Category Archives: Uncategorized

EARLY VOTING BEGINS FOR THE 2020 DEM PRIMARY

Don’t ask me about the republican primary, but I’m sure the latest KKK meeting has an event page on Facebook.

Today, Tuesday, February 18, 2020 is the first day of early voting. In Harris County, that means you can vote at any early voting location. By now, you’ve studied every race and filled out your sample ballot to take to the voting machine. Or, you can print out the #StaceSlate and use my suggestions. Or at least some of them. We can disagree on some as long as you vote for Bernie. And Royce West. And Julia Maldonado. And Audia Jones. And Natalia Cornelio. And Diana Martinez Alexander. And Ann Harris Bennett. Obviously, I’ve made it easy with the #StaceSlate.

Anyway, you have until February 28 to bank your vote. Thankfully, our County Clerk Diane Trautman (with the help of a Democratic majority on Commissioner’s Court) is making voting easier and more accessible, so you’ll be able to vote at any polling location on election day (March 3). Need a translator? Diane has made that easy, too. Need curbside voting? Here you go! Get it done early because you never know what may happen to you before election day! And don’t forget your ID.

There really is no good reason to not vote. And in Harris County, the only ones that might keep you from voting are thuggy republicans who don’t want you to vote. But we have Diane Trautman to back you up! And we have Ann Harris Bennett to make sure you stay registered to vote.

Click here for the #StaceSlate! Happy Voting!

Los Texmaniacs, Rick Treviño Give History and Culture Lessons at Heights Theater

The Heights Theater was booming on Friday night with the sounds of the Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs, along with Rick Treviño and Ringo Garza (Los Lonely Boys). Fans were taken on a trip through Chicano history and culture during the two-hour concert.

Los Texmaniacs started their set with a huapango, then immediately went into their signature rancheras, Ganas Quisiera Tener and Soy de San Luis. As they always do, they gave a quick history lesson about the origins of Tex-Mex conjunto music, then they belted out a favorite, Cancion Mixteca. With fat bass lines from Noel Hernandez, hard-driving drumming from Daniel Martinez, the sweet bellowing squeezbox of Josh Baca, and Max Baca’s dexterous bajo sexto, the joint was jumping.

Rick Treviño joined them, along with his own keyboardist Milton Walters, to belt out some of his own hits, including Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone and Better in Texas. A fan favorite was Rick and Los Texmaniacs’ Grammy-nominated I Am A Mexican. The Treviño-penned tune is about an immigrant’s struggle between being an asset to, and a target of, his adopted country. Treviño, and Walters as accompanist, then added his first song as an independent musician, Cowboys Like Me, as well as one of his first hits, Learning As You Go. He ended his solo set with She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry with him on the piano.

Los Texmaniacs came back out with Treviño to give us a treat, Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, a tribute to Freddy Fender. Max Baca then recognized Treviño as the next big Chicano country singer after Johnny Rodriguez and Freddy. Then, the crowd was treated to a rousing rendition of Volver, Volver, which turned into a sing-a-long.

But the treats weren’t over. Los Texmaniacs brought out Los Lonely Boys drummer, Ringo Garza, to play a few tunes, including a ranchera. I’d only heard Ringo play Texican Rock, but him on a ranchera really was a treat. They brought out Ringo’s son, Ringo, Jr., who at age 13 is already an accomplished guitarist, to give the crowd some blues and rock guitaristics. Whatever “IT” is, that kid’s got it.

Los Texmaniacs ended their set with the anthemic Mexico Americano, but were brought out for an encore, which included the funky, yet educational, closer Down in the Barrio.

The near-capacity crowd loved every minute of the concert and responded well to the band. For the band, it was obvious that they enjoyed giving of their art. Touring on the Grammy-nominated Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) and their indy-labeled Americano Groove, Los Texmaniacs have a lot of music on which to build their set lists. They picked the right tunes last night.

