Category Archives: Democratic Stuff

Thoughts on Viernes…12/03/2021

Biden Warehouses 50% More Humans

Joe Biden ran on how hateful Trump was toward immigrants. He has attempted a few measures only to get challenged by Republicans in the courts. One thing he has continued and has even pushed beyond Trump on the matter is the warehousing of humans who lack a piece of paper that lets them stay in the US. Much of the blame goes to a memorandum which gives immigration agents more discretion regarding deportations; meaning, they can deport as much as they want and imprison them while they wait. Biden sure is allowing the deportation machine to strengthen.

Biden made promises he is breaking. Whether it’s the lucrative practice of human warehousing (which he continues to privatize) or a Border Patrol which continues to violate human rights on a daily basis, even bringing local law enforcement and vigilantes into their lawless practices, this machine goes merrily along and Democrats stay quiet about it. Biden is supposedly in charge. He needs to act like he is. Or the problems he is having with Democrats passing Build Back Better, Prescriptions, Voting Rights, and other things will be the least of his problems in 2022.

There’s An Election In Houston!

Yep, those of us that do not reside in Houston ISD are still paying attention to the run-off election in which folks are voting. What HISD produces affects all of us in this area. So, I urge folks who live in HISD to make their voices heard. My picks haven’t changed:

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Dimenn Diegaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

Their opponents are either bought by charter school supporters or bigoted, right-wing zealots who want to destroy public education. Most of them don’t care about protecting children and teachers during the pandemic, either. Find your polling location and get it done!

Voter Suppression Is The Law

As County Judge Lina Hidalgo told us in a FB post, Greg Abbott and his Republican buddies have outlawed democracy by giving the OK to voter suppression. Innovations, such as drive-thru voting and late night voting have been banned because it gives the Republicans the shakes and they aren’t fans of working people and people of color having a voice. Also, bigots serving as poll watchers will be allowed to bother you and hover around you while you vote. Does the law outlaw tasers? Just wondering.

Follow The Filings for 2022

County Chair Odus Evbagharu and the staff at Harris County Democratic Party have a rolling photo album on Facebook of the latest folks to file for office locally. Put a name to the face if you aren’t going to events. It looks like they’re in alphabetical order, in case anyone complains. I preferred in order of filing, though. I like to see who’s on top of things or who’s dawdling or who wants to make a grand entrance. That sort of thing. Anyway…

QEPD Congressman Albert Bustamante

I was saddened to read the news of the former Congressman’s passing. He served CD23 down in South Texas when I was in high school and a bit beyond. Talk about a cinderalla story: He grew up dirt poor in Asherton, TX (about 20 miles from my hometown), put himself through college, was a teacher, was elected a Bexar County Commissioner then became the first Chicano County Judge of Bexar County. Then, he took out a big South Texas name like Chick Kazen with the help of communities like mine who felt more connected to the small town-raised Bustamante. Imagine a kid who grew up loving Chicano politics seeing this guy speak at his high school graduation. I was in awe.

Later, the FBI set its sights on him and took him down for bribery regarding government contracts. I don’t recall if the “briber” got any time, though. I’ve seen a lot more “legal” and uglier ways of giving away contracts for money, like immigrant warehousing contracts to campaign donors, or holding hostage the Build Back Better bill to appease donors, and stuff like that. Anyway, he served us and Bexar County well. The SA Report has an in-depth history into Bustamante, including words from former SA Mayor Henry Cisneros.

Thoughts on Viernes…11192021

Abbott’s Steel Stupidity

We all remember that Greg Abbott parked DPS vehicles to form a “steel wall” on the border, right? Well, now, he’s added those steel shipping containers. They look old, the colors don’t even match, and, oh yeah, it’s all for show. Just as Eagle Pass was getting purty, Abbott adds eyesores (beyond his own presence). Who got the contract for this? And how much did it cost? Since there is a shortage of shipping containers, I’m sure it’s a pretty penny.

