Category Archives: Local Business

I Know We Are Happy, But…

Kuff tells us about the indictment of the local right-wing purveyor of hormone and “Low-T” shots whose involvement in the vehicular assault and illegal detention in the name of voter fraud by a former cop he hired now has him indicted for the same crime.

From the Chron:

Through a group called Liberty Center for God and Country, Hotze funded a private investigation into a conspiracy theory that Democrats had collected hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots, prosecutors have alleged. The group paid (Mark) Aguirre, a disgraced former Houston police captain, $266,400 to investigate the claims.

and

The vast majority of the money from Hotze’s group, $211,400, arrived to Aguirre one day after the alleged assault, previous grand jury subpoenas showed.

Needless to say, a lot of folks are happy to see one of the wealthiest and whiniest republinuts in town in trouble for something after bankrolling all sorts anti-Dem, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-COVID Vax, and anti-anything progressive campaigns and conspiracy theories.

The problem is when you have a local DA who’s in the news for using her office for political purposes whether against the County Judge or a local District Judge, well, cases in which gun violence and politics mix are sure to get tainted, or questioned before the public square.

Still, I’m sure all sorts of folks, including republicans who want some sort of “normal” right-winger behavior, will be watching this story intently.

Thoughts on Viernes 04152022

Still With Judge Lina

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

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

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

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

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

Abbott’s Border BS

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter

Enjoy your Easter holiday.

Abbott’s Trumpian Response to “Neanderthal Thinking”

Greg Abbott doesn’t enjoy being challenged by President Joe Biden nor the media as was evidenced in his freak-out on a KPRC interview yesterday. The freak-out continued on Twitter (see image).

With Texans, the Feds, Texas city leaders, the Texas business community, and the medical community incensed at Abbott’s idiotic decisions to rescind a mask mandate and open up Texas business 100%, Abbott took the usual route Republicans take when challenged: Racism.

It did not take long for Greg Abbott to go full-Trump by blaming immigrants for COVID-19, even after his failed attempts at keeping open and reopening Texas have caused more death and infection. But Abbott’s reaction only shows his sinister and evil intentions to enrich big business while the rest of the state suffers, not only with COVID-19, but with misinformation and bigotry.

Let’s face it, we don’t need to be reminded that Brown (and Black) folks have always been blamed and scapegoated since Texas was founded. The playbook is pretty old and it’s gotten old. Really old.

In a twist, CNN is reporting that while Abbott makes up stories about immigrants spreading COVID-19 thanks to Biden, the reality is that Abbott is stalling efforts to have the Biden administration provide COVID-19 testing for immigrants and mitigation prior to release.

DHS has already set plans in motion to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to support community efforts to test, isolate and quarantine migrants released from Border Patrol custody, the official told CNN. But the grant money needs to be approved by the state before it can be distributed to border communities. CNN previously reported plans were underway to use FEMA funds to help localities acquire tests. As of Wednesday, Texas had not yet provided a response to the administration since engaging with the Department of Homeland Security.

CNN 3/4/21

Anyway, this post is just a reminder that Greg Abbott is a bigot who will continually scapegoat “the other” for his own political gain. Actually, this bit of news shouldn’t be a surprise. The surprise is that there are still idiots out there (even Dems) who will keep this guy in office, even when given a clear choice.

Do Your Part and Report Violations of Greg Abbott’s Order

UPDATE 3:15pm – 5/4/2020 — ABC13 reports that during Day 1 of this reporting portal, over 450 businesses have been reported by your fellow Harris Countians for violating Greg Abbott’s order.


If you see violations of Greg Abbott’s order, make sure you report them. Harris County has provided a nifty form on which to report specifics. The form and other pertinent resources are located at ReadyHarris.

Unfortunately, we can’t report idiots not wearing masks, but if you see a violation of Greg Abbott’s “ReOpen Texas Phase 1,” then, by all means, do so.

This is about keeping Texans safe.

 

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.

12/8/2016: Panel Discussions on US-Mexico Business Environment

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PLEASE RSVP BY CLICKING HERE

Rally to Raise Houston – Friday May 27

seiujanitorsTen years ago, Houston Janitors won a courageous battle for better wages and working conditions. Ten years later, the Janitors are fighting to to get ahead and to achieve a new contract with major office building owners to contract with better paying contractors.

Members of the SEIU invite all of Houston to join the Houston Janitors as they as they come together to fight for dignity, respect, and fair pay.

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016 at 4PM

2000 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056 

The facts are these. 30% of workforce makes less than $12/hour. Union janitors make an average of $9.35/hour. And Janitors in other cities make more, while rent for offices are less than what Houston building owners make.

