Category Archives: Local Politica

Kuff Interviews Precinct 4 Hopefuls

Thanks to Charles at OffTheKuff.com for interviewing those running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4. The interviews are informative and allow one to get a feel for a candidate’s views without having to sit through a mass event, like a candidate forum during a pandemic.

Here’s the list of interviews in the order Kuff presented them:

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Also, click here for all of the interviews he has done, thus far.

Another Week in COVID-19

A friend pointed me to a pretty good podcast on how Omicron is counterintuitive. Check it out here. It talks about where we are and about where we may be heading. There may be some hope in a world of “WTF is going on?!?”. Still, we must mask-up and not just be vax’d and boosted.

A few weeks into Omicron, it seems Greg Abbott finally panicked enough to beg the Biden administration for help. He still doesn’t want Texans and Texas schoolkids wearing masks, and, though vax’d and boosted himself, doesn’t want to require it for anyone else. But he demands more tests and monoclonal antibodies for his unvax’d and unmasked fans. C’mon, Abbott, Marco Rubio is calling you “irrational“!

Of course, he is also suing Biden because he says he is the state’s national guard leader (Remember Jade Helm!) and doesn’t think they should be vax’d if they don’t want to be. This is the same “leader” who has overseen recent suicides of his soldiers who are tired of being at the Texas border wasting time and taxpayer money. Some leader.

But Biden isn’t in the clear despite his press conference, either. ICE facilities have failed to give their migrant guests vaccine boosters to protect them from Omicron. We know that Omicron spreads easily and in close quarters like an immigrant prison, well, everyone is endangered. One would hope that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez will be asked by Senators about this, since he’s been re-nominated for ICE Director after the Senate failed to act on his original nomination. Or will it be the Senate’s original questions on human warehousing and hunting and profits? Good luck, Sheriff.

Well, we’re still on fire here in Texas. COVID-19 continues its spread, infections continue to rise, and hospitalizations of the unvaccinated continue. Anecdotally, folks still seem to be acting as if invincible as I see them unmasked (and hacking up a lung) at the store. The good thing is that the holidays are over and there are less mass events among Democrats again. At least, I’m not seeing any selfies at events.

Stay masked. Stay vax’d and boosted. And stay away from large gatherings.

The Omicron Wave is Upon Us

We’ve known about the Omicron variant for a few weeks now and the health authorities have been prompt at gathering information regarding how well the COVID-19 vaccines will work against it. Unfortunately, its existence hasn’t done much to make people cautious and cognizant of its ability to spread faster than other variants, so, the numbers of people testing positive and being hospitalized for COVID are increasing locally, according to a report in Houston Public Media.

Methodist confirmed a total of 307 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday and Tuesday of this week, according to the hospital. That’s up from 76 positive tests reported last Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, the hospital confirmed on Wednesday that 54 cases of the omicron variant have been identified by Methodist’s sequencing lab since early December.

Unfortunately, some people are still acting like the pandemic is over because they are fully vax’d or boosted. That’s their prerogative, I guess. They’re OK with getting infected and suffering through mild symptoms, so they attend all the big christmas gatherings with people not in their immediate circle. Just don’t expect to ever be around me. Your mild infection can still affect those with other health concerns.

As I drove around my area this week, I’ve noticed lines at testing kiosks and facilities. So, some folks are either sick or getting worried about Omicron enough to test themselves.

But there is a concern that even if omicron doesn’t affect most people, even a small percentage of patients could quickly overwhelm hospitals in the Houston area, Boom said.

“If this spreads so rapidly that there are massive numbers of infected people, even if on average they’re very mild, if that hits the vulnerable in our population and they end up hospitalized, that can still be an incredibly challenging time,” Boom said.

So, the push for vaccination and boosters continues, but Texas is still ass-backward Texas with folks complaining about a tiny needle and a shot that’s been tested on hundreds of millions of Americans. My new motto for the holidays: My money is not going to your DeathFundMe accounts for funerals because of your stupidity.

Speaking of, I’ve seen too many unmasked events going on from folks on my side of the aisle. Like I said, it’s their prerogative. But how easy is it to spread disease? Well, anecdotally, one local workplace I was told about had some unmasked fool walking around, supposedly vaccinated. He got sick because he was probably unmasked at a gathering, tested negative and then was coughing up a lung at work. The person finally tested positive and protocols went into effect. Thankfully, because most co-workers were vax’d and masked at work despite Abbott’s no-mask-mandate idiocy, COVID-19 tests are coming back negative for the co-workers, thus far, but what an inconvenience! But all it takes is one person, even among folks you see everyday at work and who think they’re invincible to spread it to unmasked others. So, mask up!

