Category Archives: 2021

Early Voting Has Begun – Oct 18 – 29, 2021

Early Voting around Harris County has begun and will run through October 29, 2021. You can vote early at any location in Harris County. You can find your sample ballot by clicking here.

On the ballot are eight (8) state propositions and you may also have local school and college board trustee races on your ballot, so, your sample ballot is the best way to find out what’s up.

My ballot will look like this:

State Propositions (Ballotpedia Explains The Propositions)

Prop 1 – Adds pro rodeo foundations to list authorized to hold raffles. (FOR)

Prop 2 – Allows counties to issue bonds to finance redevelopment of towns and cities. (FOR)

Prop 3 – Forbids local government from prohibiting or limiting religious services (when something like COVID-19 or some sort of disaster occurs and the decision is made for the protection of residents). (AGAINST) (Explanation)

Prop 4 – Changes the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office. (FOR)

Prop 5 – Extends State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s power over judicial candidates. (FOR)

Prop 6 – Allows group home residents to name an essential caregiver with visiting rights. (FOR)

Prop 7 – Allows surviving spouses, 55 or older, of disabled persons a limit on school district property taxes. (FOR)

Prop 8 – Allows surviving spouse of military member killed in action to a property tax exemption. (FOR)

ALIEF ISD

Position 4 – Debby Pepper (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 5 – Randal Stewart

Position 6 – Ronald Franklin (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 7 – Damon Barone (Endorsed by TSTA)

Bond Prop A – FOR (Bond Descriptions)

Bond Prop B – FOR

Bond Prop C – FOR

Bond Prop D – FOR


While I do not reside in Houston ISD, I do have some favorites.

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Deigaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

And, while I await the outcome of whatever is going on with my own HCC trustee, my favorites for whom I am not able to vote are:

HCC District 3 – Adriana Tamez

HCC District 8 – Eva Loredo

Get your voting done early. Otherwise, you can vote on November 2.

Tomas Q. Morin’s Machete

While I am awaiting the arrival of my copy of Tomas Q. Morin’s latest book of poetry, Machete, the Texas Standard provides us an interview with the accomplished poet, Rice U professor, and personal friend of mine from our days at Southwest Texas State University.

In his new collection, “Machete,” Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool.

Texas Standard

Morin is currently on a virtual tour giving readings of his latest work and will be in Houston on November 2 at the Houston Public Library in conversation with recent Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz. More details soon.

Click here for interview. Purchase book here. And read the first poem in the book at Poetry Society, I Sing the Body Aquatic, as well as a few words about it.

Greg Abbott Is Evil…The Next Chapter

It’s all a show, really. Greg Abbott’s death mandates to ban vaccination mandates are all for show. At this point, even with slowed vaccination rates, all Greg Abbott is doing is speaking to what’s left of his base that is yet to get vaccinated. I’m pretty sure most of his actual campaign check-writers are vax’d, since they all enjoy taking advantage of the stupid and right-wing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect, promising to rescind the executive order once that happenedThe Legislature is in this year’s third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced.”

Gee, Greg, you’re talking out of both ends of your body.

I agree with Kuff that it seems like a childish tantrum to whine and moan about President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination order affecting companies with 100+ employees. The reality is that there is no whining when it comes to all the other vaccines children are required to obtain.

While GOP officials are pushing back against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the state has allowed other kinds of vaccine mandates in public schools and universities for years.

Texas public schools require K-12 students to get vaccinated for tetanus; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; chickenpox; meningitis and hepatitis A. College students are required to receive a meningitis vaccination, too. Health care and veterinary students are required to get additional vaccines for rabies, tetanus-diphtheria and hepatitis B.

For Abbott, this is all a response to Biden winning the election, proving again that he is a failure as a governor. Meanwhile, the State of Texas is only 52% vaccinated against COVID-19, over 68,000 have died under Greg Abbott’s failed leadership, and people are still getting sick and suffering.

This is a reminder that, in Texas, since Day 1, we have been on our own. I’d also add that there’s an election in 2022, but we need an announced viable candidate to get excited about that.

The 2021 Alief ISD Bond

Along with a few races for school trustee, we Alief ISD voters get to decide on over $500 million in bonds to address aging facilities and buses, athletics upgrades, modernization of the stadium, and more technology. With a small tax increase and no tax increase for 65 and older, this kind of investment is needed for this growing district. Sounds good enough, so, let’s dive a little into it.

