Category Archives: Republinutiness

DOJ Refuses to Grant Pre-Clearance to TX Photo ID

According to a report from Talking Points Memo, the Department of Justice has decided that it cannot grant preclearance to the Texas Voter ID Law because the State of Texas has failed to provide enough information.

Texas provided “incomplete” information that does not enable federal officials to determine whether their proposed voter ID law would be discriminatory, the Justice Department said in a letter Wednesday.

Essentially, the letter from DOJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section Chief T. Christian Herren Jr. restarts the clock on when the Department has to make a decision about whether the law signed by Gov. Rick Perry complies with the Voting Rights Act. They have 60 days from when Texas sends them complete information.

Herren writes that Texas did not provide any of the required data on race. Texas said that the voter registration process does not require an applicant to state his or her race, but they are trying to compile the information from Department of Public Safety information as quickly as possible.

Secretary of State Hope Andrade could have used various ways to measure the number of Hispanics who would be affected by the Voter ID Law; instead, they chose the Rick Perry tactic of delay-delay-delay (along with hoping that no one is looking while they violate the VRA). Well, they’ve earned this delay. Unfortunately, it is the people of Texas who are footing the bill for all of these political games.

More to come, I’m sure.

Update:  Rebecca Acuña from the Texas Democratic Party released this quote:

“The Republican Party has fabricated this voter impersonation myth to implement policies meant to disenfranchise specific voters.

The Republican voter suppression legislation was unquestionably created to keep certain people from voting. In fact, the limited data that the state has furnished shows that Hispanic voters would be disproportionately disenfranchised. It’s clear that the DOJ’s patience is running out.”

Kudos to the folks at Texas Democratic Party for fighting the good fight on this one.

Illegal Texas Maps Ruled, Well, Illegal

I mean, improper.

This is good news coming from a federal court in Washington, DC. The court denied summary judgment requested by the Texas Attorney General’s office; so, it looks like we’re going to court over the Texas House, Texas Senate, and Texas Congressional maps, and a San Antonio federal court will proceed on making interim maps for the 2012 elections.

The order, which you can read in its entirety here, read in part:

Having carefully considered the entire record and the parties’ arguments, the Court finds and concludes that the State of Texas used an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their preferred candidates of choice and that there are material issues of fact in dispute that prevent this Court from entering declaratory judgment that the three redistricting plans meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. See 42 U.S.C. 1973c.

I think Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Ritchie said it best:

This entire process could have been avoided if Republicans would have drawn maps based on demographics rather than their own shallow political ambitions.

Trey Martinez Fischer of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus had this to say:

Texas growth is Latino growth, the Court has agreed with our position concerning summary judgment and we will now prepare for trial.

MALC members fought hard this legislative session to ensure that all Texans have an opportunity to thrive in our great state and we will continue through every turn of the litigation process.

More to come, I’m sure.

Grad Rates Suffer During Enrollment Boom

You mean, the recruitment of underprepared high school graduates into our Texas colleges and universities didn’t automatically amount to increased graduation rates?

In Texas, only 20 of every 100 students who enroll at a public community college or university earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree within twice the normal amount of time, the report found.

This isn’t news, although for some who work in the field it will probably be a source of increased frustration and stress. The State of Texas committed to “Closing the Gaps” in our universities and colleges by working more on recruitment; however, the State failed to “Close the Deal” by failing to adequately fund First Time In College and college retention efforts; not to mention decreasing the value of financial aid through tuition deregulation and cuts to scholarships and aid.

The failure to fully fund, and now, cut K-12 education will only add to the problem with few solutions that are well-funded being created. This “nontraditional” population in the report by Complete College Americais described as:

Graduation rates for this “new majority” are lower than for traditional students, particularly those who are part-time, older, poor, Hispanic or African American.

In other words, those who have been heavily  recruited recently to “Close the Gaps”, as well as those hit by the economy.

Republican (and a few privileged, clueless Democratic) politicians, of course, will try to lay the blame on “liberal” professors and academic advising offices, but the bottom line is that you cannot set out to “close the gaps” without addressing every single issue involved in the college going to college graduation process. In this case, we can only blame political expediency for this challenge because, certainly, colleges and universities have been doing without adequate resources for years.

