Category Archives: Elections

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

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.

Thoughts on Viernes—05062022

Establishment Dems Double Down on Cuellar Support

If ever there was an unwritten litmus test in the Democratic Party it is the issue of abortion. When it comes to “major” positions of power, Dems haven’t let up on requiring someone who is pro-choice to lead a ticket. Down ballot, though, Dems have always kept quiet when an anti-choice zealot is running and use those races as proof of being a “big tent” party. But the TX-28 congressional race has become quite nationalized with grassroots support going to Jessica Cisneros and corporate and establishment support going to anti-choice, anti-immigrant incumbent Henry Cuellar.

Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Cuellar while attempting to lead on abortion rights, though, and her deputy Jim Clyburn made a campaign trip to support Cuellar while using the “big tent” excuse. They even credit Cuellar with helping Biden, which is far from the truth on most issues, especially asylum and immigration reform. While Democrats are against the ropes with a looming decision to end Roe v Wade, it is not the time to be playing nice with those Democrats who support that decision. It is demoralizing (while Dems try to use the issue for votes and cash) and gives the impression that Latinas in South Texas affected by this decision do not matter.

Needless to say, I’m hoping Congressional Dems are looking around the room for new leadership, no matter the results of the 2022 elections.

COVID-19 at 5% Positivity

In case you haven’t noticed, Houston has reached 5% positivity while new variants of the disease take hold. These new variants escape immunity, whether one is vaccinated or has had it before. Nationally, hospitalizations are increasing. And people are still dying as we have reached over 1 million dead. Meanwhile, mass, unmasked events led by self-proclaimed local leaders continue and it’s pretty cringy to look at. The White House Correspondents dinner was pretty cringy, too.

Anyway, mask up. Distance. You know the drill. But you’ve been ignoring it.

Abbott Goes After Immigrant Children

Greg Abbott truly is evil.

He announced that, since a right-wing extremist SCOTUS is willing to end abortion rights, well, Texas may as well challenge other rulings, like 1982’s Plyler v Doe, which ruled unconstitutional Texas’ practice of withholding money from schools serving immigrant children.

Abbott cites the cost of educating students in his most recent anti-immigrant attack. Others go straight for racist bullshit.

“We’re talking about public tax dollars, public property tax dollars going to fund these schools to teach children who are 5, 6, 7, 10 years old, who don’t even have remedial English skills,” Joe Pagliarulo (right-wing radio host) said. “This is a real burden on communities. What can you do about that?”

Actually, it’s all about Republican hatred toward brown folks. These bigots want you to forget that people pay property taxes through rent payments, they pay local sales taxes to keep businesses open. But that doesn’t matter if these kids are in their schools offending their white supremacist sensibilities.

“Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe. And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue about denying, or let’s say Texas having to bear that burden. I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

Times are different? I think Abbott means that Trump allowed challenges based on hate, rather than on law and precedent.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out another reason to throw Abbott out of office in November.

Abbott’s Antics Lose MX Rail Line to NM

Greg Abbott has done it again with his border antics. After “sticking it to Biden” by jamming up trucks at the border which were delivering goods to the US with additional and failed inspections, Mexico has decided to re-route a rail line that would have benefited Texas to New Mexico.

A friend who is an ex-pat in CDMX alerted me to this during the weekend. Within a couple of days, other news outlets got ahold of the news and even Beto O’Rourke told his supporters about Abbott’s failure.

“We’re now not going to use Texas,” Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said at a conference Thursday in Mexico City, referring to a planned rail and ports expansion known as the T-MEC Corridor to connect the Pacific port of Mazatlan to the Canadian city of Winnipeg. “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.”

Clouthier’s message was clear: Mexico is angry about the chaos at the border caused by Abbott’s surprise order a few weeks back to force commercial trucks coming from Mexico to undergo additional inspections. While Texas officials didn’t uncover any contraband or undocumented migrants, they created hours-long delays that left fresh produce to rot and caused havoc with supply chains. 

Some economists question whether this project will actually happen, but it’s a pretty loud declaration by the AMLO government that it is not happy with its trading partner’s leadership. Others question why New Mexico since there isn’t a lot of trade that occurs compared to trade with Texas, but, why not? It’s not a bad idea to expand trade capabilities that will also ease bottlenecks that may be caused by an idiotic Texas governor whenever he gets a bug up his hind side.

Whatever happens in the future, this is about pointing out Greg Abbott’s continued failed leadership, especially at the border. Whether it is blaming migrants for the problems caused by his government, or destroying border economies in the name of border security, Greg Abbott never takes responsibility and neither do Republicans. South Texas is in play because Democrats ignore it despite border businesses being pawns for Abbott and Republicans.

