Category Archives: Accion

Inbox: Super Bowl Sunday #HoustonResists Rally

houstonresistance_flyer

Just got this in the inbox and I consider it a must attend event.

Alliance in Action will host a rally and march on Super Bowl Sunday (February 5, 2017) at noon in Hermann Park (corner of Fannin & Cambridge).

Rally will start with speakers at the Dillidiiae art instillation and then a peaceful march to NRG Park – location of the Super Bowl – along sidewalks and public right of ways around 1:00 pm.

As of February 4th, our rally speakers are:

  • US Rep. Al Green (TX-9)
  • Lane Lewis, Harris County Democratic Party Chair
  • Amy Zachmeyer, Democratic Socialists of America – Houston Committee
  • Ashton Woods- Black Lives Matter
  • Luis Lopez, DREAMer
  • Hannah Phalenberg, NARAL Pro Choice Texas
  • Rev. James Caldwell
  • James Cargas, Frm TX-7 Congressional Candidate
  • TBD, ACLU of Texas

Further updates will be posted to the Facebook event page.

Definitely a rally in which multiple issues will be addressed.
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SB4 Passes Texas Senate Committee

trumpfamilycrossing950Late night news from the Texas Capitol is that Senate Bill 4, a bill which bans “sanctuary cities” while giving local law enforcement increased authority in federal immigration enforcement, has passed the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee by a vote of 7-2–along Party lines.

Beyond the ban which allows local cops to question individuals about their immigration status, the bill also takes local control away from Texas cities whose leaders take a position against localized immigration enforcement, while refusing state grants to those communities with “sanctuary” policies. The bill also targets college campuses with “sanctuary” policies.

No doubt, this is a hate-based bill.

From Reform Immigration Texas Alliance:

After all the testimony (over 450) and with over 1,500 people signing in opposition, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed SB4 with a 7-2 vote along Party lines. #FightDoesNotEnd #StopSB4 #TexasTogether #Txlege #RITA#TexasResist

Después de más de 450 testimonios y más de 1,500 personas anotandose en contra, el Comité de Asuntos Estatales paso la SB4 con un voto de 7-2.

SB4 sigue siendo propuesta solamente. El siguiente paso es que vaya al Senado completo a una votación. Después o al mismo tiempo sigue un proceso similar en la Casa de Representantes. Una vez que pase en las dos Cámaras es cuando va al Gobernador para que se firme y entonces se convierte en ley. ¡Aún tenemos oportunidad de parar la SB4 injusta!

Opponents of SB4 are not giving up as the bill must go to a full Senate vote and a similar process in the House before it appears on Greg Abbott’s desk. Abbott has made the bill an emergency item, while the rest of the state implodes.

Thanks to all the individuals, organizations, and elected officials from around the state for showing up yesterday to oppose SB4.

 

287(g) Rally: Sheriff, Mayor Respond

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Credit: J.M. Diaz

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez appeared at this morning’s rally against 287(g), a flawed immigrant removal program.

Gonzalez reiterated his support of immigrant rights and his promise to rid Harris County of the controversial program. He did, however, ask for patience and time to study and navigate its ending because of its ties to federal and state funding, and because he wants to ensure that such a program targets violent and serious criminals. During the press conference, he also reiterated that the program is run within the jail and not out in the field and that his deputies will not be targeting individual suspects because of immigration status.

Local immigrant rights activists are seeking policy changes and strong statements of support to undo programs that target immigrants and have run amok of their stated intents. Programs which basically federalize local law enforcement are flawed and have been a cause for racial profiling, wasted resources, family separation, and downgraded local economies.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, also sought out by immigrant rights activists recently responded with his strongest statement yet.

“I know there are a lot of families and children who are afraid and worried right now about what might happen to them. I want them to know that Houston is, and always has been, a welcoming city, where we value and appreciate diversity. HPD is not the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We don’t profile, and we are not going to start profiling people to determine whether they are here illegally. It hasn’t happened under previous mayors, and it will not happen under my administration.”

