Category Archives: Accion

Early Voting Has Begun – Oct 18 – 29, 2021

Early Voting around Harris County has begun and will run through October 29, 2021. You can vote early at any location in Harris County. You can find your sample ballot by clicking here.

On the ballot are eight (8) state propositions and you may also have local school and college board trustee races on your ballot, so, your sample ballot is the best way to find out what’s up.

My ballot will look like this:

State Propositions (Ballotpedia Explains The Propositions)

Prop 1 – Adds pro rodeo foundations to list authorized to hold raffles. (FOR)

Prop 2 – Allows counties to issue bonds to finance redevelopment of towns and cities. (FOR)

Prop 3 – Forbids local government from prohibiting or limiting religious services (when something like COVID-19 or some sort of disaster occurs and the decision is made for the protection of residents). (AGAINST) (Explanation)

Prop 4 – Changes the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office. (FOR)

Prop 5 – Extends State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s power over judicial candidates. (FOR)

Prop 6 – Allows group home residents to name an essential caregiver with visiting rights. (FOR)

Prop 7 – Allows surviving spouses, 55 or older, of disabled persons a limit on school district property taxes. (FOR)

Prop 8 – Allows surviving spouse of military member killed in action to a property tax exemption. (FOR)

ALIEF ISD

Position 4 – Debby Pepper (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 5 – Randal Stewart

Position 6 – Ronald Franklin (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 7 – Damon Barone (Endorsed by TSTA)

Bond Prop A – FOR (Bond Descriptions)

Bond Prop B – FOR

Bond Prop C – FOR

Bond Prop D – FOR


While I do not reside in Houston ISD, I do have some favorites.

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Deigaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

And, while I await the outcome of whatever is going on with my own HCC trustee, my favorites for whom I am not able to vote are:

HCC District 3 – Adriana Tamez

HCC District 8 – Eva Loredo

Get your voting done early. Otherwise, you can vote on November 2.

Tomas Q. Morin’s Machete

While I am awaiting the arrival of my copy of Tomas Q. Morin’s latest book of poetry, Machete, the Texas Standard provides us an interview with the accomplished poet, Rice U professor, and personal friend of mine from our days at Southwest Texas State University.

In his new collection, “Machete,” Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool.

Texas Standard

Morin is currently on a virtual tour giving readings of his latest work and will be in Houston on November 2 at the Houston Public Library in conversation with recent Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz. More details soon.

Click here for interview. Purchase book here. And read the first poem in the book at Poetry Society, I Sing the Body Aquatic, as well as a few words about it.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Time to load up that playlist, again. There are some new singles that will soon be inching up the charts in the Tejano genre. Here are a few.

Jay Perez – Para Volvernos Amar – This tune is a soon-to-be Joe Revelez penned classic. Perez’s soaring vocals, particularly during the chorus, are exceptional. His musicians provide a fat bass line and a classic sound that Perez has stuck with throughout his solo career. Give it a listen. The R&B harmonies are amazing, too.

Chente Barrera – Senorita Cantinera – As previously posted, Chente recently released an homenaje to the legendary Primo, Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos. All those Pulido classics some of enjoyed on our sister’s 8-track player are on this release. And Senorita Cantinera is still a classic as Chente powers through through highs, much like Pulido did in the 70s.

La Fiebre – Cuidala – I had previously added this one to the playlist, but now, it has an on official video from Freddie Records. With it’s tough horns, melodic acordeon, and that sweet rhythm guitar, it’s a tune worthy of a Latin Grammy nom. And the whole album was nominated. Check out the vid.

The 2021 Alief ISD Bond

Along with a few races for school trustee, we Alief ISD voters get to decide on over $500 million in bonds to address aging facilities and buses, athletics upgrades, modernization of the stadium, and more technology. With a small tax increase and no tax increase for 65 and older, this kind of investment is needed for this growing district. Sounds good enough, so, let’s dive a little into it.

According to the district, it has been six years since the last bond and that bond came in on time, on target, and under budget. I must say, it’s nice to see the new buildings that have gone and are going up at the moment that address student career needs, staff development needs, and transportation needs. Currently, the average age of school buildings is 35 years, so, it is time to continue upgrading to ensure equity around the district.

