Category Archives: 2013 Categories

State Rep. Gene Wu on COVID19 Situation

Here’s a note my State Rep. Gene Wu posted on Facebook providing an update regarding the COVID19 (Coronavirus) health emergency. It’s got all the right information and links. Thanks, Rep.!

Friends,

The COVID19 situation in Houston is rapidly changing and uncertain. My staff and I wanted to take this opportunity to share resources with you so that you and your family can stay up to date with current and official information from the City of Houston, Harris County, and the US Center for Disease Control.

Both Harris County and the City of Houston have issued emergency health declarations – you may have already heard that the remainder of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be cancelled as a preventative measure.

Schools and businesses are expected to remain open during this emergency management period, but as the situation is quickly evolving, I urge to you use these official resources to make sure that you are receiving the most accurate and up to date information.

US Center for Disease Control:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

City of Houston Health Department :

https://www.houstontx.gov/health/Epidemiology/2019-nCoV.html

Harris County Health:

http://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Resources/2019-Novel-Coronavirus

If you have specific questions please contact:

For Harris County Residents:

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – Updates regarding Public Health

www.hcphtx.org\COVID-19

www.ReadyHarris.org

(832) 927-7575 – 9AM – 7PM

Harris Health System

www.harrishealth.org

Ask-My-Nurse – Call line for everyday clinical-related questions

(713) 634-1110 – 9AM – 7PM

For City of Houston Residents:

Houston Health Department

www.HoustonHealth.org

www.HoustonEmergency.org

(832) 393-4220 – 9AM – 7PM, M-F, 9AM – 3PM on Sat.

For Fort Bend County Residents:

Fort Bend County Health & Human Services

www.fbchealth.org/ncov

(281) 633-7795 -8AM – 5PM, M-F

Please remember to practice safe hygiene and avoid contact with large groups if you have recently traveled internationally.

My office is here for you if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Gene

The Ghost of HD142

Full Disclosure:  I haven’t worked on a campaign in six years, but I still like to do my internet sleuthing when it comes to campaigns and candidates. No doubt, HD142 caught my eye because I knew there would be a concerted effort to oust incumbent State Rep. Harold Dutton. I was a little surprised to see the name Natasha Ruiz on the ballot back in late December. I’d never heard the name in local politics, and after finding no information on her, I figured it was just another inexperienced candidate with no idea what she was doing. If the candidate remains a ghost, then whomever created her knew exactly what they were doing.

Miya Shay of ABC13 has been on the story, finding all the Texas Ethics Commission paperwork, the filing documents at the local Democratic Party HQ, and checking on addresses and knocking on doors. She even found copies of the currency paid to HCDP ($750 CASH). And nothing. A previous story found that Natasha Demming (whom answered the call from the newsfolks based on the phone number on the docs) is a truck driver in Colorado who had no idea why she was on the ballot. My only question:  Candidates need to also file a financial disclosure form with the Texas Ethics Commission; was any filed? They are no longer posted online, but can be requested with an open records request. If that exists, wow! They’re really good at creating people from thin air in this age of ID requirements. (The notary at HCDP stated the person had an ID.) If not, then it really may be a ghost! Either way, they’re good! [Or as Kuff states, maybe Demming is lying.]

The weirdest part is that Ruiz garnered 20% of the vote! No campaign, no rallies, no direct mail, no robocalls, no signs. It was a 4-person race and the incumbent was forced into a run-off. No telling if the ghost was not on the ballot if there would still be one today. I’m thinking there would still be one. But, who knows? I’ve heard of “low-information voters” but “no information”?

Anyway, this is potentially embarrassing all around. If something happened, who did it? Was it the Russians, again? Was it those opposing the incumbent? Those supporting him? An inside job? Too many questions, for sure. And they’re being asked, or else I wouldn’t be writing them.

Of course, if everything is in order, then anyone can put themselves on the ballot and sit back and watch the dumpster fire that this can become.

Kuff has more.

