Category Archives: TDP Convention 2012

Deval-Great! Castro-Amazing! FLOTUS-Awesome!

Frankly, I think the vast majority of Day 1’s speeches were pretty energetic. Although excited about Mayor Castro and FLOTUS during the prime-time hour, the one speech I had been awaiting was Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

A young- and vibrant-looking fifty-six years old, Patrick has been on my 2016 radar for a while. I expected him to deliver and he really did. Smacking Mitt Romney’s record as a Mass. governor who left a big mess, the Governor went full-throttle calling on Democrats to grow a backbone and defend our own record. It was a great message for the base and then-some.

Was that a hit at another prospect for 2016, like Gov. Martin O’Malley, who flubbed on Sunday?  One thing is for sure, Deval Patrick is a staunch defender of Democratic values and even has a record of defending and supporting comprehensive immigration reform, in-state tuition for DREAMers, and even slamming SCOMM.

Mayor Castro’s appearance on the big stage was exciting enough, but I have the feeling he scored a lot of points for President Obama to close any Latino enthusiasm gap. He said all of the right things about himself, his family, President Obama, and especially the policies which a majority of Latinos support. And according to the media talking heads, Castro seems to have exceeded expectations.

Like I said, give Castro a real prime-time spot on TV and an energized crowd, and he will deliver. Of course, he delivers at your club meeting at a small mexican restaurant, too.

As far as FLOTUS is concerned, she manages to capture my heartstrings all of the time. I’ll be the first to admit that I was not a fan of hers during the 2008 primaries, but when she presented her family’s story in 2008, it resonated with me and my sisters. I came to find out we weren’t that different and that when voters seek to identify with a candidate, that is the kind of story that matters. Last night, she delivered for President Obama; of course, I wasn’t too surprised.

The Other Speakers

One guy that I haven’t been a big fan of was Kal Penn, but his presentation last night was pretty awesome. He urged young people to vote and declared that the administration is not done fighting for the DREAM Act. You can’t go wrong with that message.

A Preview of Mayor Castro’s Speech

In conversations with friends and colleagues, the one thing we have all agreed on is that SA Mayor Julian Castro’s speech should not be all about himself. It should be about President Obama, his policies, and the need to move forward. Of course, Castro’s own story is quite compelling. MYSA.com featured a preview today.

Castro, tapped by President Barack Obama to deliver the keynote address, said he would “talk about what is important for tomorrow” and draw comparisons in policies championed by Obama and those of his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Romney pledged last week to create 12 million jobs to boost the economy.

Castro said he would accentuate the need to invest in future generations, not just “the wealthy few.”

“I’m going to be talking to the American people as a whole, talking about some of the more important issues. … in this election cycle,” Castro told reporters at the Charlotte Convention Center.

And there was also this.

Republicans also gave Latinos high-profile exposure at their convention in Tampa, Fla., last month, featuring New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Ted Cruz, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee from Texas.

Castro said comparisons between his speech and those by other Latinos were inevitable, and he shrugged off any apparent nervousness from that alone.

“Aside from the personalities,” he said, “it’s the policies.”

Castro said he would not delve into specifics of his speech but that it would touch on domestic issues such as immigration, the roots of his family and opportunities that have led to achievement.

“I have things I want to say,” Castro said.

I particularly like the one about opportunities which have led to achievement. It is a message the rest of America must hear.

Of course, the most important aspect of a speech is its delivery. Given his recent speech at the Texas Democratic Convention, the factors of prime-time TV and the energy of the packed DNC convention hall provide the needed ingredients for an empowering night.

Did Ann Just Lose The Other 30% of Latinos?

I heard Ann Romney spoke to right-wing Latino group, the Latino Coalition today. Basically, she told Latinos to get over our biases.

It really is a message that would resonate well if they could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community.

Considering 65% to 70% of Latinos remain supportive of Obama, and the issues that most resonate with us are economy and jobs, immigration (usually in response to Mitt’s self-deportation attack), education, and health care, I’m thinking Latinos are biased because we prefer more progressive ideas on these issues, not because we’re being told by “machines.” But leave it to Ann Romney to try to think for us.

