May 22: Democratic Primary Run-Off Election – Vote!

The Run-Off is finally here. Find your polling location and sample ballot by clicking here and get yourself counted TODAY!

We really need shorter run-ups to the run-offs. I agree with an article I read that things got pretty boring, unless you’re in the thick of it–or getting paid by a campaign. I’m a happier person because I was neither. (ha ha) Anyway…democracy means people power. Don’t let others decide for you!

Here’s the Stace Slate (My Own Ballot):

Governor:  Lupe Valdez

District Clerk:  Marilyn Burgess

County Clerk:  Diane Trautman

County Treasurer:  Dylan Osbourne

County School Trustee Pos. 3 At Large:  Richard Cantu

Of course, there are other races for other voters in Harris County, and, since I’ll probably be moving from my current abode to an area that may be represented by one of these districts, I’m making my picks, just in case:

State Senate District 17:  Fran Watson

Congress, District 7:  Laura Moser 

And in other races:

Congress District 22:  Sri Preston Kulkarni

JP 7-2:  Cheryl Elliott Thornton

Congress, District 23:  Rick Treviño

Advertisements

2018.2: Stace Slate – Dem Run-Off

Early voting for the 2018 Democratic Primary Run-Off begins on May 14 and continues through May 18, 7AM to 7PM. You may vote at any early voting location. And you can find a location by clicking here.

Also, you may find your sample ballot by clicking here. And take an acceptable form of ID. If you didn’t vote in either primary, or, you voted in the Democratic Primary, you may participate in this one.

 

Here’s the Stace Slate (My Own Ballot):

Governor:  Lupe Valdez

District Clerk:  Marilyn Burgess

County Clerk:  Diane Trautman

County Treasurer:  Dylan Osbourne

County School Trustee Pos. 3 At Large:  Richard Cantu

Of course, there are other races for other voters in Harris County, and, since I’ll probably be moving from my current abode to an area that may be represented by one of these districts, I’m making my picks, just in case:

State Senate District 17:  Fran Watson

Congress, District 7:  Laura Moser 

And in other races:

Congress District 22:  Sri Preston Kulkarni

JP 7-2:  Cheryl Elliott Thornton

Congress, District 23:  Rick Treviño

 

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)

Sunday 4/15 – Los TexManiacs at Discovery Green

Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs are headlining the Discovery Green Birthday Bash this coming Sunday, April 15. The Bash starts at noon with Los Texmaniacs hitting the stage around 4:35pm.

Discovery Green is celebrating 10 years and those years have been filled with plenty of great and free family events. Here is the schedule:

The event schedule is as follows:
12–4 p.m.
Cultural performances by Ballet Folklorico, Aztec dance by Danza Quetzalli, Dance of Asian America, Brazilian Arts Foundation and more on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

12:15–12:30 p.m.
Drumline on the White Promenade

1 p.m.
Reading by Writers in the Schools BLOOMS on the Lindsey Waterside Landing

1–3 p.m.
Performance by Cirque la Vie on the Jones Lawn

4–6 p.m.
Performances by Los Texmaniacs on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

Los Texmaniacs are set to release their new album, Cruzando Borders, on May 11. I’m pretty sure some of the new stuff is on their set-list. Go check them out and enjoy some Tex-Mex Conjunto and Americana music.

Democrats Getting It All Wrong on Trump Border Army

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

The best response to Trump’s power trip in militarizing the US-Mexico Border is:  “Don’t do it. It’s bigoted. It’s wasteful. It’s wrong. The priority must be fixing the immigration system.”

Instead, I see elected and activist Democrats embracing, “Migration is at an all time low, so, we don’t need the military on the border.”

WRONG! You’re saying that at some point we’ve needed it! And you certainly aren’t offering up solutions like fixing the system.

Perhaps they say it to defend from criticism of President Obama for militarizing the border in 2010. And Obama only did it to beat a right-wing onslaught by Congress to the punch. A race to the right on immigration during an election year. How’d that turn out?

The difference between Trump and Obama? Obama did it with a smile, while Trump does it with a scowl. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy for some of the Dems to be “moderates.” 3 million deportations, hundreds of thousands in the private prison boondoggle, but Trump is the awful one? Yeah, he is. But let’s not be hypocrites. Dems do anti-immigrant policy just as effectively as the other guys whenever there’s an election.

