Category Archives: Houston Politica

SD6 ~ Re-Checking the Mail–Direct and Electronic

My post this morning about the start of early voting earned me a call-out about my take, and let’s just let be known that if you call me out and state your case, then, I can be a fair guy–even though this blog wasn’t designed to be “fair and balanced.” But I may just take the pay-route like the Chron, so, be warned.

So, I had written:

There was a flare-up yesterday over a Sylvia Garcia direct mail piece that called out Carol Alvarado’s METRO dealings, which PDiddie covers. Negative pieces are designed to tarnish competitors, and like most things, it’s all in the timing. It’s a lot harder to respond to a negative mail piece than to something on TV. And when the e-mail response to said piece has a couple of linked exhibits and is sent by a surrogate, well, it’s hard to be effective. Targeted voters have something tangible in their hands, in this case. Believe what you will, enjoy the negativity or not, in a race like this where there are too many similarities in issues stances, that’s what one does, beyond the door-to-door.

What seemed to me like an attack on Alvarado’s work for METRO was specifically about the East End rail line and the problem with running the new light rail line across the existing freight rail line crossing on Harrisburg and Hughes. One solution, which METRO supported, was an overpass–a six-block  long bridge over the freight line, 26 feet high. While many of the politicos supported it or thought it feasible, business owners and residents called for an underpass–below the freight line. So, as stated in the article, State Rep. Alvarado was hired as a consultant to find funding for the added cost of the project (bridge or underpass project). In the direct mail piece, Garcia seems to question Alvarado’s work for METRO in support of a bridge while also serving the same constituents who did not support METRO’s idea of a bridge.

In his response to the mail piece, CM James Rodriguez took exception to Garcia’s line of attack and provided a link to a letter from then-commissioner Sylvia Garcia which had stated that she supported “the concept of a bridge or underpass” at the freight rail crossing, and not just the underpass. Citing comments regarding elected officials and “guts” made by Garcia at a candidate forum, Rodriguez challenged Garcia  by stating that many of the area’s officials worked to find the funding for the project and that Garcia did not attend meetings on seeking a solution. Rodriguez further stated that Garcia “declined” to contribute County money to the project.

In fact, Garcia’s letter stated that there was no provision in the county’s most recent bond referendum for this money and that the county was “not in a position” to commit money for the proposed bridge.

So, hopefully, I’ve provided background and fairness to this whole thing about a mail piece. Obviously, there are differing takes and opinions to this whole thing and I have some of my own. Needless to say, the people got an underpass and that’s what matters.

To add a bit more fairness, there was a lot of online rumbling from supporters of Joaquin Martinez, who pointed to the two “serious” campaigns’ warring as a means of pushing the alternative–Joaquin. When other bloggers and even the Chron minimize the other candidates, they tend to get a little upset. As someone who has worked with those kind of candidates, I don’t blame them! But we all know political realities, and those other candidates do, as well.

As far as attacks go, let me say that I seldom mess with people’s livelihoods or personal lives when working campaigns–too many people can get hurt. The bigger story here is that the Texas Legislature was built to be occupied by wealthy people, or at least those who make enough money in their endeavors in a year that they are allowed to take 140 days off to be in Austin. (As if they don’t do Lege work the other days, right?). We seldom question the rich lawyers in the Lege about their money, thus, I’m not a fan of questioning anyone else.

Why can’t they all be like the late, great Ernie Glossbrenner? But that’s for a whole other blog post.

What About the Latina Wage Gap?

The National Partnership for Women and Families released some new information found in the most recent Census:  Latinas are getting hit worse by the gender wage gap.

In the 20 states with the largest number of Latinas who work full time, year round, the wage gap ranges from 51 and 68 cents for every dollar paid to men in those states.

The fact that there is a wage gap isn’t a surprise, but as women are said to make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, the fact that Latinas are making even less is cause for concern, and in the case of the National Partnership, action.

“Women of color are hard hit by a kind of perfect – and perfectly devastating – storm caused by discrimination, a struggling economy and the country’s failure to adopt family friendly workplace policies,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “These new data show that the wage gap is costing women of color thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could be spent on food, rent, health care and on meeting other fundamental needs for their families. It’s an unacceptable situation that should be a resounding wake-up call for lawmakers who have the power to do something about it.”