In other words, keep saying it and maybe it’ll stick.

Abbott’s Free Ride on a Welcome Wagon

Greg Abbott’s free ride program for migrants to points Northeast is getting accolades from the migrants and their supporters, according to Texas Monthly.

His side-show to stick it to Biden for trying to cancel Title 42, a health-related anti-immigrant policy, which buses migrants released by DHS to America’s front porch, is actually a welcome wagon.

Asylum-seekers’ trial locations are usually based on the region where they settle as they await the hearings—which could make the prospect of an expenses-paid bus trip out of Texas to D.C. appealing. Asylum judges in districts around the nation’s capital tend to grant refuge more readily than do judges in most of Texas’s thirteen immigration courts. In the Houston court, for instance, some judges denied 100 percent of asylum claims in 2021; a judge in El Paso denied 99 percent. By contrast, in a Baltimore court, where D.C. asylum seekers often appear, one judge denied just 10 percent of claims last year. 

and

The capital is also a more welcoming locale for migrants in other ways. D.C.’s mayor has affirmed the city’s status as a “sanctuary,” and a bevy of nongovernmental organizations and private citizens in the capital stand ready and eager to aid the migrants. Furthermore, immigration experts say most asylum-seekers arriving in the U.S. already have family living here, and many, especially Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans, might try to reach D.C., where there’s a large Central American population. Even those trying to reunite with family in New York or elsewhere on the East Coast might happily accept Abbott’s offer to bus them most of the way, a trip that otherwise would cost them around $350. 

Bottom line: When the Feds release migrants, they never pay for much of anything, including travel to their destinations. So, Abbott’s “volunteer” busing program is spreading the migrants around on Texas taxpayers’ dime. And groups like Catholic Charities are enjoying spending some of their own help resources at those end points of Abbott’s bus trips.

I’ve been wanting to take a trip to DC to visit the sites. I wonder if I’d get a free trip if I turn myself in. Abbott is one of those kinder, gentler coyotes, apparently.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Texas want Abbott to declare an “invasion” and begin the deportation of migrants to home countries. Because, apparently, Texas has money for this, but no money for schools, health care, and infrastructure.

The Center for Renewing America, a conservative think tank led by Ken Cuccinelli, a former Homeland Security official under Trump, has been leading the charge to get Abbott to declare an invasion, criticizing his border-security efforts as inadequate so far. And Brandon Judd, the head of the National Border Patrol Council — one of Abbott’s most visible endorsers for reelection — recently said Abbott should “absolutely” declare an invasion.

An angry bunch of white supremacists, huh? Unfortunately, there are enough Trump judges to back them up with no basis of law.

In other news, Texas Republican AG Paxton was trying to stop Title 42 from ending, but it looks like other states found a Trump fed judge in Louisiana, of all places, to stop its end, as Kuff tells us about it.

The lack of leaders pushing back against the right-wingers is a bit sad. Thankfully, the Mayors of Brownsville, TX and Tucson, AZ backed the Biden administration ending Title 42. Mayor Trey Mendez and Mayor Regina Romero stated:

“We support the Biden Administration’s decision to repeal Title 42 and uphold our legal and moral obligation of providing the fundamental right to seek asylum. It is the smart thing to do and it is the right thing to do. A fair and humane immigration system should be a priority for all of our leaders, not just those such as us who see the effects of a broken system every day,”

Because it’s about the broken system. And that never makes it into the news, like Republican racism.

Thoughts on Viernes-Sabado Edition-42322

Abbott Policy Is Killing People

There is a Texas National Guard soldier missing in the Rio Grande after attempting to save a migrant who was crossing the treacherous river to the US. This is the latest tragedy caused by Greg Abbott’s border militarization, which has included migrant deaths, soldier suicides, government corruption, and failed administration of this policy.

There is no logic to Greg Abbott’s border folly. The National Guard (and DPS and local sheriff’s offices enlisted by Abbott) block the border, force migrants to cross in more dangerous crossings only to have to try and save the migrants from drowning. It’s all theater by Greg Abbott and Republicans while endangering even more migrants and guardsmen.

On top of all of this, it is also costly as Greg Abbott has wasted billions of dollars on this failed operation which hunts brown people escaping violence and poverty.

Meanwhile, Ken Paxton is now suing to stop the Biden administration from ending Title 42, which is a health-related policy and not a migration policy. Funny how they like this COVID policy but whine over masks and vaccines. If only we had a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Washington DC to pass immigration reform and stop the theatrics. Oh wait!

