Category Archives: Cultura

2020 Dem Primary Results – Harris County

Well, the #StaceSlate did well, but we did end up with some heartbreaking losses and six or so run-offs.

First of all, congrats to my friend Judge Julia Maldonado of the 507th District Court. The family court judge overcame a couple of opponents, including one endorsed by the local fish wrap. But that’s OK, people realized that Maldonado is a good jurist and a great Democrat who serves the community well.

Also, to Natalia Cornelio, whom I wrote about after I met her, who defeated the incumbent quite handily. She worked her way to victory by forming a strong coalition based on the need to defeat an incumbent unfriendly to bail reform. And that’s a good thing.

And Judge Leslie Briones, appointed to the County Court At Law #4 bench after an accidental resignation, defeated the previous occupant. I guess she didn’t need to use the #NeverQuits hashtag I suggested because it seems the voters REALLY like her. Congrats, Laredo!

And huge congrats to my friend Ann Bennett on a decisive victory to remain the Democratic candidate for Tax Assessor-Collector. She’s been an effective officeholder, has improved customer service throughout the county, and is a champion for voter registration. I look forward to her re-election in November.

Of course, I was saddened to see my good friend Judge Larry Weiman defeated. I’ve supported Weiman since he first entered the political atmosphere in 2006–when it was still slightly unpopular to be a Democrat. Two years later, he, along with a great group of Democrats, defeated the Republicans in office. He was definitely a trendsetter, considering he didn’t take money from lawyers who had cases in the 80th District. Unfortunately, and I’ve stated this many times, it’s gotten a lot easier to win as a Democrat in Harris County, so, even the best jurist on the bench can be targeted for defeat in the Primary for no reason whatsoever, other than, because they can. Some long-time judges won’t be as targeted if they are great fundraisers and spread the wealth (protection money?), but some who don’t feel the need be part of the kingmaking class (like Weiman) will be easy targets. And it’ll happen more often, unfortunately, which will ultimately lead to calls for “balanced courts” once November rolls around.

My other friend, Judge Steven Kirkland, was also defeated. He has had a target on him throughout his political career. He was defeated previously thru homophobia and hate, and now, because they could (or maybe both). He is a good jurist, but it’s gotten easier to overlook effectiveness, issues, etc. I’m of the opinion that it could happen to anyone. And it will.

I’m not quite at the point where I would prefer politically appointed, rather than elected, judges, but some hybrid, revolving, based-on-experience track might be nice.

THE RUN-OFFS

It looks like State Senator Royce West snuck into a run-off for US Senate against Washington DC favorite/funded MJ Hegar. I think Christina Tzintzun Ramirez would have done better in South Texas if “Mama” hadn’t been on the ballot. (And did I see Little Joe doing a web ad/vid for “Mama”?) Anyway, #MyChoiceIsRoyce in this one. His experience and a track record of not stepping back from a fight is what we need on the ballot.

Fellow Crystal Citian Roberto Alonzo also made the run-off for Texas Railroad Commissioner. Having served in the Texas Lege for 20 years has given him actual experience in making laws and regulation. Frankly, I think that’s better than being a part of an industry that has shielded itself from all political liability and financial/environmental responsibility. If ever we needed an “outsider,” on the RRC, it is now. Roberto provides that option.

Also, I’m a South Texas Mexican. I’ve had a lot of tios, primos, friends, and probably a few enemies called “Beto” way before the white guy from El Paso came around. So, if you make it about names, realize you sound a little racist. Because I’m getting sick and tired of that crap. (That one was for my late union steward Tio Beto, who also went by Bob to appease those who couldn’t say Beto.)

In the County Commissioner Pct 3 race, Diana Martinez Alexander was the top vote-getter and is in the run-off. Alexander, with little money, but a lot of shoe leather, community-oriented campaigning, and heart earned more votes than her run-off competitor who came in with hundreds of thousands of dollars, glossy direct mailers, consultants, and the support of well-known connected types. It’s a clear choice for me, because, as my momma used to say, “tienes que tener modo con la gente” and Alexander is a great people person who will run a people-centered commissioner’s office while also standing up for our values and needs as a community.

NOT ON MY BALLOT

Congrats to Penny Morales Shaw on making the run-off for Texas House District 148. I think the primary showed that special elections suck and people are still not in voting mode when they happen. Plus, when you throw republinuts into the mix, it just sucks more. Hopefully, voters stay in voting mode for the run-off. Hopefully, voters will get more than the usual arguments of “I was way ahead of the pack” versus “59% of the people don’t want my opponent” and break down the issues that matter. There are differences in this one.