2020 Dem Primary Results – Harris County

Well, the #StaceSlate did well, but we did end up with some heartbreaking losses and six or so run-offs.

First of all, congrats to my friend Judge Julia Maldonado of the 507th District Court. The family court judge overcame a couple of opponents, including one endorsed by the local fish wrap. But that’s OK, people realized that Maldonado is a good jurist and a great Democrat who serves the community well.

Also, to Natalia Cornelio, whom I wrote about after I met her, who defeated the incumbent quite handily. She worked her way to victory by forming a strong coalition based on the need to defeat an incumbent unfriendly to bail reform. And that’s a good thing.

And Judge Leslie Briones, appointed to the County Court At Law #4 bench after an accidental resignation, defeated the previous occupant. I guess she didn’t need to use the #NeverQuits hashtag I suggested because it seems the voters REALLY like her. Congrats, Laredo!

And huge congrats to my friend Ann Bennett on a decisive victory to remain the Democratic candidate for Tax Assessor-Collector. She’s been an effective officeholder, has improved customer service throughout the county, and is a champion for voter registration. I look forward to her re-election in November.

Of course, I was saddened to see my good friend Judge Larry Weiman defeated. I’ve supported Weiman since he first entered the political atmosphere in 2006–when it was still slightly unpopular to be a Democrat. Two years later, he, along with a great group of Democrats, defeated the Republicans in office. He was definitely a trendsetter, considering he didn’t take money from lawyers who had cases in the 80th District. Unfortunately, and I’ve stated this many times, it’s gotten a lot easier to win as a Democrat in Harris County, so, even the best jurist on the bench can be targeted for defeat in the Primary for no reason whatsoever, other than, because they can. Some long-time judges won’t be as targeted if they are great fundraisers and spread the wealth (protection money?), but some who don’t feel the need be part of the kingmaking class (like Weiman) will be easy targets. And it’ll happen more often, unfortunately, which will ultimately lead to calls for “balanced courts” once November rolls around.

My other friend, Judge Steven Kirkland, was also defeated. He has had a target on him throughout his political career. He was defeated previously thru homophobia and hate, and now, because they could (or maybe both). He is a good jurist, but it’s gotten easier to overlook effectiveness, issues, etc. I’m of the opinion that it could happen to anyone. And it will.

I’m not quite at the point where I would prefer politically appointed, rather than elected, judges, but some hybrid, revolving, based-on-experience track might be nice.

THE RUN-OFFS

It looks like State Senator Royce West snuck into a run-off for US Senate against Washington DC favorite/funded MJ Hegar. I think Christina Tzintzun Ramirez would have done better in South Texas if “Mama” hadn’t been on the ballot. (And did I see Little Joe doing a web ad/vid for “Mama”?) Anyway, #MyChoiceIsRoyce in this one. His experience and a track record of not stepping back from a fight is what we need on the ballot.

Fellow Crystal Citian Roberto Alonzo also made the run-off for Texas Railroad Commissioner. Having served in the Texas Lege for 20 years has given him actual experience in making laws and regulation. Frankly, I think that’s better than being a part of an industry that has shielded itself from all political liability and financial/environmental responsibility. If ever we needed an “outsider,” on the RRC, it is now. Roberto provides that option.

Also, I’m a South Texas Mexican. I’ve had a lot of tios, primos, friends, and probably a few enemies called “Beto” way before the white guy from El Paso came around. So, if you make it about names, realize you sound a little racist. Because I’m getting sick and tired of that crap. (That one was for my late union steward Tio Beto, who also went by Bob to appease those who couldn’t say Beto.)

In the County Commissioner Pct 3 race, Diana Martinez Alexander was the top vote-getter and is in the run-off. Alexander, with little money, but a lot of shoe leather, community-oriented campaigning, and heart earned more votes than her run-off competitor who came in with hundreds of thousands of dollars, glossy direct mailers, consultants, and the support of well-known connected types. It’s a clear choice for me, because, as my momma used to say, “tienes que tener modo con la gente” and Alexander is a great people person who will run a people-centered commissioner’s office while also standing up for our values and needs as a community.

