Category Archives: 3rd Centavo

SOTS: The Power of Words (or Lack of Them)

by Fidencio Leija-Chavez, Jr.

I am not a certified English teacher, and I must confess that English is my second language. However, after several years in the U.S. Navy, my community college experience and now pursuing a master’s degree, I recognize the power of words.

Today (Jan. 29) we had the opportunity to hear our Texas Governor present his State of the State address to all Texans. Following his 3,720-word discourse, the power of words resulted in a lack of words and marginal effort.

Governor Perry opened with recognizing his family, past legislators (i.e. Houston’s Sen. Gallegos) and growth of private-sector jobs. He continued by praising CEO’s, companies and state-of-the-art packing plants. While jobs, business, and the economy of Texas occupied the majority of his speech, the Latino community awaited for Governor Perry to unveil his concern and plan for issues that affect Hispanic children, college students and families throughout the state.

We’ll give him partial credit for utilizing the word education ten times, but he never once covered the hot button issues of vouchers and standardized tests. These two will more than likely push the Governor to keep legislators past their 140 days in Austin.

Before we get to social issues that concern the Latino community (and in my opinion – all Texans), he also failed to mention women and veterans. Even more, what about women that are veterans? His speech just dropped another letter grade.

Women are filling our classrooms, leading in small business, and continuously graduating in higher numbers in college. How could they have been left out? Now, our military men and women should be alarmed that our Texas Governor overlooked them when our soldiers are returning with some of the highest rates of PTSD ever witnessed. There are no excuses for forgetting those who have served this country.

Our community inspired four new congressional seats and holds the largest percentage of children in K-12 in the State and our Governor only mentions the word Hispanic twice. Both of those instances were related to the participation of Hispanic students taking the SAT and ACT.

Which leads our community to wonder – why did he not mention comprehensive immigration reform, sanctuary cities, Dreamers, or social issues that affect everyday Hispanic communities?

Governor Perry gave us a one sided State of the State address. He applauded his supporters and defended conservative ideology while failing to recognize issues that matter to the state’s largest constituency & voting base – women, veterans, Latinos and new American citizens. These groups are engaged, united and voting in greater numbers each year, so do not be alarmed as you see them closing the gap and shifting our state to purple as our Governor and Legislative officials fail to recognize them when it matters. Words do matter!

There were 3,720 words used in the State of the State speech by Governor Rick Perry. Below is a breakdown of keywords that were used in present, past and future tense. In addition, the words could have been used in singular, plural, and in conjunction with other words.

Veterans = 0
Women = 0
Community Colleges = 1
Minority = 1
Hispanic = 2
Economic = 5
Private = 5
Business = 6
Education = 10
Fund = 13
Jobs = 16

Joining as a bloguero is Fidencio “Orale” Leija-Chavez, Jr. Fidencio is a Co-Founder of Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting., a US Navy Vet, a Texas State University Bobcat studying Geographic Information Systems, a graduate of Houston’s National Hispanic Professional Organization Leadership Institute, and a local political pro.

3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: Politics is the Art of Compromise?

by Dr. Rodolfo Acuña

The most overused saying among liberals is that politics is the art of compromise, and it gripes me to no end. Liberals repeat it with such smugness as if they were sages. I find it so pretentious — to the point that I consider it a bunch of toro dung.

It is like saying that politics is the art of the possible, an equally absurd, pretentious and irritating notion. What happened to the impossible dream? Shouldn’t we always strive for something better?

If we have to have a standard wouldn’t a better saying be that politics is the art of principle after all politics is not a game. It involves people, and consequences.

In my own little world, I have seen too many Chicana/o studies programs compromised out of existence with administrators convincing Chicana/o negotiators that it was impossible to give them what they wanted, not enough money. At the same time the president of the institution draws down $300,000 a year, and gets perks such as housing, a per diem, and an automobile. One recently retired university president that I know sits on two corporate boards of directors, and draws down an extra $300,000.

This is academe’s version of one potato two potatoes three potatoes, more.

The game gets ridiculous. Faculties at institutions of higher learning supposedly have shared governance. In fact, every committee is merely advisory to the president who can accept or reject the recommendations.

For the past several years California State University professors have been playing footsies with the administration or better still the chancellor’s office over the budget and pay raises. This is a Catch-22, however. Faculty members also say that they are concerned about the escalating tuition; note that students pay as much as 80 percent of instructional costs. So where is the additional revenue going to come from? Professors love students, but not enough to forgo raises or out of principle go on strike to trim back the number of administrators and the presidents’ salaries.

It really gets ridiculous at times. At Northridge, Chicana/o studies was threatened that if it exceeded its target enrollment that the department would be penalized and its budget cut. Our former chancellor wanted to pressure the state legislature to cough up more money by turning back students. The administration minions at the disparate campuses justified this by repeating the party line that numbers do not count. In fact they laid a guilt trip on us saying that Chicana/o studies professors we were not team players because we were admitting too many students.

