Category Archives: HoustonVotes 09

Costello to Talk Drainage

Since March 2nd is Primary Day, I don’t know where I will be, but this is definitely a must-attend for those of us interested in drainage and infrastructure issues.

City of Houston

Council Committee on Flooding and Drainage

Council Member Stephen C. Costello, Chair

AGENDA

March 2, 2010 – 10:00 a.m.

City Hall Council Chambers – 901 Bagby, 2nd Floor

  1. Call to order – Council Member Stephen C. Costello, Chair
    General Comments on 2009 Citizen’s Survey, Flooding and Drainage Committee’s informal survey, and the committee’s direction, purpose, and goals.
  1. Mike Talbot, Director of Harris County Flood Control District, will present an overview of the interaction between the city and county’s stormwater mitigation and the economic impact of flooding on the region.
  2. Carl Matejka, Acting Executive Chief of Emergency Operations for the Houston Fire Department, will present the current risks flooding poses to emergency services in the city.
  3. Stephen Williams, Director of Houston Department of Health and Human Services, will present the health risks caused by overflowing stormdrains and standing water in the streets.
  4. Public Comment
  5. Adjournment

Thanks to CM Costello’s staff for the invite and publicizing these efforts.

Secure Communities Under Microscope, Hopefully

Here’s a press release that folks at the City of Houston and HPD should be reading.

February 3, 2010, New York, NY — Today, the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting information pertaining to Secure Communities, a little-known program of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency launched in March 2008. The program, which ICE claims targets “dangerous criminal aliens,” further involves local and state law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement. The three groups say that since the inception of the program, there has been a marked increase in racial profiling, excessive costs to state and local government and due process violations.

“The President has not only broken his promise to tackle immigration reform in the first year, the Department of Homeland Security is expanding a dangerous and ill-conceived program that is at the heart of our broken system,” said NDLON Director Pablo Alvarado. “President Obama can’t blame this on Congress—this program should be examined, debated and stopped if we are to have real comprehensive immigration reform.”

“This nothing more than a sanitized version of the 287(g) program—a program guaranteed to fail as we saw in Arizona with Sheriff Arpaio,” said Bridget Kessler, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “It is already extremely challenging for local law enforcement to work with immigrant communities because of distrust and fear of deportation; this program will have disastrous effects on community safety.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Secure Communities has been implemented in at least 95 jurisdictions with plans to expand nationwide by 2013. It includes a biometrics component that requires an individual’s fingerprints to be run through multiple databases upon arrest for any reason, even if no charges are brought. Advocates and attorneys say that in addition to concerns presented by relying on potentially inaccurate and erroneous information in those databases, the program functions as little more than a dragnet to funnel even more people into the already overburdened ICE detention and removal system.

“This program is designed to fail because it relies on information from infamously inaccurate databases. We’ve already seen an increase in racial profiling, pre-textual arrests and mistaken identity of U.S. citizens,” said CCR attorney Sunita Patel.“Combined with the lack of regulation and publicly available information on Secure Communities, ICE will be essentially immune to accountability or transparency. With a budget reaching the billions, taxpayers should be very concerned.”

The FOIA request covers materials necessary to provide the public with comprehensive information on the Secure Communities Program, including policies, procedures and objectives; fiscal impact; data and statistical information; individual records; communications; and assessment records.

For more information on the Secure Communities program and the FOIA request, click here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org.

The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org.

The Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit www.cardozo.yu.edu.

Save the Date: Bloggers at Houston Area Table

Houston’s Blogger Community Weighs In On 2009 City Election:
Houston’s top bloggers will share post-election insight into how the 2009 voter mandate will shape City policy
and the use of new media in political campaigns.

Panelists:

Charles Kuffner – Off the Kuff (www.offthekuff.com)

Stace Medellin – Dos Centavos (www.doscentavos.net)

David Ortez– (www.davidortez.com)

List in formation–updated panel to follow next week.

Panelists will discuss:

  • Post-Election analysis
  • Discuss the use of new media in campaigns
  • Issues that ultimately resonated w/voters
  • What the election is going to mean for Houston policy moving forward

January 19, 2010 11:30-1:00 p.m.

