Category Archives: LEUV

Mayor Parker Launches Parental Involvement Campaign

“Is My Child Ready?” was launched this week by the Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives. The program’s work is to engage parents so that they may get more involved in their children’s education.

The campaign coincides with the release of students’ STAAR test results by area school districts scheduled for this spring.  The STAAR exams are part of the state’s new standardized academic accountability system.  The campaign will target “hard to reach” parents to encourage them to ask their schools key questions about their children’s performance on the STAAR test.

The commitment I liked most was this.

The campaign will promote parents’ long-term involvement in their children’s education with an emphasis on post-secondary readiness.  Currently, more than half of Texas freshmen in two-year colleges and nearly a fourth in four-year schools require remedial courses.  Deficient academic preparation also leads to low rates of college completion.

While Texas legislators are seeking ways of blaming college advising and student services offices as a means of cutting their budgets, it is good to see Mayor Parker promoting a solution, rather than some punitive measure, like I expect the Lege to do. It seems she knows one of the roots of the problem, so, hopefully, the Lege will follow suit and commit to these types of programs, too.

And it’s bilingual, too.

The multi-media campaign will deliver messages in various formats, including billboards, signage on METRO buses, electronic communications via SMS texts, emails and campaign websites and posters at libraries, multi-service centers and schools throughout the Houston region.  Public information sessions for parents will also be held.

TEXT “READY” or “LISTO” to 91011
The campaign invites parents to text “READY” to 91011 or visit www.ismychildready.org for key facts and specific questions to ask schools about their children’s STAAR test scores.  Spanish-speaking parents can text “LISTO” to 91011 or visit the campaign’s Spanish language website www.estalistomihijo.org.

“We want parents to talk with teachers and counselors and become informed on what they can do every day to help their children do well in the classroom,” said Mark Cueva, Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives division manager.  “Asking questions about a student’s performance on the STAAR test and what parents can do to help that child do better is a good starting point.”

For full information about the campaign, visit www.ismychildready.org.

Way to go, Mayor! Every bit counts in this effort! Perhaps partnering with local higher education institutions is a good next step?

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!

Texas HOPE Brings Agenda To Capitol

Just a reminder that starting at noon on Tuesday, January 8, Texas HOPE will be rallying at the South Steps of the Texas Capitol to remind Texas Legislators that they have a job to do, and part of that job is to give attention to those legislative items that they have highlighted.

“Latinos cannot continue to be ignored,” said Joey Cardenas, Executive Director of HOPE. “The future of Texas depends on the investments Texas puts into education, higher education, healthcare, and economic development for all Texans. Latino leaders throughout Texas are here to make their voices heard and bring attention to the failed policies of the past that are harming our kids and families.”

“The William C. Velasquez Institute is proud to stand with Texas Latino groups as we strive to change policy towards the betterment of our community. We ask the Legislature to work with us to make Texas the model all states follow in pro-immigrant policies, job creation, protecting our environment and educating all children,” said Patricia Gonzales, Senior Vice President WCVI.

“We call on the Governor and the Texas Legislature to make Latinos and their families a priority this legislative session. We call on Texas Government to invest on the Latino community’s present and future. Latinos need to be part of the solution and at the table not on the menu,” said Lydia Camarillo, SVREP Vice President.

The rally speakers list also includes a Houston voice, that of Fidencio Leija, Jr. of Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting. “The demographic changes, statewide and within our school districts, community colleges and universities, show us that if we want Texas’ star to shine brighter, Latinos must be a priority and a part of our future success as a state. The voting impact of Latinos is being felt nationally and we will no longer be seen as a “what if” community. Likewise, we must re-commit to ensure our Veterans are also beneficiaries of our state’s investment–in job creation, education, and health care. It is up to the legislature to take this seriously and enact policies that are good for all Texans, or else they will feel it at the ballot box.”

More details from the rally later.

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.

The DC SD6 Poll is Done: Garcia Wins It

In the world of DosCentavos, there is no run-off. That said, Sylvia Garcia won a close, unscientific, yet reader-ific poll run all day today. Usually, Friday is my slow day as far as visits go, but the number of folks voting sorta looked like a bad day at an early voting location with 154 participating. Still, thanks for voting!

DCsd6

 

Click image to enlarge.

Apparently, I have more readers who are fans of Garcia and Martinez than I do Alvarado. And that’s as scientific as I will dare to get. Again, there is no science to this, just some Friday fun.

Congrats to the Commish!

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.

Today in SD-6 News

Garcia Earns Houston GLBT Caucus Nod

Former Commish Sylvia Garcia earned one of the most coveted organizational endorsements last night, that of the Houston GLBT Caucus. Garcia had earned the recommendation over Carol Alvarado after a close vote by the Caucus screening committee. The ensuing organizational vote showed that both Garcia and Alvarado are the group’s favorite candidates out of the eight in the running.

Make Your Vote Count!

Because the County is telling us that, along with the tens of thousands being spent by the candidates, your tax dollars will be footing the bill for the special election to the tune of $825,000 if an election and run-off are held.  That’s a good investment in democracy in my opinion, but a good turnout will add value to whomever is elected–that value being the power of the people. Su voto es su voz–speak loudly, starting on January 9th. (Early vote locations are at the link, too.)

Stay Tuned for More

Yours truly has been invited to appear on LatinoTalk TV on Monday at 6PM and I have accepted. The big topic is none other than SD-6. Should be a fun and informative discussion. Click on the link to find your channel!

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.