As a result, this semester we have a crisis. The institution did not admit enough students; the rationale was if we had fewer students, then we would spend less. But it does not work that way. At state universities even the allocation for paper clips depends on how many students you are taking in. That is why most departments are now being told to beef up their enrollment or lose a portion of their department budget.

Good old compromise got us there as well as the illusion that faculty has power. In fact there were other possibilities. Compromise was not necessarily one of them.

The word compromise is insidious. President Barack Obama has been trying to play Henry Clay and show that he is a great compromiser – forgetting that he is not bargaining for a used car.

President Obama compromised and got his Obama care package. A half a loaf is better than none my Democrat friends repeated, smiled, and nodded. But, according to the New York Times, “Americans continue to spend more on health care than patients anywhere else. In 2009, we spent $7,960 per person, twice as much as France, which is known for providing very good health services.” An appendectomy in Germany costs a quarter of what it costs in the United States; an M.R.I. scan less than a third as much in Canada.

The U.S. devotes far more of its economy to health care than other industrialized countries. It spends two and a half times more than the other countries do for health care; most of it is funneled through giant health corporations. Why do we pay more? Could it be because Obama compromised on the single payer?

I have been to France, Spain and Germany; I can testify that the quality of care is on a par and often better than in the U.S. and the earnings and prestige of doctors is equivalent or better.

Why is this? Could it be that they don’t have giant medical corporations making tremendous profits? Just Blue Cross of California has annual revenue of $9.7 billion. This not for profit corporation made $180 million in excess profits in 2010.

The only conclusion that I can reach is that Obama was suckered into believing compromise was necessary and that politics was the art of the possible instead of sticking to principle.

Let’s be honest for a moment, immigration was put on the back burner until the Democratic party realized that in order to win that Latinos better be invited to the dance.

However, Mexican Americans, Latinos or, whatever we call them, play the same ridiculous game as white people do.

Go to the neighborhoods, ask Central Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Ask Cuban Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Many resent the fact or want to ignore that Mexican Americans make up two-thirds to 70 percent of the Latino total.

So, let’s not rock the boat, Mexicans will call any politician with a tenth Mexican blood a Latino and call them compadre. They are happy to be called anything but Mexican.

I don’t know how we are going to get out of this bind when we have to vote for people without principles. Are we going to support a Marco Rubio or a Ted Cruz because they have Spanish surnames, or George Prescott Bush because his mother was Mexican, and forget that he was once called ”the little brown one.”

It gets ridiculous — like that game played in the Huffington Post’s Latino Voices that features articles asking, do you know that this actor or actress has Latino blood? It is as stupid as the game of compromise or the art of the possible.

It reminds me of my grandfather and uncles who worked on the railroad (Southern Pacific) for fifty years who would say that a certain foreman was simpatico, they just knew he liked Mexicans. Why shouldn’t he? Mexican workers bought his lottery tickets and junk jewelry.

Support should be based on principle. I support Central and Latin Americans not because their numbers swell opportunities for politicos, but because they have suffered European and Euro-American colonialism, and come to this country for a better life. They deserve what every other human being should have.

We are not going to get a thing through compromise. Every time I look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor and their buddy in the Senate who reminds me of the bloodhound Trusty in “Lady and the Tramp”; I am reminded that a fair deal is based on integrity. I would not want any of these jokers to come to dinner – not in my house!

Before we start compromising and calling anyone our amigos remember that Boehner called a 2007 bipartisan immigration bill “a piece of shit.” This is what he thinks about us. I use the generic word Latino because I care about my Latin American family – not because I want to be Italian.

Obama is now at a crossroads. He is going to have to make a decision, and that decision does not only encompass immigration and gun control. It is about whether politics is the art of compromise, the art of the possible, or whether it is about principle.

My advice is to tell his three Republican amigos to take a hike and mint the damn trillion dollar coin. It is better to be right and to be respected than to be liked.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

Event: GOLDEN Dinner and Tejano Dance – September 14

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

GOLDEN: Giving Others Life to Dream Every Night Dinner & Tejano Dance is a Go Gold initiative organized by a group of individuals concerned about the awareness of childhood cancers in the Latino community.

All proceeds raised from ticket sales will go directly to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). whose mission is to address the needs of families through programs that emphasize information, advocacy, awareness, and research.   ACCO provides:

  • Free Kits to families affected by childhood cancers in Spanish & English.  Kits include books and videos to help family members cope with cancer.
  • Funds for child cancer research
  • Literature about chldhood cancers

Your contribution will help fund ACCO initiatives.   $15 will put one of the many available books in the hands of a child with cancer, $25 will give a book to the child’s teacher, and $100 will give a full set of materials to a family in need of them.  More information about materials can be found at

Local organizations that provide resources to families and childen affected by childhood cancers will be present to share resources and promote volunteer oppurtunities.