Networking  Begins at 11:30

Discussion begins at Noon

United Way

50 Waugh Drive

Houston, TX, 77007

Feel free to bring a lunch and invite a friend.

Space is limited, please RSVP.

About the Houston Area Table: The Houston Area Table (HAT) is dedicated to fostering communication and cooperation among Houston area organizations and non-profits. Beginning in 2010 HAT meets monthly on the third Tuesday at the United Way. There will be no meeting in July.

2010-Yes; 1950s-No

So, what is up with soon-to-be-member of Houston City Council Al Hoang?  Kuff has some questions of his own.  What caused some serious tweeting and facebooking yesterday was one particular thing on Hoang’s taxpayer-funded website.

While some of his opponents might advocate for gays and liberals’ rights, Al is defending Christian and family values.

As Texas Cloverleaf points out, Hoang lists the whole right-wing agenda, including an attempt at going after immigrants.

On immigration issues, Al believes every citizen of this City has to follow properly the Law of this country, LEGAL IMMIGRATION is a YES but ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is a NO.

It seems to me he’s trying to assure his fellow right-wingers that he’s as “right” as they are, or worse.  Or perhaps that he is indeed a “Christian” and not some nutty Buddhist from some Communist country (as he points out that he’s from South, not North, Vietnam).

My friends, what we have here is another ethnic guy suffering from Galloping Roy Moralesism–where you have to prove to your right-wing friends that you’re as nutty as they are and not prone to falling for ethnic pride or anything that right-wingers may consider “unAmerican”.  Others suffer from this ailment:  Castellanos and Sanchez on CNN; major Bush Fail Linda Chavez; Houston’s Orlando Sanchez, the list goes on.

Frankly, I don’t mind if Council members put up their agendas.  At least we won’t be fooled when they “suddenly” get together to put on sideshows attacking immigrants.

Bay Area Houston has more.

Latinos Did Help Parker to Victory

As I had predicted “post-race,” Latino voters gave Mayor-Elect some nice padding on her way to victory.  As Campos reports on numbers provided by Hector at the County Clerk’s office:

Upper Income Anglo:  Parker 63%, Locke 37%

Middle Income Anglo:  AP 69, GL 31.

Mid Income African American: GL 83, AP 17.

Low Income African American: GL 88, AP 12.

Latino:  AP 63, GL 37.

That’s about what internal numbers were predicting; of course, this is just a few precincts checked.  I am sure there were some tighter precincts, and even council districts; nonetheless, as low as turnout was, this is still a good signal to the incoming Mayor that her consistent message was well-received.

The Other Races…Some Thoughts

Heartbreaker in AL#1

Karen Derr came up short in her quest to become the new CM of At-Large #1.  I’m sure there will be some analysis as to where this race was lost.  A quick look at Ft Bend County shows that her opponent did very well there; however, he also enjoyed crossover support from Democrats, including big names such as Chris Bell (he did a robocall for Derr’s opponent). That was a phenomenon that I didn’t quite understand, but we all know it happens in politics.

Sue Keeps 2

Sue Lovell showed that she has some loyal and consistent support; so much so, one has to wonder if her last-minute Fireman mailer was actually needed to secure some padding.  She won with the largest margin of the at-large incumbents.  I sure am glad that the newbies on Council will have her to provide some guidance.

It’s Jo in 5

Jolanda Jones used the 90% of support earned in Fort Bend County to come out the winner, while keeping the margin inside the City very close.  What is most enjoyable is that she defeated a candidate with a right-wing record, and more so, an anti-immigrant message.  With the new faces at the table, I am looking forward to some excitement at some of the Council meetings.

A & F

District A and F remain Republican-held and it is unfortunate, given the changing face of these districts.  What did come out of are two candidates who remained consistent in their message and, I would hope, with a political future locally. Lane Lewis and Mike Laster were good candidates with sound ideas running in areas which refuse to let go of whatever the past was in their eyes.  The struggle continues.

