Category Archives: Cultura

We Need A Vote-at-Home Order from Abbott

Well, it’s nice that Greg Abbott has finally decided to order everyone to wear masks during this pandemic. That it took over 175,000 Texans to get infected and over 2,500 dying, as well as an idiotic and sped-up re0pening of businesses which caused an obvious uptick in cases to finally make a mask order happen shows a total disregard of life and health on the part of Abbott and Republicans.

Anyway, thanks?

It was Anthony Gutierrez at Common Cause who captured the reality of the mask order:

“Issuing the mandatory mask order and encouraging everyone to stay home is the right thing to do right now, considering the mess we’re in. But the right thing to do months ago to avoid this very easily foreseeable mess was to allow all Texans to vote by mail so that no one would now find themselves having to choose between voting and endangering their health.

Our Governor and Secretary of State have thus far failed when it comes to adapting our election systems in a pandemic, but it’s not too late to get it right for November.”

We’re currently in the Democratic Primary run-off here in Texas. And while many 65+ voters ordered their mail ballots, thousands of others are going into polling locations risking our health because we believe in the power of our votes. Thankfully, our own Harris County has instituted some measure of protection, but it is never safer than voting from home at this time.

Instead of opening up access to voting by mail for all as a real option, Greg Abbott and Republicans fought against it, putting even more people at risk who may have already been practicing stay-at-home measures on their own.

Anyway, let’s hope there is a vote-at-home order soon. Even Abbott agrees that “it is getting worse,” although, leaders like Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had said it would get worse if leaders didn’t take COVID19 seriously.

A Couple of Questions Regarding Williford

First of all, I agree with Kuff:  Good riddance!

A deputy felony DA posted a pretty awful meme comparing the Black Lives Matter Movement to Nazis. It’s so wrong on so many levels that any attempt at explaining it away as “thought-provoking” is simply grasping at something that looks more like one trying to stay in their comfortably racist cocoon, than trying to add to a conversation.

That said, I do have a couple of questions:

Given this prosecutor’s comments and obvious feelings toward Black people demanding rights, does this taint any cases which she prosecuted, particularly those involving Black and Brown defendants?

And, when DA Kim Ogg decided to drop the charges on John Hernandez’s murderer, Chauna Thompson, based on the the various prosecutors whom she asked their opinion on the case, was Williford one of them? We need to know what part she played in this.

Whether people want to accept it or not, the DAs office is part of that law enforcement system that needs the reform which is being demanded by Black Lives Matter. Its culture of pumping up their conviction percentages must be changed, and the fact that this person was among the highest ranking deputies shows us that the status quo is very much alive, no matter what lip service “reform” is given by the DA.

 

My COVID-19 Early Voting Experience

By 7:15AM this morning, I had clicked “CAST BALLOT” and was done voting in the 2020 Democratic Primary Run-Off election. It was the 5 minutes (which seemed like an hour) before that were personally harrowing.

I woke up early. I shaved, brushed, combed, etc. I got my ID, put on gloves, hung a pen from my collar, and got my Kokopelli mask. I drove the one minute to my polling location at Tracy Gee and was ready to scroll. Nervous about voting in this COVID-19 era, but doing my duty like my parents taught me.

I walk in and it was welcoming. I was pointed in the right direction, told to distance 6 feet and wait to be called. Already a few Democrats were voting ahead of me.

I walked up to the lady at the table. I was told to hold out my ID so she could match faces. The woman before me didn’t have to show her face since I guess her eyes matched up, but I wasn’t recognizable, apparently. A few looks and I did her the favor and showed my face. And then I still had to tell her that I had lost a lot of weight (120 lbs since that ID pic), but I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.

Then, she looked at my ID funny. It’s one of those new Texas Driver Licenses that follow the racist REAL ID act and I guess it looked suspect to her, even though it says “TEXAS USA Driver License” and has all the watermarks.

