Category Archives: Accion

Donate to UH-CMAS Academic Achievers Program

Thanks to my friend, State Representative Armando Walle, for giving me the heads up on this fundraising video for the University of Houston Center for Mexican American Studies’ Academic Achievers Program. DONATE TODAY!

The Academic Achievers Program at Austin High School was established in 1985 as the Hispanic Family College Project in an effort to increase the high school graduation and college enrollment rates in the East End area of Houston. After a five year lapse, which ended in 1998, it was resumed as the SABE– Students Aspiring to a Better Education– Program. In the summer of 2005, the name was changed to Academic Achievers Program, but the mission and structure of the program remained the same.

Once they graduate from high school and enroll at UH, they become part of the college-level AAP program and become eligible to receive a $12,000 scholarship. And this scholarship is the reason they are raising funds.

Make your donation today here!

I was proud to have spoken to a retreat of AAP Austin students years ago thanks to my friend UH Professor Lorenzo Cano. It continues to be one of my favorite memories because it is such a great program that achieves results. Please give what you can.

Rally to Raise Houston – Friday May 27

seiujanitorsTen years ago, Houston Janitors won a courageous battle for better wages and working conditions. Ten years later, the Janitors are fighting to to get ahead and to achieve a new contract with major office building owners to contract with better paying contractors.

Members of the SEIU invite all of Houston to join the Houston Janitors as they as they come together to fight for dignity, respect, and fair pay.

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016 at 4PM

2000 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056 

The facts are these. 30% of workforce makes less than $12/hour. Union janitors make an average of $9.35/hour. And Janitors in other cities make more, while rent for offices are less than what Houston building owners make.


  • Wages as low as $29 a day

  • No guaranteed wage increase

  • No affordable benefits

  • No vacation time

  • Seniority is not recognized

  • No paid holidays

  • No way to solve job problems


  • Wages at least $9.35/hr

  • Guaranteed yearly wage increase

  • Affordable health care when you work 30+ hours

  • 1 week vacation/year

  • With seniority, up to 2 weeks vacation

  • 6 paid holidays

  • Regular way to solve job problems

Central Business District Office Rents and Union Janitorial Wages

City CBD

Rental Rates ($/sq ft)

Janitor Wages ($/hr)













San Diego












Source: JLL quarterly office statistics reports (2015 Q4), SEIU contracts.

Houston: Cesar Chavez Parade on 3/19/16


This is always a great event.

Velasquez Institute Decides NV Latino Vote

index_r1_c1There’s been much debate about the Latino vote in Nevada. Entrance polls had Bernie Sanders winning by 8 points. The Clintonites cited their paid pollster Latino Decisions (I liked it better when they were independent) polls of heavily Latino precincts being won by Clinton as proof she won the Latino vote. The problem with that is that not at all Latinos live in Latino-heavy precincts anymore. Hell, I don’t live in a Latino-heavy precinct. Latinos are everywhere, even in Nevada. So, the Willie C. Velasquez Institute did their own study where they explained it all.

In my view, I think both Bernie and Hillary get participation ribbons for helping increase Latino participation to 19% of those caucusing. In WCVI’s view, the poll results are consistent with Clinton’s margin of victory. Here’s their story:

After hearing about disputes between the Sanders and Clinton over the Edison Entry Poll Survey results on the Latino vote in the Feb 20 Primary Caucuses WCVI undertook a review of the publicly disclosed data.

WCVI concludes that the survey results are statistically consistent with the margin of victory of Hillary Clinton on Feb 20. The main dispute among pundits and between campaigns has been the assertion that it is statistically impossible for Hillary Clinton to narrowly lose the Latino vote (45% to 53% with Latinos representing 19% of the voters) and narrowly lose Whites (47% to 49% with Whites representing 59% of the voters) and still win the election by 5.3%.

However WCVI concludes the Clinton margin of victory is adequately explained by the large margin of victory Secretary Clinton won among African American voters (77% to 23% with AA’s representing 13% of the voters).

Simply put there is no relevant statistical inconsistency between Edison’s Entry Poll results for Latinos, Whites, and Blacks and the overall election results. Based on this fact WCVI concludes that there is no statistical basis to question the Latino vote breakdown between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders.

