Category Archives: LEUV

Arts Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol

by Fidencio Leija-Chavez, Jr.

TODAY is “Art Advocacy Day at the Capitol.” Why is this important to Texans? The arts produce over $4.5 billion in revenue and shape our states landscape. Last legislative session, our leaders decide to cut funding for the arts by 50%.

The majority of arts funds from the state are allocated to the Texas Commission on the Arts, which are distributed to non-profits, community centers and art centers throughout our state.

In comparison to other states, Texas only funds 11 cents per person – while other states like New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma provide over 60 cents per person. Oklahoma leads the way with $1.06 per citizen.

The next time you drive by a community mural or Talento Bilingüe de Houston, you’ll remember if you made a phone call today to let your legislators know that increasing funding per person is important to you and your community.

It only takes 3 minutes to call your representative and inform them that Latinos are also part of the arts. Don’t wait! Call today!

Find the contact information for your State Representative here.

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TexasCJC: Harris County’s Racially Targeted Policies

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has released a study on the impact of Harris County’s racially targeted policies, specifically its trace amounts policy and its anti-immigrant policies. From the study, though, one gets a sense that perhaps a bond between the African American and Hispanic communities can work together to effect meaningful criminal justice policies that benefit the entire community.

The study found that Harris County focuses its resources on drug crimes, especially felony drug possession; in fact, it has been the number one felony charge in the county for 20 years. Worse, although blacks and whites have similar drug-use rates, it is African Americans who are targeted most for arrest, prosecution, and conviction.

While blacks make up about 19 percent of Harris County residents, they made up almost 50 percent of those arrested for felony drug possession between October 2011 and September 2012, and they comprise 65.8 percent of those being incarcerated by Harris County in state prisons or jails for felony drug possession.

The County’s policies seem to apply to the Hispanic community, particularly its over-commitment to immigration enforcement. As DosCentavos has found in its own research, and now backed up by this study, the vast majority of those booked and then found to be unauthorized immigrants and reported to ICE have not been convicted of a crime or have been convicted of petty, usually undeportable crimes. Moreover, many of these detentions are more than likely based on racial and ethnic stereotypes, not much different from the African Americans targeted for drug arrests.

The report especially calls out the immigration policies for the stereotype that it creates–that all immigrants are criminals or likely to commit crimes. In fact, foreign-born detainees go to prison at lesser rates than U.S. citizens arrested for crimes.

Ultimately, this is all about safety. The contention that arresting people for trace drug amounts stops property crimes is far-fetched. Likewise, is the contention that somehow keeping working immigrants in deportation limbo in an ICE facility is somehow a crime-fighting tactic. All this does is cause a sense of distrust between the community and the police. Especially within immigrant communities, the effect of this distrust is a lower likelihood that crimes will be reported for fear of law enforcement.

Obviously, the new Republican DA is not helping by re-instituting its trace policy, and our Democratic Sheriff does not help by continuing the Secure Communities and 287g programs. But this opens up and opportunity for communities to work together to demand accountability and better services from a taxing entity, such as Harris County.

Read the entire report here.

SOTS: The Power of Words (or Lack of Them)

by Fidencio Leija-Chavez, Jr.

I am not a certified English teacher, and I must confess that English is my second language. However, after several years in the U.S. Navy, my community college experience and now pursuing a master’s degree, I recognize the power of words.

Today (Jan. 29) we had the opportunity to hear our Texas Governor present his State of the State address to all Texans. Following his 3,720-word discourse, the power of words resulted in a lack of words and marginal effort.

Governor Perry opened with recognizing his family, past legislators (i.e. Houston’s Sen. Gallegos) and growth of private-sector jobs. He continued by praising CEO’s, companies and state-of-the-art packing plants. While jobs, business, and the economy of Texas occupied the majority of his speech, the Latino community awaited for Governor Perry to unveil his concern and plan for issues that affect Hispanic children, college students and families throughout the state.

We’ll give him partial credit for utilizing the word education ten times, but he never once covered the hot button issues of vouchers and standardized tests. These two will more than likely push the Governor to keep legislators past their 140 days in Austin.

Before we get to social issues that concern the Latino community (and in my opinion – all Texans), he also failed to mention women and veterans. Even more, what about women that are veterans? His speech just dropped another letter grade.