And Democrats don’t want to change. Talk of being “moderates” for 2018 has increased as there are some run-offs to be decided in Texas, but the only issue that seems to make Dems quiver is immigration. It’s the only issue I see where being “moderate” is OK. And treading lightly, if at all, on the issue is the playbook.

Says one activist, “We’ve got the Republicans on the ropes, now is not the time to be weak on immigration.”

Democrats are being weak on immigration by refusing to fight the Republicans.

I’ll be writing more on the upcoming run-offs and how this particular issue is being addressed, or avoided.

 

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.

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

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.

Los Texmaniacs’ Cruzando Borders To Be Released on May 11

With anti-Mexican hate on the rise, I haven’t felt too bloggy lately. If anything, it’s been down-right depressing. Trump is militarizing the border, again. (Remember, Obama did it in 2010 to appease Republicans.) So, what’s the best way to respond to this kind of pendejismo? Musica y cultura always works for me!

So, when Los Texmaniacs posted on their social media that their upcoming album will be released on May 11, 2018, happiness ensued! Cruzando Borders, on the Smithsonian Folkways Recording label, will offer up some hard-core Tex-Mex Conjunto stylings featuring various themes and messages. Here’s the text of a recent article on the album:

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is proud to release ‘Cruzando Borders’ from the GRAMMY Award-winning conjunto group Los Texmaniacs, including dynamic feature performances from fellow GRAMMY winners Lyle Lovett, Rick Fuentes and Rick Treviño. This is the band’s third album for the label, following 2012’s ‘Texas Towns & Tex-Mex Sounds’ and 2009’s ‘Borders y Bailes.’ On the 14-song ‘Cruzando Borders,’ Los Texmaniacs remain close to their conjunto roots, and the result is a joyous, poignant work that grows in meaning with each listen. The release is a fitting addition to Smithsonian Folkways’ 70th year anniversary celebration.

Listen to a 3-song sampler.

The band is quick to point out that ‘Cruzando Borders’ is more than music; it was crafted to send a message. Prompted by negative public rhetoric about the U.S.-Mexican border and Mexican culture, and inspired by the transcendent brotherhood and exquisite beauty of the border life they have experienced, Los Texmaniacs have created an album that asserts pride in both their native Mexican culture and U.S. nationhood. 

Bajo sexto master Max Baca, who cut his teeth with the hit-making, crossover band The Texas Tornados, founded Los Texmaniacs in 1997. He sought to form a group that espoused the traditions of Tejano music he grew up with and combined them with elements of blues, rock, country and jazz. He enlisted his nephew, Josh Baca, a highly skilled accordion player who, on Max’s urging, absorbed the fundamental style and repertoire of the deep conjunto tradition – old-time Tejano polkas, redovas, chotises(schottisches), waltzes and huapangos – to create what Josh calls his “Texas gumbo – my own posole” (Mexican hominy soup).

The Bacas added drummer and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Martínez, who brought to Los Texmaniacs a style that incorporated both Mexican and Chicano cultures as well as American grooves (he’s a hardcore James Brown fan). Next came multi-instrumentalist Noel Hernández, who developed his skills as a performer deep in the heart of conjunto country in the Rio Grande Valley. Hernández’s virtuosic abilities and vast musical heritage made him a natural fit.

While ‘Cruzando Borders’ sees Los Texmaniacs rededicating themselves to the sounds that first influenced them, it is by no means an exercise in rote traditionalism; you can feel the band finding new facets in the conjunto form. On the crackling instrumental “La chicharronera,” Max and Josh duet majestically on bajo sexto and accordion while paying tribute to the song’s composer, Narcisco Martínez. That track, along with the zesty chotís (schottische) “Labios de coral” and the redova “El porrón,” point to the enduring social dance tradition that goes along with the music.

Throughout the album, on rousing cuts such as “Pablo de monte” and “El bracero fracasado,” a bold narrative emerges as the band explores the often tragicomic tales of cross-border life. On the aching ballad “Across the Borderline,” made famous by Willie Nelson and Freddy Fender, Max Baca’s supple voice is the perfect counterpoint for guest singer Rick Fuentes as they imagine a life where “every street is paved with gold, and it’s just across the borderline.” Lyle Lovett, who has worked with Baca in the super-group Los Super Seven, lends his plaintive vocals on the wistful campfire folk tune “Deportee,” with its evocative lyrics penned by Woody Guthrie. (Guthrie was inspired by a 1948 news article about a plane crash involving 28 unnamed migrant Mexican farm laborers who were being repatriated. The song itself has recently been featured in the news after artist Tim Z. Hernandez revealed the deportees’ real identities.) 

