Category Archives: 2015

The Trump Thing and Latino Voting

trumpinata

by Lalo Alcaraz

Fact:  Trump is a pendejo. Fact:  All the pageant and show cancellations are not going to hurt Trump’s wallet. So, what else are all the hurt Latinos going to do after the Trump anger fades away?

What was noticeable in all of this was Latinos declaring that they would not be voting for Trump in 2016. Of course, I asked myself if they meant in the Republican Primary or in November 2016? Given that not many Latinos vote in the GOP primary, I’m guessing they meant November, in which Trump was likely not going to be candidate, anyway. So, those declarations didn’t excite me much, but if it means more Latinos are going to show up or get involved, great!

But let’s look beyond the idiotic comments and pay attention to issues, like health care, education, jobs, economy, and yes, immigration. Who has real solutions, or which candidates can we as voters drive toward real solutions, rather than just the usual campaign talk? Thanks to Trump, folks are paying attention, so, campaigns need to talk issues rather than just point fingers at Trump and Republicans.

In the quest for higher turnout, Latinos won’t respond favorably to blame, though.

Here in Texas, no sooner did Leticia Van de Putte lose in her bid for Mayor of San Antonio, I started seeing rants from liberals and Dems blaming Latinos for the loss. It was a bit annoying, considering it was coming from folks who are part of the problem and who refuse to look inward for solutions.

My friend Joaquin Guerra from TOP penned an excellent op-ed. Here’s a bit of it:

If we’re not part of the plan to win or part of the engagement strategy, then, no, we’re not to blame for the fact that you came home and dinner wasn’t waiting for you on the table.

Stop taking us for granted.

Here are five tips for politicians, pundits, reporters, editorial boards and political consultants who are scratching their heads about what happened:

  • Respect: Stop implying that Latinos are too lazy and disinterested to vote..
  • Ask Latino voters what’s important to them.
  • Lean into economic and racial justice issues. Economics and race are at the core of some of our biggest problems.
  • Make Latinos part of the solution.
  • It’s not just about Latinos. We’re all in this together. It’s easy to look at voter data and say that Latinos don’t vote, but the reality is that Texans as a whole don’t, either.

Read the whole thing and not just the tips I took out of the article.

The bottom line is that Latino hires and token words by campaigns aren’t enough to excite Latino voters. And avoiding questions surely doesn’t help. And, it certainly doesn’t help when Latinos are used by supposedly liberal candidates as a piñata to gain a few right-wing votes, either.

Obviously,Trump’s Mexican attack was an attempt to gain votes in the GOP primary, and we’ll hear it from other Republicans, too. But, Dems do it as part of a continually losing strategy, too, if they get desperate enough. It needs to stop and Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, let’s take Joaquin’s tips seriously. Seriously.

Adrian Garcia Campaign Announces Grassroots Organizing Experience

The Adrian Garcia for Houston Mayor campaign announced a pretty awesome opportunity to earn some organizing experience–and it’s paid.

Adrian Garcia is a product of Houston, and is personally committed to empowering Houstonians to own a piece of his campaign for Mayor. Typically, campaign internships are unpaid, which tends to severely limit the diversity of the applicant pool. The Adrian Garcia for Mayor campaign is committed to cultivating the next generation of Houston grassroots organizers by offering those accepted a monthly stipend of $500.

Over the course of the eight week program, Fellows will:

  • learn and implement modern grassroots organizing best practices
  • learn requisite technical skills for grassroots organizing
  • empower volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhoods together

With comprehensive training and support from Deputy Field Directors, Fellows will empower and train volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhood’s voter contact and volunteer recruitment activities.

Requirements:

  • A minimum of 20 hours a week
  • 20 hours a week must include nights and weekends

You should apply if:

  • You thrive in a fast-paced environment, surrounded by people from various and diverse communities
  • You are a natural leader, with strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • You are both a self-starter and upbeat team member

We’d be especially interested in your application if:

  • You are bilingual
  • You have knocked doors or made phone calls for a campaign before

Empowering and developing volunteers within our organization is a cornerstone of our campaign. Fellows will be tasked with providing volunteers the tools and resources they need to organize their neighborhoods.

I can vouch for your future bosses, which includes one of the architects of Annise Parker’s historic 2009 victory. So, if you want to be a part of the Adrian Garcia campaign, apply.

Former Trustee Debra Kerner Responds to Chron Editorial on HCDE

Some of you may have seen a scathing editorial in Sunday’s Chron in which various complaints were listed against the Harris County Department of Education. HCDE has been under attack by Republicans for a long time and there is a current movement by Paul Bettencourt of the Texas Senate to get rid of it.

