Category Archives: TDP Convention 2012

Has Anyone Asked Mitt About Kobach’s DACA Lawsuit?

It’s funny how the mainstream media (and some migrant “advocates”) take Mitt Romney’s change in stance and run with it without questioning anything, as I did a while ago. Has anyone bothered asking him how he feels about his top immigration advisor’s DACA lawsuit? Or how he feels about a racist organization funding said lawsuit?

Arizona immigration law author and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing 10 immigration agents in a lawsuit filed Thursday against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, for policies they say prevent them from doing their job of defending the Constitution.

[…]

Numbers USA, a group that advocates for reduction of immigration, is funding the lawsuit on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents opposed to current policy. The suit goes after two key Obama policies on immigration:prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals and repeat offenders, as well as deferred action for undocumented young people.

A simpler question:  How can Mitt Romney be taken seriously?

DACA Support Should Have Been No-Brainer For Romney

Romney had an opportunity to support DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Day 1 and failed. I wondered why supporting the continuation of DACA wasn’t a no-brainer for Romney and his people. DACA was everything Romney has talked about in his immigration platform:  No citizenship, no benefits, no health care, and a labor force.

So, why did he wait so long to support DACA?

And what does he mean by “full immigration reform plan”? Romney has not given details, other than wanting the opportunity to take advantage a labor force without the opportunity for citizenship or basic rights.

In other words, Romney is basically supporting what the President has already done. The difference will be in immigration reform plans. We know President Obama supports a path to citizenship. What does Romney support?

#2 in the series:  Has Anyone Asked Mitt About Kobach’s DACA Lawsuit?

#3 in the series:  Romney Changes Mind – He Will End DACA

 

LEUV Mixer an Educational Experience

Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting. held a mixer and dinner on Tuesday to discuss  the various referendums on the 2012 ballot. Over 30 community leaders, including educators, school principals and counselors, higher education professionals, public servants and business owners attended and engaged in a lively discussion.

LEUV co-founder, Stace Medellin, provided a “lightning round” overview of the ballot, briefly describing the individual races and bond referendums. Touching on the METRO referendum, Medellin stated that voters have an important choice:  Support the current way of providing 25 cents of every METRO tax dollar to the county and cities in its service area or allow METRO the keep its tax dollar to use as they see fit. All in the room thought it fitting that a METRO train passed by during the presentation. Stace reminded those in attendance that educating themselves and others is of the essence, and that if voters want to find out what is on their ballot, that a great resource is HarrisVotes.com, where a personal sample ballot can be generated.

HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche gave a powerful presentation on the Houston ISD Bond referendum, which would authorize the investment of $1.89 Billion to build and improve most of HISD’s high schools, improve technology, and other facility improvements. Stipeche gave the background on the need for new facilities, given that the average age of the high schools is 50 years, way above the national average of 42 years. Add to that issues with plumbing, mold, and structural problems and one sees the need for major investment that would put the district back on track and set for the next couple of decades.

During his presentation, Medellin touched on LEUV’s evolving support for the HISD bond. What began with questions over the contracting process and a push for ethics and campaign finance reform for trustees turned into support for the bond once the reform package was passed unanimously in its first reading in September. HISD will bring the ethics reform package up to a final vote at their October meeting.

Community activist Michael Espinoza made a brief presentation on the Houston Community College bond which would authorize the investment of $425 million to build new facilities across all of HCC’s campuses. Espinoza provided background on his own history as an organizer, and found that whether it was janitors, students, immigrant children, or members of a church, that the one issue that seemed to impact these communities was education, and that Houston Community College played a major role in this process. Specifically, the bond would pay for a new health care education and early college facility in the Medical Center, workforce facilities in Stafford and North Shore, and a new campus in West Houston (Westheimer/Eldridge area).

David Cisneros, a recent graduate of Tulane University who recently returned to  Houston, represented Parks by You. Speaking to City of Houston’s Prop B, which would authorize the investment of $166 million to be spent on parks, Cisneros spoke about Houston’s history and interest in providing its residents with green spaces. $100 million of the bond would be invested in uniting the various bayous through the development of green space and parkland. Parks by You is matching that investment, and has raised $20 million, thus far.

