Category Archives: History

RIP: Jimmy Gonzalez (Grupo Mazz)

I was in the middle of celebrating my birthday with some friends and breakfast tacos when I got the alert bearing the awful news of music icon Jimmy Gonzalez’s passing. It wasn’t until I made it home that I got to think about the impact he made in the Tejano music industry over 40+ years of performing, producing, composing, and singing.

An accomplished guitarist, Gonzalez was the musical director of the iconic Super Grupo Mazz, founding the band with his childhood friend and vocalist, Joe Lopez. So close were the two that they were actually both born on the same day, say year, and 30 minutes apart. Started in 1978, the group, with RGV Onda Chicana roots, took a bold turn toward Spanish-language pop and cumbia music producing albums that weren’t easily accepted by Chicanos–who didn’t expect some boys from Brownsville to perform disco-esque music en Español. Adding some much wanted rancheras and polkas to their follow-up albums shot them toward being a radio and fan favorite.

Hoy, Laura Ya No Vive Aqui, Yo No Se, Calla, and many more hits recorded under an indie label provided a solid foundation during the 80s. But when the 90s heyday rolled in, it was labels, such as CBS/Sony and Capitol/EMI that would catapult them toward regional, national, and international success. Songs, such as Laura, No Te Olvidare, and Ven Devorame Otra Vez would turn into record album sales which then turned into year-round touring, which included luxury coaches and semis to carry light shows and professional PA systems. From nightclubs to ballrooms in rural towns to convention centers in big cities and even arenas around the US and Mexico, they attracted thousands to their shows. They’d even lend their talents to political fundraisers throughout South Texas, as both Joe and Jimmy experienced the challenges that most working class Chicano families experienced and wanted to change for the better by supporting good candidates.

Leading the musical charge for Mazz was Jimmy Gonzalez, who took on producing, arranging, booking, and management duties along with his edgy and innovative guitar playing and harmonies. Though the Tejano bubble of the 90s was short-lived while Tejano radio stations closed and an internationalized music industry gave less respect to the Tejano genre, Mazz continued to work, though, by 1998, Jimmy and Joe parted ways, each with their own projects and goals. But, yes, Mazz continued.

With a Texas-based label, Freddie Records, Gonzalez and Mazz would record 18 albums over the course of 19 years. Gonzalez’s latest, Porque Todavia Te Quiero, was just released in April and enjoying the usual airplay earned by Mazz’s reputation for producing good music. Many Tejano Music Awards and Latin Grammys later, Gonzalez was definitely enjoying his success and what he offered the industry. He also enjoyed working alongside his sons who were an integral part of his organization.

My friends at TejanoNation have more to add about Jimmy Gonzalez.

Thanks to my sisters, I was introduced to Mazz in 1979 (on 8-track tapes) and my first live show was a concert thrown by the CCHS Senior Class in 1981 at our football stadium. Yeah, I was a kid at the time. Since that time, I attended many shows and I was even at the live recording of Una Noche Juntos:  Live at San Antonio’s Rosedale Park in 1992, along with 8,000 of my closest (like sardines) friends, during my college days. My mom and her comadre would joke that one was Joe’s girlfriend and the other was Jimmy’s, they loved their music that much. So, one can imagine that many memories were flowing throughout the day and I wasn’t the only one going through this. So many of Jimmy’s fellow musicians and singers, along with DJs and promoters, posted throughout the day of their experiences with Jimmy–at concerts, at recording studios, and everything in between. The Tejano music industry, though competitive at times, is a very tight-knit group. It’s really a family and it has lovingly come together to celebrate Jimmy’s life.

DosCentavos sends condolences to the family of Jimmy Gonzalez and the Mazz organization, as well as Freddie Records.

Follow TejanoNation for the latest.

 

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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.

 

Privilege Sure Has Its Privileges

The Austin Police, the Feds, the White House, and the media have done an amazing job of describing the murdering serial bomber from Pflugerville.

He’s “challenged,” says the Austin police chief. Others say he was “troubled.” Friends say he was “reserved” and “nice.” Law enforcement and media parade him around in pleasant photos of some of his better days while stating that he didn’t say “terrorism” in his confession video–or anything about terrorism or a motive. And since he mentioned personal problems, he must have been “challenged.” Certainly, official people don’t think of him as a terrorist.

