Category Archives: Cultura

The Stace Slate – Explained

Early Voting for the City Elections begins next week, October 21, 2019. I put out the Stace Slate (aka #TeamTacho), but I also said I’d provide some explanations. So, here goes.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER:  It’s been a tough first term for Mayor Turner. Not because he did anything bad, but he was dealt various circumstances that have made his term a busy one:  Harvey; the Harvey response from a slow-moving, low-caring federal and Texas government and leadership; budget constraints; the inability-by-law to raise more revenue to pay for services and employee raises; among other challenges. Houston has been suffering through one or more of these things for a while, now, and no mayor will have an easy time until things change at more than just the city level. That said, Mayor Turner has been exceptional at guiding the city through its trials and tribulations. Pension reform, creating opportunities for youth, and simply keeping the city moving forward through reality-based stewardship. Mayor Turner tried to meet the firefighters more than half-way, but it was obvious that one side wanted more than the City coffers could handle. Mayor Turner still dealt with this better than any of his opponents ever could. Thankfully, a supportive City Council has backed him up. No doubt, there is a lot more to be done and Mayor Turner must be at the helm to not only get things done, but to also provide the leadership to get through whatever challenges may come the way of our City.

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN:  Chris Brown has been effective at advocating for the residents of Houston, and has done an excellent job of providing Houston a good blueprint on which to base a sound budget, cost savings, better protection for employees, and, most importantly, the ability to build infrastructure with the future in mind. He’s forward-thinking and that means being in tune to the city’s reality as a diverse, international city. Brown proves his abilities on a daily basis and he has assembled a staff that backs him up. Unlike his opponent, Brown works for the people and not just another government paycheck.

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA:  I’ve supported Raj from Day 1 of meeting him. He’s just that impressive. And the campaign he has created is full of young people who have a stake in the future of Houston. Raj has centered his campaign on economic opportunity, quality of life, and flood mitigation. Whether it is giving an educational leg-up to Houston kids through community-led services, improving public transit options, or promoting sustainable development to avoid flooding, he is offering ideas that speak to the entire Houston area. On top of that, he’s a likable person–always willing to listen. I have no doubt his office will be responsive to all who need an ear, or need to be pointed in the right direction for city services.

AT-LARGE 2 – DAVID ROBINSON:  CM Robinson has been an effective member of City Council, providing a base of knowledge that only an architect can provide. Whether it’s on drainage and infrastructure, pushing for increased access to greenspaces, or budgeting and cost-savings, Robinson has led on these efforts. He deserves a final term.

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE:  I’ve known Janaeya for almost a decade, both as a campaign worker and as a public servant. She has always been committed to her tasks, and is more than ready to serve on Council. Carmouche is running on a platform that empowers communities, opportunities for small businesses, and systems-level change in government services. She states that a community that is knowledgeable of its services will be better served. That small businesses should have expanded opportunities for city contracts. And that the community will work together to solve its most pressing issues. An organizer at heart, Janaeya has the maturity and the commitment to lead through change.

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR:  I’ve known Nick for over a decade, whether it’s working on campaigns or serving constituents in City Council or state offices. Nick’s experience in government and in the private sector has given him the knowledge needed to navigate government services, work on public-private efforts, and to effectively serve constituents. Council needs a voice of reason as well as a voice for the people, and Nick has the abilities and skills to be both.

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS: Woods is the activist we need on City Council. Woods is focused on human and civil rights issues that local elected officials easily avoid, but he’s also a Houstonian who has experienced how whole communities go easily ignored by local government. He is not afraid to speak up, no matter who is in office or the political implications that come with speaking truth to power.

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY D. THOMAS:  I’ve lived in Southwest and West Houston for almost 8 years and one elected official who was noticeable was Tiffany Thomas when she served on the Alief ISD School Board. She has always advocated for all of the area’s residents, pushing for policies that address economic empowerment, the high poverty level, and decrease crime, especially from businesses dealing with human trafficking. She has always served her community, which is good for those of us who haven’t lived in it for too long.