According to the district, it has been six years since the last bond and that bond came in on time, on target, and under budget. I must say, it’s nice to see the new buildings that have gone and are going up at the moment that address student career needs, staff development needs, and transportation needs. Currently, the average age of school buildings is 35 years, so, it is time to continue upgrading to ensure equity around the district.

The bond has been broken up into four parts (state law, I’ve been told by a committee member).

Prop A is for $482.6 million to pay for safety and security upgrades for school entrance and more funds for ISD police; two replacement schools; a new agri-center on the site of the Alief Community Garden; all sorts of renovations; for Fine Arts, new instruments, sound-proof practice rooms, dance flooring, and theater lighting.; new equipment for Career and Tech Education programs; and new buses to transport students.

I like Prop A and will vote for it.

Prop B is for $9.1 million in athletic upgrades to include tennis court resurfacing; dugouts at Hastings HS baseball field; gym scoreboards; resurfacing baseball/softball fields; replacement of football turf; and replacement of outdoor scoreboards.

The wealth seems to be spread around the various sports, so, I’m thinking YES on this one. Better turf means increased safety for athletes and less maintenance needs.

Prop C calls for $19.4 million to modernize Crump Stadium. According to the district, the stadium is almost 50 years old and has not had much in investment in improvement. The stadium was also built when enrollment was less than 20% of what it has become. So, they are asking for this cash to build a new press box, new turf, new track, new locker rooms, and one of those fancy video scoreboards.

When I cruised around the district, the first thing I noticed was how modern the stadium was, considering it was 50 years old. It seems they were ahead of the game when it was built. New track and new turf not only ensures safety, but it also makes the stadium attractive for playoff and other community events. It is stuff that is needed, but it is also pricey. The first time I voted against a bond, I lived in Humble ISD because it was too football-centric, but the total package here seems to be about the students. I’m trending toward supporting Prop C because why should the “fancy” school districts get all the nice stuff? Also, at least they didn’t ask for some $200 million monstrosity.

Prop D calls for $30.6 million for technology upgrades. A reminder that there are now over 50,000 students and staff at Alief ISD and they are deserving of the best. The bond ensures the district keeps a tech replacement schedule for the next three years. The bond includes classroom instructional technology; campus iPads and desktops.

Yes, I’m for it. I wish it would have been twice as much!

Anyway, that’s my take on the Alief ISD bond. Early voting begins October 18 and runs through October 29. Election Day is November 2. I’m still trying to find more information about candidates for school trustee. There are a few of those races on the ballot, which makes up a good chunk of the board being chosen, so, this is important.

Thanks to all those neighbors who participated in the bond committee–89 strong, working for 6 months, and over 2000 hours. It is said that if passed, Alief ISD will save over 65 million bucks in escalating construction costs and inflation. I know I have that in mind, especially as the pandemic continues.

For more information, visit the bond website!

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

I just added some great tunes to my playlist for all those drives around Houston. Add them to yours for your listening pleasure.

Chente Barrera – Amor Ingrato – Chente just released a tribute album dedicated to the legendary Roberto Pulido. The special thing about it is that Chente and his band Taconazo stayed true to Pulido’s Clasicos sound. The acordeon, the saxes, and the higher octave vocals are just mind-blowing. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of Barrera’s. Amor Ingrato is one of Pulido’s hits from the late 80s and Barrera sings it with the legend himself.

Little Joe y La Familia – Hernandez Brothers – Little Joe dropped a pretty good album of redone classics featuring himself and his brothers Rocky and Gilbert. Especially in the studio, La Familia is a precision-based horn band and they do not disappoint. For this playlist, I’ll post this tune featuring Rocky and Gilbert, Ingratos Ojos Mios. Recorded long ago by Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, this is one of my faves on the album, as well as Pajarillo Barranqueño, with Rocky on lead vocals.

Cops Who Shot Nicolas Chavez 21 Times No Billed

A grand jury no-billed four cops who killed Nicolas Chavez after shooting him 21 times. Chavez was in the midst of an emotional episode when the cops decided to shoot him for not following commands. The grand jury found no probable cause to charge the cops after evidence was presented by DA Kim Ogg’s office.

Add this to the non-prosecution of former HC Deputy Shauna Thompson in the choking murder of John Hernandez and Ogg’s losing record of prosecuting killer cops becomes even more significant. Add to this the fact that Thompson and these four killer cops are not only free to go, but free to be armed and badged again and we’re talking about a community that is endangered.

While then-Chief of Police Acevedo fired the officers, the fact that they were no-billed gives them the right to arbitration to get their jobs back. We are definitely keeping an eye on where these cops end up.