We note that some analysts have said that Secretary Clinton’s victories in heavily Latino precincts proved that she won the Latino vote. However the methodology of using heavily Latino or “barrio” precincts to represent Latino voting behavior has been considered ineffective and discarded for more than 30 years due to non-barrio residential patterns been common among Latino voters since the 1980’s.

Lost is this controversy is the fact that the data shows a record high Latino vote share in the Democratic Caucuses with Latinos representing 19% of the vote compared to 13% in 2008.

I think we can move on, now. But I will say that Clinton has a Latino problem. At least in Nevada, they opened their minds and didn’t follow blindly. I’m hopefuly that the pattern will continue.

24 Hours in Cristal

flopopeyeI spent a day in Crystal City, TX this past weekend for my mother’s funeral mass. Yes, THAT Crystal City that’s been in the news after the indictment of its mayor, a couple of councilmen, and the city manager. Recently, another councilman was indicted for human smuggling. And, then, it made national news again when the water turned black and dirty.

Crystal City has a political history in Texas. What most Chicanos see as a history of political involvement and self-determination, others saw as a bunch of young brown-skinned radicals that Texas’ then-Democrat Governor called communists. Other Dem leaders pushed back against migrant farm workers (including activists from my hometown) marching to Austin to demand higher wages. They didn’t seem to get that in the process of political change, Chicanos in South Texas saw an increase in higher education attainment and Chicanos were finally part of the political process at various levels–and by their own doing, not through political favors from the establishment Democrats who preferred docile, unquestioned loyalty.

It was during this time that I was born and grew up. A lot of these newly degreed Chicanos and Chicanas would become my teachers. I was reminded of this when two of my former teachers that I had not seen in decades attended my mother’s funeral mass. I was reminded that the History of our little town was indeed a positive one and not one worthy of blame for any problems that were actually caused by a power structure that demanded Chicanos be politically and economically (cheap workforce) subservient. Cristal was punished, no doubt, for its activism. In a sense, it’s still being punished.

When an anglo Republican, a few years ago, somehow finagled his way into the city attorneys and then the city manager’s job at a salary almost equal to that of the Mayor of Houston, a lot of people began questioning what was going on. That the guy’s salary took 1/2 the city’s operating budget was questionable enough. But now that indictments have come about because these guys were getting [allegedly] bought off to ensure a gambling business’s success, among other things, the city has gone through a lot of embarrassment that somehow has called into question the City’s political history. What it did show was the town’s vulnerability.

Then, the water turned black, according to a few pictures and internet memes. For sure, the water had some sort of contamination. While the town’s water tower and system has always been under some sort of repair, there’s no doubt that there has been a need for major investment in the town’s infrastructure. Streets have been crumbling, pipes have been bursting, and leadership (state and federal) has been lacking. Surely, the town’s tax base couldn’t cover the costs of infrastructure development since major businesses have avoided Cristal for other area towns. Even the fracking boom mostly missed the town for other localities, while some of my friends gained a few jobs in the field. Still, we’re talking about a town of 7,000 souls who should have a right to drinkable water. A town whose population grows older and infirm. But this stuff isn’t reported in the news. (And we’re still awaiting the results of water tests from TCEQ.) And the needs of these South Texas towns, even with billions of dollars being made by oil companies, have gone largely ignored.

sawsBut I was also reminded that there are a lot of good people in the world. The San Antonio Water System sent a semi with 5,000 gallons of drinkable water to give out to the people. An environmental services company and the neighboring town of Carrizo Springs sent several pallets of bottled water to give to the elderly and homebound. Volunteers came together to make sure this happened. I felt a bit of pride in my town while I watched some of this happen.

Crystal City has turned out many survivors and fighters. And even folks like me who left the day after high school graduation who will still advocate for it and the people. The town has been through much while people who had been stepped on for decades pressed forward–at times successfully, if only temporarily. When other forces pushed for its demise, the town and its people survived. Crystal City can and will survive this.

The wheels, ever slow, are in motion as, hopefully, some good people without any self-interest will be elected to a new City Council after all the business of recalls and court dates is done. All new management will be hired to hopefully put the city on a better path. For now, though, it’s inevitable that the town will see a bit more turmoil and drama while it works out the kinks. “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” as my momma Flora used to say.