The question and answer session allowed those in attendance to truly engage the presenters. One comment made by Trebor Gordon, an announced candidate for City Council At-Large 3, was that he arrived with plenty of questions, but that he felt all of the questions were answered by the presenters. Others asked questions to bring some clarification to the difference between infrastructure investment through bonds and annual budget investment in education and policy-making.

There were also 2012 candidates who attended to do some good ol’ retail politicking, including Diane Trautman for County Trustee-At-Large, Erica Lee for County Trustee, Pct. 1, and Gene Wu for Texas House District 137.

LEUV is committed to developing various events and campaigns in the near future. According to Dr. Rey Guerra, a LEUV Co-Founder, “We are excited about how far we have come in just six months and we know that the best is yet to come, including continuing the Tacos and Votes program during Early Vote weekend in October.”

LEUV would like to thanks all those who showed their support, the candidates who attended, and those who provided a wealth of information on the bonds and the 2012 election. A very special thanks to Julia’s Bistro on Main and Alabama who provided a beautiful venue with the METRO rail as a nice backdrop.

I Was Right About Romney’s Audience

Remember I called Mitt Romney’s appearance on Univision, “Romneyvision“? And remember when I said:

Sure, the raucous Sabado Gigante-esque crowd that screamed with every one of Mitt’s comments seemed to challenge my opinion…

Apparently, that funny feeling I got about Romney’s raucous Univision crowd wasn’t my bad knee acting up. It was all a set-up by the Romney campaign. (And not just the spray-tan!)

Mitt Romney packed the audience for a Univision forum earlier this week, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins reports, busing in local supporters “after exhausting the few conservative groups on campus.” The campaign threatened to “reschedule” the event if organizers did not allow the “rowdy activists from around southern Florida in order to fill the extra seats at their town hall.”

Even with all of the brown visuals, it doesn’t look like Latinos bought into Romney’s message. If anything, Latinos have an even clearer picture of Romney.

So, yes, Romneyvision was indeed a dud.

So, although I didn’t mind Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas being tough on President Obama, why on earth did they give Romney a pass, or worse, let him skirt the questions altogether? Did they fear Romney’s crowd?

If Ramos and Salinas want the Latino press to be respected, then they need to get beyond the game show atmosphere that they allowed Romney to create.

Obama on Univision – A Review

President Obama just finished his turn on Univision and he seems to have knocked it out of the park again. He has been consistent on his issues stances from Day 1 and made sure to point out Romney’s previous stances in contrast to any perceived “softening.”

Immigration – Obama reiterated his support for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. He pointed to Romney’s stances on DREAM (and Romney’s veto threat) .

Education- Obama stated he helped stave off teacher layoffs. With RomneyRyan budgets, you will see 20% less resources to states for education, thus, more teacher layoffs, and more strikes like we saw in Chicago. Obama will provide more help as long as there is accountability, high standards, and he will help hire 100,000 math and science teachers.

Pell Grant and Student Loans. Obama vowed to continue working on helping colleges and universities lower tuition, continue supporting Pell Grants. Above all, Obama pointed to his work on taking out the middle-man when it comes to student loans, thus making loans cheaper and more accessible for students.

On 47 to 100 % change by Romney. Obama stated what he said on election night, working also for the 47% that did not vote for him. Re: Mitt, he stated that when you express an attitude that 1/2 of the country wants to be dependent on government, maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot. He added, “Do people abuse system? YES at bottom and top because millionaires abuse the system, too.”

Drug Cartels. Obama admits to demand for drugs on this side of the border and that the Cartel problem is a problem at both sides. It’s not just a Mexico issue. Wants to increase support for drug prevention programs. Also wants to stop flow of guns and cash from US to Mexico.  Regarding Fast and Furious, stated Holder actually stopped the program when he found out about it, but stated that US must recognize that guns are being moved to the South. Wants to move forward with strategy that works. Has complete confidence in Holder.

