Category Archives: Local Politica

Executive “Interns” Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers

I swear, right-wingers and second-rate reporters run on stupid to gain votes and ratings.

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s opponents, which apparently includes local media, are trying to make something out of nothing when it comes to the “$95K intern” that a local station discovered in plain sight (it’s public record). The Mayor’s opponents play on ignorance–all of the time.

It’s obvious the local station is creating something out of nothing since they seem to concentrate on the attempted “gotcha!” BS of reporter Mario Diaz who pushed a mic in the Mayor’s face while he was walking out of a police cadet swearing-in ceremony in attempt to surprise the Mayor. It was pretty disrespectful. Even the best reporters wait for a press conference or gaggle when they question the President on his law-breaking and impeachable offenses. In this case, it was theater–and it wasn’t even good theater. And the Mayor’s political opponents are the worst actors.

As far as the intern is concerned, I have no problem with city government having an executive training program, which is what this should have been called by the local news, and what it is. “Intern” sounds to most like a coffee go-fer at KPRC. And perhaps that’s what comes to mind to most voters when someone says “intern.” Maybe folks should think better of interns.

This guy is not your run-of-the-mill office go-fer. The position was created to start a management training program. It’s no different than corporations with similar programs, like Enterprise. Or, even our own state universities who seek out talent within the academic ranks to give them experience in the administration side of things–I think they call them “assistant to the president,” or something to that effect. Why shouldn’t governments do the same as corporations? Don’t we want better government?

The “intern” in question has three degrees–two of them from my alma mater (Texas State). It’s not like he’s not qualified for the job or even the salary; although, some lawyer who KPRC brought around says he’s “too qualified” to be a coffee go-fer. Yeah, he is. And he isn’t a coffee go-fer. He’s training to become a government executive. One needs experience to run things, no?

This story does point out a need for our city governments:  A management training program in all executive departments so we can keep and grow talent in city management and not lose them to the private sector so quickly. Oh, and maybe interns should be paid, whether they bring coffee or help run things.

As far as playing “Gotcha!”, it would seem local reporters need to step up their game. At the very least, improve the theatrics.

 

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The 2019 #StaceSlate

¡Feliz Fiestas Patrias y Viva La Raza!

The 2019 City of Houston elections are upon us and some of you may be thinking about whose name to click when you show up to your polling location in November. Well, I’ve made my choices and urge you to vote for these individuals. I’ll write out explanations about why soon, but I think I’ve proven I can be trusted with my electoral choices.

Note:  The first list are those who will appear on my own ballot. The others are candidates I wish I could vote for, but I do not reside in their districts. I’ll pick among the state constitutional measures and Alief ISD trustee candidates soon.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA

AT-LARGE 2 -DAVID ROBINSON

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY THOMAS

METRONEXT BOND – YES/FOR/SI (whatever the positive answer is)

OTHERS

DISTRICT B – TARSHA JACKSON

DISTRICT H – ISABEL LONGORIA

DISTRICT I – ROBERT GALLEGOS

DISTRICT J – SANDRA RODRIGUEZ

HCC DISTRICT I – MONICA FLORES RICHART

HISD DISTRICT III – SERGIO LIRA

TEXAS HOUSE DISTRICT 148 (Special):  PENNY MORALES SHAW

and for good measure

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – JULIAN CASTRO (ongoing)

 

* No contributions were offered or accepted for these endorsements. No memberships were required to be purchased.

 

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez Enters Senate Race

Have you ever had a bunch of candidates to choose from and still can’t make a decision? Yeah, me too.

But Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez has entered the race for the Senate to rid us of  John Cornyn, so, perhaps the choice is easier today.

Ramirez is an activist and organizer who founded the Workers Defense Project and voter engagement group, Jolt Texas. Many of us have watched her interviews on MSNBC speaking on behalf of the pro-migrant cause during these painful days of mourning since the El Paso shooting and since Trump’s attacks on the Latino community. Obviously, she’s running as a progressive on all the issues Democrats love.

