Category Archives: Uncategorized

Find Your Towed Car…

Originally posted on :

Ever had your car towed and you just don’t know where it went? After smacking your head for not paying your parking fines, you can now go to a website which may point you in the right direction.

The city of Houston has just added a convenient little tool to help you deal with the tremendous inconvenience of having your car towed.

A Houston Police Department bulletin to the media announces a new Web site, www.findmytowedcar.com, which provides access to information about towed vehicles.

By entering your license plate or vehicle identification number, you can find out where your car is.

Here’s a link to Police Chief Charles McClelland explaining the site, which launched last week.

This hasn’t happened to me (knock on wood), but one time in college I came close. Considering that the City or any impound yard could make a killing during the time you seek your…

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June 4: David Lee Garza -vs- Telemundo’s Mayoral Candidate Forum

You heard correctly. Telemundo is hosting a Mayoral candidate forum on June 4 at the University of Houston on the same evening as thousands of Mexican Americans and others will be attending a free concert  at Discovery Green featuring Tejano great David Lee Garza y Los Musicales.

#politicsfail ?

Anyway, this blogger will be at Discovery Green because it’s also my birthday week. The week culminates with another huge concert on June 6–my actual birthday:  Accordion Kings and Queens at Miller Outdoor Theater featuring DC faves, Max Baca y Los Texmaniacs.

Both events are great opportunities to press the flesh–just throwin’ that out there.

Telemundo–for future reference, might I suggest a free concert-slash-candidate forum? ¡Querer es poder!

UPDATE:  The Meyerland Area Democrats will be hosting a candidate forum on June 15, so make sure to attend that one!

Retail Politics Really Worked in Alief ISD Election

Well, at least where it involved me as a voter.

From Alief ISD:

Alief ISD voters approved the district’s bond referendum on May 9, 2015. The approval rating for the referendum was 72.3 percent as 830 votes were cast FOR the referendum and 318 votes cast AGAINST the referendum. The 2015 Bond Referendum is the district’s first since 2003.

Dedre’ “Dede” Jefferson was elected to the Position 4 seat in the special Board of Trustees election which was also on the same ballot. Jefferson received 426 votes to defeat Celia I. Morgan (153 votes), Gigi Myung (254 votes), and Natasha Butler (180 votes). Jefferson will replace Trustee Kimberly Wallace. Wallace was appointed to fill the vacancy in March and chose not to run in the special election.

The bond was not astronomical and very practical and will bring about some great things for the district. I’m glad it won.

Now, when it came to the Position 4 special election race, I was clueless. I sought out information and found a little bit on a few candidates. Was told of at least one endorsement that made me consider a vote for one candidate. Still, since I was new to the district, I didn’t get any contacts from candidates.

It wasn’t until I went to vote that I met with two of the candidates. I was really impressed by Dede Jefferson who had served as an educator for AISD, is a small business owner and is hoping to enter law school in the near future. She had some great ideas and presented herself so well that I voted for her.

So, as it stands, I’m batting 1.000 in my new school district.

Congrats to Dede Jefferson on a good win.

Adrian Garcia To Announce for Houston Mayor Today

adrianmayor

The press advisory is in!

Adrian Garcia will be making an announcement at 2PM at the Lindale Park Civic Club that he will be running for Mayor.

Sources close to the campaign tell me he’ll be hitting the ground running today–blockwalking in the northside.

There will be more on this later today, but now we know.

Chron has some background.

TLEC Releases Statement as Voucher Bill Is Up For Texas Senate Vote

Senate Bill 4, a bill which is basically a backdoor voucher program, or what Republicans call “tax credit scholarships” is coming up for a vote this week, possibly tomorrow.

Under the program, businesses would be allowed to donate up to 50 percent of their yearly franchise tax liability to one of 25 pre-approved “educational assistance organizations,” according to Bettencourt’s statement. Those non-profits would then be allowed to provide public $500 scholarships and private school scholarships worth up to 75 percent of the average amount the state currently pays per public school student — or about $5,927.

