Category Archives: Accion

Kuff Interviews Precinct 4 Hopefuls

Thanks to Charles at OffTheKuff.com for interviewing those running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4. The interviews are informative and allow one to get a feel for a candidate’s views without having to sit through a mass event, like a candidate forum during a pandemic.

Here’s the list of interviews in the order Kuff presented them:

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Also, click here for all of the interviews he has done, thus far.

Another Week in COVID-19

A friend pointed me to a pretty good podcast on how Omicron is counterintuitive. Check it out here. It talks about where we are and about where we may be heading. There may be some hope in a world of “WTF is going on?!?”. Still, we must mask-up and not just be vax’d and boosted.

A few weeks into Omicron, it seems Greg Abbott finally panicked enough to beg the Biden administration for help. He still doesn’t want Texans and Texas schoolkids wearing masks, and, though vax’d and boosted himself, doesn’t want to require it for anyone else. But he demands more tests and monoclonal antibodies for his unvax’d and unmasked fans. C’mon, Abbott, Marco Rubio is calling you “irrational“!

Of course, he is also suing Biden because he says he is the state’s national guard leader (Remember Jade Helm!) and doesn’t think they should be vax’d if they don’t want to be. This is the same “leader” who has overseen recent suicides of his soldiers who are tired of being at the Texas border wasting time and taxpayer money. Some leader.

But Biden isn’t in the clear despite his press conference, either. ICE facilities have failed to give their migrant guests vaccine boosters to protect them from Omicron. We know that Omicron spreads easily and in close quarters like an immigrant prison, well, everyone is endangered. One would hope that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez will be asked by Senators about this, since he’s been re-nominated for ICE Director after the Senate failed to act on his original nomination. Or will it be the Senate’s original questions on human warehousing and hunting and profits? Good luck, Sheriff.

Well, we’re still on fire here in Texas. COVID-19 continues its spread, infections continue to rise, and hospitalizations of the unvaccinated continue. Anecdotally, folks still seem to be acting as if invincible as I see them unmasked (and hacking up a lung) at the store. The good thing is that the holidays are over and there are less mass events among Democrats again. At least, I’m not seeing any selfies at events.

Stay masked. Stay vax’d and boosted. And stay away from large gatherings.

The Top 10 DC Posts of 2021

Thankfully, readership on DC is not completely dead, so, I guess I better continue writing. 2022 will be the 17th year of DosCentavos.net and with COVID-19 still hanging around, the 2022 Democratic Primary and November election, as well as lots of culture and happenings still to open up, there will be a lot to write about. Maybe a podcast. Maybe other stuff. We shall see. Here are 2021’s Top 10 posts.

  1. Latin Grammy Tejano Noms Are Out
  2. Judge Lesley Briones Announces for Harris Commissioner Pct 4
  3. Ben Chou Files for Harris Commissioner Pct 4
  4. Former State Rep Gina Calanni Enters Race for Pct 4
  5. The Delta Variant is Real
  6. Dan Crenshaw Tried To Register My Late Mom To Vote
  7. The 2021 Alief ISD Bond
  8. Early Voting Has Begun
  9. QEPD – Gregg Barrios
  10. Biden Kiddie Jail Opens in South Texas

Looks like local politics was the big winner this year. Thanks to all who still visit, to my friends/referrers, to those who take a few seconds to share a post in their social media and not just “like” it. Have a Good 2022!

New Year’s Week in COVID-19

The Omicron surge continues, well, surging, as more positive tests are added to the count. And, testing has surged, too, as folks have tested for travel and family visit purposes and seem to be testing after the Christmas weekend. So much so, COVID tests are still in demand, whether PCR or at-home quick ones. A drive down Westheimer on the west side found long lines at testing kiosks, whether in ones car or by foot.

It will take another week or so to count new infections that came about from unmasked and/or unvaccinated family visits over the Christmas weekend. It takes 3 to 7 days for symptoms to appear, on average, so, those testing soon after a weekend visit may get a negative. That just means one should test again in a few days to make sure. Even the at-home tests have two tests for this reason. And if you’ve been exposed and are asymptomatic, test anyway!

