Category Archives: Uncategorized

The 2018 Campaign Begins

donkickWell, at least for Diane Trautman, who announced she is running for Harris County Clerk in the 2018 Democratic Primary.

It’s a smart move by the current Harris County Department of Education Trustee, whose term is up in 2018. And this is an important position which, along with various administrative functions, is charged with running Harris County’s elections.

Protecting our right to vote and ensuring a reliable, secure, and convenient voting process is not new to me. As you know, I ran for Harris County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar in 2008 and 2010 and came very close to unseating incumbent Paul Bettencourt.
Additionally, I am honored to be serving on the transition team for Ann Harris Bennett, our new Harris County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar, and I will also serve on her voter registration committee. Meanwhile, I will be speaking to voters at clubs and organizations all over the county to hear their ideas, suggestions, and voting experiences. I hope to hear from you as well. Look for more details on my campaign in the new year.

Those of us who use the #FireStanStanart hashtag whenever we await election results are probably a little too excited about 2018. Of course, it will be a test for the Democratic Party, which swept the entire countywide slate in 2016. Can this be repeated in 2018? Kuff has more.

Which brings us to the race for Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. Chair Lane Lewis announced he is stepping down in February. Although he accomplished various goals as the Party Chair, Lewis wasn’t without criticism in regards to fundraising and because he ran for office while serving as Chair. Then, again, which Party Chair hasn’t been criticized for just about anything, right?

There are some rumors going around as to who is running, but I won’t say anything until I get a formal announcement. I will say that Party Chair is a thankless job, it’s unpaid, and more than a few friends have compared it to herding cats. Whomever is in the job needs to be able to deal with more than a few types of personalities which means that person must be a people-person who is able to calm fears and worries and deal with criticism effectively, while getting the job done. Kuff has his thoughts.

I would like to announce that I am NOT in the running. For now, more than one precinct chair should expect to receive phone calls asking for support since it is they who will decide who gets the job to get Dems to a victorious 2018.

Thanks to Chairman Lane Lewis for serving. I could always count on him to get a heads-up on the latest party happenings. I’m sure he’s not done serving in other ways.

 

12/8/2016: Panel Discussions on US-Mexico Business Environment

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PLEASE RSVP BY CLICKING HERE

Texas Republicans File Hateful Sanctuary Cities Bill

nomexHateful Texas House Republicans emboldened by Trump and his bigoted ilk have filed a bill that would cut state funding to so-called sanctuary cities. And their grand wizard, Dan Patrick, has made SB4 a priority.

The legislation by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, seeks to short circuit “sanctuary city” policies that prohibit or discourage police, jail personnel, prosecutors and other officials from inquiring into the immigration status of anybody who has been arrested or detained.

“By electing a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress, the American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority,” Perry said in a statement. “That starts by eliminating sanctuary cities, securing our border and enforcing the immigration laws we currently have on the books.”

Apparently, they didn’t notice that Texas counties like Harris got rid of an anti-immigrant Sheriff and DA. And they haven’t noticed that the border billions they have spent these last two sessions have been a complete failure and waste. The target is obvious.

Federalizing local police and jails is the first step to allowing racial profiling to run amok, while increasing waste in jail spending. Incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ran on a campaign to rid Harris County jail of programs like 287g, which basically puts local resources into the immigration money game. 287g and Secure Communities have been terribly flawed deportation programs which have destroyed families and affected local economies.

No, it’s not surprising that this bill came up, again. What we should be ready for is racist rhetoric and activity that will surely be thrown at the Latino and immigrant community. And there will be no one to blame but the Republican Party (and any Democrat who happens to support it). Don’t be fooled by the “security” rhetoric. Trump and the Republicans are making it obvious who it is they are targeting–Brown people.

Safety Pins, Obama, and Immigration Realities

uglyIn this day and age of Trump, it seems there are a whole bunch of groups in need of allies. Fortunately for some of the other groups, they found an ally in President Obama. When it came to immigration, though, not so much.

2.5 million deportations later, and more action happening against unaccompanied children and families escaping violence from Central America, it seems the Obama administration goes merrily along with its removal policies. If anything, they also go along with Latin American policies which have destabilized governments to the south for decades and have been the reason for much of the migration to the US.

