attempting to make things political in nature, rather than educational. But I agree with Diaz that if he wants to be a part of the discussion, what better way to get involved than by voting yes.

As far as Cruz’s inclusion, it could be said that maybe 65% of Mexican American voters chose the Anglo Democrat over Cruz and that Cruz constantly votes against Mexican American interests (health care, jobs, education/college aid). At least that’s what I’d contribute. That’s if Mercer really wants to get political. Otherwise, let’s make it about educating kids and move forward.

There was another question about whether indigenous Guatemalans were similar to indigenous Mexicans from SBOE member Hardy, whom I called out yesterday for basically saying Mexican American Studies came from Mexico. At least that’s what I think I heard. But that one would just be too easy to ridicule, considering she’s been a social studies teacher.

One thing is for sure. The naysayers effectively prove through their ignorance that Mexican American Studies is needed.


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Note to SBOE Member: You Sound Ignorant

So, there is an article in the Chron (behind paywall) about the upcoming vote on Mexican American Studies at the Texas State Board of Education. It’s no secret that, although there is one Republican who supports the measure, the entire opposition is made up of Republicans. I’m hoping a few more can be convinced to support the measure, but these folks seem to be against it.

Some, like the head of the board, attempt to explain it away.

“I think it is up to the local school districts whether or not to offer a Mexican-American studies course,” board chairman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands

Some attempt to play “divide and conquer”:

“I’m Irish,” says board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. “So I’d like to propose an amendment to create an Irish-American Studies class.”

Then, others are downright ignorant and just plain racist, if that was her intent. I hope it wasn’t.

“We’re citizens of the United States, not citizens of Mexico.” Patricia Hardy R-Weatherford.

Let me explain to Ms. Hardy:  Mexican Americans ARE Americans!!! The social, political, and cultural history of Mexican Americans and their impact on Texas is often left out of textbooks and the classrooms for various reason. What kind of an ignorant comment is that?

And to David Bradley:  Really? Well, If there is a group of activists knocking on your door with a viable and sincere request for Irish American Studies, let them in. Otherwise, your little game is a tad immature.

And Ms. Cargill and the rest:  What are you afraid of?

I’ll let my friend, HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche explain it:

“We want to have a culturally and historically relevant high school course that aligns to the TEKS,” she says, referring to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, curriculum standards that the state creates for various classes. “We want the course to be well developed and well defined. If we don’t develop the TEKS, it can get lost in the shuffle.”

Some say we are wasting our breath because the Republicans are hell-bent on being anti-Latino, no matter what the issue may be. That may be so. But if they think that voting down the measure will end the conversation, they are wrong.

It is much simpler to vote to support Mexican American Studies and move forward. Moving backwards certainly shouldn’t be an option. It wasn’t an option for Texas’ heroes that are in our textbooks, and moving backwards was not an option for Mexican Americans who fought to move forward despite the opposition and the odds.


Van de Putte Takes Houston

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, candidate for Texas Lt. Governor, spent the entire day in Houston on Saturday, moving from one end of town to another. And this blogger turned into a groupie who went to at least a few of her Houston stops–and let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to support such a magnetic and real candidate.

My day started at the Universal Shopping Center in the far western reaches of Bellaire Blvd. A diverse and energetic crowd welcomed Senator Van de Putte to Houston as her tour bus rolled in. No sooner was she off the bus, she was shaking hands and giving out heartfelt abrazos to supporters.

The Vietnam Veterans memorial provided a powerful backdrop for the Senator’s speech which covered everything from Veteran’s affairs to public education to infrastructure development (roads). Van de Putte also gave a defense of the Rio Grande Valley, which some Republicans have called the “third world,” citing over $700 million in trade per day and the vibrancy of the area. The responsive crowd stuck around after the speech to meet-greet and take selfies with the Senator.

While the Senator went to a couple more events, including the Texas Democratic Women’s “Women Making History” Luncheon, I headed out to Fiesta Loma Linda for some menudo and to await a sit-down between the Senator and the local progressive blogosphere.  What could have been a Q&A was more like a family around the table, joking a little, discussing policy and politics, and mostly, getting to know the Senator. Let me tell you, watching her on TV or on the web, one gets the feeling that she’s as real as they come. In-person, though, she is amazing, and as one blogger friend of mine states, “formidable.” She doesn’t mince words and she tells one how she feels. As I like to say, and actually told her, my favorite thing about her is that she is a Latina candidate who wasn’t created in laboratory and doesn’t run away from her upbringing or feels the need to revamp her story for political purposes. She’s a proud mom and abuela who is basically fighting for what’s right. Plus, she’s a state university-educated woman and I really like that about her.

The fact that she was the real-deal became quite obvious when she spoke to a group of college student leaders, most from collegiate Dem clubs. The most powerful part of her speech was her breakdown of tuition deregulation and how it has affected tuition rates to the tune of a 58% increase since it was first made policy. The compare/contrast in which she admits that during her days in college, one could work a part-time job and still afford tuition and living expenses, but that today’s college students are racking up loan debt even while working, showed me a candidate who understands the current situation. I had never seen a Texas Dem candidate who could connect so well with college students about the issues that affect them, and the future that awaits them if given the right opportunities with leaders that care at the helm of the Texas government.

