Tag Archives: houston

Bloggers Talk on Politics Done Right

Politics `Done Right (Bloggers)

Thanks to Egberto Willies, I’ll be joining him, Kuff, Katherine from BOR, and Tiffany from Liberal America tonight on KPFT 90.1 for an episode of Politics Done Right.

Tune in Monday 9:00 PM on KPFT 90.1 FM (Houston Area)

Livestreamhttp://KPFT.org (Entire USA) – Podcasts: <here>

Call (713) 526-5738 to talk to me on air.

Have you ever wondered why when you watch CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC they are invariably featuring the same news? Have you ever wondered why most of the issues that have material effect on your life are never really covered? Have you noticed that the news of today is shallow and un-researched?

This is all by design. An uninformed, a misinformed, an ill-informed populace is one that can be controlled. The arbiters of our news domain are mostly discredited.

Luckily good reputable bloggers are starting to assert themselves. They are providing quality prescient news to their followers. They are making a difference. Going forward they must take the mantle if the reversal of a poorly informed citizenry is to occur.

The show will feature four bloggers that are making a difference in local, state, and national news. Katherine Haenschen of BurntOrangeReport.com, Stace Medellin of DosCentavos.net, Tiffany Willis of LiberalAmerica.org, and Charles Kuffner of OffTheKuff.com will discuss these issues. We will discuss why bloggers are important, why the traditional news media is discredited, and the crowd sourcing of news by citizens.

Give me a call at (713) 526-5738. That is 713-526-KPFT. Remember you can also send me a tweet to@egbertowillies. Let us engage. It is politics done right.

I’m looking forward to an interesting talk. What I say may end up shocking you!

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Van de Putte Takes Houston

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website:  www.LeticiaVandePutte.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LeticiaVandePutte

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/leticiavdp

 

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

 

Update: Houston Dept. of Health Extends Hours for ACA Sign-Up

From the Inbox:

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will open four of its multi-service centers on Sunday and extend the business hours late into the night at six centers Monday, giving uninsured people a last chance to enroll in a health plan before the Affordable Care Act’s deadline.

Uninsured residents can set up an appointment for one-on-one help from HDHHS’ certified application counselors at the centers by calling 832-393-5423. The counselors are able to help residents compare health plans and find one that fits their budget and health care needs.

Multi-service centers opening from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 30, are:

  • Denver Harbor MSC, 6402 Market Street
  • Northeast MSC, 9720 Spaulding
  • Southwest MSC, 6400 High Star
  • Third Ward MSC, 3611 Ennis Street

HDHHS’ centers extending hours until 10 p.m. for the enrollment deadline date of Monday, March 31, are:

  • Denver Harbor MSC, 6402 Market Street
  • Northeast MSC, 9720 Spaulding
  • Southwest MSC, 6400 High Star
  • Magnolia MSC, 7037 Capitol Street
  • Hiram Clarke MSC, 3810 West Fuqua
  • Sunnyside MSC, 9314 Cullen

HDHHS will set the last ACA enrollment appointments with its counselors for 8 p.m. Monday. The appointments are on a first come, first served basis.

Documents needed to enroll during an appointment include:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship: social security number or copy of U.S. passport for all family members
  • State residency: driver’s license, housing lease or utility bill
  • Income:  W-2 forms or pay stubs; unemployment or disability; social security, pension and retirement income; or copy of 2012 tax return
  • Current health insurance: policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about job-related health insurance
  • Immigration status or legal residency: Immigration document status numbers.

More than 114,000 people in the Houston area already enrolled in one of the more than 40 low-cost ACA health plans available in the region.

HDHHS set up an ACA call center as part of the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a group of 13 agencies helping people obtain insurance coverage through the ACA.

Certified application counselors and outreach staff with HDHHS and the other agencies in the collaborative have met face to face with more than 152,000 area residents since the enrollment period began in October. They have also reached out or distributed ACA brochures and information to approximately 538,000 people.

Uninsured residents can also sign up for a health insurance plan online by visiting HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

 

March 15: Own The Dream DACA Clinic

Own The Dream is a national campaign whose focus is to connect undocumented youth to available resources in their communities. The organization provides free assistance for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants, and also works with school counselors and teachers on how to better communicate with the undocumented community in their schools regarding higher education opportunities.

Local organizers, Oscar Hernandez and Carolina Ramirez, know first-hand the challenges that the undocumented community experiences, especially the misinformation that can spread locally and in the schools. So, OTD is definitely a welcome resource in Houston.

Own The Dream will be hosting a DACA Clinic on March 15 at Cleveland Ripley Center in Pasadena. You may register online for the clinic here. Below is a printable flyer. (click on image to enlarge)

OTD Clinic Flyer -English

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Some Opposition to Payday Lender Regs

Texpatriate provides some in-depth coverage of the opposition to Mayor Annise Parker’s proposal to regulate payday lenders here in Houston. The regulations are similar to other cities around Texas.

