Category Archives: City of Houston

The 2019 #StaceSlate

¡Feliz Fiestas Patrias y Viva La Raza!

The 2019 City of Houston elections are upon us and some of you may be thinking about whose name to click when you show up to your polling location in November. Well, I’ve made my choices and urge you to vote for these individuals. I’ll write out explanations about why soon, but I think I’ve proven I can be trusted with my electoral choices.

Note:  The first list are those who will appear on my own ballot. The others are candidates I wish I could vote for, but I do not reside in their districts. I’ll pick among the state constitutional measures and Alief ISD trustee candidates soon.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA

AT-LARGE 2 -DAVID ROBINSON

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY THOMAS

METRONEXT BOND – YES/FOR/SI (whatever the positive answer is)

OTHERS

DISTRICT B – TARSHA JACKSON

DISTRICT H – ISABEL LONGORIA

DISTRICT I – ROBERT GALLEGOS

DISTRICT J – SANDRA RODRIGUEZ

HCC DISTRICT I – MONICA FLORES RICHART

HISD DISTRICT III – SERGIO LIRA

TEXAS HOUSE DISTRICT 148 (Special):  PENNY MORALES SHAW

and for good measure

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – JULIAN CASTRO (ongoing)

 

* No contributions were offered or accepted for these endorsements. No memberships were required to be purchased.

 

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40th Annual Festival Chicano, OCT 3-4-5, 2019

Daniel Bustamante and the crew at Festival Chicano have released the line-up and dates for the 3-day music festival to be held at Miller Outdoor Theater. October 3-4-5, 2019 will be a special weekend as this will be the 40th annual festival featuring some of the top bands en la Onda Chicana. I’ll have more on the line-up in the near future. For now, check out the line-up below:

Houston CM Amanda Edwards Enters US Senate Race

And with this announcement, I can honestly say I don’t know where I stand on this race. But I will say Edwards’ video announcement is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times, featuring imagery to capture hearts and minds. And that’s what it’s going to take, along with a lot of campaign cash, to defeat Cornyn.

Edwards joins the already announced MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, and Chris Bell. (Maybe there are others.) We await announcements from State Senator Royce West and Jolt CEO Christina Tzintzun Ramirez.

Texas is a huge state, so, one has to ask themselves what the path to victory is for all of these candidates. Only Hernandez (US Senate primary in 2018) and Bell (for Governor) have run statewide. Houston area candidates obviously know Houston is where it’s at in this state, especially during an active presidential primary. Dallas is no different, though.

But South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley will play a major role, as always, and must not be ignored or ceded by any of the candidates–no matter what they think their chances are based on the ethnic make-up of the region. Remember, one of them will end up taking on Cornyn and if they ignore big swaths of the state, they won’t get much attention in November 2020. So, don’t ignore South Texas!

We will be seeing more and more activity about 2020 given all of these announcements. I’ll remind you that, here in Houston, we have a 2019 City of Houston election that should be on our minds. Obviously, Edwards not running for re-election in City Council At-Large 4 changes things and we’ve seen some current candidates switch from one race to another, including Nick Hellyar from a very crowded District C and Dr. Letitia Plummer from a crowded At-Large 5. I expect more to announce as we move toward the filing deadline. As Kuff reminds us, today, there are a lot of open seats and these races are crowded.

As always, follow Eric Manning’s spreadsheet to find out who has filed campaign treasurer appointments for City, HISD and other races. It’s starting to get interesting, if not exciting.

 

Mayor Turner, Other Local Electeds Come Out Against ICE Raids

I was happy to see Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s appearance on NPR to come out against the coming Trump/ICE immigration raids.

Well, let me just say that we have repeatedly said that Houston Police Department is not ICE. We are not going to be participating with ICE on these type of raids,” said the Mayor.

Credit: JM Diaz

The raids and the rhetoric have instilled fear in the immigrant and Latino community. Hell, I’m a citizen multiple generations in and I sure as hell don’t get the warm and fuzzies that should be my birthright during times like these. In fact, Trump’s recent executive order regarding gathering citizenship information from agencies sent a chill down my spine, moreso than the census citizenship question about which he has been so adamant.

