Category Archives: Harris County

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.

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The Harris County Dem Primary Is Quite Contested

If you’d like to check out the list of races in your county, you can visit here and then pick the county of your choice. The final updated version may not come for a day or so, I’m thinking.

The Harris County Dem Primary has shaped up to be a contested one for some of the countywide races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess has been working the various Democratic clubs around the county for most of the year. She has ended up with three opponents. You can find them on the list on your own.

For County Clerk, Diane Trautman announced her intention to run over a year ago and has been working hard getting reacquainted with voters. A known commodity on the Dem side of things, Diane has served on the Harris County Department of Education Board for a full term. She now has two other opponents.

Many of us had been wondering who was going to take on the current Republican County Treasurer. I’m happy to see that my friend (more like a brother) Judge Nile Bailey Copeland, a Houston municipal judge appointed and re-appointed by Democratic mayorshas signed up to run. He’ll have a couple of opponents. Nile has been on the Democratic side of the ballot a couple of times for judicial posts, and he’s given his time on issues and questions of election law and voter access that have benefited Democrats and democracy, in general. And he’s always a great person with whom to have coffee on any given day of the week. I look forward to following his campaign.

I’ll keep scanning the contested races to see which direction I’m heading.

 

 

 

Looking Forward To The 2018 Dem Primary

Well, looks like all the excitement (and panic) over the race for Congressional District 29 has subsided as current and former officeholders who contemplated running for the seat decided to either run for re-election to their respective seats, or, go in a different direction.

State Reps Armando Walle (140) and Carol Alvarado (145) have decided to run for re-election. Both have served for multiple terms and are considered leaders at the Capitol who will be needed to take on an expected right-wing onslaught of bigoted bills. Of course, both may also be thinking of the free-shot at running for SD-6 without the need to resign if/when Sylvia Garcia is elected to Congress, which we’ll know after the Dem Primary since the district usually goes Democratic in November.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia has also decided to go in a different direction and challenge right-winger Jack Morman for County Commish Pct. 2, which covers East Harris County. As much as Adrian Garcia and I have debated on some issues, I’ve always been a fan of his. I think he can run hardest toward November, as well as excite the electorate to vote down-ballot.

Harris Democrats have been updating a page containing folks running for judicial positions. There are a few candidates in contested races that I’m supporting, including Rabeea Collier for the 113th District Court; Fred Cook for the 189th District Court; and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

I’ve known Rabeea for over a decade, which is most of her legal career. We both organized in the Kingwood/Humble area as activists trying to increase the Democratic bottom line. As an activist, she has worked hard to turn Harris County blue. As an attorney, she zealously represents her clients. She has put in the sweat equity over the years and deserves to be our nominee.

Fred Cook first ran for judge in 2008 in a very contested race in which Judge Steven Kirkland was the victor. I supported Fred back then and we both supported Kirkland afterwards. When I heard he was running again, I felt it was about time.

Raul Rodriguez has run for positions at different times, while also putting in time volunteering in various activities. I mean, whenever I go to something in the community, Raul (and wife Pati) are there! Raul deserves to be our nominee in November. He’s experienced and has a sincere connection to the community.

There will be more to come as more candidates file, especially the statewides. I’m hoping Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas files for Governor, otherwise, I won’t be left with any good choices and I may just skip the race entirely (or hold my nose in November). And I really hope Little Brown Trust Fund Baby gets a challenge for Land Commish.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  And within an hour of this post, this just in:

Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for Harris County Judge, Responds to State of the County

Well, if you’re going to take on Ed Emmett (and Republicans, in general), Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for County Judge, offers up the right attitude and ideas on which to base such a challenge.

As much as it is a message to voters around the County, it is also a message to Democrats who so easily get enamored by so-called “moderates” who still do much for their right-wing-nut-job of a political party. Including staying quiet and raising dollars for them even when laws like SB4 are passed.

Give it a listen!

 

The Undocumented Worker: Hated Until Needed

Some will point to Republican hatred toward immigrants since 2006, and others will point to Bill Clinton’s immigration act which created 287(g) and increased enforcement without fixing the system, but all of this time later, and after $150 billion in Harvey damage, now, there’s a freak-out over the target that hovers over the undocumented laborer who would be tasked with rebuilding Houston if everyone just looked away, especially Trump and his ilk.