ALIEF ISD:  Lily Truong, Rick Moreno, and Ann Williams. I’m sticking with the incumbents because Alief ISD remains one of the best districts in the area with a good leader at the helm. Let’s not mess that up.

METRONEXT – FOR:  We need more investment in mass transit and mobility. It’s that simple.

STATE AMENDMENTS (click image to enlarge):

 

FIND YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT HERE.

EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS HERE. (PDF)

EARLY VOTING :

October 21st – October 26th  7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m

October 27th   1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 28th – November 1st     7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

2019 STACE SLATE – https://doscentavos.net/2019/09/14/the-2019-staceslate/

 

 

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Night 2 of Festival Chicano One For The History Books

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Miller Outdoor Theater and the hill were filled to capacity for Night 2 of Festival Chicano. The crowd was energized for what was going to be a night filled with Chicano sounds and the bands did not disappoint.

Kicking off the night were Los Monarcas, a local conjunto that has been around for 45 years. Personally, it was when a record-store-owning buddy of mine (Turntable Records-Austin) asked me almost 30 years ago if I had ever heard of them. It was that first cassette that got me hooked with the sounds of acordeon, bajo, bass, and drums. Los Monarcas’ one-hour set was one huge medley of rancheras and polkas led by brothers Pete and Mario Diaz and complemented by a fat bass line and hard-hitting drumming. Hit after hit, they never stopped–even when one brother took on the acordeon duties to give us a rousing rendition of Ring of Fire. They fired up the crowd for sure.

This was also the first night that San Antonio’s La 45 would visit Houston, and boy, were they overdue. The outfit, which features a 5-piece horn section and 10 musicians led by Mike Torres, III and lead trumpeter John Ontiveros were introduced to the crowd by Henry “Pepsi” Peña, who offered a history lesson on Tejano music. Peña is a legendary SA radio personality who still promotes Chicano Soul concerts in the Alamo City. La 45 would offer up tune after tune, including Amor de Madrugada, some Latin Breed classics, R&B oldies giving them a flavor all their own. Showcasing the musicians, LA 45 gave opportunities to every member to give a taste of their chops with solos, with John Ontiveros earning the spotlight a few times. Joining them on accordion and keys was Herbie Lopez, an accomplished musician from the days of Conjunto Bernal. The crowd embraced La 45 after they gave so much of themselves.

After the presentation of the proclamation honoring 40 years of Festival Chicano by Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos, it was time for the headliner–Little Joe y La Familia.

No doubt, La Familia is one of the most precision-based bands in the business, and credit goes to Little Joe who demands it. Launching the show with an instrumental version of Las Nubes, the band switched gears to LJ classic, Prieta Linda, as Little Joe walked out on the stage wearing a zarape and mariachi pants. At almost 79, Little Joe showed no signs of slowing down–physically or vocally–taking us through memory lane with Por Una Mujer Casada, Ni El Dinero Ni Nadie, Recuerdas Querido Amigo and more. He would give his lead trumpet player, Carlos Salazar, the opportunity to belt out Jurame–one of my fave ballads. Later, Melinda Hernandez of Sister Sister came out for an impromptu tune, Baby Baby. After the show closers, Las Nubes and Borrachera, Little Joe came back for an encore with Por Un Amor. Needless to say, the crowd was satisfied and a bit overdosed with the best music.

Little Joe didn’t just perform, he also politicked a bit. Reminding us of the terror coming out of the White House. When he walked  out and saw the capacity crowd, he sarcastically stated, “You all are beautiful. Beautiful rapists, murderers, drug dealers…” to which we all laughed, but also felt reminded about how culture and politics really do mix. He gave mention to the violence in El Paso, Odessa (the postwoman who was killed was daughter of one of his compadres), and everything else that is going on. He urged folks to register and vote, and to vote locally and not just in federal elections as that is where most decisions that affect us are made. Finally, he also did a tribute to his dad, performing a song his dad wrote about himself, La Cotorra, about his days of selling weed and doing a little time in the pen. LJ’s response song was a tune he wrote about his dad, Always My Hero. A very poignant moment to remind us we aren’t perfect, sometimes we make bad decisions, but we are about family and we push forward.