Women are filling our classrooms, leading in small business, and continuously graduating in higher numbers in college. How could they have been left out? Now, our military men and women should be alarmed that our Texas Governor overlooked them when our soldiers are returning with some of the highest rates of PTSD ever witnessed. There are no excuses for forgetting those who have served this country.

Our community inspired four new congressional seats and holds the largest percentage of children in K-12 in the State and our Governor only mentions the word Hispanic twice. Both of those instances were related to the participation of Hispanic students taking the SAT and ACT.

Which leads our community to wonder – why did he not mention comprehensive immigration reform, sanctuary cities, Dreamers, or social issues that affect everyday Hispanic communities?

Governor Perry gave us a one sided State of the State address. He applauded his supporters and defended conservative ideology while failing to recognize issues that matter to the state’s largest constituency & voting base – women, veterans, Latinos and new American citizens. These groups are engaged, united and voting in greater numbers each year, so do not be alarmed as you see them closing the gap and shifting our state to purple as our Governor and Legislative officials fail to recognize them when it matters. Words do matter!

There were 3,720 words used in the State of the State speech by Governor Rick Perry. Below is a breakdown of keywords that were used in present, past and future tense. In addition, the words could have been used in singular, plural, and in conjunction with other words.

Veterans = 0
Women = 0
Community Colleges = 1
Minority = 1
Hispanic = 2
Economic = 5
Private = 5
Business = 6
Education = 10
Fund = 13
Jobs = 16
 

Joining DosCentavos.net as a bloguero is Fidencio “Orale” Leija-Chavez, Jr. Fidencio is a Co-Founder of Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting., a US Navy Vet, a Texas State University Bobcat studying Geographic Information Systems, a graduate of Houston’s National Hispanic Professional Organization Leadership Institute, and a local political pro.

The Bipartisan Agreement on Immigration Framework

Looks like the Senate will have some sort of immigration framework to begin work on immigration reform. Again, this is only a framework, and not actual legislation. Once it is written up, it will go through a painful committee process which will be contentious, unless the Republicans in the mix are able to control their own colleague’s vitriol. Anyway, the framework goes a little like this.

As those security measures take effect, the proposal says, illegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis. That would allow them to live and work legally in the United States, unless they have committed serious crimes, which could subject them to deportation. Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.

After the enforcement measures take effect, those who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency. The proposal insists that those who have entered the country illegally would not get preferential treatment over legal immigrants playing by the rules.

The only exceptions would be made for seasonal agricultural workers as well as young individuals who unknowingly entered the country illegally as children in a move similar to the DREAM Act proposal that has stalled in Congress for years.

Looks familiar, huh?

Some will say, “Finally!” I’m more willing to say, “Why didn’t you do this during Term 1?” Obviously, the Sunday talking head shows showed a remarkable move to the left on the issue from Senator McCain, as he pointed to the 2012 election results. Republicans still have it in mind that Latinos somehow belong to them, but we’re not single issue people. Mess with our health care, mess with our Social Security, mess with safety net programs and college financial aid, and Latinos will continue to respond, despite the Latino Decisions poll, which I think did not really go into depth tying all issues together.

Still, there are some issues of contention that I’m not in favor of at this point. The Republicans’ insistence that the pathway not begin until some imaginary security measure is instituted has yet to be described.

Before a pathway to citizenship can happen, the group says that new border security measures first must take effect, including an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and agents at the border, new rules for tracking people entering the country on temporary visas and the creation of a commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect.

But if “legal status” comes before the path to citizenship, then it may be the one thing that will bring both sides together. Unfortunately, the point where the pathway begins may become a long-term debate in the process. Perhaps the committee will iron that out, although, I believe it should be made up of non-elected officials, perhaps human rights representatives, law enforcement, and the like. Someone like Rick Perry on a committee will only make it a platform for 2016.

The contentious part on the Republicans side will be that of “amnesty,” which a good chunk of their Tea Party favorites will call the measure, despite the fines and rules. I expect the vitriol to come from that general direction.

Of course, I cannot say I’m in favor of some of those security measures. Unmanned drones flying around the Valley and South Texas aren’t something that would make me feel “secure.” Any type of militarization of areas in which 90% of the population is Mexican American makes me kind of nervous. Has anyone asked Americans who live in these areas how they feel about that?

