Category Archives: Harris County

A Weekend of Voting and Cultura

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It was a pretty active weekend of voting and culture this past weekend.

Early Voting Sabado was huge and I got to experience a part of it by spending some time at Moody Park with the hard-working folks of Tacos and Vote and then headed out to MECA’s  and Casa Ramirez’s Dia de los Muertos festivities to get a dose of culture.

My friend Dr. Reynaldo Guerra and his crew put together their Tacos and Vote GOTV effort at three early voting locations. Open to all, the festivities included a Taco truck, mariachis, a jump house for kids, and plenty of fun at Moody, Bayland, and close to Ripley House. All of this after blockwalking the surrounding neighborhoods. It was good seeing Adrian Garcia, Democrat for County Commissioner Pct 2 working the crowd at Moody. From the looks of it, Moody had a good turnout on Saturday and reports from the other locations stated their events were a success.

Afterwards, it was off to MECA to enjoy some culture while celebrating and honoring  those who have departed this life. From the looks of it, a diverse group of thousands enjoyed all sorts of food, music, ofrendas, and the Retablos31 exhibit throughout Saturday and Sunday.

I caught an excellent performance by Mas Pulpo–Vladimir Castellanos on guitar and Roberto Rodriguez on the squeezebox. They took us through some classic Tex-Mex standards that all enjoyed, but their show-ending Volver Volver was cause for a sing-along.

After a taco at Teotihuacan on Airline, it was off to Casa Ramirez, the folk and culture bookstore on 19th Street in the Heights. They held their annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration and March. The ceremony was opened by Danza Azteca, which provided Aztec ritual, history, and dance before hundreds of attendees joined a march to Casa Ramirez. Attendees enjoyed tamales, polvorones, and live music by Bossa II, while visiting the ofrendas offered by families honoring deceased loved ones. It was definitely a family affair enjoyed by all. And emotional, too.

I don’t care what the high-priced consultants tell you, politics and culture go together; especially if we’re adding some resistance to it. Brown folks have a target on their back and it is through cultural celebrations and political resistance with which victory can be achieved.

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Early Voting Begins Today, October 22!

Today, October 22, 2018 is the first day of Early Voting for the 2018 general election. You get to vote on US Senate, state officials, state judges, and your county officials. And in many cities, municipalities, and school districs, you also vote on anything from charter amendments to bonds.

During early voting, you may vote at any location in your county. CLICK HERE to look up Harris County’s map of early voting locations. CLICK HERE to get a copy of your sample ballot. Just fill in the blanks.

Voting hours during early voting in Harris County are as follows:

October 22 – October 26
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

October 27
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

October 28
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 29 – November 2
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

If you live anywhere else in Texas, you can find your early voting polling location by clicking here. Fill in your address, pick a day you want to vote, and you’ll be provided a location. (And the email is optional!)

DC’s Endorsements

I’m voting a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET. The Democratic Party is offering voters the best slate of candidates, including Beto O’Rourke for US Senate, Lupe Valdez for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor,among others, as well as a great list of judicial candidates, including Judge Steven Kirkland for Texas Supreme Court, Rabeea Collier for Judge of the 113th, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

It’s a long ballot (here’s my sample ballot). At this point, it’ll be hard to study every single candidate and chances are you’re hearing more from the few on TV and radio. So, if you want to trust me, do what I’m doing and vote a straight ticket. I’ve not only studied the candidates, but I’ve met the vast majority of them and I haven’t been prouder to vote a straight ticket in a midterm election in a long time.

Get it done early!

 

Little Joe Headlines Houston GOTV Event

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Around 200 East End voters and activists attended a Get Out The Vote Rally at the East End Events Center on Saturday afternoon. Headlining was the legendary Little Joe y La Familia, with Dallam County Band opening the event with some toe-tapping country tunes.

Little Joe has endorsed Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor and was part of this event which also showed off Sylvia Garcia for Congress, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge, and Adrian Garcia for County Commissioner, Pct. 2. But beyond the political speeches, it was good mix of multi-generational fun and celebration of cultura–all a great combo when it comes to Latino GOTV.

There was no doubt as to the progressive nature of the event–the Harris County Democratic Party was among the driving forces behind the event, so Party Chair Lillie Schechter deserves kudos for this. But it was the candidates and their stories which energized the crowd. Whether it was farm worker kid Lupe Valdez going through the ranks to become Dallas County Sheriff or Lina Hidalgo’s trek from a drug-torn Colombia to the United States and a life of public service, the crowd was energized by all of the candidates.