The bond has been broken up into four parts (state law, I’ve been told by a committee member).

Prop A is for $482.6 million to pay for safety and security upgrades for school entrance and more funds for ISD police; two replacement schools; a new agri-center on the site of the Alief Community Garden; all sorts of renovations; for Fine Arts, new instruments, sound-proof practice rooms, dance flooring, and theater lighting.; new equipment for Career and Tech Education programs; and new buses to transport students.

I like Prop A and will vote for it.

Prop B is for $9.1 million in athletic upgrades to include tennis court resurfacing; dugouts at Hastings HS baseball field; gym scoreboards; resurfacing baseball/softball fields; replacement of football turf; and replacement of outdoor scoreboards.

The wealth seems to be spread around the various sports, so, I’m thinking YES on this one. Better turf means increased safety for athletes and less maintenance needs.

Prop C calls for $19.4 million to modernize Crump Stadium. According to the district, the stadium is almost 50 years old and has not had much in investment in improvement. The stadium was also built when enrollment was less than 20% of what it has become. So, they are asking for this cash to build a new press box, new turf, new track, new locker rooms, and one of those fancy video scoreboards.

When I cruised around the district, the first thing I noticed was how modern the stadium was, considering it was 50 years old. It seems they were ahead of the game when it was built. New track and new turf not only ensures safety, but it also makes the stadium attractive for playoff and other community events. It is stuff that is needed, but it is also pricey. The first time I voted against a bond, I lived in Humble ISD because it was too football-centric, but the total package here seems to be about the students. I’m trending toward supporting Prop C because why should the “fancy” school districts get all the nice stuff? Also, at least they didn’t ask for some $200 million monstrosity.

Prop D calls for $30.6 million for technology upgrades. A reminder that there are now over 50,000 students and staff at Alief ISD and they are deserving of the best. The bond ensures the district keeps a tech replacement schedule for the next three years. The bond includes classroom instructional technology; campus iPads and desktops.

Yes, I’m for it. I wish it would have been twice as much!

Anyway, that’s my take on the Alief ISD bond. Early voting begins October 18 and runs through October 29. Election Day is November 2. I’m still trying to find more information about candidates for school trustee. There are a few of those races on the ballot, which makes up a good chunk of the board being chosen, so, this is important.

Thanks to all those neighbors who participated in the bond committee–89 strong, working for 6 months, and over 2000 hours. It is said that if passed, Alief ISD will save over 65 million bucks in escalating construction costs and inflation. I know I have that in mind, especially as the pandemic continues.

For more information, visit the bond website!

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

I just added some great tunes to my playlist for all those drives around Houston. Add them to yours for your listening pleasure.

Chente Barrera – Amor Ingrato – Chente just released a tribute album dedicated to the legendary Roberto Pulido. The special thing about it is that Chente and his band Taconazo stayed true to Pulido’s Clasicos sound. The acordeon, the saxes, and the higher octave vocals are just mind-blowing. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of Barrera’s. Amor Ingrato is one of Pulido’s hits from the late 80s and Barrera sings it with the legend himself.

Little Joe y La Familia – Hernandez Brothers – Little Joe dropped a pretty good album of redone classics featuring himself and his brothers Rocky and Gilbert. Especially in the studio, La Familia is a precision-based horn band and they do not disappoint. For this playlist, I’ll post this tune featuring Rocky and Gilbert, Ingratos Ojos Mios. Recorded long ago by Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, this is one of my faves on the album, as well as Pajarillo Barranqueño, with Rocky on lead vocals.

Cops Who Shot Nicolas Chavez 21 Times No Billed

A grand jury no-billed four cops who killed Nicolas Chavez after shooting him 21 times. Chavez was in the midst of an emotional episode when the cops decided to shoot him for not following commands. The grand jury found no probable cause to charge the cops after evidence was presented by DA Kim Ogg’s office.