State-Sponsored Killing Is Not The Answer to Crime

I’m not here to defend any killers. But I am here to say how wrong the death penalty is.

As we await Greg Abbott’s decision on whether or not he will commute the death sentence of an innocent woman (Melissa Lucio) railroaded by bad police and DA investigations, yesterday we witnessed the state’s first vengeful killing of the year (Carl Buntion). To say the least, I am sickened by the political theater of the death penalty, whether it is by blood-thirsty DAs and cops or politicians that feel the need to be begged to do the right thing as in the case of Melissa Lucio. What should be about justice turns into revenge porn for right-wingers.

As a reminder, here are ACLU’s objections to the death penalty, chief among them is that this cruel and unusual punishment is NOT a deterrent to crime and a waste of resources. But it is a great opportunity for law enforcement and political theater, while victims of crimes are used as props. And the media gladly promotes it. That people think the local “crime stopping” group is anything but partisan is laughable.

The death penalty is not a solution to crime and it certainly isn’t a road to closure for crime victims. And because of the political theater that comes with this punishment, overzealous DAs have been known to push for the execution of innocent people. Almost 200 humans have been killed by the government wrongfully. This isn’t justice and it is treated by politicians as collateral damage.

This thirst for revenge needs to stop.

Thoughts on Viernes 04152022

Still With Judge Lina

Speaking of political performance art, the local DA seems to be going too far in the use of her office to wage a political vendetta against Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

While local purveyors of sensationalist reporting are having a field day while reporting whatever the local DA tells them, which mostly serves as porn for anti-Latina right-wingers, it is other news sites that report more of the story, such as Texas Monthly.

Beyond its potential legal consequences, the contract investigation reflects long-standing tensions between Hidalgo and Ogg, the Democratic district attorney who has found an alliance with the two Republicans on the five-member commissioners’ court, chaired by the county judge. In recent months, the Republicans, Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, have generally supported Ogg’s requests for funding beyond the annual increases her office has received, while the three Democrats—Hidalgo and Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis—have resisted her entreaties. Ogg also increasingly finds herself estranged from the progressive wing of her party, which has faulted her for not embracing reform of the cash bail system.

Sounds like a political vendetta to me and quite the political performance. It’s not a secret that the local DA has even supported a slate of anti-reform assistant DAs to defeat incumbent judges. From what I hear, she was even part of the failed attempt to primary the County Judge. Her failure in playing political games has resulted in her using the office of the DA to pursue and finish this vendetta, it would seem. Where is the local reporting on this?

Given her office’s failure to prosecute a killer cop who assisted in the choking murder of a man, or failing to indict other killer cops who murdered an emotionally unstable man by shooting him 22 times, or her railroading of a local doctor accused of stealing COVID-19 shots that were about to expire only to fall on her face, voters were given plenty of reasons to defeat her. Now that she is using her office for political vendettas, it is high-time that Democrats did something about it and stopped living in fear of her actions.

Abbott’s Border BS

Greg Abbott is also pretty good at performance art as he increases state inspections of trucks delivering fruits and veggies from Mexico in the name of anti-immigrant policies and Texans’ thirst for Fentanyl, thus causing trucker protests (that actually work), supply chain issues, and cost rises at the grocery store. We’re talking about food that is rotting as soon as it is cut off the vine, so it needs to get to the warehouses and stores ASAP. And people are freakin’ out and politicians are doing their own bit of performance art in showing how inept Greg Abbott is.

But let’s talk about a better reason to increase prices of food being imported on trucks from Mexico. Did you know that farm workers make on average less than $200 a month (acc to The Wilson Center) to pick the fruits and veggies that we’re freaking out about right now? Is it any wonder prices are actually cheap as profits are going to corporate farmers and shipping magnates? I mean, who’s doing the complaining on TV if it isn’t the corporate types who are affected by Abbott’s idiocy?

Imagine paying a living wage to poor and indigenous farm workers. Would people be willing to pay more for fruits and veggies from Mexico if workers were paid more? Because, let’s face it, trade deals do more to ensure profits for corporations, rather than pay people fairly for their work. Thanks to NAFTA and other trade deals, Mexicans are really screwed, while we Americans benefit from cheaper prices. And people wonder why we have migration issues? We need trade deals that ensure fair pay for workers. Unfortunately, when the trucks start rolling again, people just enjoy whatever is normal.

I guess I want to see how the pro-Ukraine, “I’ll pay extra for gas to save democracy” folks react to paying more for food to save a family from poverty and violence that causes them to escape to the US.

Happy Easter

Enjoy your Easter holiday.