Category Archives: Cultura

Today is Democratic Run-Off Election Day!

The Ultimate Goal

Today is the day Democrats finish up deciding just who will represent them on the ballot in November. It’s an important election as we vote on state positions, such as Lt. Governor, Texas Attorney General, Comptroller, and Texas Land Commissioner, and local ones, like County Commissioner Pct 4 and judicial posts. Get it done!

FIND A SAMPLE BALLOT HERE

FIND A POLLING LOCATION HERE

And VOTE THE STACE SLATE

Race For Precinct 4 Is Almost Over, But…

The Precinct 4 race for County Commissioner continues its negative track as Leslie Briones responded to Ben Chou with her own attack ad, which called out Chou’s self-crediting statement as the inventor of drive-thru voting. In addition, Briones offered up some receipts regarding Chou’s alleged acceptance of money from folks who work for Harris County vendors. Also, Briones pointed out that Chou and his supporters created a fake organization that violated all sorts of campaign finance rules. Though the receipts didn’t really resonate with me since they were small, personal donations to Chou, the rest of the ad did because everything else Briones states is true.

Unfortunately, a doctored photo of Chou on the headline of the ad is what has caused the race to go rather ugly, with charges of racism against Briones. Briones has apologized and gotten rid of the designer of the photo and ad, but Chou continues his attack against the Latina candidate, while not accepting the apology. As if either community isn’t under real attacks by forces who will effect racist and bigoted public policy if we don’t win this seat in November.

If Chou and his supporters were offended by the doctored photo, Chou’s use of an unflattering, grainy, black and white photo of Briones, a highly successful, professional Latina leader, may be equally offensive to some. It is to me as our Latina sisters are under relentless attack. But it’s part of the business as one campaign tries to paint the other as sinister and bad in order to convince voters to decide for whom to vote by way of artwork, instead of actual words. I mean, have you seen the imagery the Republicans create as they tear each other apart?

In this case, both campaigns are guilty of going negative. And both campaigns are guilty of trying “gotcha” politics as the election winds down because it may be that close of an election. Ultimately, it’s about who one believes and who presents a better story of themselves to convince whatever voters are still undecided. And, yes, doctored and grainy, unflattering photos are something that Democrats should avoid. Both campaigns are guilty of this. Above all, we seem to be bad at it.

I voted for Lesley Briones because she has a track-record as an executive, educator, attorney, and as a member of the judiciary. She has given of herself to her community and the community at-large. She is proven in all facets of leadership, whether as a decision-maker or as a paper-pusher. Above all, she makes herself accessible and is responsive. These are qualities we need on the Commissioner’s Court and Lesley is the only candidate who offers these qualities.

Vote on Tuesday!

Cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz in the News

Lalo Alcaraz and Me at the 2007 Latino Book and Family Festival

Recently, editorial cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz was awarded the Herblock Prize for his work on La Cucaracha and his syndicated editorial cartoons. Lalo has been a finalist for a Pulitzer twice, with the last nom not being awarded to any of the nominees for some reason that even ended with the category being cancelled. The Herblock is huge nonetheless, considering Lalo is the first “nonwhite” to earn it.

The judges stated “Powerful versatility. That is one way to describe the work of cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz. Alcaraz is equally as comfortable creating a faux woodblock print to address our country’s history of racism and xenophobia as he is mocking up a blueprint to satirize a rich white billionaire with a space rocket. From a stark dripping red MAGA hat that could be the corporate logo for the bloody January 6th insurrection, to a complex movie poster parody ridiculing right-wing conspiracies, Alcaraz’s cartoons always hit their mark.

and

Alcaraz is active in using cartoons and animation to battle vaccine hesitancy and Covid misinformation in the Latino community with the organization CovidLatino.org and the California Department of Public Health. He is currently Virtual Artist In Residence for the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University. He is a graduate of San Diego State University (BA in Art) and UC Berkeley (Master’s in Architecture).

The New Yorker’s Graciela Mochkofsky penned a feature on Lalo describing his long journey to “mainstream acceptance.” Is it really acceptance? Well, that’s a question whose answer continues to develop, but the road to get this far hasn’t been easy.

