Thoughts On Viernes – 020323

After my first post in a long while, I was elated by the positive response. In fact, some good friends fed me more hope.

Joaquin Martinez for District I

I’ve known this was going to happen for a while. I’ve known Joaquin for a long time now and have always been impressed by his commitment and drive to serve the community. I met him during his service in the nonprofit sector and was impressed by his campaign abilities during his run for State Senate. But he has proved himself as an effective doer as a staffer for current District I CM Robert Gallegos. Of course, I’m proud to say CM Gallegos has served me more effectively than most on the horseshoe on issues beyond my own district. That said, Joaquin is sure to continue that trend of excellent constituent services and transparent policy-making. Learn more about him by following his campaign on Facebook.

Richard Cantu for At-Large 3

Our current HCDE Trustee Richard Cantu announced his intention to run for At-Large 3 recently. Cantu has relevant experience, both as an elected official and as a countywide campaigner. He has actually been reaching beyond political connections. I look forward to an exciting grassroots campaign that is about and for the people, which is something we all need. Stay tuned.

Ivan Sanchez for District J

Many have already seen Sanchez making the rounds as he challenges a well-funded incumbent, who based on his fundraising, is looking for more. Running a grassroots campaign that promises to deliver results for the people, Sanchez offers experience as a Congressional staffer and real estate development pro. He helped found a millenial networking group that is quite active, too. He has also been part of the movement calling for more Latin@ representation on City Council.

With at least one other name that I hear about (but have not seen anything official or biographical in my inbox) set to run for At-Large 1, it seems Latin@s are indeed in the running for citywide and district positions. We’ve needed more of this.

COVID-19 Is Still Here

But just a reminder to candidates and people alike, COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere despite the Biden Administration’s call to end the pandemic emergencies on May 11. The “end” only means that vaccines and boosters will cost the uninsured over $80 each. That free testing will end. And that a host of other benefits will be gone.

Recently, Biden’s CDC ended the use of Evushield, an immune boost for the immunocompromised because it is ineffective against the new variants. Its creator, Astrazeneca, states they are working on clinical trials for a replacement, but those who required the added protection have been left in the lurch with only suggestions for masking, staying away from other humans, and continued boosters. Thanks! Like, maybe suggest it to everyone else!

Locally, COVID-19 is still around. Almost 15% of people being tested are positive. The wastewater reading is over 300%. People are still dying and getting sick. It’s not the flu. New variants are highly transmissible. COVID-19 is an inflammatory disease that affects ones organs and tissues in the long term, not just during infection. Together, all of Biden’s cancellations will have effects, while enriching corporations who didn’t feel they made enough money the last few years. And appeasing the COVID-deniers.

Anyway, mask up, stay boosted, and try not to be foolish by being among crowds you can’t trust. As much as I might support some of the aforementioned candidates, I won’t be at their events for obvious reasons.

Seeking Hope in 2023

Well, after a personally challenging 2022, I decided to take a break in January to clear my head and think about what I want to do with this blog. And I still don’t know. Given the lack of federal leadership in taking on the pandemic and society basically giving up on itself by going unmasked and getting infected more than once (Society, not me), getting involved in stuff isn’t something on my mind. But at least I have this blog, right?

I do know that 2022 left me with a sense of wanting more out of so-called progressives, knowing that the right-wing continues its attack on good things and that we need to be better at fighting back. There needs to be more from those we choose to lead us than daily selfies and minimal returns on our political investments (our vote) when we actually have a majority. That said, a couple of things have happened that give me a little bit of hope. So, I’ll start 2023 (Happy New Year, by the way) with a short listing of things that give me hope.

SILVIA MINTZ ANNOUNCES FOR HCDP CHAIR

My good friend, local attorney and immigration advocate, Silvia Mintz, announced her intention to run for Harris County Democratic Party Chairwoman on FB after the resignation of Odus Evbagharu.

First of all, thank you to Chairman Evbagharu for his service. The position of Party Chair is the most thankless position that entails the equivalent of herding cats, among more important work. It takes a special kind of person to do this part of the job with the ultimate goal of winning elections through coordinated campaigns and effective fundraising. So, that Abogada Mintz is running is not surprising. As she stated:

The Party needs a leader that can keep the county moving forward and not only preserve the accomplishments from the last three election cycles but someone that can build on that progress.

I have run political campaigns, block walked, texted, phone banked, hosted fundraisers, raised money and ran for political office.

