Category Archives: President 2012

2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

President Obama’s re-election, along with the election and re-election of good Democrats in various battlegrounds, has put into play the importance of not only the Latino vote, but the Latino community as a whole. One cannot ignore that Latinos represented 1 in every 10 votes in 2012. If anything, Latinos proved something else:  That ours is a progressive agenda that takes into account all Americans. But instead of fighting for mere existence in American political society, Latinos have now carved themselves a niche in the national conversation, and it should not be only on immigration reform.

Some would argue that we’ve had that niche for a long time, pointing to anecdotal “Latino” political appointments and all other types of window dressing. But that is not enough. As I not-so-jokingly tell people, “It’s about policy, pendejos!”

So, if Latinos truly feel that we made a difference in the 2012 elections, then we must go beyond Election Day and push forth the agenda the we have supported with our vote. And if those we elected to push forth that agenda on our behalf falter in their support, then we must do what we must and call them out, correct them, or vote them out. That’s all part of our rights as voters. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting a return on our investment as voters, no matter who may be the incumbent, no matter who is in charge of our neighborhood political machines.

As President Obama put forth in his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Year One of Term Two. Frankly, I am glad he said this after all of the posturing by both sides of the gun debate after the tragedy in Newtown. Although I fall on the side of President Obama and Vice President Biden on the debate, the bottom line is that both were elected to put forth public policies that save and bolster our economy, add to the middle class, expand health care, fully fund education, and enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other policies. The voters responded to long-term challenges that have been hounding working and middle class families since Bush-2 was in office. On November 6, President Obama was provided with the political capital to respond to these issues, but he cannot do it alone, either.

Should gun reform be a part of this? Sure. But it should not take precedence over those issues on which many invested their community capital–as activists and as voters.

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, jobs and the economy are an ongoing priority, and Latinos wholeheartedly agree. Investing in infrastructure and education is also a top priority for Latinos. Expanding access to health care, too. The one issue that encompasses all of these is comprehensive immigration reform, and so too will it be a top priority. And the polls and the election outcome show that Latinos and the majority of Americans agree. But the battle did not end on Election Day, as the fiscal cliff rhetoric tells us. The people, and in this case, Latinos, must demand these policies be enacted.

Back in 2006, when Democrats won back the majority of seats in Congress, I spent no time in declaring that it happened because of Latinos responding to Republican craziness on the immigration issue. When candidate-Obama won, and the numbers showed that the margins of victory in various battleground states could be credited to the Latino vote, I spent no time in declaring that Latinos should expect some political payback–mostly in the form of comprehensive immigration reform and maybe some good political appointments. In 2010, when Harry Reid defeated a well-funded Tea party challenge by speaking the truth on immigration reform, rather than taking the “blue dog” approach of making Latinos (and not just immigrants) the example, it seemed to me that 2012 had the potential to be special. But our elected leaders need to realize that our importance goes beyond the ballot box. Our importance must be exhibited in the process of creating public policy, and that means Latinos taking responsibility by joining and steering the debate.

It seems that since at least 2006, we’ve been banking some political capital. Yes, we’ve voted in elections past, but did we ever have real potential to effect meaningful and positive public policies? Or a better question, did both sides of the political argument ever have the realization that we matter in the overall conversation? To me, it is obvious. No, on both counts.

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10″ lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

Update:  LA Times seems to be just as worried about immigration reform being overshadowed by the gun fight. I’m sure Republicans would breathe a sigh a relief.

Update:  Think Progress tells us that President Obama, much like he mentioned on Meet the Press, is moving forward with immigration reform.

The Obama administration’s “social media blitz” will start in January and is expected “to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.” Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers from both parties are already holding initial meetings to iron out the details of the proposal and Obama will to push for a broad bill.

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How Did Latinos in Harris County Fare?

Back in August, I provided a line-up of Dem Latinos on the Harris County ballot. How did they do? Obviously, a few were unopposed, others had minimal opposition, and the rest were in tight races (judicial candidates).In fact, 13 of these Dems had opposition. Overall, 13 wins, 3 losses, and one of the losses got a majority of votes in Harris County in a multi-county race. Results for those in contested races are in bold.

Mario V. Gallegos, Jr. – Texas Senate District 6 – WIN (Special Election to be called for vacancy.)

Armando Walle – Texas House, District 140 – WIN

Ana Hernandez-Luna – Texas House, District 143 – WIN

Mary Ann Perez – Texas House, District 144 – WIN – LaTeaNo Opponent

Carol Alvarado – Texas House, District 145 – WIN

Jessica Farrar – Texas House, District 148 – WIN – LaGreenO Opponent

Julia Maldonado – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 8 – LOST (But earned over 50% of Harris County votes in a 10-county race.)