NOT ON MY BALLOT

Congrats to Penny Morales Shaw on making the run-off for Texas House District 148. I think the primary showed that special elections suck and people are still not in voting mode when they happen. Plus, when you throw republinuts into the mix, it just sucks more. Hopefully, voters stay in voting mode for the run-off. Hopefully, voters will get more than the usual arguments of “I was way ahead of the pack” versus “59% of the people don’t want my opponent” and break down the issues that matter. There are differences in this one.

These are just a few of the run-offs on my radar. The run-off is scheduled for late May, so get ready for those picnic grade paper plate placemats (full page glossy direct mail pieces) to start arriving. A few text messages, too. And lots of calls.

More on the #StaceSlate

Some folks have asked me:  Why ________ (this candidate)? For most, I have my reasons. Here are a few races in which I’ve been most vocal on social media.

Bernie Sanders for President:  When it comes to US policy in Latin America, it’s Sanders that gets it. He isn’t afraid to blast US policy supported by both political parties that has been detrimental to native (indigenous) and poverty stricken communities in those countries. Certainly, Sanders doesn’t support policies that bolster the right-wing, anti-indigenous, and anti-poor wealthy class in Latin America. The class that, given the opportunity, will literally impose violence, kill and disappear their opposition as has been ignored by the US for too long . (And these are a few reasons people from these countries are fighting to come here!) The other candidates fall short. Way short. If anything, they support the status quo which tells the poor and native that their votes do not matter, even when they come out to vote in huge numbers and elect progressives to lead. It happens here, too and is one cause of low voter turnout. It is obvious that Sanders’ competition cares little for anyone else but their own political hides when it comes to talking about Latin America, preferring to talk “democracy,” without noticing that they want to impose the same kind of democracy that gave the US Trump. The Democratic Party needs to do a lot better on Latin America and it starts with Bernie Sanders leading the way.

Any opposing argument that questions his support of progressive leaders in Latin America, as well as any idiotic questioning by local elected officials as to his “Democratic” credentials is a weak attempt at red-baiting and an insult to our intelligence as voters.

Royce West for US Senate:  As I’ve stated before, if you ask me for my vote and you haven’t done anything that has hurt native or poor communities, and you have actually defended communities from awful, racist laws (SB4), chances are you will get my vote. No doubt, Christina Tzintzun Ramirez ranked up there in my choices because of her legislative leadership on these issues, but it came down to simply being asked by someone with a track record of political leadership that I trusted. Retail politics still matters in this huge state. All the other candidates fall short of having done anything on these issues that matter to me.

Roberto Alonzo for RR Commissioner:  I’ve known Roberto most of my adult life. We grew up in the same hometown. For many, he’s “un buen ejemplo” because, like many of us, he came from nothing but a loving family. And like many of us, his life was about struggle and helping those that struggled. For Roberto, serving in public office isn’t about some whim that came about after a bad election or finally speaking up after enriching oneself in an industry.  As a State Representative serving in Dallas for two decades, whatever progressive agenda he supported, and he’s been consistent in doing so, has been about helping people overcome barriers, and the poverty and struggle that come with those barriers. His years of service, which includes fighting on environmental issues, qualifies him for this post. So, this one was an easy choice.

I’ll try to write a few more of these before Tuesday. But some asked, so, there you go.

#StaceSlate: The 2020 Dem Primary Picks

Credit: Tacho Medellin, DC Media

It’s that time again:  Time to release the #StaceSlate  It’s a long ballot, so we must prepare accordingly to vote the entire ballot. It’ll be good practice for November when the “straight ticket” option is no longer available. Google my picks and learn about them. Find your sample ballot here if you want to find out who all the candidates are on your ballot. (These are the ones on MY ballot!) And, there’s also Erik Manning’s spreadsheet that is quite informative regarding candidates.

Here’s the #StaceSlate!