Houston Re-Elects Mayor Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner was re-elected by a landslide against a self-funded, access-buying, divisive, homophobic millionaire lawyer. With 57% of the vote and an over 25,000 vote margin, Mayor Turner earned another 4 years despite millions spent against him, bad news reporting on made-up controversies, and divisiveness from the local right-wing. Congrats to Mayor Turner and his team who seemed to run on the old adage, “steady wins the race.”

In my own District F, Tiffany Thomas was headed toward her own landslide win with 56% of the vote. She worked the district hard and earned this victory. I know she will hit the ground running.

In District H, incumbent Karla Cisneros was holding on for dear life to a 12-vote lead against organizer Isabel Longoria, who ran a strong, grassroots campaign. Longoria states she will wait for all votes to be counted before any other decisions are made. In District D, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz won handily, as did Abbie Kamin in District C. And in District J, Sandra Rodriguez came up short, unfortunately.

In the At-Large races, Raj Salhotra and Janaeya Carmouche ran great races; unfortunately, the right-wing incumbents won handily. I think we need to find out why right-wing zealots win in such a blue city. Is it color? Money? All of the above? Needless to say, young leaders like Raj, Janaeya, Isabel, and Sandra should stay in the game. They will be needed in the near future.

Thankfully, David Robinson was re-elected; and, Letitia Plummer and Sallie Alcorn will be joining him after their own strong victories against right-wing candidates. Mayor Turner will have a comfortable majority with which to enact policies and programs needed in our city.

In HCC District 1, Monica Flores-Richart cruised to victory against another right-wing zealot whom I think got too many votes inside a blue city. What’s up with that? Anyway, the people will be well-served by Trustee-to-be Flores-Richart.

Of course, District B is still up in the air. Some say it won’t be decided until May. Democracy delayed is not a good thing. Let the people vote, already!

The big losers in all of this were the firefighters union. But there is an now an opportunity for agreement on reasonable raises. And let’s remember that HR decisions should not be decided by voters. We elect our Mayor and Council to make those decisions and elections (and phones) are available to deliver a message to our elected officials regarding what policies to support.

One group that took a hit was Latinos. At this point, it seems Robert Gallegos in District I will represent all things “brown” as he is the only one who stands up and leads on Latino issues. I just wanted to point that out.

I agree with Kuff in saying that I’m glad most of this is over. I still worry that District B has become disenfranchised because of trivial BS rules that should no longer exist in this day and age. [The courts should not delay this decision any longer and the politicians should not pass this around.]

Kuff has his take.

The Stace Slate – Explained

Early Voting for the City Elections begins next week, October 21, 2019. I put out the Stace Slate (aka #TeamTacho), but I also said I’d provide some explanations. So, here goes.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER:  It’s been a tough first term for Mayor Turner. Not because he did anything bad, but he was dealt various circumstances that have made his term a busy one:  Harvey; the Harvey response from a slow-moving, low-caring federal and Texas government and leadership; budget constraints; the inability-by-law to raise more revenue to pay for services and employee raises; among other challenges. Houston has been suffering through one or more of these things for a while, now, and no mayor will have an easy time until things change at more than just the city level. That said, Mayor Turner has been exceptional at guiding the city through its trials and tribulations. Pension reform, creating opportunities for youth, and simply keeping the city moving forward through reality-based stewardship. Mayor Turner tried to meet the firefighters more than half-way, but it was obvious that one side wanted more than the City coffers could handle. Mayor Turner still dealt with this better than any of his opponents ever could. Thankfully, a supportive City Council has backed him up. No doubt, there is a lot more to be done and Mayor Turner must be at the helm to not only get things done, but to also provide the leadership to get through whatever challenges may come the way of our City.

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN:  Chris Brown has been effective at advocating for the residents of Houston, and has done an excellent job of providing Houston a good blueprint on which to base a sound budget, cost savings, better protection for employees, and, most importantly, the ability to build infrastructure with the future in mind. He’s forward-thinking and that means being in tune to the city’s reality as a diverse, international city. Brown proves his abilities on a daily basis and he has assembled a staff that backs him up. Unlike his opponent, Brown works for the people and not just another government paycheck.