SBOE’s Pearl Clutching

The State Board of Education is burning banning books that teach sexual responsibility. Apparently, healthy practices like masturbation are an abomination, but by all means, let’s leave kids to learn on their own in the back of pickup trucks by the lake, just like their mommies and daddies learned, right? It’s irresponsible. I’m always thankful for good parents who not only explained responsibility to us, but got us better books than the “health” education provided at the schools (like the ones that will be left on their own to find materials to teach kids something).

$2 Million

I’m not surprised at Beto’s first day haul. I’m on a Beto facebook page not run by him and his fan base was chomping at the bit to start sending money to his campaign. Greg Abbott is already at $55 million given to the enormous price tag hanging from his hind side, so Beto needs to catch up. But Beto’s current tour, which started in South Texas has injected some energy to voters. The middle-of-the-week crowds have been pretty awesome and he has honed his message to really get voters excited. He is in Houston tonight at Discovery Green!

The Dean Is Running

Texas Senate Dean John Whitmire filed to run for re-election for SD15, but at his fundraiser/party he put rumors of running for Houston Mayor to rest by saying he would indeed run in 2023. Well, it’s still way too early to get excited about anything 2023 and the 2022 campaign has barely started. I’m waiting to see if I’m even residing in the city limits by then to get excited about anything. Anyway…

Trib Gets Chicanos Riled Up

There is a lot to unpack in James Barragan’s “Dems So White” Trib article. It’s the same old song about if the Republicans have some brown sell outs Latin@s, why don’t the Democrats? Texas AG candidate Rochelle Garza has the best quote about that: “It’s not enough that folks on the Republican ticket are people of color. You need to show your work,” she said. “What do you stand for? And who do you stand for? What we’re seeing on the right is folks that stand for corporations and big interests and don’t stand up for the little guy, for everyday Texans

It’s not like we don’t have a bench of experienced brown people who’d love to run statewide, but brown folks don’t have the fundraising prowess at that “Beto” level. We just don’t have those wealthy (non-Latino) connections to make us seem viable to white folks, so we keep running in our own neighborhoods and districts. Hell, the first challenge is convincing white Dems that one is qualified beyond their resume, like saying one is related to an Alamo “hero” or being a “descendant” of Sam the big statue or some pendejada like that. Having to jump through hoops and do a little jarabe tapatio (Mexican hat dance) for the powers that be just isn’t worth the task of serving as a sacrificial lamb. Because they will leave you out on your own, no matter if it’s Lupe Valdez or one of the Castros. They will find some excuse to go with whatever great white hype is offered up. So, I won’t get riled up. Go ahead, gabachos, run, represent, say all the things that need to be said. Just don’t sell us out or the first Tuesday in November will be lonely.

Former State Rep Gina Calanni Enters Race for Pct 4 Commish

The newly redrawn Precinct 4 is quite busy, as folks will notice.

Former State Rep of District 132 Gina Calanni has entered the race for the Dem nod for County Commish Pct 4.

Calanni states her proven success at the Texas Capitol as a “bold advocate that understands what it means to work hard and struggle for their loved ones, and for what they believe in” makes her the one to be the candidate. Calanni is running on issues, such as climate change policy and infrastructure to minimize the impact of severe weather events, as well as ensuring health care and mental health services that are accessible. Issues that affect the western reaches of Harris County and all of Harris County.

More on Gina Calanni:

Former State Representative Gina Calanni is Vice President of Finance for CalyxPure, an American manufacturer of air purification devices and LEDs, an author, cancer survivor, and mom of three boys.

Gina is running for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4 to continue serving the public as an unyielding voice for Texas families. Gina firmly believes in giving all Texans the opportunity to pursue success and happiness, no matter their race, ethnicity, zip code, gender, or sexual orientation. She is ready to continue the fight for critical issues like increasing access to affordable healthcare, tackling rising property taxes, defeating the plague of human trafficking locally, and making sure Harris County is equipped to handle future catastrophic weather events.

The big news in her press release is that she has earned the endorsement of her former colleague, State Rep Gene Wu (District 137). Wu cites the hardships Calanni has overcome which have made her a fierce advocate for Texas families. “It’s about time Texans had someone fighting for them and not just wealthy donors.”

I guess we’ll need to wait until January to see who’s getting the big money.