The bill includes several provisions critics have demanded, including one to ensure students who receive scholarships are needy and others requiring that private schools receiving public money be accredited and administer annual “nationally norm-referenced” exams.

But some education groups still oppose the program, contending it is “school vouchers by another name.”

Here is a statement from the Texas Latino Education Coalition:

TLEC statement on vouchers (March 2015)

TLEC statement on vouchers p2 (March 2015)

April 18: Kingwood Area Dems To Host Annual Candidate Brunch; DC to MC

As reported by the Kingwood Observer.

The Kingwood Area Democrats (KAD) are pleased to announce that they are set to host their annual Candidate Meet-n-Greet & Brunch on Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m., at the Kingwood Country Club.

The event serves as KAD’s annual fundraiser which covers the cost of organizing and engaging voters and activists in the Kingwood-Atascocita-Humble area.

Emceed by Houston political blogger Stace Medellín ofDosCentavos.net, the morning’s featured speaker will be 2014 candidate for Texas Comptroller Mike Collier.

The event is an opportunity to meet and hear from 2015 candidates for Houston mayor, city controller and city council, as well as elected officials.

For a $40 contribution, attendees will enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast. This, along with a morning of political fellowship with Democratic neighbors, will make for an energizing event as the 2015 city of Houston campaigns take shape.

“Kingwood voters are vital to any electoral victory,” stated KAD president, Kevin McManis, “So, we invite city of Houston candidates to meet and speak to a group of committed voters who take their duty to vote and engage voters very seriously.”

Attendees may purchase tickets or make a contribution at http://tinyurl.com/kadbrunch2015. Or for more information, contact Tony Morales at 832-593-3914.

Kingwood Country Club is located at 1700 Lake Kingwood Trail in Kingwood. For more information on KAD, visit   http://www.KingwoodAreaDemocrats.org.

Yes, Hillary Clinton has announced, but we’ve still got 2015 elections to work and enjoy. I’m looking forward to emceeing the event because it’ll be one of my first chances to listen to the candidates who want my vote. To be clear, DosCentavos has not made any endorsements in Mayoral, Controller, and At-Large races, so, I will be fair to all candidates who attend. Those who don’t attend, well, that’s another story.

Register to attend. The $40 will be worth it–I PROMISE!

Schempp and Chancey Give Excellent Church/State Separation Talk

As a member and supporter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, I am always seeking out great presentations on the subject. Last night’s talk at HCC-SW featured Ellery Schempp and Mark Chancey.

Schempp was the 16 year-old student who sued the Abington, PA school system after he protested the fact that the Bible was being forced upon public school students through readings of Bible verses. In 1953, the US Supreme Court ruled in Abington v. Schempp that state-sponsored Bible readings in public schools were unconstitutional. The ruling also stated that state entities could not promote one religion over another, which constitutionally mandated readings of the King James version did in Pennsylvania at that time. Fifty years later, the career physicist continues his church/state separation activism, re-defining the fight for religious freedom.

Chancey is a professor of religious studies whose thrust of his presentation proposed teaching academic, non-sectarian religious studies, rather than religion, as a matter of civic necessity, as religion has played a role in the history of the world. This has been a method which has not been up for debate or discussion as the debate has usually been about religious zealots wanting to force their versions of the Bible on everyone else without much inclusion of other religions. Meeting the Abington v. Schempp guidelines has seldom been a goal, politically.

That said, there is much to be learned about religion in the making of Texas. As I mentioned previously, the illegals the Southern US who were allowed to make Texas their home had to swear allegiance to Mexico’s Catholicism. Is it any wonder that religious references in Texas’ governmental documents are heavily stoked in protestantism? Even moreso, how those wanting to force the Bible on public school students come from a protestant background?

I guess I’m not much in agreement with Chancey’s argument because, given the nature of Texas politics, religion is probably best taught at home and church. Moreover, I wonder if the religious practices of indigenous folks would be considered, because, let’s face it, Mexican/Chicano Catholicism is filled with various Native practices, as well. And let’s not forget the paganism infused in all of them.