The President announces his ideas on Tuesday, but for all intents and purposes, it would seem that those who are supposed to be creating legislation (Congress) are actually working toward something.

Moyers Full-Segment: New Face of Reproductive Rights

Thanks, again, to Moyers Media.

SD-6 – ELECTION DAY – SATURDAY

Well, it’s Saturday, January 26, and according to Rick Perry, today is the day you get to vote in the Senate District 6 Special Election. You missed early voting, but you get one final shot at picking your next State Senator, but you need to vote in your neighborhood polling location.

Need to find your polling location? HarrisVotes has a cool tool where you just punch in your address and voila!, you get your location and a sample ballot! Click on the image below to get there. Polls are open from 7am to 7pm. Do your duty!

FindPoll

CPPP Releases New Family Budget Tool

One of my favorite policy groups, the Center for Public Policy Priorities released a new data tool that finds what a two-income family with two kids must earn to cover basic expenses in various areas of the state, without any kind of family or government assistance.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other public sources, the Center for Public Policy Priorities created the Better Texas Family Budgets, an online public education tool that measures what it really takes to survive and thrive across 26 metropolitan areas for eight different family sizes.

They go on to describe some startling facts.

“The basic budgets we’ve created paint a picture of what it takes for Texas families to cover basic needs and have a safe and healthy lifestyle,” said Frances Deviney, senior research associate at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Our base budgets don’t account for what it takes to get ahead, such as college savings for their children or emergency savings to protect against unexpected hard times.”

To explore what it takes to get ahead, the Better Texas Family Budgets tool features three new savings categories – emergency, college, and retirement – that the user can opt to add on top of the basic family budget.

“The Better Texas Family Budgets addresses how much income is enough for working Texas families, and clearly, the answer is complex,” Deviney said. “It depends on how big your family is, where you live, and what kind of benefits your job provides, if any at all.”

The Better Texas Family Budgets also calculates how many jobs in each metropolitan area pay enough to cover the needs of different sized families.

“From what this shows us, just having a job is not enough in Texas, and there is gap between what people are earning and how much it costs to live.” said Don Baylor, Jr., senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Nearly 80 percent of low-income Texas families are working full-time and year-round, so clearly many of them are poor not because they don’t work but because their job doesn’t pay enough. In fact, Texas has the third-worst rate across the country of jobs that pay at or below minimum wage.

“Not only do we need jobs that pay and offer good benefits, but also we must reinvest in the safety net to keep families from falling further into poverty when times get tough,” Baylor said.

For all those who complain about assistance for those who need it, well, this tool provides a dose of reality.

This tool highlights what life is really like for Texas families and emphasizes what our policy priorities should be moving forward during the 2013 legislative session. To ensure that all Texans can not only get by, but can actually get ahead, we need to invest in public and higher education to create opportunities for well-paying jobs with benefits. We also need to shore up those work supports for Texans whose jobs don’t pay enough to cover basic expenses by ensuring they do not go hungry (e.g., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and have access to affordable quality health care (e.g., implementation of health reform). These programs provide a critical hand-up to families who are working hard to get ahead.

Accompanying the tool is a video documentary which can be seen here.

Thanks to CPPP for developing this snapshot of reality.

The New Face of Reproductive Rights on Moyers

Thanks to the folks at Moyers Media again for providing the link to the video preview of an upcoming program. As we celebrate 40 years of Roe v Wade, it is always good to see the leadership of this movement become more diverse.

Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Lynn Paltrow, founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, talk to Bill about the how the modern abortion debate connects to other social justice issues.

“Reproductive justice really broadens the movement to incorporate things like socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity,” says González-Rojas. “It’s really inclusive and much more holistic than looking to protect just the narrow, legal right to abortion.”

Watch on Full-Screen or…

Librotraficante Earns Intellectual Freedom Award

From the University of Illinois Grad School of Library and Information Sciences. Congrats to my friend Tony Diaz and his compatriotas for this ongoing movement. La lucha sigue!

Librotraficante is the 2012 recipient of the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award given by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Librotraficante, a movement led by Tony Diaz, is being recognized for its efforts to oppose the censorship of ethnic and cultural studies materials in Arizona.