These are just a few of the run-offs on my radar. The run-off is scheduled for late May, so get ready for those picnic grade paper plate placemats (full page glossy direct mail pieces) to start arriving. A few text messages, too. And lots of calls.

#StaceSlate: The 2020 Dem Primary Picks

Credit: Tacho Medellin, DC Media

It’s that time again:  Time to release the #StaceSlate  It’s a long ballot, so we must prepare accordingly to vote the entire ballot. It’ll be good practice for November when the “straight ticket” option is no longer available. Google my picks and learn about them. Find your sample ballot here if you want to find out who all the candidates are on your ballot. (These are the ones on MY ballot!) And, there’s also Erik Manning’s spreadsheet that is quite informative regarding candidates.

Here’s the #StaceSlate!

President – Bernie Sanders

US Senate – Royce West

US House District 9 – Al Green

Texas RR Commissioner – Roberto Alonzo

Chief Justice, Supreme Court – Jerry Zimmerer

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 6 – Kathy Cheng

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 7 – Staci Williams

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 8 – Gisela Triana

Judge, Court of Criminal Appreal, Pl 3 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Pl 4 – NO ENDORSEMENT

SBOE, District 6 – Michelle Palmer

State Senate, Dist 13 – Borris Miles

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #3 – Veronica Rivas Molloy

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #5 – Amparo Monique Guerra

Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Jim Evans

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Cheri Thomas

Judge, 80th District Court – Larry Weiman

Judge, 164th District Court – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, 165th District Court – Ursula Hall

Judge, 176th District Court- Nikita Harmon

Judge 179th District Court – Ana Martinez

Judge, 334th District Court – Steven Kirkland

Judge, 337th District Court – David Vuong

Judge, 339th District Court- Te’iva Bell

Judge, 351st District Court – Natalia Cornelio

Judge, 507th District Court – Julia Maldonado

Judge, County Court at Law #4 – Leslie Briones

Harris County Attorney – Christian Menefee

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector – Ann Harris Bennett

Harris County District Attorney – Audia Jones

Sheriff – Ed Gonzalez

County School Trustee, Pos 5 – Paul Ovalle

County School Trustee, Pos 7 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Harris County Commissioner Pct 3 – Diana Martinez Alexander

Harris Constable, Pct 5 – Mark Alan Harrison

Harris County JP Place 5-1- Israel Garcia

 

The Race for County Commish Pct 3 – A Forum

I attended a candidate forum featuring four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Harris County Pct 3 Commissioner. The candidates were Diana Martinez Alexander, Morris Overstreet, Michael Moore, and Kristi Thibaut. The moderator was Charles Kuffner (of Off The Kuff fame) who did an outstanding job of asking some good questions regarding budget priorities, bail reform, flood control and mitigation, city-county cooperation, transportation, climate change, among other topics.

To be honest, all of the candidates offered good answers, whether it was Alexander on Pre-K, Moore on environmental regulation, Thibaut on flood mitigation, or Morris on voting rights. [Watch the video!] There wasn’t much, if any, disagreement.  One thing they all agreed on though, as well as those in attendance, was that all of the good ideas that any of these folks have will only work if Democrats flip the Texas House, thus forcing some bipartisan work from the Texas Senate to do something about revenue caps and the boot that the State of Texas currently has on local government’s necks. Even so, it will be a battle that will require more than some semblance of bipartisanship that republicans refuse to practice. And an even stronger Democratic majority on the commissioner’s court helps.

That said, I usually seek out other qualities from candidates when faced with similarly good answers. For example, when Kuffner asked the question about legislative priorities, it was Diana Martinez Alexander who brought up fighting Greg Abbott’s SB4, the racial profiling and anti-immigrant law that turns local law enforcement into border cops and wastes vital resources. Or, when felony bail reform was brought up, it was the jurist, Morris Overstreet, who provided some clarity to the issue, rather than a cautiously moderate approach to even discussing it.

Of course, political traditions dictate that those that raise the most money and run traditional campaigns have the best chance at beating a republican. But it also takes some good ol’ retail politics to gain this voter’s’ attention, so, kudos to grassroots candidate Diana Martinez Alexander for working the room and speaking to folks she hadn’t met before (me and my sister). Sure, precinct 3 may be too large in which to run that kind of campaign, but last night’s intimate setting filled with activists who GOTV was a good shot at shaking hands and asking for the vote. (And that goes for the other candidates (and office holders) in the room! Stop talking to people you already know!)