The CDC has cut the number of days one must quarantine in half. Specifically:

Americans who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms can stop isolating after five days as long as they continue wearing masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday, halving the agency’s previous isolation period down from 10 days. 

The CDC also said it was loosening its guidance for quarantining after a COVID-19 exposure for unvaccinated Americans or those eligible for a booster who have not yet received their additional shot. It now recommends a five-day quarantine followed by five days of strict mask-wearing, but says that if quarantine “is not feasible,” it can be skipped as long as they wear a mask in the 10 days after exposure. 

The CDC says people who are fully vaccinated and boosted do not need to quarantine after exposure.

The keyword in all of this seems to be masks. The ones the vaccinated (Dem politicos included) weren’t wearing while attending two weeks worth of holiday parties and the reason we just can’t only blame the unvax’d for his new spread. Wear them. And wear the good ones (n95 or kn95), or, at the very least, wear a surgical/medical mask covered by a cloth mask. Omicron is very transmissible as one person can infect as many as three, on average. Also…

As to when to wear a mask, obviously you want to cover up when you’re using public transit, including airports and airplanes, and when you’re indoors in grocery stores or other public places, as with previous surges.

And also with family visits, if one isn’t sure about everyone’s vaccination status. All it takes is one to affect many.

Also, listen to updates from Dr. Fauci or Dr. Peter Hotez in Houston. You can find them on the news or on Twitter!

I’ve gotten or seen social media posts telling me everything from “We’re all going to get it,” to “diets” to avoid COVID-19. If you don’t want to get it, follow the guidelines of mask-wearing and maybe stop jumping into a COVID snot cloud at a crowded event. Stop looking for excuses to not wear a mask or to go to mass events. It’s that simple, if you really care about humanity. If you don’t, well, stay away from me and my family. I have no problem writing people off when there are family members to protect.

America should have been ready for this.

Now, Breakthrough Cases Are Being Covered

It seems a lot of folks I know, friends even, have been hit by COVID-19 despite being vaccinated–some even boosted. I feel for them and am almost waiting “my turn” as workplace exposures are becoming a thing now which are sending folks for testing.

Unfortunately, with the holidays and gatherings in in our present and future, testing facilities are having their supply demanded. I’ve pretty much cancelled my Xmas weekend with family and my tamales-making mood is effectively dead.

So, the conversation about breakthrough infections is also a thing. Even President Biden has told us to expect more of them as Omicron takes over as the main variant. Time magazine has an interesting article about breakthroughs.

Now that the world has largely reopened and a new, highly contagious variant is here, avoiding COVID-19 completely is no longer a realistic long-term plan, says Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician and associate dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

“There is a high likelihood that most of us will catch COVID at some point,” Ranney says. “The goal of the vaccines is to delay that as long as possible, and then to make it so that, if and when we do catch COVID, it is as mild as possible.”

But that doesn’t mean we should abandon every precaution, Ranney says. For one thing, we’re still learning a lot about what Omicron can do. There are also unanswered questions about how often breakthrough infections lead to Long COVID and whether Omicron changes those odds.

Well, that’s just lovely.

The main worry is about the health care system and that even though vaccines and boosters will make things easier for most, that others will still need care, thus overrunning the system. Top that with medical staff who are already working with skeleton crews and the concern increases.

The main suggestion to flatten the curve? (Hadn’t heard that in a while): Mask and vaccine mandates. Well, since this is Texas, we are all on our own because of Greg Abbott’s death wish for most of us.

A reminder from one of the docs in the article.

“We need to do what we can to flatten the curve,” says Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “I’m thinking it’s going to be 10 weeks, 12 weeks until we’re able to relax a little bit and move into a normalized response.”

Then the article goes into treating COVID-19 as a normal part of life. In the future, that is.