Saturday is the final night, featuring Elida y Avante, Los Garcia Brothers, and Tejano Highway 281. I won’t be there, so, if someone wants to write something up, I’ll post it here.

Que viva FESTIVAL CHICANO!

y que viva DANIEL BUSTAMANTE!

A Great Opening Night at Festival Chicano

It certainly felt good sitting amongst the masses at Miller Outdoor Theater, although, the rain may have scared off a few folks. The event goes on rain or shine, folks! Still, sitting with a few thousand of my closest friends, listening to some amazing musicians, and not worrying about the crap the world is giving us was just what this Chicano needed.

Grupo Fuerte kicked off the night with a set filled with rancheras and cumbias. Carlos Maldonado’s bajo sexto playing was impressive and the band was on point as they went through various covers, including tunes made popular by Roberto Pulido, Jesse Serrata and others. A poignant moment occurred when the band dedicated a medley of songs to the late Joe Ernest Puente, a local vocalist and bandleader who passed away this year. Another was when Maldonado brought out his locally legendary dad, Carlos, Sr. to play a few old school conjunto tunes

Los Desperadoz took the stage with their newest member and vocalist, Eric Lee Villarreal, belting out newest single, Anhelo. Afterwards, it was a string of hits by the band with brothers Mike and Lee on acordeon and bajo at the lead. El Amor Que Soñe, Que Mas Quieres De Mi, Dame Tu Amor, Mi Tesoro, the list goes on. Throw in a couple of cumbias, an energetic huapango, and some classy polka instrumentals and one easily remembers why they are such big fans of the group. It was about damn time they made it to Houston! Great show!

The band everyone was waiting for was Jaime De Anda (JDA). Many have caught some of their shows on grainy youtube vids, but it’s been awhile since this new act has been caught at a venue like MOT. De Anda is still an amazing acordeonista, but his new musicians (especially that bajo player) more than complement his style. They didn’t rewrite the formula, but it seems to be delivered with a lot more heft and power. JDA took us through memory lane with hits like El Complejo, Yolanda, El Preso, and others, and De Anda hit every note just right. It would have been impressive whether Jaime’s dance moves were part of the show or not.

So, that’s night #1. Kudos to Daniel Bustamante and his hard-working crew. Friday night, it’s Little Joe y La Familia, La .45, and Los Monarcas. DC will be there!

40th Annual Festival Chicano Set To Launch on Thursday

Thursday night is the first night of the 40th Festival Chicano at Miller Outdoor Theater. Beginning at 7PM, thousands of folks seated and on the hill will enjoy the music of Grupo Fuerte, Los Desperadoz, and Jaime De Anda (JDA).

Festival Chicano is a weekend filled with music, culture, and community enjoyed by thousands every fall. Earlier this week, Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council approved a resolution honoring the festival.

It’s safe to say that creating Festival Chicano wasn’t an easy feat, according to festival founder and director Daniel Bustamante. In an interview with Tony Diaz at KPFTs Nuestra Palabra show, Bustamante tells us that he had to fight his way into Miller Outdoor Theater.

Festival Chicano first started with a concert held at Moody Park in the northside of Houston on Easter, 1977. After attracting over 10,000 spectators, the City of Houston was a bit upset because of crowd issues. The fact that there were limited facilities, parking and other issues didn’t sit well with the City. Bustamante offered the idea to use Miller Outdoor Theater.

