‘Tis the Season for Buenos Diaz Buñuelos

Why re-create perfection? Get your buñuelos from Buenos Diaz today!

bunueloI made a trip to Buenos Diaz on Tuesday to get my buñuelo fix.

What’s a buñuelo? Well, the easiest, yet falling short, way of describing it is that it is sort of a thin, deep-fried dough (not a tortilla!) that is then coated with a sugar/cinnamon mix soon after it gets out of the fryer. There are numerous recipes, different styles credited to different Latino nations, but I prefer the Mexican Buñuelo. These treats are very popular during the Christmas/New Year season.

buenosThe one pictured (and the 29 others I purchased today) was team-made by Celia Diaz (aka The Buñuelo Lady) and her son Jose Manuel Diaz (who is a FODC-Friend of DosCentavos) and sold out of their storefront at 6319 Lyons in Denver Harbor. All I can say is that they’re pretty perfect, especially during this holiday season.

stacebunAs one of my college classmates was telling me, it’s easy to find…

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2016: Brandon Dudley for Tax Assessor-Collector

dudley.jpgAnother friend of mine, Brandon Dudley, has also filed for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. I’ve known Brandon since his 2010 run for a judicial post here in Harris County, and I appreciate his work on the Wendy Davis campaign in 2014.

He has served my own State Senator Rodney Ellis for a decade as Chief of Staff and General Counsel, and his work in criminal justice reform is very impressive.

Here’s more on Brandon:

Brandon’s commitment to public service began at an early age, working in programs for at-risk youth while attending the University of Texas at Austin. Brandon worked as a juvenile counselor after earning his degree, and went on to the Graduate School for Social Work at UT-Austin to further develop his administrative skills in the field of public service. After graduate school Brandon came to Houston to create and direct outreach, crime prevention, and community economic development programs for at-risk youth.

These experiences inspired Brandon to attend the University of Houston Law Center, where he twice received the Public Interest Fellowship Award. This also led him to pursue legal and policy advocacy work in the areas of criminal justice reform, economic fairness and voting rights.

After graduating from UH Law School and being licensed to practice, Brandon worked for the Innocence Project, which works to secure the freedom for those wrongfully convicted and advance criminal justice reforms. He later served as managing consultant for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition’s Harris County Project to advance “smart on crime” reforms to improve public safety, increase fairness and justice, and save taxpayer dollars.

Read more on Brandon here and his platform is here.

I’m running because the right to vote is an essential component of our democracy, and ensuring that freedom is protected for all eligible voters is key to holding our government accountable.

But right now too many citizens’ freedom to make their voices heard in Harris County is under attack by intentional barriers making it harder to vote, tactics that wrongfully deny eligible voters their freedom to vote, and antiquated voting systems that are prone to mistakes, cause long lines, and increase taxpayer costs.

I’m running because the people of Harris County deserve a Tax Assessor that’s standing up for all us, not working against us.  A Tax Assessor that will fight for a fair and equal tax system and protect our freedom to vote, so we can have the Harris County we deserve.

We deserve better schools for our children, an economy that works for all of us, fair and equal justice, and a Harris County that treats all people equally and fairly.

But we have to stand up for it. We have to fight for it.  And we have to vote for it.

Stay informed, folks!

Ballot Change: Lane Lewis Now Unopposed for Party Chair

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

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

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

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

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

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

That message has been sent.

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

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

 

 

2016: Ann Harris Bennett for Tax Assessor-Collector

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Harris Dems Will Get Some Contested Races

donkey-fightAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, contested races are what democracy is all about, and the final filings show quite a few contested races in which local Dems can choose. And in Harris County, it doesn’t matter what part of the county you live in, your Democratic vote matters in the Primary!

What may be a hotly contested race is that of County Chair in which the incumbent, Lane Lewis, is being challenged by recent candidate for City Council AL-5, Philippe Nassif. Any search will show that I’ve said nice things about both of these candidates. As I’ve told some folks, Party Chair is one of the most thankless jobs in the county which requires the ability to herd various groups and keep them happy, piss off certain people as a means of keeping said groups happy, and then, there’s also the requirement of raising money and winning elections. I still can’t tell which is more important, though. I’m noticing who’s involved in either camp and that’s all I’m saying, for now.

Adrian Garcia seems to have surprised some folks and filed to run for Congressional District 29 against long-time incumbent Gene Green. I’m not surprised, since Garcia is fresh off a campaign, probably still has an infrastructure he can implement, and it’s a great way to avoid a free-for-all that would occur if/when Green would retire with other familiar Latin@ faces who are probably ready for their next move. Garcia says he was moved to run by Donald Trump’s vitriol and the need to wake up the Hispanic electorate. With a 70% Latino population, and Latinos being forced to wait for a court to decide if there will ever be a second Latino district in Houston, Garcia seems to be in at the right time. We’ll keep an eye on this race.

Texas House District 126 has a contested race as Cris Hernandez and Joy Dawson-Thomas face off for the nomination to take on a right-winger to replace another right-winger. I haven’t read up on the demographics of the district, but it is pretty diverse. Perhaps an opportunity? We shall see.