No doubt, our hearts are with the family of Nicolas Chavez as they must relive this tragedy once again. A lawsuit against HPD and the City was already dismissed.

There is an obvious imbalance of justice when the DA complains about judges and bond releases while killer cops are released back into society given the “OK” to do as they please.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance is as ready as it’s going to be for the next special session as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at 2020 Congressional results as we wait for redistricting maps.

As the withdrawal wound down over the last month, SocraticGadfly had a series of pieces related to history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. First was initial thoughts on the withdrawal. After that, he looked at how the initial 1978 US meddling unnecessarily led to all that followed. Third, he said former Counterpunch publisher Alexander Cockburn was probably lying with his claimthe Taliban had a pre-invasion offer of a no-strings-attached surrender of bin Laden. Finally, he rejected claims, and the domestic political thought behind some of them, that the Taliban would now run wild, instead saying Afghanistan’s future looks complex.

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

Texas 2036 released its poll showing widespread dissatisfaction with the direction the state is going.

Katya Ehresman shows you how to get involved in the redistricting fight.

Julie Cloud and David Currie argue that people of faith have a particular obligation to get vaccinated and wear masks.

The Texas Living Waters Project sees the American Rescue Plan Act as a historic opportunity to invest in our water infrastructure.

Reform Austin catches Ken Paxton in a rare moment of self-awareness.

The Bloggess recommends some horror movies for you.

The Great God Pan Is Dead is looking forward to fall art season.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

Tacho’s Playlist

Time to add a few more tunes to your playlist. Here are a few awesome finds.

Los Texmaniacs – El Rancho Grande – Recently, a new compilation paying tribute to the late great Freddy Fender was released. Included in the mix of tunes was Grammy winners, Los Texmaniacs with their rendition of El Rancho Grande. With Josh Baca’s squeezebox and Max Baca’s signature bajo sexto, this tune is fast becoming a favorite. Check it out.

Los Nuevos Dudes – La Luz – One of my favorite duos during the late 80s was Los Dudes, which featured Joe Revelez and Anthony Hernandez sharing vocal and keyboard duties. Their live shows never disappointed as the two-man band made a lot of noise. Revelez, now, teams up with former Gary Hobbs keyboardist Hector Gutierrez on this new tune. Revelez has not lost his touch with his jazzy keyboarding, with the accomplished Gutierrez adding a strong segunda.

The Latin Breed – Ay Mujer – Recently, The Latin Breed released a new album of re-recorded hits featuring their most recent lead vocalist Ben Miranda. Ay Mujer was one of the top hits from Latin Breed’s best seller, Breakin’ the Rules from 1988. Since then, the legendary big band has made several albums, but this is the first time they have re-recorded some of their biggest hits featuring a newer vocalist. Folks will remember that Breakin’ The Rules launched the career of Jay Perez. The Latin Breed does not disappoint with their tight horn and rhythm section, but Ben Miranda also impresses. After 50 years in the business, The Latin Breed continues to tour putting on powerful performances.

And as we begin Raza Heritage Month…

The Tortilla Factory – Mi Gente – A few years ago, The Tortilla Factory recorded this powerful tune, a sequel to Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia’s legendary Las Nubes. El Gato Negro Ruben Ramos, El Charro Negro Bobby Butler, and Alfredo Guerrero provide a 3-part harmony, while Joe Gallardo offers up some trombone licks. Listen to the lyrics. The video features some powerful images, too. One familiar face is our friend, former Senator Gonzalo Barrientos.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is not happy there’s a quorum at the Legislature but is resigned to move on to the next stage of the fight as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff puzzles over some frustratingly vague polling data related to attitudes about mask and vaccine mandates.

SocraticGadfly has a two-fer on some recent major climate change-related news. First, he explains what the Lake Mead water cuts will mean — and should mean for Arizona, and beyond that, eventually the whole Colorado basin. Second, he calls out some Texas media for pulling punches on matters related to the new IPCC report.

Stace honors journalist, poet, playwright, and cultural critic Gregg Barrios , who passed away suddenly last week.

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

The Texas Politics Project takes a deeper dive into polls about schools and COVID.

Matt Dulin looks at the effects of vaccine hesitancy and access.

Steve Vladeck explains what that Supreme Court action on mask mandates for schools really means.

Madison Yandell asks three questions about federal COVID relief funds for education.

Robert Rivard wishes Greg Abbott a swift recovery and a change of heart.

Beyond Bones assures us that dinosaurs loved their children too.