According to former HCDE Trustee Debra Kerner, the editorial contains a lot of misinformation that she wanted to clear up. Here is her own letter-to-the-editor which, hopefully, the Chronicle will also run.

Dear Houston Chronicle Editorial Page Editor,

Regarding “HCDE draws sharp look” (Sunday, May 24, 2015, pg.1), I served as a countywide elected Trustee for the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) from January 2009 to January 2015. During that time, I held various Board positions including Vice President. I read the article, “HCDE Draws Sharp Look” from Sunday, May 24, 2015 with intense interest and felt that as a private citizen and former board member, I had to respond.  I would ask that the public consider these clarifying facts.

1) HCDE serves students, educators and school districts.  Their services are provided at the request of Harris County school districts.  They seek to enhance and innovate and provide services to the school districts and the residents of Harris County.  All 25 of the school districts in Harris County choose to use at least some of the services from HCDE.  HCDE provides even more services than are listed in the article, including Safe and Secure Schools.  As told to me by the head of Region 4, all of these services cannot be duplicated by the Education Service Center (Region 4).  Who would provide these services, if HCDE had to close?

2) During my tenure, HCDE underwent several audits and a Texas legislative study.  These studies determined that HCDE’s education services saved taxpayer dollars and that it would cost school districts significantly more to replicate. While areas for improvement were identified, none of the studies recommended closure.  The Board had always taken steps to improve the department and continues to do so.

3) One example that was noted in the article was the policy on hiring political consultants.  The Board did not have the chance to vote on the Eversole contract.  Once the board learned about these hirings, the policy was changed to bring more transparency to the process of hiring political consultants. While I understand, the concern about using tax dollars for this purpose, I believe it would be unfair to the students and educators served by HCDE to not give them a voice regarding the educational resources that are so valuable to them. Many school districts also hire lobbyists and political consultants to help educate legislators and others about their needs.  In addition, HCDE has a group consistently seeking its abolishment.  Three year olds and other students with severe disabilities cannot go to Austin to indicate the true value of HCDE, so HCDE does it for them.  HCDE is a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

4) Ms. Vera and the Houston Chronicle have initiated countless open records request.  HCDE has been compliant and constantly sought to increase transparency.  Responding to these requests has been costly; however, none of these requests have yielded information that rises to the level of criminal activity. Any issues that were found, the Board had already initiated steps to improve the situation. At the same time, HCDE has continued to educate students, train teachers and provide valuable wraparound services.

5) We should focus on what HCDE is doing now. HCDE has hired a new superintendent, James Colbert, who is moving forward. The Board has made changes to address policies and procedures to ensure that things are done correctly and transparently.   HCDE continues to respond to the needs of partner districts. I participated in the hiring of Mr. James Colbert and from what I’ve seen thus far, he is a true leader who is very responsive to the educational needs in Harris County.  The reason HCDE has fought against additional studies regarding abolishment is that it is hard to plan for the future when the threat of closure hangs over their heads.

I was honored to serve with Trustees who truly cared about enhancing education in our county in a fiscally responsible way.  It is a shame that the voices of a few are taken as fact when thousands of students and the 25 Harris County school districts find value in HCDE every single day.

Thank-you,

Debra Kerner

Former Trustee, Harris County Department of Education

Your Afternoon Read: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a Happy Star Wars Day as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff rounded up coverage of the voter ID appellate hearing at the Fifth circuit last week.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos weighs in on the overall disgust for the TX Governor’s cowardice. The C.T Freaks Win: TX GOV Panders to Paranoia.

Socratic Gadfly wonders if, given this was not the first outbreak, having other information about the Food and Drug Administration from whistleblower Ken Kendrick and more, if we can really trust the FDA that much when it claims Blue Bell and other ice creams are safe.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Rep. Todd Smith and any other reasonable Republicans left in Texas to come collect their party.

Bernie Sanders declared for the Democratic nomination for president, and not even the events of Baltimore could keep him from extending his news cycle through the weekend. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports on the money part of the equation in the opening days of his campaign, and wonders if the stark differences between he and Hillary Clinton might actually produce a meaningful primary contest.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why so many Texas Republicans act to enable rapists.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Hooray, Obamacare is working, The Good News About Healthcare In Texas For Everyone But Republicans.

Neil at All People Have Value said as shameful as Governor Abbott is to pander to the Jade Helm paranoia, there are in fact serious reasons people believe crazy things. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

====================

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

HISD Trustee Anna Eastman explains her standardized testing philosophy.

Susan Criss asks if anyone can call us a “Christian nation” if it is a crime to help people or pets.

The Texas Election Law Blog previews the arguments in the voter ID appeal.

Quoting the 2015 Teacher of the Year, the TSTA Blog says we do not separate people into groups that are more deserving than others.

