Category Archives: HoustonVotes 09

The Prop. 1 Saga Continues

I can’t say I agree with sister Muse and brother Coby on their Prop. 1 ideas. As you may have heard, the politicians on the HISD board came out against Prop. 1 stating that having to pay the “rain tax” would cause them to get rid of teachers. The thing is, they didn’t mention anything else they would cut and I’m sure there’s some administrative waste in there that could be targeted. Perhaps real partnerships can be forged with business and industry to help raise funding for other needs (instead of allowing them to add to the ravaging of public schools with their corporatization of public education through charter school corporations.)

The problem with school finance is not local, it’s at the Texas Legislature. Republicans like the school board president have allowed the ravaging of public school funds in favor of tax giveaways to property-rich corporations in school districts. If you want to look at corporations that get away with much of this, look at the people on the Houston Business and Education Coalition who are either part of or represent these deadbeat corporations (or salivate over sub-contracting deals). Not to mention being part of the public school privatization movement.

So, no, I won’t blame those evil engineers that easily–someone has to design whatever it is that is going to be built. And whatever the engineers design will be built by folks who will get jobs because of Mayor Annise Parker’s Hire Houston First.

Ultimately, if someone supports public schools, then he/she should support Texas House candidates who will support fully funding our public schools, rather than give to candidates who do not support public schools.

So, I’ll stick with LULAC #402 on this one…and with Kuff.

Apply for Mayor Parker’s Youth Council

If I was a youth (which was a few years ago), I’d definitely do this:

Mayor Annise Parker has announced that the 2010-11 Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) is now taking applications.  The MYC emulates the Houston City Council with a chairperson (mayor), city secretary, nine district and five at-large council positions and their accompanying aides.

Youth Council members will gain an understanding of city departments and build rapport with community leaders, citizens and elected officials.  Members are called upon to help make decisions affecting Houston’s youth, as well as, participate in numerous activities throughout the year.  In addition, they will plan town hall meetings covering topics of interest and concern to their peers; participate in community service projects, both sponsored by the City of Houston and by other community organizations; and gather important input from other students through the annual Houston Youth Survey, the results of which are presented to City Council.

“We are looking to lay the foundation for our city’s future leaders,” said Mayor Parker. “High school students who are interested in helping their community should apply, and we hope they will learn valuable information about how the city works that can be relayed to their neighbors and friends.”

The MYC is directly overseen by its parent organization, the Volunteer Initiatives Program, an organization that promotes volunteerism across Houston. VIP director, Cameron M. Waldner, and associate director, Katherine Price, support the Mayor’s Youth Council in various projects throughout the year.

”Our goal is that every young man and woman leaves the Mayor’s Youth Council with a better understanding of civic duty and a moral responsibility to the community,” said Waldner.  “Even though they are a small group of 33 members, their actions have a far-reaching effect on the City of Houston.”

Guidelines and job descriptions for the 2010-11 terms are now available online.  Applicants must be high school students, who reside in the City of Houston, between the ages of fourteen (14) and eighteen (18).  They should demonstrate strong interests in gaining knowledge about city government and promoting discussion on youth-related issues, have excellent organizational skills and work well with young people from a variety of diverse cultures and backgrounds.  In addition, applicants must be sponsored by a teacher from their school’s social studies department.

Interested applicants are invited to apply online at Applications are now being accepted and are due by midnight on Friday, September 10, 2010.  Incomplete applications will not be considered after this date.  A panel of youth and adult advisors will review the applications and invite qualified candidates for a personal interview.  Decisions will be announced in mid-September.

Clutterbuck’s Idea to Take Away Special Skills Pay

Council Member Anne Clutterbuck originally had introduced a city budget amendment to do away with paying a stipend for the City’s bilingual non-classified employees; however, met with protests from various civil rights organizations, she seems to have changed her tune a tiny bit, according to reporter Mary Benton.

After hearing concerns from the public and administration, Clutterbuck has offered substitute language to her amendment that reads: Eliminate bilingual pay for all non-classified employees unless the employee is in direct contact with the public, demonstrates proficiency and there is a reasonable expectation that the language will be used in the normal course of their job duties.

Frankly, this still is not good enough in my opinion.  I mean, c’mon, how many of us bilingual folks get called in to translate on a moment’s notice–even if it’s not in our job description just because we’re the Mexican in the room?

Perhaps a Human Resource audit is needed to determine exactly who are these employees that would be targeted before a vote is taken by council. In addition, perhaps they can also determine what is meant by proficiency because whether someone can pass a standardized test or not, an attempt at Spanish is still better than the usual way that non-Spanish speakers would communicate with those constituents:  IN LOUDER ENGLISH.