Asked about biggest failure.  Not getting comprehensive immigration reform, but not for a lack of trying or desire. Lays blame on GOP Congress wanting to defeat him from day 1 and not working on CIR or other important issues. Wants to concentrate on being in a conversation with the American people to move issues, like CIR, forward.

Called out on breaking CIR promise, President says he has more work to do, and that he can build on progress. DACA provides that opportunity to continue working on CIR.

In his closing statement, President Obama tells the camera he urged Latinos to vote, to vote for him, AND to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot.

Romneyvision Forum A Dud

An attempt to become a browner, gentler Mitt Romney on Univision probably did little to increase his support among the Latino electorate. Sure, the raucous Sabado Gigante-esque crowd that screamed with every one of Mitt’s comments seemed to challenge my opinion, but using the term “illegal alien,” rather than DREAMer (as Democrats did throughout their convention) surely didn’t help.

Mitt attempted to soften his right-wing stance on the issue by saying that millions cannot be deported. Tell us something we don’t already know! He continued to support the Marco Rubio Nightmare act which would give immigrant soldiers and “advanced” degree “illegal aliens” a “green card.” Notice, he never said “citizenship.” It’s the same old exploitation, except, this time, he apparently did it in brown face. (And did I hear a slight Mexican accent when he spoke in English?)

Romney provided no other specifics on immigration reform, other than continuing to use the term “permanent solution.” What on earth does that mean?

Anyway, he is still barrios away from Latinos on issues we see as more important than immigration–economy, jobs, Social Security, Health Care, etc. That’s right, we are not single issue voters.

Today, it is Obamavision! Thus far, he has stated that he has never waffled on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and that Romney has been quite specific on his intent to veto the DREAM Act. At least on immigration, Obama has the most consistent narrative.

Stay tuned!

Kuff Interviews HD-127’s Cody Pogue

My good friend and former neighbor in NE Harris County, Cody Pogue has been hard at work running for Texas House District 127. Knocking on doors, making phone calls, and opening a headquarters, Pogue has committed to a truly grassroots campaign.

My colleague Kuff interviewed Pogue and it is a pretty good interview in which he lays out his stances on issues, such as education funding, health care, Immigration and the like. Give it a listen.

Tell Your Houston ISD Trustee To Support Ethics Reform

Looks like the Houston ISD Board will be reconsidering ethics reform after all, as reported by Ericka Mellon at the Chron.

The proposed policies would require trustees to disclose in writing when they or certain family members work for a company or a nonprofit group seeking HISD business. The trustee also could not discuss or vote on those deals.

The current rules require trustees to disclose conflicts only with companies that employ their parents or children. The proposal extends the requirement to trustees’ siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, great grandparents and great grandchildren.

Trustees still are deciding disclosure rules regarding “the appearance of a conflict of interest,” such as a contract involving a vendor who is not family but is a close friend of a board member, said HISD trustee Juliet Stipeche.

This is a good thing that is a long time coming.

The proposed policies also would require trustees to abstain from voting on deals involving vendors who had donated more than $500 to their political campaigns during the prior year. In addition, vendors would be barred from donating during the bid process until a contract was executed.

The city of Houston has a similar blackout period for donations during the bidding process but does not mandate abstention from votes related to campaign donors.

And while Houston ISD gives us the opportunity to decide on $2 billion in bonds to build some 21st century facilities, Houston ISD trustees should take the opportunity to bring campaign finance rules into the 21st century, too.

The new proposed ban would apply to many more vendors and would require significantly more monitoring. Many trustees, for example, do not even list on their campaign donation forms the names of a donor’s employer, even though the state-mandated document asks for that information. Trustees also do not file their campaign reports in a searchable format.

Stipeche said she would like HISD to move to a searchable, electronic system like one the Texas Ethics Commission uses for state officeholders. She said she wants trustees to consider filing personal financial disclosure statements. (I wrote in 2008 about school board members being exempt from this requirement.)

Now, it’s the voters turn to tell their Trustee to support ethics reform. Find your Trustee here and contact them.

As I’ve stated previously, ethics reform needs to be approved before voters can make a decision on the bond.