President – Bernie Sanders

US Senate – Royce West

US House District 9 – Al Green

Texas RR Commissioner – Roberto Alonzo

Chief Justice, Supreme Court – Jerry Zimmerer

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 6 – Kathy Cheng

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 7 – Staci Williams

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 8 – Gisela Triana

Judge, Court of Criminal Appreal, Pl 3 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Pl 4 – NO ENDORSEMENT

SBOE, District 6 – Michelle Palmer

State Senate, Dist 13 – Borris Miles

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #3 – Veronica Rivas Molloy

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #5 – Amparo Monique Guerra

Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Jim Evans

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Cheri Thomas

Judge, 80th District Court – Larry Weiman

Judge, 164th District Court – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, 165th District Court – Ursula Hall

Judge, 176th District Court- Nikita Harmon

Judge 179th District Court – Ana Martinez

Judge, 334th District Court – Steven Kirkland

Judge, 337th District Court – David Vuong

Judge, 339th District Court- Te’iva Bell

Judge, 351st District Court – Natalia Cornelio

Judge, 507th District Court – Julia Maldonado

Judge, County Court at Law #4 – Leslie Briones

Harris County Attorney – Christian Menefee

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector – Ann Harris Bennett

Harris County District Attorney – Audia Jones

Sheriff – Ed Gonzalez

County School Trustee, Pos 5 – Paul Ovalle

County School Trustee, Pos 7 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Harris County Commissioner Pct 3 – Diana Martinez Alexander

Harris Constable, Pct 5 – Mark Alan Harrison

Harris County JP Place 5-1- Israel Garcia

 

The Race for County Commish Pct 3 – A Forum

I attended a candidate forum featuring four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Harris County Pct 3 Commissioner. The candidates were Diana Martinez Alexander, Morris Overstreet, Michael Moore, and Kristi Thibaut. The moderator was Charles Kuffner (of Off The Kuff fame) who did an outstanding job of asking some good questions regarding budget priorities, bail reform, flood control and mitigation, city-county cooperation, transportation, climate change, among other topics.

To be honest, all of the candidates offered good answers, whether it was Alexander on Pre-K, Moore on environmental regulation, Thibaut on flood mitigation, or Morris on voting rights. [Watch the video!] There wasn’t much, if any, disagreement.  One thing they all agreed on though, as well as those in attendance, was that all of the good ideas that any of these folks have will only work if Democrats flip the Texas House, thus forcing some bipartisan work from the Texas Senate to do something about revenue caps and the boot that the State of Texas currently has on local government’s necks. Even so, it will be a battle that will require more than some semblance of bipartisanship that republicans refuse to practice. And an even stronger Democratic majority on the commissioner’s court helps.

That said, I usually seek out other qualities from candidates when faced with similarly good answers. For example, when Kuffner asked the question about legislative priorities, it was Diana Martinez Alexander who brought up fighting Greg Abbott’s SB4, the racial profiling and anti-immigrant law that turns local law enforcement into border cops and wastes vital resources. Or, when felony bail reform was brought up, it was the jurist, Morris Overstreet, who provided some clarity to the issue, rather than a cautiously moderate approach to even discussing it.

Of course, political traditions dictate that those that raise the most money and run traditional campaigns have the best chance at beating a republican. But it also takes some good ol’ retail politics to gain this voter’s’ attention, so, kudos to grassroots candidate Diana Martinez Alexander for working the room and speaking to folks she hadn’t met before (me and my sister). Sure, precinct 3 may be too large in which to run that kind of campaign, but last night’s intimate setting filled with activists who GOTV was a good shot at shaking hands and asking for the vote. (And that goes for the other candidates (and office holders) in the room! Stop talking to people you already know!)

As a Chicano voter, I also naturally look for commonalities–with whom do I identify? When Overstreet mentioned he was from West Texas with siblings who had all earned higher education degrees despite their parents’ lack of that kind of opportunity, it spoke to me. Martinez Alexander’s mention that her mother still works cleaning houses was a stark reminder that Harris County’s diversity is both ethnic and economic, thus requiring someone with that kind of life experience who will fight for all of the people without a second thought. It’s not always about polish.