As a Chicano voter, I also naturally look for commonalities–with whom do I identify? When Overstreet mentioned he was from West Texas with siblings who had all earned higher education degrees despite their parents’ lack of that kind of opportunity, it spoke to me. Martinez Alexander’s mention that her mother still works cleaning houses was a stark reminder that Harris County’s diversity is both ethnic and economic, thus requiring someone with that kind of life experience who will fight for all of the people without a second thought. It’s not always about polish.

Those that prefer political money and political polish have a couple of candidates, for sure. It’s just not what I’m looking for in this primary election season. That stuff doesn’t impress me if you’re not walking up to a voter and asking for their vote. That said, I’ll be a “D” vote in this race in November, but I’m leaning toward the candidate that best represents me, my issues, and my interests. At least that’s my take after this one forum.

Thanks to the Southwest Democrats (and others) who hosted this event.

Photo:  Erik Manning (Southwest Democrats)

Congratulations, Joe Biden!

Am I the only one experiencing this dark feeling that Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee this week?

I won’t even re-hash the Bernie-Warren spat, but the bottom line is that both campaigns and their supporters have exhibited the worse kind of petty campaign behavior. The kind of behavior that, even if accusations have some speck of legitimacy, goes off the rails rendering both campaigns as childish and immature. The kind of behavior that even though both sides’ points have been made, continues because one or the other continues it and CNN eats it up.

Unfortunately, all this does is make the other guy look stronger, steadfast, and like the image of the granddaddy our country needs, even if he does take us to the woodshed to spank us for questioning anything he might do.

Worse, it’s not even about issues! It’s about what someone else heard someone else say in some candidate meeting. Or some errant staffer on one campaign posting something on a campaign site to which 99% of the rest of us have no access. And that one campaign has talking points on another, as if this kind of thing never happens. Certainly, the only thing we’ve actually heard is whatever CNN’s stage microphone heard after the debate and neither campaign looked good. I guess I just rehashed it.

So, while the facebook arguments will likely continue between Berniestas and Warrenites, I think I’ll spend my time on more productive things. Like, embracing having to vote for Joe Biden. It’s less stressful and a whole lot less petty!

Or, both campaigns can stop the BS and actually campaign so we can let the whitest states in the union decide who will be the nominee. Now, there’s something that should be discussed! Or is race relations in politics just too uncomfortable?

 

 

Un Dia Ganaremos: Julian Castro Exits, Endorses Warren

My first and only choice for the Dem nom for POTUS has exited the race. Julian Castro ended his campaign last week after scoring a few points, yet, not being able to build on those points to gain traction against big money and big media.

The reason? Well, that’s up for debate. The DNC set up the primary to help big money candidates in the whitest of states (NH and Iowa). The media virtually ignored Castro, unless he got scrappy and “attacked” Joe Biden. Of course, they’ll point out (because they always point out our failures in defense of theirs) Castro’s Latino numbers weren’t strong, either. With the help of establishment Dems and the media, at some point, the whole self-fulfilling prophesy set in convincing brown folks that it was never to be, so, brown folks went with the others. But enough of that.

Ultimately, I’m pretty sure the giant sucking sound I heard was the establishment unclenching after Castro’s departure because, as his brother Joaquin said:

You said uncomfortable things that needed to be said, spoke up for the forgotten and vulnerable — the people we grew up with. You called on our country to be more just, more humane, more who we’re supposed to be, and gave hope to so many in a dark time.

And I commend Julian Castro for not being the brown candidate that was anything but. Someone had to speak strongly on issues that affect brown folks and the others were not going to sound as sincere as Julian. Or even well-studied on those issues, as always is the case. Julian made history in running and I’m proud of his run. No matter who gets the nom, Castro should be #2 on the ticket as a much needed energizing figure. (We could have used him in 2016.)

All of this said, four days passed and Castro has endorsed Elizabeth Warren, whom he says will “fight like hell” in 2020. I was not surprised. I highly doubt Joe Biden would offer Castro the VP nod, and I have a feeling that Bernie is not Castro’s cup of Chocolate Ibarra. So, Warren is his path to VP (or something in a Dem administration or visibility for a future Texas run), and a lot of Dems are excited about it. Me? Not so much as I think he should have waited.