My mom loved her pueblito. She was born there, grew up there, and she and my Daddy made their family there and ran Medellin’s Texaco for decades. They even switched to La Raza Unida after conservative Democrats defeated Sissy Farenthold for Governor. Through all the changes and turmoil, we survived on love and friendship. We experienced that all over again as we returned for a day to give mom the Catholic funeral mass that she deserved. A lot of family and a lot of friends joined us, including the Flo-Fans from Facebook. Thank you for a wonderful experience. ¡Que Viva Cristal!


Rio Grande Valley: Immigration and LGBTQIA+ Organizing


Credit: UWD

Are you interested in learning on how you can get involved with immigration and LGBTQIA+ organizing in the Rio Grande Valley? Join Aquí Estamos for a free comprehensive immigration training! The training will be facilitated by United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth network in the U.S.!

We know that immigration is an issue that deeply impacts the Rio Grande Valley, but finding an LGBTQ safe space to get involved can be difficult. Aquí Estamos is creating this space for LGBTQ persons (and allies, of course) to become knowledgeable on this topic and find the resources they need. Even if you have never worked on immigration before, we encourage you to join us to get started. Here are the event details:

Saturday, February 20th 10:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m. 
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
STAC 1.101
1201 W. University Drive
Edinburg, TX 78539
(Click here to campus map)

At the training we will cover:

  • An overview of DACA, Expanded DACA, and DAPA
  • Opportunities for organizers and non-legal volunteers in implementation
  • How to engage participants at info sessions and clinics
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law. How to avoid it, How to report fraud
  • Organizing opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley on LGBTQIA+ and immigration

Other sweet details:

  • We know it’s hard to get around the RGV, so transportation may be available upon request (Email for details.)
  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided
  • Coffee and tea available throughout entire training
  • Did we mention it’s a completely free training?

Don’t miss this opportunity! Space is limited.


The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism

donkey-fightIt’s not a secret. I support Bernie Sanders. I support his platform.

I don’t mind debating actual policy with Hillary fans, and I’ve met one or two who actually debate, rather than just blindly follow.  Most will debate economic issues, or Bernie Sanders’ existence, but other issues, like immigration, are ignored.

I understand. You want to avoid an issue in which Hillary Clinton is terrible. No one wants to admit that Clinton wants to deport children and moms back to violent countries in which they will face even more violence. The simplistic “I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform” line is pretty much ineffective when we have tens of thousands in freezing private prisons and deportations are being stepped up. We want to hear solutions.

As Bernie Sanders steps up his game on issues, especially immigration, the Hillary fans are now coming up with new material:  We can’t afford Bernie’s ideas; We can’t pass it in Congress; We can’t!

In other words, Clinton will work from the middle to the right to convince Republicans, as if this worked for President Obama. The fatalism that has penetrated supposed liberals in defense of their candidate is quite sad.

That I first noticed these chants around the MLK, Jr. holiday makes it even sadder. Martin had a dream, remember? Suppose white allies back then told him he couldn’t get all he was calling for.

Oh, that’s right, they did.

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action; “who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Now, I won’t dare compare Bernie to MLK, but we can agree that ideas of social and economic justice are quite similar. Recently, even Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez stated that Bernie Sanders’ platform is similar to that of La Raza Unida Party as he endorsed Sanders. Ideas and pronouncements that brought thousands to Washington, DC and that once empowered and excited Texas Mexican Americans enough to vote in huge numbers are once again being discussed because of Bernie Sanders. Yet, “we can’t”?

Frankly, the oft-stated “she can get things done” quote that Hillary fans are selling is also pretty annoying. It’s a reminder of the last eight years in which the Obama administration gave away the store to the Republicans prior to beginning negotiations on any given issue. Immigration reform is a great example as President Obama stepped up deportations (numbering 2.5 million) as a means of convincing Republicans that Democrats were “tough” so they would pass reform. Watered down legalization was discussed over citizenship. Instead, a co-opted immigration reform movement looked weak, and Democrats even weaker and inhumane when they didn’t call out the administration for the deportations and human warehousing of children and mothers in private prisons. And all efforts failed. Meanwhile, we’re left begging the Supreme Court for deportation relief for a few without any real rights for the migrants who might benefit. I’m sure Hillacrats are secretly mortified that the Supreme Court may side with the administration and “hurt Hillary’s chance.”