Still, at the end of the day, it is policy changes that are sought. And political promises that are expected to be met. And in the era of Trump and his rampant executive orders, leaders feel the need to navigate carefully or else funding may be lost. With the State of Texas attacking elected officials and about to begin consideration of a racial profiling legalization bill in Austin (SB4), it seems some fear taking on the Governor and his bigoted threats.

Stay strong, elected officials. People are counting on you!

Click here for video from United We Dream

Trump Leaves DACA Alone For Now

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Credit:  Lalo Alcaraz

 

The Trump campaign-turned-administration has perfected the way it instills fear in communities. Of course, the fear has created plenty of activists who will hopefully remain committed to a multitude of issues utilized by Trump to gain enough votes in a few states to win the electoral vote.  Monday was a stressful day for DACA beneficiaries–numbering about 750,000 nationally. By mid-afternoon, it seemed Trump left Obama’s executive order which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals alone.

Even his COS Priebus and his alternative mouthpiece Spicer seemed to try to calm pro-migrant forces a bit by stating that the priority is “criminal” immigrants. Cesar Espinosa, ED of FIEL, a local immigrant rights group, asked, “What is ‘criminal?'”

The Obama administration used the same kind of program to deport 3 million and warehouse thousands more in private prisons. Early on, the majority of deportees were convicted of low-grade, non-deportable crimes, but were still sent to home countries, breaking up families, and affecting local economies. Now, with 750,000 DACA lives hanging in the balance, hundreds of thousands more of their parents, and millions more who are simply working and contributing to their communities waiting for Trump’s next move, there’s more fear and stress in the community.

The lack of action by Trump today didn’t provide much comfort. Activists, though, are looking to leadership at the local level.

The newly elected Sheriff of Travis County, Sally Hernandez announced her department would not cooperate with the Trump administration and has earned the ire of Greg Abbott who has gotten really good at making threats about funding. El Paso’s Democratic Sheriff, on the other hand, has decided to cooperate with Trump because he fears losing grant money.

Locally, activists await action from new Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Gonzalez promised to rid the department of 287g, an immigrant removal program which provides grant money to the department. Since taking office, he hasn’t mentioned anything about that promise, and already there is the start of a movement requesting action from him and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

It’s only Day 5 and real issues are now being discussed. And we also have the Texas Lege to deal with who are bringing out multiple cans of crazy. Let’s stay focused.

HISD Board Appoints Flynn Vilaseca to Unexpired District VI Post

hollymariaI was happy and proud to hear that Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca was appointed by the Houston ISD Board of Trustees to the unexpired District VI post which I discussed this past weekend. Here’s the story from HISD:

Houston ISD Trustees on Monday unanimously agreed to appoint Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca to serve the unexpired trustee term representing District VI on the district’s west side.

Flynn Vilaseca, who is fluent in English and Spanish, worked as a bilingual teacher at HISD’s Windsor Village Elementary School as a Teach for America corps member from 2004 to 2006. Since then, Ms. Vilaseca has continued working in the education field with Battelle for Kids, K12 Inc., and thinkLaw.

“I am excited to serve the city and students of Houston,” Flynn Vilaseca said.

Flynn Vilaseca holds a master’s degree in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degrees in Latin American and Caribbean studies and in sports management and communications from the University of Michigan.

Flynn Vilaseca, along with newly elected District VII Trustee Anne Sung, are scheduled to take the oath of office on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Both Flynn Vilaseca and Sung are filling unexpired trustee terms that run through the end of 2017.

I’ve known Holly Maria for about five years now and she’s been nothing short of impressive with her commitment to service and to public education. There is no doubt that she will be a good fit on the Board and for District VI. All one has to do is read her workplace bio:
Holly Maria is passionate about affording equitable access to education to all students and has been involved in the fight towards closing the achievement gap for the past twelve years. The daughter of an immigrant mother and blue-collar laborer growing up in a small town where opportunities were limited, she was the first in her family to go to college…
Congratulations to Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca!