Of course, much like Ann tried to humanize her husband last night with women, she tried to be a little human with Latinos today by trying to “connect” with them.

“I had the most rocking time in Puerto Rico at a political rally than I’ve ever had in my entire life. You people really know how to party. It was crazy!”

There she goes with the “you people,” again.

Bad Day for Republicans

There are a couple of items going around that really deal some bad news for the Republicans.

First, the DC Federal Court panel has ruled against the Texas’ discriminatory redistricting maps. The GOPers are sure to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and it seems the elections will continue since the lawsuit is about the maps as drawn by the Texas Legislature and not the maps we are using now, as drawn by the San Antonio federal court. In a second post, Li says the boundaries for some could be changed for the election–or at least be possible.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible to see a move to adjust those interim maps in the San Antonio court.  For example, CD-23 arguably could be restored to its benchmark configuration fairly easily.  Similar arguments might also be made with respect to HD 117 and 149, which are wholly contained in their respective counties.  But that’s a call that redistricting plaintiffs in San Antonio will have to make.

The opinion regarding CD-23 is particularly telling. The panel felt that Republicans did everything possible to dilute Hispanic voting strength by switching out active Latino voters for non-active Latino voters. The numbers looked the same, but the ability for Latinos to elect a candidate of their choosing was purposely diluted.

Republicans Can’t Catch A Break With Latinos

The old and failed “You’re  conservative like us” plan to lure Latinos to the Republicans seems to be failing–still. As Tea Partiers double-down against issues like a woman’s right to choose, recent polling by Latino Decisions finds that social issues are not even showing up on Latino political radars.

For Latinos the issue that matters most is the economy followed closely by immigration.  And on both of these issues the vast majority of Latinos support a more progressive agenda.  Moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage simply don’t appear on the Latino political radar.  The GOP and Latinos may be simpatico on issues of abortion but this is of little help, social issues are not what sway Latinos in the voting booth.

Now, the Republicans might try to score points on jobs and the economy, but when Romney is attacking on welfare, while defending tax cuts for the wealthy, well, I’d predict that none of that will cause Latinos to switch course. The latest polls show Latinos supporting Obama with a 35 and 40 point spread over Romney.

And if that weren’t enough, the one issue that caused President Obama’s “comeback” with Latinos, Deferred Action, should be ended by Romney and the Republicans, according to Texas’ Ted Cruz.

The key for Obama, then, is turnout. And since Republican leader Boehner is hoping Latinos and African Americans don’t show up to vote, the Latino and African American response is obvious:  SHOW UP!

SB1070 Architect, ICE Agents Sue Feds Over DACA

The guy who helped create Arizona’s SB1070 and Mitt Romney advisor, Kris Kobach, has rounded up a few ICE agents to file a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano over the Deferred Action policy.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, filed the lawsuit on behalf of 10 ICE employees Thursday in federal court in Dallas. The 22-page filing contends that the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan violates federal law and forces ICE employees to break the law by not arresting certain illegal immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton are named as defendants.

“It places ICE agents in an untenable position where their political superiors are ordering them to violate federal law,” Kobach said. “If they follow federal law, they will be disciplined by their superiors.”

Kobach also helped write up the harshest Republican platform plank on immigration, although Republicans keep saying Romney is being nicer to Latinos.

The defense?

Matt Chandler, a DHS spokesman, said the department uses prosecutorial discretion to focus its efforts on arresting and deporting criminal immigrants, and the newest policy is in line with that effort.

Obviously, beyond attempting to cause fear for families who would benefit from DACA, this will also have political ramifications, but I have no problem saying that Mitt Romney has rubber stamped this bigoted effort until he proves otherwise.

Stay tuned.

