Category Archives: Harris County

Thoughts on Viernes – 07012022

COVID-19 Still On The Rise

This week’s COVID numbers reached another disappointing level. Positivity is now just under 26% and the wastewater viral load pushed passed 630%. Among the popular folks announcing they were infected were County Judge Lina Hidalgo and a bunch of others, including two state reps. What’s disappointing is that none of them are telling people to mask-up. Frankly, I think we all know the symptoms that they tell us they’re going through. We need to be told how not to get it. Again! Other than staying home, masking up is probably the surest way to stay uninfected if one has to be in a crowd or at the workplace. So, do it. It’s not that difficult.

FYI – The medical community is worried. As Dr Luis Ostrovsky tells us, “We have to think that there’s much, much more COVID in the community than we think from the official numbers.” We’ve known the direction these numbers were going and without much warning or push from the political folks, people seem to have gone their merry way straight toward a dose of monoclonal antibodies or Paxlovid, or worse.

Anyway, stay safe, folks. And for goodness sake, put on a mask!

Forced School Prayer

It seems we’re definitely headed in that direction after the SCOTUS went out of its way to destroy the Establishment Clause and somehow explain that a coach who was praying in the middle of the football field with his athletes somehow didn’t encourage them to join in and that it was in private.

I tried school athletics in Junior High. During that time, we had some “out of town” folks show up to coach in our little town and they brought with them their preachy-ness. And if one didn’t participate, they were bullied. It got worse in high school and those athletes who managed to get teaching degrees and return to the town pushed the whole public prayer thing. I wasn’t about to be bullied for not praying, choosing instead to be bullied for not participating in sports.

Needless to say, I came out OK.

Uvalde, TX

As I expected, Uvalde, Texas has turned into a clusterfuck of massive proportions. Parents still are not getting information from state or local Republicans. No one seems to be questioning all the “border” money which has gone to local law enforcement in the area to pursue brown people and cause crashes during migrant chases. Hell, Greg Abbott’s policies caused the death of 50+ migrants because they wanted to avoid Abbott’s National Guard and DPS. In Encinal, TX, a Migra migrant chase caused the death of 4 and more injuries. In our area, another migrant chase caused injuries. And more migrants were found in the back of semi in San Antonio–all alive, thankfully. Greg Abbott has thrown money at many photo opportunities and has failed at ensuring the safety of well, everybody. If you haven’t noticed how these things interconnect, well, you’re doing it wrong. But, Democrats need to offer a hell of a lot more than being an alternative.

Inaction Claims Migrants Escaping Violence and Poverty

The media reports that at least 46 human beings were found dead and another 16 barely alive in a semi trailer in San Antonio. All were migrants escaping poverty and violence in their home countries, exploited by traffickers who continually exploit the US political weaknesses of Republican hate and Democratic indifference.

Gustavo García-Siller, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Antonio, wrote on Twitter: “Once again, the lack of courage to deal with immigration reform is killing and destroying lives. We do not learn. God teach us to change.”

Scenes with stacked bodies will provide fundraising opportunities for Democrats and masturbation material for Republicans (because they get off on the suffering of others). Greg Abbott, in all of his racist glory, chooses to make a political statement blaming others, instead of taking responsibility for his bigoted border policies which force migrants to choose alternate, more dangerous routes to get to this side of the river. Failed policies that hand out money to local law enforcement agencies who love participating in migrant chases, rather than saving children in classrooms threatened by active shooters. No Greg Abbott, this is on the entire political system. Especially on bigots like you.

Yes, there is a lot of blame to go around. And when Democrats have a President and a majority which has done nothing on most issues, instead supporting the re-election of anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and religious zealot Democrats (Cuellar), the message is clear and the same old platitudes are ineffective.

As much as Democrats used Trump’s racist policies to get this majority, they have failed miserably to make change regarding migrant policies, choosing to continue draconian human rights-violating enforcement, detention, and deportation practices, all while expanding legitimate and illegitimate profiteering opportunities for equally bad people.

But most Democrats will remain willfully ignorant of all of this and continue to support the incumbent leadership which continues to fail, well, everyone. Those who will definitely not like my comments probably get a paycheck from political leadership that has failed. Go figure. Anyway…

Locally, we heard that Sheriff Ed Gonzalez finally told the Biden Administration he was withdrawing his name from consideration to be the ICE Director after Senate inaction on a confirmation vote. Way to go, Ed! You don’t need to be tainted by inaction and bigoted policies that our own Party fails to change or even challenge.

I thought I’d sleep off my lack of hope, but I still remain lacking in hope this morning.

Houston Back at Medium Risk for COVID-19

The Houston Health Department quietly announced that Houston is back at “Medium” risk for COVID-19, while this week the positivity rate reached 21.1%. Harris County still has us at “Yellow,” which they call controlled levels.

The best advice given by Houston Health is to “consider” wearing a mask if one is at high health risk. They have also stopped using “low” to describe the positivity rate, while pushing vaccines to help lower the numbers. The good news about vaccines is that children under 5 have been cleared to get the COVID-19 vaccines. Whether parents will do the responsible thing and get them vaccinated is to be determined.

Among the famous to report testing positive now is White House COVID-19 advisor Dr. Fauci himself. He’s experiencing mild symptoms and is on paxlovid, the anti-viral med approved to fight COVID-19. One story on the drug is that it is most effective on folks at high risk for severe symptoms based on health and age. That’s 50% of the people around the world. The hope is that better antivirals will be produced to help alleviate symptoms for all categories of people.