The HISD Board Vacancy: A Few Thoughts

As Kuff reminded us back in December, there is a vacancy on the Houston ISD Board of Trustees after the resignation of Greg Meyers in District VI, and the Board will be appointing a replacement to complete Meyers’ term. A little bird tells me that the Board is getting closer to naming that appointee, so, it’s time the community have a conversation about this process.

District VI stretches from the Sharpstown area through the Westheimer/Gessner area and on to the far reaches of the west side to Highway 6. Given its meandering through these areas, little doubt is left as to its diversity, and this speaks volumes as to the need for added diversity on the school board. If anything, it also speaks to the need for a responsive, action-oriented individual to serve this trustee district.

That Houston ISD is diverse is nothing new. That 62% of its students are Latinos is also nothing new. Notwithstanding the trustee district’s westerly location, out of 15 elementary schools, eight are majority Latino schools, while two will soon reach majority Latino status. The future is not only diverse, but emergingly Latino at Houston ISD. As such, diversity in political representation is something that must be discussed.

Of course, ethnicity isn’t the only characteristic that is at issue. The recent election in which the vast majority of voters chose to not send local dollars to the State of Texas, instead choosing to call on the State Legislature to fix school finance shows that Houstonians are worried about the city’s educational foundation. The Board of Trustees needs someone who will advocate for Houston’s future–the kids–from Day 1 and beyond the rest of the term for which she/he will be appointed.

Some may argue “voter demographics” as a means of choosing a trustee who better matches up to past election results in the district, but there is such a thing as taxpayer demographics. Whether one is a homeowner or a renter, any ethnicity or color, and whether one lives closer to the west side or to Sharpstown, all are taxpayers and all deserve to be heard. Perhaps in the future the board can venture into a fairer redistricting process, but, until then, it is up to the Board in this instance.

Still, others may argue that District VI merely needs a placeholder to serve until the term is completed, while taxpayers wait for the November election to elect a full-term trustee. With the issues that Houston ISD faces, especially as a Legislative session looms, the Board needs a committed individual who is willing to serve beyond the year that is left in the term. It will not be a surprise if any placeholder decides to run for the full-term.

The Houston ISD Board of Trustees has a unique opportunity to be responsive to the needs of constituencies who often go ignored by government entities in this area of the city. Appointing an individual who has worked in and has an understanding of the current and future diversity of the district and who has an undying commitment to public education, K-12 and beyond, is the only path to achieving fair representation.

 

Greg Abbott’s War on Latinos Continues

uglyLet’s face it, when it comes to the issue of immigration, Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Donald Trump have placed a target on Latinos. They’ve gone from supporting a ban on sanctuary cities to wasting billions of tax dollars on a border surge. Now, Abbott wants to target college campuses who protect immigrant college students from immigration raids.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is promising to cut funds to public universities that become what he described as “sanctuary” campuses for immigrant students. The Republican provided no other details.

Abbott tweeted the vow Thursday in response to a story about Texas State University students urging school leaders to declare the campus a “sanctuary” as immigrant students nationwide fear deportation under President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump pledged during his campaign to launch a “deportation force” and end the practice of granting temporary status to students in the U.S. illegally. The University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, has pledged to block federal agents without a warrant from removing students in the country illegally.

No, there’s nothing specific, but Republicans in the Texas Lege have already filed bills to ban sanctuary cities, cut financial aid and in-state tuition for DREAMers, among other bills. These racist threats against Latinos have only increased since election day, including a new call to cut funding for city governments deemed sanctuary cities.

Abbott, who gained some favor for his campaign by parading around his hispanic mother-in-law is showing what he really thinks about the Latino community–again! While immigrant students may be the target, there’s no doubt that federalizing local law enforcement will increase racial profiling. It affects us all.

And for what? To earn political capital with his right-wing-nuts?