Now, all of us who want justice are being told to wait our turn, and to elect someone who can supposedly pass (watered down) legislation. If it’s in the same way as President Obama, then we’re sure not building an excited progressive base for 2016. Let’s recall that we had an excited base in 2008 only to return to failed Democratic pragmatism, thus demoralizing said base (I give you the 2010 midterms as an example of what happened). If you want to excite voters, then you must call for what is needed, not for what we can maybe, sorta get, if even that. Let’s excite the electorate and win big, then we can negotiate later with the backing of a committed base. But we need start with what we want.

Instead, Bernie Sanders’ opposition seems to want more of the same. And this needs to change. Because “We can’t!” should not be in our political vocabulary as Democrats. If that’s the response to Bernie Sanders, then, spare me.

CityVoter Best Charity Contest – Vote Neighborhood Centers has an online contest where visitors to the site pick “Houston’s A-List,” including the category of Best Local Charity.

There are a lot of good ones listed, but one of the most impactful organizations is Neighborhood Centers. So, join me, and vote for Neighborhood Centers!

Note:  You’ll have to sign up to the site, but it’s easy! Voting ends May 31st.

Chavez Day-Houston [Photos]


Parade Grand Marshal Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee


State Rep. Sylvester Turner visiting Chavez Day prior to his campaign kick-off for Mayor.


¡Que Viva!


Leader and Activist Maria Jimenez honored for her years in La Causa.


CM Robert Gallegos mentioned that the Cesar Chavez Parade was among the first events he attended when he launched his campaign for District I.


Part of the crowd.


Constable Heliodoro Martinez of Pct. 6 working the crowd.


The Congresswoman had kind words for Tejano Association for Historical Preservation and Cesar Chavez Street activist Benny Martinez.

It was a well-attended event that must continue to grow. It was great to see Chavez High School students enriched by this celebration, as well as Pct. 6 Constable Martinez challenging the students to get involved as the struggle for civil rights is far from over.

Some kudos must also go to Sylvester Turner for showing up, which is more than I can say about the other announced candidates. As CM Robert Gallegos stated, a couple of years ago, this was the first event he attended and look at him now. One cannot expect votes if they don’t show up. And here’s a secret:  People who show up to these events celebrating activists actually vote–or are willing to listen.

Congrats to the TAHP and all involved for a great event.


Chuy Garcia Makes The Run-Off in Chicago

Chuy Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner who forced Rahm Emanuel into an April 7 run-off, is a pretty good candidate. A Durango, Mexico native, he is the son of a bracero whose family ended up in Chicago in 1965. Garcia served his community while going to college–an honest to goodness community organizer. After serving on City Council, he was the first Mexican American elected to the Illinois Senate and was re-elected, only to be defeated by a Richard Daley-supported opponent. After his defeat, he returned to organizing in his community. In 2010, he was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners and was re-elected in 2014.

On Tuesday, after being outspent by the corporate-supported Emanuel 12-to-1, his grassroots campaign earned him 34% of the vote to Emanuel’s 45%. It was a complete embarrassment for Emanuel who boasted some pretty big political bosses on his resume. Emanuel even got an end-of-campaign endorsement from President Obama.

“Today, we the people have spoken. Not the people with the money and the power and the connections. Not the giant corporations. The big-money special interests. The hedge funds and Hollywood celebrities who poured tens of millions of dollars into the mayor’s campaign. They all had their say. They’ve had their say for too long. But today, the rest of us had something to say.”

One must wonder if President Obama and/or Bill and Hillary will get involved deeper in the run-off campaign. Certainly, it wouldn’t look good for Hillary Clinton to side with Emanuel over Garcia. Frankly, I think it best for that little group to stay out, or be bold and side with the right side of history.

One thing is or sure, Emanuel will once again sell out to the highest corporate bidders, so Chuy Garcia needs your help. Donate to his campaign today.

Let’s face it, this blogger has never been a fan of Chicago’s current Mayor. Didn’t like him under Clinton, in Congress, and especially under Obama. Didn’t like it when Rahm Emanuel attempted his own brand  of “comprehensive immigration reform” with Colorado bigot Tom Tancredo. Beyond Obama, I think Emanuel was behind the Term 1 delays on CIR. And to know he’s also the most bought politician in the Chicago Mayor’s race just makes me ill. That Chicago can make history by electing its first Mexican-American Mayor would be monumental.