All of this time later, various attempts at “comprehensive immigration reform” have failed because Republicans and some Democrats just had to show some artificial toughness to keep the bigoted happy. We’ll let in some people, but we’re going to triple the Mexican hunting police force (border patrol), federalize local cops, start a guest worker exploitation program, and build a fence. I’m all for give and take in a negotiation, but most CIR attempts, even Kennedy-McCain, bordered on ridiculous.

Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion of fixing a broken immigration system–fixing the “line” that everyone tells the undocumented to get to the end of. Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion about correcting US policy in Latin America that supports murderous right-wing regimes and US corporate interests, while attacking progressive leaders who want to provide basic necessities to the poor and indigenous–long ignored by the right-wing and wealthy. Yet, the blame only falls on the undocumented.

Now, you add a despot whose supporters hate Mexicans (and others) just for existing and, instead of looking at the human rights aspect of this, people think, “Who’s going to rebuild us?”

While I appreciate Lisa Falkenberg’s article about the undocumented rebuilding Houston, I’m still irked by the assumption by others that the only reason we need them (at this time) is for cheap, uninsured labor without worker protections. Especially when builders and contractors are the ones crying the loudest as they stand to make the most during the rebuild with this source of cheap labor.

It goes back to why we need more than just a DREAM Act. We need the parents of DREAMers and other workers who make up this exploited labor force, too. They must be protected. They must be paid what they’re worth. They must be insured and have worker protections from bosses who will exploit them during these times. Because, suddenly, it seems they’re not “taking someone else’s job;” they are filling open jobs, if we let them.

As Falkenberg stated:

But honesty takes only mere seconds. Enough with the hypocrisy. We need these workers. Right now, they’re digging Houston out of the worst flood in American history. The least we can do is offer them a path out of the shadows.

 

 

Houston Food Bank Food and Resource Fairs – Various Locations

Beginning September 5, 2017, Houston Food Bank and South Texas Dental will be hosting Food and Resource Fairs across the Houston area to assist those affected by Harvey.

Click on image to enlarge:

Sheriff Gonzalez Ends Use of Private Jails

Now, this is the kind of news I like to hear coming out of Sheriff Gonzalez’s office.

For years, Harris County has spent millions transporting and warehousing inmates in private jails and prisons because of overcrowding. Sure, the article states that this was done mostly for budget savings and to curb overcrowding, but these private jails are badly run with little oversight. Still, it’s good to see the Sheriff take action on the matter.

“I simply think we incarcerate way too many folks; and there is a cost associated with that. Whether it be the cost of daily housing or sometimes outsourcing inmates. So I think that we need to change those practices… And that’s why I’m a big advocate for reform, and really addressing our mass incarceration complex that we have in this country,” Gonzalez said.

He says there are also other benefits to bringing inmates back in-house.

“We have more control of what we’re doing. You know, the medical records, things like that,” Gonzalez said.

Another benefit? Loved ones can visit inmates, without having to travel to other municipalities or cities.

There are still some major systemic problems that need to be dealt with, but, I guess culture change takes a lot of time to achieve buy-in and implementation. At least that’s what I keep getting told by the local experts.

One thing’s for sure, we really need to do something about that bail system; however, for that, we’ll also need some good candidates to defeat the incumbent county judge and Precinct 2 commissioner.

Harris County Attorney Files Brief Against SB4

As was reported last week, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court may have chickened out of joining the SB4 lawsuit, in what may have been a pre-emptive move to avoid getting on Greg Abbott’s “list,” but it didn’t stop County Attorney Vince Ryan from submitting a brief to the federal court asking for a stop to any implementation of the racial profiling, anti-immigrant law.

Ryan makes the case that SB4 affects children his office represents.

The Harris County Attorney’s office, objects to the law for the following reasons:

The office represents the state Department of Family Protective Services in child protection cases, advocating for children’s best interests and the preservation of families — irreconcilable with the thrust of SB4, which is to “to cooperate in efforts which will lead tothe deportation of parents or kinship caregivers, the separation of families, and further trauma to children,” according to the brief.

Federal mandates require that assistance and benefits should be available to children and families “irrespective of their immigration status,” according to the brief. State law also directs that “the provision of the services necessary to give effect to children’s best interests are not conditioned on their, or their parents’, immigration status,” according to the brief.