First of all, it is obvious that ICE doesn’t have a good database of people. And if Trump needs to get that information through piecemeal techniques from other agencies, it tells me that even citizens are at risk during immigration raids–or, at least the burden of proof is on any brown citizen that is targeted or detained. So, yeah, the raids instill fear beyond the immigrant community, too. Ultimately, the US Census is what should help us create a better democracy based on the number of people living here. It should not be a tool for immigration raids. Just something to think about. And as my lawyer-sister keeps reminding me, “Get your passport, ASAP!”

Other elected officials have come out against the ICE raids, including Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, Congressman Al Green, County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, County Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis, State Senator Carol Alvarado, and State Representative Christina Morales, among others. I wish we’d see more from non-Latino electeds, though.

I was glad to see candidates running in 2019 City of Houston races also come out against the raids, including Raj Salhotra for At-Large 1, Janaeya Carmouche for At-Large 3, and Ashton Woods for At-Large 5, and Isabel Longoria for District H, while also distributing pertinent information on the rights of immigrants.

The public response to the raids, baby jails, inhumane conditions at concentration camps, and the reality of a racist and gestapo-like Border Patrol continues to grow. Hundreds showed to a protest at the 419 Emancipation baby jail on Friday, 7/12. I know of a large group heading to Carrizo Springs, TX to protest a new baby jail (a former oilfield camp under the Texas sun) that just opened. And there are actions across the state and country.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

City of Houston Races Continue to Shape Up and Contract

Click Here For The Latest List of Prospective City of Houston Candidates

The local race all eyes (at least those paying attention) are on is that of Houston Mayor. Mayor Sylvester Turner was already taking on a couple of self-funded millionaires before CM Dwight Boykins joined in and was backed by the firefighters. Then, after Boykins’ verbal diarrhea in which he offended, well, everybody (especially young women), former CM Sue Lovell joined in. There are others running, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

Where does this leave the race for endorsements? Well, we heard a little about the endorsement game this week, too. I’ve never liked the local endorsement game where endorsing club memberships are bought by candidates in order to pack the endorsement meeting for a said candidates. The excuse (from the consultant class, especially) continues to be, “Well, it’s the way it’s always been done.” That doesn’t mean it’s right, and it certainly doesn’t mean things cannot change for the better. There’s something very wrong when you have 300 people at one club meeting, then 15 at the next. Anyway…

Where do I stand on the Mayor’s race? Obviously, I’m just not into it this year. Although I do side with Mayor Turner in that he’s attempted to responsibly give firefighters raises that are affordable and within budget, he has left me wanting stronger responses to the local baby jails and planned ICE raids. Simply promoting “diversity” is not enough if you’re not defending children (including 17 year olds at 419 Emancipation) or fighting against migrant round-ups that instill fear in a community.  This is the issue of the day and even local candidates must speak up against the Trump administration and those benefiting from racist policies. So, Mayor (and the others), up your game!

City Council

My own District F will not have an incumbent as current CM Steve Le has decided to not seek re-election after causing much controversy. There’s also that thing about not even residing in the district, I hear; not that it’s ever stopped anyone. I’m still undecided, but Tiffany Thomas is on my radar, as is former District F CM Richard Nguyen. Still, it’s crowded and anything can happen. So, impress me.

District H, which serves the Heights and Northside has a couple of challengers for Karla Cisneros. Most recently, Isabel Longoria, a local organizer and activist, joined the race. I expect a great challenge from her.

District J out in SW Houston is also crowded. I met Sandra Rodriguez and Nelvin Adriatico the other day. Both are personable and communicate well with prospective voters. And that’s the key–talking to actual voters in a low-performing area of town. A lot of my friends are backing Rodriguez, though, and her experience on city issues puts her ahead of the pack.

Check out the list to find out about other district races.

I’ll be doing another post about the at-large races later. I am definitely supporting Raj Salhotra in At-Large 1 and Janaeya Carmouche in At-Large 3.

 

 

Leslie Contreras Schwartz Chosen as Houston’s Poet Laureate

Congrats to Leslie Contreras Schwartz! Here’s the press release from Mayor Sylvester Turner making the announcement:

Writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz has been selected as Houston’s fourth poet laureate, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announce today.

Her two-year term begins now, as National Poetry Month comes to an end. Schwartz was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of literary experts.

Mayor Turner made the final selection. The poet laureate receives a $20,000 honorarium for the two-year term, funded by the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax dedicated to the arts.