The delicate yet defiant country-laced ballad “I Am a Mexican” boasts lead vocals by its writer, Rick Treviño, also a Los Super Seven compatriot, and Max Baca calls it “a perfect example of the whole concept of this album. It says, ‘I am a Mexican, and God bless America.'” “Mexico Americano” is an irrepressibly upbeat polka peppered with Max and Noel’s passionate singing. Summing up why it’s the album’s opening track, Josh Baca says, “It’s a beautiful song because it identifies who we are. My grandparents on my mother’s side were born and raised in Mexico and moved over here to America to better their lives. That side of my family taught me that there’s more to life than just playing the accordion…values in life, morals. And the record represents that.”

With ‘Cruzando Borders,’ Los Texmaniacs make good on their mission to champion their musical and cultural heritage with deep, abiding pride and dazzling artistry. The album is as inspiring and soul enriching as it is timely and timeless. 

‘Cruzando Borders’ Track List:

1. Mexico Americano (Mexican American)

2. La pajarera (The Bird Vendor)

3. El bracero fracasado (The Failed Bracero)

4. I Am a Mexican

5. El porrón (The Slow Mover)

6. En avión hasta Acapulco (To Acapulco by Plane)

7. Deportee

8. Soy de San Luis

9. La chicharronera (The Pork Cracklings Maker)

10. Across the Borderline

11. Valentín de la sierra

12. Don Luis el Tejano

13. Pablo de monte (Pablo from the Hills)

14. Labios de coral (Lips of Coral)

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.

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

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.

Privilege Sure Has Its Privileges

The Austin Police, the Feds, the White House, and the media have done an amazing job of describing the murdering serial bomber from Pflugerville.

He’s “challenged,” says the Austin police chief. Others say he was “troubled.” Friends say he was “reserved” and “nice.” Law enforcement and media parade him around in pleasant photos of some of his better days while stating that he didn’t say “terrorism” in his confession video–or anything about terrorism or a motive. And since he mentioned personal problems, he must have been “challenged.” Certainly, official people don’t think of him as a terrorist.

And these are the same people who push for mandatory minimums, defend cops who kill unarmed black and brown people, and railroad through the courts any low-grade offender who can’t afford a lawyer or bail–mostly black and brown.

But this murderer did plan these attacks. Some might say meticulously. He did build these bombs part by part–from Home Depot! And he even stupidly ended up trying to send them by FedEx, leaving a trail. And he knew he killed two people and injured several more. Hell, he kept going after he killed the first individual and attempted to kill many more. He wasn’t even sorry for it. And he did what most terrorists do well–kill themselves.

This wasn’t some crazed 2-minute episode with an AR-15. I’m of the belief that when you’re at a point of mass murdering during an extended time period, you pretty much know what you’re doing. Some do it for politics, others do it for sheer enjoyment. And if you’re the government or a white supremacist group, well, you can have it both ways. Both get so challenged sometimes, right?

One thing is for sure. The descriptors of the dead murderer, the murderer’s family and all their “god” talk, and some might say the practices of law enforcement, all have exhibited and promoted the privilege afforded to some in our society. Meanwhile, the victims (including their families) are victimized all over again because this murderous man (he’s definitely not a kid) has already been labeled by official people as challenged, troubled, etc.

I won’t get bogged down in definitions of terrorism or his background and upbringing. We already know he did it. But the manner in which official people with badges take up the PR job for people who, in their eyes, don’t fit the profile of a terrorist is quite the art form. And the media is no help in failing to challenge law enforcement.

Privilege sure has its…privileges.

DC on Tejano Nation

Every now and then I get a bit jaded and annoyed with the whiny-ness in politics, so, I seek out music to soothe me. I was happy to submit a couple of music reviews to Tejano Nation last week. Go check them out.

Out of the RGV is Veronique Medrano’s Loteria. A great collection of songs by a talented vocalist.

And The Pride of Pasadena returns as La Fiebre gives us quite the Fiesta.

Click on those links to read the reviews! And make Tejano Nation a part of your daily life.