Category Archives: Uncategorized

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that everyone counts and everyone should be counted as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes two more looks at precinct data in Harris County from the primary races.

Socratic Gadfly offers some updates on what now clearly appears to be a weird triangle in Marlin between Houston real estate “flippers,” a former VA hospital building, and the General Land Office and P. Bush.

Neil at All People Have Value again made the point that there is authoritarian/Constitutional crisis on the way.

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

Luke Amphlett criticizes the San Antonio ISD handbook on SB4, the so-called “sanctuary cities” law.

Therese Odell sees a chance for the Roseanne reboot to open a national dialogue on important issues, but fears it will take the easy way out.

Durrel Douglas unveils a project aimed at placing more Black people on government/NGO Boards and Commissions.

The Texas Living Waters Project reminds us that urban wildlife and people need healthy creeks and streams, not channelized ditches.

Amy Pearl asks who “walkability” is for.

BeyondBones explores the origins of timekeeping.

Guest Texan Aviva Shen examines the primary ouster of McLennan County DA Abel Reyna.

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TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the marchers as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed the Harris County precinct data for the Democratic Senate primary.

SocraticGadfly offers his thoughts on the lawsuit by Seth Rich’s parents.

Stace offers his thoughts on law enforcement and media portrayal of the Austin bomber.

As if last weekend’s March For Our Lives events weren’t epic enough, Texas Leftist was glad to see some Houston Area high school students start yet another impressive movement. By bringing prominent Democratic and Republican leaders together in ways that political forces have fallen short, the Inaugural Day of Unity Texas is off to a great start.

Neil at All People Had Value made the point that we are facing an authoritarian/Constitutional crisis.

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

Stephen Young lists ten Texas celebrities who ought to get into politics, a list that might have been a bit more useful before the primaries.

Space City Weather explains why a hurricane forecast for 2018 will be a challenge.

Jeff Balke puts the blame on negligent drivers for the spate of car crashes with light rail trains in Houston.

Dwight Silverman shows how to manage your Facebook privacy settings.

Mean Green Cougar Red takes a long look at the Uber self-driving car that caused the death of a bicyclist.

SATX: TMA Fan Fair 2018 Mar. 15-18

From the inbox:

TEJANO MUSIC AWARDS FAN FAIR 2018

Set for March 15, 16, 17, 18, 2018 at Historic Market Square San Antonio

Four Days of  FREE Non-Stop Tejano Music

Over 200 Tejano Bands from Across the U.S.A & Mexico

Performances by  Michael Salgado, Jay Perez, Los Palominos, Hometown Boys, Stefani Montiel, Tony Guerrero y La Sombra, Los Garcias Bros,  DJ Kane, Isabel Marie, Dezigual, La Tropa F, Lucky Joe, Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Eddie Gonzalez, Augustine Ramirez, David Farias, and many more to be Announced

SAN ANTONIO, TX (02-15-2018) – Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) presents the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2018. Set for March 15-18, 2018. (ThursdaySunday). Thousands of Tejano Music Fans from across the country will travel to Historic Market Square in Downtown San Antonio for the Tejano Music event of the year.

The four-day event  runs from 12:00 noon to 11:00pm each night and will showcase over 200 bands from across the U.S. to include Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida and of course Texas. The TMA Fan Fair draws over 95,000 die-hard fans each year and offers an up close and personal atmosphere with live music on five stages featuring emerging acts and top established performers as well as surprise guest performances.

There will be a variety of foods and beverages at this family oriented event as well as crafts booth selling t-shirts, caps various items and face painting for the kids. Fans will get exclusive access to their favorite artists participating in the special autograph sessions featuring Miss Reina Latina San Antonio Sydney Gonzalez and Miss Reina Latina San Antonio Teen Giselle Gomez scheduled during the four days of TMA Fan Fair.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Scheduled to perform this year Michael Salgado, Jay Perez, Stefani Montiel, Los Palominos, Hometown Boys, Ricardo Castillon Y La Diferenzia, Isabel Marie, Ben Ozuna, Sunny Sauceda, Fama, DJ Kane, La Calma, David Farias, Eddie Gonzalez, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers, Joe Bravo, Patsy Torres, Avizo, Conjunto Romo, Adalberto, Rio Jordan, Stephanie Lynn, Da Krazy Pimpz, Boni Mauricio, Bajo Zero, Los Garcias Brothers, Bad Boyz De Valle, Massore Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Carlos y Los Cachorros , Pio Trevino , Xelencia, Augustine Ramirez , Massore, Joe Posada and many more.