I must give out a tip of my Stetson to State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw (148) for turning an in-person fundraiser to a Zoom-only event because of health concerns for the people she serves. The politicians I respect the most are the ones who set examples for the community. So, give her a few bucks for her efforts.

2:50PM Update: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner just announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and will rest. He’s been to a lot of unmasked events, so, how does the contact tracing work in this situation?

So, yeah, y’all need to stop with the unmasked events.

The 2021 Run-Off Results

Congrats to Elizabeth Santos (D-I) and Sue Deigaard (D-V) on their re-elections to the HISD board. While Santos squeaked by against a well-funded and hard-working opposition Dem, it was Deigaard who was able to defeat a right-wing nut quite handily.

Unfortunately, my friends Holly Flynn Vilaseca (VI) and Anne Sung (V) were defeated by right-wing nuts who promise to threaten the lives and health of teachers, students, parents, etc., with their anti-mask positions. They are also all about a whites-only history education. Seems to me voters fell for some stupid positions by some hateful (and vindictive) people. Of course, perhaps there was some anti-incumbent sentiment because of actions made by some of them. But people are falling for just about anything that divides and conquers entire communities, possibly even their own communities.

Kuff and others point out that these districts were previously held by Republicans who some call moderate. I never thought of them as moderates since their positions with the new GOPers are similar, just with meaner delivery. And since moderates hardly exist anymore, and this election proved that there were indeed two sides from which to choose, what the hell happened?

I’m thinking turn-out. But I also think voters are taking a turn for the stupid and Democrats need to worry about that in 2022. And I mean the Primary, where we will see some judicial and countywide candidates exploiting issues like crime and bonds, which are easily attacked with one liners and only defended with position papers.

Obviously, in a close election, someone is bound to go negative. Campos isn’t too happy that his client in D-I was attacked, but he’s really pissed about the Democratic Party’s involvement in a race between two Democrats and I understand where he’s coming from since everyone seems to want to be a kingmaker, lately.

As Kuff pointed out, Democrats still have a 7-2 edge on the school board, but these right-wing nuts know how to make noise. They know how to blame others for society’s ills–especially those caused by right-wing nuts. So, I don’t see the majority as a strong one. Given how easy candidates were being bought and paid for by the right and special interests all around Houston, the majority can be controlled by the minority. Hell, just look at “Democratic” Washington, DC.

Anyway, I’m of the opinion that a big effort at redistricting HISD is in order if we really want to utilize this majority. There is no reason to have a district that has River Oaks paired with Gulfton, or Sharpstown with West Houston or Northside with the Heights. It’s just too damn diluting. But I’ll leave that to the experts who will probably lecture me on this.

Anyway, it’s on to the 2022 Democratic Primary where some of our favorite officeholders get challenged and are forced to spend money to keep their party nomination. I swear, we love democracy until a fave officeholder gets challenged.

Judge Lina Hidalgo Files for Re-Election

As I mentioned in my Thoughts on Viernes, HCDP has a running album of folks who have filed for the 2022 Primary. I mentioned that I prefer seeing candidates in the order of filing, rather than alpha-order, because I want to see who has their stuff together, who is dawdling, and who makes a grand entrance.

Well, County Judge Lina Hidalgo took a nice-sized group of supporters with her for her filing, exhibiting the grassroots support with which she began and that put her in office a few years ago. I don’t expect much to change as she has been able to strengthen that grassroots support by accomplishing much as the County’s top executive; especially during the pandemic.

DosCentavos will proudly support Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo for re-election. I supported her when she tossed her hat in the ring back in 2016 and never doubted she could take down a long-time incumbent. She has led well.

That said, as Kuff tells us, Judge Hidalgo has a couple of opponents. One is a perennial candidate and the other is a minion employee of a local wannabe kingmaker and bachelor party coordinator. The candidate also happens to be on the county education board. Anyway, I’m sure Kuff will be asking all the right questions in his interviews of all the candidates. As the candidate financial reports come out, we will find out who is funding the opposition and also who is feeding from that trough.

Back At Yellow Despite Omicron Threat

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level YELLOW as the COVID-19 positivity rate is less than 5% and hospitalizations are down-trending. The definition of YELLOW is:

Level 3 signifies a moderate and controlled  level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning a further demonstrated reduction transmission and the local healthcare system is well within capacity. Unvaccinated residents should remain vigilant, but can resume contact with others and resume leaving home. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask and physical distance. Fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations and including local business and workplace guidance. 

ReadyHarris.com (Emphasis mine)

Yet, today, President Biden in trying to calm fears about the Omicron variant was also telling us to continue masking, practice social distancing, and keep clean just in case COVID-19 is in our mist, er, midst. That’s exactly my plan: To continue being proactive as if we are still in a pandemic and staying within my circle of trust, which is basically four people whose activities and precautions I know.

As Kuff reminds us, the local traffic is telling us that people are going back to work at their workplaces rather than being productive at home. The holiday season also means that stores will also be full of people. Workplaces and shopping establishments do not seem to be pushing masking and distancing , but I’m guessing it’s 50-50 when left up to the individual. The smart individuals are the ones that continue masking at the office (and everywhere else) despite workplace and supervisor/coworker attitudes toward these policies.

So, the suggestions behind “Code Yellow” aren’t something I’m trusting because I don’t want to get sick–even if I am boosted by Moderna. They keep telling us to follow the science, but people with comorbidities need to follow the realities that COVID-19 can hit them harder than what the skinny, healthier, well-insured folks on TV tell us. Hell, breakthroughs are still not being adequately reported and Texas and Greg Abbott suck at reporting anything, anyway.

The scientists are studying Omicron and the vaccine’s effectiveness against it. I say we stay masked up and distanced. The unmasked and unvax’d pendejos will surely still be out there helping the spread.

Also, get vaccinated. If vaccinated, get boosted.

Thoughts on Viernes…11192021

Abbott’s Steel Stupidity

We all remember that Greg Abbott parked DPS vehicles to form a “steel wall” on the border, right? Well, now, he’s added those steel shipping containers. They look old, the colors don’t even match, and, oh yeah, it’s all for show. Just as Eagle Pass was getting purty, Abbott adds eyesores (beyond his own presence). Who got the contract for this? And how much did it cost? Since there is a shortage of shipping containers, I’m sure it’s a pretty penny.

SBOE’s Pearl Clutching

The State Board of Education is burning banning books that teach sexual responsibility. Apparently, healthy practices like masturbation are an abomination, but by all means, let’s leave kids to learn on their own in the back of pickup trucks by the lake, just like their mommies and daddies learned, right? It’s irresponsible. I’m always thankful for good parents who not only explained responsibility to us, but got us better books than the “health” education provided at the schools (like the ones that will be left on their own to find materials to teach kids something).

$2 Million

I’m not surprised at Beto’s first day haul. I’m on a Beto facebook page not run by him and his fan base was chomping at the bit to start sending money to his campaign. Greg Abbott is already at $55 million given to the enormous price tag hanging from his hind side, so Beto needs to catch up. But Beto’s current tour, which started in South Texas has injected some energy to voters. The middle-of-the-week crowds have been pretty awesome and he has honed his message to really get voters excited. He is in Houston tonight at Discovery Green!

The Dean Is Running

Texas Senate Dean John Whitmire filed to run for re-election for SD15, but at his fundraiser/party he put rumors of running for Houston Mayor to rest by saying he would indeed run in 2023. Well, it’s still way too early to get excited about anything 2023 and the 2022 campaign has barely started. I’m waiting to see if I’m even residing in the city limits by then to get excited about anything. Anyway…

Trib Gets Chicanos Riled Up

There is a lot to unpack in James Barragan’s “Dems So White” Trib article. It’s the same old song about if the Republicans have some brown sell outs Latin@s, why don’t the Democrats? Texas AG candidate Rochelle Garza has the best quote about that: “It’s not enough that folks on the Republican ticket are people of color. You need to show your work,” she said. “What do you stand for? And who do you stand for? What we’re seeing on the right is folks that stand for corporations and big interests and don’t stand up for the little guy, for everyday Texans

It’s not like we don’t have a bench of experienced brown people who’d love to run statewide, but brown folks don’t have the fundraising prowess at that “Beto” level. We just don’t have those wealthy (non-Latino) connections to make us seem viable to white folks, so we keep running in our own neighborhoods and districts. Hell, the first challenge is convincing white Dems that one is qualified beyond their resume, like saying one is related to an Alamo “hero” or being a “descendant” of Sam the big statue or some pendejada like that. Having to jump through hoops and do a little jarabe tapatio (Mexican hat dance) for the powers that be just isn’t worth the task of serving as a sacrificial lamb. Because they will leave you out on your own, no matter if it’s Lupe Valdez or one of the Castros. They will find some excuse to go with whatever great white hype is offered up. So, I won’t get riled up. Go ahead, gabachos, run, represent, say all the things that need to be said. Just don’t sell us out or the first Tuesday in November will be lonely.

Former State Rep Gina Calanni Enters Race for Pct 4 Commish

The newly redrawn Precinct 4 is quite busy, as folks will notice.

Former State Rep of District 132 Gina Calanni has entered the race for the Dem nod for County Commish Pct 4.

Calanni states her proven success at the Texas Capitol as a “bold advocate that understands what it means to work hard and struggle for their loved ones, and for what they believe in” makes her the one to be the candidate. Calanni is running on issues, such as climate change policy and infrastructure to minimize the impact of severe weather events, as well as ensuring health care and mental health services that are accessible. Issues that affect the western reaches of Harris County and all of Harris County.

More on Gina Calanni:

Former State Representative Gina Calanni is Vice President of Finance for CalyxPure, an American manufacturer of air purification devices and LEDs, an author, cancer survivor, and mom of three boys.

Gina is running for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4 to continue serving the public as an unyielding voice for Texas families. Gina firmly believes in giving all Texans the opportunity to pursue success and happiness, no matter their race, ethnicity, zip code, gender, or sexual orientation. She is ready to continue the fight for critical issues like increasing access to affordable healthcare, tackling rising property taxes, defeating the plague of human trafficking locally, and making sure Harris County is equipped to handle future catastrophic weather events.

The big news in her press release is that she has earned the endorsement of her former colleague, State Rep Gene Wu (District 137). Wu cites the hardships Calanni has overcome which have made her a fierce advocate for Texas families. “It’s about time Texans had someone fighting for them and not just wealthy donors.”

I guess we’ll need to wait until January to see who’s getting the big money.

So, the race for the new Precinct 4 Commish seat gets more interesting despite republican whining about redistricting.

Voters have their homework to do in learning more about the candidates–a lot more than waiting for direct mail pieces with photos of endorsers. While the issues will have their similarities, it may come down to one question: Who is willing to fight for the issues by not running away from them after the Primary?

Commissioners Go With Internal Astroworld Investigation

Some have mixed feelings and others don’t know how to feel about it, but I think it was a bad move by county commissioners to keep things internal when it comes to investigating what occurred at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s vision for an investigation was about outcomes to make events safer. Given HPD and its chief’s press conferences soon after the tragedy, I don’t have confidence in their investigation being of any use to what needs to happen regarding event safety.

As far as Commissioner Garcia’s fear of lawsuits, well, they’re coming. They are already happening. And they will do a deep dive into things and they will be quite public in pushing out their version of the details. Hell, their intent is to win.

An independent investigator would delve deeper into the county’s and the Sports Authority’s affairs regarding events, perhaps getting ahead of the lawsuits. An independent eye would also not have political worries of investigating the people who are really in charge, including political appointees, who make the decisions (or as they call it “oversight”) regarding event safety and management. Grieder at the Chron seems to be thinking this way.

Anyway, there have been a few BS moves that placed the Democratic majority in a bad light and this is one of them. Not good during an election year.

Ben Chou Files for Harris Commish Pct 4

We knew it would get busy in the newly redrawn Harris County Precinct 4 and we have another candidate with Ben Chou announcing his candidacy for Commish. Chou is an attorney with government experience. If elected, he would be the first Asian-American and openly gay person on the Commissioner’s Court.

Experienced in the community (he grew up in SW Houston), in DC (worked with Martin O’Malley and Nancy Pelosi), and in the local elections office defending democracy, Chou seems qualified to serve in the office of Commissioner.

From his announcement:

I’m a progressive Democrat, lawyer, and community organizer. I’m running for County Commissioner because I think we need to build a Harris County for all of our residents — one that centers our efforts around the pursuit of economic, racial, and environmental justice; a future we are proud to pass down to our kids.

I’m running because we can accomplish bold reforms while getting the basics done. We’ve got streets filled with potholes, sidewalks left broken for too long, and street lights that don’t turn on. Meanwhile flooding continues to plague our communities as small businesses and neighborhood safety teeter on the brink.

What’s happening in Texas today is appalling. Republicans have effectively banned abortion, are limiting what books can be taught in schools, and are trying to suppress the right to vote. That’s why this moment is so important. I’m running to bring the progressive, bold change needed to Harris County while also fighting back against Republican extremism.

We can’t afford to wait for change. We need leaders who embrace innovation and have a proven record of getting things done – now.

Chou’s priorities outline addressing neighborhood services, flooding and climate change, public safe and criminal justice reform, and democracy and voting rights. His priorities are buttressed by the statement, “We need to create a society where people do not merely support progressive change, but fight for it.”

That said, his endorsers include his former boss, Martin O’Malley, 2020 Pct 3 Commish candidate Diana Martinez Alexander (whom DC supported), former HCDP chair Lane Lewis, among several precinct chairs who reside in Precinct 4.

At this point, I’m taking in all of the information from whomever files before making a decision. So, I urge voters to take in all of the information, as well, before making a decision.