And these are the same people who push for mandatory minimums, defend cops who kill unarmed black and brown people, and railroad through the courts any low-grade offender who can’t afford a lawyer or bail–mostly black and brown.

But this murderer did plan these attacks. Some might say meticulously. He did build these bombs part by part–from Home Depot! And he even stupidly ended up trying to send them by FedEx, leaving a trail. And he knew he killed two people and injured several more. Hell, he kept going after he killed the first individual and attempted to kill many more. He wasn’t even sorry for it. And he did what most terrorists do well–kill themselves.

This wasn’t some crazed 2-minute episode with an AR-15. I’m of the belief that when you’re at a point of mass murdering during an extended time period, you pretty much know what you’re doing. Some do it for politics, others do it for sheer enjoyment. And if you’re the government or a white supremacist group, well, you can have it both ways. Both get so challenged sometimes, right?

One thing is for sure. The descriptors of the dead murderer, the murderer’s family and all their “god” talk, and some might say the practices of law enforcement, all have exhibited and promoted the privilege afforded to some in our society. Meanwhile, the victims (including their families) are victimized all over again because this murderous man (he’s definitely not a kid) has already been labeled by official people as challenged, troubled, etc.

I won’t get bogged down in definitions of terrorism or his background and upbringing. We already know he did it. But the manner in which official people with badges take up the PR job for people who, in their eyes, don’t fit the profile of a terrorist is quite the art form. And the media is no help in failing to challenge law enforcement.

Privilege sure has its…privileges.

The Latest in Harris County Voter Data

Thanks to Hector de Leon from the County Clerk’s Election Office, I’ve got my hands on the latest on the county voter registration rolls. FYI, when they break down the Hispanic numbers, they’re just estimates since they go by surnames. When registering, we are not required to give our ethnicity.

That said, there are 2,119,052 voters whose status is active. And of that, 470,041 are Spanish surnamed. That’s 22% of the voter rolls, folks. And if 20,000 or so would fix their status, we’d be closer to 500,000.

When broken down by congressional district, the county finds that 57% of voters in CD29 are Spanish surnamed. But in a show of “we’re everywhere!” we are anywhere from 14 to 22 percent in the other CDs. In the “hotter” races for CD2 and CD7, Spanish surnamed are 16% and 14%, respectively. In my own very Democratic CD9 and in Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s district, Spanish surnamed are at 19%. But when one looks at CD22 and CD36, which are quite suburban, Spanish surnamed are at 22% and 20%, respectively.

We’re everywhere! And this is a good thing because the ability to impact elections in Harris County is not just in one particular area, and “control” of GOTV efforts are not in any one group of politicos. On the other hand, there is plenty of opportunity to GOTV for those who really want to put in the effort and money. [I’m talking to those big money raisers and groups who GOTV, now.] Particularly when it comes to registered non-voting Latinos who often go ignored, or easily scapegoated, depending on the political party.

One particular set of data to note is how County Commissioner’s seats are broken down. What used to be a stronger Hispanic opportunity precinct, Precinct 2, is at 39% Spanish surnamed. I recall arguing before the County’s redistricting lawyers that while I appreciated Precincts 1 and 4 becoming more Hispanic and it seemed like a good thing because it showed we’re everywhere, it wouldn’t take much cutting from both precincts to bolster Precinct 2 as a Hispanic opportunity district. They didn’t listen. This is important as Latino candidates in the Pct. 2 Democratic Primary fight for whom gets to the chance to knock off a GOP incumbent, thus adding some needed diversity to the Court. I guess it’s important for those of us seeking partisan balance at the County, too.

There’s some 2014 data through which I need to sift that gives a clearer picture about where Latinos voted and in which Primary in 2014, and, no surprise, one finds those more “conservative” ones in the more suburban areas of the county. Has there been much change in how these Latinos feel about one side versus the other after a year of Trump? Are there new voters who haven’t even been given attention by either side? Well, I wish Latino Decisions would give it crack to find out.

Anyway, no doubt there has been growth. Voter registration efforts continue and there’s plenty of time to further impact these VR numbers toward November. What this tells either side of the political spectrum is that upwards of a quarter of the voter rolls are up for grabs if a political party takes that segment seriously in its GOTV efforts.