Harris County Latinos on the Ballot

Someone asked me about the Latino line-up on the 2012 ballot, so, I figured I’d make a post with a list of them–at least from the Democratic side of things. So, here we go (incumbents in bold):

Mario V. Gallegos, Jr. – Texas Senate District 6

Armando Walle – Texas House, District 140

Ana Hernandez-Luna – Texas House, District 143

Mary Ann Perez – Texas House, District 144

Carol Alvarado – Texas House, District 145

Jessica Farrar – Texas House, District 148

Julia Maldonado – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 8

Michael Gomez – Judge, 129th District

Josefina Rendon – Judge, 165th District

Ruben Guerrero – Judge, 174th District

David L. Mendoza – Judge, 178th District

Adrian Garcia  – Sheriff

Jo Ann Delgado – JP Pct 2 – 1

Richard Vara – JP Pct 6 – 1

Chris Diaz – Constable Pct 2

Victor Trevino – Constable Pct 6

Silvia Mintz – County School Trustee Pos 4, Pct 3

And if anyone else asks about other political parties, I will say there are four Spanish-surnames on the “right-wing” of the ballot. And if I counted correctly, there are also three running “green.”

This answers questions from a few readers regarding the number of Latinos on the ballot. Enjoy!

What Do We Get From HISD Bond?

A community forum was held Monday night at the SHAPE Community Center in which folks in attendance let Houston ISD, administrators and trustees have it regarding the HISD Bond. At least one of my sources called it a good exercise in community involvement, although that source didn’t get the vibe that there was anything organized against the HISD Bond.

On the other hand, the Pro-Bond folks held a press conference at Westbury High School featuring all the heads of Bond PAC. It was also announced who all is involved in the pro-bond group, with familiar names like Lupe Fraga and local pro-immigrant Republican Jacob Monty in the mix.

Although any talk against the bond has stressed a lack of community input, it seems at least Westbury has an advisory team that has come up with what improvements will be made.

The kickoff was held at Westbury High School, which will receive about $40 million under the proposal.  This proposed expenditure would be for partial replacement of facilities to complement work already completed at Westbury and general renovations to accommodate 2,300 to 2,500 students.  Westbury’s Project Advisory Team is made up of the campus principal, staff, parents and community members who will provide input on how their school is designed to meet their unique needs.

The majority of new facilities will be high schools to replace existing ones. At least one East End high school teacher has told me of the dire conditions of these facilities. In fact, the average age of a high school in Houston is 51 years–5 years above the national average. And the stories are plentiful.

Westbury Principal Andrew Wainwright can attest to problems when schools don’t keep up with growth.  On his 2,200 student campus, Wainwright has 22 temporary buildings, which include most of the 9th grade campus.  And some of those “temporary” buildings have been at Westbury for 15 years.

“We really believe our students deserve a top notch facility with great science labs and meeting halls,” said Wainwright.  “We need better labs with better equipment.  Right now, our students are seeing demonstrations rather than being able to do the lab work themselves.”

In a press release from the PAC, we find out exactly what the HISD Bond will get us.

Under the bond proposal, 20 high schools will receive new campuses:

Austin                                     Bellaire                                   Davis

DeBakey                                 Eastwood                                Furr

HSPVA                                    Jordan                                    Lamar

Lee                                          Madison                                 Milby

North Early College               Sam Houston                         Sharpstown

South Early College               Sterling                                   Washington

Worthing                                Yates

Four high schools will be partially replaced:

Waltrip                              Westbury

Young Men’s College Prep Academy           Young Women’s Prep Academy

Four high schools will be renovated:

Jones              Kashmere                   Scarborough               Sharpstown Internationa

Five elementary schools will be converted to K-8 campuses:

Garden Oaks Montessori

Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School at Gordon

Pilgrim Academy       Wharton Dual Language School                  Wilson Montessori

Three new elementary campuses will be built:

Askew                         Parker                         Relief school on the west side

Two middle schools will replaced/completed:

Grady                                      Dowling

In addition, all HISD students will benefit from:

  • $100 million for district-wide technology improvements
  • $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms
  • $17.3 million for district-wide safety and security improvements
  • $42.7 million to replace regional field houses and improve athletic facilities

So, the debates have begun. The Pro-Bond folks hope to raise and spend over $1 million to convince voters to support the bond.