In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed Arizona House Bill 2281 to modify the state public education system in regards to the teaching of ethnic studies. By prohibiting courses “designed for pupils of a particular ethnic group” and “advocating ethnic solidarity,” this law has been used to eliminate Tucson’s popular Mexican American Studies (MAS) program from the public school system. This ban involved the removal of dozens of MAS textbooks and reading list books such as award-winning works A People’s History of the United States (Zinn, 1980) and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1970). In response, the American Library Association (ALA) issued a resolution opposing the restriction of these materials.

The Librotraficante (the translation of which means “book smuggler”) movement emerged to counter the effects of the ban. In early 2012, with leadership from Diaz, Liana Lopez, Bryan Parras, Lupe Mendez, and Laura Acosta, Librotraficante organized a caravan of educators and activists who facilitated a series of events across the Southwest to raise awareness of the situation and collect books for underground libraries. The caravan reached Tucson on March 17, 2012, with over 1,000 books.

Librotraficante efforts have since extended across the country including the development of a magazine and a freedom of speech event created in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. On September 21, 2012, several groups, including librarians participating in the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, came together to learn more about the struggles in Tucson and appreciate the important works currently being censored.

A reception to honor Librotraficante will take place during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday, January 26, 2013, from 5:30–7:00 p.m. The reception will be held in the Visions Room of the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street, Seattle. ABC-CLIO, a publisher of reference, contemporary thought, and professional development resources, provides an honorarium for the recipient and co-sponsors the reception.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is given annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the GSLIS faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the school.

SD-6 More Money Pours In (and Out!)

Well, if the first report did not tell you this was an expensive race, then the 8-day report will knock you out.

In the last few weeks (up until last week), Sylvia Garcia raised another another $177,000 (including recent telegram reports in the run-up to Election Day), and has spent almost $300,000.  Garcia had $228,000 in the bank a week ago. The biggie donation was over $80,000 in-kind from Texas Organizing Project PAC, which endorsed Garcia and is doing a lot of field campaigning (that amount not included in final expense amount). Back to Basics PAC also provided a $10,000 in-kind contribution for research. Expenses include some big outlays for mail pieces and more media (I think I noticed over $150K of all that), but one that I found the most interesting was a January 10th expense to Lake Partners for another poll (wish I knew the results of that!). Otherwise, it’s salaries, field, consultants and other expenses.

For Carol Alvarado, another $199,000 was raised (including telegram reports up till today), with $314,000 spent. And a week ago, she had 109,000 left to spend. Some biggie expenses included a couple of huge media buys totaling  over $200,000; a campaign mailing at almost $30,000; various outlays to what I think are field expenses; then the usual expenses on consultants, staff, and campaign needs.

The contributions that popped out most for both was one each from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Otherwise, it was lawyers, unions, businesses and individuals for both of them; although, it would seem Alvarado has a huge lead with big business PACs.

A DC-tip-of-the-sombrero goes to Joaquin Martinez who reported over $5,000 raised–100% from individuals. Rodolfo “Rudy” Reyes reports over $16,000 in loans for the race, and he had mentioned he was using his own money to run at a recent event. The other candidates didn’t report anything eye-catching.

Early voting finished yesterday with 8,245 cast, including 2,876 ballots by mail. Election Day is Saturday, 7 to 7 at your neighborhood polling location. If you live in SD-6, go to the Harris Votes website, type in your address and find your location and sample ballot.

People are asking for projections. I kind of agree with Kuff.

With tongue firmly in cheek, I’d suggest that between 40 and 50 percent of the vote in this race will be cast early, so on the extremely optimistic assumption that there will be about 9,000 votes total cast early, we’re looking at an over/under of about 20,000 – say between 18,000 and 22,500, to be obnoxious about it. If we’re closer to 8,000 votes cast by tomorrow, lower those endpoints to 15,000 and 20,000.

I didn’t see any major expenses for the usual ballot by mail experts in the latest reports, so, I’m wondering if there will be a final push to contact those other 4,000+ mail ballot holders. Otherwise, let’s hope for a big election day.

Update:  Kuff has money and projections. In fact, he changed up his projections on me!

With four more days for mail ballots to arrive, I’d guess the number will ultimately be about 8,500 when the first results are posted Saturday evening. As such, my official guess for total turnout is between 17,000 and 22,000.

I’ll be a rebel and stay with original projections of between 15,000 and 20,000. PDiddie has more, too.