The response now is to tell people, “There is no money.” But there is plenty of money which is being irresponsibly left untapped by Republican elected officials who fail to close tax and fee loopholes. And in Texas, Republicans may commit to using the Rainy Day Fund and other Education money for possible corporate welfare giveaways to oil companies. I guess we know what their priorities really are.

If those affected aren’t being targeted by the likes of Rick Perry and his wealthy buddies, then someone please explain to me this failure in leadership.

Anti-Latino Sentiment at Universities

The last place one would expect hate language to be spread would be at colleges and universities. Even when there is disagreement regarding policies and politics, one would expect fruitful and productive discussion; yet, it seems Teabaggers are alive and well on college campuses. One example is what recently occurred at Indiana University in Bloomingdale.

Known as a home away from home, the IU “La Casa” Latino Cultural Center has a special role at IU:

The Latino Cultural Center, La Casa, was established at Indiana University in November of 1973. Its purpose is to achieve a greater historical, political and cultural awareness regarding Latina/os through educational and social programs. As an advocacy office, we work closely with other units on campus to assist in the recruitment and retention of Latina/o students.

Who would be against this, right? As the fastest growing demographic in the United States, there’s no doubt that these “homes” are needed as a means of increasing recruitment and retention and graduation rates. Or in business terms, a better return on our education investment. But it is hard to address “stupid,” sometimes when people refuse to discuss like humans, and, instead, act like they did at IU this week.

A newly posted sign outside the Indiana University Latino Cultural Center known as La Casa reads ‘Welcome to our home away from home’, but someone recently targeted that home with what IU police have dubbed hateful messages directed at Latinos.

Late last week, La Casa staff found two notes. One left on a kitchen table that read “criminals deport”. Across the room on a refrigerator the phrase “you need to leave” was spelled out in magnets.

And why should we be so shocked? We certainly have experienced right-wing hate on college campuses here in Texas. I mean, who can forget the Young Conservatives of Texas and their affirmative action bake sales or their mock immigrant round-ups?

Unfortunately, this will be a hazard of going to college until Latinos “get it” and decide that they need to vote and drive policy by staying active in the process.

I especially want to drive this point home to college students who are eligible to vote and get involved. And while in college, get involved beyond the Latino organizations. Although you can find a “home” at “La Casa” type of programs, there’s nothing like being a part of some major university committee that directs events, and that directs student service dollars and university policy. Get to know your University leaders–your President, VPs, etc. Because when right-wingers deal you this type of card, there’s nothing like having the University leadership back you up.

Good luck to all college and university students this year!

Latino Support For Obama A Bit Iffy

Polling done by impreMedia and Latino Decisions is showing Latino support for President Obama is slipping a bit.

A poll conducted in late July and early August in 21 states with the largest Hispanic populations by impreMedia/Latino Decisions showed Obama with a 63% approval rate. That’s down from 68% in June and 73% in April.

Only 38% of the 500 registered voters polled said they were certain to vote for Obama next year, down from 49% in June.

The poll was done before the announcement that ICE would be reviewing 300,000 cases as part of a new prosecutorial discretion memo released recently, but the numbers should set off some emergency lights and loud sirens in the Democratic Party.

I’m of the opinion that polling should be done about Latinos’ intention to vote in 2012. Or ever.

There’s no doubt that Republican legislative attacks against Latinos and immigrants, not to mention the right-wing vitriol, could have easily placed Latinos in the (D) column for the next decade. But with that type of support should come action, and the polling shows the kind of frustration with President Obama that Latinos seems to have:  Highly approved of, yet, iffy on voting for him.

I’m hoping LatinoDecisions does a poll on the intent to vote in 2012 because, As a Democrat, I find Latinos not voting worrisome since this would definitely affect our down ballot races. And the alternative isn’t any better.

Although the iffy-ness surrounding President Obama’s support will probably fix itself in the final percentage, how many Latinos who have voted in the past will just stay home? Let’s find some real evidence of how this might impact our democracy, because I’m tired of seeing the anecdotal evidence among some of my peers.