Excellent presentation, nonetheless. Thanks to Professors Schempp and Chancey and Americans United for some great food for continued thought and discussion.

COH At-Large 4 Becomes a Contest

Schleifer at the Chron reports that the At-Large 4 race has become a multi-candidate contest.

Laurie Robinson, Amanda Edwards and Larry Blackmon will all run for the at-large city council seat to be vacated by C.O. “Brad” Bradford, according to campaign treasurer designations filed in recent weeks.

Robinson is a management consultant, Edwards is a lawyer at a big national law firm, and Blackmon a retired educator and local activist. If one rates local races by money, then it could become quite the contest. Obviously, in a low turnout race, getting known is a lot more challenging. And, given that folks will begin to realize that AL4 is an open seat, there may be more candidates before the filing deadline.

At Large 1

Last week came the e-mail that HCC Trustee Chris Oliver joined the AL1 race. So, we have Dem Party Chair Lane Lewis, Philippe Nassif, Jenifer Pool, and a far-right winger whose claim to fame is suing the City to raise money he probably can’t raise anyway.

Now, who wants to challenge the incumbents?

AL3’s Kubosh surely needs one, even for voters like me who want a choice, rather than to leave the race blank in a show of no confidence (as if I ever had any). Through a tip, I hear At Large 5’s Christie will have a challenger, but until I get confirmation (like a report on a treasurer assignment), I’ll wait to tell the world. Still, I’d like to see a challenger in that race.

More to come, I’m sure.

Update:  Here are takes from  Brains & Eggs, Texpatriate and Off the Kuff.

Included in Noah’s take is the fact that David Robinson in AL2 will be in a rematch with Andrew Burks. Perry blows the lid off of the the Jack Christie AL5 challenge (or not) by Jan Clark. Christie is one of those still rumored to be running for Mayor.

Pretty soon, we’ll need a program. Then again, that’s what we’re here for.

 

 

Executive Action Fact Sheet

From the White House:

FACT SHEET: Immigration Accountability Executive Action

The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.  Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.

These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

These are common sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill—like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago—that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.

Three critical elements of the President’s executive actions are:

  •  Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border:  The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back.  Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration.
  • Deporting Felons, Not Families: The President’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. He has directed immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers at the top of the deportation priority list.
  •  Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes:  The President is also acting to hold accountable those undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.  By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time.

The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and will promote naturalization for those who qualify.

For more than a half century, every president—Democratic or Republican—has used his legal authority to act on immigration.  President Obama is now taking another commonsense step.  As the Administration implements these executive actions, Congress should finish the job by passing a bill like the bipartisan Senate bill that: continues to strengthen border security by adding 20,000 more Border Patrol agents; cracks down on companies who hire undocumented workers; creates an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pay a fine and taxes, pass a background check, learn English and go to the back of the line; and boosts our economy and keeps families together by cutting red tape to simplify our legal immigration process.

Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border

Under the Obama Administration, the resources that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dedicates to security at the Southwest border are at an all-time high.  Today, there are 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents along the Southwest Border and our border fencing, unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, and ground surveillance systems have more than doubled since 2008. Taken as a whole, the additional boots on the ground, technology, and resources provided in the last six years represent the most serious and sustained effort to secure our border in our Nation’s history, cutting illegal border crossings by more than half.

And this effort is producing results. From 1990 to 2007, the population of undocumented individuals in the United States grew from 3.5 million to 11 million people.  Since then, the size of the undocumented population has stopped growing for the first time in decades. Border apprehensions—a key indicator of border security— are at their lowest level since the 1970s.  This past summer, the President and the entire Administration responded to the influx of unaccompanied children with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on heightened deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for Federal agencies to ensure that our border remains secure.  As a result, the number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the Southwest border has declined precipitously, and the Administration continues to focus its resources to prevent a similar situation from developing in the future.