Well, all of this time later, people should know the drill. Masks help, especially the good ones like KN-95s and KF-94s. Staying away from crowds is even better. Encourage your bosses at work to get back into the masking groove to protect employees and lower workplace risk. Diving head first into a crowd of strangers unmasked is probably not a good idea. Sure, you might live if you’re vax’d and boosted, but why even get sick? Just be safe.

Expanded Trail On The West Side

I was quite happy to read that the Brays Bayou trail will finally be connected at the West Belt.

Officials on Thursday announced the start of construction on a 7.7-mile segment of trail along the bayou, from Braeburn Glen Park near Gessner and Interstate 69 to Archbishop Fiorenza Park at the Westpark Tollway and Eldridge Parkway. The $20.5 million project completes trail work along Brays and is the longest segment in the Bayou Greenways plan.

What’s exciting are the added options regarding which direction one can go when on this trail. Although, the trail will go through Chinatown and Arthur Storey Park, then snake west to Fiorenza Park, a stormwater detention parkland between Highway 6 and Eldridge, and beyond, there will be a connection to the Westchase Trail, which I use a lot for recumbent triking. That I’d be able to head west is a great option, though, heading east to the Medical Center is nice, too.

This project won’t be completed until the end of 2023, so, there’s no telling where I’ll be at that point in time, but I’m glad for the folks on the West Side of town who need this completed alternative transportation route. Walkers, runners, and cyclists will definitely enjoy it.

The “Glad That’s Over” Dem Run-Off Report 2022

With 100 percent of the polling locations around the state reporting, it looks like the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor will be Mike Collier as he has around 55%. A little closer than I hoped, but I was surprised to see Beckley showing well in South Texas. That said, Collier will be an active participant in this election.

Also, Rochelle Garza was doing extremely well in South, Central, and North Texas on her way to a decisive victory with over 62% of the vote. Glad we’ll have some highly qualified diversity on the ballot because the rest of the statewide team is not diverse at all.

Janet Dudding (61%) and Jay Kleberg (52%) end up as the Dem nominees for Comptroller and Land Commish, respectively.

In a race that took a negative turn in the last days of the campaign, Lesley Briones held a steady lead with 54% (or so) of the vote over Ben Chou on her way to becoming the nominee for Harris County Commissioner Pct 4. I guess the unfounded, negative attacks against her didn’t work. Briones will take on right-wing incumbent Jack Cagle, who recently voted against a county resolution decrying gun violence. Yes, on the day of the Uvalde, TX shooting, Cagle made it clear that he doesn’t care about dead children. I’m all in with Briones and it is time for all to come together to win this race.

It was also a sad day for incumbents Criminal District Judge Jason Luong and Family District Judge Chip Wells. I guess I need to learn more about the winners. Beverly Armstrong defeated Kim McTorry for the Dem nod for 208th District Judge in an open race.

Also, Treasea Trevino didn’t make the cut for County Court #4, though she was a great candidate who was challenging the local Dem establishment with her race against Monica Singh. Don’t give up, Treasea! Also, Sonia Lopez ran a great race for JP Pct 1, falling short to Steven Duble. Sonia has a great future in local politics.

In San Antonio, Judge Peter Sakai won the Dem nomination over Ina Minjarez for Bexar County Judge. He’s not a bad guy; actually, quite beloved, so Bexar County will be alright once he defeats the Republican.

And in Congressional District 28, Jessica Cisneros was nipping at the tail of Nancy Pelosi’s anti-woman lapdog, Henry Cuellar, down by less than 200 votes most of the night. While Bexar County results showed a few boxes still out, they didn’t seem to change the final result. Newsflash: Nancy Pelosi will get nothing for Democrats from Cuellar, other than a “W” for selling out women, migrants, and poor people.

Anyway, the results are in and we have a ballot to support, while also having the ability to demand more from our candidates in the form of GOTV, issues support, etc. It should already be expected, though.

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!

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

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?

DCs Weekly COVID-19 Report

Because everyone else seems to be ignoring the COVID-creep that continues.

Houston Health reported yesterday that the 14-day positivity rate is now at 6.1% and the wastewater load is now at 91%. People are still dying. Houston Health still calls it “low,” but at what point does it become “moderate”? I wish they’d tell us so we know how foolish we can act before calming down when it’s too late. (Yes, that was snark.)

Speaking of, some locally popular folks are testing positive lately–even a popular doctor who helps develop vaccines and a County Commish. I wake up this morning and find out even Kelly (from Kelly and Ryan) has it! I wish them well. And I also wish they’d stop jumping into unmasked COVID-y crowds.

Me, I wake up with bad allergies and wonder if some unmasked fool at Walgreens coughed on me or if the unmasked woman in the electric cart at Kroger who had a coughing fit in the baking aisle infected me. Because I mask all the time, especially in crowded places with people I don’t know. But you just never know when it’s going to hit you. And while “vax’d and boosted” may save you from the worst, we still don’t know what can happen to a person post-COVID infection. It’s the long COVID and effects of this inflammatory disease that can be scary. And no one seems to take this aspect of it seriously.

Needless to say, Joe Biden needs to send more free tests and Congress needs to fund more COVID-19-related healthcare services for the uninsured. Better yet, universal healthcare all of the time!

Anyway, mask-up. Stay clean. If you call yourself a “leader,” be a freakin’ example and wear a mask if you feel the need to post selfies from crowded events.

And that’s todays COVID-19 report of disappointment.

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.