Those that prefer political money and political polish have a couple of candidates, for sure. It’s just not what I’m looking for in this primary election season. That stuff doesn’t impress me if you’re not walking up to a voter and asking for their vote. That said, I’ll be a “D” vote in this race in November, but I’m leaning toward the candidate that best represents me, my issues, and my interests. At least that’s my take after this one forum.

Thanks to the Southwest Democrats (and others) who hosted this event.

Photo:  Erik Manning (Southwest Democrats)

Congratulations, Joe Biden!

Am I the only one experiencing this dark feeling that Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee this week?

I won’t even re-hash the Bernie-Warren spat, but the bottom line is that both campaigns and their supporters have exhibited the worse kind of petty campaign behavior. The kind of behavior that, even if accusations have some speck of legitimacy, goes off the rails rendering both campaigns as childish and immature. The kind of behavior that even though both sides’ points have been made, continues because one or the other continues it and CNN eats it up.

Unfortunately, all this does is make the other guy look stronger, steadfast, and like the image of the granddaddy our country needs, even if he does take us to the woodshed to spank us for questioning anything he might do.

Worse, it’s not even about issues! It’s about what someone else heard someone else say in some candidate meeting. Or some errant staffer on one campaign posting something on a campaign site to which 99% of the rest of us have no access. And that one campaign has talking points on another, as if this kind of thing never happens. Certainly, the only thing we’ve actually heard is whatever CNN’s stage microphone heard after the debate and neither campaign looked good. I guess I just rehashed it.

So, while the facebook arguments will likely continue between Berniestas and Warrenites, I think I’ll spend my time on more productive things. Like, embracing having to vote for Joe Biden. It’s less stressful and a whole lot less petty!

Or, both campaigns can stop the BS and actually campaign so we can let the whitest states in the union decide who will be the nominee. Now, there’s something that should be discussed! Or is race relations in politics just too uncomfortable?

 

 

Primary Controversy Resolved by Judge

Late last year, I wrote about how the local Dem Party ruled that incumbent 351st District Judge George Powell was ineligible for the primary ballot because he had submitted the wrong amount required for the filing fee. Well, District Judge Lauren Reeder heard all of the facts of the case and ruled that Judge Powell should be placed back on the ballot.

Apparently, there were a few more facts to consider beyond the wrong amount and wrong information supposedly given by a party volunteer to the Judge.

Powell gave enough money to the party in a stroke of good fortune – he wrote a second check to the Democratic Party on the Dec. 9 filing deadline, meant as a $2,500 loan for another potential candidate’s application. That woman’s application wasn’t even received because of insufficiencies on her form, but the party cashed both Powell’s $2,500 and $1,500 checks, meaning the organization accepted $4,000 from him, according to testimony.

A lawyer friend in the courtroom told me about other arguments made by the plaintiff that were eye opening, but since there’s nothing written in the press, I won’t get specific. Of course, the plaintiff also gave mention to political intrigue (read the article), but, can anyone name one contested Dem Primary that hasn’t had intrigue? And 2020 has a few intriguing races.

Anyway, the Dem Primary race for the 351st Criminal Court will have Natalia Cornelio challenging Powell. Cornelio helped draft the settlement to improve Harris County’s misdemeanor bail system which was declared unconstitutional in federal court for discriminating against poor defendants. Powell’s actions on the bench do not seem to support the settlement.

Powell was one of 11 current and former judges in the area who were admonished by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2019 related to complaints that they instructed hearing officers to deny no-cost bail to indigent defendants. That admonishment has since been retracted for unknown reasons.

Cornelio released this statement:

I remain focused on why I am running and on pushing for the issues that matter in criminal courts, like promoting community centered justice, bail reform, and a commitment to reducing racial disparities in our justice system.

So, it’s off to the races! Kuff has more.

