Category Archives: Local Politica

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!

 

Beto’s Immigration Ad Is Pretty Good!

I was hoping Beto O’Rourke would hit back at Ted Cruz on immigration in some way and soon. I must say his ad, which I saw last night during the local news, is pretty good. He hits Cruz hard on his fear-mongering and support of deportation policies, as well as his obstruction on moving the conversation forward. Hopefully, it’ll be on rotation through November 6.

Check it out:

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.

 

Little Joe Endorses Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor

The King of the Brown Sound, Little Joe Hernandez, has endorsed Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor. In fact, he proudly supports his prima. In a video released (above) by the campaign, Hernandez explains his reasons, the one resonating the most, “This race will be fought, not bought,” an obvious hit at the price tag hanging from Greg Abbott.

Little Joe y La Familia is performing today at a rally in support of Lupe Valdez, Sylvia Garcia for Congress, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge, and Adrian Garcia for County Commissioner, Pct. 2 at 2:30PM at the East End Event Center on Dahlia Street. 

I’ll tell the Latino community this:  There are a few Dem insiders still stewing over Valdez’s Dem primary win, and there are apologists for the right who simply won’t support her or donate to her campaign while giving to others. And there are others raising and sending money to candidates in other states. It’s up to us to spread the word about Lupe Valdez. Es Nuestra and she’ll fight for all communities.

Albert Peña Bio by Jose Angel Gutierrez Wins Best Biography

Congrats to one of my favorite mentors, Chicano scholars, and one of my dad’s old customers at Medellin’s Texaco in Cristal, Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, on winning Best Biography at the 20th Annual Latino Book Awards for Albert A. Peña, Jr., Dean of Chicano Politics.

My 2006 post of Peña’s obit continues to earn traffic. Along with fighting for school desegration in the 50’s, Peña’s history includes having defended activist Angela Davis in 1972, which was cause for him to lose re-election to the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court because of Davis’ Communist Party affiliation. Davis was recently in Houston for a UH speaking engagement.

Here’s the full press release:

The 1st place winner in the category of author of the Best Biography in the Non-fiction Awards section of the 20th International Latino Book Awards Ceremony held on the California State University Dominguez Hills campus in Carson City, California on September 8, 2018 was Crystal City, Texas native, Jose Angel Gutierrez.

He is best known as the last standing member of the Four Horsemen of the Chicano Movement. Dr. Gutierrez has written over a dozen books and is Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas Arlington as well as a practicing attorney in Dallas, Texas. He now resides in Redlands, CA.

This first-place winning biography is about the life of San Antonio native Albert A. Peña, Jr., former Bexar County Commissioner. He is the famous icon of the Chicano Movement era for his political acumen, vision in founding so many of our current institutions such as Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, National Council of la Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Presenting the award to Dr.  Gutierrez was none other than Dr. Julian Nava, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico during the President Jimmy Carter years and author in his own right.

The packed-house event featured some of the most creative and brilliant Chicano and other Latino authors of our time. Some winners were repeat honorees, but many were first-timers in the fifteen categories for entries.  This awards ceremony is the largest of its kind featuring authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers of books in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

It is organized annually by the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now led by Kirk Whisler and Hollywood actor Edward James Olmos.

The winning book is titled Albert A. Peña, Jr. Dean of Chicano Politics and published by Michigan State University Press in 2017 as part of the Latinos in the United States Series, editor Dr. Ruben Martinez of the Julian Samora Research Institute.

Inbox: Congressional Battleground Poll on Immigration Policy

From the inbox:

Washington, DC – Today, experts released new battleground poll results conducted by Latino Decisions – on behalf of America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota, Indivisible, NAACP, and AAPI Civic Engagement Fund – of Latino, Asian American, African American, Native American, and White likely voters in 61 districts across the United States.

Resources

Voters of every race are upset and angry over the child separation and detention policy, by large margins. Even conservatives are opposed to the child detention policies and it makes them angry.  Overall 73% of voter in battleground House districts say they are angry about the child separations at the border.

There is a strong majority against Trump’s strict immigration policies and instead in support of welcoming immigration policies. 79% want to see the Dream Act passed, while only 36% think the Trump border wall is a good idea. By a 2-1 margin, every racial group opposes child detention policies, and the same goes for 2-1 opposition to ending domestic violence protections for asylum seekers.

Strong majorities agree that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families.When confronted with competing messages on immigration, 61% of whites, and over 75% of Latinos, AAPIs and African Americans agreed that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families, just like you and me, and support legislation to make America more welcoming to immigrants. Only a minority of voters agreed with the conservative narrative that immigrants are taking jobs away from real Americans and hurting our economy.

Voters of all races and ethnicities think Trump is increasing division and racial hostility. In 2016, it was just campaign rhetoric. Now, it is 18 months of living through his ugly rhetoric and his policies. Overall 60% think Trump has had a negative or racist impact on minorities, only 22% think he has been positive. A majority of every racial group agrees with this, including whites.

Finally, the poll reports overwhelming support for themes of unity and inclusion. Voters are tired of hostility, attacks, and division. Over 85% of all voters agreed with this statement: “Today, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists hurt everyone by handing kickbacks to the rich, de-funding our schools, and threatening our seniors with cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Then they turn around and point the finger for our hard times at poor families, Black people, and new immigrants. We need to join together with people from all walks of life to fight for our future.”

Calling Out Our Own: Following The Money

Now, let’s see what liberal freak-out happens next

For years, the Democratic attack against Republicans has had a mantra to convince the voters that one side is bought:  “Follow the money!”

Some of us actually do.

When it comes to private prisons and the border boondoggle that comes with it, both sides seem to enjoy the cash that comes from the industry, and the Texas Observer posted an article which outlines how much money the Dems have received in recent times.

Now, no doubt, Republicans have enjoyed more of the cash, but that’s not the point, right? And this is a national problem as even Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and other nationally known Democrats are known to have taken tons of that cash. Some of these national Dems are even publicly calling out the warehousing of children while still taking that cash. When they start showing up at rallies, well, some of us get a bit annoyed.

In Texas, though, the private prison industry is huge. Corporations like GEO and CORECivic (Corrections Corporation of America) have been hired by the state government to house inmates, along with being hired by the feds to warehouse detained migrants. Some even run the “family residential centers” that have housed migrant families–and not just by Trump.

And the way some of these work:  Local government builds facility; locals give contract to private prison company to run it; private prison gets contract from state or feds; State and Feds ignore complaints about treatment of inmates, lack of health services, etc. It’s a vicious cycle in which multiple levels of politicians earn some easy campaign cash.

Needless to say, the list includes some of Texas’ favorite Democrats, such as former State Senator Leticia Van de Putte. I remember she supported the Texas DPS border surge that is still ongoing and costly. Then I see our own current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner having received some cash when he was in the Lege. No surprise, there are also “border” representatives like Judith Zaffirini, Tracy King and others who enjoy, or have enjoyed, private prisons as some of the biggest employers in their districts, so, their support kept those private jails filled to the max.

Others on the list have been champions of offender second chances and sentencing reform for poor offenders who can’t pay fines.

I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for taking the checks. Some may just call them “unsolicited” contributions. Current candidate for State Senate (SD19) Roland Gutierrez is one of those and is donating his $250 to a good cause. [Update:  Gutierrez has accused his opponent Pete Gallego of accepting a $5,000 contribution from private prison giant GEO Group; however, further research has found that during the 2013-2014 campaign season, Gallego accepted over $12,000 from GEO and Corrections Corporation of America.] But whether it’s now, when children and families are being locked up in these freezers, or whether “back when” the state of Texas was in a run-up to locking up every low-level offender to fill official and rented jail space, it’s always been wrong to support these badly run facilities.

But, there is a quick-fix! If a check was received, donate it! MALDEF, Grassroots Leadership, Texas ACLU and others are assisting in representing and bonding out detained migrants. Put this bad money to good use. Thankfully, it’s not as much as Greg Abbott, who has a price tag hanging out his hind-side for just about any right-wing interest. And, then, never take a dirty check again.

Remember the question posed by the Observer:  Could it become a liability for Democrats? For most of these Dems in safe districts, probably not. For former Lege members who are now high-paid lobbyists, even less. For Dems as a whole, well, the Republicans are already playing their strategy of “they did it too!” The Republicans are lock-and-goose-step supportive of the money and locking up immigrants and citizens, alike, but when the Democrats make statements against the latest Republican anti-immigrant policy while holding a check from the industry, well, it just looks bad.

Donate it!

 

 

 

 

 

#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.

 

Kids and Families Are Still Locked Up, Stop Celebrating

Nothing is more annoying than seeing liberal and/or Democratic activists  and politicians portraying Trump’s madman of a signature on a document that really does nothing about the current human rights crisis as some sort of victory.

Our friends at Mijente posted six things you should know about the Trump executive order:

  1. DHS will receive more money to create new family prisons that will hold parents and children together, while the parents are being criminally prosecuted and while their deportation cases are pending.
  2. Given that criminal prosecutions and deportation cases of parents can take long periods of time, and that children are supposed to be detained along with their parents, Sessions will try to get the courts to grant him the ability to detain children indefinitely.
  3. Trump and Sessions will continue to implement their “Zero Tolerance” policy and prosecute everyone detained at the border.
  4. The Department of Defense will help provide spaces, like army bases, for these family prisons, and build new ones as needed. Other cabinet-level departments are being recruited to do the same.
  5. Sessions will be given more resources to deport families faster after they are prosecuted, and appropriate the funding if needed.
  6. The order does not speak to any families that have already been separated — and existing policies place the responsibility on parents to find their children in HHS custody and seek to reunite with them.

If if you don’t want to listen to us, then listen to Elizabeth Warren.

As political as this fight is, it’s about human beings. Yes, children are being placed in cages and in “licensed child care facilities” adorned with prison-style razor wire all around, but we’re also talking about families seeking asylum, having escaped violence and poverty in their home countries; and, which must be repeated for the allies in the back, IS NOT A CRIME! Therefore, children, moms, and dads should not be locked up while waiting for what is an administrative hearing–not a criminal court.

Trump and his ilk are experts at public relations. He’ll throw out one-liners to appease his followers and the Republican Party. Allies must learn NEVER to give-in to their rhetoric–any of it. And yesterday was just another example that made it seem like some thought this particular fight was suddenly over and that victory could be declared just to poke fun at Trump. No, the fight continues. Lives are at stake.