Category Archives: 2014 Categories

#GetCovered – Houston Dept. of Health Will Be Open on Sunday

From the Inbox:

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will open four of its multi-service centers on Sunday and extend their business hours next Monday to help people sign up for a health insurance plan by the Affordable Care Act’s March 31 deadline.

HDHHS will open Acres Homes, Denver Harbor, Northeast and Southwest multi-service centers on Sunday, March 30, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will also extend the four multi-service centers’ business hours on Monday, March 31, until 10 p.m., setting the last ACA enrollment appointment for 8 p.m.

Approximately 99,000 Houston-area residents have enrolled in one of the more than 40 low-cost ACA health plans available in the region. Those without health insurance have only one week left to sign up.

Residents can set up an appointment for one-on-one help from certified application counselors at HDHHS by calling 832-393-5423. The counselors are able to help residents compare health plans and find one that fits their budget and health care needs.

The phone number connects residents to an ACA call center that HDHHS set up as part of the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a group of 13 agencies helping people obtain insurance coverage through the ACA.

Certified application counselors and outreach staff with HDHHS and the other agencies in the collaborative have met face to face with more than 151,500 area residents since the enrollment period began in October. They have also reached out or distributed ACA brochures and information to approximately 538,000 people.

Documents needed to enroll during an appointment include:

    • Proof of U.S. citizenship: social security number or copy of U.S. passport for all family members
    • State residency: driver’s license, housing lease or utility bill
    • Income:  W-2 forms or pay stubs; unemployment or disability; social security, pension and retirement income; or copy of 2012 tax return
    • Current health insurance: policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about job-related health insurance
    • Immigration status or legal residency: Immigration document status numbers.

Sunday Reading…TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to bust some brackets as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the primary performances of Wendy Davis and Bill White.

Horwitz at Texpatriate presents a novel idea to start getting students voting.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson once again points out Texas’ unfair tax system No One Is Offering An Alternative To The Raw Deal Texas Taxpayers Are Getting.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos reminds Greg Abbott that no does not mean yes: Greg Abbott Tries to Spin No into Yes.

Every opponent of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) should watch Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi interview of Fox business commentator Todd Wilemon posted at

A Fort Bend Republican wrote an article for Houston Style magazine about “Democrat” Kesha Rogers. You can imagine how ridiculous that was. Well, no you can’t, because it’s even worse than you can imagine. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs called BS on it about five times. But nobody involved bothered to correct the record.

Neil at All People Have Value said we should self-edit our lives in the same way that time has edited the works of the Ancient Greek poet Sappho. All People Have Value Is Part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Cody Pogue calls the new abortion restrictions in Texas what they are – a threat to women’s health.

Texas Redistricting charts our civic engagement crisis.

Texas Watch wants private insurers to pay their fair share before any rate hikes are considered.

Juanita predicts Tom DeLay’s next career move.

Keep Austin Wonky advocates for using Austin’s budget surplus on universal pre-K.

Grits laments the “dystopic no-man’s land” created by the border fence.

John Coby recaps the process of choosing an electricity provider.

In The Pink explains what the movie “Frozen” is really about.

Sunday Read: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is always springing forward as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff points out that the Texas Tribune’s pollsters forget or ignore their own past data in analyzing the polls they have done for 2014.

Horwitz at Texpatriate bids farewell to all the dirtbags we won’t have to kick around anymore after last Tuesday’s primary.

Bernie Sanders might run for president in 2016 — as a Democrat, or a Green, or an independent. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs really doesn’t care which it is; he’s all in.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson after last week’s primaries gives some Initial 2014 Primary Thoughts.

Neil at All People Have Value said seemingly contradictory things such as ice in Houston while the world is warming are easily true. Neil said we should be flexible and open and not rigid. All People Have Value is part of

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Greg Abbott must be delusional. Not to mention arrogant for saying he’ll get more than 49% of the Hispanic vote. Not. Going. To. Happen.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas analyzes the final rules for ACA navigators.

Juanita will not be posting Steve Stockman’s mugshot, nosiree.

The Lunch Tray says it’s not crazy at all for chicken to be shipped to China for processing.

Offcite tries to balance Houston’s prosperity and air quality.

Texas Redistricting tells us what the primary does and doesn’t tell us about voter ID.

BOR documents the legislative primary runoffs that will be on some people’s ballots in May.

The Queso sets your schedule for SXSW.

And finally, he’s not a Texan but The Slacktivist‘s explanation of how four religious conservative North Texas legislators got scammed by one of their own is well worth your time to read.