Right now, someone with a breakthrough case of COVID-19 is supposed to isolate for 10 days after testing positive or developing symptoms, even though recent evidence suggests that vaccinated people may clear the virus faster. Before too long, she says, we’ll probably scrap that policy and move toward a more familiar approach, in which people stay home while they’re symptomatic but don’t necessarily pause their entire lives for 10 days. Someday, people may not even need to test or seek treatment, so long as they only have mild symptoms, Wurtz says.

But not yet!

Another way to be better prepared for spikes is to improve the socioeconomic problems of the United States. Well, the Build Back Better plan seems to be falling apart since it is not a priority for Joe Manchin or Kirsten Synema. Thanks to Biden, student loan debtors have a 3-month reprieve, but if the Docs in the article are correct, it’ll take that long to go back to the previous normal we experienced–the one where vaccinated folks went unmasked to holiday parties and ended up sick and giving it to others.

I tend to agree with Senator Bernie Sanders in that student loan debt needs to be cancelled completely. Take it out the Pentagon’s petty cash fund.

Needless to say, we are seeing talk of breakthrough infections normalizing. I guess that means someone is keeping a tally of them, now? Too bad no one seems to be listening.

Stay masked. Get vax’d and boosted. Get tested if you want to visit with family. Better yet, stay home!

Y’all Suck! We Are Back At Orange!

Looks like we are back at Code Orange in the COVID-19 threat level in Harris County.

“Due to the explosive growth of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus across Harris County, public health officials are strongly urging all eligible Harris County residents, especially individuals 65 and older, to get their booster shots as soon as possible,” county officials said in a statement released Monday. “Residents who are not vaccinated are cautioned to do so immediately. Regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask and get tested before attending holiday gatherings.

I don’t like to second guess leaders that I support, but the masking/testing suggestion for all should have continued, instead of going “Yellow.” Instead, we’ve seen so many maskless mass events attended by the unmasked, yet vaccinated, as holiday parties and graduations have been celebrated and, unsurprisingly, the numbers took a turn for the worse in a very bad and quick way. Some of our Democratic stars are getting breakthrough infections. My worry is also with workplaces who have “fully opened” and have gone unmasked as they follow Greg Abbott.

Let’s not forget that when we went to “Yellow” the other day, word of Omicron surfaced. And what we know about Omicron now is that we will have more breakthrough infections. And the worry is that many of those breakthrough infections will hit hospital and medical staff.

We should have remained careful. Hell, I did and continue double-masking and avoiding maskless crowds, but that’s because I have my own comorbidities and I have family members who are immunosuppressed that I’d much rather hang-out with than all other humans. I’m not going to risk them.

I know leaders want to provide citizens some sort of incentive or reward or relief from masks for bringing numbers down, but, with so many still unvaccinated and unmasked scoffing at our leaders who are trying to do something good, well, idiocy should not be rewarded. Certainly, the maskholes didn’t feel the need to vax and mask while those of us who have done our part were the ones who were actually being rewarded.

President Biden will speak on Omicron on Tuesday. While I hear chatter from some considered experts that “COVID-19 is here to stay” and that “we will all get it, eventually,” I hope leaders at the very top don’t listen to them and actually lead. Some of us just don’t want to get sick, no matter how “mild” the symptoms.

For more, here’s Kuff.

The Omicron Wave is Upon Us

We’ve known about the Omicron variant for a few weeks now and the health authorities have been prompt at gathering information regarding how well the COVID-19 vaccines will work against it. Unfortunately, its existence hasn’t done much to make people cautious and cognizant of its ability to spread faster than other variants, so, the numbers of people testing positive and being hospitalized for COVID are increasing locally, according to a report in Houston Public Media.

Methodist confirmed a total of 307 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday and Tuesday of this week, according to the hospital. That’s up from 76 positive tests reported last Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, the hospital confirmed on Wednesday that 54 cases of the omicron variant have been identified by Methodist’s sequencing lab since early December.