Michael Gomez – Judge, 129th District – WIN

Josefina Rendon – Judge, 165th District – LOST

Ruben Guerrero – Judge, 174th District – WIN

David L. Mendoza – Judge, 178th District - WIN

Adrian Garcia  - Sheriff – WIN

Jo Ann Delgado – JP Pct 2 – 1 – WIN

Richard Vara – JP Pct 6 – 1 – WIN

Chris Diaz – Constable Pct 2 – WIN

Victor Trevino – Constable Pct 6 – WIN

Silvia Mintz – County School Trustee Pos 4, Pct 3 – LOST

So, it wasn’t a bad day for Democratic Latinos. Bottom line, it’s Democratic Latinos with whom Latinos best identify.

Sidenote:  Of the 5 LaTeaNos on the ballot, 3 received more votes in their races in Harris County, with two opposed, and one opposed by a Libertarian.

TPJ Calls out Hope Andrade as Lead Voter Suppressor

We can talk about voter suppression Republican groups like King Street and the “True” group, but at some point they are being bolstered by officeholders, whether elected or appointed. According to Texans for Public Justice, it is Hope Andrade, the Rick-Perry-appointed Secretary of State, who has taken the lead on voter suppression efforts.

Texas’ “first Latina Secretary of State” led a recent drive to suppress voter turnout. Perry appointee Esperanza “Hope” Andrade directed local officials to purge 76,900 names from voter rolls unless the individuals proved that they are not dead.

Even worse is Andrade’s methods of determining “dead” voters.

Andrade admitted that she based 89 percent of the names on her list on “weak matches” that loosely associated voter identification data with death records.

TPJ points to the fact that, although appointed, she is able to take in political contributions and have an “officeholder” account.

Andrade raised $134,391 in political contributions—even though she is not an elected office. Andrade taps her officeholder account to wine and dine, to buy gifts, to pay her phone bill and to pay accountants, fundraisers and other staff.

Wow. I understand appointees having political clout, but the ability to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their own use? It would seem that influence could easily be bought by contractors and vendors for one, but what about voter suppression groups and supporters?

Add to this the word that “Motor Voters” who registered through the DPS Driver’s license offices may not have had their voter registration information turned in and one cannot help but see that there may be a pattern. At the very least, it is a pattern of incompetence.

Read TPJ’s report here (PDF).

I hope people realize that Latinos shouldn’t support just any Latino or Latina politician. Support those who are on our side, not necessarily our skin color.

HD134: Ann Johnson on Health Care

This morning I awoke to an ad attacking HD134 candidate Ann Johnson for Obamacare. The right-wing opponent said “Obamacare” a few times, as if that is a negative thing. An hour later, I look on Facebook and find what could count as a strong response from Ann Johnson. Here’s the video:

Endorsements: Vote the Democratic Slate

After going through the entire ballot of races, I have decided to endorse the Democratic slate in 2012, while encouraging voters to leave blank the race for District Attorney. I will also skip a couple of other races

If you’re in my neck of the woods, please support:

  • James Cargas for Congress, District 7
  • Gene Wu for Texas House, District 137

I think we have a great slate of candidates, for the most part. Each in their own way has offered themselves up for consideration, all are progressive thinkers, and the bottom line is, Republicans will only put us on a backwards path on civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc. We cannot move backwards. And the Democratic slate at all levels will ensure effective representation and an effective defense of those issues we have worked hard for.

Finally, for my friends in Senate District 6, I encourage them to once again, and for one last time, vote and re-elect the late Senator Mario V. Gallegos, Jr. There is no doubt that he had earned re-election, and posthumously re-electing him will send a message to Republicans that SD 6 is a forward-thinking district.

Have fun voting. There are 37 locations all over Harris County for your convenience. Get it done early, then get your friends and family out to vote!

Endorsement: Vote FOR the City of Houston Bonds

There are five proposals on the ballot in which the City of Houston asks voters to approve $410 million in bonds. According to Mayor Parker, this is one of the smallest bond packages and items that will benefit from the bond approval are very much needed.

The proposals are as follows:

  • Proposition A — Public safety: $144 million
  • Proposition B — Parks: $166 million
  • Proposition C — Health, Sanitation, Recycling, Gen. Government: $57 million
  • Proposition D — Library: $28 million
  • Proposition E — Housing: $15 million

Proposition B is particularly important as $100 million of it will be earmarked, along with private matching funds, to connect bayous with green spaces, with the idea that parks be more accessible and closer to all Houstonians.

All of the City’s council districts stand to gain gain from the bonds, whether it be fire stations, libraries, green spaces, or general improvements. The Affordable Housing proposal would invest in clearing blighted properties for the purpose of building affordable housing.