Houston ISD

In case you did not notice, I purposely stayed away from the Houston ISD races.  It wasn’t until I heard that one candidate in District I had received funds from charter school management corporations that my ears opened up.  By then, well, I didn’t want to mess with whatever message the other candidate had. Anyone who knows me or reads DC knows that I am not a fan of charter schools.  That said, the charter school-supported candidate won, so, congrats to Anna Eastman and her team for pulling out a win.  Since the race was quite even, whomever won was going to need to mend fences, become more pragmatic in their fact-finding and decision-making, and remain very accessible to all.  So, good luck to Eastman.  Both Eastman and Alma Lara had lines of communication open, and for school district candidates to do that for mere bloggers says a lot about the direction our school leaders are taking.

The other race, I must admit, I did not follow at all, nor was I approached or given information by the candidates.  Oh well.

Turnout

16%?  It is pretty obvious that turnout is going to be a major discussion for about a day or so.  Then we will wait until early voting for the next election season to roll around and we will continue with the same ol’ formula of attempting to win with the fewest voters.  As I have always said, voters must remain engaged throughout the year.  Elected officials have a responsibility in this, as do political parties, and organizations which work at “Get Out The Vote Efforts.”  Voters must be educated on the issues and the process  by which to achieve some semblance of service and legislative support.  And it just does not happen during early voting.  It is a year-long practice, it could have a financial and political cost, and but I believe it would be worth it.  If this is not done, then why complain for a day or so after elections?  Let’s just keep electing our officials with less and less participation.

2010 Primaries

The 2010 Democratic Primary is coming up in less than three months.  We have a full slate of candidates, and a bunch of contested races.  According to Party leaders, as little as 35,000 voters may decide who will end up representing the Party in November; and if you are voting in a smaller area, like a Justice of the Peace precinct, we’re talking about 3,000 to 5,000 voters–tops!  You have three months to learn and make decisions about whom to give your support.

DosCentavos.net will do its part to keep you informed (at times, I may even be a bit unfair as one or another may be a client).  So, do your part and participate:  Invite a candidates or candidates to a meet and greet at your home, pass out information to your neighborhood, and make an event out of voting.  Have some fun with it!

Post-Election Thoughts…Mayoral Race & Latinos

Latinos Stick With Parker

I think when the numbers come out, the above reference will be true.

Many readers and friends kept telling me that Annise was in trouble–Latino-wise–seeing how a vast majority of Latino electeds and the one Dem-Latino group had picked Locke (although local attorney and Parker supporter Roland Garcia may beg to differ). There is no doubt that both campaigns were vying for what probably turned out to be 7 to 10 percent of the total turnout–Latinos.

As it turns out, I was right:  Latinos trended Parker more than likely because of the work groups like UNITE HERE and SEIU (Justice for Janitors) did in those precincts (as well as Parker’s volunteer corps).  When I ran into a fellow Parker supporter who has also worked the Latino side of things, she brought news of rumblings that Parker had taken Denver Harbor and other parts of the East End.  Talk about relief; although, internal numbers shared by the Parker campaign showed this was occurring.  But we all know that it’s election day that counts.

Unfortunately, the conversation turned to one question:  Why did they all come out in support of Locke?  I am sure they all have their reasons.  This Latino voted for Parker because of her qualifications, her record as an elected, and the mere fact that she was more than willing to lend an ear and even discuss with a critic like me.  On top of that, Parker remained consistent in her message, whether one agreed with everything or not.  And I think that if Latinos got a chance to know her, whether through the blockwalking and phone bankers or if they got a chance to meet her, they saw that she was just a good person who had Houston in mind.

287(g)

That said, the whole 287(g) issue creeping into the race angered me.  I wasn’t afraid to criticize Parker and the rest for taking a more punitive approach, rather than use the bully pulpit to demand comprehensive immigration reform in order to strengthen the Houston economy and families.  After I realized that neither would take that sort of risk, it became about choosing who I thought would best serve Houston.  As the run-off campaigning progressed, I thought that 287(g) would stay out; unfortunately, the Roy Morales mailer and Gene Locke’s “immigration-as-crime” add-on to his TV ad brought it back up.  The thing is, neither message is what right-wingers really want to hear, and usually, they do not trust a “liberal” talking up the issue (just ask Nick Lampson).