So, the race for the new Precinct 4 Commish seat gets more interesting despite republican whining about redistricting.

Voters have their homework to do in learning more about the candidates–a lot more than waiting for direct mail pieces with photos of endorsers. While the issues will have their similarities, it may come down to one question: Who is willing to fight for the issues by not running away from them after the Primary?

Commissioners Go With Internal Astroworld Investigation

Some have mixed feelings and others don’t know how to feel about it, but I think it was a bad move by county commissioners to keep things internal when it comes to investigating what occurred at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s vision for an investigation was about outcomes to make events safer. Given HPD and its chief’s press conferences soon after the tragedy, I don’t have confidence in their investigation being of any use to what needs to happen regarding event safety.

As far as Commissioner Garcia’s fear of lawsuits, well, they’re coming. They are already happening. And they will do a deep dive into things and they will be quite public in pushing out their version of the details. Hell, their intent is to win.

An independent investigator would delve deeper into the county’s and the Sports Authority’s affairs regarding events, perhaps getting ahead of the lawsuits. An independent eye would also not have political worries of investigating the people who are really in charge, including political appointees, who make the decisions (or as they call it “oversight”) regarding event safety and management. Grieder at the Chron seems to be thinking this way.

Anyway, there have been a few BS moves that placed the Democratic majority in a bad light and this is one of them. Not good during an election year.

Ben Chou Files for Harris Commish Pct 4

We knew it would get busy in the newly redrawn Harris County Precinct 4 and we have another candidate with Ben Chou announcing his candidacy for Commish. Chou is an attorney with government experience. If elected, he would be the first Asian-American and openly gay person on the Commissioner’s Court.

Experienced in the community (he grew up in SW Houston), in DC (worked with Martin O’Malley and Nancy Pelosi), and in the local elections office defending democracy, Chou seems qualified to serve in the office of Commissioner.

From his announcement:

I’m a progressive Democrat, lawyer, and community organizer. I’m running for County Commissioner because I think we need to build a Harris County for all of our residents — one that centers our efforts around the pursuit of economic, racial, and environmental justice; a future we are proud to pass down to our kids.

I’m running because we can accomplish bold reforms while getting the basics done. We’ve got streets filled with potholes, sidewalks left broken for too long, and street lights that don’t turn on. Meanwhile flooding continues to plague our communities as small businesses and neighborhood safety teeter on the brink.

What’s happening in Texas today is appalling. Republicans have effectively banned abortion, are limiting what books can be taught in schools, and are trying to suppress the right to vote. That’s why this moment is so important. I’m running to bring the progressive, bold change needed to Harris County while also fighting back against Republican extremism.

We can’t afford to wait for change. We need leaders who embrace innovation and have a proven record of getting things done – now.

Chou’s priorities outline addressing neighborhood services, flooding and climate change, public safe and criminal justice reform, and democracy and voting rights. His priorities are buttressed by the statement, “We need to create a society where people do not merely support progressive change, but fight for it.”

That said, his endorsers include his former boss, Martin O’Malley, 2020 Pct 3 Commish candidate Diana Martinez Alexander (whom DC supported), former HCDP chair Lane Lewis, among several precinct chairs who reside in Precinct 4.

At this point, I’m taking in all of the information from whomever files before making a decision. So, I urge voters to take in all of the information, as well, before making a decision.

A Few Statewide Candidates to Watch

There have been a few filings for statewide office recently on the Democratic side which are worth watching.

Jinny Suh for Texas Land Commissioner – With Little Brown One Bush headed for a political collapse in his race for AG, the race for Land Commish is wide open. Jinny Suh announced her intent to run a few months ago. The small business owner, lawyer, scientist, former teacher, and founder of a pro-vaccine group, Immunize Texas, wants to ensure the Permanent School Fund, managed by the TLO, is fully funded and that TLO policies are in place to protect the people of Texas. She is the daughter of Korean immigrants who has experienced various twists and turns throughout her life, but has pushed through–much like most Texans.