San Antonio, the “Tejano Music Capital of the World”, will host the 38th Annual Tejano Music Awards Show in the Fall of 2018.

For the latest information on Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2018 and performance schedule please visit the official website  at www.tejanomusicawards.comSchedule is subject to change.

Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2018 Sponsors : Budweiser, Hermes, MetroPCS, 7up, Squirt, WellMed, RDS Marketing

Not A Good Time for Mandatory Anything Right Now

During a time in which a good chunk of people aren’t fans of federal government (or who’s in charge of it), when there is distrust of law enforcement and politicians in charge, and when government is negatively targeting entire groups of people while benefiting others, it may not be a good time to do mandatory anything, especially mandatory volunteer service for all.

That’s not to say Beto O’Rourke’s idea is a bad one, it’s just one of those policy things that gets pretty mucked up when people demand specifics rather than general campaign talking points. Because entire groups of people can get screwed once specifics are discussed. It’s kind of like how I feel when I hear politicians say they “support comprehensive immigration reform.” I want specifics because too many times, specifics like walls or temporary worker visas or “legalization vs citizenship” can screw entire groups of people.

As a young college student, I had big dreams of serving my community, state, and nation. No, not in the military, but in helping run things–legislation, departments, etc. Being a poor kid from South Texas living on student loans and the few grants that hadn’t been cut yet, though, it was hard to “volunteer” for a government internship, drive 80 miles a day to/from Austin, and try to impress some VIPs when bills had to be paid. So, a non-political job on campus and one in a call center had to do, while kids with influential parents or just plain ol’ family money could get most of the opportunities. Needless to say, sometimes one has to make ones own opportunities to do what one enjoys.

That said, the thought of a mandatory volunteer service program brought back memories about how it might work. Will the rich kids get the better volunteer opportunities with a phone call and a campaign donation? Can a poor kid from South Texas get some sort of incentive and “political” support that the privileged brats usually get to end up in a good opportunity? Because the service should end up amounting to something tangible, and not just student loan forgiveness and a spot on the resume detailing some crappy mandatory volunteer placement. In other words, how exactly would it work? Given that it’s mandatory, folks should have equality of options and not just the usual placement made by a political appointee.

I’ll be honest, I enjoyed some placement assistance when I was a teen in need of work. In my little town of 8,000 in South Texas, one of my dearest friends’ dads was the local city manager. So, when I put in my application for a job through JTPA (look it up), my friend advised her dad to pick me. She knew of my love of government at an early age and work ethic, so, her dad trusted the recommendation. Working for $3.35 an hour in the City’s finance department and sometimes being shared with the Planning Department was a great experience. Unfortunately, when a small-town kid moves to the big college and wants to work in big government,  the lack of opportunity because of forces out of ones control was quite the shock. Which is why options are important so that one doesn’t have to go through friends and connections.

So, yeah, no doubt being of service is important, but specifics are very important. And ensuring equality of opportunity is even more important. And without that kind of specificity (and bad memories of getting passed up by brats), it was just too hard to embrace Beto’s idea.

DREAMers May Continue As Political Football

Word from Politico is that Trump and his ilk will end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that has allowed over 700,000 children of immigrants to obtain work permits and continue their studies, as well as not having a deportation target on their backs.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

No, it’s not surprising, given that it was a campaign promise made by Trump. But, much like anything regarding immigration and immigration reform, it did not start with Trump. In fact, the so-called DREAMers, the name given to those who benefit under DACA and those who would have benefited under legislation called the DREAM Act, have been a political football for quite a while.

The DREAM Act itself was first introduced as bipartisan legislation in 2001 by Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. What should have been a no-brainer because these kids were academic successes and hard workers wanting to become taxpayers, ended up with them relegated to “amnesty” seekers in the political fight in the media. And that such legislation serves as a “magnet” for the undocumented. You know, the Republican Party’s Greatest Hits album.