Perhaps the most vocal opponent of this regulation was Councilmember Dave Martin, the conservative who represents Kingwood and Clear Lake. Councilmember Martin, as your might recall, was the one who first threw cold water on the Wage Theft regulation. Today, he lamented the Payday lending reform as “looking for a solution where there is no problem.”

Meanwhile, Councilmember C.O. Bradford blasted the measure as something that should be solved by personal responsibility, trying to pass off the duty to the borrower. I have to say that I had expected better out of Bradford. Also in opposition was Jerry Davis, as well as Helena Brown (who opposes just about everything).

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Councilmember James Rodriguez also appeared hostile to the regulations. Given that District I is one of the most vulnerable districts to such usury, it really caught my eye that Rodriguez would take such a position. One may recall that Rodriguez’s close friend and predecessor on the Council, Carol Alvarado, when she ran for the State Senate, was heavily underwritten by the payday lenders. A little cursory research reveals that these same benefactors are supporting Rodriguez’s hand-picked successor, Graciana Garces, in her bid to succeed Rodriguez on the Council. I contacted the Garces campaign and was told that she has not made up her mind on the measure since “she has not studied it.” I find this absurd in no small part, mainly because the ordinance is nearly identical to those passed in other Cities; we have known for a while what it looks like.

And Horwitz is correct. One look at contributions from corporate PACs like Cash America, and one will find some contributions to some of those who aren’t rallying around the ordinance. More telling is the fact that Mayor Annise Parker also accepted some sizable checks from them, but doesn’t seem fazed by that fact as she introduces this ordinance.

The payday lending lobby has grown in influence, even making a play in 2012 by supporting Mitt Romney. Obviously, a few rules that allow for fairness in lending while allowing these corporations to keep their sizable profits, irks them to no end. On top of all of the political contributions, one must ask how much they spend on lobbying these government bodies. Certainly, the people don’t have PACs to defend and protect them.

Obviously, this was just introduced and there will be some negotiation and back-and-forth, much like with the wage theft ordinance. One thing is for sure, I’m glad Robert Gallegos, candidate in the run-off for District I, is on record as being for the ordinance.

KUHF has more.

Big Money Lobbyists and Groups Line Up Against Wage Theft Ordinance

ABC-13 has the latest (video).

Apparently, members of a couple of local restaurant and contractors association are OK with companies stealing wages from hard-working Houstonians. These groups are threatening to weaken or just defeat a wage theft ordinance that would protect thousands of workers.

Much like they write checks to incumbents and candidates, it seems they are willing to put up some big money lobbyists to fight for them, too. I’m looking forward to finding out who these lobbyists are, or if they have PACs.

Here’s a note from Fe y Justicia Worker Center.

While we were disappointed the vote on the Wage Theft Ordinance was postponed until next week, that feeling is overcome by the warmth of the strong solidarity from each of you!

Apparently creating consequences for employers that intentionally steal their employees’ pay is such a threat to some unscrupulous businesses that they’ve hired high-paid lobbyists to work behind the scenes against it. You know what that means?

As Martin Mares, Fe y Justicia Worker Center’s Board Treasurer commented, “les pusimos el dedo en la llaga” – we’re hitting them where it hurts!

Give ‘em a few bucks, so they can continue their work against the big money.

Will you join us for the final vote on Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 1:30pm at City Hall Council Chambers? Can you make one more call to your council members

Together we can win respect for the value of all Houstonians’ labor!

Wage Theft Ordinance Vote Today at City Council

UPDATE:  ITEM consideration has been postponed until next week, according to Mayor Parker. Today’s public comments have had mostly supporters of the wage theft ordinance, as written. There was one business group who stated they were fine with the ordinance affecting only city contractors, but they appear to want to protect non-city contractors who screw workers. What’s up with that?

Anyway, Mike Morris at the Chron has a write-up of the latest on the issue.

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How Will I Vote In At-Large 3?

Those of us on the liberal side of things are finding ourselves a bit bewildered at the thought of having to choose between Kubosh and Morales for At-Large 3.

Already, I’ve been a part of some Facebook and e-mail discussions about which is the lesser of two evils. Frankly, I don’t know. Some say Kubosh because he may not be as right-wing as Morales. Others say Morales because they don’t expect him to be as hardcore an attacker on the Annise Parker administration, and perhaps, he’d be easier to beat in two years.

Well, I’ve never been much of a fan of either, although I guess I was on the same side as Kubosh on the red-light camera thing, but not for the same reasons. Morales, on the other hand, has said some pretty harsh things about immigrants (compared them to Al Qaeda in 2005), but some say he’s softened–whatever that means. I usually don’t forgive that type of thing, especially if it’s all about earning a Tea Party vote.

In my usual tongue in cheek fashion, I have suggested promoting an “undervote” campaign:  Show up, vote in the other races and skip this one. Make the undervote so high they would be rendered irrelevant. Sure, I’m just grasping here, but it’s something with which to make some sort of statement.

The bottom line is that both need to be held under a hot light and questioned about issues toward which progressives gravitate. Let’s not give either the chance to skate by just for any simplistic reason. Perhaps I’m asking too much of my fellow lib-labs. At this point, I choose to ask some pretty tough questions of both candidates.

SA’s Mayor Castro Endorses Mayor Annise Parker

mayor

This is good to see.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker today received the endorsement of fellow Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio.

“I’ve joined with Houston teachers, police and sheriffs to support the re-election of your mayor, Annise Parker,” said Mayor Castro.  “Annise’s record of results is full of accomplishments of which any mayor would be proud.”

Mayor Castro cited major achievements of Mayor Parker’s administration, including the Hire Houston First program, putting more police officers on the street, securing $7 million for after-school programs and cutting millions in waste to fully fund public safety.

“With all the gridlock in Washington, America’s cities are leading the way with innovative solutions to complex problems,” said Mayor Castro. “With Annise as mayor of Houston, our cities can work together to make real progress not only for Houston and San Antonio, but also for Texas and the nation.”

“I deeply appreciate Mayor Castro’s endorsement,” said Mayor Parker.  “Under Mayor Castro’s leadership, San Antonio has continued its rise as a Great American City. An inspiration to Texas Latinos, Mayor Castro has made our state stronger for all Texans.”

 

KUHF/KHOU Poll Has Mayor Annise Parker Leading Pack

KHOU and KUHF sponsored a poll conducted by Bob Stein and Stephanie Post at Rice University which finds Mayor Annise Parker leading the pack, but as the numbers currently stand, would lead to a run-off. Here are the results:

Houston Mayor

There are nine candidates for Houston Mayor. Voters were read their names and asked if the election were held today, whom would they vote for?

Frequency Valid Percent
Annise Parker 131 34.1
Keryl Douglas 2 .4
Eric Dick 8 2.0
Charyl Drab 1 .3
Derek Jenkins 3 .7
Victoria Lane 1 .2
Don Cook 1 .3
Mike Fitzsimmons 3 .7
Ben Hall 52 13.6
Don’t Know/Refused 183 47.8
Total 384 100.0

Voters were asked to rate the job performance of Houston City Mayor Annise Parker.

Frequency Valid Percent
Excellent 55 14.2
Good 164 42.8
Fair 119 31.1
Poor 34 8.9
Don’t know 11 2.8
Refused 1 .2
Total 384 100

When no candidate receives a majority of votes cast in an election, a run-off election is held between the two candidates with the largest number of votes. The City of Houston currently conducts its run-off elections for municipal offices such as mayor, controller and city council on Saturday. The city is considering conducting run-off elections on Tuesday. Voters were asked if they would support this change?

Frequency Valid Percent
Excellent 55 14.2
Good 164 42.8
Fair 119 31.1
Poor 34 8.9
Don’t know 11 2.8
Refused 1 .2
Total 384 100

Then voters were asked, if they would still feel this way if they knew the City of Houston would save money holding run-off elections on Tuesday?

Frequency Valid Percent
Yes 75 49.2
No 57 36.9
Don’t know 21 13.9
Total 153 100

That’s the first I hear about a Tuesday run-off possibility. I’ve never been a fan and I would suggest we keep Saturday.

Back to the poll, though, there’s so many ways to interpret that half of the voters polled are undecided and both sides can make a lot of hay out of it. Although Texpatriate seems to think that the 48% are undecided Republicans who can’t seem to choose between Hall and Dick, I tend to think that voters haven’t really gotten a dose of the hard-core stuff, yet, especially on TV. Sure, there was some initial sparring through the airwaves (and lately in the Chron), but once we get a daily dose of ads and more news coverage, voters will begin to give the election more attention.

The poll does drive home the fact that Ben Hall has yet to make a real impact with voters. When 57% of those polled think the Mayor is doing a good/excellent job, and another 31% find her fair (which means tolerable, I guess?), then Hall is being given the message that he needs to do more than just complain about the Mayor on a daily basis.

I’m hoping there will be more regarding City Council races. Laurie Johnson at KUHF reports that run-offs are expected in open seats, and that incumbents, like District A’s Helena Brown and At-Large 2′s Andrew Burks, could end up losing. What is this based on? Well, it doesn’t say, other than comments from local professors. So, yeah, I’m hoping there’s polling that’s about to be reported to back up these assertions.

PDiddie has more, as does Texpatriate.

Here’s the KUHF story.