Michelle Beckley for Lt. Governor – Considered one of the most liberal state reps in Texas, Beckley’s district was made more republican by the Lege, so she has decided to try to unseat Dan Patrick, along with Mike Collier and Matthew Dowd. Citing her legislative experience, Beckley states that her primary opponents have never won an election, while she has won in a tough to win district. Like most Dems, the issues she is running on are Medicaid expansion, fixing the power grid and fully funding public education. Read more about Beckley here.

Luke Warford for Railroad Commissioner – Warford hopes to unseat Wayne Christian, stating, “because I genuinely think this is one of the most important elected offices in the state and because the current people serving on the commission are only looking out for their interests and the interests of their friends, not the interests of Texans.” The Commission’s lack of action after the big freeze took out the power grid is the main theme. Read more about him here.

Stay connected as Democrats fill these statewide candidate slots.

Beto O’Rourke Files for TXGov As 2022 Dem Primary Filing Period Begins

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for Governor of Texas on Monday morning which caused sighs of relief everywhere.

“I’m running to serve the people of Texas, and I want to make sure that we have a governor that serves everyone, helps to bring this state together to do the really big things before us and get past the small, divisive politics and policies of Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “It is time for change.”

Texas Tribune

Yes, I am among those who are relieved, too. We knew it was coming, but I’m glad he did it early in the filing period. Also, while he’s running to win, it is my hope that his candidacy will drive up participation and excitement, particularly in Democratic strongholds and areas affected by Republican redistricting in which many are losing representation.

Greg Abbott’s response was to parade around his newest minion, Ryan Guillen, a state rep who represents South Texas’s HD31 and who switched to the GOP after being squeezed by right-wingers during redistricting. The Trib calls it a blow to Democrats, but I see it as finally getting rid of an ineffective member who has always been part of the republican’s bigoted culture war. New representation has been needed for a long time. Dems in the Lege stated that Guillen chose to buckle after his district was made tougher for a Dem to win. Pobrecito el chaquetero. Good riddance. And that should be the Dems’ attitude while recruiting a good candidate.

Meanwhile, the Harris County Democratic Party began taking candidate filing applications this last Saturday. The filing deadline is December 13. Hopefully, the party will have a running list of filings on their website soon. They do have some admin work to do while folks file. Of course, there’s also the Erik Manning list of folks with campaign treasurer appointments.

Prospective judicial candidates have been hard at work for months collecting signatures that will allow them to forgo the filing application and become part of the coordinated campaign which pools resources for countywide GOTV. Thus far, I haven’t signed any petitions, but that is because I’m keeping myself safe from unmasked events. Anyway…

Some are expecting surprise announcements as the deadline nears. We shall see what happens.

Here’s the video of Beto O’Rourke’s announcement, while Kuff expands on the story.

Judge Lesley Briones Announces for Harris Commish Pct 4

With the ink pretty much dry on the recently approved redrawing of Harris County Commissioner precincts, Judge Lesley Briones announced that she would be resigning her position as Judge of County Civil Court at Law #4 to seek the Democratic nomination for the newly approved Precinct 4 Commissioner’s seat in 2022.

Currently, right-winger and consistent anti-progress vote Jack Cagle is in the seat, but the redesigned precinct has been made an opportunity for Democrats as a majority-minority district. Cagle could always move to the safe Republican precinct #3 and run against Tom Ramsey in 2024.

Stated Briones:

Together, we can build a county government that keeps our families safe, protects our homes from flooding, expands access to health care, treats everyone fairly, and creates good jobs that help our families thrive.

I have been represented by the current Precinct 4 commissioner for the last ten years. In that time, Harris County has changed – and now is the time for new leadership that will get better results for our community.

Briones has been endorsed by the Commissioners in Precinct 1 and 2, Democrats Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, respectively. One will recall that the current Democratic majority, including County Judge Lina Hidalgo, appointed Briones to her current position after a freak resignation caused a vacancy. Briones handily defeated a Dem opponent and went on to win her race in 2020. Now, Briones is looking toward another seat in Harris County government.

Regarding Briones:

Lesley Briones is a former judge, non-profit leader, attorney, and public school teacher. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Lesley practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP, served as General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, and most recently served as the judge of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4. Lesley and her husband Adán are the proud parents of three young daughters.