Contreras Schwartz will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to carry out her community outreach project focusing on outreach to people with mental illness and mental health workers. She will also conduct eight workshops in partnership with Houston Public Library and mentor the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.

“The appointment speaks to the great work that this poet has done and will do as an ambassador of the City though poetry,” Mayor Turner said. “Houston will be well represented by Leslie through workshops and outreach work in non-traditional communities.”

The Poet Laureate program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who creates excitement about the written and spoken word as well as outreach activities, special programs, teaching and their individual works. The role of the Poet Laureate is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.

“The Houston Public Library congratulates Leslie Contreras Schwartz on becoming Houston’s fourth Poet Laureate and joins the mayor in recognizing her invaluable talent. Contreras Schwartz will bring her passion and extensive knowledge of poetry and writing to Houston’s communities,” said Lawson. “We are excited about working with her on a diverse spectrum of literacy programs that will instill the love of poetry and writing for children, teens and adults alike around the city.”

“As a native Houstonian whose family has deep roots in the city since the early 1900s, I am deeply honored to be named an ambassador for poetry in the city I love and call home,” said Leslie Contreras Schwartz. “I have dedicated my adult life to studying, reading, and writing poetry, and am excited to share this passion. My outreach plan will focus on using writing to improve mental health, particularly among non-traditional and underserved communities.”

She is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston. She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor’s degree at Rice University.

Contreras Schwartz says her work examines the individual versus public bodies and documents experiences and narratives of those usually silenced, such as people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, or children in custody.

Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, The Texas Review, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her new collection of poems, Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, May 2018), was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2018, she was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest. Her fiction will be included in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).

Before ‘‘passing the pen’’ to Contreras Schwartz, the outgoing laureate, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, is launching her community outreach project, a multi-video series of performance poetry celebrating neighborhoods of the City. These videos can be found on the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Facebook & YouTube Pages and will be throughout the coming weeks. The first can be found: https://youtu.be/B-o76Pxz1gs

About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at http://www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Find fun stuff on Houston’s Cultural Events Calendar.

2019 Houston Mayor, Council Races Shaping Up

Big thanks to Erik Manning of the Sharpstown Dems for keeping a list of incumbents and candidates up-to-date as many of us start thinking about the local election to be held in November.

The Mayoral race will be cause for a lot of ad buys and excitement on the ground–most of the money will be in this race. The open seat in District B has a growing list of prospects. The open seat being vacated by term-limited Ellen Cohen in District C will also be cause for a lot of activity and money flying around. District F’s right-winger Steve Le will hopefully get a good challenge by at least one of the candidates in what is usually a low turnout race–I really need a new council member. District J, some call it the newest Latino council district (out of 3 only 1 is brown), has a chance to actually a elect a brown person, although, the voting population is diverse and any candidate will be required to play well with all of the communities.

There are a couple of at-large races that are getting exciting, too. I’ve made my choice in At-Large 1 hoping that Raj Salhotra can work past a couple of perennial candidates and anyone else who signs up to unseat Mike Knox. There are several candidates who will try to unseat Kubosh in At-Large 3, thus far. And it seems like the entire city is running for At-Large 5, which is finally being vacated by term-limited Jack Christie (he seems to have been there forever!). Surely, there will be more signing up for all of the races before the deadline. I have no favorites in the latter two races, though. I don’t care how much money one is raising, it is sincerity, ideas, and a little bit of retail politics which earns my support early. If  one is good, the money will come. So, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

This is just an early look and a reminder that we have a very important election in November. We need to do a lot better than low double-digit turnout. And we need to be smart about our choices–getting through the bullshit that will surely be well-financed by special interests and wealthy candidates. Although the activity of people signing up seems exciting, it’s the work of the candidates that will make it exciting (and for incumbents, their actions).

I’ll have more on the individual races in the future. For now, enjoy finding out more about the candidates! Click here to see the list of candidates.

 

Same Characters, Same Border Fear-Mongering

The Lite Gov of Texas told El Cheeto he’d build the wall for him and the orange one ran with it.

“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said.

Talk about boondoggles.

Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you. … You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”

If this doesn’t sound like a competition for kickbacks on kickbacks, I don’t know what else it could be. Of course, there’s also the racist nature of Trump and Patrick who salivate at the thought of banning brown people from the USA.