Of course, during the last eight years, our safety pin allies have been all for these policies, since I didn’t see any safety pins during President Obama’s two terms. Sure, there was the usual support for immigration reform with no definition of it. There was support for measures such as executive orders on DACA and DAPA, but it seemed it was only as things got closer to the political season, and only after immigration reform activists (DREAMers) forced President Obama’s hand after he stated he couldn’t do executive orders “legally.” Even so, criticism of President Obama was met with anger from liberals. Even on this issue, it appeared he could do no wrong.

And before an apologist lies and says “millions” got DACAmented, the reality is that it’s only 728,000. Not much of a fair trade between (flimsy and temporary) papers and deportations, right? That’s if you think political human trading is fair.

Yes, it was a roller coaster coaster ride during these two terms. Lost opportunities and priorities between 2009 and 2010 after the President’s “term one, year one” promise. A DREAM Act that went down in flames because of 5 Democrats voting Nay. As a hand-out to Republicans, President Obama offered 2.5 million souls to deport as a means of looking tough on the issue. Private prisons made billions. And anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment remained on a slow boil. Obviously, it didn’t work. Playing politics with human beings just doesn’t work out and it only emboldens the other side. And, the other side won.

Even still, we’re finding that Latino political participation probably increased in 2016. Surely, there were a lot more new voters because of increased voter registration efforts. And despite one exit poll that stated differently, Latinos supported the Democratic candidate with 80% of the vote. Desperation? Going along to survive? For sure, defending against something worse (Trump and his ilk). No doubt, some of us were flying blind trying to stop Trump.

And, now, we’ve got Trump. Needless to say, I’ve seen lots of friends and acquaintances and others who were apologists for President Obama now worried about the immigrants. And that’s fine. We need to worry. But we also need to act. We’ve needed to act for a long time, now.

All the immigration double-talk from Trump since election day, I’m sure, is confusing. We’ve gone from a “yuge” wall to a wall in certain places (Clinton actually voted for this type of “wall” plan as a Senator); we’ve gone from “mass deportation of 11 million” to deportation of 3 million “criminals”–and we still need to define “criminal,” because even the Obama administration has deported people with low-grade non-deportable crimes or no crimes at all because of 287g and Secure Communities. I’m sure it will confuse the best allies.

Will it get worse under Trump? Obviously, many think so given 100,000 already marching in Los Angeles and thousands more around the country. Liberals and other Democrats need to stop their wincing and let the protests happen. It’s the only way to gain momentum to take on what may come after January 20. Unlike President Obama, I’m pretty sure immigration is at the top of Trump’s agenda. And we need to support organizations who will take on this issue head-on–especially those combating legislation at the Capitol or in the courts, and especially in the media.

For all the allies out there, if I sound annoyed or frustrated with you, well, it’s because I am. Yet, I still appreciate you because we’ve united on so much, too. Politically, the Democratic Party and its elected officials will not be successful without full-throated support of the immigrant community, and by extention, the overall Latino community, which has been the biggest target. For decades, we’ve had the largest police force hunting us, and for decades, we’ve been the easiest political target for both political parties. It takes people to change this. So, if you’re really an ally, join the struggle. And stick with it, even if it might offend the establishment on our side of the aisle.

 

 

UPDATED: The 29%: Who Are They?

Latino Decisions has come up with a different percentage of Latinos who voted for Trump based on better methodologies–closer to 18%. Let’s face it, the 40% for Bush back in the 2000s was pretty far-fetched and Latino pollsters also criticized that poll. Go with 18, go with 29 or split the difference, the descriptor below of Trump supporters is still right on.


vendidoI spent “the day after” watching pundits and pollsters tell me that 29% of Latinos voted for Trump. A friend of mine said it was our fault that Trump won based on the 29%. Blanket statements like that are bothersome and dangerous, and much like they’ll explain away the fact that 70% of the electorate is white and 60% of white voters voted Trump, the 29% can be explained, too.

Trump split the Latino vote in Florida between Cuban and non-Cubans. Although many didn’t like the anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Cubans’ issue is still Cuba. President Obama began normalization of relations with Cuba and the Cubans in Florida freaked. Trump capitalized on that late in the race, while Clinton only spoke anti-Commie stuff during the Primary in attempt to link socialist Bernie Sanders to the Castro brothers. Non-Cubans still voted 75% of the time for Clinton, according to exit polls.

Are there other reasons in other states? Sure. I guess some put religion over everything, although they forget some of the good parts of their religions (helping the poor) to hate on gays, women, immigrants and others. Yeah, it happens in the Latino community, too. We’re coming around, though. After 524 years of subjugation from a whole lot of non-native folks, things don’t change in a day, right?