Now he has finally been accepted. Or has he? “I get a lot of hate mail,” Alcaraz said in his acceptance speech. A few days later, during a Zoom call from Los Angeles, he told me, “There is still this American societal attitude that we are foreign.”

It’s a great read, particularly the reminder that at one point the local fish wrap (The Chron) buckled to their right-wing readers’ offended sensibilities and banned La Cucaracha. A low-point for the Pulitzer winning operation, huh? (I guess that category wasn’t cancelled.) That impromptu protest against the Chron at the Latino Book and Family Festival was fun!

Anyway, read the New Yorker piece about Lalo Alcaraz. Learn something.

Another Disappointing COVID-19 Report

Houston Health reported Monday that the COVID-19 14-day positivity rate has jumped from 6.1% last week to 8.1% this week. They still call it “low,” which boggles the mind since infections are probably higher and deaths continue, but at least they are promoting testing and vaccination. Not that the needle is moving on vaccinations.

Among the popular folks that are reporting they tested positive is Congresswoman SJL. I wish her a speedy recovery. Whenever I see her, she is masked up while working a crowd or an event giving out baby formula. Unfortunately, and as Dr. Hotez recently attested, these new variants will catch you when you are not being careful.

Anyway, N-95, KN-95, and KF94 masks are accessible and affordable at the moment. Stock up and wear them in stores, workplaces, and crowded areas. Stay out of crowds, if possible. And order your next round of Biden COVID-19 tests so you can get ahead of it if you indeed get sick.

All levels of government aren’t doing much in Texas and even local leaders seem to continue jumping into COVID spit clouds at events, so, those of us who really don’t want to get sick are on our own.

Abbott and Gendron

I’m with Maria. If you’re trying to separate bigoted public policy from racially motivated terrorism that credits such policies and ideas, you’re part of the problem.

The Stace Slate – 2022 Dem Run-Off

It’s that time again. Early voting for the 2022 Democratic Run-off begins on Monday, May 16 and continues through May 20. Run-off Election Day is on Tuesday, May 24. You can find your nearest polling location by clicking here. Need a sample ballot? Find yours by clicking here.

And for whom am I voting?

Here’s the Stace Slate:

Lt. Governor – Mike Collier

Attorney General – Rochelle Garza

Comptroller – Angel Luis Vega

Land Commissioner – Sandragrace Martinez

Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong (Incumbent)

Judge, 208th District – No Recommendation

Judge, 312th Family District – Clinton “Chip” Wells (Incumbent)

Judge, County Civil Court #4 – Treasea Treviño

County Commissioner, Precinct 4 – Lesley Briones

Races not on my ballot, but maybe on yours.

Justice of the Peace, Pct 1, Place 2 – Sonia Lopez

Congress, District 38 – Diana Martinez Alexander

State Rep, District 147 – Danielle Keys Bess

Others further away.

Congress, District 28 – Jessica Cisneros

Bexar County Judge – Ina Minjarez

This Week’s Abbott Idiocy

Abbott Wants To Starve Brown Babies

Greg Abbott continued to show how evil he is this week when he blamed migrant children for the baby formula crisis. Abbott pointed to migrant children receiving formula while in federal lock-ups while blaming Biden for not providing it to the rest of the country. Standing with the bigoted Border Patrol Council, a club of white supremacists who do Border Patrol spin, they stated, “…the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border,” while a crisis created by baby formula companies who have failed to come up with a solution to the problem has been going on for months.

The problem is that Democrats and advocates want to debate Abbott on something that is not up for debate–child starvation and abuse. Call Abbott and his bigoted base evil and heartless for their actions, instead. A debate only provides Abbott more free advertising and gas to throw on a fire, rather than a forum for solutions. The Biden administration is at least attempting solutions, such as increasing imports (which Trump purposefully screwed up with his USCMA), cracking down on price gouging, and doing away with WIC restrictions that force consumers to buy smaller portions, thus, allowing companies to produce large containers faster. These are all things Abbott would never support, thus, he’s evil!