Unfortunately, some people are still acting like the pandemic is over because they are fully vax’d or boosted. That’s their prerogative, I guess. They’re OK with getting infected and suffering through mild symptoms, so they attend all the big christmas gatherings with people not in their immediate circle. Just don’t expect to ever be around me. Your mild infection can still affect those with other health concerns.

As I drove around my area this week, I’ve noticed lines at testing kiosks and facilities. So, some folks are either sick or getting worried about Omicron enough to test themselves.

But there is a concern that even if omicron doesn’t affect most people, even a small percentage of patients could quickly overwhelm hospitals in the Houston area, Boom said.

“If this spreads so rapidly that there are massive numbers of infected people, even if on average they’re very mild, if that hits the vulnerable in our population and they end up hospitalized, that can still be an incredibly challenging time,” Boom said.

So, the push for vaccination and boosters continues, but Texas is still ass-backward Texas with folks complaining about a tiny needle and a shot that’s been tested on hundreds of millions of Americans. My new motto for the holidays: My money is not going to your DeathFundMe accounts for funerals because of your stupidity.

Speaking of, I’ve seen too many unmasked events going on from folks on my side of the aisle. Like I said, it’s their prerogative. But how easy is it to spread disease? Well, anecdotally, one local workplace I was told about had some unmasked fool walking around, supposedly vaccinated. He got sick because he was probably unmasked at a gathering, tested negative and then was coughing up a lung at work. The person finally tested positive and protocols went into effect. Thankfully, because most co-workers were vax’d and masked at work despite Abbott’s no-mask-mandate idiocy, COVID-19 tests are coming back negative for the co-workers, thus far, but what an inconvenience! But all it takes is one person, even among folks you see everyday at work and who think they’re invincible to spread it to unmasked others. So, mask up!

I must give out a tip of my Stetson to State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw (148) for turning an in-person fundraiser to a Zoom-only event because of health concerns for the people she serves. The politicians I respect the most are the ones who set examples for the community. So, give her a few bucks for her efforts.

2:50PM Update: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner just announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and will rest. He’s been to a lot of unmasked events, so, how does the contact tracing work in this situation?

So, yeah, y’all need to stop with the unmasked events.

Thoughts On The 2022 Dem Primary

I’m going over the candidate list that Erik Manning is completing for the 2022 Dem Primary and I’m already seeing some races of interest. Here are a few:

From the looks of it, it looks like we will be keeping Lizzie Fletcher as a member of Congress, CD7, who came out unopposed in the primary. Of course, the redraw had me losing Congressman Al Green, and now my sis up in Cypress has lost Fletcher. In fact, Fletcher is going to be repping a more Democratic and diverse district with a lot more area that she has not represented. If her office is as responsive as she has been with folks she represented, we’ll be fine and she’ll be around for awhile.

Beto O’Rourke will likely be our gubernatorial candidate despite having a few opponents. Let’s face it, he’s been everywhere in the state and has a good infrastructure. He’s in the best position to rep us and beat Abbott.

There are three in the run for Lt. Governor. Mike Collier is the one who has been in the running the longest, but two female opponents (Michelle Beckley and TSU Prof/TDP Vice Chair Carla Brailey) will make the race interesting. I’m leaning Mike because he’s been everywhere in Texas and not just aiming for regional acceptance to get the nomination.

The AG race will be a tough one for me. I’ve known Joe Jaworski since his days as Galveston mayor and I like that he’s been everywhere in Texas. Lee Merritt says all the right things. And Rochelle Garza is the South Texan in the race who has worked in civil rights through ACLU. I’m just going to sit in the cheap seats and watch for a while.

Comptroller of Public Accounts has a Fort Bend area guy by the name of Angel Luis Vega. He had contemplated running for CD-22 but looks like he landed on this one. Don’t recognize the other names but Vega did send me a FB friend request. Sometimes, it’s all about trying, right?

General Land Commissioner race has Jinny Suh, whom I’ve mentioned before. There has been talk of Jay Kleberg of the King Ranch people. Not a fan of King Ranch’s history with Mexicanos, but we’ll get into that later.