When one looks at it in real dollar figures:

Nationally, Latinas are paid just 60 cents for every dollar paid to all men. That amounts to a loss of $19,182 each year. In general, women of color fare worse than women overall, who are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men – or $11,084 less per year.

The National Partnership is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act which would close loopholes to the Equal Pay Act and provide for stronger worker protections for women. This is definitely something that we must support.

The National Partnership’s findings for the 20 states with the largest numbers of employed Latinas and African American women can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/LatinaGap and www.NationalPartnership.org/AAGap. More information on the wage gap can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/FairPay.

SD6 Early Voting Begins Today

It’s early voting season–again! Well, at least in Senate District 6. All is quiet on the western front where I reside, but since so many opinions are available on this race, I’ll share mine soon enough. Still, it is very important for my friends, relatives, and even a few enemies that reside in SD6, to vote–and early! Kuff’s got a bit of an overview.

There was a flare-up yesterday over a Sylvia Garcia direct mail piece that called out Carol Alvarado’s METRO dealings, which PDiddie covers. Negative pieces are designed to tarnish competitors, and like most things, it’s all in the timing. It’s a lot harder to respond to a negative mail piece than to something on TV. And when the e-mail response to said piece has a couple of linked exhibits and is sent by a surrogate, well, it’s hard to be effective. Targeted voters have something tangible in their hands, in this case. Believe what you will, enjoy the negativity or not, in a race like this where there are too many similarities in issues stances, that’s what one does, beyond the door-to-door.

Beyond that, there have been a few opportunities for voters to attend forums, although I tend to like the community forums more than the “business” group forums. This is about the people, and not the contributors or people wanting a government contract. There are a few more opportunities this week and weekend, including one breakfast forum being hosted by the National Hispanic Professional Organization on Saturday.

Early Voting locations can be found here. With eight candidates on the ballot, there’s no excuse not to vote. Show up! It’ll make you feel good!

The Lege Begins: What’s Your Priority?

There’s no doubt that Latinos take a hit every time the Republican-led Texas Legislature meets. $5 billion in cuts to K-12 funding affects Latino kids who make up a majority of all Texas students. $1 billion in higher education cuts affects Latino college students who were made an admissions priority, yet struggle with college preparedness because of the K-12 cuts. Add to that cuts to health care, and, no doubt, a vicious circle appears that threatens to do in the State of Texas.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities released a statement today after the State Comptroller released a higher estimate than expected of the revenue that will be available for the next biennial budget.

“Today Texas lawmakers heard they will have $101.4 billion in General Revenue to work with when writing the 2014-15 state budget. However, $5 billion is needed for the Medicaid IOU, leaving $96.4 billion to barely continue the current barebones budget and leave in place the devastating 2011 cuts to education, health care, and other areas of critical need. In addition, the state’s Rainy Day Fund will have $11.8 billion available to support state services and investments by the end of 2014-15.

“With available revenue and the historically high Rainy Day Fund balance, which together total $108.2 billion, Texas lawmakers have the opportunity to return to the level of services provided five years ago—-before the financial crisis slashed state revenue. If we are willing to use the Rainy Day Fund, we could fund the rapid population growth and inflation while also undoing the devastating 2011 cuts that have left so many Texas families struggling.

“Today’s revenue estimate announcement officially begins this session’s budget writing process. Now, it’s up to state lawmakers to create a budget that reflects our state’s needs and priorities.

“Legislators should use the money available now to invest in the education and health care systems that will help ensure our state’s future prosperity.

If only it was that easy with the vicious Republicans at the helm. I say vicious because their attitude exhibits more than just plain carelessness as elected leaders, but a lack of care for their fellow Texans. Much like Boehner’s Republican Congress, it’s all about paying back their political contributors–the wealthy Texas corporations.

I was having a conversation with a Republican Latino friend from Denver Harbor and we both agreed that somewhere along the line there needs to be middle ground on which to move legislation that takes care of the people, the schoolkids, the college kids, and those who need health care. I even admitted that, as liberal as I am, even I understand the need for compromise. But if his side is going to talk or act crazy, then I’ll sound so left that I’ll put a few Latin American Presidents to shame.

So, while I’d love for the Texas Lege to come together and do the right thing, perhaps discuss the Texas HOPE legislative priorities, I expect for the Latino community to be on the defensive again from Republican attacks. Once Rick Perry rattles about his non-existent voter fraud and sanctuary cities, and when some other righty whines about HB1403 (Texas DREAM Act), Republicans will once again prove themselves a failure. Of course, we will fight back!

But if the Republicans prove me wrong, well, great!

Best of luck to my State Rep. Gene Wu and the rest of my friends in the Lege.

VP Biden: Hispanics Are All That And A Bag of Tostitos

Well, VP Joe Biden sorta said that. What he actually said was:

“What’s finally happened is the American people, the American people have finally begun to understand …the awesome potential, future potential of the Hispanic community,” he said Thursday at a welcome reception for new Latino members of Congress. “…Now the nation — and I might add the hemisphere — understands the Hispanic community must be courted. Must be courted.”

Of course, as I always say, it’s all about policy. And VP Biden didn’t ignore the policy implications of what he stated.

At the same time, the vice president said the deferrals are “only a small part of what has to be done.” But he also said that he believes Republicans have had a “rapid epiphany” since the election about immigration reform.

Obviously, Latinos are not only about immigration reform, but it is the one issue that Republicans, including their great brown hopes like Cruz and Rubio, have used as their means of pumping up their Tea Party base. In 2012, we all know how that went, but the message is clear:  Don’t target Latinos with hateful legislation if you want to win. And the message goes for Democrats, too.

At least the VP seems to get it.

“You’re the center of this nation’s future,” he said.

NCLR Says Cliff Outcome Good for Latinos

Bigoted Chron Commenters Go Nuts

Janet Murguia from the National Council of La Raza, which the media calls “La Raza” to rile up the right-wing racists, spoke out today in favor of the fiscal cliff outcome which brought both parties together.

“We applaud the White House and Congress for working together to deliver a fair approach to reducing our deficit that doesn’t come at the expense of vulnerable, working and middle-class families,” said Janet Murguía, CEO of the National Council of La Raza.

Murguía hailed the deal, which won the backing of Texas Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and all nine Texas congressional Democrats, as a balanced approach to repair the nation’s fiscal health.

“The overall tax plan passed today is a strong first step toward ensuring that the burden of deficit reduction is shared more fairly, without jeopardizing the health of our economy and the financial security of Latinos and other vulnerable communities,” she said.

Taking a look at the comments, it seems like several heads exploded while commenting. The racism from supporters of the big losers, the Tea Party, speaks for itself. If the Republicans want Latinos votes, then they need to shape up and throw out the Tea Party rhetoric and be a little nicer. Doubtful, but they can always try.

Anyway, the battle isn’t over. Wrangling over spending cuts is coming up, and while the Democrats will take the scalpel approach, the Republicans are hard at work washing themselves to create the bath water with which to attempt to throw the baby. The people, the voters, must remain vigilant and responsive now that a new Congress takes over tomorrow.

SD6 Ballot Positions

SD-6 candidate Joaquin Martinez was at the County Clerk’s office this morning to draw for a ballot position and posted this pic on Facebook. Here’s the order in which the candidates will appear on the ballot.

We all know how folks say that the closer you are to the top the better for you–some say by a few percentage points if you are #1. But in a race like this, I’m pretty sure it will be all about candidate ID, doors knocked and/or bodies dragged to the polls. Good luck to all!

Meanwhile, Kuff has a post on an issue I hope to hear more about in the SD-6 special election–payday lending reform.

2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

President Obama’s re-election, along with the election and re-election of good Democrats in various battlegrounds, has put into play the importance of not only the Latino vote, but the Latino community as a whole. One cannot ignore that Latinos represented 1 in every 10 votes in 2012. If anything, Latinos proved something else:  That ours is a progressive agenda that takes into account all Americans. But instead of fighting for mere existence in American political society, Latinos have now carved themselves a niche in the national conversation, and it should not be only on immigration reform.

Some would argue that we’ve had that niche for a long time, pointing to anecdotal “Latino” political appointments and all other types of window dressing. But that is not enough. As I not-so-jokingly tell people, “It’s about policy, pendejos!”