The City and the MOT folks weren’t too keen on the idea. Maybe it was the thought of 10,000 Chicanos converging on a major facility, but the excuse to first deny the Festival was that the facility was for “fine arts.” Of course, it wasn’t like Bustamante lacked an infrastructure. With the support of Little Joe y La Familia and with the intent to empower a community through culture, there was little doubt that the event would be a success.

It took a few more years to finally get to the MOT. After the HPD murder of Joe Campos Torres and the pushback at Moody Park, the City may have become more receptive. With Little Joe’s support, the first official show at Miller was held on April 1980. 40 years later, the festival continues with capacity crowds and the very best music in Texas. Little Joe has played every year, except for one, and will get to celebrate his 79th birthday on Friday.

Friday features Little Joe, La .45, and Los Monarcas. The festival closes on Saturday with Elida Reyna y Avante, Los Garcia Brothers, and Tejano Highway 281.

THE MUSIC

Los Garcia Brothers, Los Monarcas, and Grupo Fuerte are considered hard-core conjunto bands, led by the acordeon and the bajo sexto. Fuerte and Monarcas are local favorites, while Los Garcia Brothers, dressed in zoot suits, travel from Eagle Pass.

Los Desperadoz are also a conjunto but with a more progressive slant to their music. They recently released a new album, so, I expect they will put on a good show. And speaking of good shows, Jaime De Anda, a showman and killer acordeonista in his own right, will showcase his new band, JDA. De Anda recently went solo after separating from the group he founded in Houston, Los Chamacos.

Of course, Little Joe (y La Familia) is a living legend who continues a heavy touring schedule showcasing an amazing horn and rhythm section. La .45 is led by a couple of former members of La Familia and also offer up a 5 piece horn section that plays original and old school favorites. Elida Reyna y Avante are also touring behind a new album. The powerful-voiced Reyna is sure to wow the crowd with her cumbias and rancheras, and a big sing-along is expected for Luna Llena. Finally, Tejano Highway 281 is an up-and-coming band from the Rio Grande Valley with a style that brings together conjunto, Tejano, and country. Expect to be impressed.

I expect to be there for at least two of the nights. I’ve got a DJ gig on Saturday, but I’ll probably play some of the music from the bands I’m missing. Check out Festival Chicano, wear your favorite candidate/political t-shirt, and take in nuestra cultura.

¡QUE VIVA DANIEL BUSTAMANTE!

¡Y QUE VIVA EL FESTIVAL CHICANO!

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.

 

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:

TODAY, 8/21/19: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia Hosts Immigration Forum

From the Inbox:

HOUSTON — Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia will host an Immigration Forum TODAY, August 21st, 2019, where she will discuss immigration related legislative updates and provide information on how her office can be of service to the community as it pertains to immigration.

Several community organizations will also be in attendance. They will provide additional information about the state of immigration policy in the U.S. and talk about how their organizations can also help families who need help with immigration related matters.

MEDIA IS WELCOME TO ATTEND.

 WHEN:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 at 6:30 PM CT

WHERE:

Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77011, USA

WHO:

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia, 29th Congressional District of Texas

Elizabeth Bille, Texas State Director, NALEO Educational Fund

Jill Campbell, Managing Immigration Attorney, BakerRipley

Cesar Espinosa, Executive Director, FIEL

Andrea Guttin, Legal Director, Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative

Rafael Pantoja, Senior Police Officer, HPD; Host of HPD Comunidad y Confianza Radio Show

Benito Juarez, Manager of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities with City of Houston

###

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas 29th Congressional district.

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez Enters Senate Race

Have you ever had a bunch of candidates to choose from and still can’t make a decision? Yeah, me too.

But Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez has entered the race for the Senate to rid us of  John Cornyn, so, perhaps the choice is easier today.

Ramirez is an activist and organizer who founded the Workers Defense Project and voter engagement group, Jolt Texas. Many of us have watched her interviews on MSNBC speaking on behalf of the pro-migrant cause during these painful days of mourning since the El Paso shooting and since Trump’s attacks on the Latino community. Obviously, she’s running as a progressive on all the issues Democrats love.