Then, I’m asked to turn the ID around and rest it on this tiny stand which allows the IPad to scan the ID. Well, it wouldn’t scan. Her own alarms seem to go off and she asked a question that offended this avid voter, “Is this your first time?”

I think my indignation was obvious when I said, “I’ve voted since I was 18.” The other lady at the table asked, “Did you vote in the last election?” Which caused me to take a deep breath and say, “Yes.”

These questions shouldn’t matter if the ID isn’t scanning. If you have a problem with my ID, call DPS or just type in my name and DL#, right? Well, she seemed annoyed at having to do this. But she just couldn’t read it off the ID. I had to spell out my name and sound off my date of birth and DL# for all to hear. My privacy alarms were going off, but I was going to vote!

Lo and behold, my name came up on her IPad! Once I take my ID off the little stand, and sign the IPad acknowledging that I’m voting in the Democratic Primary, I was given a finger condom, my I VOTED sticker, and my receipt.

Within a minute, I voted the #StaceSlate and was done.

I felt like a ticketed driver thanking the cop for writing me a ticket as I said “Thank you,” for what felt like a verbal frisking of my voter rights.

The moral of the story is, don’t let the pendejadas stop you from voting if this happens to you. You have a right to vote for which you have duly registered, for which you’ve had to pay for your driver license (even if it doesn’t scan and suddenly makes you a fraudster in their eyes).  Just vote!

But, damn, am I pissed off this morning.

I’ll add that I appreciate the County Clerk’s office for trying to ensure a safe election in this COVID19 era, and all the safety practices were in play and appreciated. The ID-ing of voters has not been perfected, and if anything, can be used to treat voters as fraud suspects, and that problem is systemic.

DC’s #StaceSlate – 2020 Dem Runoff

In case you all have forgotten, Democrats have a run-off election to begin participating in come Monday. For some of us, it’s a busy ballot from the Senate down to Constable.

Early voting begins June 29 and goes on through July 10. Run-off election day is July 14. Find your sample ballot here. Here is the 2020 Democratic Run-Off #StaceSlate :

US Senate – Royce West – 27 years in the Texas Senate fighting for the issues that are important to Democrats. We need a proven fighter to bring out our base and West is that fighter. And I just don’t trust the choices of the DSCC or their incursions into these kind of races. Never have, actually.

Railroad Commissioner – Roberto “Beto” Alonzo – Over 20 years in the Texas Lege, he always scored high on environmental, civil rights, and education group score cards. I prefer someone outside of the oil/gas realm, yet, with a rich legislative history supporting the interests of the people and Democrats, generally. Plus, he’s a family friend whom I’ve known for…ever.

SBOE-6 – Michelle Palmer – I’ve seen her, basically, everywhere. She hasn’t taken any constituency for granted. She’s a progressive educator who will fight for our students.

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals-7 – Cheri Thomas – I met Cheri at a local Dem meeting. Personable, a listener, and someone who will take the job seriously.

Judge, 164th District – Alexandra Smoots-Thomas – She’s done a fine job as a judge ensuring people are not railroaded in the civil courts. There will be negativity thrown at her, but I don’t trust anything coming from Trump’s Justice Department.

Judge, 339th District – Te’iva Bell – She struck me as a reformer who believes in justice for all. A criminal district court should not be a place where one is railroaded to prison, rather, it should be a place where either side will find justice based on evidence and facts. Bell will offer that as a judge of this court.

Harris County Commissioner Pct 3 – Diana Martinez-Alexander – I want a Democratic candidate who will be responsive to voters and not special interests. We need to break down a system built for people with insider connections and Diana offers that kind of alternative, while speaking up on issues important to the people.

Constable Pct 5 – Mark Alan Harrison – He’s a veteran law enforcement leader who advocates for changes that positively impact the community. From what my friends (and his FB posts) tell me, he’s the candidate to support.

Find a PDF of Early Voting Locations by clicking here.  And, again, find your sample ballot here.