Thoughts on Viernes…03142014


Yes, it’s that time again for another meeting. As I stated last night, President Obama called for a review by DHS to find out how he can more humanely deport people. A whole bunch of people “liked” it when I shared it on Facebook. But as I stated, he still wants to deport, and he sure isn’t stopping deportations during this review. In today’s meeting with the same groups as always, Ali Noorani from one of the invited immigrant groups called it a stopgap, but he doesn’t seem to know the definition of the term:  a temporary way of dealing with a problem or satisfying a need. Obama just wants more of the same, but with feather-lined handcuffs.

So, who got to go to the meeting? The NCLR leader who called him “deporter-in-chief” was there, but not the pro-migrant groups who have been calling for an end to deportation and a sensible immigration reform. What is up with that? Well, like I stated in the other post I did this week, I’m not taking seriously the sudden “insults” from people who have done Obama’s bidding this whole time, and today’s meeting proved my assertion.

To School or Not To School

That was the question before the HISD School Board yesterday in what was a heated meeting in which school closures was the topic. Ultimately, Jones HS will be converted into a “futures” academy and Dodson ES will be closed. What’s a futures academy? Click here to find out. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but it’s really for kids who are decided on a career track. A kid graduates on the high school curriculum, and by the end of summer of his/her graduation, they earn an AAS degree from HCC. My worry is about transferability of courses into four-year degrees that aren’t necessarily in this original career track. Because kids do change their minds. Considering that most HISD students qualify for some sort of financial aid and Texas Republicans are intent on cutting financial aid (or imposing time limits to graduation), well, you see my concern.

Music Break ~ Max Abrams (f/ Raul Malo) In My Solitude

2,000,000 Deportations Later, A Review

The AP is reporting that President Obama had called on the Department of Homeland Security to do a review of current deportation practices to see whether enforcement can be more humane.

In a meeting with Latino lawmakers, Obama said he was deeply concerned about the pain that families feel when they are separated because of a broken U.S. immigration system. He told the lawmakers he’s asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to perform an inventory of current practices “to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law,” the White House said in a statement.

I don’t know, if there was that much concern about the pain of family separation, President Obama should at the very least cease deportations during the review. Of course, others would ask, “Now, he’s concerned?”

While this may appease the Hispanic caucus members, the people most affected by this will certainly continue to speak up for deportation reform.

Meanwhile, I’m sure the Republicans will continue spewing venom, using terms, such as “backdoor amnesty” and “weak on border security” among other right-wing favorites.

Stay tuned. I sure will be.

Update:  The Immigration Policy Center provides some data on 2013 deportations.  The report states that most deportees were a threat to no one.

New Tactic on CIR; Same Old Stuff from GOP

dreamIn the middle of primary election morning, it was reported that NCLR’s  Janet Murguia had changed her mind about President Obama, calling him “deporter in chief.” As I mentioned in a Facebook post, I figured she would lose White House dinner privileges–or at least be forced to enter through the kitchen, since she was so supportive of President Obama’s stance and pushed for the badly flawed Gang of 8 bill, S. 744.

Then Congressman Luis Gutierrez was up speaking on the floor of the House, using the same “deporter-in-chief” line. Later, I saw that Gang of 8 member Dick Durbin was now singing the same song on deportation. And even Chuck Schumer, who has supported the private prison expansion to warehouse immigrants, is suddenlly speaking up. What the heck is going on?

A lot of pro-migrant folks who had been pushing President Obama on stopping deportations were not all sold on the Gang of 8 bill, but were surprised, yet supportive, that Murguia had appeared to switch course. Me, not so much.

The thing is, Durbin, Gutierrez, Schumer, and Murguia have all been part of the  push to sell S. 744. Met with a direct “NO!” from the Republicans in the House, the frustrations of all involved have reached their limits, no doubt. But, still, they continue to push Boehner and the GOPers to no avail, and still push. But it is President Obama who they are also pushing to curb deportations–and now.

The Republicans, though, made a mistake. They called out President Obama as being weak on “enforcing immigration law.” Well, they seemed to have walked right into something. Pro-migrant supporters can now utilize the whole “deporter-in-chief” line as a means of proving the Republicans wrong because the bottom line is that the Republicans are wrong. President Obama is the deporter-in-chief who holds the keys to the deportation buses that have deported almost 2,000,000 people. Sure, Boehner and his Republicans re-fuel those buses, but they have made it quite clear that 2 million is not enough. If anything, they won’t be happy until 50 million are deported–including Latino-American citizens.

Today, House Republicans supported a measure that would virtually end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has benefited over 500,000 applicants, all because President Obama signed the executive order.

House Republicans said passing the bill was necessary because the president had shown an unwillingness to enforce the law and a desire to go around Congress,including through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NEV) said that that the bill is “dead on arrival.”

Blame Obama for his deportation program or not, it is pretty obvious where the Republicans stand on immigration reform or deportation programs. If anything should help those who support immigration reform make a decision on Election Day, it is this.

In the mean time, it is time for President Obama to end his deportation program with his pen and his phone.

For the latest polling on deportations, click here.

Sunday Reading: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is delighted to see marriage equality take another big step forward as we bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff examines the past performance of UT/Texas Trib polls in statewide Demorcatic primaries and finds it wanting.

As the Uber rideshare program (and all its politics) come to Houston, George and Horwitz at Texpatriate take different sides on the issue, one in favor, one against.

After a recent visit to the Natural State, Texas Leftist has discovered that Arkansas’ ‘Private Option’ alternative to Medicaid expansion is a rousing success. So successful in fact, it seems only natural that dysfunctional GOP politicians would try to kill it. Are they really willing to kick one hundred thousand people (and counting) off of their health plans?

WCNews at Eye on Williamson reminds us that the Texas GOP holds all the power in Texas and therefore Everything That’s Wrong With Texas Is The Texas GOP’s Fault.

It’s a good thing that Greg Abbott doesn’t comprehend the damage he’s doing to his chances to get elected, observes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. And as long as Abbott continues not getting it, Ted Nugent is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why Greg Abbott’s campaign publicly endorses Ted Nugent’s views.

Neil at All People Have Value posted about the brave and hopeful man who interrupted arguments at the Supreme Court to speak up in opposition to Citizens United. All People Have Value is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

John Coby has Greg Abbott’s next apology all ready for him.

The Texas Green Report updates us on the Sierra Club’s litigation against industrial polluters.

Offcite looks at your cancer risk in Houston.

The Lunch Tray reports that a growing number of Congressional Republicans are seeking to gut the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The Inanity of Sanity mocks the latest video smear attempt by James O’Keefe, this time against Battleground Texas.

TFN Insider awaits an apology to teachers from Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst now that their accusations about CSCOPE have proven to be utterly groundless.

Grits explains again why more security cameras do not equal more security.

DC Reviews ~ Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca – Legends and Legacies

The good folks at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings continue to invest in nuestra cultura, and that’s a good thing. Accordion King Flaco Jimenez, and Bajo Sexto Master Max Baca have collaborated on a very special production, Legends and Legacies.

SFW40569No doubt, there is a back story to this production as some of these are classic songs once recorded by Flaco’s dad, Santiago Jimenez, Sr. 70 years into his career, Flaco is among the legends of Tex-Mex, much like his father. For Baca, it is an opportunity to take his place as part of a legacy in the Tex-Mex genre having grown up as a part of Flaco’s musical family–even calling him a father figure in his life. And for listeners, we get the opportunity to enjoy some hard-core Tex-Mex conjunto music with some amazing button-acordeon from the legend and some of the most dexterous bajo sexto shredding from Baca.

A few songs are recorded in “fire-side” style–bajo, acordeon, and upright bass, such as the classic Margarita, Margarita, Me Voy Lejos, Mi Primer Amor, Los Amores de Jose, Jardin de las Flores, Morena Morenita, and a favorite, Beer-Drinking Polka.

When you add some drums to the mix, you get some powerful polkas rancheras, like Cada Vez Que Cae La Tarde, El Pesudo, Borradita Diente de Oro (The DC favorite), El Parrandero, the funny Brincando Cercas, and the even funnier La Viejita. La Nueva Zenaida and Ay Te Guacho Cucaracho will definitely be crowd favorites.

Cumbia lovers get the tried and true, La Mucura. The closer is another favorite, Fiesta Alegre.

And yes, in case you weren’t counting, that’s seventeen (17) tracks, which makes this production a lot more awesome than most. Seldom do we get this many classic tracks which are given the musical respect they deserve. Baca’s bajo sexto complements Flaco’s acordeon, and vice-versa. More than anything, it seems this duo is trying to school us on from where it is our music has come because it’s always good to come home to our roots. And to take from the liner notes”:

A common goal of Flaco and Max is to gain respect for their musical legacy beyond their Texas Mexican community while making the point that the roots traditions of all people deserve that same respect. “There’s a space for all kinds of  music,” Flaco says, emphasizing that he respects other musics and the people who carry them on in the space where “les nace” (they are born). He is pleased that his efforts have led people of other cultures to play his music: “There are Japanese, Italian conjuntos. In Paris, too. They play well because they emulate the roots that we have here in San Antonio.”