Ultimately, I think the Morales mailer could have helped both since it was relatively harmless; although one of Locke’s Electeds attempted to somehow  make a Parker-connection to the Minutemen (there’s a YouTube of it that I would delete).  Locke using the issue in a 6-figure ad-buy was not a smart move, though.  Although his supporters tell me he is clear in saying he wanted to arrest immigrants “in the jails,” why even bring it up?

Still, given Parker’s similar “in the jails” stance and the fact that 287(g) is a costly and ineffective program, this blogger/activist will continue to call upon her fiscally responsible mind to convince her that Houston does not need it.

Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Parker.  I appreciate her campaign team was still willing to talk to me after my criticisms and questions, and even respect my advice and commentary.  Mutual respect, even when differing on issues, always wins out.

VIP Supporters

Congrats also go to State Rep. Jessica Farrar, Hon. Rick Noriega, and Council Member Melissa Noriega.

Los Gays y Los Latinos

Finally, as I have mentioned previously, no two groups have been targeted by right-wing forces this year (or have been made to hurry up and wait on policy decisions) than the LGBT community and Latinos, and I strongly believe that the election of Annise Parker provides an opportunity to work together toward progress.  Ultimately, we are talking about civil and human rights and more can be gained through unity, as this election has proved.

Blogateers and Mafia Highlight Parker Victory

A big DC Salute to Mayor-Elect Annise Parker on an historic and huge victory on Saturday night.  DosCentavos.net is proud to have supported Parker from the beginning.  To top it off, the Mayor-Elect becomes the first local candidate in Houston to give thanks to the team of local bloggers who supported her–the Blogateers.  Now, that was really nice!

Along with being interviewed by one of the local Spanish-language stations and the Parker victory, I think another highlight was meeting Oscar de la Rosa, lead singer of La Mafia who also endorsed Parker.

I am sure we will be analyzing the numbers when they come out–which neighborhood went which way, etc.  For now, big kudos to SEIU and my buddy Mike Espinosa for all of his hard work. (Political consultants–Back off! I got dibs on him being my client!)

Vote for Annise Parker…

Thoughts on Viernes…Pre-Run-Off Edition 12112009

Ya Llega El Dia!

Yes, the big day is almost here.  The Run-Off is Saturday:  VOTE:  Parker, Green, Derr, Lovell, and Jones.  If you reside in District A, then you better vote Lane Lewis; and if you vote in District F, vote Mike Laster.

The Last Poll

KHOU/KUHF/Rice U does one more poll (same methods as usual) only this time, they give a huge lead to Annise Parker!  Either I should be dancing for joy or I should be screaming, “Shenanigans!”  In other words, don’t take the poll or this election for granted.  Make the Annise Parker victory happen by voting!

Last-Minute Desperation

Last night, I experienced some of the worse Tweeting ever when I saw folks from groups that are supposed to fight for equality in opportunity acting out in the worse ways.  One can either take them on, or just do your part and make the Annise Parker victory happen.  My brother-in-law provided some great advice upon learning what was going on:  “When there’s a big pot of crazy, it is best not to stir.”

So, make the Annise Parker victory happen!

Minuteman FAIL

I think it is safe to say that DosCentavos is not a fan of Roy Morales, but when I read a local paid-for-by-Locke guy attempting to connect Annise Parker to the Minutemen because her campaign paid for a Morales informational mailer (Locke was invited to participate and did not), I felt the need to respond with the following:  There’s Only One candidate who is actually using the immigration-as-crime issue in a TV ad (and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on that message)–and that’s Gene Locke.

A Big Coupl’a Weekends

DosCentavos is attending the best event of 2009–The Kingwood Area Dems Holiday Party…camera in hand. Next weekend, DosCentavos will be in North Texas (weather permitting) attending Cara Mia Theatre Company’s performance of Crystal City 1969.  (And I think I’ll be doing some 2010 campaigning in between, too!)