Remember to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and get in and out of the polling location. Chances are you will be asked to remove your mask to match up to your ID. Let’s hope it’s quick. But if you want to order a face shield, Amazon has some.

 

Jose Rivera Announces for HCDE At-Large Position 7

Local non-profit executive Jose Rivera has announced his candidacy for Harris County Dept of Education Trustee, At-Large 7.  The Democratic nominee must be chosen by the Democratic Party’s precinct chairs later this summer after the current nominee was appointed to another position on the board during the primary season.

Jose offers up years of experience in Democratic campaigns, as well as community advocacy experience through his work in local government and in the office of Congressman Gene Green. Also:

Throughout his career, Jose has found a passion working and for under represented communities. For 8 years, he worked for the nationally recognized non-profit BakerRipley. It was during his time at BakerRipley that Jose learned the importance of engaging communities and collaborating to create programs and initiatives that are reflective of the communities they aim to serve. Jose also helped create and develop intergenerational programs that engaged youth and seniors through mentoring and resiliency connections.

Jose Rivera currently serves as the Executive Director of the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA and Outreach Initiatives where he oversees programming and resources for the Aldine- Greenspoint Service area along with Outreach programming which includes apartment outreach programs, and services throughout the Greater Houston service area.

Jose holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration from Texas Southern University and has participated as a fellow in the New Leaders Council. He and his wife Tanya Makany-Rivera are members of Unity Church of Christianity and live in Houston with their two boys Anthony and Dominic who attend area public schools.

There are two vacancies on the Democratic side of the November ballot that must be filled by a vote of the Democratic Party’s executive committee, AKA the precinct chairs. One we already know about it that of County Clerk, due to the resignation of Diane Trautman and a called special election to fill the vacancy in November. Each Party must pick their candidate through the precinct chairs.

But, there’s also the position of Trustee of the Harris County Department of Education Board, Position 7–an at-large position. In this case, the Democratic candidate who won the primary was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board, which has left Dems without a candidate for November. So, the precinct chairs will fill this vacancy with a Democrat to take on the Republican in November.

That said, contact your precinct chair and tell them to read up on and support Jose Rivera for HCDE-7. He will serve Harris County well. He has already earned the nod of State Reps. Christina Morales, Armando Walle, and Ana Hernandez, as well as current HCDE Trustee Richard Cantu, and former Congressman Gene Green.

We will be hearing about at least one person running for County Clerk later this week. Stay connected!

DACA – It’s A Small Win

No doubt, there was a sigh of relief after the 5-4 SCOTUS decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was announced. Many of my friends are less worried.

For the meantime, Trump and his minions have been told that they will have to find another way to make a declaration on DACA’s legality that would lead to its end.

As SCOTUS stated:

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. “The wisdom” of those decisions “is none of our concern.” Chenery II, 332 U. S., at 207. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”

This may only further delay its demise, although, any new Trump effort to end DACA will once again be met by a challenge in the courts. This decision certainly adds to the political pressure against Trump and Republicans to do something about the entire issue (immigration and deportation reform and not just DACA), but also places pressure on Democrats who tend to get squeamish on any of these issues within the realm of immigration reform during election time.

For now, it’s still election season. As local group FIEL’s ED Cesar Espinosa stated:  “We are ecstatic that the supreme court sided on the right side of history and allowed for the DACA program to be in place for the meantime. We hope that in this interim time we are able to petition congress to come up with a permanent solution not only for DACA recipients but the immigrant community at large.”

And as various DREAMers stated at a press conference held today at FIEL, “It’s a small win,” and it is time to vote. It is time to study the candidates, find who is really on the side of DREAMers and immigrants, and vote them into office. It’s time to get beyond executive orders and actually do something.

This is not to say it’s all about politics. Much like the drive toward police reform, it’s about saving people’s lives. If politicians aren’t in it to work for the betterment of the people. then it’s just another popularity contest. Here’s a chance to do something.

There will be more on this, for sure. For now, it’s a good day.