And let’s face it, Latinos have never been 100% Democrat. We have vendidos (sell outs) in our midst. Remember the 40% who supported Bush? Romney got 27% in 2012. Trump offered the lowest common denominator and every demographic has people who get off on that kind of stuff. Just some more than others (I’m looking at you, 60% of Gringos!!). Even so, he only bested Romney by a couple of points. Some of the best vendidos (Ana Navarro, Lionel Sosa) voted for Clinton, but didn’t do much to convince their fellow vendidos, apparently.

In a year in which much work was put into replacing (by voter registration efforts) complacent Latino voters with new, energized voters, I think we did pretty good. I think, for now, 25 to 30 percent of Latinos are going to be Republicans. And you better be able to energize the other 70 to 75% with action and not just platitudes. But, that’s a whole other side of this conversation which Democrats always avoid.

*Vendido – A Sell-Out. Usually, someone who got a raise in pay and bought the cheapest house in the suburb or the biggest house in the ‘hood. Thinks they’re Republican, now, so, rails against immigrants, people on food stamps, the poor, the uninsured, etc.  Example:  Paul Rodriguez – Vendido. George Lopez – NOT Vendido. 

 

 

 

Dems Sweep Harris County

donkickWith a little help from a 12-point Hillary Clinton “victory,” the rest of the Democrats on the Harris County ballot managed to defeat every county-wide Republican in office or challenging a Democratic incumbent.

Of note from the point of view of this blogger is my once-client, still-friend Julia Maldonado who defeated her Republican opponent by over 60,000 votes in the race for the 507th Family District Court. I’m so proud of Julia, who was chosen from among several candidates in a “primary” decided by the local Dem precinct chairs. After squeaking by, she campaigned relentlessly. I mean, was that a plane with a Julia banner in the sky? Congrats Julia Maldonado!!!

Also of note was our Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez’s resounding defeat of right-winger Ron Hickman. What came to mind was Hickman’s and equally defeated DA Devon Anderson’s anti-Black Lives Matter rally-slash-press conference after the murder of a local deputy. Congrats to Ed Gonzalez and DA-elect Kim Ogg on running some great campaigns.

Of course, there was also a squeaker of a race for Tax Assessor-Collector which saw Ann Harris Bennett defeat the incumbent Mike Sullivan by a little over 7,000 votes. After a contentious primary, I have a feeling that a few Dems supported Sullivan; nonetheless, Clinton’s tide, and an active campaign by Bennett, was enough to seal the deal. Congrats to Ann.

Of course, many old friends were re-elected, such as Judge Larry Weiman. And other friends were elected, such as Judges-elect Fredericka Phillips and Ursula Hall. The list is  long, obviously. Congrats to all of them.

Then there were the “so-close” ones, which weren’t countywide, just as my friend Sherrie Matula in the race for county school board pct 2 who came up short, or Jesse Ybanez in HD-135 who garnered 45% of the vote. Or even Bill McCleod who was everywhere in his race for JP-5 and came up 4000 votes short. And I’ll also give a shout out to former client and good friend Jim Cargas in CD7 who earned a respectable 43%.

And kudos to Anne Sung who will be in a run-off for Houston ISD District VII, and to Mary Ann Perez who returns to the Texas House out of Pasadena.

It’s obvious Harris County can trend blue, even in some of the districts drawn specifically for Republicans. It also seems like Latinos in Harris County made themselves known. A quick look showed turn-out percentage increases in Latino state rep districts of anywhere from a few to 6 points. Of course, Latinos live everywhere in Harris County, so, I’m looking forward to hearing what the ultimate turnout was for Latinos.

One thing is for sure, Latinos did provide much of that margin of victory countywide. And that’s why I’m glad I got to congratulate Mario Salinas and Carlos Duarte and their team at Mi Familia Vota for their voter registration and outreach work, as well as Oscar Hernandez and Carolina Ramirez at United We Dream whose team was working hard knocking on doors. There were so many others, like the great team at Texas Organizing Project whose full-throttle campaign did what needed to be done to cause some huge victories. So, congrats to all who did the GOTV work in and for Harris County.

Obviously, I took a couple of years off from campaigns and even from blogging. I can’t say the top of the ticket excited me, but I knew it would be a catalyst locally. And Democrats winning the straight-ticket race shows more than half of Dem voters still enjoy straight-ticket voting. With Trump in office, I’m not sure how involved I’ll get, but I’m pretty sure I’ll keep blogging. The bottom line, liberals and progressives need to look inward and determine which course to take, at least nationally.