Ryan states: “Any county attorney who declines to engage with assisting in the enforcement of immigration laws or discourages colleagues from doing so in order to advocate for the best interest of the child and promote family unification — as child welfare laws mandate — would not be “providing enforcement assistance” and would be “adopt[ing], enforce[ing], or endors[ing] a policy” or engaging in a “pattern or practice” that “materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws.””

Children of parents or family members who have been deported will be placed in an overburdened and potentially harmful foster care system.

Immigrant communities will fear cooperation and will not report abuse or neglect or provide information to authorities seeking to protect children.

SB4 will leave a huge swath of the community affected in one way or another. Whether one sees it as a legalized racial profiling law that targets anyone of color to be asked their immigration status, or a license for local cops to shirk their crime-fighting duties in favor doing some immigrant hunting, or in the case of the County Attorney, a law that will affect children caught up in their own brand of hell, it’s just a bad law.

“S.B. 4 will do irreparable damage to this State’s child welfare process, place county attorneys charged with representing DFPS in an irreconcilable conflict, and do further trauma to children who have been placed in the State’s care. Further, there is no legitimate state purpose in treating children who have an unauthorized immigrant parent or other potential care giver differently in child welfare cases,” states Ryan’s brief, which was filed this month in federal court.

In other news, the City of Laredo has joined the SB4 lawsuit. In fact, their City Council voted unanimously to join it. Now, that’s what I call a “welcoming city.”

 

 

 

 

Houston Area Senators Urge Harris County on SB4 Lawsuit; To Be Considered on July 11

From the inbox:

(Houston, Texas) The Harris County Commissioners Court is set to consider joining the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4 at their meeting tomorrow, July 11th at 10am. Senators John Whitmire, Sylvia R. Garcia and Borris Miles issued a joint letter urging commissioners to vote in favor of joining with counties and municipalities across Texas in suing the State of Texas over the controversial legislation.

The 85th Legislature passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), the “show-me-your-papers” law, scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2017. We were extremely disappointed to see the state’s leadership endorse legislation that strips local control from Harris County, incentivizes racial profiling, and makes our communities less safe.

SB 4 contains numerous provisions that simply cannot be allowed to take effect. SB 4 would prevent local law enforcement leaders from setting their own policies to work with the communities under their jurisdiction. It would further allow individual law enforcement officers to decide on their own whether and how to question individuals about their immigration status, creating a troubling path to unchecked racial profiling. This will have a chilling effect on crime reporting in vulnerable neighborhoods, and make our community less safe.”

Senator Garcia will personally attend the meeting to testify in support of litigation. The agenda item has been brought up by County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Rodney Ellis. The full letter can be read here.

Houston-area State Reps have also sent a letter urging the County to join the SB4 lawsuit. A federal court hearing was already held in late June; however, there was no immediate ruling. So, let’s stay tuned.

 

Local TX House Delegation Asks Harris Co to Join SB4 Lawsuit

A group of Houston Texas House members has penned a letter to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court requesting they join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB4–the “Show Me Your Papers” racial profiling law signed by Greg Abbott.

Texas House members include:  Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Jarvis Johnson, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, and Gene Wu.

Pointing to various constitutional flaws in the law, the group also made a case for the lawsuit citing the law’s threat to public safety:

With the fifth largest foreign born population in the country, Harris County is especially at risk. All people in the community must feel safe and free to report crime and call law enforcement when necessary, without the fear of the same law enforcement asking for their papers. The provisions of SB4 will diminish trust and chill the reporting of crime, making our county less safe.

The letter further states the constitutional liability the county could face for unlawfully detaining individuals without warrant or probably cause.

Already, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and the tiny town of El Cenizo, along with Bexar, El Paso, and Maverick counties have joined the lawsuit. Efforts have increased to add more parties to the lawsuit, including Brownsville, Pasadena, and other Texas communities.

For the latest on the lawsuit, head over to MALDEF’s twitter feed for the latest arguments being made by the good guys and the bad guys at the federal court hearing in San Antonio.

Thanks to the office of State Representative Armando Walle for keeping us informed and for their work on these efforts. [copy of letter below]

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