I’m leaning Bernie based on his platform and the inclusive movement he has created. And since it’s always been about “electability,” I think Bernie is the only one with a shot at creating a big enough movement inclusive of the poor, the vulnerable, and the targeted (those who never get excited by what Dems usually offer) that will oust the Cheeto Jesus. I don’t feel that from Warren at this time; perhaps, Castro will change that. Yet, any Bern I may feel has its limits because of various political realities (DNC, big money, Wall Street, the establishment, neoliberals, a weak media, warmongers, you name it) that will force us to end up with Biden.

How involved will I be during the primary and convention season? At this point, there is a lot about the Dem Primary I’m not enjoying, whether it be the race for Prez, the race for Senate, or the local races. So, I’m not feeling it. But that’s for other blog posts.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

The Quinceañera: DCs Top 10 Posts of 2019

Thanks to DC readers for keeping us going all of these years. 2020 is a big year. It’s DC’s Quinceañera-15 years of DosCentavos.net! During these first 15 years, I’ve made 6,000 posts–some informational, some announcements, but a lot of substantive opinion on the issues of the day.

In 15 years, I’ve made friends, a few enemies, and even some enemies that have become friends because they got over what I wrote. I’ve quit blogging, come back, slowed down, but my general feelings have remained intact. So, this exercise will continue; at the very least, to continue pissing a few people off, at the most, to educate the masses.

We’ll try to bring you more politics, culture, and the intrigue that goes along with it in 2020. I’m pretty sure there will be much to talk about.

Here are our Top 10 of 2019

  1. A Great Opening Night at Festival Chicano
  2. Raj Salhotra Announces Bid for Houston City Council
  3. 2019 Houston Mayor, City Council Races Shaping Up
  4. Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released
  5. It Wouldn’t Be a Dem Primary Without a Filing Controversy
  6. A Short Local Nightmare is Over (Judge McCleod Quits)
  7. Executive Interns Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers (Airport Intern BS)
  8. Stace Slate – Explained (2019 Endorsements)
  9. 2019 Elections – November Races
  10. Houston Re-Elects Mayor Sylvester Turner-2019 RunOff Results
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¡Feliz Navidad and a Groovy 2020!

Get Your Tejano Music Gifts

Well, we are deep into the Christmas holidays, but you can still order or download the latest releases from the top Tejano and other influential acts. It’s been a good year for music and the live acts that play it. I’m looking forward to a fruitful 2020.

Here are a few albums I recommend:

  • Intocable – Percepción. The Zapata-based Intocable just won a Latin Grammy for their latest release and are nominated for a Grammy for it. Already enjoying much success with singles, such as No Van A Entender, Me Dueles, and Quedate Conmigo, the album is sure to score more hits as the band hits the road in 2020 for the next leg of the Percepcion tour.
  • Gary Hobbs – Lo Que Amo. The long awaited release from el borrado de Eagle Pass is enjoying some airplay of its title track single. With tunes, such as Perdoname and Quizas Yo, Hobbs has a strong set of tunes to complement his decades of popular hits. And he still puts on a great live show.
  • Jay Perez – 25th Anniversary. The Voice is back with hard-driving tunes like Contigo, Invitame, Tu (featuring DLG), and the cumbia, Recordare, just to name a few. It’s a well-produced album that will keep your toes tapping. And one is reminded why they call him The Voice!
  • La Santa Cecilia. LSC’s self-titled album isn’t Tejano, but it should be on your list. The LA-based band offers a mix of pop, rock, disco, and raza influenced tunes, such as Always Together, A Thousand Times, and Winning, while one also gets a dose of 20s styled music with Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out. It’s an EP that is worth being in the collection.
  • Los Palominos – Con La Fuerza De Un Huracan. Known for their South Texas conjunto stylings and vocal harmonies, Los Palominos keep their formula intact. Already enjoying success with the title track, they recently released a video for ranchera, Corazon Aventurero. My fave is the country-influenced Mas de Ti. It’s a must-have for the collection.
  • The Mavericks – Play The Hits. The latest by Nashville-based Americana band is a tribute to various hits. Kickin’ it off with John Anderson’s Swingin’, they move through various points in history with Blame It On Your Heart, Before The Next Teardrop Falls, and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. The closer, Leaving It Up To You, leaves one wanting more. It’s got horns, accordion, a tough rhythm section, and Raul Malo’s voice.
  • Los Desperadoz – Calm Before The Storm. Los Desperadoz are back after a long wait with their signature conjunto sound. Featuring rancheras and cumbias, the album offers Mi Vida Sin Ti, Dame Tu Amor, Otra Vez En Mi Sueño, and other danceable tunes. Make it yours, and find a venue where Los Desperadoz play this stuff live. You will not be disappointed.

Look for them online and get your money’s worth.

It Wouldn’t Be A Dem Primary Without A Filing Controversy

If you haven’t heard, an incumbent Democratic Criminal District Judge incorrectly filed for re-election and had his candidacy rejected by the Harris County Democratic Party, as reported by Miya Shay at ABC13. Judge George Powell of the 351st District Court filed for re-election as the deadline neared on December 9 and paid the wrong filing fee. Once his paperwork was checked, and the check was short, he was rejected.

Any candidate (and especially incumbent) should know to read the rules for filing for office. You learn this in a Candidate 101 class given by any friendly consultant or blogger. Or, at least on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

The rules are simple. Those filing for Criminal District Judge should file with the County Chair. The candidate has the option of collecting 750 signatures in lieu of the filing fee, or collecting 250 signatures and paying a $2500 filing fee (in large counties, including Harris) as is stated in Sections 172.024(10), (12), of the Texas Election Code.

Powell is stating that he was told it was $1500 by someone at the Party. But this isn’t his first rodeo and the rules have not changed. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party isn’t a grocery store with a checkout counter. They collect the paperwork and the decision is made by the County Chair. And, finally, the SOS Candidate Handbook states all of this stuff quite specifically.

[There’s a reason I tell candidates to file early, and not at the last minute. Just in case.]

There’s no telling what will be decided. A temporary restraining order was granted by a judge and a hearing will be held in early January. My experience in this (having worked on a campaign which challenged sloppy signatures, yet still approved by the County Chair at the time), is that judges aren’t too keen on even deciding these cases, or deciding against a party’s decision. But we have a whole different crop of judges, now. So, ay veremos.

The bigger question is:  Can a judge who interprets the law be taken seriously when he doesn’t read the laws pertaining to his own candidacy?

Anyway, thankfully, a well-qualified attorney had filed to challenge the incumbent. Natalia Cornelio did follow the rules and made it on to the ballot and is currently the only candidate running for the 351st. She champions fairness, civil rights, and criminal justice reform. We need more of that in our courts.

Houston Re-Elects Mayor Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner was re-elected by a landslide against a self-funded, access-buying, divisive, homophobic millionaire lawyer. With 57% of the vote and an over 25,000 vote margin, Mayor Turner earned another 4 years despite millions spent against him, bad news reporting on made-up controversies, and divisiveness from the local right-wing. Congrats to Mayor Turner and his team who seemed to run on the old adage, “steady wins the race.”

In my own District F, Tiffany Thomas was headed toward her own landslide win with 56% of the vote. She worked the district hard and earned this victory. I know she will hit the ground running.

In District H, incumbent Karla Cisneros was holding on for dear life to a 12-vote lead against organizer Isabel Longoria, who ran a strong, grassroots campaign. Longoria states she will wait for all votes to be counted before any other decisions are made. In District D, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz won handily, as did Abbie Kamin in District C. And in District J, Sandra Rodriguez came up short, unfortunately.

In the At-Large races, Raj Salhotra and Janaeya Carmouche ran great races; unfortunately, the right-wing incumbents won handily. I think we need to find out why right-wing zealots win in such a blue city. Is it color? Money? All of the above? Needless to say, young leaders like Raj, Janaeya, Isabel, and Sandra should stay in the game. They will be needed in the near future.

Thankfully, David Robinson was re-elected; and, Letitia Plummer and Sallie Alcorn will be joining him after their own strong victories against right-wing candidates. Mayor Turner will have a comfortable majority with which to enact policies and programs needed in our city.

In HCC District 1, Monica Flores-Richart cruised to victory against another right-wing zealot whom I think got too many votes inside a blue city. What’s up with that? Anyway, the people will be well-served by Trustee-to-be Flores-Richart.

Of course, District B is still up in the air. Some say it won’t be decided until May. Democracy delayed is not a good thing. Let the people vote, already!

The big losers in all of this were the firefighters union. But there is an now an opportunity for agreement on reasonable raises. And let’s remember that HR decisions should not be decided by voters. We elect our Mayor and Council to make those decisions and elections (and phones) are available to deliver a message to our elected officials regarding what policies to support.

One group that took a hit was Latinos. At this point, it seems Robert Gallegos in District I will represent all things “brown” as he is the only one who stands up and leads on Latino issues. I just wanted to point that out.

I agree with Kuff in saying that I’m glad most of this is over. I still worry that District B has become disenfranchised because of trivial BS rules that should no longer exist in this day and age. [The courts should not delay this decision any longer and the politicians should not pass this around.]

Kuff has his take.