QEPD – Macario Ramirez of Casa Ramirez

Macario Ramirez with Pancho Claus

Our family was saddened to hear about the passing of Macario Ramirez, Co-Owner of Casa Ramirez Folk Gallery. As was announced by his wife, Chrissie Dickerson Ramirez:

It is with deep sadness that I inform you that my Husband, Macario Ramirez, owner of Casa Ramirez at 241 W 19th, died peacefully at home Wednesday, June 10, of a rapidly progressing heart condition.

Through the support of our wonderful employees, family and friends, the mission and operation of Casa Ramirez will continue. Funeral arrangements are still pending and the business may be closed for a short period of mourning. A public memorial is planned for a later date. Thank you for your continued love.

My family has always enjoyed shopping and enjoying cultural events at Casa Ramirez, including Tres Reyes, Dia de los Muertos, poetry and lit readings, and more. And the conversation with Mr. Ramirez was always one filled with history and culture–a real learning experience with every visit.

He will be missed by the community. As Chrissie states, Casa Ramirez will continue. The Chron has more.

Photo Credit:  Tacho Medellin, DosCentavos.net

 

Silvestre Martinez – Coronavirus: A Pretty Good PSA and Tune

A new COVID-19 tune and video dropped on Sunday by Silvestre Martinez titled Coronavirus. In case you’re wondering, it’s about Coronavirus.

The catchy tune in which Martinez does all the vocals and instruments takes us through origins and CDC guidelines in its own funny way.

Martinez is asking folks to buy the single at this website, but I think it’s good enough for government campaigns targeted at Spanish-speaking folks, so, local leaders should get in touch with him, too. Check it out by clicking the pic below:

Latino Victory Fund Endorses Natali Hurtado for HD126

The Latino Victory Fund, a national progressive organization working to grow Latino political power and representation across the United States has endorsed, among several Texans, Natali Hurtado, the Democratic candidate for Texas House District 126.

Hurtado is in her second run for the suburban district located in north and northwest Harris County. HD126 is considered a “red to blue” opportunity district with Hurtado having earned 46% of the vote in 2018. Once elected, she would be the first Latina to represent this district.

Hurtado’s experience in public policy and local politics is vast, having worked the campaign circuit for various candidates. She began her career in public policy as a congressional intern moving on up to serving as a district director for a Texas State Representative. Currently, she serves as the Deputy Executive Director of SW Houston’s International Management District in the Hawes Hill consulting firm working with district leaders to develop and improve their community.

Hurtado’s campaign issues include ensuring adequate funding for public education, access to health care, and community safety, among other issues of importance to her district.

Other candidates endorsed by Latino Victory fund include:  Joanna Cattanach, House District 108; Eric Holguin, House District 32; Jennifer Ramos, House District 119; Ana-Maria Ramos, House District 102; Lorenzo Sanchez, House District 67; and Carlos Gallinar, mayor, El Paso.

 

 

Somerville Votes NO

The Somerville, TX City Council voted unanimously against the re-hiring of Chauna Sheffield (Thompson). The Mayor of Somerville has also requested the resignations of the police chief and the city administrator.

The developments were announced by the town’s Mayor Michael Bradford at a rally held outside of the meeting and broadcast on a Facebook Livestream by FIEL Houston.

The family of John Hernandez continues to seek justice in this murder case. While Terry Thompson is now serving 25 years at TDCJ for the choke-hold murder of John Hernandez at an East Harris County Dennys, Chauna Thompson, who is seen in a video helping her husband by holding Hernandez’s arm, was effectively declared not guilty by the Harris County DA Kim Ogg who blamed it on lack of evidence to convict.

Good work by the family of John Hernandez, our friends at FIEL Houston, and others who got the word out about this. A huge thanks to the Mayor and City Council and the people of Somerville, TX for standing up for justice. If you drive through Somerville or Burleson County, make sure you stop at one of their businesses.)

(SIDENOTE:  My Abuelita was born in Caldwell, TX which is also in Burleson County.)

The lucha sigue!