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA:  I’ve supported Raj from Day 1 of meeting him. He’s just that impressive. And the campaign he has created is full of young people who have a stake in the future of Houston. Raj has centered his campaign on economic opportunity, quality of life, and flood mitigation. Whether it is giving an educational leg-up to Houston kids through community-led services, improving public transit options, or promoting sustainable development to avoid flooding, he is offering ideas that speak to the entire Houston area. On top of that, he’s a likable person–always willing to listen. I have no doubt his office will be responsive to all who need an ear, or need to be pointed in the right direction for city services.

AT-LARGE 2 – DAVID ROBINSON:  CM Robinson has been an effective member of City Council, providing a base of knowledge that only an architect can provide. Whether it’s on drainage and infrastructure, pushing for increased access to greenspaces, or budgeting and cost-savings, Robinson has led on these efforts. He deserves a final term.

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE:  I’ve known Janaeya for almost a decade, both as a campaign worker and as a public servant. She has always been committed to her tasks, and is more than ready to serve on Council. Carmouche is running on a platform that empowers communities, opportunities for small businesses, and systems-level change in government services. She states that a community that is knowledgeable of its services will be better served. That small businesses should have expanded opportunities for city contracts. And that the community will work together to solve its most pressing issues. An organizer at heart, Janaeya has the maturity and the commitment to lead through change.

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR:  I’ve known Nick for over a decade, whether it’s working on campaigns or serving constituents in City Council or state offices. Nick’s experience in government and in the private sector has given him the knowledge needed to navigate government services, work on public-private efforts, and to effectively serve constituents. Council needs a voice of reason as well as a voice for the people, and Nick has the abilities and skills to be both.

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS: Woods is the activist we need on City Council. Woods is focused on human and civil rights issues that local elected officials easily avoid, but he’s also a Houstonian who has experienced how whole communities go easily ignored by local government. He is not afraid to speak up, no matter who is in office or the political implications that come with speaking truth to power.

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY D. THOMAS:  I’ve lived in Southwest and West Houston for almost 8 years and one elected official who was noticeable was Tiffany Thomas when she served on the Alief ISD School Board. She has always advocated for all of the area’s residents, pushing for policies that address economic empowerment, the high poverty level, and decrease crime, especially from businesses dealing with human trafficking. She has always served her community, which is good for those of us who haven’t lived in it for too long.

ALIEF ISD:  Lily Truong, Rick Moreno, and Ann Williams. I’m sticking with the incumbents because Alief ISD remains one of the best districts in the area with a good leader at the helm. Let’s not mess that up.

METRONEXT – FOR:  We need more investment in mass transit and mobility. It’s that simple.

STATE AMENDMENTS (click image to enlarge):

 

FIND YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT HERE.

EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS HERE. (PDF)

EARLY VOTING :

October 21st – October 26th  7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m

October 27th   1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 28th – November 1st     7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

2019 STACE SLATE – https://doscentavos.net/2019/09/14/the-2019-staceslate/

 

 

Are We All Beto’d Out?

Lots of Texans aren’t happy about Beto running for Prez. They wanted him to run for US Senate against Cornyn. Other Texans are just Beto’d out. I consider myself part of the latter group and much of it has to do with his run-up to his grand decision–the teasing, the one-man drives to Primary country, the videos. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back–the “born to be in it” interview in Vanity Fair.

Let’s be fair, those of us who supported him in 2018 knew him to be a privileged kid from El Paso. He just happened to side with us on most issues. The article, though, really paints the picture of privilege–his annoyance with his father, yet always having his support to go to private school and Columbia University, the “tech” start-ups, the return to El Paso to the family wealth, and finally, his marriage into even more wealth. Sure, there was sadness along the way with his dad’s untimely death, but he led a charmed life on his way to his political life. And if one reads the long article, one sees the real Beto that some of us didn’t want to hear about, though, we always knew.