Introduced, changed, and re-introduced since then, it was in 2010 when it finally gained momentum. By the end of 2010, a Democratic House of Representatives voted for it; however, a cloture motion to stop debate on the bill failed in a Democrat-controlled Senate by a vote of 55-41, five short of the 60 required. Five Democrats voted no as they were more interested in running for re-election than doing the right thing. Although a few Republicans voted for it, the vast majority voted against it. But if there had been a chance to pass the DREAM Act and have it signed by a Democratic President, it was in 2010.

Although pressured by DREAMers to sign an executive order to at least protect DREAMers from deportation since the beginning of his tenure, President Obama continually stated that he did not have the power to sign such an order. DREAMers kept the pressure on him until finally, in June 2012, President Obama signed an executive order creating DACA. Unfortunately, upon rescinding DACA (or 6 months after if that is indeed what occurs), and with USCIS having collected the information of 740,000 beneficiaries who feared giving it because they were only “protected” from deportation through deferred prosecution of their cases, the fear of being deported by Trump may become a reality.

Trump will give reasons for ending DACA, such as the Sessions Justice Department suggesting it would not withstand a legal challenge, or that immigration law should be decided by Congress. On the latter, one can only recall 2010 and the 5 Democrats who voted against it when Democrats had a majority and a shot at protecting these kids. No doubt, there will be Republicans who point to 2010 to escape questions from the media during the coming weeks.

An all new DREAM Act has been filed and there is hope that it will be a priority for Congress to pass it during the next six months. Given the racism within Trump’s base of support, and Republicans and Democrats thinking about 2018, Washington, DC will continue to have a political football to kick around and use for political expediency and that is the DREAMers.

 

Rest in Peace ~ Nick Villarreal

Tex-Mex Conjunto legend Nick Villarreal passed away on Sunday at the age of 66. Tejano Nation has more.

The accordionist, vocalist, songwriter, and composer of what some call novelty tunes left Tejano and Conjunto fans with plenty of musical memories, having earned recognition for such hits as La I Gotta Go, La Not To Worry, and my personal favorite, El Mayor.

The latter was written soon after the revelations of San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros’ affair. While the general public and media was in shock, Villarreal had a slightly different take. A bit of parody and a lot of realness went into that song. Lines (which I translate) such as, “It happens to presidents, why not a guy from San Antonio,” or semi-defenses, such as “he’s human.” Of course, he still called him the best Mayor SA had at the time.

Much like most of his funny, yet danceable, tunes, they were Puro West Side (of San Antonio). He gave real-life situations and anecdotes a dose of comedy for all to chuckle at, bringing them home with barrio dichos and jargon that only those with a bit of barrio in them could understand. Along with his creative songwriting, he was also an accomplished accordionist who influenced many young performers.

I had the pleasure of watching him in action at a Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio years ago, revving up the crowd with every “A ni ni,” which was just a funny way of saying, “Andale.” Thankfully, we have plenty of albums and live youtube vids to remember him by.

“…Pa’delante, Chief.”

UPDATE:  Tejano Nation has an exclusive interview with Nick’s mother.

 

 

#SB4: 14 Houston-area TX House Members Send Letter to Houston Council

Fourteen members of the Houston delegation of the Texas House have penned a letter in which they ask members of the Houston City Council to support the City of Houston’s participation in a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the “show me your papers” law signed by Greg Abbott, Senate Bill 4. The law would allow untrained local cops to question a person’s citizenship based on little else than the look of a person.

cohltrsb4-1

Pointing to the intent of SB4 as a racial profiling law, the members of the legislature state that over 44 percent of Texas’ population is Latino, Asian-American, or Arab-American. Add to that the 11.5% that is African-American and nearly two-thirds of the population of Texas could be affected by racial profiling.

The legislators also remind members of Council that such a law will send us down the road of past failures in anti-immigrant laws, such as California Prop 187 and Arizona’s SB1070.

Recent headcounts of City Council have shown a divided City Council. For a city that thrives on marketing its diversity, a divided City Council on an issue such as the constitutionality of legalized racial profiling will not make for a palatable, if not, “welcoming” city.

Thanks to these Texas legislators for taking a stand:  Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Jarvis Johnson, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, Gene Wu.

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.

 

 

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