With exit polls showing Trump earned less than 20% of the Latino vote, the Republican Party is showing how little they respect the Latino electorate. They’ve been doing it for a long time, but in kinder, gentler tones. Now, there’s a good chance their racism will turn into public policy.

It looks like it’s another legislative session on the defensive for Latinos.

 

 

UPDATED: The 29%: Who Are They?

Latino Decisions has come up with a different percentage of Latinos who voted for Trump based on better methodologies–closer to 18%. Let’s face it, the 40% for Bush back in the 2000s was pretty far-fetched and Latino pollsters also criticized that poll. Go with 18, go with 29 or split the difference, the descriptor below of Trump supporters is still right on.


vendidoI spent “the day after” watching pundits and pollsters tell me that 29% of Latinos voted for Trump. A friend of mine said it was our fault that Trump won based on the 29%. Blanket statements like that are bothersome and dangerous, and much like they’ll explain away the fact that 70% of the electorate is white and 60% of white voters voted Trump, the 29% can be explained, too.

Trump split the Latino vote in Florida between Cuban and non-Cubans. Although many didn’t like the anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Cubans’ issue is still Cuba. President Obama began normalization of relations with Cuba and the Cubans in Florida freaked. Trump capitalized on that late in the race, while Clinton only spoke anti-Commie stuff during the Primary in attempt to link socialist Bernie Sanders to the Castro brothers. Non-Cubans still voted 75% of the time for Clinton, according to exit polls.

Are there other reasons in other states? Sure. I guess some put religion over everything, although they forget some of the good parts of their religions (helping the poor) to hate on gays, women, immigrants and others. Yeah, it happens in the Latino community, too. We’re coming around, though. After 524 years of subjugation from a whole lot of non-native folks, things don’t change in a day, right?

And let’s face it, Latinos have never been 100% Democrat. We have vendidos (sell outs) in our midst. Remember the 40% who supported Bush? Romney got 27% in 2012. Trump offered the lowest common denominator and every demographic has people who get off on that kind of stuff. Just some more than others (I’m looking at you, 60% of Gringos!!). Even so, he only bested Romney by a couple of points. Some of the best vendidos (Ana Navarro, Lionel Sosa) voted for Clinton, but didn’t do much to convince their fellow vendidos, apparently.

In a year in which much work was put into replacing (by voter registration efforts) complacent Latino voters with new, energized voters, I think we did pretty good. I think, for now, 25 to 30 percent of Latinos are going to be Republicans. And you better be able to energize the other 70 to 75% with action and not just platitudes. But, that’s a whole other side of this conversation which Democrats always avoid.

*Vendido – A Sell-Out. Usually, someone who got a raise in pay and bought the cheapest house in the suburb or the biggest house in the ‘hood. Thinks they’re Republican, now, so, rails against immigrants, people on food stamps, the poor, the uninsured, etc.  Example:  Paul Rodriguez – Vendido. George Lopez – NOT Vendido. 

 

 

 

Dems Sweep Harris County

donkickWith a little help from a 12-point Hillary Clinton “victory,” the rest of the Democrats on the Harris County ballot managed to defeat every county-wide Republican in office or challenging a Democratic incumbent.

Of note from the point of view of this blogger is my once-client, still-friend Julia Maldonado who defeated her Republican opponent by over 60,000 votes in the race for the 507th Family District Court. I’m so proud of Julia, who was chosen from among several candidates in a “primary” decided by the local Dem precinct chairs. After squeaking by, she campaigned relentlessly. I mean, was that a plane with a Julia banner in the sky? Congrats Julia Maldonado!!!

Also of note was our Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez’s resounding defeat of right-winger Ron Hickman. What came to mind was Hickman’s and equally defeated DA Devon Anderson’s anti-Black Lives Matter rally-slash-press conference after the murder of a local deputy. Congrats to Ed Gonzalez and DA-elect Kim Ogg on running some great campaigns.

