Category Archives: 2013 Categories

It’s Election 2017 Season! [Alief ISD Edition]

Well, it’s that time again–2017’s election season. Believe it or not, you have lots to vote on, whether it is amendments to the Texas Constitution, local school and college elections, and even some big bonds. This first post on the 2017 elections, I’ll talk about Alief ISD. One thing is for sure, one has to love the diversity on the ballot in all the races.

ALIEF ISD

With various district races for Houston ISD school board leading the local excitement, I’m lucky to live in Alief ISD. There’s four races in that one and I get to vote in everyone of them since we don’t have single member districts. I’m still trying to get to know the candidates on the ballot since they rarely attempt to get to know us inside of the beltway (I’m only a block away from Houston ISD).

Position 4 is a race to fill a vacancy left by the untimely passing of Dedre Jefferson. Darlene Breaux and Jesus Zamora are in the running.

Position 5 has G. “John” Nguyen and Donald Murphy Guillory in a race to replace Nhi T. Ho.

Position 6 has Jennifer Key and Anton Dowls in a race to replace Sarah Winkler.

And Position 7 has Soren Velarde, Natasha Butler, and Janet Spurlock in a race to replace Tiffany Thomas.

I’ll be studying the candidates more, although by the looks of some who are DACA supporters or progressive-minded on other issues, some may be easier to choose than others.

If you’re an ALIEF ISD voter, click on the links for each candidate, get to know them, and contact them with questions. They answer to you!

Voter registration ends on October 10. Early voting is October 23 thru November 3, so, click on the link to find your nearest early voting center. Election Day is November 7, so you can find your location and print your ballot at this site.

 

 

Advertisements

Save The Date: 10/16/17 – Rev. Barry Lynn in Houston

 
Join the Houston Chapter
of
 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
 
As We Honor the 25 Years of Leadership
of
  The Reverend Barry W. Lynn
 Ordained Minister, Lawyer, Author
 
And Celebrate the 
70th anniversary of Americans United
 
 
“Americans United–
Past, Present and Future”
 
Monday, October 16, 2017
7:30 p.m. 
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
Free and open to the public       Plenty of free parking

Reception following program

38th Annual Festival Chicano Houston – Miller Outdoor Theatre

Houston’s best live music and cultural festival is back for it’s 38th year. Festival Chicano will be held October 5-6-7, 2017 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Here’s your chance  to listen to the best music en La Onda Chicana, including Mazz, Jaime y Los Chamacos, Little Joe y La Familia, Shelly Lares, Street People, AB Quintanilla, La Fiebre, Sandy G Y Los Gavilanes, and Isabel Marie. Come join 5,000 or so of your closest friends each night.

Congrats and a big Gracias to Daniel Bustamante, the event founder and organizer for keeping nuestra cultura alive and at the forefront of the local music scene.

Just Another DACA Tease?

There was so much excitement after the announcement by Pelosi and Schumer that they had somehow forged an “agreement” with Trump on making DACA the law of the land.

Me? Well, I was immediately cynical.

First of all, the “agreement” was only announced by the Dems. Secondly, it included “massive border security” notions, which, when left unexplained makes one think of National Guard troops on the border, or worse, Trump supporters in ill-fitting fatigues and with even bigger guns than the Guard. Without any real explanation, it’s hard to get excited. Of course, the “no wall” provision really excited the progressives. It made me even more cynical.

It didn’t take long for the Trump administration to tamp down the excitement with a strong push for “massive border security” before (emphasis on BEFORE) anything looking like DACA was discussed. Paul Ryan announced a ridiculous program based on hate, today. Of course, me seeing Schumer involved only made me remember his love for the private prison lobby and their money. Again, cynical.

Basically, the Democrats went in trying to save 800,000 young people in exchange for “massive border security.” Did the Democrats, again, go into a negotiation offering Trump the most for the least? You know, because we’re only talking about humans, here.