I have high praise for Briones as a campaigner having met her on the trail. Anyone who is willing to campaign for votes by actually talking to people gets praise from me. (The powers that be didn’t pick a good one for Pct 3 in 2020.) I’ve been drawn into Pct 4 and my hopes are for a strong, energetic, people-oriented campaign because that is how Democrats win.

Good luck to former Judge Briones. I look forward to seeing her campaign and issues develop as we get closer to the Primary.

Rochelle Garza Announces for Texas Attorney General

The race for Texas Attorney General had a couple of active candidates in Joe Jaworski and Lee Merritt. They’ve been pressing the flesh and working the state of Texas for a few months. Yesterday, the race added another candidate with former ACLU lawyer Rochelle Garza announcing her candidacy. Here’s her intro video and it’s pretty good.

Garza hits on all the right issues, but also backs it up with experience. As an ACLU lawyer, she represented “Jane,” a 17 year-old immigrant who found out she was pregnant while in detention and wanted to exercise her right to an abortion. ACLU took on the Trump administration who wanted to force the young woman to remain pregnant and ultimately give birth, while Ken Paxton supported that effort. A federal judge ruled in favor of Jane.

As a sister to a brother injured at childbirth, she and her family took on a health care system that fell short to ensure her brother received the care they needed. It’s a story that many Texans experience everyday.

Check out Garza’s intro video. Check out her website. Her entry into the race certainly makes it a battle of regions as far as voter behavior goes. With a couple of months left to finally file, Garza will have to do some catch-up work, but can certainly get some attention in a short time.

Stay connected!

Harris Dems Respond to Pro-Migrant Protest

As I wrote last week, a group of pro-migrant groups protested at the HQ of the Harris County Democratic Party demanding they publicly support and join the demand for VP Kamala Harris and Congressional Dems to ignore the advice of the parliamentarian to not include portions of immigration reform in the budget reconciliation, thus including it in the reconciliation.

Although no one from within the doors of HCDP responded on the day of the protest, HCDP joined the groups this past week to agree that the parliamentary advice should be ignored and immigration reform be passed through the reconciliation bill.

Stated County Chair Odus Evbagahru:

“We have some friends here…. Last week, they came to our office; they were protesting & making sure that we’re living what we’re speaking & that we’re really intentional about that,” he said, welcoming reps from with Workers Defense Action Fund, Fiel Houston & Crecen.

“We need immigration reform now…. We can’t do it while our government is being obstructed. We’ve got to push…and we’ve got to push here at the local level. We’ve had these Parliamentarian rulings. We’ve had these filibusters that have been obstructing justice and obstructing progress. And we want to get rid of those because we know the importance of the lives at stake.”

We’ve got to make sure our voices are being heard; we’ve got to be sure that we are taking action and we’ve got to — as the Democratic Party — stand up and stand behind our folks who are asking for these actions to be delivered.”

President Joe Biden called for including an overhaul in the budget reconciliation originally, but it was suggested by the parliamentarian that it not be included as it would not have a budgetary impact as required by Senate rules. President Biden and Senate Dems are attempting to include some sort of immigration reform.

Mr. Biden’s plan would recapture hundreds of thousands of unused visas dating back to 1992 and protect millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for years from deportation. It also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to more efficiently process migrants’ paperwork.

Also

Senate Democrats have embraced a backup plan to expand the Homeland Security secretary’s authority to grant a temporary status known as parole to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for a decade, providing them with work permits and shielding them from deportation. The work permits would last five years, and then would need to be renewed for another five. The parliamentarian has not yet ruled on that proposal.

There is work to be done on a more complete immigration package which provides a path to citizenship and/or permanent residency, rather than a piecemeal and temporary permit approach that could change with a new administration. Where that lies in Biden’s and Congress’s priorities is still to be determined.

For now, it would seem that continued protest and calling out leaders at all levels works, even a little. It’s the ones who whine and moan about protests that we should distrust. Ultimately, the ballot box will determine who gets to stay in Congress and these pro-migrant leaders will remind us who is on the right side of history. (Looking at you, Synema and Manchin!)