To build on these efforts and to ensure that our limited enforcement resources are used effectively, the President has announced the following actions:

Shifting resources to the border and recent border crossers. Over the summer, DHS sent hundreds of Border Patrol agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to the Southwest border, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reordered dockets in immigration courts to prioritize removal cases of recent border crossers.  This continued focus will help keep our borders safe and secure.  In addition, Secretary Johnson is announcing a new Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan which will strengthen the efforts of the agencies who work to keep our border secure.  And by establishing clearer priorities for interior enforcement, DHS is increasing the likelihood that people attempting to cross the border illegally will be apprehended and sent back.

Streamlining the immigration court process. DOJ is announcing a package of immigration court reforms that will address the backlog of pending cases by working with DHS to more quickly adjudicate cases of individuals who meet new DHS-wide enforcement priorities and close cases of individuals who are low priorities. DOJ will also pursue regulations that adopt best practices for court systems to use limited court hearing time as efficiently as possible.

Protecting victims of crime and human trafficking as well as workers.  The Department of Labor (DOL) is expanding and strengthening immigration options for victims of crimes (U visas) and trafficking (T visas) who cooperate in government investigations.  An interagency working group will also explore ways to ensure that workers can avail themselves of their labor and employment rights without fear of retaliation.

DEPORTING FELONS, NOT FAMILIES

By setting priorities and focusing its enforcement resources, the Obama Administration has already increased the removal of criminals by more than 80%.  These actions build on that strong record by:

Focusing on the removal of national security, border security, and public safety threats.  To better focus on the priorities that matter, Secretary Johnson is issuing a new DHS-wide memorandum that makes clear that the government’s enforcement activity should be focused on national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers.  DHS will direct all of its enforcement resources at pursuing these highest priorities for removal.

Implementing a new Priority Enforcement Program. Effectively identifying and removing criminals in state and local jails is a critical goal but it must be done in a way that sustains the community’s trust.  To address concerns from Governors, Mayors, law enforcement and community leaders which have undermined cooperation with DHS, Secretary Johnson is replacing the existing Secure Communities program with a new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) to remove those convicted of criminal offenses.  DHS will continue to rely on biometric data to verify individuals who are enforcement priorities, and they will also work with DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons to identify and remove federal criminals serving time as soon as possible.

Accountability – criminal background checks and taxes

Every Democratic and Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration.  Consistent with this long history, DHS will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.  DHS will also create a new deferred action program for people who are parents of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and have lived in the United States for five years or longer if they register, pass a background check and pay taxes.

The President is taking the following actions to hold accountable certain undocumented immigrants:

Creating a mechanism that requires certain undocumented immigrants to pass a background check to make sure that they start paying their fair share in taxes. In order to promote public safety, DHS is establishing a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. Citizens or LPRs who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the country for more than 5 years.  Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement.  By providing individuals with an opportunity to come out of the shadows and work legally, we will also help crack down on companies who hired undocumented workers, which undermines the wages of all workers, and ensure that individuals are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes.

Expanding DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the U.S. for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation so long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007.  DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today.  Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.

The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and promote naturalization by:

Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses.  Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available.  DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily.  DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.

Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs.  DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensure that our system encourages them to grow our economy.  The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.

Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities. In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.

Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers. DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office. DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected.

Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status. Due to barriers in our system, U.S. citizens and LPRs are often separated for years from their immediate relatives, while they wait to obtain their LPR status. To reduce the time these individuals are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the United States to attend visa interviews.

Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin. DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).

Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization. There are many ways in which our legal immigration system can be modernized to reduce government costs, eliminate redundant systems, reduce burdens on employers and families, and eliminate fraud. The President is issuing a Memorandum

Creating a White House Task Force on New Americans. The President is creating a White House Task Force on New Americans to create a federal strategy on immigrant integration.

Promoting Citizenship Public Awareness: DHS will launch a comprehensive citizenship awareness media campaign in the 10 states that are home to 75 percent of the overall LPR population. USCIS will also expand options for paying naturalization fees and explore additional measures to expand accessibility, including studying potential partial fee waiver for qualified individuals.

Ensuring U.S. Citizens Can Serve: To further our military’s needs and support recruitment efforts, DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of U.S. citizens seeking to enlist in the military, consistent with a request made by the Department of Defense.