It’s Always Been A Boondoggle

Whether it’s been both political parties supporting the $4 billion Republican boondoggle at the border or, now, the use of pandemic relief money from the feds to fund a money giveaway at the border, it’s always been a waste and a policy based on bigotry strictly to appease right-wing bigots for their votes. Biden’s Treasury Department is looking into pandemic money being used for border militarization after some Dem Congressmen, including Joaquin Castro of SATX, demanded it. I’m with Kuff on this, there are no consequences for Abbott other than beating him in November. We’ve had our chances in the past, but even some Dems have given Abbott a 2nd chance by making weak , coded excuses to not vote for his opponents.

Kinney County Flush With Migrant Cash

Part of Greg Abbott’s bigoted boondoggle is to open up state-run prisons to warehouse migrants who are given a bogus trespassing charge for walking on private land while escaping poverty and violence, and are finally convicted before being turned over to the Migra. The county that has benefited the most seems to be Kinney County in Southwest Texas. They have collected over $2 million in bond money from family and advocates who have bonded out migrants. The money is sitting in a bank account, but Kinney County is putting up rules and requirements that block that bond from being returned once the cases have been disposed. (Reminder: Bonds are not punishment, they are a guarantee that the accused will show up in court.) Greg Abbott has created all sorts of boondoggles to benefit dirty cops at the border, whether with state, federal, or migrant money. And no one seems to want to stop it.

Chou Goes Disingenuous With Briones Attack

Thursday morning, I saw a couple of attack ads on Facebook against Lesley Briones, Democrat for County Commissioner, Pct 4, paid for by her opponent Ben Chou. (Coby has the artwork.)

I really wasn’t sure if I should write about it because I think bringing it up would give it more attention than the ads actually earned, but since it is a race in which I actually vote and the Briones campaign responded, I thought I’d pay attention and say something.

Attacks are nothing new and this blogger (and others) has been known to play “gotcha!” with many a political campaign based on and backed up by actual facts after a hell of a lot of research. But when an attack is not backed up by facts, then, one is just being disingenuous, probably during a fit of desperation, hoping something will stick as Early Voting begins soon.

Each Facebook ad, which were paid by Ben Chou but under the guise of a group that suddenly popped up out of nowhere, had a link to a Houston Chronicle article by Zack Despart regarding “pay to play” on the Commissioner’s Court, while the caption written by the group was an attack on Briones’ fundraising as a judge. The problem is, the linked article had nothing to do with Briones; if anything, the article didn’t even mention her because she is not on the Commissioner’s Court. But the caption by the Facebook group made it seem as if the Chronicle was somehow linking Briones to activities on the Commissioner’s Court.

As Facebook ads go, I’m pretty sure local campaign attack ads are seldom clicked as whatever the caption states is enough for the uninformed voter. Facebook activists will share a caption before they read an article. I’m pretty sure that was the goal of the Chou campaign, which makes it all more disappointing because he’s supported by a few groups and individuals that promote “democracy” and other stuff I support. So, I clicked the link thinking Chou would provide facts about his attack only to be sent to Despart’s article, which I read months ago.

Worse, Chou (or a supporter who once ran for Congress in CD9 and is Chou’s treasurer) seems to have created an organization on Facebook and Twitter that has no members (and 5 likes) and probably isn’t an official political action committee, nor reports any of its expenses or activities as an individual organization supportive of Chou as required by campaign finance laws. Chou’s campaign finance statements show he’s paid Human Age Digital (which is credited on the Facebook page of the new group) a nice amount of cash.

Briones responded stating that Precinct 4 deserves much better than a candidate who spreads lies and violates campaign finance laws. The campaign statement defended her time as a judge pointing to the fact that she cleared her docket backlog and “connected low-income individuals to to free legal representation.”

I have no idea what Chou’s response would be, now, other than backing up his attack with numbers and confusing paperwork. Or, just ignore the backlash and let it ride.

