Category Archives: Cultura

Democrats Sweep Harris County!

Most countywide Democratic candidates in Harris County knew they looked good after the early voting tally was released. But it was the race for Harris County Judge that had many on the edge of their seats until Lina Hidalgo was suddenly leading 11-year incumbent Ed Emmett by 6,000 votes. Things got a little more comfortable a little later, then, Hidalgo became the first Latina to be elected to the County’s executive post.

No doubt there were Democrats who were supporting the Republican, given that Hidalgo didn’t enjoy the extra percentage margin that some of the other Democrats enjoyed. Some of our Latino statewides were going through something similar for some reason.

Congrats to Lina Hidalgo. She came out strong when she announced her run, whether the issue was flood control and response, County services, bail and justice reform, or even immigration. So strong that she was left with no opposition in the Primary. Bottom line:  Hidalgo held progressive policy positions on these issues, while Emmett did not. So, Democratic naysayers, please stop insulting voters’ intelligence and that of the County Judge-elect. We know which political party is on the side of the people, especially locally.

The Harris County Commissioner’s Court now has a Democratic majority as former County Sheriff Adrian Garcia defeated incumbent Jack Morman by around 1800 votes. The outcome wasn’t final until the very end as Garcia was able to overcome a gerrymandering play that changed Precinct 2 to a Republican-opportunity district. A good and disciplined ground  campaign defeated Morman’s negativity and attacks-based campaign.

For those naysayers, a reminder that a Democratic majority at County will actually address the issues that are important to the people. We need action, not just a pat on the head during a hurricane to make us feel warm and fuzzy.

Kudos should go to Penny Shaw who turned Precinct 4 into a more palatable challenge against Republicans. Penny worked hard from Day 1 and deserves Democrats’ thanks for running.

Along with new faces in black robes on the bench and new administrators like Diane Trautman as County Clerk, Marilyn Burgress as District Clerk, and Dylan Osborne as County Treasurer, Harris County has two new Congresswomen in Sylvia Garcia and Lizzie Fletcher.

While Garcia’s road to victory was a little easier and more about ensuring turnout to bolster the bottom line, Fletcher’s team ran a strong field campaign to earn every vote to take out the Republican incumbent. Attacked often on immigration and Nancy Pelosi, Fletcher kept a disciplined message on health care and took it to the finish line.

No doubt, the Beto effect helped turn counties blue or bluer, but in races that were in tough to win districts, it was the field campaigns that put them over the top.

Other surprises included victorious finishes in HD132 (Gina Calanni) and HD135 (Jon Rosenthal) out in the ‘burbs. Adam Milasincic came up 80 votes short in HD138 (Spring Branch) which tells me that district can be taken in 2020. Adam didn’t run away from right-wing attacks on immigration and held his own against an entrenched Republican. Out in Pasadena’s HD144, State Rep. Mary Ann Perez won re-election in huge fashion due to another excellent field campaign.

Update from Milasincic campaign: Unofficial totals show us behind by 137 votes out of 48,000+ counted so far. We have learned that provisional and some mail ballots remain under review.

While Beto was the lead Democrat in the bunch, closer to the bottom of the ballot was Richard Cantu who soundly defeated his opponent by posting Beto-like percentages. So, I don’t know why some losers are complaining about being close to the bottom of the ballot. Richard did great!

It is pretty embarrassing that some would simply blame straight ticket voting. You know, people actually think about Party AND policy when they go into the booth. Most of us actually went back to check our selections since Stanart’s relic voting machines were switching Beto to Cruz, according to reports. To insult our intelligence after losing, well, folks doing that need to hunker down.

Congrats to the Party, the campaign pros, the volunteers, and the voters! Harris County is blue!

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TODAY IS ELECTION DAY!

Well, you’ve gotten the calls, the texts, and knocks on your door from campaign pros, volunteers, and even your family and friends who give a shit. If you were not among the 855,000+ Harris Countians who voted early, well, today is your last chance to do your duty.

#NoExcuses #JustVote and #VoteDemocratic

If you’re around the state of Texas, you can easily find your polling location here.

If you’re in Harris County, you can go here to find a sample ballot and YOUR specific polling location.

RECOMMENDATIONS

I won’t waste your time and tell you to read some “non-partisan” guide to help you decide.

I will tell you that only the Democratic candidates support health care for all, educational opportunities for all, an economy that creates well-paying jobs and better job security, and a path toward a better immigration system that benefits the country–without racism, without military intervention, and with compassion.