Little Joe Hernandez, the King of the Brown Sound, also spoke on the importance of this election, giving a rousing endorsement of Valdez while also declaring victory after viewing Valdez’s debate performance against Greg Abbott. “I had never been prouder of a candidate for representing us and fighting for us. As Dolores and Cesar said, “Si, Se Puede!”

Valdez spoke regarding the uphill battle, as Abbott is running anti-Latino ads on TV paid for by wealthy friends who then get appointed to choice positions in the government. “This campaign will be fought, not bought,” has become theme for all Democrats. Valdez added that she’s fought uphill battles all her life–in life, in the military, and in politics. “One more battle is nothing!”

Lina Hidalgo reiterated her theme that she’ll show up to work as County Judge every day, and not just when it floods, noting that the people of Harris County need a proactive leader that gets ahead of problems, rather than waiting for problems to arise.

Adrian Garcia, vying to upend an entrenched Republican who has cut various program that benefited families and the community stated that his opponent and the current administration play off the same sheet of music and that new leadership is needed. He also pointed to the campaign of Penny Shaw, running in Pct. 4, as a need for change and a new majority in Harris County.

Leading the charge was State Senator Sylvia Garcia, who for all intents and purposes, will become the next Congresswoman of the 29th District. Still, she hasn’t stopped getting out the vote for Democrats. “Vote Straight Democrat and we’ll elect the right people–all of them,” she stated. It should also be said that she arrived after an afternoon of blockwalking in the East End.

Also at the event were judicial candidates Raul Rodriguez and Alex Salgado; Richard Cantu for Harris County Dept. of Education Trustee; Carol Alvarado for HD145 and SD6; among other elected officials.

Hopefully, this is the first of many GOTV events targeting Latinos.

 

#AbolishICE and Other Things Causing Liberal Freak-Outs

There’s a movement happening, but it’s a movement that has been ongoing for decades, now. For many Democrats, though, it seems very new to them–and something to avoid.

While immigration/deportation reform activists have been at it for over 30 years (the recent battles), Democrats have always shown a little fear of the movement–fearful of losing the white vote. But even the weakest positions on the issue haven’t been winners for Democrats.

Reagan’s amnesty increased enforcement. Bill Clinton’s immigration reform of ’96 was a joke and gave a big shove to what is today’s deportation and detention boondoggle. Given steroids by Bush and made  worse by Obama, it is no surprise that a white supremacist (Trump) is now doing whatever he wants today. But it must be said:  It didn’t start with Trump. And yes, Democrats did it, too. And it must be stopped.

Immigration advocates were very critical of Obama. But people didn’t believe us. He was the “hope and change” guy. How could he be so cruel? But (former Vice President Joe) Biden was sent to Central America, falsely telling the families that their children will not get asylum. Obama has an interview with (ABC News anchor) George Stephanopoulos, saying to people: Don’t send your children. We will send them back.

So many of the things are happening have been happening for a long time. And again, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now. But the stupidity of one administration cannot justify the malice of another.

Now, because of the heightened level of cruelty, it’s visible.

This interview on CNN gives a better view of what ICE really is.

The creation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) back in 2003 was in response to 9/11, fear of immigrants, and especially fear of Muslims. In other words, its reactionary creation was based on hate and bigotry. Given a two-prong job, enforcement/removal and crime-busting, ICE has become a gestapo of sorts, utilizing illegal tactics, racial profiling, and hate- and fear-mongering from the current president to destroy families, steal children, affect local economies, and create an air of fear within targeted communities. All the while making profits for the border boondoggle. In fact, it was created to act in these ways.

People must be reminded that ICE and Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) are two different agencies. CPB enforces the border. ICE does not. In fact, if you read the interview, it’s pretty obvious that ICE interferes with the others’ duties. Given reports of abuse of immigrants and children, both sides of this coin must be investigated and reformed–or even abolished.

This said, there’s been a bit of a freak-out among Democrats who fear Republicans will now start saying that Democrats are for open borders as activists and candidates call for ICE to be abolished or reformed. It’s gotten so bad, there’s even been some Whitesplaining and Demsplaining toward the movement, which doesn’t help one earn votes. It’s also insulting, so, stop it.

Our own Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is part of the chorus for reform, as is 2020 prospect Kirsten Gillibrand. Others, have called to abolish ICE, such as future Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio and others running for Congress across the country. One way or another, candidates are listening and going beyond the usual weak campaign positions.

The big question:  When haven’t Republicans said Democrats are for open borders?