As Tony Diaz and I discussed on Tuesday on his radio show, it takes more than speaking Spanish and eating a taco in public. It takes being in tune to where Latinos are on the big issues. Those are usually Education, Health Care, Economy (jobs), and of course, Immigration. And I’m pretty sure a lot more of us are listening–whether you’re speaking to us or not. And that’s how November decisions are made.

Anyway, this is where we’re at regarding voter registration.

 

 

 

 

It Was A Great Election Night in Houston, Too

Despite the low 6.7% turnout around Harris County, the results of the 2017 Election still amounted to a great election night for progressive candidates and issues.

There were several big wins in the race for Houston ISD School Board. In at least three districts that were at one point considered too conservative for progressives to even challenge, there was quite the change of direction.

My friend and current District VI trustee, Holly Flynn Vilaseca, was in a race to earn her first full term after being unanimously appointed earlier this year. Taking on two well-funded opponents in what was considered a conservative area, which includes West Houston and Sharpstown, Vilaseca proved that running everywhere is the thing to do nowadays, especially if you run a sleek, well-disciplined campaign responsive to voters. By early this morning when the final tally was announced, she had earned 50.38%, avoiding a run-off. Congrats, Holly.

Current District VII trustee, Anne Sung, who had squeaked by in 2016 to win a partial term, steam-r0lled over the same opponent from 2016 with 61.6%. VII is another district that had been occupied by a conservative, but had been relatively untested by more progressive candidates. Again, running a disciplined campaign, connecting with voters, and truly caring about public schools will earn one the vote. And, in this case, in grand fashion.

In District V, an open race to replace an outgoing trustee, Sue Dimenn Deigaard ran a campaign that attracted support from across the political spectrum in another tough-to-crack district that includes Bellaire. With 51.26%, Deigaard earned herself a full-term, avoiding a run-off, with a campaign focused on serving the kids in the district.

Current HISD Board President Wanda Adams had a couple of challengers, but earning 68% showed that she is well-liked by her constituents.

The excitement is not over, though, as there will be two run-offs for HISD Board. District I has the classic match-up, with a Northside candidate and a Heights candidate. Elizabeth Santos came close to an outright win with 44.78% with an insurgency pushed by organized educators and volunteers. Her opponent, Gretchen Himsl, had the support of outgoing trustee Anna Eastman. In District III, radio personality and community activist Jesse A. Rodriguez earned 39.85%, while educator Sergio Lira made the run-off with 33.75%. So, these neighborhoods can expect more door-knocking, flyers, and mail.

ALIEF ISD

Considering the traffic on my general informational post about Alief ISD candidates and the less than 3800 voters who participated, I may have helped a few voters make some decisions in my neighborhood. No doubt, Alief was about to add several new faces to the board.

Darlene Breaux, John Nguyen, and Jennifer Key won easily. Position 7 will have a run-off, though, between Natasha Butler and Janet Spurlock, each earning 38%. So, let’s hope for more excitement to attract plenty of more voters in this one. [EDITOR’S NOTE:  Natasha Butler was the top vote-getter and the win goes to that person without a run-off. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALIEF ISD’s Board of Trustees who were sworn in on November 28, 2017.]

HCC

My HCC trustee, Robert Glaser, cruised to victory despite a challenge from the far-right. Glaser has done a great job and his commitment to transparency is still greatly needed. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz beat two challengers with 73%. And there will be a run-off in District IX between Pretta VanDible Stallworth and Gene Pack.

City of Houston

Looks like Houstonians were willing to support all of the bonds. Over 70% of the vote was earned by all of them. Good. Houston needed this injection of funds to add some vital infrastructure.

More To Come

Well, school board elections are probably the most important races in which we can participate. Especially in the Houston area where decisions affecting over 200,000-plus students come into play. While many make this a race about credentials, the bottom line is that we need to support those who have the best interests of the kids in mind, whether they work in education or they serve the community in some other way. And whether they’ve lived in the area all of their lives or transplanted here and hit the ground running. Seriously, you won’t attract support from transplants with “born and raised” statements. Theoretical expertise is nothing if you can’t earn buy-in from voters. So, for those voting in run-offs, study the candidates, study what you want out of your school district, study what you’re getting  from your school district (beyond your tax bill), and pick your candidate.