Add this to the non-prosecution of former HC Deputy Shauna Thompson in the choking murder of John Hernandez and Ogg’s losing record of prosecuting killer cops becomes even more significant. Add to this the fact that Thompson and these four killer cops are not only free to go, but free to be armed and badged again and we’re talking about a community that is endangered.

While then-Chief of Police Acevedo fired the officers, the fact that they were no-billed gives them the right to arbitration to get their jobs back. We are definitely keeping an eye on where these cops end up.

No doubt, our hearts are with the family of Nicolas Chavez as they must relive this tragedy once again. A lawsuit against HPD and the City was already dismissed.

There is an obvious imbalance of justice when the DA complains about judges and bond releases while killer cops are released back into society given the “OK” to do as they please.

Tacho’s Playlist

Time to add a few more tunes to your playlist. Here are a few awesome finds.

Los Texmaniacs – El Rancho Grande – Recently, a new compilation paying tribute to the late great Freddy Fender was released. Included in the mix of tunes was Grammy winners, Los Texmaniacs with their rendition of El Rancho Grande. With Josh Baca’s squeezebox and Max Baca’s signature bajo sexto, this tune is fast becoming a favorite. Check it out.

Los Nuevos Dudes – La Luz – One of my favorite duos during the late 80s was Los Dudes, which featured Joe Revelez and Anthony Hernandez sharing vocal and keyboard duties. Their live shows never disappointed as the two-man band made a lot of noise. Revelez, now, teams up with former Gary Hobbs keyboardist Hector Gutierrez on this new tune. Revelez has not lost his touch with his jazzy keyboarding, with the accomplished Gutierrez adding a strong segunda.

The Latin Breed – Ay Mujer – Recently, The Latin Breed released a new album of re-recorded hits featuring their most recent lead vocalist Ben Miranda. Ay Mujer was one of the top hits from Latin Breed’s best seller, Breakin’ the Rules from 1988. Since then, the legendary big band has made several albums, but this is the first time they have re-recorded some of their biggest hits featuring a newer vocalist. Folks will remember that Breakin’ The Rules launched the career of Jay Perez. The Latin Breed does not disappoint with their tight horn and rhythm section, but Ben Miranda also impresses. After 50 years in the business, The Latin Breed continues to tour putting on powerful performances.

And as we begin Raza Heritage Month…

The Tortilla Factory – Mi Gente – A few years ago, The Tortilla Factory recorded this powerful tune, a sequel to Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia’s legendary Las Nubes. El Gato Negro Ruben Ramos, El Charro Negro Bobby Butler, and Alfredo Guerrero provide a 3-part harmony, while Joe Gallardo offers up some trombone licks. Listen to the lyrics. The video features some powerful images, too. One familiar face is our friend, former Senator Gonzalo Barrientos.

A Little Political History for Heritage Month

Here’s a video in 3 parts featuring Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez (Professor Emeritus of History, UT Arlington) on Los Nuevos Americans–The New Americans. Given twelve years ago at Kingwood College, Gutierrez touched on the History of brown people in Texas and the US, political history, and population estimates. Given the new census, this a good foundation on where we’ve been and where we may be. And, given the attack on truth-telling regarding history (Critical Race Theory), it might be better to learn from brown scholars. And it might help you learn why the Trump era happened and why it must be stopped. Enjoy!

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

QEPD – Gregg Barrios

I’ve known about Gregg Barrios for a long time.

The former Crystal City educator impacted a lot of students’ lives, mentoring so many kids who became leaders in their respective communities, taught students during the 1969 Crystal City Walkout, and was even the print communicator of La Raza Unida Party with the newspaper, La Verdad. Of course, I wasn’t even born and/or was very young during this part of his life. But he left his mark on Cristal and I learned about it.

Beyond Cristal, he impacted even more lives as a journalist, writer, poet, playwright, cultural critic, and recognized literary figure. To call him a genius and a force of nature doesn’t do him justice because he already knew he was both. Gregg passed away suddenly last week.

He is being remembered by many on his FB page–so many stories. I’ll forever be proud of being included as “Dos Centavos” in the acknowledgments of his poetry work, La Causa, as I had shared some of his works and linked to many of his writings in Texas Monthly, LA Times, and the San Antonio Express-News on DosCentavos.net as a way to support him.