President Obama deported 3 million, warehoused hundreds of thousands more and Republicans said he was for open borders when he signed a doomed executive order (DACA) that didn’t do anything but protect a few from deportation. Hillary Clinton wanted expedited removal of unaccompanied children in 2014, voted for the original “border fence” and Republicans said she was for open borders. Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez ran 287(g) during the Obama Era and Republicans attacked her as being for open borders when she called out Greg Abbott’s SB4 racial profiling law.

The Republican chorus is a broken record on Democrats who have supported the weakest of immigration reforms–open borders, open borders, open borders.

And still, the liberals–the Democrats– freak-out because they think they’ll get attacked for calling to #AbolishICE? Take a chill pill, people. Surely, we’ve learned to fight back, rather than to cower in weak, losing positions.

If there is ever a time to unite with a movement that wants to stamp out a corrupt and broken immigration system it is now. Whether it’s to #AbolishICE or to reform it, or even a call to simply stop warehousing children in prisons, the Republican attack will remain the same. So, stop the freak-out and step up to the fight. You never know how many non-voters whose trust you’ve lost may step up–to the voting booth.

 

Beto O’Rourke Meets With Houston Latino Leaders

Continuing to make the rounds around the state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke, Democrat for US Senate,  has spent a couple of days in Houston rallying supporters and volunteers. Friday morning, one of his stops was at Irma’s Restaurant in downtown for a meet and greet breakfast with local Latino activists and community leaders.

A capacity crowd enjoyed a frank conversation with O’Rourke, who touched on issues such as post-Harvey efforts, health care and public education; however, a good portion of his presentation and the Q&A that followed concentrated on the human rights crisis at the US-Mexico border. Much of the crisis has been given steroids by the Trump administration as they separate families and warehouse children in badly managed private prisons.

Although he states that he is and has been willing to work across the aisle on sensible solutions, he states that Republican delays and obstruction to these solutions will only be ended at the ballot box when Democrats become a majority in both houses of Congress. O’Rourke stated his strong opposition to family separation, arrests and prosecution of parents requesting asylum, and child imprisonment. He also stated that he’s among those in Congress working on comprehensive solutions today, as we can’t wait for things to align before doing something.

During the Q&A, one elected leader, Goose Creek ISD Trustee Agustin Loredo, brought up the fact that much of the migration has been caused by US government and US corporations interfering with social, political, and economic standards of Mexico and Central American countries. O’Rourke agreed that there must be a better way to help these countries succeed that respects their government and economic systems, citing past US military operations which have removed democratically-elected leaders, only causing chaos and destabilization.

After taking questions, O’Rourke spent time speaking one-to-one with those attending.

I’ve always been impressed with Beto O’Rourke and remember when he defeated an entrenched–Bill Clinton-endorsed former Border Patrol chief–incumbent. So, he knows about tough political work. Above all, he’s a good listener. Honestly, I haven’t felt this good about a ticket-topper as O’Rourke doesn’t respond to issues based on polls, but on real solutions. He’s sincere and the real deal.

Asked about how he will win, he doesn’t mince words. The solution is voter registration, outreach, and GOTV–especially of those non-voting registered voters who have grown disillusioned with voting and government. While he knows his task is a tough one, he also says that it’s up to those who support him to spread the word–call by call, door by door, family member by family member.

So, let’s get to work!

 

 

Poll: There Is No Trump Party

A political consultant FB friend dropped this polling info from Gallup. Where did presidents stand with their own political party at Day 500 of their presidency, is basically what is asked. Some are surprised at Trump’s high GOP approval rating and others are seething that Democratic presidents’ approval is lower. My response is a scholarly, “Duh!”

Lately, I’ve been frustrated with Democratic activists. It seems they are spending more time trying to save the Republican Party than working on winning in 2018. They’ll defend Republican “moderates” as if they’re not apologists for the hate the GOP espouses. As if the Republican Party is somehow different than it was in years past. The only difference is their leader–a leader who embraces his racism through hateful rhetoric that his supporters eat up and spread. The apologists go merrily along. This political party is still one whose candidates have thrived on the worse the Republican Party offers as far as supporters go. Especially during a primary election where it’s a game of “Whose sheet is whiter?” when their TV ads go up. And they thrive on bigoted policies, such a racial profiling (SB4), and get energized with anti-immigrant executive orders from the Orange One. And the “moderates” don’t seem to mind unless they’re quitting, like Jeff Flake.