Rounding out the studio line-up are Flaco’s son, David on the drums, and Texmaniac, Oscar Garcia on the bass.


NPR had a great report on the new production last week. Give it a listen. It’s good for those who need to be schooled on Tex-Mex conjunto music.

The new music is available at Itunes and directly from Smithsonian Folkways.

Thoughts on Viernes (End of EV Edition)…02282014

Early Voting Is Done!

A whopping (as early voting goes) 5,657 Harris County Democratic voters showed up to early vote today–the last day. Along with mail ballots that have already been returned, over 30,000 Democrats have voted, thus far.

To compare, back in 2010, over 40,000 early and mail ballots were cast, leaving another 60,000+ to vote on Primary Day. So, Dems are lagging a bit, if the numbers I see in the archives are correct. Some blame it on fewer contested races than 2010, others blame it on the fact that no one seems to really be campaigning, unless you’re a lawyer trying to buy a judge. I’ll go with all of those reasons. Let’s hope we get un chingo on Tuesday.


Just another reminder to vote for Julia Maldonado for the 246th Family District Court. Julia’s gotten the nod from the hardest-working Dem clubs around the county, the Labor nod, fellow lawyers, and even the Chron. Early on, she also go the nod from two of my favorites, State Rep. Garnet Coleman and State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia. So, spread the word. Heck, print out this virtual push card or share it online. If chosen by Democrats, Julia will be one of only two Latinas running for a District Court. Let’s spread the word about Julia!

And Vote Steven Kirkland for the 113th

 Steven Kirkland is a proven jurist with a love  for the diverse community that is Houston. Kirkland has been an excellent campaigner, taking his campaign to all segments of the Democratic Party, unlike his opponent who has sent targeted mailers to one or two groups. Kirkland will represent all of Harris County–much like he always has. So, vote for Steve Kirkland.

As I mentioned, there’s a lawyer trying to buy a judge, and that prospective judge is Lori Gray, Kirkland’s opponent. Call it negative campaigning, but I call it pre-judging people with doctored evidence. Which means Gray is a bad lawyer and would be a bad judge. VOTE KIRKLAND!

Or, I’ll just let Mayor Annise Parker say it:

And The Rest…

And if you need to know who I am picking, go to my last Viernes post.

MUSICA BREAK – Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca – Me Voy Lejos (Legends and Legacies) – The DC Review Comes Out This Weekend!

Case of the Mondays Reading: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks Ted Nugent is an appropriate spokesman for the modern Republican Party of Texas as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the turnout issue for Democrats in 2014.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on the Round Rock members of The Lege reporting to the local business lobby, while leaving out the issues that matter most to the people in their districts, Schwertner, Gonzales, & Dale Go To The Chamber.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at Texas Republicans holding a faux hearing on women’s health care. Give it up. Republicans have waged a real war against women and their health care. You’re not fooling anyone.

It’s Ted Nugent’s (Texas Republican) party, and we just have to live with it, noted the Texas Observer — and excerpted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. But there were also problemas grandes para Dan Patrick last week.

Texpatriate endorses John Whitmire in the Democratic primary for State Senate District 15.

Neil at All People Have Value was prompted by a visit to Galveston to reflect that we can choose to view ourselves in life on the mainland, on an island or at sea. All People Have Value is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Robert Rivard argues that cities and counties are left trying to solve the problems caused by a generation of indifference from Texas’ state leadership.

Lone Star Q provides video of Wendy Davis discussing her support of same sex marriage to the Express News editorial board.

Concerned Citizens warns about the animus hiding behind religious exemptions.

Better Texas explains why a higher minimum wage is good for Texans.

Grits for Breakfast highlights the modern equivalent to the Dallas Buyers Club.

Nonsequiteuse gets to the heart of the Nugent/Abbott affair.

Greg Wythe continues his in depth look at how the voter ID law was enforced in the 2013 election in Harris County.

Burkablog celebrates what would have been Barbara Jordan’s 78th birthday.

Chris Quintero witnessed and videotaped two Austin Police Department officers detain and arrest a female jogger for jaywalking and not immediately identifying herself (see here for more).

And Swamplot makes us all feel old by taking a look at the house from Reality Bites, 20 years later.