The race for State Rep 147 to replace Garnet Coleman will be an interesting one. A couple of faves are Reagan Flowers and Aurelia Wagner. But I’ll be watching from the cheap seats.

The area Court of Appeals races and a couple of statewide judicial races have my attention. I see sitting District Judges running for a promotion and that’s great. They’re good people. But if/when they were to win, whomever is governor gets to name their replacement. I guess we need to work extra hard for Beto, then.

The race for the 14th Court Place 2 has long time District Judge Kyle Carter versus Cheri Thomas. Cheri ran in 2020 for an appellate position and is well-liked. It’s easy to coalesce behind a popular sitting judge, but the thought of Abbott possibly getting to replace a couple of them makes me uneasy. It gives me more respect for Judge Ravi Sandill who was also running for an appellate seat but withdrew to stay in his current seat.

The race for County Commissioner Pct 4 ended up with six candidates: Leslie Briones, Gina Calanni, Benjamin Chou, Clarence Miller, Jeffery Stauber, and Ann Williams. I’ve mentioned three here who announced with much excitement, and the others I have not heard from in the form of some communication. But it’s still early…sorta. The possibility of a run-off is strong in this one, so, we may see each of the candidates playing to their immediate fan base to get enough for the run-off. Of course, if there were to be some sort of coalescing behind one who has institutional support, then, it would not surprise me. Let’s hope they make it exciting.

County Commish Adrian Garcia is being challenged by long-time JP George Risner and one other unknown. What’s up with that? Either you support what the Democratic majority on the court has done or you want to play to the right and cause division among Democrats.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo ended up with a few challengers who should be negligible. There may be one who has enough support to cause annoyance but it all depends on how that candidate challenges her. Hidalgo has led the county effectively through this pandemic, and, thankfully, a Democratic majority on Commissioner’s Court has helped pass various funding and reform packages despite right-wing opposition. Never has county government been this accessible. Now, if a Democratic challenger is going to whine about it and somehow call this “division” because the Republicans are acting like whiny idiots whose only answer to good policy is “NO!”, well, go for it and see if trying to divide our Party over pandemic decisions works. I’m with Lina.

This is just a quick overview of what’s catching my eye. Once the campaigning begins beyond the Christmas party selfies, I hope we learn more about the candidates.

The 2021 Run-Off Results

Congrats to Elizabeth Santos (D-I) and Sue Deigaard (D-V) on their re-elections to the HISD board. While Santos squeaked by against a well-funded and hard-working opposition Dem, it was Deigaard who was able to defeat a right-wing nut quite handily.

Unfortunately, my friends Holly Flynn Vilaseca (VI) and Anne Sung (V) were defeated by right-wing nuts who promise to threaten the lives and health of teachers, students, parents, etc., with their anti-mask positions. They are also all about a whites-only history education. Seems to me voters fell for some stupid positions by some hateful (and vindictive) people. Of course, perhaps there was some anti-incumbent sentiment because of actions made by some of them. But people are falling for just about anything that divides and conquers entire communities, possibly even their own communities.

Kuff and others point out that these districts were previously held by Republicans who some call moderate. I never thought of them as moderates since their positions with the new GOPers are similar, just with meaner delivery. And since moderates hardly exist anymore, and this election proved that there were indeed two sides from which to choose, what the hell happened?

I’m thinking turn-out. But I also think voters are taking a turn for the stupid and Democrats need to worry about that in 2022. And I mean the Primary, where we will see some judicial and countywide candidates exploiting issues like crime and bonds, which are easily attacked with one liners and only defended with position papers.

Obviously, in a close election, someone is bound to go negative. Campos isn’t too happy that his client in D-I was attacked, but he’s really pissed about the Democratic Party’s involvement in a race between two Democrats and I understand where he’s coming from since everyone seems to want to be a kingmaker, lately.