Patrick’s idea is a 200 mile wall from Brownsville to Falcon Lake–basically, South Texas. And Texas will still spend another billion dollars on the current boondoggle of a “border surge” that has destabilized communities and militarized the border.

Needless to say, the Texas legislative session just got a little more interesting.

Here in Houston, Chief Art Acevedo joined the debate by stating that the border issue is overblown and that more money is needed for law enforcement on the streets of Houston. A recent murder of a child by alleged gang members has brought the gang issue back into the light.

ABC13 reported on this with the cops union boss blaming the border and immigrants for Houston crime, thus supporting Trump’s policies. This is nothing new as the cops union has supported racist policies like SB4, 287g and Secure Communities in the past.

This is why I’ve always told “progressive” politicians: Stay away from bigoted policies and those who support them! You’ll never out-bigot the bigots.

I’m expecting border issues to become localized as the cops union gets involved and somehow it all makes it into the mayoral debates of 2019. When Houston is experiencing a host of issues, lack of money, and lack of political will, blaming others for problems is to be expected.

Stay tuned, folks.

Raj Salhotra Announces Bid for Houston City Council At-Large 1

During the election and holiday season, I saw this young leader, Raj Salhotra, working rooms and talking to voters and activists about his intention to run for Houston City Council At-Large 1. To say he’s impressive is an understatement. On Monday, he made his announcement through social media:

Today I am excited to announce my candidacy for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1. Houston is an incredible city because of its diversity, its can-do spirit, and its opportunity. I love Houston because it made my immigrant family’s American Dream possible. However, as a teacher, I saw students and their parents who shared my family’s aspirations yet were trapped in poverty because of policy failures. I am running for Houston City Council to build One Houston where every community, family, and child— regardless of zip code—can reach their dreams. I cannot do this alone, so I am asking for your help to join me in building this movement. There are three ways you can help:

1. If you are interested in knocking on doors, phone banking, hosting events, or attending meetings, please visit www.rajforhouston.com/volunteer to join us.

2. If you can contribute financially, please visit www.rajforhouston.com/contribute. Every dollar counts, and I very much appreciate all of your support.

3. Please follow our campaign on Facebook by liking our page Raj For Houston. We will post updates there and would love to hear from you about your vision for Houston.

Thank you for your support, and I know that together we can build a Houston that ensures all of us can reach our dreams.

Visit his website and social media to keep up with Raj Salhotra. He’ll be meeting you soon, for sure.

 

Thoughts on HD145

Well, I’ve been asked what I think of the Special Election for Texas HouseDistrict 145 and my favorite answer to them has been, “I live in HD137!”

Still, when one of the candidates is a long-time friend for whom one has put up signs, passed out push cards, and helped raise money, it’s hard to stay quiet.

That said, there are eight in the running for HD145, the seat once held by newly elected Texas Senator Carol Alvarado (congrats to her, by the way). The most familiar name to me is Melissa Noriega, who temporarily filled the HD145 seat when she was called up to serve in the seat while the officeholder was called to war. She also served three terms on the Houston City Council having effectively earned citywide support, which shows her campaign abilities. In both positions, Noriega served well and was among the most responsive members of the Council during that time. I did my part to get out the vote during my time in the ‘burbs for Melissa Noriega, so, needless to say, I am rooting for her in this race.

Read more about Melissa Noriega. She has served her community in education, nonprofits, and community groups. Always responsive and always ready to listen to constituents–what I believe are the two most important qualifications of a state representative.

As far as the other candidates are concerned, I know De La Garza ran previously for the seat and Del Toro ran with a lot of heart for Pasadena City Council recently. The others, I guess I don’t run in their circles, but I have friends that are supporting one of the others.

I do want to hear more about all of the candidates’ positions as the 86th Lege Session is about to begin and already plenty of bills have been filed. Other than De La Garza and the right-winger, I haven’t seen much in the form of policy pronouncements:  Where do they stand on HISD and education finance? Public schools or charter/privatization? Where do they stand on SB4? Where do they stand on criminal justice reform? Where do they stand on voting rights? Where do they stand on billions wasted on border militarization? You know stuff on which we have been attacked in recent times.

I prefer to see a campaign of issues rather than a popularity contest. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, some asked where I stood, so, I responded.

Best of luck to the candidates. I know I have friends working in two of the campaigns, at least. Early voting starts January 14th. Election Day is January 29th.