I’m running because I want to ensure that every Texan has high-quality healthcare, to build an economy that creates millions of good jobs and positions our state as the leader in our global transition towards a green future, to protect the rights of immigrant families and communities of color, and to ensure that every single Texan that wants to go to college can afford it and graduate debt free.

Given her positions on these issues, I do not expect her to change her views mid-General to appease the unreachable and unattainable, which happens in most Texas campaigns. So, I expect her to run a strong, grassroots campaign funded by working people who seek real change in Washington, DC.

I’m running because I have the most beautiful two year old son in the world, Santiago, and when I imagine the world he’s going to inherit, and the one I leave behind for him, I want him to be proud of what I stood up for. What we stood up for together. I want him to know that in a moment where 1 in 6 Texans didn’t have access to healthcare and millions were struggling just to make ends meet, when communities were being pitted against one another on the basis of race, and our world was at the brink of an imminent climate catastrophe, we came together and worked as hard as we could to make his life and other children’s lives like him better.

What’s the path to victory? Given her message, it’s through all communities. And that will take visibility across Texas. From the Trib:

Tzintzún Ramirez welcomed a competitive nominating contest as healthy for Democrats, saying the candidates in the Senate race are “all essentially at the same starting place,” unknown to most voters statewide and thus forced to run on the merits of their platforms. Asked how she plans to distinguish herself, she pointed to her forthrightness on the issues and her record of mobilizing the kind of voters often overlooked by politicians.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.

This kind of video helps.

The Trib has more.

 

 

The Winner of Tuesdays Debate…

I couldn’t help but think the same thing, Congressman!

As far as debate performance went, I thought Senator Warren did a great job, especially of defending herself from the mod(erate) squad that was relentless in attacking her and Senator Sanders’ platforms. It’s good to know that she’ll be able to handle similar attacks from the right from Joe Biden in the future.

Bernie Sanders reminded me why I was such a fan of his in 2016.

“I wrote the damn bill!”

Buttigieg, likewise, did OK. While I’m not a fan of the whole soldier thing, I agree with him that the right is going to paint Dems as socialist, open borders, private insurance hating Antifa terrorists no matter where Dems fall on the issues. So, let’s put out a platform promote it and defend it.

Beto was Beto; always trying to be the great white hope.

The rest didn’t leave an impression on me, although, Marianne Williamson said plenty of things that needed to be said on racism and Washington, DC corruption.

Regarding health care, the debate is becoming about keeping private insurance in a “universal” plan since people who can afford insurance don’t want to lose what they have. And while government jobs don’t offer the best insurance choices, some companies do offer some pretty good ones. Let’s remember that platforms are platforms. Let’s remember Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of term one and then ignored it completely. So, let’s not get all nasty here because it also takes political capital and using it well to get things done. The key, in this case, is to increase access to the uninsured while lowering prices and ending insurance company corruption. Eyes on the prize!

On immigration, it was Warren who stayed strong on the issue of decriminalizing border crossing, while the others seemed to want to keep the “criminal” designation alive for whatever reason. The mod squad put the blame on Trump, but even Democrats have warehoused immigrant families and deported millions without due process because of this designation. So, it’s better to get rid of it. Bernie came close until he mentioned the idea of more immigration judges. Although I understand his sentiment regarding backlogs in the entire system, the comment reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s “deport the kids” attitude of 2014. And in these debates, sound bytes matter.

As much as people talk about “Russia,” Democrats need to be reminded that US meddling in Latin American elections is still a thing. And, if we want to talk about “root causes” of migration, we may need to start with this fact.

Day 2 of Who Gets Voted Off the Island is today. As always, I’m rooting for Julian Castro. He’s only two spaces away from Joe Biden, so I hope he lands some chingazos (political ones, of course) tonight.

Houston CM Amanda Edwards Enters US Senate Race

And with this announcement, I can honestly say I don’t know where I stand on this race. But I will say Edwards’ video announcement is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times, featuring imagery to capture hearts and minds. And that’s what it’s going to take, along with a lot of campaign cash, to defeat Cornyn.

Edwards joins the already announced MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, and Chris Bell. (Maybe there are others.) We await announcements from State Senator Royce West and Jolt CEO Christina Tzintzun Ramirez.

Texas is a huge state, so, one has to ask themselves what the path to victory is for all of these candidates. Only Hernandez (US Senate primary in 2018) and Bell (for Governor) have run statewide. Houston area candidates obviously know Houston is where it’s at in this state, especially during an active presidential primary. Dallas is no different, though.

But South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley will play a major role, as always, and must not be ignored or ceded by any of the candidates–no matter what they think their chances are based on the ethnic make-up of the region. Remember, one of them will end up taking on Cornyn and if they ignore big swaths of the state, they won’t get much attention in November 2020. So, don’t ignore South Texas!

We will be seeing more and more activity about 2020 given all of these announcements. I’ll remind you that, here in Houston, we have a 2019 City of Houston election that should be on our minds. Obviously, Edwards not running for re-election in City Council At-Large 4 changes things and we’ve seen some current candidates switch from one race to another, including Nick Hellyar from a very crowded District C and Dr. Letitia Plummer from a crowded At-Large 5. I expect more to announce as we move toward the filing deadline. As Kuff reminds us, today, there are a lot of open seats and these races are crowded.

As always, follow Eric Manning’s spreadsheet to find out who has filed campaign treasurer appointments for City, HISD and other races. It’s starting to get interesting, if not exciting.

 

City of Houston Races Continue to Shape Up and Contract

Click Here For The Latest List of Prospective City of Houston Candidates

The local race all eyes (at least those paying attention) are on is that of Houston Mayor. Mayor Sylvester Turner was already taking on a couple of self-funded millionaires before CM Dwight Boykins joined in and was backed by the firefighters. Then, after Boykins’ verbal diarrhea in which he offended, well, everybody (especially young women), former CM Sue Lovell joined in. There are others running, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

Where does this leave the race for endorsements? Well, we heard a little about the endorsement game this week, too. I’ve never liked the local endorsement game where endorsing club memberships are bought by candidates in order to pack the endorsement meeting for a said candidates. The excuse (from the consultant class, especially) continues to be, “Well, it’s the way it’s always been done.” That doesn’t mean it’s right, and it certainly doesn’t mean things cannot change for the better. There’s something very wrong when you have 300 people at one club meeting, then 15 at the next. Anyway…

Where do I stand on the Mayor’s race? Obviously, I’m just not into it this year. Although I do side with Mayor Turner in that he’s attempted to responsibly give firefighters raises that are affordable and within budget, he has left me wanting stronger responses to the local baby jails and planned ICE raids. Simply promoting “diversity” is not enough if you’re not defending children (including 17 year olds at 419 Emancipation) or fighting against migrant round-ups that instill fear in a community.  This is the issue of the day and even local candidates must speak up against the Trump administration and those benefiting from racist policies. So, Mayor (and the others), up your game!

City Council

My own District F will not have an incumbent as current CM Steve Le has decided to not seek re-election after causing much controversy. There’s also that thing about not even residing in the district, I hear; not that it’s ever stopped anyone. I’m still undecided, but Tiffany Thomas is on my radar, as is former District F CM Richard Nguyen. Still, it’s crowded and anything can happen. So, impress me.

District H, which serves the Heights and Northside has a couple of challengers for Karla Cisneros. Most recently, Isabel Longoria, a local organizer and activist, joined the race. I expect a great challenge from her.

District J out in SW Houston is also crowded. I met Sandra Rodriguez and Nelvin Adriatico the other day. Both are personable and communicate well with prospective voters. And that’s the key–talking to actual voters in a low-performing area of town. A lot of my friends are backing Rodriguez, though, and her experience on city issues puts her ahead of the pack.

Check out the list to find out about other district races.

I’ll be doing another post about the at-large races later. I am definitely supporting Raj Salhotra in At-Large 1 and Janaeya Carmouche in At-Large 3.

 

 

The May 2019 Election – Results

Santa Fe, TX

The biggest news from Saturday’s election is that a good friend and associate of mine will be joining the Santa Fe, TX City Council. Fidencio Leija, Jr. won his race for Place 4, defeating an incumbent in grand fashion.

Leija, a native of Santa Fe, returned home to start a family and an insurance business. Known for his commitment to community during his time in Houston, Leija immediately became involved in his Santa Fe community serving on various committees and associations. It was obvious that he’d be a good fit on the City Council and the voters responded quite well to his campaign.

Congrats to my friend and fellow Texas State Bobcat, Fidencio, and his family. I know he will be a voice for the betterment of the community.

Pasadena, TX

Kudos to Cody Ray Wheeler on his re-election to City Council District E for the City of Pasadena. He fended off a challenger while campaigning to continue being a voice of reason on the Council. Also, police officer Ornaldo Ybarra returned to the City Council defeating the incumbent. Unfortunately, Steve Halvorson’s challenge fell short, but he ran a great race. Sammy Casados was unopposed in his race for re-election.

Cy-Fair ISD Bond

Since I spend a lot of time in that part of the county, I must say that I’m happy the bond passed with over 70% of the vote. Cy-Fair is one of those fast-growth districts that needs the space. In other school news, Conroe ISD, another one of those fast-growth districts, voted down their bond to add much needed space. Cy-Fair was smart. Conroe, not so much.

San Antonio and Dallas

Looks like there will be run-offs for Mayor in SA and Dallas.

In SA, it’s Mayor Ron Niremberg who was forced into a run-off after falling just short of being re-elected. The race is a contentious one in which a lot of mud has been thrown at Mayor Ron.

In Dallas, it’s State Rep. Eric Johnson who will be in a run-off for the open seat with Scott Griggs. I’m rooting for Rep. Johnson.

Local elections are for positions and boards in which the most important decisions are made. Houston is headed toward November already and there will be some contentious races. Read the facts, instead of the rhetoric, before clicking “cast vote.”

4/24/2019: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia To Host ITC Town Hall

 

A Short Local Nightmare Is Over

There are plenty of opinions, legal and otherwise, regarding the accidental resignation of Judge Bill McCleod from his County Court at Law #4 post. No doubt, he has quite a fan base that he worked hard to build by literally being everywhere during his campaigns for office over the years. Ultimately, the law is the law and the County Attorney and County Commissioners made the right call–legally and politically. While the Democrats were straight-forward on the decision, the Republicans seemed to want to play political games given how they voted on the matter.

But, as Kuff reports, the appointment of the new judge, Lesley Briones, came quickly and without much discussion or consideration. While there are no questions of legality, there are political and maybe procedural questions, especially from Democratic activists.

Mostly, Democratic activists have never heard of Briones–even Commissioners who supported her appointment. The questions I got from various activists included:

  • Who is she? Well, Briones has worked with a big firm and a major local nonprofit. She taught at-risk kids in South Texas. She’s educated, obviously. And from my research, she has some South Texas roots (that’s always a plus for this transplant).
  • Has she represented clients in local courts? I have no idea, but it was pointed out to me that maybe not. Perhaps her work has been more transactional and advisory given her resume. Still, she’s trained in the law and will receive the same kind of courtroom training as all of our other judges.
  • Is she a Democrat? I don’t have access to that voter info, but it was pointed out that she does have a favorable primary voting record.

Others expect potential candidates to be party activists and wonder if she’s been to club meetings or knocked on doors in the past.

I don’t blame Dems for asking these questions. We vote and expect our votes to be heard. And Dems feel like we weren’t heard or advised on the appointment by Commissioners. Commissioners did not give voters a chance to be heard on the appointment or find out who else was considered. But, they did open up the meeting to those speaking on McCleod’s behalf. We may not have gotten to vote on the appointee, but some participation would have been nice.

But, I’m also of the opinion that we don’t elect County Commissioners to save the political hides of people who mess up. We’ve got real issues that must be addressed:  Recent environmental disasters, voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care, transportation and roads, etc. And this is exactly what we elected them to do. It was an error of ambition that put the County Commissioners in a position of wasting valuable time on this, instead of doing the work for which they were elected. That they wanted to get beyond this situation and get back to work, well, I don’t blame them.

In this case, we trust those we elected to make the right decisions. If you don’t like the decision, well, email them, message them, or show up at a meeting and tell them. At this point, I’d rather just move forward.

For Briones, if she decides to run for the position in the 2020 special election, then she’ll probably need to get through a primary before getting to the general election. At that point, she’ll have more experience, and, hopefully, she’ll have made herself known to activists. But if we’re the Democrats I know we are, then I’d expect it to be a free-for-all because there aren’t many open judicial seats coming up in 2020 and the political bug is obviously nipping at potential candidates.

 

Are We All Beto’d Out?

Lots of Texans aren’t happy about Beto running for Prez. They wanted him to run for US Senate against Cornyn. Other Texans are just Beto’d out. I consider myself part of the latter group and much of it has to do with his run-up to his grand decision–the teasing, the one-man drives to Primary country, the videos. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back–the “born to be in it” interview in Vanity Fair.

Let’s be fair, those of us who supported him in 2018 knew him to be a privileged kid from El Paso. He just happened to side with us on most issues. The article, though, really paints the picture of privilege–his annoyance with his father, yet always having his support to go to private school and Columbia University, the “tech” start-ups, the return to El Paso to the family wealth, and finally, his marriage into even more wealth. Sure, there was sadness along the way with his dad’s untimely death, but he led a charmed life on his way to his political life. And if one reads the long article, one sees the real Beto that some of us didn’t want to hear about, though, we always knew.

His father tried directing him to the New Mexico Military Institute, but O’Rourke instead applied to a prep school in Virginia called Woodberry Forest, on advice from his grandfather through marriage, Fred Korth, a former secretary of the navy in the Kennedy administration.

Of course, there’s also the stuff we liked about him.

Not to begrudge someone with added opportunities on top of what already comes with being a white male, but it’s been a bad week for those of privilege. Aunt Becky and friends are in trouble for seeking added opportunities for their already over-privileged brats. The privileged in the halls of Congress want to deeply cut the social safety net that helped families like mine during tough times. The privileged have just been pissing many of us off. And “born to be in it” Beto didn’t give some of us the warm and fuzzies. And, of course, if one delves into his voting record in Congress, well, the whole “working with Republicans” narrative is already a centerpiece of his launch. And quite annoying.

All of this said, it may just be this newer narrative that gives him a chance in the Democratic Primary against 15 (or more) opponents in multiple states beyond Texas. His campaign of positivity versus being just “anti-Trump,” of offering solutions, rather than what was offered in 2016, of being supportive of the ideas of Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez but perhaps offering a bit of moderation. It’s the kind of stuff that could unite people. Or, could make him a vice-presidential candidate for a moderate candidate with a dismal record (take your pick from the rest of the list).

At this point, I’m still with Bernie Sanders because he is right on the issues–a lot more than what the others are offering. And at this point, it’s all about the issues for me.  I want stances on issues that will keep Democrats in check. Because if the Democratic Party is strategizing based on what moderates and Republicans are saying and thinking, then a whole lot of people will stay home, yet again, because they are being excluded, yet again. If Democrats don’t learn anything from the 2016 strategy, then we’re in for another disaster.

Anyway, happy candidate-seeking to all!