His father tried directing him to the New Mexico Military Institute, but O’Rourke instead applied to a prep school in Virginia called Woodberry Forest, on advice from his grandfather through marriage, Fred Korth, a former secretary of the navy in the Kennedy administration.

Of course, there’s also the stuff we liked about him.

Not to begrudge someone with added opportunities on top of what already comes with being a white male, but it’s been a bad week for those of privilege. Aunt Becky and friends are in trouble for seeking added opportunities for their already over-privileged brats. The privileged in the halls of Congress want to deeply cut the social safety net that helped families like mine during tough times. The privileged have just been pissing many of us off. And “born to be in it” Beto didn’t give some of us the warm and fuzzies. And, of course, if one delves into his voting record in Congress, well, the whole “working with Republicans” narrative is already a centerpiece of his launch. And quite annoying.

All of this said, it may just be this newer narrative that gives him a chance in the Democratic Primary against 15 (or more) opponents in multiple states beyond Texas. His campaign of positivity versus being just “anti-Trump,” of offering solutions, rather than what was offered in 2016, of being supportive of the ideas of Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez but perhaps offering a bit of moderation. It’s the kind of stuff that could unite people. Or, could make him a vice-presidential candidate for a moderate candidate with a dismal record (take your pick from the rest of the list).

At this point, I’m still with Bernie Sanders because he is right on the issues–a lot more than what the others are offering. And at this point, it’s all about the issues for me.  I want stances on issues that will keep Democrats in check. Because if the Democratic Party is strategizing based on what moderates and Republicans are saying and thinking, then a whole lot of people will stay home, yet again, because they are being excluded, yet again. If Democrats don’t learn anything from the 2016 strategy, then we’re in for another disaster.

Anyway, happy candidate-seeking to all!

The Tejas Progressive Roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates last week’s wins and looks to build on them as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff has some fun with the Harris County Republican Party and its ridiculous whining about straight ticket voting.

SocraticGadfly had a three-part election wrap. First, he looked at general hot takes, trends and issues from races. Second, he observed that conservative writers at centrist political mags were getting out the long knives for Beto, maybe in fear of a 2020 presidential run. Third, noting successful Democratic Socialist of America campaigns, he wondered if they would stay true to ideals once in office, and other issues, above all, the use of the word “socialist.”

=====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Colin Strother makes the case for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Therese Odell vents about the Saturday Night Live/Dan Crenshaw situation.

Sanford Nowlin reports on how progressives hope to build on 2018.

Paradise in Hell interprets the Presidential appointment-making process.

Grits for Breakfast looks at the 2018 results through a criminal justice reform lens.

Dan Gordon cuts through the anti-Semitic crap.

The Tejas Round-Up (TPA)

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges everyone who has voted to work to get more people to the polls as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the potential ticket-splitters in this year’s election.

SocraticGadfly does some number-crunching on the early voting surge and offers a quick hot take on what it might mean for the Cruz-O’Rourke Senate race.

Stace at Dos Centavos reports on the weekend’s voting and cultural activities in the Northside and The Heights.

==========================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Sanford Nowlin reminds us that some Christians do support progressive ideas and politics.

The TSTA Blog begs teachers to support public education at the ballot box.

Rick Casey votes No on a license plate honoring Confederate soldiers.

YesNoBlog suggests we pay attention to the security of our GPS systems.

Paradise in Hell ranks Donald Trump’s favorite dictators.

Out in SA warns of a threat to San Antonio’s non-discrimination ordinance.

The Tejas Round-Up – TPA

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges everyone to get out and vote as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff published an interview with Kim Olson, the Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner.

SocraticGadfly, collating and expanding on several previous posts and Twitter interactions, explained why he plans to undervote the U.S. Senate race.

Stace at DosCentavos got what he wanted in a Beto O’Rourke immigration ad. In fact, Beto hit Cruz pretty hard.