Un Dia Ganaremos: Julian Castro Exits, Endorses Warren

My first and only choice for the Dem nom for POTUS has exited the race. Julian Castro ended his campaign last week after scoring a few points, yet, not being able to build on those points to gain traction against big money and big media.

The reason? Well, that’s up for debate. The DNC set up the primary to help big money candidates in the whitest of states (NH and Iowa). The media virtually ignored Castro, unless he got scrappy and “attacked” Joe Biden. Of course, they’ll point out (because they always point out our failures in defense of theirs) Castro’s Latino numbers weren’t strong, either. With the help of establishment Dems and the media, at some point, the whole self-fulfilling prophesy set in convincing brown folks that it was never to be, so, brown folks went with the others. But enough of that.

Ultimately, I’m pretty sure the giant sucking sound I heard was the establishment unclenching after Castro’s departure because, as his brother Joaquin said:

You said uncomfortable things that needed to be said, spoke up for the forgotten and vulnerable — the people we grew up with. You called on our country to be more just, more humane, more who we’re supposed to be, and gave hope to so many in a dark time.

And I commend Julian Castro for not being the brown candidate that was anything but. Someone had to speak strongly on issues that affect brown folks and the others were not going to sound as sincere as Julian. Or even well-studied on those issues, as always is the case. Julian made history in running and I’m proud of his run. No matter who gets the nom, Castro should be #2 on the ticket as a much needed energizing figure. (We could have used him in 2016.)

All of this said, four days passed and Castro has endorsed Elizabeth Warren, whom he says will “fight like hell” in 2020. I was not surprised. I highly doubt Joe Biden would offer Castro the VP nod, and I have a feeling that Bernie is not Castro’s cup of Chocolate Ibarra. So, Warren is his path to VP (or something in a Dem administration or visibility for a future Texas run), and a lot of Dems are excited about it. Me? Not so much as I think he should have waited.

I’m leaning Bernie based on his platform and the inclusive movement he has created. And since it’s always been about “electability,” I think Bernie is the only one with a shot at creating a big enough movement inclusive of the poor, the vulnerable, and the targeted (those who never get excited by what Dems usually offer) that will oust the Cheeto Jesus. I don’t feel that from Warren at this time; perhaps, Castro will change that. Yet, any Bern I may feel has its limits because of various political realities (DNC, big money, Wall Street, the establishment, neoliberals, a weak media, warmongers, you name it) that will force us to end up with Biden.

How involved will I be during the primary and convention season? At this point, there is a lot about the Dem Primary I’m not enjoying, whether it be the race for Prez, the race for Senate, or the local races. So, I’m not feeling it. But that’s for other blog posts.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

The Quinceañera: DCs Top 10 Posts of 2019

Thanks to DC readers for keeping us going all of these years. 2020 is a big year. It’s DC’s Quinceañera-15 years of DosCentavos.net! During these first 15 years, I’ve made 6,000 posts–some informational, some announcements, but a lot of substantive opinion on the issues of the day.

In 15 years, I’ve made friends, a few enemies, and even some enemies that have become friends because they got over what I wrote. I’ve quit blogging, come back, slowed down, but my general feelings have remained intact. So, this exercise will continue; at the very least, to continue pissing a few people off, at the most, to educate the masses.

We’ll try to bring you more politics, culture, and the intrigue that goes along with it in 2020. I’m pretty sure there will be much to talk about.

Here are our Top 10 of 2019

  1. A Great Opening Night at Festival Chicano
  2. Raj Salhotra Announces Bid for Houston City Council
  3. 2019 Houston Mayor, City Council Races Shaping Up
  4. Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released
  5. It Wouldn’t Be a Dem Primary Without a Filing Controversy
  6. A Short Local Nightmare is Over (Judge McCleod Quits)
  7. Executive Interns Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers (Airport Intern BS)
  8. Stace Slate – Explained (2019 Endorsements)
  9. 2019 Elections – November Races
  10. Houston Re-Elects Mayor Sylvester Turner-2019 RunOff Results