What’s Next?

While the blame game continues between campaigns, organizations, and Democratic volunteers who gave a huge part of their lives to the 2014 effort, the Republicans are already brewing up a storm for the 2015 Texas legislative session. Hopefully, everyone will release some steam and then move on to what is next.

With the Texas Lege session looming, we may be headed toward a dark period in Texas.

Will Republicans go full-on-crazy by making budgets cuts that will leave state services for the poor, the elderly, children, college students, and most state services underfunded beyond belief? Will Dan Patrick go full-on-racist (more than usual) and make Arizona’s SB1070 look like no big deal? Will the GOP leave Medicaid for the Elderly even worse than it is, thus, lowering nursing home quality, bed availability, and leaving thousands homeless? Well, Democrats better start thinking about these issues before we get into 2016 or 2018, or whenever the “data” tells us we will finally win with the same effort as in the past.

The problem is, these issues are usually left to nonprofits and low-funded lobbying and organizing groups. While some legislators will carry the weight when we are on the defensive, we need some sort of apparatus to keep people and activists informed. And that also can effectively communicate with the constituencies.

There is no doubt that constituencies best represented by the Democrats will be on the defensive during those 140 days of the legislature. What kind of communications and message plan will be in place to keep people informed about what the Republicans are attempting? What kind of defense plan against the worse the Republicans will offer will be in place to make the peoples’ voices heard at the Texas Capitol?

Nothing looks better to constituencies who are attacked than politicians who defend and fight back against the attacker. It might even look good to those who didn’t show up to vote, as well as those who usually wouldn’t have voted, anyway. When it comes to the majority of Latinos, much like we remember 2 million deportations, thousands of warehoused immigrants, and thousands of Central American kids escaping violence being vilified, we’ll remember our defenders in November.

That said, today some of our Democratic state legislators filed their initial bills for the 2015 session:

From State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia:

  • SB 141 would create a voter education program for high school seniors and provide an opportunity for them to register to vote.
  • SB 142 would allow potential volunteer deputy registrars to receive online training.
  • SB 143 would help those voters whose voter registration has been rejected by specifically notifying them of the errors on their registration forms.

From Trey Martinez Fischer:

  • HB 41, HB 42, HB 174, HJR 26 – Minimum Wage – Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; establish a living wage policy for those doing business with the state.
  • HB 116 – Healthcare – Expand Medicaid eligibility and bring $90 Billion dollars to our state to create jobs and alleviate additional tax burdens on property tax payers and local governments
  • HB 124 – Education – Full-day, universal prekindergarten for every Texas 4 year old
  •  HB 111 – Voting – Same day voter registration
  • HB 145 – Government Reform – Require the Legislature to pass a budget, school finance legislation, and pending sunset bills before the 100th day of the legislative session, placing Texas’ priorities first and political agendas last.

From State Rep. Rafael Anchia, Garnet Coleman, and State Senators Rodriguez and Hinojosa:

  • HB 130 – Legislation to authorize same-sex marriage.
  • HJR 34 – Constitutional Amendment to repeal same-sex marriage ban.
  • SJR 13 and SB 98 – The same types of legislation, above.

Those are just a few of the good ones. While the bad ones haven’t all been filed, I did see a few filed by Republicans:

HB209 by right-wing-nut Stickland is the first attack on the Texas DREAM Act (in-state tuition for immigrant kids). The bill strikes the three-year residency requirement for non-citizens to achieve Texas residency status, thus, qualifying for in-state tuition.

HB 183 and HB 88 make the very flawed employee verification program (E-Verify) mandatory for state agencies and state contractors, respectively. SB 54 targets the poor on TANF benefits with drug testing. There’s even one that allows counties to build tent-jails like Joe Arpaio in Arizona.

This is just to name a few, but something tells me this is something we’ll need to keep monitoring.

I’m just trying to say that the work that needs to be done for 2016 starts with this coming legislative session.

Texpatriate has a lot more on bills.