So, if Latinos truly feel that we made a difference in the 2012 elections, then we must go beyond Election Day and push forth the agenda the we have supported with our vote. And if those we elected to push forth that agenda on our behalf falter in their support, then we must do what we must and call them out, correct them, or vote them out. That’s all part of our rights as voters. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting a return on our investment as voters, no matter who may be the incumbent, no matter who is in charge of our neighborhood political machines.

As President Obama put forth in his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Year One of Term Two. Frankly, I am glad he said this after all of the posturing by both sides of the gun debate after the tragedy in Newtown. Although I fall on the side of President Obama and Vice President Biden on the debate, the bottom line is that both were elected to put forth public policies that save and bolster our economy, add to the middle class, expand health care, fully fund education, and enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other policies. The voters responded to long-term challenges that have been hounding working and middle class families since Bush-2 was in office. On November 6, President Obama was provided with the political capital to respond to these issues, but he cannot do it alone, either.

Should gun reform be a part of this? Sure. But it should not take precedence over those issues on which many invested their community capital–as activists and as voters.

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, jobs and the economy are an ongoing priority, and Latinos wholeheartedly agree. Investing in infrastructure and education is also a top priority for Latinos. Expanding access to health care, too. The one issue that encompasses all of these is comprehensive immigration reform, and so too will it be a top priority. And the polls and the election outcome show that Latinos and the majority of Americans agree. But the battle did not end on Election Day, as the fiscal cliff rhetoric tells us. The people, and in this case, Latinos, must demand these policies be enacted.

Back in 2006, when Democrats won back the majority of seats in Congress, I spent no time in declaring that it happened because of Latinos responding to Republican craziness on the immigration issue. When candidate-Obama won, and the numbers showed that the margins of victory in various battleground states could be credited to the Latino vote, I spent no time in declaring that Latinos should expect some political payback–mostly in the form of comprehensive immigration reform and maybe some good political appointments. In 2010, when Harry Reid defeated a well-funded Tea party challenge by speaking the truth on immigration reform, rather than taking the “blue dog” approach of making Latinos (and not just immigrants) the example, it seemed to me that 2012 had the potential to be special. But our elected leaders need to realize that our importance goes beyond the ballot box. Our importance must be exhibited in the process of creating public policy, and that means Latinos taking responsibility by joining and steering the debate.

It seems that since at least 2006, we’ve been banking some political capital. Yes, we’ve voted in elections past, but did we ever have real potential to effect meaningful and positive public policies? Or a better question, did both sides of the political argument ever have the realization that we matter in the overall conversation? To me, it is obvious. No, on both counts.

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10” lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

Update:  LA Times seems to be just as worried about immigration reform being overshadowed by the gun fight. I’m sure Republicans would breathe a sigh a relief.

Update:  Think Progress tells us that President Obama, much like he mentioned on Meet the Press, is moving forward with immigration reform.

The Obama administration’s “social media blitz” will start in January and is expected “to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.” Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers from both parties are already holding initial meetings to iron out the details of the proposal and Obama will to push for a broad bill.

Joaquin Martinez Announces for Senate District 6

Joaquin Martinez, Democrat for SD-6

As the deadline for filing comes to a close, a post by a Facebook friend caught my attention. Joaquin Martinez, a community advocate who has spent the last decade working for Neighborhood Centers, Inc., announced he would be seeking the position of State Senator for District 6. Here’s his post.

For those who may not know, the filing date for the Senate District 6 race is Thursday, December 27th. I plan on filing for candidacy for this race. I need community support and backing in order to reach some of these goals. I am setting a stage for “new,” motivated and engaged individuals that want to be a part of the conversations that affect us all.

In addition to being a father, I strive to fulfill my role as productive citizen. I understand that it is important that we find a balance in family, finances and service in our community. We work to provide paths to success for our children through education, hoping to enhance their lives with opportunities our parents did not have.

We hope to one day own homes and build a community that is a true “home” where safety and health are values upheld for function and principle. If we attain these dreams, we must realize our successes were supplemented by the guidance, love, and support of our mentors and role models; we should look to find ways to give back in the same manner they have.

I am running for office with faith that I can find common ground with current leaders through new conversations about how we can build communities from the ground up. Over the years, I have come to realize that my responsibility as a parent and community leader is to not only inform families about our civic process, but to also connect families with this process. I have had numerous discussions with individuals that are eager to take part in this social responsibility, but no one has been around to cultivate and mentor these potential leaders.

The people of Texas Senate District 6 are in a pivotal position to empower themselves in this city and this county once we have grassroots leadership willing to take on this responsibility. I want to be a part of this new conversation. I am asking those that want to become more knowledgeable with this process (while becoming more engaged) to support me during this race. If you are interested in getting involved, then please contact me at your earliest convenience. You can start by liking my page, Joaquin Martinez.

On his Campaign facebook page was this bio.

Joaquin Martinez, father to Joaquin Edward Martinez, is a native Houstonian and has been a silent community leader in the East End. Joaquin has worked for one of Houston’s oldest and largest non-profits, Neighborhood Centers, for over 10 years within the Community Based Initiatives department. Joaquin’s continued perseverance and personal values have allowed him to continue his education at the University of Houston – Downtown as he pursues a B.A. in Political Science.

Joaquin’s previous role as a Youth Manager has been to build youth programs in the East End, Sunnyside, Independence Heights, Pasadena and La Porte communities in order to build upon the skills of the youth in these communities. Joaquin also took on the role of Program Coordinator in the Pasadena and La Porte communities, where civic engagement and education were fundamental in creating an community environment. Joaquin has seen many youths become successful; he continually challenges parents to remain involved their children’s lives. Joaquin also worked as Staff under Council Member John Castillo, in which he visited several civic club meetings and was committed to assure that community member’s needs were met.

Joaquin Martinez has a strong commitment to public service. Joaquin has been a little league coach for both East End Little League and Dixie Little League for over 6 years and continues to provide a leadership role as the Vice President of the Board with Dixie Little League. Joaquin has also been active at Mason Park as a coach for the Magnolia Park Sharks for 2 years. Joaquin shall continue his involvement because he believes that these activities are not only important to the mental, physical, and social development of his child, but also to the children in his community. As a father, Joaquin has continued to be engaged in his son’s education by taking on a leadership role with the Parent Teacher Organization board. Joaquin recognizes that community involvement and genuine conversations are fundamental to the growth and development of a vibrant community.

Joaquin has attended Blessed Sacrament Church for over 20 years were he is also a member of the Knights of Columbus Council #7230. Joaquin is also member of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity and graduate of the National Hispanic Professional Organization were he has cultivated his leadership and service values that has given him a conviction to serve his community in a leadership role.

From what I’ve seen of Joaquin, he’s an energetic community leader who can build a grassroots base on a strong foundation. Will the fast run-up to the January 26 election date be a challenge against some well-financed candidates? Obviously, but it is good to see a “new” leader put his name out there for consideration.

Contact information:

Phone (832) 278-2186

Email joaquin@martinezcampaign.com

Website http://www.martinezcampaign.com (Up and Running))

Inbox: SD6 Election Timeline

The Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lane Lewis sent out a timeline of what to expect for the SD6 Special Election, now that Perry actually set a date.

Candidates for this special election must file the Application for a Place on the Ballot (Special Election to Fill a Vacancy) with the Secretary of State by 5:00 pm on December 26, 2012. Early voting runs form Wednesday, January 9, 2013 to Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

Timeline 

December 2012

  • December 14, 2012 – First day to apply for Ballot by Mail
  • December 26, 2012, 5:00pm – Last day to file for a place on the Ballot
  • December 27, 2012 – Last day to register to vote
  • December 31, 2012 – 30-day campaign finance report due (tentative)

January 2013

  • January 9, 2013 – First day of Early Voting
  • January 15, 2013 – Semiannual finance report due
  • January 18, 2013 – Last day to apply for Ballot by Mail (Received, not Postmarked)
  • January 18, 2013 – 8-day campaign finance report due (tentative)
  • January 22, 2013 – Last day of Early Voting
  • January 26, 2013 – Election Day

One interesting tidbit.

HCDP will not be taking a position on any Democratic Candidate nor will it be providing any favorable resources to one candidate over another.  All paid staff of Harris County Democratic Party is prohibited from making any public endorsements, financial contributions, or expressing public favoritism for any particular Democratic candidate.

That’s a good reminder.

Obviously, if you’re thinking about running make sure you look at the residency requirements and other qualifications. And if you do decide to run, make sure you file your Texas Ethics Commission campaign treasurer’s appointment and complete your reports. These are the kinds of things bloggers like to look at.