=================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Leah Binkovitz looks at the question of whether Houston’s light rail line has helped to reduce traffic pollution.

Christof Spieler analyzes the so-called “sharing” economy as another aspect of sharing space in a city.

Better Texas Blog catalogs the ways in which our state tax system is unfair.

Juanita names her favorite moment from the Cruz-O’Rourke debate.

Texas Vox finds meaning in organizing after reading the IPCC report.

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for voting to begin as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff interviewed Attorney General candidate Justin Nelson, and Harris County Judge candidate Lina Hidalgo.

SocraticGadfly was at an education-related campaign forum for a group of statewide and Northeast Texas regional candidates and offers a few takes.

Stace reports on a GOTV rally and concert held in Houston’s East End featuring Little Joe y La Familia and a cast of Dem favorites. FYI: Little Joe is like Willie Nelson famous in the Tex-Mex world of music. Grammys and everything.

=====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Juanita sees some hope in evangelical women.

Paradise in Hell is glad to see the Catholic Church finally releasing names of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Rick Casey is skeptical of the latest agreement regarding the Alamo.

Therese Odell has had it with Melania Trump.

The Current salutes Texas hero Joe Bob Briggs.

Finally, the TPA wishes Texas Leftist all the best as it transitions from blogging to podcasting.

HISD Tactics: Reminders of the Good Ol’ Days

I have a running joke whenever something occurs at Houston ISD.

“Don’t look at me, I live in Alief ISD.”

But Houston ISD’s possible move to place 10 of its schools under a charter corporation whose record is iffy at best is concerning since all of us will be affected in one way or another.

The abrupt end to the meeting when the school board decided to have enough public comment on the issue was ugly in that leadership was lacking. Watching (on TV) constituents dragged by HISD police was scary in that you have black and brown and white families being thrown out of a building for which they pay taxes. But much of this could have been avoided at different times.

For last night, perhaps HISD’s tactics and rules were a bit much. Fewer seats for the public at meetings; no standing in the room, but there’s an overflow room elsewhere; limited public speaking time; no applause; etc. I remember reading that the gringo school boards did this to Chicanos in my hometown of Crystal City when families were showing up to school board meetings to demand justice from those they elected. The more they showed up, the more rules would trickle out with the hopes of stifling progress and activism.

Well, I don’t expect these tactics to work, as they didn’t work then.

The bigger problem is a Republican-led Texas Legislature which has failed to fix school finance. Decades of a system designed to ensure poor districts were adequately funded has been met by an economic system that has made the wealthy wealthier, the poor poorer, and the middle class stagnant. And while Houston’s wealthy seem to have provided us with a lot of property wealth that makes Houston ISD seem like a wealthy school district, the bottom line is that the district is 85% black/brown and 75% economically disadvantaged. The wealth hasn’t trickled down. Thus, the current school finance system penalizes a wealthy-looking district like Houston with mostly poor kids in attendance and sends much needed tax dollars elsewhere to districts who are indeed property poor. And no one in charge in Austin seems to want to change this, or even want to achieve any kind of fairness for all.

The rules the TEA has imposed on schools–forcing the creation of charter arrangements, threatening to take over school boards-has placed an even bigger burden on the people we elect to create and oversee school policies. To the point where they’ll do just about anything to keep their elected positions, or the access that comes with it. School boards should be siding with the people–in the board room and not just outside after the meeting is ended.

This is a great formula which has the least among these three groups fighting for scraps. And a power base that can blame the other two groups (and the groups among them) for all the troubles. Obviously, all of this came to a head at the HISD board meeting last night. And the school board was met with a united front.

As much as it seems that last night’s meeting was about someone over-applauding or being loud, the problem is a systemic one that has been avoided by those in power, and, yes, those who fail to vote.

Still, one should expect better from elected officials than rules designed to stifle activism and discussion.

UPDATE:  HISD Nixes Partnership Plans (Chron)