For me, the day was over, but for Van de Putte, the bus was on its way to Fort Bend County and then on to Corpus Christi for another leg of her 2500 mile Texas tour–the first of several around the state. I highly recommend Texans give their attention to the Senator–attend her events, seek her out on social media and spread word about her campaign. Either of her prospective opponents will continue Texas’ race to the bottom, and Senator Van de Putte is all about the future of Texas.





UPDATE:  I also captured some video of her speech to the college students. I had to reduce it to 11 minutes, but, here you go:


Luis Lopez for HD-132 Launches This Weekend


Senator Sylvia Garcia Releases Sylvia’s Choice for the Primary


First of all, congrats to State Senator Sylvia Garcia who was elected by her peers as Vice-Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus. She joins another one of my favorites, State Senator Jose Rodriguez, who will serve as Chair.

Senator Jose Rodriguez said:  “I look forward to continuing work on pressing issues for the state, especially those highlighted by the Latino Summit that took place in Austin in October — immigration reform, education funding, access to healthcare, economic opportunities and civic engagement.”

Senator Garcia said: “I’m looking forward to serving as the Vice Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus with my good friend and new Chairman Jose Rodriguez. We worked very well together during the legislative session and while organizing the 2013 Latino Summit.

And, now, Sylvia’s Choice 2014:

United States Congress: James Cargas
Governor: Wendy R. Davis
Commissioner of Agriculture: Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III
Railroad Commissioner: Steve Brown
State Senate, District 15: John Whitmire
State Representative, District 131: Alma Allen
State Representative, District 145: Carol Alvarado
District Judge, 113th Judicial District: Steven E. Kirkland
District Judge, 246th Judicial District: Julia Maldonado
District Attorney: Kim Ogg
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 10: George Barnstone
County Clerk: Ann Harris Bennett

Vote YES For Immigration Reform, Raising Minimum Wage and Medicaid Expansion!

We will continue to work on voter education and participation in Senate District 6 and throughout our state. Remember to attend your Senatorial Convention on March 22.

Our Senate 6 convention will be held at 8am on March 22, 2014 at HCC Southeast Campus, Learning Hub, 815 Rustic, 77087.

Wendy Supports What?

wendyI won’t lie (and neither will my Facebook page), I wasn’t very happy with the announcement that Senator Wendy Davis supports “open carry” of handguns. In my opinion, it opens up a whole can of worms, including questions about whether she would support “campus carry” and other non-priorities. If she desires to be pulled into those other debates, then she’ll get bogged down in that, instead of real issues. I continue to have faith that her campaign team will remain committed to issues that actually matter.

So, then I came to this conclusion:  It’s been too long since I voted for or supported a candidate who was supportive 100% of the “Democratic Platform According to DosCentavos.” If anything, one of my close associates reacted to my feelings:  “C’mon where is she from? Fort Worth. They probably still have gunfights at the Stockyards.” And then I remembered that once I was also a Democrat who demanded ideological purity or commitment proven through Democratic Primary participation, until I started meeting former Republicans who switched to and worked for the better Party. You know, people who are like Senator Davis.

And then I began to rationalize like a good little Democrat:  Well, at least she’s not calling South Texas a “third world” country; she’s not calling for the militarization of South Texas and the hunting of Mexican Americans; she’s not proposing cutting school funding; she’s not making immigrants and Latinos a campaign piñata during a right-wing primary; and she’s not proposing keeping millions of poor Texans (mostly of color) uninsured. No, we all know that Greg Abbott is running on all of these things, as are the rest in his right-wing party.

So, an issue like “open carry” is not going to make a ballot decision for me since it can still be stopped at the legislative level. And depending on what comes out of the Lege, it can be vetoed, weakened, or even, if possible, filibustered by the next Wendy in the Senate, whomever he or she may be. This is a democracy and the people must participate no matter the party of the elected official, to ensure that the highest priorities are met. And that’s why it’s even more important that people vote. If my mom can do it from her pre-op room before surgery today, then anyone can do it.

Also, some say she’s pandering, or that she’s the mastermind of some political ploy. Honestly, I don’t think so. I really do believe it when she says she supports “open carry.” I’m just glad our next Lt. Governor, Leticia Van De Putte, was equally honest that she did not support “open carry.”

My friend Cody Pogue has his view, and as he hopes of Democrats, Wendy Davis has not lost my vote. We know the damage Greg Abbott, Rick Perry, and the Republicans have inflicted on Texas while lining their and their friend’s pockets. I still believe in Wendy Davis much like I believe in the power of my vote and democratic participation.

Texpatriate gives his view, too.

Houston Politics: The War on Women and Wendy

Rey Guerra and I are back with another podcast of Houston Politics w/ Stace and Rey. In our latest episode, we have our first special guest of 2014, Yvonne Gutierrez, VP Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Give it a listen as we navigate our way through Planned Parenthood and its services; Planned Parenthood’s work with the Affordable Care Act; The War on Women; the personal and vile attacks on Wendy Davis; and we even touch a bit on the Super Bowl and Richard Sherman.