ELECTIONS

And, with the delays coming from the election office, I think we need to start using #HireDianeTrautman instead of the other thing about firing the current occupant.

Harris County Republican Commissioners Chicken Out on SB4 Lawsuit

As was expected, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court chickened out when Democrat Rodney Ellis made the motion for Harris County to join the SB4 lawsuit. So chicken were they–at the very least Judge Emmett and Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman–that they wouldn’t even second Ellis’ motion so that a proper vote would be taken by the court.

A diverse set of leaders and advocates went before the court asking for the County to join the lawsuit against the legalized racial profiling law which would allow law enforcement to ask persons of their immigration status. Included in the list were State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Armando Walle.

As reported by the Texas Observer, it would seem to me that Emmett attempted to provide some political cover for his fellow Republicans.

“Don’t interpret, if we decide not to sue, that decision as an endorsement of SB 4,” he said after hearing the testimony, which lasted about 15 minutes.

“It is!” shouted someone in the audience. She called the commissioners  “cowards,” and promised that she and others would campaign against those who chose not to sue. Police officers escorted her out of the room.

Emmett said SB 4 goes too far in “interfering” with local government, but said that doesn’t mean the county should sue.

So, why not a vote? Admitting to overreach, yet chickening out, says a lot about the lack of leadership that exists in Harris County.

It’s just another way of saying, “We’re not racist, but…”

Anyway, who’s running against the judge and the Pct. 2 commish in 2018? At the very least, we need a good Democratic choice on the ballot, if not a well-funded one. The GOPers sell themselves to the highest bidders.

Democrats, though, seem to be leading the way in fighting SB4, along with various organizations. And as a likely bigoted and anti-education special session nears, at least one Democratic State Rep., Ramon Romero of Fort Worth, has  filed a bill to repeal SB4.

Hey, who knows? Perhaps the ghost of Texas’ Bigoted Past will visit a majority of the Republicans under the dome and they’ll vote for it.

UPDATE:  Kuff has more on the Republicans’ big miss on what might have been a profiile in courage. Morman’s excuse is pretty weak.

 

 

Is “Move to Center” Talk by Dems Code For Anti-Immigrant Talk?

An op-ed appeared in the NYT written by a Bill and Hillary Clinton pollster (Mark Penn and some other guy) calling for Democrats to move to the center because that’s when they were most successful, i.e., the Clinton years. Of course, they get really specific on the definition of “center”: Go to the right on immigration.

Specifically, it states the following:

Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs. They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.

The suggested immigration policy?

Washington should restore the sanctity of America’s borders, create a path to work permits and possibly citizenship, and give up on both building walls and defending sanctuary cities.

They blame so-called “identity politics” and then call on the Democrats to save  others who are hooked on opioids while calling for the ceasing of  pardons and early prison releases of black kids caught up in the US war on drugs.  And that Dems must also stop protecting brown people from deportation, thus, becoming “anti-sanctuary city” like the other guys.

Let’s be honest,  “working class,” is also code for  “white people in Wisconsin, Pennsylviania, and Michigan,” which are the states Clinton lost. So, kicking a group of people around is OK as long as Dems win? While they may consider it a path to victory, some Latinos will consider it a clear path out of the Party, or worse, away from their polling location.

Now, this may be one op-ed in a major newspaper by some high-paid consultant, but no doubt I’ve heard (and read on social media) the conversations by and about Dems needing to become more centrist ever since the big loss last November. “Change, or else!”, is the mantra. This op-ed, though, is the first time I’ve read something so specific. Otherwise, it’s been elected officials and activists on social media (still) whining about railing on Bernie, or on the “fringe,” which could be anything from Black Lives Matter, Immigration activists, and even “bathroom” policy protesters. (I miss the old days when Dems only hated the LaRouchies.)

This isn’t anything new, and I’ve certainly blogged about it many times over the last twelve years. For some reason, immigrants, and by default, Latinos in general, are usually the first groups with a boot placed on their necks in the name of “working class outreach.” I still recall an East Texas Dem Chair telling my client to “go against the illegals” to win the white vote (and probably his own vote). Is this making a comeback? Please, tell us now, instead of a few weeks before the 2018 election.