Remember, Obama did this when he negotiated “comprehensive immigration reform” and started with a mass deportation program to convince the other side that Dems were tough. A deporation program whose removal records Trump and his ilk want to break in stellar fashion. Over 2,000,000, including a vast many who had not committed any deportable offenses, would never be enough for Republicans. So “massive border security” will win us 800,000?

The problem with starting a negotiation with the least you can get is that the other side will cut it down, or demand “massive border security.” And as Trump reminds his supporters, the wall will come, anyway. While Trump plays politics in his way, the Democrats don’t seem to be standing up to him on this issue.

Soon after Trump ended DACA, I read a lot of Facebook whitesplaining telling immigrant advocates not to ask for more than what DACA offered. No consideration for the parents of DREAMERS. Or any of the other 10 million migrants. Avoiding any conversation about the entirety of the situation, including a broken system and corrupt human warehousing (private prison) program. Let’s just go with what we can win, they said. And, apparently, in exchange for “massive border security.”

My favorite advocates at United We Dream in DC aren’t too happy with the supposed DACADeal. From the beginning of this newest push for a DREAM Act, this group has been calling for the passage of a clean DREAM Act, and not one chock full of “massive border security” waste. They “disagree with the premise that one group of immigrants shound endure more pain for another group to get rights and protections.” I was hoping the Dems had noticed and followed their lead.

Thus far, Democrats aren’t listening. And Trump goes merrily along in his own evil way.

 

The Undocumented Worker: Hated Until Needed

Some will point to Republican hatred toward immigrants since 2006, and others will point to Bill Clinton’s immigration act which created 287(g) and increased enforcement without fixing the system, but all of this time later, and after $150 billion in Harvey damage, now, there’s a freak-out over the target that hovers over the undocumented laborer who would be tasked with rebuilding Houston if everyone just looked away, especially Trump and his ilk.

All of this time later, various attempts at “comprehensive immigration reform” have failed because Republicans and some Democrats just had to show some artificial toughness to keep the bigoted happy. We’ll let in some people, but we’re going to triple the Mexican hunting police force (border patrol), federalize local cops, start a guest worker exploitation program, and build a fence. I’m all for give and take in a negotiation, but most CIR attempts, even Kennedy-McCain, bordered on ridiculous.

Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion of fixing a broken immigration system–fixing the “line” that everyone tells the undocumented to get to the end of. Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion about correcting US policy in Latin America that supports murderous right-wing regimes and US corporate interests, while attacking progressive leaders who want to provide basic necessities to the poor and indigenous–long ignored by the right-wing and wealthy. Yet, the blame only falls on the undocumented.

Now, you add a despot whose supporters hate Mexicans (and others) just for existing and, instead of looking at the human rights aspect of this, people think, “Who’s going to rebuild us?”

While I appreciate Lisa Falkenberg’s article about the undocumented rebuilding Houston, I’m still irked by the assumption by others that the only reason we need them (at this time) is for cheap, uninsured labor without worker protections. Especially when builders and contractors are the ones crying the loudest as they stand to make the most during the rebuild with this source of cheap labor.

It goes back to why we need more than just a DREAM Act. We need the parents of DREAMers and other workers who make up this exploited labor force, too. They must be protected. They must be paid what they’re worth. They must be insured and have worker protections from bosses who will exploit them during these times. Because, suddenly, it seems they’re not “taking someone else’s job;” they are filling open jobs, if we let them.

As Falkenberg stated:

But honesty takes only mere seconds. Enough with the hypocrisy. We need these workers. Right now, they’re digging Houston out of the worst flood in American history. The least we can do is offer them a path out of the shadows.

 

 

No Politics in Disasters? ¡Por Favor!

It’s been said that there are no politics when disaster strikes. But there sure seems to be politics in creating a disaster. For example, Trump’s rescission of DACA.

There’s a lot of talk about its effects on the economy, on schools, and communities. Oh, yeah, there’s also that separation of families thing that no one seems to talk about. ¡

And talk of family unity is avoided when discussing any new “DREAM” act that will be considered. It’s all about the 800,000 DACA kids, but what about their parents? You know, the original DREAMers who wanted a better life and are somehow faulted for “breaking the law” by both sides of the aisle in the current narrative. Yes, I’m concerned about an entire immigration system continuing in its disastrous state, but we gotta start somewhere, I guess.