Ethics Before HISD Bond

There’s no doubt about my excitement over the possibility of Houston ISD spending almost $2 billion on infrastructure; namely, much needed high schools across the district. The prospect of Lee High School (down the street from me) being completely replaced and made into a 21st century facility is exciting for many in my neighborhood. But there is something missing.

With this much money to delve out comes politics, and worse, the possibility of corruption–or at least the opportunity for some unfairness. Houston ISD lacks a strong Ethics policy, of which we heard during the last Board election. Rejected previously, it seems Houston ISD just might develop an ethics policy that brings with it campaign finance reform.

The proposed changes, meant to restore public confidence that the Houston Independent School District is hiring the best contractors without undue influence, also could affect trustees’ political campaign coffers.

Trustees would have to abstain from voting on deals involving vendors who had contributed more than $500 to their campaigns the prior year. They also would have to disclose and abstain if they have a close relationship with a vendor.

Board president Mike Lunceford pledged that trustees would take a preliminary vote on the new policies in September. The changes would be in place before November, when the board is asking voters to approved a $1.9 billion bond issue that would result in the district awarding numerous lucrative construction contracts.

There is a lot of mistrust when it comes to Houston ISD, and deservedly so. When hundreds of millions of dollars are moving to different vendors, it would be nice to know the relationship between Trustees, administrators, and vendors. And yes, even political action committees. Which is why it becomes important to also make public any conflicts of interest.

The outside auditors with Whitley Penn also suggested that HISD trustees disclose a wider range of possible conflicts of interest with vendors and abstain from voting on their contracts. Trustees now only have to disclose if their parents or children work for a district vendor. The rule would be expanded to other relatives.

Auditor Chuck Yaple said in an interview after the board meeting that he planned to revise the suggested policy to require disclosure of even the appearance of a conflict of interest, which could include a trustee’s close friend.

I hope that any reform comes with a strong punishment phase. Yes, allow the Board to decide publicly if they wish to punish a fellow board member, thus, bringing into play the political consequences of their decisions.

In this day and age when people like to throw around terms like “education reform” and all sorts of expensive ideas are thrown about and paid for without much debate, strong ethics reform will put everything under the microscope; as it should be.

Frankly, I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly support the Houston ISD bond without ethics and campaign finance reform.

Kuff has more.

The Clinton Mystique Lives!

There’s something about President Bill Clinton that fires Dems up. Practically created in the labs of the DLC, Clinton is considered a political moderate. As liberal as some of us are, there is still something about him that we like love.

A friend of mine noted on the Twitters last night that Clinton’s speech resonated most with Latinos during this Convention (with apologies to Julian Castro, of course.). And there’s no doubt about it, Latinos love Bill Clinton.

While Reagan reigned during the so-called Decade of the Hispanic, which practically destroyed Hispanics, it was during the Clinton era in which Latinos enjoyed much economic success. Yes, some of us didn’t agree with his 1996 immigration reform measure, which produced 287 (g), but since we are not single issue voters, we graded him on his entire record. And as the Twitters were telling us, he is still much revered.

As far as last night’s speech is concerned, Clinton was just plain Clinton. The way he minimized complex issues down to their simplest forms begs the question:  Why isn’t Clinton the Dems’ spokesperson?

Much is being said in the media as to why the Party or the Administration hasn’t been able to explain things as well as Clinton did last night. And I agree. Clinton’s way of describing the Republican message works:

We left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him, put us back in.”

My Other Favorite Speakers:

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver delivered a barn burner of a sermon yesterday. I was listening to it on the radio in downtown traffic, so, I’m sure the authorities were looking for a crazy person driving around pumping his fist in the air (me).

Kamala Harris, the California AG, also had a great presentation. I hope to see her go places.

Benita Veliz and Cristina complemented each other. The young DREAMer and the veteran achiever provided folks a nice snapshot about what the Democratic Party really is about–opportunity.

Elizabeth Warren speaks in that grandmotherly tone, that, when she slams a policy or a Republican politician, it is done with authority rather than in a snooty manner. This kind of message delivery works!