Ultimately, these are good investments in the future. No, it’s not everything Houston needs, but it is a start. The biggest selling point is that a tax increase will not be needed; but for me, it’s all about simply creating a more livable and sustainable Houston.

I recommend a FOR vote for all of the City of Houston propositions.

Endorsement: Vote FOR HCC Bond

I’ve always been a proponent of higher education, especially at the community college level. As Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature continue to short-change K-12, while pushing high-stakes testing on prospective college students, colleges and universities have been left to address college preparedness, rather than place students on their way to graduation and career from the get-go.

To this day, one-third of university students and one-half of community college students are deemed under-prepared for higher education studies, thus lowering college retention and graduation rates. That said, Houston Community College is on the front-lines of addressing these issues, and the bond they offer addresses the issues, as well.

Here’s HCC’s case:

The $425 million bond program will provide each HCC college with new or renovated facilities and the technology to meet student needs, especially in high-demand areas such as health sciences, as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Why now?
• The institution is at 92% capacity
• Demographic projections of students shows a significant growth in the near future
• HCC’s Coleman College for Health Sciences was originally built to accommodate 1,500 students, but now serves 3,500
• Requires 3 years to build necessary infrastructure to support needs
• Increasing cost of college and need of students for a high quality, economical option
• Adds $1 billion to local economy
• Current skilled labor deficits in Houston

Early college facilities are among the facilities included in the bond. And these will definitely address college preparedness in various parts of the HCC service area. A new facility in West Houston will address needs in that area. All-in-all, it is an overdue investment that will go a long way to preparing for the future.

I highly recommend a YES vote on the HCC Bond.

Endorsement: Vote FOR HISD Bond

As a liberal Democrat, I always tend to vote for anything that would attempt to make schools better. It wasn’t until I moved to the ‘burbs that I saw blatant disregard for certain schools in the poorer parts of a school district, while uplifting and appeasing the wealthier neighborhoods with new schools and facilities. It was then that I questioned everything about bond packages, taking a closer look at who truly benefited. And I took the same approach on this bond proposal because, although HISD is a minority-majority district, and the vast majority of kids qualify for the lunch program, someone other than the kids could benefit too much.

Seven months after moving back into the City, I can see Houston ISD is in dire need of new high schools. With aged, broken-down, and unsafe facilities that are 50+ years of age, it is high-time that the people invested in the future of Houston. And let me tell you, it is high schools where we end up losing a lot of our kids. Providing state-of-the-art facilities for our students should be priority one. Therefore, supporting the HISD bond really is a no-brainer, right?

But the decision to support didn’t come all that easily as one of my major concerns was HISD’s recent bad publicity regarding their contracting process and their lack of a strong ethics and campaign finance policy. This summer, they made a move toward stronger rules, which gave me a little peace of mind–enough to fully support the HISD Bond.

I highly recommend a YES vote for the HISD Bond.

For specifics on the bond, click here.

Politifacting Politi-Fact on Romney’s Anti-Immigrant Positions

Politi-Fact has given a defense of Mitt Romney’s assertion that SB1070–the legalized Latino profiling law–is a model for the nation. They agree with Romney that he was only talking about E-Verify in a statement made during a Republican Primary debate.

What they fail to mention is that the question that was asked by John King at the Republican debate in which Romney put his foot in his mouth was about self-deportation, and Romney avoided even talking about self-deportation. Yes, he skirted the question to talk about E-verify, which even President Obama believes is a  flawed program.

What will be the impact of such a dramatic expansion of E-Verify on businesses, workers, and taxpayers?  According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress:

  • An estimated 770,000 American workers could lose job offers due to E-Verify’s error-prone databases
  • The mandate would cost small business an estimated $2.6 billion
  • Based on a similar bill scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in 2007, $17 billion in tax revenue would be lost over 10 years as more jobs move into the underground economy.

Remarkably, these costs would be in exchange for a system that identifies unauthorized workers only 46% of the time.

However Politifact attempts to play President Obama’s statement, they must also look at Romney’s vocal opposition to a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, his opposition to the DREAM Act, his opposition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the fact that his top immigration advisor, Kris Kobach, is the author of SB1070. In fact, Kobach is the lead attorney in a lawsuit to do away with DACA.

The folks at politifact are being a bit disingenuous on this one. Simply “facting” a single statement is not enough when the immigration issue is one that is broad and complicated. At the debate and throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has made it clear that he doesn’t support the kind of “comprehensive” reform that the pro-migrant community supports–even with any perceived flip-flops on the issue.

Mitt’s Got Rosie Problems