I wrote a lot about his play, Rancho Pancho, which he debuted in San Antonio in 2008, staged in Provincetown, MA at the Tennessee Williams Festival, and finally, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque to rave reviews . It was during this time when I finally met him. It was during the trip to catch Rancho Pancho in New Mexico when I found out he had mentioned me in La Causa, which really touched my heart.

Rancho Pancho is the story of Williams’ tempestuous relationship with South Texan Pancho Rodriguez. Racism, classicism, the nature of superior/subordinate relationships, and the influence of Rodriguez on Williams’ work are just a few of the themes touched on in this play.

And my nephew was cast in the play as Pancho just after he graduated from university and as he was headed to LA to begin his professional acting career. So, needless to say, I became quite the follower of Gregg’s work and exploits as he kept in touch with my family over the years.

On October 15, 2021, Gregg was to be honored by San Antonio Writing Center, Gemini Ink, at their annual Inkstravaganza with the Award of Literary Excellence. So, I’ll steal from them the bio they used on Gregg:

Gregg Barrios is a first-generation playwright, poet and journalist. He is also a graphic digital artist and film-maker. His award-winning plays have been produced in San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Provincetown, and New York City. He has received a Rockefeller Grant, a Mark Taper – CTG Fellowship, and an Artist Foundation of San Antonio Grant for his theater work. The San Antonio Current has called him “A Texas Treasure.”

Barrios’ journalism has appeared in The New York TimesFilm Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of BooksSan Francisco ChronicleFilm CultureLos Angeles Times, and the Texas Observer. He is a former books editor and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. He was a founding editor of the local Spanish language daily Rumbo, and an editor of La Verdad, the Raza Unida Party newspaper. Barrios received a USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship in 2013, and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2015. He received a Golden Gavel for his literary work from the Texas House of Representatives, and was the 2015 Fall Visiting Writer at Our Lady of the Lake University. He currently serves on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle.

Barrios credits his time at Andy Warhol’s original Factory as transformational. He made an experimental film, BONY (1967), with/about Warhol “superstars” poets Gerard Malanga and art critic René Ricard. He later collaborated with Warhol on a Nico music video. His short film Desperately Seeking Dionysus (1968) was part of the Velvet Underground NYC exhibit in 2018. Excerpts from Barrios’ original Bowie-inspired rock musical Stranger in a Strange Land (1976) were featured in Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists… exhibited at Blue Star Contemporary, also in 2018. In 2019, the Austin Film Society honored Barrios for “bringing film culture to Austin through Cinema 40 Film Society” that he founded as a UT student in 1965. Recently, his digital photography was part of the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture at the Centro de Artes exhibition for the New York Foundation of the Arts. 

Barrios has written four poetry collections: Air-Conditioned Apollo (1968); Healthy Self (1979); Puro Rollo (1982); and La Causa (2010). His poetry has appeared in Hecho en Tejas, Latina Magazine, Harvard Review, Aztlan and Vietnam, Fiesta en Aztlan, New Orleans Review, and Home Front: An America at War Reader, Lowrider, and El Quetzal Emplumece. An anthology of his poetry “My Life: The Poem I Never Wrote: New & Selected Poetry 1968-2021” (Hansen Poetry) is scheduled for publication in 2021. 

Barrios served in the USAF as a combat medic during the Vietnam War. He appeared in “Telling SA,” The Tobin Center’s theater production, and on the PBS national broadcast of San Antonio veterans. He was a Harvard Fellow in 2017 and a Yale Fellow in 2019. Recently, he endowed Urban-15’s Mega Corazon with the Gregg Barrios Beautiful Words Prize for the Best Poetry Performance. His new play “Hard Candy: The Life and Times of Candy Barr” will premiere at the Gregg Barrios Theater at Overtime in early 2022. 

No doubt, there was much more for Gregg to accomplish and more lives to impact. I only hope the projects he was currently working on are continued to their completion.

Gregg Barrios, ¡Presente!