Go Gold and join us for this very worthy cause:  “because kids can’t fight cancer alone.”

BBQ Dinner & Resource Expo   6pm-7:30 pm

Tejano Dance                                7:30 pm-11pm


Be prepared to dance the night away to the best Tejano hits.  Cash bar will be available.

The suport of the following organizations is greatly appreciated:

Camp Innovation


Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting

Mia’s Closet

National Hispanic Professional Organization

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Kuff Still Has Guests

Well, I thought I saw a couple more cool people on OffTheKuff, so, make sure you give them a read:

First, there’s an excellent post from someone I consider an “hermanita,” Christina Gorczynski from the League of Women Voters Houston on engaging youth voters and how one can get involved.

If you want to engage young people, the first step is meeting them where they are. Volunteer for a youth-based organization. Step out of the political field to coach youth sports, participate in a mentoring program, judge a high school debate contest, sponsor a scout troop or teach a class at your place of worship. Invite them to make civic life part of their life. Better yet, come volunteer for the League of Women Voters to visit high schools with me.

Check out the rest of the post for links to really cool informational stuff.

The next post is from a sometimes-3rd Centavo contributor, Dr. Rey Guerra. A post on where Latinos have been and were Latinos might be going, Guerra hits on some positive local points, as well as some of the stuff Latinos have been pushing back on. His closing hits it on the head, though.

It’s been said that the Latino community in Houston today has more energy and more momentum than it’s had in over 30 years; since the days of Ben Reyes, Leonel Castillo, and the murder of Joe Campos Torres.

What’s been most impressive to me is that energy and momentum exhibited by today’s Latino community isn’t necessarily in coalescing around a candidate or a specific issue. It seems to be happening organically, out of a sense that is at times anger, at times hope, and at other times a need for simple fairness.

Lately, Rey and I have been disagreeing on some candidate choices, and then with others we are hard-core supporters. So, I’ll give a little mention to someone he doesn’t mention in his post, HD-137 candidate Jamaal Smith, who is in a run-off at the moment. Jamaal has a strong record of working with the Latino community, especially with his experience working for the late Joe Moreno in pushing positive legislation. During his work with the Democratic Party, he was always calling on Latino leaders for advice, and was spot-on whenever he advocated on issues impacting Latinos. So, I’m voting for the responsive and experienced Jamaal Smith.

3rd Centavo~ The Worst is Yet To Come in Texas

by Joey Cardenas, Former Texas LULAC State Director

As the former Texas LULAC State Director, I want to acknowledge and congratulate each of you for all the hard work that you did during the 82nd legislative session on behalf of the Latino community to prevent shameful and discriminatory legislation such as S.B. 14, the voter ID bill.  I am proud of the stance that the U.S. Justice Department recently took on this issue in no small part, due to your efforts and those of the leadership of the Latino community in Texas.  However, I want to remind all of you that the State of Texas anticipated this stance from the Justice Department, and so this issue is still very much alive in the Federal District Court in Washington DC which may take a different stance on the issue all together.

The purpose of this post is to advise you that the worst is yet to come in regards to the political atmosphere in Texas, and you must be ready to act intelligently by keeping yourself informed of the impact the politics will have on our community and our great state of Texas.  The 83rd Texas Legislative session which begins in 2013 is shaping up to be the worst political nightmare for Latinos in Texas.  And the “die has been cast” by our State officials in Austin!  While we can now proudly claim to have defeated all anti-Latino legislation proposed by the 82nd Legislature, and that we prevented an Arizona-like political atmosphere from coming to Texas, we should not be optimistic about our political future in spite of our numbers if we don’t aggressively assert our political clout.  Our Texas Attorney General with the endorsement of our State officials has set into motion a detrimental course of court procedures whose goal is to minimize and disenfranchise the political power of Latinos in Texas!

The state of Texas is challenging the U.S. Department of Justice’s denial of pre-clearance of Texas’ voter ID bill by utilizing its other option in the Federal District Court in Washington DC.  The state of Texas is not only willing to waste more Texas tax payer monies on another high-profile court battle, but the State has very emphatically taken the stance that Latinos in Texas will not ascend to political power without the State having exhausted all possible options of preventing this from happening or at the very least delaying this eventual outcome.  At the heart of the State’s plan is its challenge to the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and in particular Section 5 of the act which applies to Texas and other states primarily in the South who have a proven history of discrimination against minority groups.