And when this evidence is found, maybe then will the high-dollar consultants, the nonprofits, and the campaigns invest in the voters, rather than just investing in a winning number.

There I go again with my idealism…

Immigration Not Number 1…Again

The poll showed that the economy has replaced immigration as the key issue for Hispanics. They, like many Americans, were put off by the battle over the nation’s debt ceiling and deficit reduction that concluded in early August.

This is not surprising. Immigration is one of those issues that Latinos react to depending on the rhetoric and legislative agendas. If Republicans start throwing terms like “backdoor amnesty” and “anchor baby” during state legislative sessions around the country, well, Latinos react. It is no different than what occurred in 2006 when the Sensenbrenner Bill was being debated. Well, now some legislative sessions are done and some anti-Latino bills are not in the spotlight as much, people go back to the economy, jobs, and their personal well-being. So, this will happen.

The Republican Primary will surely hop-up the anti-Latino rhetoric later this year and in the Spring. How Democrats defend will surely be noticed, but there’s nothing like a fight over policy to get Latinos moving, as Texas’ Republican sanctuary cities bill did in 2011.

Mandatory Water Conservation Is Coming

Whenever I cross the river (the San Jac) over to Humble, whether it is along US 59 or Lake Houston Parkway, it’s easy to notice that water levels have dropped significantly. With Lake Houston being one of our main sources of water, I was wondering when exactly we’d be told to conserve water.

It’s here!

Under Stage 2, those restrictions would become mandatory. Other restrictions, such as a prohibition on washing cars, would be added, Parker said. Residents also would be required to repair water leaks on their properties within 72 hours.

The mandatory restrictions would be enforced through fines, though Parker did not elaborate.

“We are coming closer and closer to drawing down water from Lake Conroe to stabilize the water levels in Lake Houston,” the mayor said. “And we are coming closer and closer to a stage 2 water conservation, which is mandatory.”

The city has not had to draw down water from Lake Conroe to stabilize Lake Houston since 1988. The water from Lake Conroe would be use to boost the level in Lake Houston to prevent damage to intake mechanisms that supply water to the city.

Of course, a good way to lower water use is through embarrassment. Look at what the San Antonio Water System is known for doing.

In Other Water News…

Meanwhile, my elected officials want to dredge up Lake Houston to get rid of some of the silt at the bottom of the lake, and they’ve asked the Mayor to do it. Of course, Ted Poe should be asking for federal money for this, but instead, they’d much rather raid the drainage fee and other local sources to fund this.

Here’s an idea:  Go after the mining companies that dump silt into the river. What? Do they think the silt appears naturally?

Because of sand mining, the San Jacinto was named one of 10 most endangered rivers in 2006 by American Rivers. Sand and gravel mining – including the production of its main product, concrete – contributes an estimated $19.6 billion to the Texas economy annually. (For comparison, wildlife watching contributes $1.3 billion, and total tourism $44 billion). Sand mining may have a role in Texas, but does it belong on the San Jacinto? The river provides the city its drinking water via Lake Houston, and the upstream forested reaches of the watershed help protect Houston from downstream flooding.

With $19.6 billion being exchanged, certainly someone should be paying for it, and it doesn’t only have to be the gum’mint.

Of course, for the future, perhaps Poe, Huberty and their Republican buddies can do something about this:

Sand mining is not a regulated industry in Texas, unlike most other states. In other words, the industry has no regulations to follow, no permits to apply for, and no reclamation to complete once finished.

Silly me.

Rick Perry’s Tent Revival Coming to Houston

When Rick Perry prayed for rain earlier this summer, I didn’t know what to think, other than:  Is this a joke? The photo the Texas Tribune used of him looking up to the sky was quite the side-show. Of course, we all know that it was Obama’s visit which made it rain.

It is hard to believe Rick Perry’s sincerity as a Christian given that he cares little for the future of Texas: he supports cutting public education by $4 billion, cutting university/college funding by another $1 billion, putting at risk thousands of immigrant families with hateful legislation, and gutting health care programs that help the economically disadvantaged, among other unChristian actions.