Here’s the URL:


HCC Ends the Wilson Thing

The Chron is reporting that Houston Community College has cleared the way for the local bigot, yet, winner of the HCC District 2 race, to take his seat at the first board meeting of the term. How does this affect the County Attorney Vince Ryan’s lawsuit to keep Wilson from taking office? (Shrugs)

The college’s legal team decided that there is no current barrier to him taking office.

“Right now, Mr. Wilson has been elected and has taken an oath of office and there is no prohibition from any court that would prevent him from taking his seat, so – from the perspective of Houston Community College – there is no legal basis at this time to deny him the opportunity to sit as a trustee,” HCC special counsel Gene Locke said on Tuesday.

I can’t say I expected much to happen regarding the residency issue; that’s if anything continues at that end. Nothing really ever happens in the courts regarding residency–and I was starting to wonder if anything could happen even  as obvious as the residency violation may be, as in the case of Dave Wilson’s warehouse-slash-showerless bedroom. Obviously, the legislature needs to write some detailed rules about this, but they won’t.

Of course, this takes nothing away from the way Wilson won in a heavily black district. He lied to voters, or at the very least was a bit disingenuous with his supposed blackness. Or whiteness, as the case may be. One thing is for sure, half of the folks that voted didn’t like the incumbent or were looking to replace him. I just wish voters would learn more about whom they were giving their vote.

Update:  Kuff has a recap of the legal events.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is Coming to Texas

That’s right, while Rick Perry is headed to Maryland to spout off lies about the so-called “Texas miracle,” it’s a good time to announce that Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland will be in Texas on Saturday, October 26 to give the keynote address at the Harris County Democratic Party’s Johnson Rayburn Richards Governor’s Gala.

“Governor O’Malley represents the type of results-oriented leadership that we need in Texas. He’s gotten results in the toughest of times – Maryland ranks #1 in public schools, #1 in holding down the cost of college tuition, and #1 in innovation and entrepreneurship. Texas Republicans could learn a thing or two about leadership from him, so we’re privileged to have him as our keynote speaker next month,” said Lane Lewis, Harris County Democratic Party Chair.

The J-R-R is the premier event of the political season bringing together a crowd as diverse as, well, as diverse as the Democratic Party.

A little bit on O’Malley:

Martin O’Malley is serving the people of Maryland in his second term as Governor. Since 2007, his Administration has been delivering results for Maryland families by choosing to do the things that work to create jobs, expand opportunity, and make Maryland a safer, healthier place.

A former Governing Magazine “Public Official of the Year,” Governor O’Malley was re-elected in 2010. His 2013 legislative successes were described in a Baltimore Sun editorial as “without many parallels in recent Maryland history.”

With a balanced approach of spending cuts, regulatory reform, and modern investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure, Governor O’Malley and his Administration are making better choices that are delivering better results, including:

  • The fastest rate of job growth in the region.
  • The #1 ranking for best public schools in America for an unprecedented five years in a row. (Education Week)
  • The #1 ranking for holding down the cost of college tuition. (College Board)
  • The #1 ranking for innovation and entrepreneurship for two years running. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Under the Governor’s leadership, Maryland ranks #1 nationally in median income, #1 in PHD scientists and researchers per capita, #1 in Research and Development, and #1 in businesses owned by women. The Milken Institute ranks Maryland as one of the top 2 states in America for science and technology.

And why would they want to send jobs to Rick Perry’s Texas? As the Maryland House Speaker stated about Perry’s attempts at job poaching:

“It’s equally ironic that it’s coming from someone who, when he ran for president, couldn’t even identify the three government agencies he’d like to eliminate,” Busch said. “Maybe he’s coming here to take some of our remedial higher education classes. We’d be happy to offer him our affordable higher education prices.”

So, let’s support the Harris Democrats. Get your tickets to the J-R-R!

The money that is raised will help us elect good leaders who will build a government as good as Maryland’s!



Ms. T Joins Boycott of Macy’s and Kroger’s

As I was doing a little grocery shopping at the little HEB in Bellaire, and scrolling though my Facebook app on the phone, I found out that State Rep. Senfronia Thompson has also joined the boycott of Kroger’s and Macy’s.

“Upon learning that Macy’s had pressured Governor Perry to veto the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, I decided to cancel my appearance at today’s press conference,” Thompson said in a press release. “HB 950 passed both chambers with bipartisan support, and until Macy’s and other retailers that oppose common sense legislation get on board with equal pay for equal work, I will not be patronizing any of them. I will not support these retailers until they support Texas women.”

Regarding Rick Perry’s reasoning for vetoing the bill, Thompson provided a dose of reality for those who may consider themselves “pro-business” and back Perry’s boycott.

But Thompson said “federal courts are more expensive for both plaintiffs and defendants while state courts are available in every county and are less costly.  This bill is about letting Texans solve Texas problems to take care of Texas wage disputes.”

Meanwhile, I might check out Dillard’s this weekend.

Sign Progress Texas’ petition and join the boycott.