I’m running because I want to ensure that every Texan has high-quality healthcare, to build an economy that creates millions of good jobs and positions our state as the leader in our global transition towards a green future, to protect the rights of immigrant families and communities of color, and to ensure that every single Texan that wants to go to college can afford it and graduate debt free.

Given her positions on these issues, I do not expect her to change her views mid-General to appease the unreachable and unattainable, which happens in most Texas campaigns. So, I expect her to run a strong, grassroots campaign funded by working people who seek real change in Washington, DC.

I’m running because I have the most beautiful two year old son in the world, Santiago, and when I imagine the world he’s going to inherit, and the one I leave behind for him, I want him to be proud of what I stood up for. What we stood up for together. I want him to know that in a moment where 1 in 6 Texans didn’t have access to healthcare and millions were struggling just to make ends meet, when communities were being pitted against one another on the basis of race, and our world was at the brink of an imminent climate catastrophe, we came together and worked as hard as we could to make his life and other children’s lives like him better.

What’s the path to victory? Given her message, it’s through all communities. And that will take visibility across Texas. From the Trib:

Tzintzún Ramirez welcomed a competitive nominating contest as healthy for Democrats, saying the candidates in the Senate race are “all essentially at the same starting place,” unknown to most voters statewide and thus forced to run on the merits of their platforms. Asked how she plans to distinguish herself, she pointed to her forthrightness on the issues and her record of mobilizing the kind of voters often overlooked by politicians.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.

This kind of video helps.

The Trib has more.

 

 

The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

The Winner of Tuesdays Debate…

I couldn’t help but think the same thing, Congressman!

As far as debate performance went, I thought Senator Warren did a great job, especially of defending herself from the mod(erate) squad that was relentless in attacking her and Senator Sanders’ platforms. It’s good to know that she’ll be able to handle similar attacks from the right from Joe Biden in the future.

Bernie Sanders reminded me why I was such a fan of his in 2016.

“I wrote the damn bill!”

Buttigieg, likewise, did OK. While I’m not a fan of the whole soldier thing, I agree with him that the right is going to paint Dems as socialist, open borders, private insurance hating Antifa terrorists no matter where Dems fall on the issues. So, let’s put out a platform promote it and defend it.

Beto was Beto; always trying to be the great white hope.

The rest didn’t leave an impression on me, although, Marianne Williamson said plenty of things that needed to be said on racism and Washington, DC corruption.

Regarding health care, the debate is becoming about keeping private insurance in a “universal” plan since people who can afford insurance don’t want to lose what they have. And while government jobs don’t offer the best insurance choices, some companies do offer some pretty good ones. Let’s remember that platforms are platforms. Let’s remember Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of term one and then ignored it completely. So, let’s not get all nasty here because it also takes political capital and using it well to get things done. The key, in this case, is to increase access to the uninsured while lowering prices and ending insurance company corruption. Eyes on the prize!

On immigration, it was Warren who stayed strong on the issue of decriminalizing border crossing, while the others seemed to want to keep the “criminal” designation alive for whatever reason. The mod squad put the blame on Trump, but even Democrats have warehoused immigrant families and deported millions without due process because of this designation. So, it’s better to get rid of it. Bernie came close until he mentioned the idea of more immigration judges. Although I understand his sentiment regarding backlogs in the entire system, the comment reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s “deport the kids” attitude of 2014. And in these debates, sound bytes matter.

As much as people talk about “Russia,” Democrats need to be reminded that US meddling in Latin American elections is still a thing. And, if we want to talk about “root causes” of migration, we may need to start with this fact.

Day 2 of Who Gets Voted Off the Island is today. As always, I’m rooting for Julian Castro. He’s only two spaces away from Joe Biden, so I hope he lands some chingazos (political ones, of course) tonight.