I don’t care if it’s a hurricane or inhumanity by man, politics exists in everything. Hell, if you signed online petitions to honor a right-winger-turned-humanitarian with a day at city hall, or you want to name a highway that floods all the time after a humanitarian football star who raised $20 million for flood victims, well, congrats, you just got involved in politics. So, maybe it’s time for something meaningful?

Since Trump has punted to Congress on this, the DREAM Act of 2017 is now in conversations. And about how there is bipartisan support for DACA amongst the voters. But what about the people the voters elected?

Back in 2010, and I’ll always remind you, when Democrats were in charge of the White House, the Senate, and the House, we came up short in the vote. Specifially, in the US Senate. 60 votes were needed to support the DREAM Act of 2010, but a 55-41 vote killed it. And I will also remind you that five Democrats voted against, while three (3) Republicans voted for it. (I guess this counts for bipartisan?) And one Democrat, an announced NO vote, didn’t bother to show up.

So, of the five “NO” Democrats, four now go by the title of “former” US Senator (Hagan, Baucus, Pryor, and Nelson). Left are the beloved by lib-labs Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin (the NO no-show). Has anyone checked on these guys as they check to see how many Republican votes are needed?

So, I’ll be asked why I don’t just criticize the Republicans. Well, hell, I’ve been anti-Republican all of my life, as were my parents, and their parents. I know what to expect from Republicans. In the peak of my most recent Democratic involvement, unfortunately, I spent more time fighting with Democratic apologists for anti-immigrant Dems, or worse, Dems who used the issue for their political benefit, reminders of whom would cause some great Facebook fights.

2.5 million deportations, hundreds of thousands warehoused in private prisons, millions of families affected, and a continued broken immigration system later, nothing has changed. And it’s really tough to be hopeful under a meaner regime with their own majorities. But there’s always hope, right?

Which is why this next fight should be led by the DACA/DREAMer activists themselves. Not the corporate-funded national Latino and immigration groups, not Democratic groups, not Mark Zuckerberg, or any 2020 hopefuls. The Activists. The same activists who called out President Obama for years, who pressured him to finally sign the DACA order after he denied he could for so long. The same activists who fought in 2010 and the ones coming up the leadership pipeline since then. The ones who fought for what was right, and not for political expediency. And the rest of us should follow, fund, and support them.

PS – My last post on the topic, I mentioned that Republicans would remind us that President Obama had failed to pass the DREAM Act in 2010. Well, guess who reminded us?

Update:  Kuff doesn’t like what’s going on, either.

 

Houston Food Bank Food and Resource Fairs – Various Locations

Beginning September 5, 2017, Houston Food Bank and South Texas Dental will be hosting Food and Resource Fairs across the Houston area to assist those affected by Harvey.

Click on image to enlarge:

9/2/17: City of Houston’s Latest Announcements

The City of Houston has sent out a few announcements regarding Harvey recovery and assistance efforts.

Houston Health Department Opens WIC Sites at GRB Shelter, Walmart Stores in Response to Harvey (link)

Houston Water Needs Public’s Help:  Zip Codes Affecte d by Impacted Water Treatment Plants in West Houston. (link)

HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY OPENS 19 LOCATIONS TO HELP HOUSTONIANS REBUILD (link)

Debris Collection Notice–Move Your Cars When Solid Waste Mgt is in Your Neighborhood. (link)

 

City of Houston: Trash and Debris Collection Info

From the inbox:

HOUSTON – To address the collection of disaster debris created by Hurricane Harvey, the Solid Waste Management Department will be temporarily changing the City’s normal collection schedule. Neighborhood depositories will be open 7-days a week from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. until further notice.

