Category Archives: Local Politica

Texas Republicans File Hateful Sanctuary Cities Bill

nomexHateful Texas House Republicans emboldened by Trump and his bigoted ilk have filed a bill that would cut state funding to so-called sanctuary cities. And their grand wizard, Dan Patrick, has made SB4 a priority.

The legislation by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, seeks to short circuit “sanctuary city” policies that prohibit or discourage police, jail personnel, prosecutors and other officials from inquiring into the immigration status of anybody who has been arrested or detained.

“By electing a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress, the American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority,” Perry said in a statement. “That starts by eliminating sanctuary cities, securing our border and enforcing the immigration laws we currently have on the books.”

Apparently, they didn’t notice that Texas counties like Harris got rid of an anti-immigrant Sheriff and DA. And they haven’t noticed that the border billions they have spent these last two sessions have been a complete failure and waste. The target is obvious.

Federalizing local police and jails is the first step to allowing racial profiling to run amok, while increasing waste in jail spending. Incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ran on a campaign to rid Harris County jail of programs like 287g, which basically puts local resources into the immigration money game. 287g and Secure Communities have been terribly flawed deportation programs which have destroyed families and affected local economies.

No, it’s not surprising that this bill came up, again. What we should be ready for is racist rhetoric and activity that will surely be thrown at the Latino and immigrant community. And there will be no one to blame but the Republican Party (and any Democrat who happens to support it). Don’t be fooled by the “security” rhetoric. Trump and the Republicans are making it obvious who it is they are targeting–Brown people.

Scenes From Early Voting 2016

It’s been a while, but I’m getting into this whole political thing, again. I did my part and voted at Tracy Gee Center–it only took 35 minutes. If you’re wondering, #ImWithFlo and I voted a straight Democratic ticket. Some may say there might be some good judges on the other side, but for the life of me, I’ll never understand why anyone would want to be in the Party of Trump, and then expect to be considered impartial. So, I voted a straight “D” ticket, except for a couple of races in which I unclicked the Dems and left it blank.

Here are a few pics from the Early Voting Kick-Off at West Gray Center. VOTE EARLY! More pics here.

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Run-Off Day – May 24, 2016

Today is run-off day, and as is usually the case during low-turn-out elections, polling locations will be consolidated around Harris County. So, you better check with Harris County before you go to your usual election day polling location. While you’re at it, get a copy of your sample ballot.

Of course, there is the Stace Run-Off Slate to consider:

My choices:

SBOE6:  Jasmine Jenkins

District Judge, 11th District:  Rabeea Collier

District Judge, 61st District:  Fredericka Phillips

District Judge, 215 District:  JoAnn Storey

Sheriff:  Ed Gonzalez

The NIMBY, but I would if I could vote for them Slate:

JP1:  Tanya Makany-Rivera

Constable Pct 2:  Christopher Diaz

Constable Pct 3:  Michel Pappillion

 

 

Early Voting: May 16 – May 20

donkey-fightWell, it’s that time, again. Democrats didn’t finish the job of setting the slate for the November ballot, so, it’s time for us to return to our polling locations and finish the job.

On the ballot are one statewide post, several judicial posts, an SBOE post, some JP jobs, and most importantly, ensuring Ed Gonzalez is our Democratic nominee for Harris County Sheriff.

Early voting begins today, May 16 and goes on until May 20, 7am to 7pm, and you may vote at any early voting location. Run-off election day is Tuesday, May 24. Find a early voting location here.

My choices:

SBOE6:  Jasmine Jenkins

District Judge, 11th District:  Rabeea Collier

District Judge, 61st District:  Fredericka Phillips

District Judge, 215 District:  JoAnn Storey

Sheriff:  Ed Gonzalez

The NIMBY, but I would if I could vote for them:

JP1:  Tanya Makany-Rivera

Constable Pct 2:  Christopher Diaz

Constable Pct 3:  Michel Pappillion

 

A State Rep Working On Real Issues

With today’s news that Dan Patrick is more interested in potties and sending back billions in federal education dollars to DC, it’s time to remind folks that there are folks representing us in Austin that are actually serving their constituents.

Last weekend, I attended State Rep. Gene Wu’s (HD137) town hall. Having lived in the district for a few years, I had yet to attend one, but since this one would have much to do with moving toward a set of legislative priorities, I thought I’d better go.

Upon arrival, I found a pretty diverse crowd that looked just like Houston. “De todo un poco,” or, a little of everything. And Wu didn’t make the meeting all about him, though I wouldn’t blame him since he’s up for re-election. In fact, he showcased some local experts on issues, such as education, health care, and public safety.

H.D. Chambers, chief at Alief ISD, presented on the realities about public education in the area, and especially on the lawsuit filed by numerous Texas school districts regarding education finance. (The lawsuit was decided today by the Texas Supreme Court and, let’s just say, the kids, the people, and the schools lost). The lawsuit was mainly about having the courts decide how enough resources would be provided to meet expectations that we place on our schools. The Court decided that the state met minimum constitutional standards of funding.

Anyway, he reminded us that there are 5 million students in K-12, but that there are 3.5 million children age 0-3, who by 4 should be getting into Pre-K. Of course, Pre-K support from the state is non-existent. This poses a major threat to the future of Texas, which includes a startling statistic:  If a child cannot read by 3rd grade, there is a 35% chance that the child will dropout of school.

Freddy Warner from the Memorial Hermann system spoke regarding health care from a major system standpoint. He stated that health care and education are among the top funding priorities in the Texas legislature and that in the coming session, they may be crowding each other out. Considering Texas was just bailed out by the Obama administration regarding Medicaid, one would think that Medicaid expansion would be a priority. Warner stated that there is zero chance it would be addressed as health care doesn’t seem to be a priority for most in Austin. He did mention that Memorial Hermann does provide $1.4 billion in charity care.

A startling statistic he provided is that we shouldn’t be surprised if there is a budget shortfall in 2017. While the State Comptroller based a budget on $65 per barrel oil, we’re currently at $40 ($46 today) per barrel. It just doesn’t look good for our next budget.

Now, take Dan Patrick’s potty boycott of $10 billion of our federal money that we’ve paid into the system into consideration. Now, open a bottle of booze and start worrying.

Next up was Januari Leo of Legacy Health, which is a federally qualified health center. The majority of people seen by them are uninsured who cannot afford the emergency room or private clinics. They weren’t helped when Harris Health changed their qualification threshold, thus cutting 19,000 patients from their services.

With uncompensated care growing, and Obama bailing out Texas Medicaid, if a politician for state or local office (Republicans) promised you a cut in property taxes, it is not going to happen. Texas needs to pay its bills. How that is accomplished when we take losses in oil revenue, dismal tax collections and other budgetary nightmares into consideration, well, go ahead and open a second bottle of booze.

The public safety presentations by Assistant County Attorney Vinson and Lt. Conn from HPD centered on some of the things their agencies are working on. The County Attorney’s office is mostly working on ridding the district of nuisance businesses–massage parlors and after-hours clubs. They attract crime, drugs, etc. HPD’s Midwest division helps businesses develop surveys of the areas they serve as to type of crimes and how to protect themselves. They have programs to work at Lee HS with at-risk youth.

Overall, a very interesting meeting that has prepared me for the 2017 session. While State Rep. Wu will definitely have a list of priorities based on open communications with constituents, he’ll have to deal with some of the odd-ball and bigoted priorities being presented by Dan Patrick and his potty buddies.

Ultimately, elections matter. We have a run-off coming up and early voting begins on May 16. You best start practicing for November.

Thanks to Rep. Wu’s staff for putting on an informative meeting and for that open door.

 

Ed Gonzalez Calls on HCSO to Reinstate Inspectors, Diversify Staff

cafeed2Ed Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for Harris County Sheriff, challenged current Sheriff Hickman to reinstate jail inspectors and diversify the staff if any criminal justice reform plan is to succeed.

Here’s the press release from Gonzalez:

Ed Gonzalez, the leading Democratic candidate for Sheriff, called on Sheriff Ron Hickman today to join the county’s push for criminal justice reform by reinstating jail inspectors and replacing his command staff with a more diverse leadership team

Gonzalez applauded yesterday’s action by county commissioners to accept a $2 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation and spend millions more on reforms that include expanding pre-trial diversion programs, implementing a new bail system and improving relationships with minority communities.

“Commissioners are moving in the right direction with their new reform plan, but it won’t be enough until real reform comes to the Sheriff’s office,” said Gonzalez.

“Sheriff Hickman must immediately reinstate the jail inspectors and the investigative unit he dismantled and replace his command staff with a leadership team that is more reflective of the communities served by the sheriff’s office,” said Gonzalez.

Hickman’s first act after being appointed sheriff was to replace the existing diverse command staff with all white men. After intense pressure, Hickman later made some additional appointments, but the command staff is nowhere near reflective of the communities that make up Harris County. Gonzalez expressed concern that, until the sheriff truly diversified his command staff, the county’s new racial and ethnic diversity coordinator would continue to face barriers in rebuilding the trust of minority communities in the criminal justice system.

“If the county’s law enforcement leader fails to recognize the need for real diversity,” said Gonzalez, “what chance will the county’s new criminal justice diversity coordinator have to succeed?”

Gonzalez also expressed serious concerns about the ability of the county’s new jail coordinator to speed up the release of inmates awaiting bail, a key element of the new reform plan, given existing management problems at the jail.

Earlier this month, a suspect awaiting bail on a charge of stealing a guitar was beaten to death by inmates in his holding cell – continuing a pattern of violence, abuse and neglect at the jail that was exposed in a 2015 Houston Chronicle investigation. Hickman’s response was to reduce oversight at the jail, including dismantling the investigative unit that had uncovered some of the worst cases of abuse and neglect.

“For the county’s new reform plan to succeed, we must incease oversight, transparency and accountability at the county jail,” said Gonzalez. “That’s why I’m calling on Sheriff Hickman to live up to the values of this new plan by diversifying his command staff and reinstating the jail inspectors he cut earlier this year.”

Ed Gonzalez is a leading candidate in the May 24 Democratic Party primary runoff election for Harris County Sheriff. He is a veteran Houston Police officer who rose to the rank of Sergeant, led murder investigations and served on the elite hostage negotiating team. He served two terms on the City Council, chairing the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and becoming mayor pro-tem. On the Houston City Council, Gonzalez led efforts at criminal justice reform – including creating the Houston Center for Sobriety, which keeps people who need help out of the criminal justice system and allows police officers to spend more time on patrol, catching criminals.

 

The May 24 Run-Off is Set

donkey-fightThe Harris County Democratic Party recently had a drawing for ballot positions for the May 24th run-off. We’ve got more than a few races in which to choose those candidates we want on the November ballot. With a couple of months until the run-off, here’s your chance to study the candidates. I’m not sure if there’ll be another chance to record the candidates as I did in the first round, but I’ll try to get some video material from some of my favorite candidates in the near future.

Here are the candidates for the Run-Off that I’m watching:

Railroad Commissioner:  Grady Yarbrough, Cody Garrett

State Board of Ed. – 6:  Jasmine L. Jenkins, Dakota Carter

Judge, 11th District:  Kristen Hawkins, Rabeea Collier

Judge, 61st District:  Julie Countiss, Fredericka Phillips

Judge, 215th District:  Elaine Palmer, JoAnn Storey

Sheriff:  Ed Gonzalez, Jerome Moore

The NIMBY Races that I’m watching include:

JP 1-1:  Eric William Carter, Tanya Makany-Rivera

Constable Pct. 2:  Christopher Diaz, George Goffney, Jr.

Those in bold, I’ve decided on; however, the rest were races in which I was off the mark in my previous nods, so, I’m hoping to learn more about the candidates before deciding. Will things take a turn for the negative? Will there be attacks? Will it just be a regular run-off where voters vote by slate card??? Stay tuned!

 

 

Mayor Turner Announces Resource Fairs in his March on Crime

turnerMayor Sylvester Turner has the right idea.  The best way to combat crime is to provide resources to low income, high crime areas. Mayor Turner announced the development of resources fairs that will provide these areas with access to job training, resume writing assistance, social services agencies, among other needed services, especially to those trying to turn their lives around after some lapses in judgment. Recidivism is a major challenge in our community that could be overcome by just opening minds and opportunities for an often stigmatized group of people. Here’s more info:

Turnaround Houston will offer access to job training, resume writing, tattoo removal, social service agencies, educational institutions, counseling and intervention to help hard to employ Houstonians turn their lives around.

“There are Houstonians who have difficulty securing employment due to a variety of reasons which may include a lack of education, prior criminal history, poverty, mental health issues and a lack of positive influences,” said Mayor Turner. “There is a part of our city that is in dire need of assistance and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they are plugged into vital resources and become a part of our city’s success. With the launch of Turnaround Houston, we want to eliminate the barriers to employment by offering a roadmap to a brighter future.”

As a part of this initiative, Houstonians who are hard to employ should also know that if they connect with the resources that are available, they can turn their lives around. There are thousands of success stories in the city, one such example is Angel Ponce who works in theMayor‘s Office of People with Disabilities. Ponce was previously involved with a gang and suffered a life altering accident which finally pushed him on the right track.

“I used to have tattoos on my face, I didn’t care what I looked like and I didn’t have a future. I had known about the services available to me at the City of Houston through the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, but I didn’t take advantage of them until I suffered a spinal injury which caused me to re-assess my life. I am now a productive part of society helping former gang members and those with disabilities such as my own. This wouldn’t have been possible without the City’s resources,” said Ponce.

Each Turnaround Houston resource fair will include workshops on resume creation and interview tips. Participants can also learn how to start their own businesses and hear the success stories of Houstonians who have received a second chance.

The first resource fair will take place Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 9413 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77033 and is sponsored by Houston First and the Port of Houston Authority.  The dates for the additional fairs will be announced at a later time.

Turnaround Houston resource partners- Include:

  • The Office of Business Opportunity
  • Mental Health Services –Health Department
  • Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office
  • The City of Houston’s Re-entry program
  • Workforce Solutions/Neighborhood Centers
  • SER Jobs for Progress
  • Houston Area Urban League
  • Dress for Success
  • Career Gear
  • Franklin Beauty School
  • Summer Jobs Program-City of Houston

To see a full list of employers, resource partners and to register log on to www.turnaroundhouston.org.

 

DC Primary 2016 Voter Guide

donkey-fight

Tuesday, March 1 is Democratic Primary Day. This means, for those that didn’t vote early, that one must vote in their home precinct. Here are a few tips for Tuesday.

But if you think it’s too late and just want to know for whom I voted in the contested races, well, you can VOTE THE STACE SLATE.

 

 

The 2016 Dem Primary Stace Slate

bernieOther than a few blog posts about candidates, I haven’t made any formal endorsements with lengthy reasons; just my slate. And even the slate is incomplete as I’m either undecided or decided to skip and let the people pick. That said, those I’ve chosen, I’ve had some sort of experience with, whether it be speeches, personally meeting, or have known for a long time from previous races in which I gave my support. Ultimately, endorsements are only worth the number of votes they can bring out, and, let’s face it, most are worthless (including office-holder ones). The voters matter; not some PAC that speaks for their own interests. But if you’re wanting to see for whom I’m voting and it helps you pick for or against someone, then, here you go. But VOTE!

President – Bernie Sanders

Railroad Commissioner – Lon Burnam

Member, State Board of Education, District 6 – Jasmine L. Jenkins

State Representative, District 137 – Gene Wu

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, District 2 – Jim Sharp

District Judge, 11th Judicial District – Rabeea Collier

District Judge, 61st District – Dion Ramos

District Judge, 165th District – Josefina Rendon

District Judge, 174th District – Raul Rodriguez

District Judge, 176th District – Shawna Reagin

District Judge, 177th District – Robert Johnson

District Judge, 179th District – Randy Roll

District Judge, 215th District – Joshua Verde

District Judge, 351st District – Greg Glass

District Attorney – Morris Overstreet

Sheriff – Ed Gonzalez

Tax Assessor-Collector – Ann Harris Bennett

County Commissioner, Pct. 3 – Jenifer Rene Pool

IF I COULD, I’D VOTE FOR…

Congress, District 29 – Adrian Garcia

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 1 – Tanya Makany-Rivera

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 3 – Joe Stephens

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 6 – Richard Vara

State Rep. – 126 – Cris Hernandez

State Rep. – 144 – Cody Ray Wheeler

State Rep. – 148 – Jessica Cristina Farrar