Obviously, conversations must be had about the Democratic message, perhaps also about candidate quality, and the stances Dems take on issues. There are smart ways to communicate with voters without being openly divisive. Thus far, these members of the consultant-class who wrote the op-ed aren’t very much into party unity, and much less into the defense of those who come under attack for political purposes by the other side. Dems need to be smarter than what these guys offer.

Something on which to keep an eye and ear open, for sure.

A Wall, A Fence: Hysteria and Hate Continue To Build It

H.R. 6061, the “Secure Fence Act of 2006“, was introduced on September 13, 2006. It passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2006 with a vote of 283–138.

On September 29, 2006, by a vote of 80–19 the U.S. Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 authorizing, and partially funding the “possible” construction of 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers along the border. The very broad support implied that many assurances were been made by the Administration — to the Democrats, Mexico, and the pro “Comprehensive immigration reform” minority within the GOP — that Homeland Security would proceed very cautiously. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, announced that an eight-month test of the virtual fence he favored would precede any construction of a physical barrier.

On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6061 which was voted upon and passed by the 109th Congress of the United States.

borderbeachtjI remember that 80-19 vote. I remember Hillary Clinton being among the eighty. And Chuck Schumer. And other Democrats that were loved by many.

A decade later, over 5,000 souls have perished attempting to find new entry points, dying in treacherous terrain, hot deserts, and at the hands of smugglers. Humans who were just looking for something better than their US-tainted home countries offered.

Trump’s wall is nothing new, really. Much like the current fencing, it’s a symbol of fear, blame, and hate. Or, as the old white Democrat (men and women) who voted for Trump calls it, “economic anxiety.”

That Republicans propose this kind of hate is nothing new. REAL ID and HR4437 back in 2005-2006 were in direct response to Mexican and other Latino migrants. But why do Democrats go along with it?

More often that not, Democrats go along with this kind of hate because they fear getting ousted by the bigots in their districts and states. So many times, I’ve been criticized for writing about Democratic bigotry in the ranks of the party, and told that “we need to win re-election,” as if some fake majority will save us.

A decade later, Trump’s wall may get its beginnings. Ridding itself of the EPA, I doubt time will be wasted on environmental impact statements. Ridding itself of the parks service, I doubt there will be any talk about protecting some of the area’s furry residents. And, certainly, such a project will call for an increase in military (and militaristic–think #NoDAPL’s response) presence on the border.

One can argue waste and corruption, which will happen. But no one will listen. This has been a decade in the making. Politically, though, it shows why Democrats should never support anything like this. All one has to do is realize the intentions of such policies and a NO vote should be easy. Unless, they actually enjoy promoting hate, blame, and fear.

Still, I doubt Democrats will ever learn. What’s upsetting is that it’s usually on issues regarding migrants and Latinos.

 

 

No Vendidos in the Cabinet

8247534_f260I’m sorry, I think that was supposed to be “No Latinos in Trump’s Cabinet.”

Either way, the response to that would be, “GOOD!”

What good would a bunch of sell-outs do for Latinos?

Seriously, what would they do for DREAMers, the 11 million, for public education, for health care, women, LGBT, or the low-income elderly? They would be too busy proving how self-loathing and loyal they are to Trump. Let’s get real.

I swear, sometimes I think “professional” Latino groups like LULAC, NALEO, NCLR, and chambers of commerce are just in this game for free tickets to a White House dinner and a photo op. Of course, they’ll call it “advocacy,” right?

Oh, my, how will they get on a DC guest list, now?!?

These “pros” have this silly idea that an “X” in the Hispanic box on a federal form is the same as representation. It isn’t. Far from it. Especially in a Trump White House and Republican Congress. Especially if you have a legislative agenda.

There’ve been sell outs like Bush’s AG Al “Torture is Quaint” Gonzalez, or a Honduran nightmare of a Bush nominee Miguel Estrada for a federal court who wanted to do away with judicial review that were backed by some of these professional groups. And for what? Because they were labeled Latino? Because numbers were more important than policy and law? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. This isn’t advancement. It’s an insult to people’s intelligence.

Note to these corporate funded groups:  Don’t do us any favors.

 

RIP: Juan Gabriel

JUAN_GABRIEL_2014_Thumb

Alberto Aguilera Valadez “Juan Gabriel” (1950-2016)

“Mientras exista alguien que cante mis canciones, Juan Gabriel vivirá.”