So, when I see Democrats sharing an article where old leader Boehner describes the current situation as a Trump party, rather than the Republican Party, well, I call bullshit. Especially on Democrats who waste so much time on this. Stop trying to save the Republicans! They’re the same old bigots they’ve always been. They’re the same party who use data from right-wing, white supremacist groups like Numbers USA to promote a hateful agenda. And they’re so committed to their rhetoric that they can easily poach weak independents who aren’t presented a strong alternative by the opposing party.

Anyway, we’ve got elections to win, locally, statewide, and in other states. If Dems aren’t energizing the base we’ve got with, I don’t know, progressive policies, defense of whole populations, and sincere gratitude for the existence of said populations, then we’re not getting anywhere. This poll shows us that poaching Republicans may not be such a politically savvy notion. It’s hard to think of this as just a data point.

 

2018 DC Nod: Nile Bailey Copeland for County Treasurer

I met Nile Bailey Copeland, Democrat running for Harris County Treasurer, almost a decade ago when he embarked on his first Democratic campaign for a local district court. I was immediately impressed as he was personable, knowledgeable of the law, and listened intently to Dem activists who are usually the first group one has to convince to earn support. He wasn’t afraid to engage with all voters, while others played the handshake game with VIPs. So, it didn’t take long for he and I to become good friends.

He learned much in his first Democratic campaign in 2010, which readied him to run for the 1st Court of Appeals in 2012, losing by less than 15,000 votes in a 10-county race to a well-funded Republican. While he won Harris County, it was just too tough to win over the other GOP-heavy counties, but he and his counterparts worked hard.

That said, Nile Bailey Copeland has done much work for Democratic causes, whether it was providing legal expertise on election contests, including one in which he helped defeat GOP stalwart Paul Bettencourt; providing legal and ethics advice to candidates; training poll watchers for Borris Miles’ campaign, and even volunteering at the Party office stuffing envelopes and licking stamps. The kind of work that doesn’t earn you awards or accolades.

In 2016, after deciding that he didn’t want to challenge friends running in the Dem Primary, he decided to learn how the other side worked. I asked him how he could run as a Republican if he was to the left of most Joe Lieberman Democrats I knew. The Republicans sure as hell knew his Dem background. Well, he ran anyway. I was reminded that one of our favorite Dems, DA Kim Ogg, once ran as a Republican back in the GOP heyday because she wanted to win, but we Dems don’t want to admit to that, right? Nile just wanted to do it to gain some knowledge. So, I forgave Nile when I found out what he was up to and he ended up learning a lot about how Republican primaries work compared to our own. (Many of us forgave DA Ogg, obviously.) Hell, we all knew the Democrats were going to sweep Harris County in November!

End of Discussion: Copeland earned 38,000 votes in that GOP primary (3rd of 4), which one ought to consider possible crossover vote potential to defeat the GOP incumbent in this race, which his opponents don’t offer.

Beyond his Dem bonafides, he’s a successful private practice attorney, an active realtor, and a successful business owner. He has participated in citizenship assistance forums and has advocated for immigrant communities across the County, even participating in DREAMer support rallies as early as 2010 when I invited him to one–and he showed up. Finally, Copeland has also served the City of Houston as a Municipal Judge appointed by Mayors Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner. He’s built an impressive resume, earning every opportunity and acting on it, by being the grown-up in the room. Which is what we need in government more than ever.

So, Nile Bailey Copeland is running for Harris County Treasurer with the hopes of unseating an entrenched Republican incumbent who has failed to achieve anything for voters. He’s pledged to make the office a relevant one that takes its responsibilities seriously, while proposing the office become more educative to constituents regarding how county government works. As an attorney and professional, he has built relationships, rather than political opportunities. Along the way, he’s earned the endorsements of former Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Texas Senator Borris Miles,  the Communication Workers of America Local 6222, attorney J. Goodwille Pierre, among other local leaders.

So, endorsing my friend has been a no-brainer. He’s the candidate who can defeat the Republican in November. And he will serve Harris County well.

Top 10 Posts of 2017

This had to be my most un-busy year in the last 12 years of blogging about local/state politics, culture, etc. By the end of 2017, I’ll be lucky to have written up to 75 posts for the year, with December being my busiest–on which I blame the 2018 Dem Primary.

