Category Archives: 2019

Houston CM Amanda Edwards Enters US Senate Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mayor Turner, Other Local Electeds Come Out Against ICE Raids

I was happy to see Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s appearance on NPR to come out against the coming Trump/ICE immigration raids.

Well, let me just say that we have repeatedly said that Houston Police Department is not ICE. We are not going to be participating with ICE on these type of raids,” said the Mayor.

Credit: JM Diaz

The raids and the rhetoric have instilled fear in the immigrant and Latino community. Hell, I’m a citizen multiple generations in and I sure as hell don’t get the warm and fuzzies that should be my birthright during times like these. In fact, Trump’s recent executive order regarding gathering citizenship information from agencies sent a chill down my spine, moreso than the census citizenship question about which he has been so adamant.

First of all, it is obvious that ICE doesn’t have a good database of people. And if Trump needs to get that information through piecemeal techniques from other agencies, it tells me that even citizens are at risk during immigration raids–or, at least the burden of proof is on any brown citizen that is targeted or detained. So, yeah, the raids instill fear beyond the immigrant community, too. Ultimately, the US Census is what should help us create a better democracy based on the number of people living here. It should not be a tool for immigration raids. Just something to think about. And as my lawyer-sister keeps reminding me, “Get your passport, ASAP!”

Other elected officials have come out against the ICE raids, including Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, Congressman Al Green, County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, County Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis, State Senator Carol Alvarado, and State Representative Christina Morales, among others. I wish we’d see more from non-Latino electeds, though.

I was glad to see candidates running in 2019 City of Houston races also come out against the raids, including Raj Salhotra for At-Large 1, Janaeya Carmouche for At-Large 3, and Ashton Woods for At-Large 5, and Isabel Longoria for District H, while also distributing pertinent information on the rights of immigrants.

The public response to the raids, baby jails, inhumane conditions at concentration camps, and the reality of a racist and gestapo-like Border Patrol continues to grow. Hundreds showed to a protest at the 419 Emancipation baby jail on Friday, 7/12. I know of a large group heading to Carrizo Springs, TX to protest a new baby jail (a former oilfield camp under the Texas sun) that just opened. And there are actions across the state and country.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

City of Houston Races Continue to Shape Up and Contract

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

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

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

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

City Council

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Si Llega ICE A Tu Puerta * If ICE Is At Your Door

Gracias a United We Dream por esta lista de derechos y recomendaciones si acaso llega ICE a tu Puerta.

1) NO ABRAS LA PUERTA

La migra solo puede entrar a tu casa con una orden de arresto emitida por un juez de la corte criminal, o si tu le abres la puerta. Dígale al oficial que pase la orden de arresto bajo la puerta o que la enseñe tras una ventana. ¡No abras la puerta!

2) GUARDA SILENCIO

La migra puede y usará cualquier cosa que digas en contra ti mismo en tu caso de inmigración. Es importante que te mantengas callado/a y hablar con un abogado. Simplemente dile al oficial de inmigración: “Quiero ejercer mi derecho bajo la quinta enmienda y decido mantenerme callado/a hasta que hable con mi abogado.”

3) NO FIRMES NADA HASTA HABLAR CON UN ABOGADO

Muchas veces, La Migra tratará de engañarte y hacerte firmar tu propia deportación. Esto se conoce como una ‘Voluntary Departure’ o ‘Deportación Voluntaria’. NO FIRMES NADA que te den sin hablar con un abogado primero.

4) GRABE TODO

Es importante tomar fotos y grabar video con tu celular a no ser que estes en propiedad del gobierno federal. Toma notas detalladas de números de placa, cantidad de oficiales, la hora, tipo de autos que usaron, y exactamente que paso. Reportantdo esta informacion nos ayudará a determinar si cualquier violación de derechos ocurrió en parte de la migra y también ayudará a exponer las tácticas manipuladoras que utiliza la migra para redondear y deportar a los inmigrantes.

5) REPORTE SU ENCUENTRO

United We Dream tiene una línea directa llamada MigraWatch para que nuestra comunidad pueda reportar la actividad de la migra. Haga su reporte llamando nuestra línea directa al 1-844-363-1423.

6) CONSIGUE AYUDA

Consigue un abogado de confianza y exploren todas las opciones para pelear su caso. Si es detenido/a, recuerde que tal vez pueda conseguir una fianza – no pierda la esperanza. Visite nuestros, compañeros, IMMI, para encontrar ayuda legal gratis o de bajo costo cerca de usted.

7) LUCHA

Otra manera de pelear tu caso, es unirte a una comunidad que está tras usted. Como la organización mas grande de la nación dirigida por jóvenes inmigrantes, United We Dream ha ayudado parar cientas de deportaciones. Manda un mensaje de texto que diga NosQuedamos al 877877 para luchar junta/o nosotros.

IN ENGLISH

1) Do Not Open Your Doors.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot come into your home without a warrant signed by an immigration court judge. With your door shut, ask them to slide the signed warrant under the door or push it up against a window. They cannot come in unless you let them.

2) Exercise Your Right To Remain Silent.

I.C.E can and will use anything you say against you in court. It’s important for you to remain silent and ask to speak to your attorney. Simply tell the immigration officer: “I am exercising my fifth amendment right and choosing to remain silent until I speak to my attorney”.

3) Do Not Sign Anything Before Speaking to an Attorney.

Many times, I.C.E. and Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.) will attempt to trick and make you sign your own deportation. This is also known as a voluntary departure. Do NOT sign anything that they give you without first speaking to an attorney.

4) Record Your Encounter.

It’s important to take photos and record video on your phone unless you are on federal government property. Take detailed notes of badge numbers, amount of agents, time, type of cars they used, and exactly what happened. Reporting this information will help us determine if any rights violation was made on behalf of the immigration agency and help us expose their rouge, manipulative tactics that they use to round up and deport immigrants.