The argument is that this could save over $1,000,000; however, during a time in which the economy continues to hit all employees, taking away pay is that last thing that should be on Council’s agenda, much like furloughs and lay-offs. And there would definitely be questions of fairness if one “type” of employee is targeted over another.

Hoang Calls on Colleagues to Support Water/Wastewater Rebate Program

Just got this from the Office of Councilman Al Hoang regarding a proposed water/wastewater rebate program for rent-restricted multi-family dwellings.

DosCentavos expressed some major concerns regarding the water/wastewater fee hikes, which recently went into effect, and this program would alleviate a bit of the hike for income-limited folks.

Houston City Council is set to vote on an ordinance to establish a two part water and wastewater rebate program for multi-family dwellings. The two parts include: 1) a two-year program for rent-restricted multi-family units, and; 2) a two or three year program for other multi-family complexes. The latter will be considered by City Council later this year.

Council Member Al Hoang says the program for rent-restricted units will reduce the initial water rate increase by more than half, “the program will cut the increase from 30.1% to 12.5%.” Hoang originally expressed concern over the increase and its potential affect on fixed income residents, but says the proposed program will help alleviate some of the burden, “I am glad we are providing some assistance to those who really need it, and more is on the way.”

The City Council hopes the program will encourage rent-restricted apartment managers to work with their tenants to reduce water consumption through conservation education, thus saving water and reducing their water bills.

The proposed rebate program comes days after the city’s new water and sewer went into effect. The rate increase was necessary in order to cover the city’s cost of providing service.

“I encourage my colleagues to approve this ordinance and bring much needed assistance to low income residents in our city,” said Hoang. City Council is set to vote on this measure tomorrow.

I have yet to hear the “against” side to this proposal, so if a member of Council has an “against” argument, please send it over to doscentavos [at]

Don’t Just Point at the GOP

One thing I have learned is that one just cannot point fingers and expect a bandwagon to form behind those doing the pointing.

Coby points to an e-mail that circulated from Democratic staffers describing an episode of a public access talk show in which the Republican running for Tax Assessor takes an anti-Latino bent.

“I don’t have a problem with their (Hispanics) agenda except for trying to get benefits that may not have been earned.”

Obviously, that Sumner guy is a right-wing-nut and doesn’t offer much, other than rhetoric and support of bad policies.  He’s a Republican. What’s so surprising about that?

The e-mail goes on to describe various things that Republicans have done against Hispanics in the last few weeks.  Again, they’re Republicans, we’ve known what they are about for a long time and, nationally at least, Latinos have responded by voting close to 70% for Democrats.

Has that translated to Texas? The percentages of support, yes; voter participation, not so much.

What is the first thing majority Democrats tell whining Republicans who are against everything in DC?

“Put in your own bill,” or “Provide an alternative.”

The Republicans, of course, do not do it and whine all the way to November. This is a formula that hasn’t worked for them recently.

So, why would we expect it to work for Democrats when it comes to Latino voters?

Simply pointing fingers at the usual Republican BS that is thrown at an entire people is not enough.  We want alternatives. We want candidates who will respond, strongly. We definitely do not want tip-toeing around an issue to ensure the poll numbers don’t tank for individual candidates.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much in the way of strong responses, other than from Latinos like Trey Martinez Fischer, Linda Chavez-Thompson, and Hector Uribe.  Of course, I cannot forget that Hank Gilbert sounded off soon after Arizona’s law was signed. (And I’m sure some of the Party powers that be wince at some of their responses fearful that the Party may lose an independent or a Soft Republican which they haven’t even earned, or worse, some East Texas Democrat who doesn’t take kindly to immigrants.).

We cannot operate by polling, and Democrats must be bold if they want to earn votes.

The Latino electorate has a history of what some call apathy.  During times like these when one party attacks and the other doesn’t do much on the defense side, I would call it voter indifference.

This needs to change and soon, because, believe it or not Democratic Party, the next generation of voters is paying attention.

ACTION ALERT: Support Marjo House


Thanks to Houston Stonewall Young Democrats for this action item. Take Action today!


Marjo House is a 501(c)3 organization that provides transitional housing for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.  Located in the Pleasantville neighborhood of Houston, it has been in operation for 12 years.  Currently, it is in danger of losing its grant funding due to a misunderstanding related to how the facility operates and the erroneous assertion that it violates deed restrictions.  The City Attorney’s office has determined that it does NOT violate deed restrictions and since Marjo House is a 501(c)3 it is NOT a for-profit business.

Tomorrow, Wednesday May 19th, Houston City Council will be voting on whether or not to award Marjo House a $400,000 grant which would allow the facility to continue to operate.