Either way, it’s a cheap attack which lacks substance and really shows a campaign that is seriously tanking or badly advised. Chou’s digital ad had a better message but he fell short of expanding on it given these Facebook ads. “Electing better leaders” takes a convincing argument that captures hearts and minds and simplistic attacks are not a good strategy to achieve that goal.

Early voting begins on Monday.

Update: Rumor was that the ad was taken down, but it looks like he decided to keep attacking as another ad with a campaign-connected link popped up that provides a list of donors. He provides no proof that rulings were made in favor of donors. He’s grasping at straws, again. I guess Chou’s saying no judge should accept money from lawyers?

Tollways to Trailways Approved by County

La Leona

ABC-13 and others reported on this new plan from the Harris County Toll Road Authority to spend $53 million on connecting 236 miles of hike and bike trails along the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to Commissioner and avid cyclist Rodney Ellis, expending money from toll road surplus monies for this work is in compliance with the statute that created the Toll Road Authority as it improves accessibility, safety and transportation. Connecting the trails would provide, in the long run, an opportunity for an 80 mile loop around the region.

It is definitely something that is needed as Houston competes with the Central Texas region which is creating a San Antonio to Austin trail which runs for 100 miles and would connect the Great Springs of the region, including Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio springs. Like HCTRA’s, this is a long-term project. No doubt, such projects create opportunities for economic development and tourism, not to mention healthier communities.

As far as paying for it, the 2 right-wing, naysaying commissioners who voted against it feel that the toll road authority wasn’t created for this purpose. But alternate transportation on 2 or 3 wheels is still transportation and we need to get beyond Cagle and Ramsey’s concrete and air pollution thinking.

Personally, I like the idea as we need more connected trails out here on the West side of town and the trails/lanes need to reach inward toward the Galleria area (my neighborbood). That means we need a new County Commissioner who actually listens to the people to work with a supportive city government. Precinct 4 is not well-represented at the moment, as Cagle’s no vote on so many Dem-supported programs tells us. La Leona, my Trident Trikes recumbent trike, is ready for some new trails and connectors.

We are learning just how important elections are, and a Democratic majority on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court must remain for these innovative programs to continue.

My May 7 Election Report

The most uneventful election this year was held on Saturday and Texas homeowners voted themselves some minor tax giveaways.

Voters approved two propositions intended to lower property taxes for homeowners by decisive margins — one aimed at older and disabled Texans and another that would provide modest relief for homeowners across the board.

Unfortunately, renters were largely ignored by the Texas Lege. It’s no secret that, as property values increase across the board, renters are taking any tax bill increases in the teeth. But if you think about it, any tax giveaways to property owners would probably never make it to renters. Makes me think: They couldn’t have added a $175 gift card for renters? I mean, they’re giving away money that will negatively affect us in the long-run, let’s all benefit.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are eyeing a $12 billion surplus in state revenue to pay for some public school costs so districts may lower their property tax rates. Texas is also suing the federal government for the right to use $3 billion in federal stimulus funds to pay for tax cuts.

In other words, they’re using money that all Texans contributed to the pot to reward some while giving the rest the shaft. There’s no idea on how these cuts will be paid for in the future, either, unless they slice education budgets. Also, there is no fairness in this, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to launch a campaign against it.

Local Races

A friend of mine ran for Mayor in a tiny town to the south of Houston, but was defeated. On the other hand, one of my CCHS classmates (who’s also the Dem Party Chairman in Zavala County) squeaked by to win his race for Crystal City City Council. Congrats, Joe Uribes!

Otherwise, this was a boring election.

The Run-Off

But the Democratic Party run-off is on May 24, with early voting starting on May 16th and ending on May 20th. Find your sample ballot here (when it becomes available) and study those in the running.

I know my initial leanings have either changed or are drawing a blank at the moment. Races to watch include Texas Attorney General, Texas Land Commish, Texas Comptroller, as well as the Harris County Commissioner Pct 4 race and local judicial run-offs. It’s a busy ballot and all the races will all become a lot more interesting. Kuff has something on one of the judicial races. I’ll have a new and improved Stace Slate soon.