The State is making a two-front attack on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act that was designed to prohibit race discrimination in voting and elections.  Our state officials in Texas have made two attempts to disregard the VRA through its efforts to adopt discriminatory redistricting maps and the voter ID bill.  Both State actions are a direct challenge to the VRA and a threat to our community and the principles enshrined in our Federal Constitution.  While the Latino community of Texas is united in its sentiments against the voter ID bill, there are by contrast members of our own community who are unscrupulously helping the State make its argument against the VRA through their continued support of the idea that CD-25 in Austin is protected by the VRA.  The idea that a non-minority congressional district can be construed to be protected under the Voting Rights Act is a detrimental threat to the very need for the VRA!  It weakens the argument that identified minority groups need protection from discriminatory actions and it further leads to the dismantling of civil rights.  Latinos who would carry the mantle of a political party for the sake of political gain, do so at the very expense of the community they supposedly champion!

In my capacity as your Texas LULAC State Director, I witnessed first-hand the State’s arguments for the need to have a voter ID bill during the past two legislative sessions.  In the 81st session the voter ID bill was defeated primarily because the Speaker of the House never called it up; you could say that democrats and republicans to some extent were working together after considerable debate and input from Texas LULAC and others.  However, in the 82nd Legislature, the primary focus of the session was on redistricting, and so there would not be any cooperation between democrats and republicans in Texas.  Let me remind you that the Texas Senate was so bent on passing the voter ID bill, that when it couldn’t pass it by a regular 2/3rds vote, the Texas Senate simply suspended the Senate rules so that the voter ID bill could pass with a simple majority!  I testified at the Senate hearings on your behalf to protest against the voter ID bill as unnecessary given the precautions that were already in place to prevent voter fraud.  However, there were non-Latinos at the hearings as well testifying that the voter ID bill was necessary because of the “high number of illegal aliens” voting.

Those individuals who were testifying that the voter ID bill was necessary were speaking as if election judges and precinct chairpersons throughout the state were purposely allowing anyone to vote; as if our elections in Texas were rampant with fraud and election officials all too willing to help commit fraud.  As a past precinct chairman and election judge, I took offense to these comments and testified to the numerous safe-guards in place that exist to prevent voter fraud in Texas which include voter identification cards, registered voter rolls, use of drivers licenses and/or utility bill stubs, and of course the familiarity with which every election judge has with his or her precinct’s constituency.  A closer examination of these individuals testifying in favor of the voter ID bill revealed that a large number of them were “winter Texans” while others were just flat out racists.

These “winter Texans” that are not from Texas come and live in our Rio Grande Valley area among our people and community for three months out of the year to take advantage of our sun, our hospitality, and cheap medicine; and unfortunately, some bring their prejudices and are all too willing to spread the seeds of discrimination and racism.  They are strangers to our state History and the contributions that Latinos have made to all aspects of Texas; and so when they see large numbers of Latinos in the Valley going to vote in November, they erroneously assume that some are not citizens; they assume that they can differentiate between who is a Mexican and who is a Mexican American, between who is “legal” and who is not.   When it comes to the “winter Texans”, we would do well to remember the lesson of the Trojans, and “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”.  My fellow Texans let me remind you that Arizona SB 1070 was made possible because Latinos in Arizona assumed that they were different from Latino immigrants, but the reality was that most Anglos lump us in all together into the category of “illegal”, as recent arrivals; furthermore, as the recession was gripping the nation, many Midwesterners moved and settled in  Arizona for jobs and just like the “winter Texans”, they took their racist attitudes with them and contributed to the anti-Latino political atmosphere that continues to dominate in that state.

My fellow Texans, they say that “it is always darkest before the dawn”; and we are quickly approaching that “darkest” hour before the “dawning” of a Latino renaissance in Texas!  Our State Officials have made it very clear through their actions that they do not have the best interest of the Latino community in mind!  Let’s be truthful, most politicians want our vote and support, and then would rather see us disappear.  But we have worked too hard for the gains that have been made on the backs of our grandparents and parents since the inception of Texas; so beware of those persons who marginalize our gains or who claim that no gains have been made at all, or who subscribe to the proverbial “crab theory” as the exclusive condition of the Latino community, for these “nay” Sayers contribute nothing to our cause or community aside from being commentary.  But be ready to boldly challenge any person who supports any anti-Latino legislation, or the dismantling of public education, or the lack of funding for public services, or politicians who promote bad legislation.  We must be ready to demand what is in the best interest of our children and Texas, because our children will inherit all that is Texas.  And we must not forget how we got to our present condition, the hard work that has gone into this effort, and our ancestors who pioneered the wilderness of Texas and championed the first Texas Republic!  Let us be resolved to continue to move the Latino agenda forward and to loudly celebrate the dedication of the Tejano monument in Austin as a symbol of the beginning of a Latino Renaissance in Texas!  Let us reenergize ourselves and recommit ourselves to the idea that no matter what bills are introduced in the 83rd Texas Legislature, with God on our side and hard work, we will prevail!