We need YOU, to call the Councilmembers listed below with a simple message, “Vote YES on Marjo House!”


We also need you to send an email.  Below and in bold are the talking points, copy and paste them into an email and show your support for an organization that is providing a vital service to an overlooked community.

The vote takes place at 9am tomorrow morning, so your action tonight is required.  We want the Councilmembers who are undecided on how they should vote to know that there is support for this important housing facility.

Marjo House provides a vital service to an often overlooked community.

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS).

Even though African Americans account for about 13% of the US population, they account for about half (49%) of the people who are infected with HIV and AIDS.

African Americans with AIDS often don’t live as long as people of other races and ethnic groups with AIDS.  For African Americans HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death.

Marjo House operates as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and does not meet the standards to be qualified as a business.

Furthermore, it is the opinion of Houston’s City Attorney that the existence of Marjo House within Pleasantville does not violate the deed restrictions of that community.

Therefore, I urge you to vote in support of continued funding to this asset of the community so that it may continue to serve those who would otherwise be left with less than desirable options.

I urge you to do the right thing.


Brenda Stardig – District A
PHONE: 832.393.3010, Email:

Anne Clutterbuck –
District C
PHONE: 832.393.3004, Email:

Wanda Adams –
District D
PHONE: 832.393.3001, Email:

Mike Sullivan – District E
PHONE: 832.393.3008, Email:

Al Hoang –
District F
PHONE: 832.393.3002, Email:

Oliver Pennington – District G
PHONE: 832.393.3007, Email:

James G. Rodriguez – District I
PHONE: 832.393.3011, Email:

Stephen C. Costello –
At Large Position 1
PHONE: 832.393.3014, Email:

Melissa Noriega – At Large Position 3
PHONE: 832.393.3005, Email:

C.O. “Brad” Bradford – At Large Position 4
PHONE: 832.393.3012, Email:

Human Rights vs The Mansion

While the world of Texas progressive politics was attempting to sound off on Rick Perry’s rented mansion, there was some real action taking place in Arizona as five Dream Act activists held a sit-in outside the office of Sen. John McCain and were later arrested.

And there was also some movement in the courts as MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and a coalition of civil rights organizations challenged the Arizona law allowing for Latino profiling.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer finally took on Tomball’s Debbie Riddle on AM Radio in a debate about the Arizona law coming to Texas.

And in Houston, a Democratic elected official continued wasting money and resources on justifying 287(g).

Of course, in Texas, it was all about money spent on Rick Perry’s mansion.

So, DosCentavos ignored the mansion story yesterday, instead following the goings-on on an issue that actually affects the State of Texas and could provide Texas a national spotlight in 2011.

Where’s Houston? VotoLatino Releases List of Cities Boycotting AZ

Have you asked Mayor Parker or members of City Council to boycott Arizona?  Well, here’s where you can contact them.  Ask them to join these other American cities in doing the right thing.

City Council Contact Page

Mayor’s Email Address:

Below is a list of cities who have passed (or are considering passing) boycotts on business in Arizona:

San Francisco

  • San Francisco supervisors, on a 10-1 vote, approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for a boycott of Arizona-based businesses. It asks for, but does not demand, that city departments refrain from entering into new contracts or extending existing ones with companies headquartered in Arizona, unless severing those ties would result in significant costs to the city or violate other laws. (via SF Gate)

Los Angeles

  • The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to stop doing business in Arizona unless the state’s tough new immigration law is repealed.  The city does about $52 million worth of business with Arizona companies, but it’s likely that only about $8 million worth of contracts can be terminated. (via NPR News)

Milwaukee, WI

  • The Milwaukee Common Council Tuesday (5/4) failed to act on a resolution calling for the city to boycott companies based in Arizona.  The council sent the measure back to committee. Alderman Robert Puente said his colleagues need to further study the Arizona law. (via WUWM)

Austin, TX

  • The resolution, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez, calls for ending all business-related travel to Arizona by city employees, unless it is related to police investigations, providing humanitarian aid or protecting Austinites’ health and safety. (via Austin American Statesman)

West Hollywood, CA

  • The council voted 5-0 Monday night to approve the boycott. The action immediately suspends official travel to Arizona and calls for developing official sanctions. (via CBS2)

Boston, MA

  • As the City Council passed a resolution urging that Boston cut business ties with Arizona, Menino said it was important to send “a message’’ that the city disagrees with that state’s response to illegal immigration. (via

Oakland, CA

  • The council voted 7-0 Tuesday in favor of the boycott. It calls on city officials to review existing contracts with Arizona-based businesses and not enter into any new ones. It also says staff should not travel to the state on official city business. (via Fresno Bee)

St. Paul, MN

  • Mayor Chris Coleman is ordering city departments to no longer travel to conferences in the state of Arizona. (via My Fox 9)

Washington D.C.