I believe that I can be very effective as the Harris County Democratic Party Chairwoman where I can use my experience and knowledge to ensure that Harris County continues to be Democrat and to help turn Texas Blue.

So, one of these days, the County’s Executive Committee (Precinct Chairs) will be getting together to elect the new Party Chair. I wholeheartedly support Silvia Mintz because she does have those leadership qualities needed to keep Democrats together while aiming to win elections. Bottom line: Harris County is still the place in Texas that will finally put a Democrat into statewide office, and this will happen with a chair that will not only win elections, but utilize innovative ways to energize the electorate.

Anyway, this is one moment that has given me some hope.

HOLLY FLYNN VILASECA ANNOUNCES FOR COH AT-LARGE #2

Another good friend, former HISD Trustee, Holly Flynn Vilaseca, announced her candidacy for Houston City Council At-Large Position 2 n FB. I’ve known Holly for years from our participation in local leadership groups and I was very supportive of her work on the school board. As she stated:

I’m running to put families first and ensure we have safe, healthy communities for all Houstonians. We deserve a city government that’s transparent and spends our tax dollars wisely. We deserve reliable city services and better infrastructure.

Together, we can take our city to the next level in economic development, innovation, and quality of life. I can help our communities accomplish these goals with my proven experience in responsible budgeting and operational efficiency. But I can’t do it without your support. Donate to our grassroots campaign at: Actblue.com/donate/HollyforHouston

No doubt, this was another recent happening that gave me some hope.

The City of Houston is currently being sued by LULAC for its lack of Latin@ representation on the City Council. One look at candidates raising money in at-large races and one sees the lack of representation in the people the check-writers support. This needs to change, and it needs to go beyond single-member fiefdoms (what the lawsuit is seeking and probably won’t achieve). So, I’m glad to see Holly jumping in to represent in an at-large race. As I’ve always said, we live everywhere and are qualified to run everywhere.

Reality is hitting us in the face right now, which is one of the reasons I was so out of it on blogging. The implications of a right-wing-led US House and an emboldened and bigoted Texas government are already affecting us, whether through awful public policies or a lack of political will to fight back on the left. Democrats won locally in 2022, but Republicans will continue on their favorite line of whining–creating doubt about election outcomes. We need energy, and these two announcements provided me a bit of a spark.

DC’s Top 10 Posts of 2022

Well, during a year which saw some activity for myself which then died down as family and self took precedence over the news of the day, I’m still impressed that folks visited the site consistently. Thank you! I’ve compiled the Top 10 posts which received the most views and visits. I’m still surprised that some posts from years past still get a lot of visits, but these are ten I wrote in 2022. Here’s hoping you have a good time reminiscing.

Chou Goes Disingenous With Briones Attack

Judge Lesley Briones Announces for Harris Commish

The 2022 Stace Slate – Dem Primary

JP 1-2 Candidate Victor Lombrana Featured on Univision

43rd Annual Festival Chicano Schedue is Out

QEPD: Harold Cook

Isabel Longoria Resigns As Elections Chief

Race For Precinct 4 Is Almost Over, But…

Ben Chou Files for Harris Commish

Texas Trib: One Last Reunion of La Raza Unida Party

QEPD: Ramsey Muniz

Obviously, the race for Precinct 4 Commish received the most attention on the internets. Thankfully, Chou endorsed Briones after the run-off and Briones and Democrats went on to unseat a bigoted, lazy piece of furniture handily. Democrats will hold a 4-1 majority on the Commish Court because County Judge Lina Hidalgo defeated Fascist Mack, his rich buddies, and their candidate.

It’s been a year, though. I’ll be writing something to sum up my thoughts next week. Stay connected!

The Voting Problems

It’s safe to say that local Republicans didn’t mind the voting problems at locations which opened late or were short-staffed at the beginning of Election Day. When supplies were running low at some locations, though, all of a sudden they wanted to be a protected class. So goes the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. It’s all about them–especially when they lose.

Don’t worry, Rethugs, I was almost a victim of those damn printers, too. (Did you hear that HC Elections was counting emergency ballots yesterday?)

I voted on the first day, being the responsible kind of voter who fears dying between Day 1 of early voting and Election Day and not having my vote counted. Though the polling location (Tracy Gee Center) was busy and the configuration of the room between check-in and voting was backwards, I got through that process. Unfortunately, when it came to pushing in the 2nd ballot sheet into the printer, it jammed. Badly! The first couple of lines printed before it skewed badly and injured the paper.

I immediately called up a poll worker who literally had to pull the sheet out, had me put my name on yellow sticky on the ballot while he found a supervisor. I stayed at my polling station, hoping that my vote wasn’t lost. Thankfully, a supervisor brought a new sheet, the poll worker ran it through, and the 2nd page was printed. Finally, both sheets went through the scanner and I was done, placing the I VOTED sticker on my mask. Yes, I still mask.

Anyway, voters need to check their paper print-outs to ensure everything printed out. We have these “paper trails” that were demanded by people for a reason. I thought the paper trail was going to be cash register receipt of my choices for ME, but so much for that.

Thanks to the good folks who committed to working for Harris County Elections for ensuring my vote counted.

Now, the staffing shortages and paper shortages do need to be addressed. The paper trail part is state-mandated now, so, maybe more staff to run a q-tip with alcohol on the rubber thingies that pull the ballot paper in are needed. I don’t know. You got paid people for that. But more paper kept in accessible secure locations or something!

But is this a blatant, purposeful violation of ones voting rights? It’s an inconvenience for sure, but we have 782 voting locations on Election Day that a voter can vote at. At least in my neighborhood, from Tracy Gee I could go down the street to one of the Chinese Cultural centers off Corporate to vote. A little further and I have the Alief ISD polling station. The options were plentiful. We just haven’t gotten people out of the mentality that they don’t have to vote JUST in their neighborhood.

The options were also plentiful for people who somehow didn’t pay attention to all the TV attack ads and mail reminding them that there was an election–early voting and Election Day–yet decided to give up when the one location they went to didn’t open up on time. Or didn’t realize it until they got a text that election day was extended by an hour (to vote on a provisional ballot that may or may not be counted).

Now, some might say, “How Republican of you, Stace, to have these thoughts.” But there were two million people in downtown sweating it out (and stinking it up) for the Astros a day before, I figure driving a few miles to a polling location wouldn’t be that big a deal. Maybe I’m just experiencing less faith in humanity. I wonder why.

Is there voter suppression? Of poor and ethnic folks? Hell yeah. Which is why we have early voting for two weeks, a late night of early voting, a weekend of early voting, and 782 locations to vote at on Election Day.

Do folks still have issues getting to vote? Of course! Especially by mail. The Republicans have improved their voter suppression tactics to include racist mailings to go along with their racist policies that make people give up on democracy. Gerrymandering is voter suppression, too. But given the fact that 9 million people in Texas (a million or so here in Houston) didn’t show up to vote, it’s safe to say that a lot of folks just weren’t giving a shit and for a whole lot of reasons. And that’s a whole other discussion to have, but other than forced voting, I’m not sure what a good solution is.

I’m proud to be the son of Tacho and Flora who instilled in me a love of voting and participating in the political process. And believe me, I went through a phase this summer of wondering if I should even bother, but that subsided when I saw all of the lies and misinformation by Fascist Mack and MagaMealer and “Judicial Fairness PAC.” But I guess 9 million others in Texas don’t want to be like me.

Needless to say, Republicans, your rights were not violated. Inconvenienced? Sure. And the rights of Democrats at those voting locations, too, but you didn’t seem to care about them. But there is a lot of that going on, mostly because of Republican policies.

QEPD: Harold Cook

Growing up as a political operative-wannabe, I always admired the work of Harold Cook; especially during the days of Ann Richards. As a college kid, had I known him then, I’d probably want to be “the next Harold Cook.” So, when I started Dos Centavos and joined a group of Texas political bloggers, I was sort of in awe (at least in an e-mail group) to be in a group that included Harold.

When we finally formally met, it was at St. Arnold’s Brewery during one of the Texas Dem Convention parties. Talk about a Texas-sized hug. He had so much knowledge of Texas Politics and was quite the strategist. But he also had a wit that was so sharp that whomever it was aimed at didn’t know who sliced them up until they’d bled out. So, he was one of my influences during this time of DosCentavos.net.

I was so saddened to hear of his untimely passing. Shocked. Mad. And then sad, again. How could he do this to us? Right? While our political conversations were always interesting, I always felt honored when he left a comment on a photo of one of my food creations, inviting himself or placing an order to deliver to his Western Headquarters. He’ll be missed by those who followed him on social media, for sure. To those who were closest to him, I know they’re going through a lot of emotions. My thoughts are with his family and friends. And Travis the Goofy Dog.

Regarding Letters From Texas (his website/blog) and why he included political satire with his expert analyses, he told Culture Map Austin in 2012, “I think many participants in the political process take themselves way too seriously.” He definitely lightened up Texas politics–at least for those who wanted to be in the thick of it.

Here’s Quorum Report’s statement from Harold’s Family:

Friends and family passed along this statement

Longtime political advisor and commentator Harold Cook died suddenly at his “Western Headquarters” in Marathon.

Not surprisingly, he made it to one last election day.

Harold’s first political job was serving as an aide to State Representative Debra Danburg. He went on working closely with Land Commissioner Gary Mauro, Texas Secretary of State John Hannah Jr.. and dozens of other elected officials and organizations.

Notably, Harold managed the 11 Democratic state senators who broke quorum in 2003 and held out for 46 days in Albuquerque.

Harold later became a featured commentator on Time Warner’s Capitol Tonight, often providing astute observations with an acidic wit.

Harold Lee Cook was born January 16, 1961 in Houston. He is survived by his beloved sister Martha and his loyal dog Travis. Services are pending.

Election 2022 Results

Congrats to County Judge Lina Hidalgo. She fought off an all-out attack from Fascist Mack, his millionaire buddies and his puppet of a candidate, consistently adding to her lead as the votes were counted throughout the night. Other Dems, including District Clerk Marilyn Burgess and County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth return to their jobs, and Dr. Carla Wyatt will take over as County Treasurer in January. Amy Hinojosa and Andrea Duhon return to the Harris County Dept of Education board, too.

We will have a new Pct. 4 County Commissioner as Lesley Briones pushed on through to defeat the no-show incumbent. With Judge Hidalgo and Commish Adrian Garcia earning re-election, Harris County Commissioner’s Court will now have four (4) Democrats–a supermajority that can ensure strong budgets and policies are passed whether GOPer Tom Ramsey shows up or not. Some say this isn’t a mandate, but after all the hate-mongering and money wasted by the other side, I think Harris County did achieve a strong mandate for progressive values and policies.

With all of the attack ads full of misinformation and fear-mongering against “Democrat Judges,” Dems lost a few judicial races, including 180th District Judge Dasean Jones. Of course, the local Dem DA assisted in the bail-related fear-mongering, so, I hope Judge Jones stays close and challenges the DA in 2024. There were several sitting judges who were “in the news” regarding bonds and releases, but it seems Republicans honed in on African-American judicial candidates because they are the ones that lost. The non-Black judges seemed to cruise into re-election. Just an observation.

That said, I’m surprised nothing was said about all the corporate money that was used to create the Republican “crime” message that attacked all of the judges. The money came from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a very dead Sheldon Adelson’s Vegas gambling corporation, and other non-crime, non-law enforcement-related corporations. They were trying to buy civil court judges, people! They didn’t care about crime.

Well, Democrats haven’t elected anyone statewide for over 25 years, and that reality continues. South Texas continues to add to Republicans’ bottom line, and anything over 35-40 % of the vote in those counties will keep the GOP strong statewide–even as suburban areas “liberalize.” Whether it’s “moderate” Democrats who fail to do anything about educating the South Texas public about progressive issues, Christian fundamentalism that creeps into politics, or South Texas voters falling for right-wing hate-mongering as if they aren’t included in the attacks, it’s a problem. A message problem for Democrats.

Thankfully, at the local level Democrats are still in charge in most of South Texas–even Starr County. It is gerrymandering that ensured right-wing victories in CD-15 and CD-23. There’s a lot to unpack and discuss about South Texas, but as long as Nancy Pelosi feels the need to help sell-outs like Henry Cuellar during Democratic Primaries, the party pendejadas will continue.

Bexar County had a good night, as did Travis County and Dallas County. For some reason, Republicans targeted Harris County, finding and exploiting weaknesses in our bottom line. Fortunately, they ran mediocre (yet well-funded) candidates with awful puppeteers (Fascist Mack, Steve Hotze, etc.) and exploited crime victims in creating a fear-based message. Democratic activists were still successful in the ground game, despite the daily vitriol on TV. Kudos to them. [Travis County Note: Good luck to Celia Israel as she moves on to a Mayoral run-off, and to Jose Velasquez in Austin City Council District 3 run-off.]

While Dem faithful seem to have adopted Greg Abbott’s “it could’ve been worse” line after the results were finally posted, given results in other urban areas of the state which were strong for Democrats, perhaps something needs to be discussed. The activism is working, but the media response to right-wing lies leaves much to be desired. Also, it might help reminding voters how great our elected officials are–at least those that are great. But, hey, we won!