IF THE CONTRACTORS WIN

  • Wages as low as $29 a day

  • No guaranteed wage increase

  • No affordable benefits

  • No vacation time

  • Seniority is not recognized

  • No paid holidays

  • No way to solve job problems

IF WE STAND UP FOR OUR UNION

  • Wages at least $9.35/hr

  • Guaranteed yearly wage increase

  • Affordable health care when you work 30+ hours

  • 1 week vacation/year

  • With seniority, up to 2 weeks vacation

  • 6 paid holidays

  • Regular way to solve job problems

Central Business District Office Rents and Union Janitorial Wages

City CBD

Rental Rates ($/sq ft)

Janitor Wages ($/hr)

Houston

41.12

9.35

Seattle

39.12

15.75

Chicago

36.79

16.76

Denver

34.21

12.60

San Diego

29.28

11.65

Philadelphia

28.19

16.89

Minneapolis

27.18

15.12

Detroit

20.64

11.97

Source: JLL quarterly office statistics reports (2015 Q4), SEIU contracts.

3rd Centavo ~ Tameez: Give Up The Green

My friend, Mustafa Tameez, among the best political strategists out there and whose opinion I trust, had a pretty thought-provoking piece in the Texas Tribune’s Tribtalk. It’s about giving up grass. No, not the one for funny cigarettes, but the actual stuff some of us have in our front yards.

We clip it, bag it, throw it away, feed it, love it, hate it, fight with it, protect it, brag on it and curse it. Our lush green lawns suck up a preposterous amount of our time, energy, money and water supplies. That’s why Texas — still facing major water woes — is the perfect place to open a national discussion on the need to give up this ridiculous obsession.

Lawn care is big business in the United States. According to Ted Steinberg, the author of American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn, Americans spend a massive $40 billion on their lawns every year. Texas, famous for its big suburbs full of big homes surrounded by big lawns, surely makes up a large portion of that total.

The sheer volume of water used for lawn upkeep is even more incredible. According to a Texas Water Development Board study, 259 Texas cities between 2004 and 2008 used an annual total of about 96.7 billion gallons of water outdoors — 80 to 90 percent of which is estimated to have been used to maintain lawns and plants. To put that into perspective, picture all the water that runs over Niagara Falls during a 40-hour workweek. Now imagine that same amount poured into our yards. Just in Texas.

This tremendous wastefulness has continued during a time of scarcity. Texas, already drier than most of the rest of the U.S. to begin with, is in the middle of one of its worst droughts in history. But the lawn care industry is humming along and, along with agriculture, remains a major source of water consumption. (Of course, we don’t eat the grass; it goes into a landfill, but not until after we’ve dumped an estimated 22 inches of water on it, according to the Texas Water Resources Institute.)

In many ways, Texas has adeptly handled water shortages in recent years. Cities like San Antonio are leading the way in municipal conservation efforts, and Texas voters in 2013 overwhelmingly approved a plan to take $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to fund water supply projects. We’re faring considerably better than states like California, where several communities are on the verge of running out of water, and other parts of the world like China.

Still, we drop enough fresh, potable water into our yards every day to make T. Boone Pickens blush.

We must cast aside our vanity-fueled insistence that lush lawns are a fixture of our modern lifestyle. There’s no good reason to plant thirstier varieties of grass, like St. Augustine, instead of hardier types like native buffalograss. Incorporating xeriscaping, or dry landscaping, into more lawns would also help reduce water use.

If Gov. Rick Perry can talk about marijuana in the same tones as President Obama, surely we can have a meaningful conversation about the other kind of grass, too.

Having visited Santa Fe, NM a few times, it was easy to become a fan of xeriscaping and dry landscapes. I guess my biggest concern would be the hit to landscaping companies, especially, their base of employees. Then again, some of these estate-sized lawns who suck up the most water would still have similar management needs. The biggest challenge would be a culture change of epic proportions to support such an idea. Thus far, the threat of water shortages and drought have yet to make people think.

Boycotting Buc-ees

I guess there’s a movement going on now that Congressman Joaquin Castro made it known that Buc-ees is no longer on his list of stopping points on the way to anywhere in Texas.

I can’t blame him. When a lovable looking beaver is pictured with the guy who gets off on dehumanizing immigrants, well, there’s no doubt that those big white beaver teeth are now tainted with the hatred of Dan Patrick and other like-minded bigots.

The Buc-ees corporation is quick to point out that the owners are the Patrick endorsers and not the corporation itself. I guess, in this case, corporations aren’t people? Anyway…

[Update:  If the corporation isn’t supporting him, how does the use of the beaver not say “corporate endorsement”?]

The bottom line is that when the Texas Farm Bureau has something to say in defense of agricultural workers who are usually undocumented, then it is safe to say that Dan Patrick is way off the mark on this issue; and, if anything, he isn’t really supportive of Texas agriculture.

Kudos to the Congressman for standing up against the immigrant bashers. And kudos to all those other Texas elected officials who have joined the chorus, too.

Tweet of the Day: Payday Lending Ordinance Passes

I’ll give the big prize to Mike Morris of the Chron.

PDiddie has more.