The good thing is that these Top 10 of the year earned me thousands of views, lots of social media shares, a few complaints, lots of cool compliments (thanks, Campos!), and even a couple of threats (bodily injury and being reported to INS). Annoyances include friends who didn’t bother to share my posts, but are sharing obviously fake posts from sites with non-Spanish names. But that’s nothing new. Obviously, blogging can still be fun, although, my reasons for being un-busy are plentiful. I won’t bother explaining that, but I will continue to be a thorn in the side of candidates who are too willing to sell out entire constituencies in their quest to earn unattainable votes.

2018 will be my 13th year writing up stuff. Yes, DosCentavos will be a teenager. Perhaps a “treceañera” is in order so I can score some free drinks. Maybe a fajita taco? (I miss the good ol’ days when candidates offered up steak dinners.). In 2018, I expect to be busier and, as always, not fair and balanced.

Thanks to all who read, share, etc. Thanks to partners like Tejano Nation and local and national issues groups who share information, and to some of my favorite politicians and officeholders (you know who you are). Gracias!

“First they laugh, then they copy.”

  1. SB4 Passes Texas Senate Committee
  2. 38th Annual Festival Chicano
  3. It’s Election Season 2017 (Alief)
  4. DC Reviews:  Joe Posada – Zapatos En La Mano
  5. Houston Texas House Members Send SB4 Letter to Houston Council
  6. Houston Texas Senators Send SB4 Letter to Harris County
  7. La Fiebre Rocks Proof Rooftop
  8. Sheriff Gonzalez Ends 287(g)
  9. Democratic Reaction to SB4 Passage
  10. DC Reviews:  The Mavericks – Brand New Day

Thoughts on Alabama

 

No, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, John Culberson, and the other Republicans probably aren’t pedophiles.

On the other hand, it can be said that Republicans in Texas really don’t like children. CHIP is dying. Medicaid surely is in their sights. Some of these bad men don’t even believe in the free lunch program. They surely don’t like to fund K-12 and higher education.  Yes, these bad men really don’t like children.

But guess what? These bad Republican men and women don’t like adults, either. They certainly don’t like the elderly. Republican tax cuts will be devastating to lower income and middle class families. They aren’t done trying to kill the Affordable Care Act. Stagnancy in funding flood relief, especially for those who have little to nothing and are living in tents during these cold days. And our safety nets, Medicare and Social Security, are headed for the cutting board if these bad men and women remain.

If any Republican says something nice about one group and then vilifies the other by voting for a law that targets that group, there is nothing good about them. I don’t consider any type of political evil-doing as “moderate.”

Everything is in place for Texas Democrats as far as the message goes. Alabama happens in Texas with good, well-funded organizing, sincere engagement of oft-ignored groups, and the strongest defense against voter suppression.

That, and good candidates that won’t sell out any of our issues.

 

 

Lina Hidalgo Will Lead the County Dem Ticket

After rumors of attempted late entries into the race for Harris County Judge, it appears that Lina Hidalgo will be the Democratic nominee for the post to take on Republican Ed Emmett.

Criminal justice and healthcare advocate Lina Hidalgo will run unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Judge. The deadline to file to run for office in 2018 closed yesterday at 6pm.

“I am honored to lead an outstanding slate of local Democratic candidates for election to county offices,” said Hidalgo. “Our campaign looks forward to working with Democrats all across Harris County and across this great state to complete the progressive sweep in Harris County and Turn Texas Blue.”

The Hidalgo campaign will stress the leading issue on the minds of the people of Harris County: flooding and infrastructure.

“The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board is right–the 2018 election in Harris County will be about flood control. The current County Judge and Republican County Commissioners have failed in their duties to keep us safe. They must be voted out of office. I am running for County Judge because we need an advocate at the head of the Commissioners Court who will lead with foresight on flood control and emergency management, health care, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, transportation and other key issues. As new Harris County leadership, we will stand up for our community as we rebuild our county and ensure it is a model for the nation: equitable, sustainable, and resilient.”

Hidalgo has emphasized since announcing a few months ago that the people of Harris County must have a seat at the table and a meaningful voice in helping to equitably rebuild our county. To do that, she believes, there must be transparency and accountability at the Commissioners Court.

“Before we go to the voters with a bond proposal, we need to account for misprioritization of bond funds in the past. In 2007 Commissioners Court did not include funding for flood control in the county bond election. In the 2015 county bond election, after Allison and Ike, flood control was nowhere near the number one priority.”

Learn more about the Hidalgo campaign at www.LinaHidalgo.com

Of course, because we do live in a democracy, there will be contested races from the top to the bottom of the ballot. I’ve already mentioned three countywide races and my favorites candidates in those races. Stay tuned for more about the rest of the Democratic contests.