My own State Rep. Gene Wu has a challenger in HD137. Hopefully, it’s a negligible challenger, but I’m pretty sure Wu and his folks aren’t taking this district for granted no matter the kind of challenge.

Texas House District 144 has a three-way race to hopefully kick out the GOP incumbent in a mostly Latino, yet low-propensity voter district. Mary Ann Perez is a familiar face, and Cody Ray Wheeler, a Pasadena Council Member, has been campaigning for a while. Another name is Bernie Aldape, III whom a few friends of mine seem to support and have put on my radar. This one is a race to watch.

The 11th District Court has a three-way race, too, with Kristen Hawkins, Rabeea Collier, and Jim Lewis. I’ve known Rabeea for a while from my days in Kingwood. In fact, back in ’08, she was a fierce advocate for then-candidate Obama, while I argued for more Clinton delegates to the State Convention during our district convention. We remain friends, though.

The 61st District Court provides another 3-way race, featuring Julie Countiss, Dion Ramos, and Fredericka Phillips. Of course, Ramos served the 55th District Court previously, and Phillips has served as Vice-Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. Countiss is a teacher-turned-attorney and is currently an Assistant County Attorney.

The 165th Court will be a hot race featuring former 165th Judge Josefina Rendon and Municipal Court Judge Ursula Hall. I know both quite well and I’m looking forward to watching this race.

The race for Harris County District Attorney offers up a previous candidate Kim Ogg, a perennial annoyance in Lloyd Oliver, and the first African-American elected statewide to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Morris Overstreet. Should be fun to watch.

The race for Sheriff has current Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez and a few other unknowns–at least in my eyes. I think one can tell whom I support.

In the race for Tax Assessor Collector, we’ll have a hotly contested race featuring Ann Harris Bennett, who has run previously and came very close to victory, as well as Texas Senate staffer Brandon Dudley. It’s a race to watch, for sure.

There are other contested races, but these immediately caught my eyes.

Look over the list of races, learn about the candidates (google them!), and make an educated choice. And keep an eye out for Kuff’s interviews.

Update:  Kuff has more on statewide and regional judicial races.

Update #2:  Since it was brought up to me, one of our favorite elected bigots, HCC’s Dave Wilson (the white guy that ran as a black guy for an HCC district), filed to challenge State Rep. Jessica Farrar in HD148. As I’ve told a few Dems, I’m hoping such a progressive Democratic Primary would re-elect its incumbent state rep. without much of a problem. It’s not the HCC district to which he got elected, and Farrar has served her district well-enough that Democrats should know better.

#StaceSlate Goes 5-2; Houston Elects Turner

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats to the winners; serve us well.

 

 

 

 

Ed Gonzalez Files for Harris County Sheriff

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CafeCollege: A Great Community Resource

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Turner Earns Major Latino Nods

turnerToday is Early Vote Saturday for the 2015 Mayoral election, and according to some of my friends in the know, Latinos made up 8% of the total vote cast, thus far. No doubt, this is dismal, and if Latinos expect to play an influential part in this election, Latino turnout must increase–and in favor of Sylvester Turner, Chris Brown, Amanda Edwards, David Robinson, Richard Nguyen, Mike Laster, and Jason Cisneroz.

On Friday, Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner earned the endorsement of Congressman Joaquin Castro, who served in the Texas Lege with Turner.

“…I saw firsthand his commitment to working on the issues that matter to Houston’s middle class families; jobs, education and opportunity for all. Sylvester will unite the people of Houston and move the city forward.”

Former Mayoral candidate Adrian Garcia held a press conference outside of Moody Park to urge Latinos to come out and vote and support Sylvester Turner.

“Houston’s future is too critical for our city to be allowed to go back to basics,” said Garcia.  “If you don’t vote, we risk setting our city on a backwards course.  Everyone, especially Hispanics, should vote for Sylvester Turner for mayor.”

HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche also added her support for Turner.

“Sylvester will build bridges and collaborate with our schools,” Stipeche said.  “Every child deserves a bright future.  I urge everyone to vote for Sylvester Turner, a leader who believes in that bright future.”

Turner has long been a supporter of Latino issues, while also defending against some of the worst policies offered by Republicans (who support Bill King).

  • Voted NO on anti-Latino “Sanctuary Cities” bill
  • Voted NO on Voter ID that limited Latino voting opportunities
  • Voted NO on Redistricting maps that diluted Latino voting strength
  • Supports expanding Medicaid and affordable health insurance

Turner also offers the best and workable solutions to Houston’s challenges, whether it increasing public safety, fixing our streets, or expanding economic opportunity for all–and through fiscally responsible methods.

I urge Latinos in Houston to vote Sylvester Turner. Today (Saturday, 12/5/2015) is a gorgeous day. There is no excuse to not show up at the polls. VOTE TODAY!

IF WE DON’T VOTE – WE WON’T MATTER

Here’s Your Chance to Sponsor a Newcomer Student!

’tis the season to help out our fellow humans, and when this came across my inbox, I decided that, along with the Houston Food Bank, this cause should get everyone’s attention. These causes that make a direct impact on an individual always tug at my heart, and here’s your chance to sponsor a newcomer student. Read below and get involved!

newcomerxmas