Of course, there was also a squeaker of a race for Tax Assessor-Collector which saw Ann Harris Bennett defeat the incumbent Mike Sullivan by a little over 7,000 votes. After a contentious primary, I have a feeling that a few Dems supported Sullivan; nonetheless, Clinton’s tide, and an active campaign by Bennett, was enough to seal the deal. Congrats to Ann.

Of course, many old friends were re-elected, such as Judge Larry Weiman. And other friends were elected, such as Judges-elect Fredericka Phillips and Ursula Hall. The list is  long, obviously. Congrats to all of them.

Then there were the “so-close” ones, which weren’t countywide, just as my friend Sherrie Matula in the race for county school board pct 2 who came up short, or Jesse Ybanez in HD-135 who garnered 45% of the vote. Or even Bill McCleod who was everywhere in his race for JP-5 and came up 4000 votes short. And I’ll also give a shout out to former client and good friend Jim Cargas in CD7 who earned a respectable 43%.

And kudos to Anne Sung who will be in a run-off for Houston ISD District VII, and to Mary Ann Perez who returns to the Texas House out of Pasadena.

It’s obvious Harris County can trend blue, even in some of the districts drawn specifically for Republicans. It also seems like Latinos in Harris County made themselves known. A quick look showed turn-out percentage increases in Latino state rep districts of anywhere from a few to 6 points. Of course, Latinos live everywhere in Harris County, so, I’m looking forward to hearing what the ultimate turnout was for Latinos.

One thing is for sure, Latinos did provide much of that margin of victory countywide. And that’s why I’m glad I got to congratulate Mario Salinas and Carlos Duarte and their team at Mi Familia Vota for their voter registration and outreach work, as well as Oscar Hernandez and Carolina Ramirez at United We Dream whose team was working hard knocking on doors. There were so many others, like the great team at Texas Organizing Project whose full-throttle campaign did what needed to be done to cause some huge victories. So, congrats to all who did the GOTV work in and for Harris County.

Obviously, I took a couple of years off from campaigns and even from blogging. I can’t say the top of the ticket excited me, but I knew it would be a catalyst locally. And Democrats winning the straight-ticket race shows more than half of Dem voters still enjoy straight-ticket voting. With Trump in office, I’m not sure how involved I’ll get, but I’m pretty sure I’ll keep blogging. The bottom line, liberals and progressives need to look inward and determine which course to take, at least nationally.

Oh, and with a bluer Harris County, there will be more challenges at the Primary level. I guess that’s healthy as long as we all don’t get crazy like some other parties.

 

VOTE TODAY!

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HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

I voted straight ticket Democrat. Yes, I settled at the top after seeing that the 3rd party offerings were just not appealing to me and Trump was just too ugly to allow to win–even in Texas. The rest of the ballot was pretty easy seeing as how, after comparing Party Platforms, it’s the Democrats who have the most forward-thinking platform and candidates.

Now, if you’re one of those “person over party” voters, you have to ask yourself:  Do you really want someone who stands by a bigoted platform? “Oh, but that person is nice” just doesn’t do it for me when the Republicans are too willing to be divisive, racist, anti-woman, and a lot more awful things.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

So, straight Democrat was the easiest choice. Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t call them out when they’re playing around once in office. I spent eight years calling out President Obama and the Democrats for not taking a real fight to the other side on immigration reform. Add to that Latin American policies, and Hillary and the Democrats are in for a mouthful (blogful) from this blogger. More on this on Wednesday.

So, get your vote on. And, then, keep an eye on those you support and get into office.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

Need a ride to the polls?

* METRO local bus, light-rail, & METROLift paratransit service: Free round-trip service to and from the polls on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. For more information, click here to visit METRO’s website.

* Texas Organizing Project: (713) 870-5674 or (832) 582-0061

* Yellow Cab: Offering free or discounted rides to the polls. Download the free zTrip app to schedule a ride in advance or contact (713) 236-1111 to have a yellow cab pick you up and take you to the appropriate polling location. The free rides are restricted to hours when the polls are open.

There are a lot of election watch parties going on, too. Search for them on Facebook.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION