Category Archives: Texas Lege

We Need A Vote-at-Home Order from Abbott

Well, it’s nice that Greg Abbott has finally decided to order everyone to wear masks during this pandemic. That it took over 175,000 Texans to get infected and over 2,500 dying, as well as an idiotic and sped-up re0pening of businesses which caused an obvious uptick in cases to finally make a mask order happen shows a total disregard of life and health on the part of Abbott and Republicans.

Anyway, thanks?

It was Anthony Gutierrez at Common Cause who captured the reality of the mask order:

“Issuing the mandatory mask order and encouraging everyone to stay home is the right thing to do right now, considering the mess we’re in. But the right thing to do months ago to avoid this very easily foreseeable mess was to allow all Texans to vote by mail so that no one would now find themselves having to choose between voting and endangering their health.

Our Governor and Secretary of State have thus far failed when it comes to adapting our election systems in a pandemic, but it’s not too late to get it right for November.”

We’re currently in the Democratic Primary run-off here in Texas. And while many 65+ voters ordered their mail ballots, thousands of others are going into polling locations risking our health because we believe in the power of our votes. Thankfully, our own Harris County has instituted some measure of protection, but it is never safer than voting from home at this time.

Instead of opening up access to voting by mail for all as a real option, Greg Abbott and Republicans fought against it, putting even more people at risk who may have already been practicing stay-at-home measures on their own.

Anyway, let’s hope there is a vote-at-home order soon. Even Abbott agrees that “it is getting worse,” although, leaders like Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had said it would get worse if leaders didn’t take COVID19 seriously.

My COVID-19 Early Voting Experience

By 7:15AM this morning, I had clicked “CAST BALLOT” and was done voting in the 2020 Democratic Primary Run-Off election. It was the 5 minutes (which seemed like an hour) before that were personally harrowing.

I woke up early. I shaved, brushed, combed, etc. I got my ID, put on gloves, hung a pen from my collar, and got my Kokopelli mask. I drove the one minute to my polling location at Tracy Gee and was ready to scroll. Nervous about voting in this COVID-19 era, but doing my duty like my parents taught me.

I walk in and it was welcoming. I was pointed in the right direction, told to distance 6 feet and wait to be called. Already a few Democrats were voting ahead of me.

I walked up to the lady at the table. I was told to hold out my ID so she could match faces. The woman before me didn’t have to show her face since I guess her eyes matched up, but I wasn’t recognizable, apparently. A few looks and I did her the favor and showed my face. And then I still had to tell her that I had lost a lot of weight (120 lbs since that ID pic), but I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.

Then, she looked at my ID funny. It’s one of those new Texas Driver Licenses that follow the racist REAL ID act and I guess it looked suspect to her, even though it says “TEXAS USA Driver License” and has all the watermarks.

Then, I’m asked to turn the ID around and rest it on this tiny stand which allows the IPad to scan the ID. Well, it wouldn’t scan. Her own alarms seem to go off and she asked a question that offended this avid voter, “Is this your first time?”

I think my indignation was obvious when I said, “I’ve voted since I was 18.” The other lady at the table asked, “Did you vote in the last election?” Which caused me to take a deep breath and say, “Yes.”

These questions shouldn’t matter if the ID isn’t scanning. If you have a problem with my ID, call DPS or just type in my name and DL#, right? Well, she seemed annoyed at having to do this. But she just couldn’t read it off the ID. I had to spell out my name and sound off my date of birth and DL# for all to hear. My privacy alarms were going off, but I was going to vote!

Lo and behold, my name came up on her IPad! Once I take my ID off the little stand, and sign the IPad acknowledging that I’m voting in the Democratic Primary, I was given a finger condom, my I VOTED sticker, and my receipt.

Within a minute, I voted the #StaceSlate and was done.

I felt like a ticketed driver thanking the cop for writing me a ticket as I said “Thank you,” for what felt like a verbal frisking of my voter rights.

The moral of the story is, don’t let the pendejadas stop you from voting if this happens to you. You have a right to vote for which you have duly registered, for which you’ve had to pay for your driver license (even if it doesn’t scan and suddenly makes you a fraudster in their eyes).  Just vote!

But, damn, am I pissed off this morning.

I’ll add that I appreciate the County Clerk’s office for trying to ensure a safe election in this COVID19 era, and all the safety practices were in play and appreciated. The ID-ing of voters has not been perfected, and if anything, can be used to treat voters as fraud suspects, and that problem is systemic.

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

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


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

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

This is about keeping Texans safe.

 

More on the #StaceSlate

Some folks have asked me:  Why ________ (this candidate)? For most, I have my reasons. Here are a few races in which I’ve been most vocal on social media.

Bernie Sanders for President:  When it comes to US policy in Latin America, it’s Sanders that gets it. He isn’t afraid to blast US policy supported by both political parties that has been detrimental to native (indigenous) and poverty stricken communities in those countries. Certainly, Sanders doesn’t support policies that bolster the right-wing, anti-indigenous, and anti-poor wealthy class in Latin America. The class that, given the opportunity, will literally impose violence, kill and disappear their opposition as has been ignored by the US for too long . (And these are a few reasons people from these countries are fighting to come here!) The other candidates fall short. Way short. If anything, they support the status quo which tells the poor and native that their votes do not matter, even when they come out to vote in huge numbers and elect progressives to lead. It happens here, too and is one cause of low voter turnout. It is obvious that Sanders’ competition cares little for anyone else but their own political hides when it comes to talking about Latin America, preferring to talk “democracy,” without noticing that they want to impose the same kind of democracy that gave the US Trump. The Democratic Party needs to do a lot better on Latin America and it starts with Bernie Sanders leading the way.

Any opposing argument that questions his support of progressive leaders in Latin America, as well as any idiotic questioning by local elected officials as to his “Democratic” credentials is a weak attempt at red-baiting and an insult to our intelligence as voters.

Royce West for US Senate:  As I’ve stated before, if you ask me for my vote and you haven’t done anything that has hurt native or poor communities, and you have actually defended communities from awful, racist laws (SB4), chances are you will get my vote. No doubt, Christina Tzintzun Ramirez ranked up there in my choices because of her legislative leadership on these issues, but it came down to simply being asked by someone with a track record of political leadership that I trusted. Retail politics still matters in this huge state. All the other candidates fall short of having done anything on these issues that matter to me.

Roberto Alonzo for RR Commissioner:  I’ve known Roberto most of my adult life. We grew up in the same hometown. For many, he’s “un buen ejemplo” because, like many of us, he came from nothing but a loving family. And like many of us, his life was about struggle and helping those that struggled. For Roberto, serving in public office isn’t about some whim that came about after a bad election or finally speaking up after enriching oneself in an industry.  As a State Representative serving in Dallas for two decades, whatever progressive agenda he supported, and he’s been consistent in doing so, has been about helping people overcome barriers, and the poverty and struggle that come with those barriers. His years of service, which includes fighting on environmental issues, qualifies him for this post. So, this one was an easy choice.

I’ll try to write a few more of these before Tuesday. But some asked, so, there you go.

March 1: 2nd Annual Internship and Job Fair

State Senator Borris Miles announces this second annual event.

#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.

 

Poll: There Is No Trump Party

A political consultant FB friend dropped this polling info from Gallup. Where did presidents stand with their own political party at Day 500 of their presidency, is basically what is asked. Some are surprised at Trump’s high GOP approval rating and others are seething that Democratic presidents’ approval is lower. My response is a scholarly, “Duh!”

Lately, I’ve been frustrated with Democratic activists. It seems they are spending more time trying to save the Republican Party than working on winning in 2018. They’ll defend Republican “moderates” as if they’re not apologists for the hate the GOP espouses. As if the Republican Party is somehow different than it was in years past. The only difference is their leader–a leader who embraces his racism through hateful rhetoric that his supporters eat up and spread. The apologists go merrily along. This political party is still one whose candidates have thrived on the worse the Republican Party offers as far as supporters go. Especially during a primary election where it’s a game of “Whose sheet is whiter?” when their TV ads go up. And they thrive on bigoted policies, such a racial profiling (SB4), and get energized with anti-immigrant executive orders from the Orange One. And the “moderates” don’t seem to mind unless they’re quitting, like Jeff Flake.

So, when I see Democrats sharing an article where old leader Boehner describes the current situation as a Trump party, rather than the Republican Party, well, I call bullshit. Especially on Democrats who waste so much time on this. Stop trying to save the Republicans! They’re the same old bigots they’ve always been. They’re the same party who use data from right-wing, white supremacist groups like Numbers USA to promote a hateful agenda. And they’re so committed to their rhetoric that they can easily poach weak independents who aren’t presented a strong alternative by the opposing party.

Anyway, we’ve got elections to win, locally, statewide, and in other states. If Dems aren’t energizing the base we’ve got with, I don’t know, progressive policies, defense of whole populations, and sincere gratitude for the existence of said populations, then we’re not getting anywhere. This poll shows us that poaching Republicans may not be such a politically savvy notion. It’s hard to think of this as just a data point.

 

The 2018 DosCentavos Stace Slate – Democratic Primary

LatinoVote(This is an evolving document.)

Well, I’ve spent a few minutes going over the sample ballot that pertains to my domicile and I’ve made some decisions on whom to support in contested races. There are a dozen or so contested races in which I’m undecided because, well, I’ve never met any of the candidates or heard of them along the way. So, I’ll update those races later.

Here’s the DosCentavos Stace Slate 2018. [Note:  No contributions or memberships were required to be purchased to earn an endorsement from the DC.]

  • US Senator – Beto O’Rourke
  • Texas Governor – Lupe Valdez
  • Lt. Governor – Mike Collier
  • Comtproller – Tim Mahoney
  • Land Commissioner – Miguel Suazo
  • Railroad Commission – Roman McAllen
  • 14th Court of Appeals – Pl. 3 – Jerry Zimmerer
  • 14th Court of Appeals – Pl. 8 – Margaret Poissant
  • Judge, 55th District – Latosha Lewis Payne
  • Judge, 113th District – Rabeea Collier
  • Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong
  • Judge, 189th District – Fred Cook
  • Judge, 234th District – Lauren Reeder
  • Judge, 269th District – Cory Sepolio
  • Judge, 281st District – Christine Weems
  • Judge, 248th Family District – Charles Collins
  • Judge, 289th Family District – Barbara J. Stalder
  • Judge, 309th Family District – Kathy Vossler
  • Judge, 313th Juvenile District – Tracy Good
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #2 – Harold Landreneau
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #5 – David Fleischer
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #7 – Andrew Wright
  • Judge, County Crminal Ct #11 – Sedrick T. Walker
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #12 – Juan J. Aguirre
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #13 – Raul Rodriguez
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #15 – Kris Ougrah
  • Judge, County Probate Ct. #2 – Jim L. Peacock
  • Judge, County Probate Ct. #4 – James Horwitz
  • Judge, County Civil Ct #2 – Jim Kovach
  • District Clerk – Marilyn Burgess
  • County Clerk – Diane Trautman
  • County Treasurer – Nile Bailey Copeland
  • County School Trustee, At Large – Richard Cantu
  • Vote FOR all of the propositions.

Contested Races NOT on My Ballot

  • CD2 – Darnell Jones or Silky Malik
  • CD7 – James Cargas
  • CD18 – Sheila Jackson Lee
  • CD22 – Steve Brown
  • CD23 – Judy Canales
  • CD29 – Sylvia R. Garcia
  • SD17 – Fran Watson
  • HD27 – Ron Reynolds
  • HD126 – Natali Hurtado
  • HD134 – Allison Lami Sawyer
  • HD138 – Adam Milasincic
  • HD146 – Shawn Thierry
  • County Commissioner Pct 2 – Adrian Garcia
  • County Commissioner Pct 4 – Penny Shaw

Continue reading

Lupe Valdez Files for Texas Governor; Farm Worker Family Scrutinized

Sheriff Lupe Valdez has filed to run for Texas Governor in the Dem Primary. It was expected and hoped for by many who have thought of the current choices as a complete flatline–including me. Thanks, Lupe!

Like any major candidate, one attempts to connect with voters with a good narrative. And Lupe Valdez has a story.

Valdez was born in San Antonio in 1947, one of eight children in a family of migrant farm workers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University — a liberal arts college in Bethany, Oklahoma — before receiving a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.

The story continues with her service in the US Army as a captain, her work as a federal agent with CPB and as an investigator and her trek toward becoming sheriff of the state’s second largest county. If anything, she was among the first Democrats to inject some hope into Dems about Texas one day becoming blue, having been elected Sheriff in that first blue Dallas wave in 2004.

As Sheriff, Valdez hasn’t backed away from Greg Abbott’s politicization of the immigration issue, particularly the use of 287(g). Valdez at one point decided that low-grade undocumented offenders wouldn’t be reported to ICE, earning her the ire of Greg Abbott and a threat that cities and counties who didn’t cooperate would have their funds cut. Her mention of deportations and family separations in her post-filing speech shows she’s the only candidate ready to take on Abbott.

As excited as I am about her candidacy, I was also a bit irked when I read a “fact-check” article about Lupe in which it seemed her farm worker kid life was being questioned.

“I am the youngest of eight children born to migrant workers.”

The fact-checking PolitiFact Texas project based at the Austin American-Statesman hasn’t independently verified that biographical detail.

What’s Selby looking for? Kennedy-esque 8mm video of the family arriving at some midwestern state? Of them going up and down the plowed fields picking sugar beets? Smiling for the camera? Of old pay stubs, which included the deductions for overpriced rent and groceries billed by the farmers, thus taking most of the summer’s paycheck?

South Texas Chicano families of 10 picking sugar beets in Cassleton, North Dakota, cherries in Sturgeon Bay, WI and tomatoes and strawberries in California and Bluffton, Indiana were the norm in the 50’s. That included the Medellins and the Sernas.

I take it a bit personally, having been the son of farm workers. I even had the privilege of hanging out in a sugar beet field one summer that our family needed to go earn some money. It wasn’t that successful a summer–long story. And I’m sure there are plenty of these long stories that are hard to document, but that many of us wear as badges of honor and with which we can identify.

If Selby and others want to know about Chicano farm worker life, then I suggest he watch “…And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him.” The movie based on the autobiography of Crystal City’s Tomas Rivera.

That said, I’m ready to support Lupe Valdez and I look forward to what develops.

UPDATE:  Lupe Valdez has provided the fact-checkers with photos of her migrant days. Instead of black/white photos, my response to them would have been a lot more…colorful.

 

 

Looking Forward To The 2018 Dem Primary

Well, looks like all the excitement (and panic) over the race for Congressional District 29 has subsided as current and former officeholders who contemplated running for the seat decided to either run for re-election to their respective seats, or, go in a different direction.

State Reps Armando Walle (140) and Carol Alvarado (145) have decided to run for re-election. Both have served for multiple terms and are considered leaders at the Capitol who will be needed to take on an expected right-wing onslaught of bigoted bills. Of course, both may also be thinking of the free-shot at running for SD-6 without the need to resign if/when Sylvia Garcia is elected to Congress, which we’ll know after the Dem Primary since the district usually goes Democratic in November.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia has also decided to go in a different direction and challenge right-winger Jack Morman for County Commish Pct. 2, which covers East Harris County. As much as Adrian Garcia and I have debated on some issues, I’ve always been a fan of his. I think he can run hardest toward November, as well as excite the electorate to vote down-ballot.

Harris Democrats have been updating a page containing folks running for judicial positions. There are a few candidates in contested races that I’m supporting, including Rabeea Collier for the 113th District Court; Fred Cook for the 189th District Court; and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

I’ve known Rabeea for over a decade, which is most of her legal career. We both organized in the Kingwood/Humble area as activists trying to increase the Democratic bottom line. As an activist, she has worked hard to turn Harris County blue. As an attorney, she zealously represents her clients. She has put in the sweat equity over the years and deserves to be our nominee.

Fred Cook first ran for judge in 2008 in a very contested race in which Judge Steven Kirkland was the victor. I supported Fred back then and we both supported Kirkland afterwards. When I heard he was running again, I felt it was about time.

Raul Rodriguez has run for positions at different times, while also putting in time volunteering in various activities. I mean, whenever I go to something in the community, Raul (and wife Pati) are there! Raul deserves to be our nominee in November. He’s experienced and has a sincere connection to the community.

There will be more to come as more candidates file, especially the statewides. I’m hoping Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas files for Governor, otherwise, I won’t be left with any good choices and I may just skip the race entirely (or hold my nose in November). And I really hope Little Brown Trust Fund Baby gets a challenge for Land Commish.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  And within an hour of this post, this just in: