Category Archives: Uncategorized

Will Houston Sue Texas for SB4?

traveladvisoryAt a community forum in which Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chief Art Acevedo and others participated, it seemed the City’s priorities did not include any concrete decisions regarding SB4. At least, not until later.

Turner said that his administration would evaluate the bill after the legislative session ends May 29.

For those of us who would be targeted for racial profiling by local cops (it’s not just immigrants, but brown people in general), the lack of prioritization on challenging SB4 and defending from Republican targeting of Latinos has left a community wondering if it matters to elected leaders.

From Turner, the response to SB4 all along has been the same:

“I want you to know that Houston will be a welcoming, just and compassionate city that will work to protect all people from discrimination.”

Acevedo who had previously said that his department would not be a local INS, changed his commentary, though:

Acevedo made clear that police will be required to fill out a report and detail why they felt it necessary to ask someone’s immigration status.

“If you stop somebody for jaywalking and the only reason you’re asking because they don’t speak English,” Acevedo said, “that will be profiling, and we will not tolerate it.”

So, it is pretty obvious that, much like Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, HPD intends to follow the law. But there is no indication of whether Houston will join other smaller cities and the City of Austin in suing the State of Texas to challenge the law’s constitutionality. Certainly, I don’t expect the right-wing-heavy commissioners court at the County level to do anything, and certainly, Judge Ed Emmett has remained quiet. Frankly, the City’s lawyers should already be studying the law in anticipation of a decision to sue BEFORE it goes in effect on September 1.

In my opinion, nothing says “welcoming city” like a city suing the state government because of a racist law that targets at least 50% of the population. Certainly, it would show the city’s leaders are fighting for people, and not just using “diversity” as a means to increase tourism and business profits.

No doubt, Mayor Turner is awaiting the fate of the pension bill, which is the city leadership’s top priority. But as much as our city’s coffers should be a priority, so should its inhabitants. Immigrant or not, brown or not, we all pay taxes and shouldn’t live in fear of our own law enforcement. And if city coffers are the priority, certainly, Mayor Turner and the City Council should also consider the feasibility of SB4’s enactment and its effect on HPD’s budget, considering that being a Local INS will cost a lot more–in monetary term and in terms of crime-reporting, as the Chief has already specified.

Obviously, let’s stay tuned.

 

 

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DC Reviews: La Santa Cecilia ~ Amar y Vivir

81ezh15i8xl-_sy355_Released just in time for their arrival to Texas, La Santa Cecilia’s Amar y Vivir can only be described in a word:  Special. It’s a visual album, with already a few videos of their album performances on YouTube.

It’s traditional, it’s modern, and it’s full of love and life. The LA band’s newest production was recorded live in Mexico City at various plazas and locations around the city. With invited guests, such as Comisario Pantera, Noel Schajris, Mariachi America, Rebel Cats, Caña Dulce Caña Brava, Mon Laferte, and the amazing voice of Eugenia León to sweeten the various tunes, we are given a musical effort that will remain timeless.

Equally timeless is the voice of La Marisoul (Marisol Hernandez) who seems to knock every tune out of the park. While the guest artists provide some beautiful accompaniment, La Marisoul provides the emotional push to ensure a strong delivery of the songs.

The title track, Amar y Vivir, a haunting bolero thanks to some exceptional electric guitar playing, opens the album, while the amazing vals, Odiame, follows, both tunes solidifying the requinto as central to the album. LSC resurrects an old favorite of theirs with a mariachi-powered version of Como Dios Manda. Mar y Cielo is a sweet bolero, while the rockin’ ranchera Mexico Americano is a needed prideful addition.

La Santa Cecilia also managed to send me into a bawling frenzy during this Mother’s Day weekend with a beautiful rendition of Amor Eterno. Needless to say, I really miss Flo.

Volver a Los 17 is a beautiful tune, while Mon Laferte joins in on a wonderful vals, Ingrata. Then, we’re provided quite the treat with Smokey Robinson’s  You Really Got A Hold On Me, which La Marisoul simply owns.

Leña de Pirul is an old standard brought to life again, while Nuestro Juramento is a a beautiful bolero that will get your toes tapping along with lyrics to make us shudder. But it’s the last track, En El Ultimo Trago, which La Marisoul duets with Eugenia Leon, that will get a concert crowd to sing-along.

No doubt, it’s the voice of La Marisoul and the requinto-playing of Pepe Carlos that set this album apart from others in which standards are attempted. With the simple instruments of guitars and requinto, percussion, and upright bass, a foundation is set for an album that treats the songs respectfully and without a need to be showy. La Santa Cecilia is a band of musicians who take their music seriously, and this genre-bending LA band can compete with the best of them.

The new production is available on CD and vinyl. Get yours today!

THE CONCERT at HEIGHTS

La Santa Cecilia came to Texas to perform in the Big 3– SA, Houston, and Dallas–and I was able to check out their show at the Heights Theater. It was the perfect venue for them and a great crowd greeted them on Saturday.

LSC started with their bilingual rendition of The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, to which they once released a video depicting the travels of the strawberries that end up in our fridges–starting from the fields worked by farm workers. A few LSC favorites into the show, the crowd was told that Hernandez was feeling under the weather, so, she wouldn’t be doing her usual dancing and jumping on the stage which in itself revs up the crowd.

Still, La Marisoul powered through Vengo, I Won’t Cry For You, Sucede and other favorites, only taking a short minute break toward the end of their set. Their show included some of their latest tunes from Amar y Vivir, including the show closer, Mexico Americano, which earned some “Power to the People” fists in the air.

As much as one loves their albums, you can tell how good a band is through their live performances and La Santa Cecilia is just one of those bands. La Marisoul proved that the show must go on and she delivered vocal perfection. Catch them next time they’re in town.

Opening for La Santa Cecilia was San Antonio genre-benders Nicolas Valdez y Los Nahuatlatos. They can go from SKA to conjunto to cumbia and return to all three and more in one set. Valdez was quite impressive on the acordeon as was the horn and rhythm section.

I’m looking forward to the next time I catch both of these bands.

 

5/21/17 ~ Let’s Celebrate Muriel Stubbs

Early in April, we lost an amazing friend in Muriel Stubbs (obituary). For Harris County Democratic Party faithful, she was a committed volunteer who kept the office running smoothly on her day to manage it. She kept the volunteers busy and fed (usually Thomas BBQ or Hartz Fried Chicken). As far as Democratic conversations went, she was a source of history, but enjoyed seeking out others’ point of view just for the added discussion.

For me and my family, she was a wonderful friend, and a resource for all things having to do with literature and historical facts. She was a sweet friend to my mother, Flora, whom we lost over 15 months ago, too. Never had I seen two amazing women with very different upbringings get along so well and converse for hours on just about anything. Needless to say, after Mom left us, we still had a viejita to visit, have dinners and conversations with, and with whom to talk politics and life. And my family is better for it.

I’m thankful for Muriel being in our lives. I will miss her.

Muriel’s family and friends have scheduled a memorial service to be held Sunday, May 21, 2017. Much in Muriel’s style, it will be simple and casual. Although light snacks and cake will be served, the hall will provide a cash bar for beer, wine, and soft drinks.

A life so beautifully lived

deserves to be beautifully remembered

Please join us as we celebrate the life of

Muriel Stubbs

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

2 to 4 p.m.

American Legion Post 560

Garden Oaks

3720 Alba Road

Houston, TX 77018

 

Coward Abbott Signs Mexican Profiling Law (SB4)

trumpfamilycrossing950Or, he’s outlawed brown skin. Whatever you want to call it, SB4 calls for allowing local law enforcement to racially profile anyone who looks Mexican and question their citizenship. It is also called the “anti-sanctuary cities” law. The law is scheduled to take effect September 1, but legal challenges will hopefully delay it and kill it.

Senate Bill 4 makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to Class A misdemeanor charges if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates who are subject to deportation. It also provides civil penalties for entities in violation of the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for each subsequent infraction. The bill also applies to public colleges.

The final version of the bill included a controversial House amendment that allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, as opposed to being limited to a lawful arrest.

In cowardly fashion, Abbott picked a Sunday afternoon when the targeted communities are usually resting before heading back to the work-week. Abbott also invoked a California crime committed by an immigrant in defense of targeting all brown-skinned people with this law.

Made a legislative priority by Greg Abbott and pushed by the Republicans in the Texas Legislature, SB4 was supported by Republicans and strongly opposed by Democrats. In fact, Democrats put up a good fight and pro-migrant activists showed up to oppose Republican’s bigoted efforts in huge numbers when the measure was taken up in committees and by the House and Senate.

“Governor Abbott signed SB4 on a Facebook live while immigrant families all across Texas were spending time with their loved ones. We condemn this action and we will continue to fight for our families and our communities.  We are here to stay and continue to make Texas the amazing state is is because immigrants built this nation.” Cesar Espinosa Executive Director FIEL.

Click Images Below to Enlarge

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More to come.

DC Reviews ~ The Mavericks, Lonely Boys

I had never been to Whitewater on the Horseshoe Amphitheater located outside of New Braunfels. The park-like setting within huge trees and right by where the river forms a horseshoe was perfect for what seemed like a Catholic church jamaica (or bazaar for Houston folk) on steroids.

A few thousand of my closest friends braved 90 degree heat standing in line and awaiting the start of the concert only to catch the arrival of a “cool” blast that lowered temps to the mid-60s, while gusts made the night quite chilly. It was quite welcome by the fans and especially the bands.

mavswwThe Mavericks headlined in explosive fashion, opening with their latest single Brand New Day, from their newest album of the same title. Playing hits from BND consecutively, the band was tight and on time on Easy As It Seems and Damned (If You Do) which revved up the crowd. Vocalist Raul Malo led the ba nd back to their previous album with Back In Your Arms Again and other hits.

Hit after hit, The Mavs took us through a career-long repertoire in only two hours, including Dance The Night Away, What A Crying Shame, among others. Raul Malo even took the role of pianist while he offered up a velvety Goodnight Waltz and a rockin’ Ride With Me, both tunes where we hear the best from the entire band. A welcome tune (for me) was one of Malo’s solo hits, Lucky One.

And, oh, The Mavericks band. Eddie and his guitaristics, Michael Guerra and his impeccable accordionistics, JD and his groovy keyboard riffs, Abrams and Diaz with their solid horns, the powerful drumming of Paul Deakin, and the bass lines of Ed Friedland are what keep The Mavericks at the top of their game. There have been plenty of varying line-ups of The Mavs and their Fantastic Four, but this one has to be among the best.

After what seemed to be the closing with As Long As There’s Loving Tonight at midnight, Malo returned with his Fender and gave us, in honor of Willie Nelson’s 84th birthday, Crazy. He continued with a favorite that his Cuban abuelo would sing, La Sitiera, with a powerful ending provided by the rest of the band. Then came the song we love, but don’t want to hear because it usually signifies the show’s ending:  All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down. The Mavericks blew us away throughout the night.

After four hours and three bands and a terrible electrical storm that could be seen in the distance, the fans had had their fill, if not enough. The Mavericks showed a lot of love for their fans and the fans, as always, returned it.

lboysLos Lonely Boys performed prior to The Mavs and the three-man band was just as powerful as they’ve ever been. They took us through some of the best tunes from their latest album, Revelation. Give A Little More, Blame It On Love, and So Sensual were among the new tunes. They took us back to their debut album with Velvet Sky and Crazy Dream. Several solos and some Texican Blues later, they brought out Henry’s son on guitar to help with their gigantic hit, Heaven, which then became a family affair as JoJo and Ringo also brought out their families to sing along with the crowd.

The night’s opener didn’t fall behind in their musical abilities, as The Last Bandoleros gave us a short show filled with tunes from their EP, including I Don’t Want To Know and Where Do You Go. The band, which includes Emilio Navaira’s eldest sons (Diego and Emilio IV) rocked out and gave the overheated crowd some satisfaction before the cold winds arrived. Already having appeared on national TV and serving as show openers for Sting’s latest tour, The Last Bandoleros, including Derek James, Jerry Fuentes, and bad-ass accordionist Percy Cardona, are already going places.

Kudos to the folks at Whitewater for providing a great venue and some amazing sound.

 

EVENT on 4/24/17: Future of Public Ed in the Era of DeVos

amunited

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Greater Houston Chapter

invites you to our Annual Meeting and Panel Discussion 

The Future of Public Education in
the Era of Betsy DeVos

Featuring:  Richard Carranza, Supt., Houston ISD; Zeph Capo, President of HFT,  Dr. John Ogletree, Pastors for Texas Children

Moderated by Juliet Stipeche
Director of Education, Mayor’s Office, City of Houston
 
Monday, April 24, 2017
Reception and Annual Meeting – 6:30 pm
Panel Discussion – 7:15 pm
 
Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Event Center
3303 Main Street, Houston, Texas 
 
Event is free and open to the public          Free parking available
         RSVP appreciated:  americansunited.houstonchapter@gmail.com

 

 

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance really just wanted to celebrate the return of baseball as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff has a bunch of updates about various Texas voting rights-related lawsuits.

SocraticGadfly took note of the centennial of American entry into World War I and noted why, in detail, we never should have gotten involved.

The 59-Tomahawk Tweet Trump sent to Syria isn’t paying off in polling dividends just yet, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value commented on the Republican access for all plan for basketball. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

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

The TSTA Blog reminds us that private school vouchers remain a really bad idea.

Better Texas Blog gives us ten things to know about the House budget proposal.

Paradise in Hell has a few choice words for former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss.

Raise Your Hand Texas introduces us to Mr. Voucher III: The Frankenvoucher.

Lila Mankad explains why the Legislature should let cities regulate plastic bags if they choose to.

Michael Li has the latest updates in the Texas redistricting litigation.

Texas: Stop SB4!

While some people talk old tax returns, here’s a little something Texas liberals can do to stop hate in their own state.

stopsb4

I’ve been told this is futile. Of course, I’m told by people who think CheetoDude is actually going to get impeached. Anyway, do something, people!

DC Reviews: Joe Posada ~ Zapatos En La Mano

joeposadaJoe Posada, San Antonio’s Jazz and Tejano saxmaster, returns with a full-length production, Zapatos En La Mano, under his own Baby Dude Records. Posada continues to showcase his songwriting skills in this 10-tune album recorded at V-Music with production and arrangements by Grammy winning Gilbert Velasquez.

Posada assembled some of the Alamo city’s best session musicians, including Chente Barrera-Drums; Henry Brun-Percussion; Juanito Castillo-Squeezebox; Chris Guerrero-Keys; Eddy Perez-Bajo Sexto and Bass; Andrew Bergman-Upright Bass; and Gilbert Velasquez-Guitars. Joe Posada, Jr. backs him up on Cafecito De Tus Ojos.

The lead-off single, Tres Opciones, is quite the tune with Posada’s sax and Castillo’s accordion playing off of each other. Joe effectively uses his vocal range to deliver this ranchera. Que Cosas Hizo Dios is a follow-up ranchera which delivers its message with some powerful phrases, like, “que chulada de mujer.” I must admit, I’ve been using that kind of lingo, lately. Odiame is a standard Joe Posada ranchera–sax-heavy and very danceable–with a message to a well-replaced ex.

Posada and Velasquez seem to enjoy chord progressions throughout the album, but they are really noticeable on Palabra De Hombre, a romantic ballad given extra power with some sax and guitar solos and fills. Daring to be different, Hermosura De Mujer gives listeners a bit of bossa nova which, along with Posada’s flute, proves his versatility. Posada throws in a sexy sax instrumental, Nunca Digas Nunca–great when in need of a romantic background.

Posada dares to be different, as always, and it is very noticeable with Zapatos En La Mano‘s jazzy opening toward a solid ranchera Tejana. The tune’s lyrics are written with a little barrio lingo, while proclaiming his rightful place with the subject, despite her late-night antics. Valga La Pena is bolstered by Velasquez’s guitar throughout the song, while the powerful lyrics tell it like it is:  “Si voy a perder el orgullo sera por alguien que valga la pena.” Cafecito De Tus Ojos can easily become ones favorite tune, with its boot-stomping melody, fun lyrics sung by Joe and Joe, Jr., and its bajo sexto and accordion combos.

One of my favorite tunes on the album is El Secreto, a sweet accordion-heavy bolero, with its beautiful lyrics, “Con todo mi respeto, le cuento mi secreto, que por toda eternidad, yo la voy a amar.”

Zapatos En La Mano offers up a much needed Tejano music fix that needs to become part of the daily playlist. Posada offers up some cool tunes that will have you singing in the car and humming them at inopportune times. That’s when you know it’s good music.

I was lucky to catch Joe Posada’s Trio at the River Walk’s 507 Lounge and they’re there every weekend. But I’d sure like to catch the full band playing a couple of hard-core Tejano sets, particularly some of these new tunes. Joe Posada is one of the most respected saxophonists in the music industry and the fact that he continues to grace us with some amazing Tejano music shows his commitment to keeping La Onda strong and relevant.

One may purchase Zapatos En La Mano at JoePosada.com.

 

Sheriff Gonzalez Ends 287(g)

trumpfamilycrossing950As the Trump regime continues its onslaught against Mexicans and other Latinos, immigrant and citizen, with a steroid-laden immigrant hunting plan, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended its 287(g) agreement with ICE, citing a burden on resources and the need to place resources out in the field.

The withdrawal of the sheriff’s deputies will still allow ICE officials to come to the jail and screen jail inmates to determine their immigration status and the county will hold them for deportation if requested, Gonzalez said.

The sheriff said serious overcrowding in the county jail complex, where staff shortages have hiked overtime costs to $1 million every two weeks, has forced him to deploy his ICE-trained deputies elsewhere. He said his decision was not political “but an issue of resources,” explaining the deputies may also be assigned to help improve clearance rates of major crimes or ad to the patrol division.

“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” said Gonzalez, who sent ICE officials notification of his decision Tuesday. “We’ll still be cooperating with local, state and federal authorities as we always have, we just won’t have our manpower resources inside the jail doing that.”

The thing about local jails is that they’ve usually had the ability to report immigration detainers  that pop up on the national database so that ICE can pick up folks at their own discretion and with their own use of resources (other than local jailers). 287(g), which was always a voluntary program, used local resources to exclusively work on increasing deportation numbers in quicker fashion, including low-grade offenders who were not targets for deportation.

Of course, this was evident during the Obama era which broke deportation records, and counties like Harris and Arizona’s Maricopa were among the leaders in helping increase deportation numbers, while Congress did nothing to fix a broken immigration system. It wasted resources and was purely a political tool for whomever was in office at any level. Let’s face it, it became part of Obama’s push for “comprehensive immigration reform” as a possible dealmaker to offer Republicans. It didn’t work, obviously. Because it was in place, it also caused stress for good elected officials who wanted to rid their agencies of the flawed program, but had to deal with threats from right-wing elected officials.

For Sheriff Gonzalez, who also recently provided a statement against Senate Bill 4, the so-called anti-sanctuary city bill currently in the Texas House, he will have to deal with the ire of right-wingers like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and some of the members of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Gonzalez, though, has the right idea. His decision is all about resources and public safety, while the Republican and Trump plans are all about fear and hate. And that should be the narrative of this debate.

This decision has been a long time in coming. This blogger had quite a few debates with the previous Democratic Sheriff Adrian Garcia about 287(g). And his Republican replacement was pretty much useless on the issue. Unfortunately, the Trump regime is hell-bent on hunting Mexicans and others. And even a lack of 287(g) will still leave an open door for Trump and his immigrant hunters at local jails. Add SB4, if Texas House Speaker Straus allows it to move forward, and local law enforcement could still be a part of the terror.

What people must understand is that we are in a whole different era. The same “bipartisan” rules no longer apply. Given Trump’s attitude, not even civil discussion. The right-wing, anti-immigrant members of Congress and state elected officials we dealt with in the past now have a leader to do everything they’ve ever wanted. And Republicans (and Democrats) who simply sit back and say nothing are just as bad, or worse, than those we’re dealing with today. Hate is hate. It cannot be defended.

The political implications are enormous, though. And 2018 is right around the corner. Republicans are useless, but Democrats still could rebuild into something with a spine, especially on immigration, detention, and deportation issues. It’s the one issue that they’ve felt useful for campaigns, as if they were actually going to attract bigoted votes in gubernatorial elections (2014). Instead, it demoralizes voters–base voters. Even voters like me, lifelong Dems, who have felt a need to skip around candidates during the last decade because they’ll say something stupid on immigration, or on child refugees from Central America, feel disconnected with the Democrats. Something’s gotta give.

For now, though, things seem ominous, even with a victory like ridding Harris County of 287(g) (Kudos to United We Dream-Houston). Trump’s new immigrant hunting plan expands the targets to include many more undocumented immigrants than the Obama era. Whether Trump sends out deportation forces or not, the fear is unsettling and certainly destabilizes communities and local economies. The Republican intent has never been about public safety, but about hate.

It’s time for ALL to fight back, and for the fight not to be left only to the immigrants under attack. Stand for all!