5) Report Your Encounter.

United We Dream runs a hotline called the MigraWatch Hotline for people to report activity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E), Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P), or any other immigration agencies. Report the activity by calling this hotline at 1-844-363-1423.

6) Get Help.

Get a trustworthy attorney and explore all options to fight your case. If detained, remember that you might be able to get bail – don’t lose hope. Visit our partners, IMMI, to find free or low-cost legal help near you.

7) Fight Back.

Another way to fight back, is to join a community that has your back. As the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, United We Dream has helped stop hundreds of deportations. Text HereToStay to 877877 to fight back alongside us.

Credit:  United We Dream

 

The May 2019 Election – Results

Santa Fe, TX

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

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

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

Pasadena, TX

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

Cy-Fair ISD Bond

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

San Antonio and Dallas

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

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

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

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

May 15-19, 2019: 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival

It’s that time of year again. The 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, the biggest conjunto festival in the world is set to launch in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and the list of performers and activities does not disappoint.

The fest begins on May 15 with a Seniors Dance at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater at 1301 Guadalupe featuring Eddie “Lalo” Torres y su Conjunto. The dance is FREE! There will also be a screening of Chulas Fronteras, a documentary film about Texas conjunto music and its history.

On May 16, the newest inductees into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame will be presented at the Guadalupe Theater. This year’s inductees include Norfy Layton, Lorenzo Martinez, and Pepe Maldonado.

But it’s May 17-19 which will have the most activity at SA’s Rosedale Park at 303 Dartmouth. The three-day concert series includes some of the best conjuntos in the business.  Get your tickets here. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, May 17, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
5:30pm-Midnight
$16 daily admission
5:30pm Opening Ceremonies
6:00pm Flavio Longoria Conjunto Kings
7:00pm Los D Boyz
8:00pm Rio Jordan
9:00pm Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez
10:00pm Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers
11:00pm Los Garcia Bros
AFTERPARTY: FAR WEST @ 2502 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX 78221

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00pm-12:00am
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
3:20pm Cristina y Los Latinos
4:00pm Robert Casillas and Company
5:00pm JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits
6:00pm Los Morales Boyz
7:00pm Los Leones de Alberto Solis
8:00pm Los Tremendos V
9:00pm Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz
10:00pm Conjunto Califas
11:00pm Lazaro Perez y su Conjunto
AFTERPARTY: BOSMANS @ 672 Elks Dr, San Antonio, TX 78211

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00-11:00pm
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
2:00pm Los Hermanos Tellez
3:00pm Konjunto Kompaz
4:00pm Tejano RoZe
5:00pm Linda Escobar y Su Tremendo Conjunto
6:00pm Eva Ybarra y su Conjunto
7:00pm Los Texmaniacs featuring Flaco Jimenez
8:00pm Ruben De La Cruz y su Conjunto
9:00pm Tony Tigre y la Rosa de Oro
10:00pm Los Palominos
AFTERPARTY: THE SQUEEZEBOX @ 2806 N. St. Mary’s
San Antonio, Texas 78212

 

Leslie Contreras Schwartz Chosen as Houston’s Poet Laureate

Congrats to Leslie Contreras Schwartz! Here’s the press release from Mayor Sylvester Turner making the announcement:

Writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz has been selected as Houston’s fourth poet laureate, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announce today.

Her two-year term begins now, as National Poetry Month comes to an end. Schwartz was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of literary experts.

Mayor Turner made the final selection. The poet laureate receives a $20,000 honorarium for the two-year term, funded by the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax dedicated to the arts.

Contreras Schwartz will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to carry out her community outreach project focusing on outreach to people with mental illness and mental health workers. She will also conduct eight workshops in partnership with Houston Public Library and mentor the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.

“The appointment speaks to the great work that this poet has done and will do as an ambassador of the City though poetry,” Mayor Turner said. “Houston will be well represented by Leslie through workshops and outreach work in non-traditional communities.”

The Poet Laureate program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who creates excitement about the written and spoken word as well as outreach activities, special programs, teaching and their individual works. The role of the Poet Laureate is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.

“The Houston Public Library congratulates Leslie Contreras Schwartz on becoming Houston’s fourth Poet Laureate and joins the mayor in recognizing her invaluable talent. Contreras Schwartz will bring her passion and extensive knowledge of poetry and writing to Houston’s communities,” said Lawson. “We are excited about working with her on a diverse spectrum of literacy programs that will instill the love of poetry and writing for children, teens and adults alike around the city.”

“As a native Houstonian whose family has deep roots in the city since the early 1900s, I am deeply honored to be named an ambassador for poetry in the city I love and call home,” said Leslie Contreras Schwartz. “I have dedicated my adult life to studying, reading, and writing poetry, and am excited to share this passion. My outreach plan will focus on using writing to improve mental health, particularly among non-traditional and underserved communities.”

She is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston. She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor’s degree at Rice University.

Contreras Schwartz says her work examines the individual versus public bodies and documents experiences and narratives of those usually silenced, such as people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, or children in custody.

Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, The Texas Review, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her new collection of poems, Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, May 2018), was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2018, she was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest. Her fiction will be included in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).

Before ‘‘passing the pen’’ to Contreras Schwartz, the outgoing laureate, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, is launching her community outreach project, a multi-video series of performance poetry celebrating neighborhoods of the City. These videos can be found on the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Facebook & YouTube Pages and will be throughout the coming weeks. The first can be found: https://youtu.be/B-o76Pxz1gs

About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at http://www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Find fun stuff on Houston’s Cultural Events Calendar.

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

 

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.

A Short Local Nightmare Is Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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