STORM DEBRIS COLLECTION

Storm debris will be collected on an ongoing basis until further notice. Please place debris at the curb separated into the following piles:

  • Vegetation – leaves, logs, plants, tree branches (do not bag).
  • Construction & Demolition Material – carpet, drywall, furniture, lumber, mattresses
  • Appliances – dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, water heaters
  • Electronics – computers, radios, stereos, televisions, other devices with a cord.
  • Household Hazardous Waste – cleaning supplies, batteries, lawn chemical, oils, oil-based paints, stains and pesticide

NEIGHBORHOOD DEPOSITORY LOCATIONS

  • North – 9003 N Main 77022
  • Northwest – 14400 Sommermeyer 77041
  • Northeast – 5565 Kirkpatrick 77028
  • Southeast – 2240 Central Street 77017
  • South – 5100 Sunbeam 77033
  • Southwest – 10785 SW Freeway 77074

No household garbage, electronics or household hazardous waste is accepted at the neighborhood depository locations. No pets are allowed on the premises.

Customers must provide the following at the Neighborhood Depository Locations*:

  • A current Texas Driver’s license or State Issued I.D.
  • A current utility bill or city property tax receipt

*  Addresses and names on all presented documents must match and electronic records are NOT accepted. No proof of residency is required for recycling only.

Normal collection services will resume on the schedule as follows:

GARBAGE COLLECTION SCHEDULE

  • Thurs., Aug. 31, 2017 – normal collection schedule
  • Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 – normal collection schedule  
  • Mon., Sept. 4, 2017 – no collection for Labor Day
  • Tues., Sept. 5, 2017 – Monday’s garbage will be collected
  • Wed., Sept. 6, 2017 – Tuesday’s garbage will be collected   
  • Thurs., Sept. 7, 2017 – normal garbage schedule resumes

RECYCLING COLLECTION

Curbside single stream recycling collection will be suspended until further notice. Customers may bring recyclables to neighborhood depository locations or the Westpark Recycling Center located at 5900 Westpark, Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Sept. 4for Labor Day.

YARD, JUNK, AND TREE WASTE COLLECTION

Yard, junk, and tree waste collections will be suspended until further notice due to the need of extra personnel for debris collection related to disaster recovery.

For more information, visit www.HoustonSolidWaste.org or call 3-1-1

Facebook: www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwasteTwitter: @houstontrash

The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste service to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.

SB4 Racial Profiling Law Temporarily Blocked

This is great news, even if it is temporary.

During a stressful time of natural disaster in which people have lost homes, cars, property and have had their livelihood threatened, the added stress of having a racist racial profiling law that targets brown people hanging over them is at the very least stopped while it goes through further review.

The judge found that certain provisions of SB 4 conflict with, and are pre-empted by, federal law because enforcing SB 4 will interfere with the federal government’s authority to control immigration. The judge also found that enforcing SB 4 will result in First Amendment violations.

The judge also determined that vague prohibitions in SB 4 violate due process and “create a real danger of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

In addition, he found that enforcement of the mandatory detainer provisions “will inevitably lead to Fourth Amendment violations.”

SB4 was to go into effect on September 1, 2017. Now, Federal Judge Orlando Garcia will likely set a date for a hearing to determine its constitutionality. Obviously, we await a response from Abbott and his Republican cohorts who supported this bigoted bill.

Even before the remnants of Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, there was worry in the air as thousands were expected to end up in temporary shelters run by local, state, and federal authorities. Soon, there were rumors that people would be asked their immigration status to receive even the simplest disaster assistance–shelter, food, medical. Mayor Sylvester Turner offered some relief in stating that Houston’s doors were open to anybody in need. Still, a targeted community was stressed.

Thanks to ACLU, MALDEF, the lawyers, the witnesses, the activists, and the cities who joined the challenge. Obviously, this is not over and continued attention and activism must continue to ensure this bigoted law is finally defeated. This is definitely a welcome first step.

MALDEF provided the following FAQ on the decision (click image to enlarge).

maldefsb4

UPDATE:  Republican governor Greg Abbott will continue his defense of this bigoted law.

“U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side,” Abbott said in a statement. “This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”