I’ll be seeking out more opinion on the HISD Bond. If you have one, and you actually live in Houston ISD, send it in!

Latinos Are Largest Minority Group in Schools, Colleges

This was predicted a long time ago, so, it shouldn’t be a surprise. There are “record numbers” of Latinos in schools and colleges today, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. I’m of the opinion that Republicans sure saw this coming, since they have sliced and diced state K-12 and higher education budgets as this phenomena while occurring.

Although we see the population shifting in K-12 schools to a point where Latinos are a majority in some school districts, it is at colleges and universities where we notice an important data point.

The number of 18- to 24-year-old Latinos in college topped 2 million in 2011, accounting for 16.5% of all enrollments, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center. The number means Latino representation in U.S. colleges and universities is on par with the percentage of Latinos among the U.S. population, also 16.5%.

The population shift will surely affect future enrollment at colleges and universities; however, to what degree?

Governor Rick Perry and the Republicans are forcing schools and universities to make more drastic budget cuts. These cuts will affect college-going and school-to-workforce type of programs. One-third of Texas university students are already in developmental (remedial) courses to play catch-up, while half of community college students are in similar courses. The challenges of college readiness will more than likely affect future enrollment and degree completion numbers. And college readiness does not only affect Latinos, but all students.

The “record numbers” reported by Pew show the potential for America’s future workforce, if only they would be taken seriously by Republican legislators when it comes to budget allocations. The 2013 Texas legislative session will have those of us who support public education fighting harder for what is right.

One thing is for sure:  If the politicians aren’t even discussing college readiness (and workforce prep), then they are missing most of the point of effectively funding K-12 and higher education.

Diaz Still Wins After Recount

Frankly, I wasn’t surprised by the news that Chris Diaz still leads after a recount requested by his opponent–even adding an additional vote in Diaz’s favor.

The 17-vote margin is unofficial, Democratic Party chairman Lane Lewis said, adding the party plans to finalize the tallies on Saturday.

I attended the last CEC meeting in which Diaz’s 16-vote victory was actually canvassed, unfortunately, it seems his opponent, Zerick Guinn, and his supporters. With the County Clerk’s error that had Guinn substantially ahead, I guess folks had questions.

At the CEC canvassing, several of our Democratic members of the ballot board stated that once the discrepancy was corrected on election night, they were very sure the final results were accurate. So, given that, I didn’t expect a recount of an electronic vote to change much in the results. I think we can continue to agree with the ineptness of the County Clerk’s office, but as far as this race is concerned, I’m hoping we can move forward.

Community Forum on HISD Bond – Monday

Over 250 members of the community are expected at the SHAPE Community Center in the 3rd Ward on Monday for a forum on the HISD Bond. Specifically, the forum’s purpose is to call for more transparency on the bonds, among other issues, from HISD administrators and its Board of Trustees.

On August 20th at 6pm dozens of local groups will host community forum on the HISD Board of Trustees approving $1.8 billion bond. The community groups are outraged at the lack of transparency in how funds will be allocated to underserved areas. The group plans to address the invited Board of Trustees with a slew of questions pertaining to the bond’s contractors, local hiring, and renovations of dilapidated schools. Many are concerned that similar issues will happen akin to the 2007 HISD Bond.

Last week many community groups representing Good Jobs Great Houston, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) and underserved areas like Acres Homes and Kashmere Gardens addressed the Board of Trustees at the HISD School Board Meeting asking specific questions about the then proposed bond. The community group left the meeting with many unanswered questions, which prompted the community forum. Trustees from District 7 and 2 have agreed to attend the forum including local politicians like Rep. Alma Allen.

DosCentavos will be there as I try to wrap my own mind around this whole bond thing, take in the negatives, and weigh them with the positives of rebuilding local high schools. Ultimately, the community must be heard and this is a good opportunity put on by dozens of organizations.

Thanks to Ar’Sheill Sinclair of Good Jobs Great Houston for keeping me informed on this matter.

When: August 20th

Time: 6PM

Where: SHAPE Community Center 3903 Almeda Road