Unfair Park and Paradise in Hell both wonder why Greg Abbott is giving comfort to the tinfoil hat crowd. Harold Cook may have the best explanation for it, and RG Ratcliffe joins the fun.

Texas Watch excoriates the Senate for choosing insurance company profits over families and businesses.

Mean Green Cougar Red gives his thoughts on the proposed I-45 rebuild in Houston.

Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez demonstrates some of the tools and technologies that a modern campaign can use.

Texas Vox documents the vote on the latest assault on the environment and local control.

Fascist Dyke Motors recaps her story so far.

Hillary Clinton Didn’t Say Anything about Mass Immigrant Incarceration

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonHillary Clinton was being embraced by her supporters today for her speech on law enforcement and incarceration reforms. But missing from this puzzle was the piece that explains billions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives affected–immigrant incarceration.

It’s no secret that there is much waste in the form of immigrant-hunting in this country. Policies that federalize local cops to participate in immigrant hunting, incarceration, and deportation have been given steroids by the Obama Administration, while Republicans ask for more. . Republican-led state legislatures threaten “show me your papers” and racial profiling laws while awful policies are already in place. These policies have increased the distrust that immigrants and Latinos have of the police

When the media- and politically-driven hysteria about thousands of Central American children and women escaping violence and poverty came about, Hillary Clinton was among those calling for their immediate deportation after they’ve spent the whole time in inhumane private immigrant prisons–no opportunity for release or legal assistance.

So, when Clinton didn’t include this boondoggle that affects families and that has needlessly locked up and deported innocent working people with little-to-no record, and let’s not forget, little kids, it was very noticeable. Perhaps not to her hard-core fans and supporters who are proud apologists for her and the Obama administration, but I certainly noticed it.

It shouldn’t be this easy to ignore the obvious as a presidential candidate with little to no opposition (apologies to Bernie). If we are to have a conversation about police and incarceration reform, then it must include immigrant incarceration and deportation reform. Treatment of immigrants in these private prisons is just about as bad as cops killing people of color on the streets. Clinton and all candidates cannot pretend it doesn’t exist.

VOTE ALIEF PROUD; VOTE YES ON BOND; Info on Alief ISD Position 4

As I mentioned previously, I support the Alief ISD Bond. It is long overdue, much needed, and the investment will reap returns for students and families. Read more about the bond here, then vote early.

Alief ISD Position 4

There is also a special election for Position #4 of the Board of Trustees. On the ballot are:  Celia Morgan, Gigi Myung, Dedre Jefferson, and Natasha Butler.

Morgan is a former Alief ISD teacher; Myung works with a local automotive retailer; Jefferson, according to the internet, has worked for Alief ISD as an educator; and Butler describes herself as a single working mom on her website and has been involved in the Bond committee and PTOs.

Morgan published her response to AFL/CIO questionnaire and to Alief TSTA.

UPDATE:  Richard Shaw of AFL-CIO informed me that Natasha Butler earned their endorsement.

I haven’t decided whom to support, so, I’ll be doing some more research and getting back to you.  I will say that the sample ballot PDF took a long time to load which is why I barely found out about this particular election.

Click on image below to find your early voting location.

Help Out Some Kids to go to Prom and To Dress For Success

My good friend Jose Manuel Diaz has been busy raising funds to helps some young men go to prom in some nice duds. These same duds will also help them to dress for success, providing them some nice clothes for interviews, college events, etc.  I’ll let him explain.

Help make a deserving 2015 graduate’s prom dream come true! Not only that, but let’s help prepare them for the future! When prom time comes around, many think of helping the young ladies and get them ready for their prom, but for a moment, I’d like to shine a light on the other side, and help out the young men at the MiddleCollege High School at HCC Gulfton. These wonderful young men, despite all their struggles are about to graduate. What better way to send them out in the world by showing them that we have faith in them, believe in them and want them to succeed? We are raising funds, not to rent them a tuxedo, but to buy each one of them a quality suit that will not only benefit them in looking great for prom, but will help them dress for success in the future. Every young man needs a proper suit for interviews, etc. , and for $50 per student we can make that happen. I’m not asking for you to give that full amount, anything helps, even just a dollar will make a difference. Let’s set these 20 young men up for success. Let’s let them know that we care about them, and know they are our future.

Jose is about 1/2-way there and you, my friends, can help him get closer to his goal. You can make a donation at:  http://www.gofundme.com/r2jwuhc

Middle College at Gulfton helps kids who don’t really feel comfortable in a traditional high school setting. This alternative ensures kids not only succeed in school, but can also earn credits to HCC. The school’s principal, Diana del Pilar, is a good friend, too.

Great cause!

Alief Bond: I Just Moved And Already I Have an Election Coming Up!

I’m an avid voter, so, as soon as I moved into my new place, I registered and found who was representing me. To my surprise, I found out I have a few more Democratic representatives, but I also found out I now reside in the Alief ISD (barely, as mine is on the northeastern corner of the ISD). I even have an election coming up in which I will be voting FOR the Alief bond.

There is all kinds of growth out my way and the Alief schools have been no different. Student achievement at AISD is high; they boast a 95% graduation rate; and the vast majority of students are graduating on a recommended plan. Alief hasn’t had a bond since 2003 which means they are way overdue for improvements and new facilities. Now is the best time to get this done.

The Alief bond is mostly about new facilities with 67% of the $341 million bond going to new construction, including classroom space for full-day Pre-K, a Career Center, Professional Learning and Performance space, and expansion of some current facilities.

30% of the bond is going to security enhancements across the district, as well as facility improvements, like new roofs and improved A/C units, new entrances to schools, a softball field at Elsik HS, handicap accessibility, a library expansion, etc. Finally, the rest of the bond is for school bus replacements, which means safer, better running buses.

All-in-all, this is a sound investment which will still keep Alief ISDs taxes among the lowest in the area. And, it’s for the kids.

Early voting is April 27 thru May 5, while Election Day is May 5. Find your voting location here.

Senator Garcia Votes Against State Budget Proposal; It Fails to Address Needs

This just in to the inbox:

AUSTIN – Today, Senator Sylvia Garcia voted against the Senate’s State Budget proposal. The Senate Budget failed to address billions of dollars in identified needs such as:  education,  facilities, healthcare, pre-k, and transportation.

“Texas should not be conducting corporate tax giveaways at the expense of kids and families – it should be providing the services that taxpayers have paid for, such as schools and highways. We made a promise to invest in Texas schools after the 2011 cuts, but instead we face a looming school finance lawsuit,” Senator Garcia stated.

“We were elected to wisely invest Texans’ hard-earned money and grow the Texas dream, but this budget does neither. When the state underfunds schools and roads, it penalizes the hardworking taxpayers that rely on the state to meet these fundamental needs. The budget fails to adequately fund healthcare, pre-k, and other priorities of working families in Texas.”

“In an unprecedented move, Department of Public Safety’s budget is nearly tripled to $811 million in an alleged response to border security threats in South Texas. Meanwhile, crime rates are increasing across Houston and other areas of the state. I cannot honestly tell my constituents that we’re representing their best interests by putting $811 million into policing the border, when they feel unsafe in their own communities hundreds of miles away.”

Latino Turnout: Are Latino Candidates The Answer?

You may recall I wrote about attending a League of Women Voters low voter turnout forum a few weeks ago. Local professor Richard Murray stated that 2016 could be a good year for Latino turnout if either political party runs a Latin@ VP candidate.

He further cited that 2002’s campaign by Tony Sanchez actually increased Latino turnout throughout the state. I recall Sanchez’s ads and they hit at the hearts of Mexican Americans–I certainly enjoyed them. But when Rick Perry ran ads tying Sanchez to drug dealers and money laundering, even White Democrats believed Perry and voted for him in large numbers.

We’re at 2015 and we’ve had a first test of the assertion that a Latino on the ballot helps drive Latino turnout. Post-election research showing how Chicagoans voted is quite interesting. Hispanic voters gave almost 70% of their vote to Chuy Garcia, while 66% of white voters and 58% of black voters went to Emanuel. As far as the other demographics were concerned, it’s not like Garcia was far from their issues, but they stuck with Emanuel for some reason. Perhaps Latinos were looking for change, but certainly a progressive Latino candidate did help increase Latino turnout in Chicago, according to Latino Victory Project, although numbers were still low.

Will Houston get to test this assertion next? I think it is safe to predict that a left to center Latino candidate for Houston Mayor could increase Latino turnout, but will the end-result be the same as Chicago? Would there even be a run-off? I guess it all depends on if Houstonians as a whole embrace a Latino candidate. Chicago showed a tendency, but obviously not a full embrace.

Obviously, Murray’s assertion is that there be a Latino VP candidate in 2016 to give either party a major assist, but I’m talking about a major Latino candidacy at the top of the ballot. After yesterday’s results, I tend to think results elsewhere would be the same. Latino candidates not only have to campaign to a diverse electorate, but against big money interests, and they also have to combat right-wing, anti-Latino sentiment coming out of state legislatures.

Still, I think it needs to be continually tested, rather than have prospective Latino candidates remain in their comfort zones. Certainly, it would ensure a response to those who would make Latinos a political scapegoat.