So, get to it. VOTE!

 

Getting Ahead of the Blame

Today, 11/2/18, is the last day of Early Voting in Texas, and, thus far, over 755,000 have voted in-person and by mail in Harris County. Voting is 7am to 7pm at any early voting location in Harris County.

There have been quite a few articles and even more comments from folks who have laid this election on Latinos. Well, according to Hector de Leon, the numbers guru at the local elections office, the number of Spanish-surnamed voters is up 253% compared to 2014 midterm levels. Or, almost as many as voted in 2016, with one day of early voting left to go. And then there’s still Tuesday. He added that while 27% of Latinos are of Citizen Voting Age Population, and 22% of the voter rolls are Spanish-surnamed, thus far, 17% of those who voted are Spanish surnamed. So, there is that. Patterns of increased participation are being seen throughout South Texas, too.

Which way they’re clicking, is somewhat up in the air, although one can make educated guesses based on geography, voting patterns, etc. One thing is for sure, among those who have already voted, many are first time voters or those who just don’t vote as often. So, it’s true, people think this is a very important election. Whatever the outcome, the uptick in democracy–even with all types of problems and voter suppression–is a good thing.

And, most of all, Latinos cannot be blamed for not showing up. But Im’ sure we will be. Did the candidates fight hard enough for the Latino vote? Well, that’s to be seen, especially down-ballot candidates beyond Beto and el Mentiroso Ted. I’d like to think that there will be a 65-35 split in favor of Beto. There may be another 5% for el Mentiroso if people voted based on surname or bought into the “fake Mexican” Beto narrative. Needless to say, it’s all about GOTV if one wants to overcome the idiocy.

The ad game could have been much better, too, for Democrats. Republicans have been relentless with their MS-13 and caravan narrative. Trump is even threatening to shoot brown folks trying to gain asylum after escaping violence and poverty in their own countries–if any of them throw rocks. What’s next? mass graves in abandoned fracking fields on the border? (I’m serious! What do you think happens when people are killed en masse?) Although Beto had a great response on immigration, others on TV have basically played the willfull ignorance game, or can’t afford a response. Most Latinos cannot vote in CD7, but we sure as hell can see those racist Culberson ads (and the lack of a response to them.)

Whatever the result of the Latino vote, chances are White men still went with El Mentiroso, et al. Where are the white women at? Ay veremos. But if they still love Trump and hate brown/black people, or they’re willing to overlook abuse of brown people and the apologists who look away, I don’t expect much change in this demographic. (Yet, Latinos get blamed, right?)

Keep voting, Gente. Vote for the Democrats.

 

 

 

A Weekend of Voting and Cultura

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It was a pretty active weekend of voting and culture this past weekend.

Early Voting Sabado was huge and I got to experience a part of it by spending some time at Moody Park with the hard-working folks of Tacos and Vote and then headed out to MECA’s  and Casa Ramirez’s Dia de los Muertos festivities to get a dose of culture.

My friend Dr. Reynaldo Guerra and his crew put together their Tacos and Vote GOTV effort at three early voting locations. Open to all, the festivities included a Taco truck, mariachis, a jump house for kids, and plenty of fun at Moody, Bayland, and close to Ripley House. All of this after blockwalking the surrounding neighborhoods. It was good seeing Adrian Garcia, Democrat for County Commissioner Pct 2 working the crowd at Moody. From the looks of it, Moody had a good turnout on Saturday and reports from the other locations stated their events were a success.

Afterwards, it was off to MECA to enjoy some culture while celebrating and honoring  those who have departed this life. From the looks of it, a diverse group of thousands enjoyed all sorts of food, music, ofrendas, and the Retablos31 exhibit throughout Saturday and Sunday.

I caught an excellent performance by Mas Pulpo–Vladimir Castellanos on guitar and Roberto Rodriguez on the squeezebox. They took us through some classic Tex-Mex standards that all enjoyed, but their show-ending Volver Volver was cause for a sing-along.

After a taco at Teotihuacan on Airline, it was off to Casa Ramirez, the folk and culture bookstore on 19th Street in the Heights. They held their annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration and March. The ceremony was opened by Danza Azteca, which provided Aztec ritual, history, and dance before hundreds of attendees joined a march to Casa Ramirez. Attendees enjoyed tamales, polvorones, and live music by Bossa II, while visiting the ofrendas offered by families honoring deceased loved ones. It was definitely a family affair enjoyed by all. And emotional, too.

I don’t care what the high-priced consultants tell you, politics and culture go together; especially if we’re adding some resistance to it. Brown folks have a target on their back and it is through cultural celebrations and political resistance with which victory can be achieved.

Early Voting Begins Today, October 22!

Today, October 22, 2018 is the first day of Early Voting for the 2018 general election. You get to vote on US Senate, state officials, state judges, and your county officials. And in many cities, municipalities, and school districs, you also vote on anything from charter amendments to bonds.

During early voting, you may vote at any location in your county. CLICK HERE to look up Harris County’s map of early voting locations. CLICK HERE to get a copy of your sample ballot. Just fill in the blanks.

Voting hours during early voting in Harris County are as follows:

October 22 – October 26
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

October 27
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

October 28
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 29 – November 2
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

If you live anywhere else in Texas, you can find your early voting polling location by clicking here. Fill in your address, pick a day you want to vote, and you’ll be provided a location. (And the email is optional!)

DC’s Endorsements

I’m voting a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET. The Democratic Party is offering voters the best slate of candidates, including Beto O’Rourke for US Senate, Lupe Valdez for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor,among others, as well as a great list of judicial candidates, including Judge Steven Kirkland for Texas Supreme Court, Rabeea Collier for Judge of the 113th, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

It’s a long ballot (here’s my sample ballot). At this point, it’ll be hard to study every single candidate and chances are you’re hearing more from the few on TV and radio. So, if you want to trust me, do what I’m doing and vote a straight ticket. I’ve not only studied the candidates, but I’ve met the vast majority of them and I haven’t been prouder to vote a straight ticket in a midterm election in a long time.

Get it done early!

 

Beto’s Immigration Ad Is Pretty Good!

I was hoping Beto O’Rourke would hit back at Ted Cruz on immigration in some way and soon. I must say his ad, which I saw last night during the local news, is pretty good. He hits Cruz hard on his fear-mongering and support of deportation policies, as well as his obstruction on moving the conversation forward. Hopefully, it’ll be on rotation through November 6.

Check it out:

Little Joe Headlines Houston GOTV Event

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Around 200 East End voters and activists attended a Get Out The Vote Rally at the East End Events Center on Saturday afternoon. Headlining was the legendary Little Joe y La Familia, with Dallam County Band opening the event with some toe-tapping country tunes.

Little Joe has endorsed Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor and was part of this event which also showed off Sylvia Garcia for Congress, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge, and Adrian Garcia for County Commissioner, Pct. 2. But beyond the political speeches, it was good mix of multi-generational fun and celebration of cultura–all a great combo when it comes to Latino GOTV.

There was no doubt as to the progressive nature of the event–the Harris County Democratic Party was among the driving forces behind the event, so Party Chair Lillie Schechter deserves kudos for this. But it was the candidates and their stories which energized the crowd. Whether it was farm worker kid Lupe Valdez going through the ranks to become Dallas County Sheriff or Lina Hidalgo’s trek from a drug-torn Colombia to the United States and a life of public service, the crowd was energized by all of the candidates.

Little Joe Hernandez, the King of the Brown Sound, also spoke on the importance of this election, giving a rousing endorsement of Valdez while also declaring victory after viewing Valdez’s debate performance against Greg Abbott. “I had never been prouder of a candidate for representing us and fighting for us. As Dolores and Cesar said, “Si, Se Puede!”

Valdez spoke regarding the uphill battle, as Abbott is running anti-Latino ads on TV paid for by wealthy friends who then get appointed to choice positions in the government. “This campaign will be fought, not bought,” has become theme for all Democrats. Valdez added that she’s fought uphill battles all her life–in life, in the military, and in politics. “One more battle is nothing!”

Lina Hidalgo reiterated her theme that she’ll show up to work as County Judge every day, and not just when it floods, noting that the people of Harris County need a proactive leader that gets ahead of problems, rather than waiting for problems to arise.

Adrian Garcia, vying to upend an entrenched Republican who has cut various program that benefited families and the community stated that his opponent and the current administration play off the same sheet of music and that new leadership is needed. He also pointed to the campaign of Penny Shaw, running in Pct. 4, as a need for change and a new majority in Harris County.

Leading the charge was State Senator Sylvia Garcia, who for all intents and purposes, will become the next Congresswoman of the 29th District. Still, she hasn’t stopped getting out the vote for Democrats. “Vote Straight Democrat and we’ll elect the right people–all of them,” she stated. It should also be said that she arrived after an afternoon of blockwalking in the East End.

Also at the event were judicial candidates Raul Rodriguez and Alex Salgado; Richard Cantu for Harris County Dept. of Education Trustee; Carol Alvarado for HD145 and SD6; among other elected officials.

Hopefully, this is the first of many GOTV events targeting Latinos.

 

Little Joe Endorses Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor

The King of the Brown Sound, Little Joe Hernandez, has endorsed Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor. In fact, he proudly supports his prima. In a video released (above) by the campaign, Hernandez explains his reasons, the one resonating the most, “This race will be fought, not bought,” an obvious hit at the price tag hanging from Greg Abbott.

Little Joe y La Familia is performing today at a rally in support of Lupe Valdez, Sylvia Garcia for Congress, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge, and Adrian Garcia for County Commissioner, Pct. 2 at 2:30PM at the East End Event Center on Dahlia Street. 

I’ll tell the Latino community this:  There are a few Dem insiders still stewing over Valdez’s Dem primary win, and there are apologists for the right who simply won’t support her or donate to her campaign while giving to others. And there are others raising and sending money to candidates in other states. It’s up to us to spread the word about Lupe Valdez. Es Nuestra and she’ll fight for all communities.

OCT 4-5-6, 2018: FESTIVAL CHICANO HOUSTON

The 39th Annual Festival Chicano is upon us again and will be held October 4 – 6, 2018 at Miller Outdoor Theater.

As always, Daniel Bustamante and his crew will feature the best in La Onda Tejana, including Latin Breed, Gary Hobbs, Ruben Ramos and The Mexican Revolution, David Marez, Avizo featuring Hugo Guerrero and Oscar G, and the King of the Brown Sound (and Beto O’Rourke supporter) Little Joe y La Familia. Also featured will be Impozzible, Negami, and Stevie D. A lot of talent in a few days.

The event attracts over 5,000 Chicanos and others each night. What a time for, say, Democratic candidates and their minions to walk around wearing their campaign tees and be seen. I always wear my campaign tees.

Anyway, it’s free, it’s great music, and it’s nuestra cultura. Enjoy it before some orange baboon outlaws it. And then take your cultura to the polls in November.

Albert Peña Bio by Jose Angel Gutierrez Wins Best Biography

Congrats to one of my favorite mentors, Chicano scholars, and one of my dad’s old customers at Medellin’s Texaco in Cristal, Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, on winning Best Biography at the 20th Annual Latino Book Awards for Albert A. Peña, Jr., Dean of Chicano Politics.

My 2006 post of Peña’s obit continues to earn traffic. Along with fighting for school desegration in the 50’s, Peña’s history includes having defended activist Angela Davis in 1972, which was cause for him to lose re-election to the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court because of Davis’ Communist Party affiliation. Davis was recently in Houston for a UH speaking engagement.

Here’s the full press release:

The 1st place winner in the category of author of the Best Biography in the Non-fiction Awards section of the 20th International Latino Book Awards Ceremony held on the California State University Dominguez Hills campus in Carson City, California on September 8, 2018 was Crystal City, Texas native, Jose Angel Gutierrez.

He is best known as the last standing member of the Four Horsemen of the Chicano Movement. Dr. Gutierrez has written over a dozen books and is Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas Arlington as well as a practicing attorney in Dallas, Texas. He now resides in Redlands, CA.

This first-place winning biography is about the life of San Antonio native Albert A. Peña, Jr., former Bexar County Commissioner. He is the famous icon of the Chicano Movement era for his political acumen, vision in founding so many of our current institutions such as Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, National Council of la Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Presenting the award to Dr.  Gutierrez was none other than Dr. Julian Nava, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico during the President Jimmy Carter years and author in his own right.

The packed-house event featured some of the most creative and brilliant Chicano and other Latino authors of our time. Some winners were repeat honorees, but many were first-timers in the fifteen categories for entries.  This awards ceremony is the largest of its kind featuring authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers of books in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

It is organized annually by the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now led by Kirk Whisler and Hollywood actor Edward James Olmos.

The winning book is titled Albert A. Peña, Jr. Dean of Chicano Politics and published by Michigan State University Press in 2017 as part of the Latinos in the United States Series, editor Dr. Ruben Martinez of the Julian Samora Research Institute.