As Kuff pointed out, Democrats still have a 7-2 edge on the school board, but these right-wing nuts know how to make noise. They know how to blame others for society’s ills–especially those caused by right-wing nuts. So, I don’t see the majority as a strong one. Given how easy candidates were being bought and paid for by the right and special interests all around Houston, the majority can be controlled by the minority. Hell, just look at “Democratic” Washington, DC.

Anyway, I’m of the opinion that a big effort at redistricting HISD is in order if we really want to utilize this majority. There is no reason to have a district that has River Oaks paired with Gulfton, or Sharpstown with West Houston or Northside with the Heights. It’s just too damn diluting. But I’ll leave that to the experts who will probably lecture me on this.

Anyway, it’s on to the 2022 Democratic Primary where some of our favorite officeholders get challenged and are forced to spend money to keep their party nomination. I swear, we love democracy until a fave officeholder gets challenged.

QEPD Vicente Fernandez

I have a confession. I wasn’t that big a fan of Chente as many, many others have been. I was born to parents who grew up and loved the music of the other grandes before Chente: Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Javier Solis, and Tony Aguilar.

Aguilar was the last one from that group who passed away in 2007. After the first three were gone, my Pop didn’t think much of Fernandez, choosing to keep listening to the vinyl he had of the others. (Pop thought he was too much of an Elvis figure and he didn’t like Elvis, either.) Mom, on the other hand, was more accepting and watched Chente’s movies and listened to his music on the radio until her passing in 2016. As well as whatever chisme was being produced by Mexican stars and chisme shows. I chose Pop’s path and kept on listening to other grandes, but I was known to throw out a grito at a few college parties when Chente’s Volver Volver came on the stereo.

Both, though, boasted about catching the other grandes in concert during the matinees at the movies in which they starred and sang. Mom even attended a Tony Aguilar concert in Philly (The Spectrum) with my sis’s family in the 90s, although, Aguilar didn’t take his horses for the jaripeo portion of the concert. So, I understand the impact these performers can have on people.

Still, there is no doubt that Chente was an iconic figure for Mexicans, Chicanos, and Latinos all the way up and down the Americas. In Texas, even the king of Country George Strait was a huge fan and recorded his hit El Rey a while back. Tony Bennett even called him up to do a duet of Return To Me. But for Mexicans in the US, he was something special. Gustavo Arellano at the LA Times wrote a great article about Chente and his impact on those who crossed over the river for a better life.

The star and his fans conquered el Norte by adhering to rancho libertarianism, a philosophy that celebrates bootstrap individualism in a way that makes Ayn Rand seem like a commune-dwelling hippie. His tunes documented the pain and pride he and his fans experienced through life. There were never any excuses offered for hardships — just pride in being able to beat them down.

Latinos became the largest minority in the United States as Chente and my dad’s generation became older. My generation went from hearing Chente as the forced soundtrack of our weekends — he remained on the radio even as we begged our parents to let us play Nirvana or 2Pac — to a nostalgia act. He, like our parents, moved on into the realm of myth, until no longer quite human but living relics.

And that’s how it’s been for the generations that followed.

I’ve been watching human reaction to the death of Chente. Along with the various heartbreaks experienced these last couple of years, his death only exacerbates the feeling of woe while celebrating a long life. Even this less than fan has been listening to his tunes since waking up Sunday to the sad news and watching old interviews. And while watching the human reaction, whether on the news, in social media posts from LAs Walk of Fame, or while watching the homage in Guadalajara, it touched a nerve for me. Another, possibly the last, of los grandes is gone. His son, Alejandro, Tony Aguilar’s son Pepe, and some others whose careers are just starting are left to carry the culture and perhaps expand its reach.

Chente leaves quite an impact on society because he was enjoyed by multiple generations. Was he perfect? Hell, who is? As Arellano reminds us, there are some whose lives must be considered in totality as a means of having some perspective. And Chente is one of those big star lives that must be considered because we were privileged to all the chisme and truths being put out by chisme shows on Univision while enjoying his career.

He may be gone, but his art is still available for all to continue enjoying.