Anyway, Dems have some work to do for 2024, including having a cleaner, more meaningful slate that runs together and supports itself from top to bottom. Of course, this is also something to think about for the 2023 local elections as we remember who, from those in the running for Mayor and Council, stood up for our Democratic slate and who did not.

And somebody educate the local newsreaders about the political and election process before they go on TV. The overdramatization of the last eight ballot boxes was quite annoying.

Kuff has more. And I thought I was the only one making hand gestures at homes with Mealer signs.

Today is Election Day 2022!

Well, it all comes down to today. If you haven’t voted early, then please get it done today!

  • Find your sample ballot by clicking here.
  • Find a polling location anywhere in Harris County by clicking here.
  • VOTE FOR ALL OF THE DEMOCRATS

Here are some truths.

Vote to Re-Elect Judge Lina Hidalgo. She has served us well through disasters, a pandemic, and especially through the day-to-day affairs of the County. She shows up for work, which cannot be said about Republican commissioners, like Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey. If you want our county services left intact, if you want the Sheriff funded, and if you want to ensure our medical services still exist next year, then we must keep the Democratic majority. And that means re-electing Judge Hidalgo and electing Lesley Briones for Pct 4 Commissioner.

The local furniture guy does not support the best interests of the people of Harris County. He puts on a good show, but he falls short of caring for anything that doesn’t get him a tax dodge or hedge his business risks, like betting on the Astros to pay for all of “free” furniture. He’s a tax-dodging, MAGA-supporting, election-denying gambling addict, and Alex Mealer doesn’t fall far from those descriptors. Don’t tolerate whiny Republicans who will gamble away your rights and your own livelihood to enrich themselves.

And what about “Democrat Judges”? They have served us well, ensuring fairness and justice in the criminal and civil courts. The money for all of those anti-Democrat Judge ads is coming from a a few donors who do not care about your safety. Corporate groups like Texans for Lawsuit Reform (they have nothing to do with crime), Las Vegas Sands Company (which probably gets a lot of money from at least one local gambling addict, Trinity Equity Partners, Don McGill Toyota, and some other millionaires who don’t care about your safety, but care about buying civil court judges for their own benefit and that of their rich buddies. Vote for the Democrats if you want your best interests guarded.

We need Beto O’Rourke, Rochelle Garza and the Democrats at the top of the ballot to end the political career of Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton and the rest of the Republicans who threaten our livelihoods everyday. So, vote accordingly.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance says that the only thing scarier than Halloween is not voting. Think about that while you read this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes the remarkable case of the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General endorsing Democratic candidate Rochelle Garza because he sees Ken Paxton as such a threat to freedom.

SocraticGadfly looks at the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ craven collapse to Biden and leadership on Ukraine, despite the fact that the majority of Americans say they want the US to lead the push for a negotiated solution.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Houstonia introduces you to the seven families behind some of Houston’s best-known restaurants.

Jef Rouner does not have a favorite conspiracy theory.

Your Local Epidemiologist reports on the triple threat of RSV, COVID, and the flu.

Texas 2036 reviews our performance on the National Report Card.

Texas Monthly says it’s OK to fear the robot dogs that I had previously had no idea about and thus hadn’t been worried about before now.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance exhorts everyone to go vote as they bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff interviews Rochelle Garza, who would be the best Attorney General the state has had since the 90s if elected.

SocraticGadfly has two strategery thoughts related to the midterms nationally, namely that neither inflation whataboutism of the Pelosi stripe, nor “But Republicans” (and the implied “Only Republicans” by Team Blue activists on entitlements privatization, are likely to work well with independent-minded independent voters.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Dallas Observer reports on the violence that Texas nurses are seeing at their workplaces.

The Houston Press lists ten MRA and incel red flags to look for. Texas 2036 explores the fear of losing access to water.

In the Pink Texas would like to have some words with undecided voters.

Paradise in Hell shakes his head at the DNA kit rollout in Texas elementary schools.

2022 Early Voting Begins Monday 10/24

Today is the first day of Early Voting for the 2022 General Election. Here’s the important info:

FIND YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT HERE

FIND YOUR EARLY VOTING LOCATION HERE Or Print a PDF EV Location Sheet

VOTE EARLY! VOTE FOR ALL OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES! And vote for all of the Harris County Bond Propositions!

This is a very important election from the top to the bottom of the ballot. Vote in every race.

Personally, though, I’ll be skipping over Democrats who failed to endorse our County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Kudos to Mayoral candidate Chris Hollins for pointing out that one particular Democratic officeholder who has failed to endorse a couple of Latina candidates.