So, I’d like to know for what exactly he is praying? Certainly not to increase the number of high school graduates. He doesn’t seem to care about “closing the gaps” by defunding our colleges and universities. And we all know how he feels about Latinos and immigrants. And he is a champion for that Republican health care plan of “don’t get sick.” So, what’s the deal?

Is he praying for his messed up view of morality where Gays don’t exist, or are simply in hiding? Is he praying for a return to the good ol’ days before the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were established? Is he praying for women to be subservient? That’s what I get from this statement:

“Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel,” Perry said.

Some will say that this tent revival is all about Iowa.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, called the rally “an obvious appeal to fundamentalist Christians, who comprise 60 percent of the turnout in the Iowa caucuses.”

That makes sense.

Still, for whatever the reason, this side-show detracts from the real problems Texas is facing and that Rick Perry has avoided and/or caused  since he was Lt. Governor. The people of Texas can either be made fools or point out the fools amongst them and elect people who will fight for the children of Texas.

But that takes voting. And come 2011, 2012, and 2014, and beyond, we must vote like our lives depended on it.

Houston Groups Denounce HB12 and SB9

Late Tuesday night, we get the following tweet from the Texas Tribune:

@TexasTribune: Senate doesn’t have votes to suspend the rules and take up sanctuary cities.

Well, after all of Woodlands Senator Tommy Williams’ maneuvering, do you think we’re ready to give out a sigh of relief? Hell no!

So, here’s the Vimeo of the press conference today in which numerous organizations and activists lined up against the ban on nonexistent sanctuary cities and the mandatory InSecure Ethnicities bills.

Groups Call on Texas Senate to Reject HB 12

NALEO REJECTS HB 12

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a nonpartisan organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the political process, has joined many organizations in calling on the Texas Senate to reject HB 12, the bill to ban non-existent sanctuary cities.

“HB 12 is an unconstitutional and very costly measure that will
jeopardize the public safety of all Texans,” said NALEO President and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia.  “This legislation
will violate their civil rights and subject the state’s Latinos and newcomers to discrimination.”

HB 12 would not allow counties and cities to approve measures blocking law enforcement from asking the legal status of detained persons.

“This bill makes it harder for localities to set their own policies on keeping their neighborhoods safe,” said NALEO Educational Fund Chairman Juan C. Zapata. “In these times of pressing economic challenges, HB 12 does nothing but place significant burdens on local governments when limited resources are sorely needed elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, check out my recent post and action alert at Somos Tejanos:

As SomosTejanos predicted earlier this week, the conservatives in the Texas Legislature were not about to disappoint Governor Rick Perry by denying him his“emergency” measure targeting nonexistent sanctuary cities.

Soon after the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security added onto and voted out of committee Texas Senator Tommy Williams’ (R-The Woodlands) Senate Bill 9, the Secure Communities bill, The Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security returned the favor and reconsidered and voted out of committeee House Bill 12, the sanctuary cities bill.

[Continue reading here]

Senate Dems Vow to Block HB 12

Off the Kuff has the report on Texas Senators vowing to block HB 12, the bill to ban nonexistent sanctuary cities.

The best outcome is that both of these bills die. Whatever does happen, at least the Democrats will have gone down fighting. Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for.

Stay tuned!

Local Progressives Protest King Street and their King

About 100 local progressives, including Democratic stalwarts and pro-migrant activists, protested the grand opening of the King Street Patriots’ new voter suppression warehouse located off of Hempstead Highway and Loop 610.

Calling out their king Rick Perry, progressives held up signs voicing their opposition to Perry’s “emergency” measures, including intrusive sonograms for women and Mexican hunting measures (HB12). The biggest issue on the minds of protesters was Perry’s lack of leadership regarding the Texas budget. Calls for greater use of the Rainy Day Fund and support for teachers and students were among the protesters’ chants.

Some say King Street is a Republican party operation posing as a nonprofit organization. During the 2010 elections, KSP participated in a voter suppression operation which included challenging voter registration applications of mostly poor and minority voters, as well as polling location intimidation of minority voters.