  • Responding to Arizona’s new immigration law, the resolution requests that the city government and the employee pension fund “divest’ from all Arizona state and municipal bonds and ban city workers from traveling to that state on official business.  The resolution, which will be voted on at a later date, does not appear to prevent the city from doing business with Arizona-based companies, as some Hispanic activists had proposed. (via Washington Post)

New York City

  • New York’s City Council will consider a resolution calling for a boycott of all things Arizona. Ydanis Rodrigues, a Manhattan Democrat, filed the non-binding resolution Wednesday, a council aide confirmed. (via WSJ)

Boulder, CO

  • Employees of the City of Boulder will no longer be traveling to Arizona for business, City Manager Jane Brautigam announced, as a show of the city’s opposition to the recent immigration legislation passed in that state. (via Examiner)

Houston Pro-Migrant Groups Slam KHOU

There is little doubt in the pro-Migrant and progressive community that the May 1st rallies and activities around the state served as a major rallying call to support comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, news stations and organizations have chosen to not provide much coverage on the pro-Migrant side of the issue, instead choosing to highlight the few Minuteman wannabes and right-wing-nuts that “counter-protest” across the street.

A large group of community organizations in Houston has taken KHOU to task, not only for their lack of coverage of CIR, but also for the way they portrayed the May 1 action as an “illegal immigration rally.”

I was out of town, but did watch reports online and was greatly disappointed and angered by the portrayal and La Raza Justice Movement and nineteen other organizations have responded.

Description: Twenty community organizations endorse a letter to KHOU condemning its coverage as biased and condemning its description of May Day as an “illegal immigration march”

La Raza Justice Movement (LRJM), CRECEN, Alianza Mexicana, America for All and more than a dozen other groups endorsed a letter yesterday, condemning KHOU’s what they perceived as a lack of coverage on the issue of immigration over the past several months.

In the letter, the coalition condemns the use of the term illegal immigrant:

“This term speaks nothing of the contributions of migrants and places the onus for civil immigration infractions on the workers.  The term dismisses millions in wages that corporations have saved by being the main benefactors of such labor and the millions that consumers have saved by enjoying products and services made by the hands of undocumented workers.   The vast majority of these “illegals,” as your newscast would have us call them, are economic refugees, responsible for one of the lowest costs of living in any metropolitan city in the nation.”

The coalition promises to continue monitoring KHOU’s coverage of the immigration issue.  Keith Connors, responded quickly and graciously, promising to review the broadcast and offered to meet with members of the coalition to discuss concerns, and differences regarding the term “illegal immigrant,” which members of the coalition feel is inherently biased.

Some member organizations of the coalition are considering a campaign against the term “illegal immigrant” because they believe the term to be inherently biased and inappropriate for use in mainstream media.

The broadcast can be viewed at:

May 1: A Valuable Civics Lesson

The State of Arizona and the Republicans continue to prove that being on the far-right is not enough unless they actually target whole groups of people–Americans.  It is not enough that they want to pick up undocumented folks, they also want to pick up people who “look” undocumented–the definition of that still up in the air and up to individual cops, apparently. They go so far as to targeting the children of immigrants, demanding a change in the Constitution that blocks any child of an immigrant born an American from rights afforded to Americans.

Although there has been some legislative defense (and not much CIR offense), the bottom line is that it is the people who are fighting back.  Although a diverse group of people fight back, theyhad not been as diverse as those involved in the marches and other actions around the U.S. this weekend.  What was most important in sending a message to Congress, President Obama and the Republicans attackers was the fact that, ultimately, this is about the future of America–the kids.

At all of the marches, it was the messages sent by children that were most powerful, whether they held signs and marched, or showed an interest in politics by taking a pic with an Obama cut-out.  The interest is there, the importance of self-determination is evident, and this is what is scariest to those who attack Latinos–at the border, in the halls of leadership, and through the ballot box.

So, it becomes even more important to educate the next generation of Americans on why we march and why we vote.  More importantly, educating the next (and current) generation of voters about the importance of the power they hold  in the tip of the finger they use to “cast ballot.”

It is equally important that our elected leaders and decision-makers take a stand against Arizona’s racial profiling law.  We have heard from the Mayors of Phoenix, San Francisco, San Antonio, and other major cities.  But we have yet to hear from Houston. It is time to act, Mayor Parker!  These kids are watching.

Photos Courtesy of:  FIEL Houston,, and Lucia M.A.G.