Oh, and with a bluer Harris County, there will be more challenges at the Primary level. I guess that’s healthy as long as we all don’t get crazy like some other parties.

 

VOTE TODAY!

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HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

I voted straight ticket Democrat. Yes, I settled at the top after seeing that the 3rd party offerings were just not appealing to me and Trump was just too ugly to allow to win–even in Texas. The rest of the ballot was pretty easy seeing as how, after comparing Party Platforms, it’s the Democrats who have the most forward-thinking platform and candidates.

Now, if you’re one of those “person over party” voters, you have to ask yourself:  Do you really want someone who stands by a bigoted platform? “Oh, but that person is nice” just doesn’t do it for me when the Republicans are too willing to be divisive, racist, anti-woman, and a lot more awful things.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

So, straight Democrat was the easiest choice. Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t call them out when they’re playing around once in office. I spent eight years calling out President Obama and the Democrats for not taking a real fight to the other side on immigration reform. Add to that Latin American policies, and Hillary and the Democrats are in for a mouthful (blogful) from this blogger. More on this on Wednesday.

So, get your vote on. And, then, keep an eye on those you support and get into office.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

Need a ride to the polls?

* METRO local bus, light-rail, & METROLift paratransit service: Free round-trip service to and from the polls on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. For more information, click here to visit METRO’s website.

* Texas Organizing Project: (713) 870-5674 or (832) 582-0061

* Yellow Cab: Offering free or discounted rides to the polls. Download the free zTrip app to schedule a ride in advance or contact (713) 236-1111 to have a yellow cab pick you up and take you to the appropriate polling location. The free rides are restricted to hours when the polls are open.

There are a lot of election watch parties going on, too. Search for them on Facebook.

HARRIS COUNTY:  FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION

SATURDAY 10/29: Tacos and Vote!

Early voting has been steady all week. After four days, over 293,000 have already voted in-person, while another 73,000+ have returned their ballots by mail. To put things in perspective, that’s about 47% of the total number of early voters in 2012. In only four days. (Did I get that right?)

Some locations are busier than others, but the bottom line is that during early voting, one may vote at any of the early voting locations. As is usually the case, Saturday will be very busy, but it’s a great day to vote. And there are some good folks that want to make sure you get to vote and enjoy some culture. Nothing says culture like TACOS and MARIACHIS! So, here’s a listing of Tacos and Vote polling locations.

Go get you some! And Vote!

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Scenes From Early Voting 2016

It’s been a while, but I’m getting into this whole political thing, again. I did my part and voted at Tracy Gee Center–it only took 35 minutes. If you’re wondering, #ImWithFlo and I voted a straight Democratic ticket. Some may say there might be some good judges on the other side, but for the life of me, I’ll never understand why anyone would want to be in the Party of Trump, and then expect to be considered impartial. So, I voted a straight “D” ticket, except for a couple of races in which I unclicked the Dems and left it blank.

Here are a few pics from the Early Voting Kick-Off at West Gray Center. VOTE EARLY! More pics here.

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DC Reviews – The Mavericks ~ All Night Live Vol. 1

mavsIt’s like your own personal concert in your Honda Civic.

At least, that was my reaction when I first played the full download of The Mavericks’ first project on their label, Mono Mundo Recordings. All Night Live Volume 1 takes you through a short (compared to their 2.5 hour concerts) journey of hits, some new, some from a 25+ year career that continues to attract fans of all ages.

If you’ve never been to a Mavs’ concert, this album could be a good intro to that kind of experience. The Mavericks add their own live flavor to fan favorites. Although they usually record their albums live in the studio, it’s the live shows where they add a little improv, guitaristics, pumped up squeezebox, bass, piano, and horns. And Paul Deakin’s live drumming is perfect. All of the sounds on the stage come through clearly and impeccably.

Recent single, All Night Long, opens the album with powerful horns and Raul Malo’s vocals which most describe to be “like buttah.” The first 10 of 16 tracks are from their recent works, Mono and In Time. The last third is peppered with classic Malo solo hits, like Every Little Thing About You and I Said I Love You. An eclectic live version of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is an excellent addition. And the show-closers are my personal favorites, Come Unto Me and Waiting For The World To End. The latter with a sped-up ending that knocks your boots off.

All in all, a great first album on their brand new label. Unlike other live albums by other bands, this one is all music, no between-song banter, and definitely no sing-alongs. My kind of live album.

A new studio production is in the works for Spring 2017.