Tag Archives: 2016

Ed Gonzalez Slams Hickman’s Proposed Cuts at HCSO

cafeed2Ed Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for County Sheriff, came out swinging against current Sheriff Ron Hickman’s proposed cuts to dismantle an investigative unit and slashing the number of jail inspectors. Put another way, Hickman is making jail operations less transparent when much reform is needed.

“This is a very poor decision that shows a disappointing lack of judgment and leadership on the part of our current sheriff,” said Gonzalez. “At a time when more incidents of abuse and neglect continue to surface, we should be increasing transparency and oversight at the jail, not taking a step backward.”

Gonzalez pointed to a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle that “exposed avoidable in-custody deaths, civil rights abuses, beatings, unjust prosecutions of prisoners and allegations of medical neglect” at the jail.

“Pulling back on reforms to increase transparency and accountability not only compromises public safety, but also erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and the hard-working deputies and staff who are working to keep our county safe,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Sheriff. Offering over 18 years with Houston PD, he was also a murder investigator. While on the Houston City Council, he chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee and served as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Early voting begins on February 16 and runs through February 26. Democratic Primary day is March 1.

 

The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism

donkey-fightIt’s not a secret. I support Bernie Sanders. I support his platform.

I don’t mind debating actual policy with Hillary fans, and I’ve met one or two who actually debate, rather than just blindly follow.  Most will debate economic issues, or Bernie Sanders’ existence, but other issues, like immigration, are ignored.

I understand. You want to avoid an issue in which Hillary Clinton is terrible. No one wants to admit that Clinton wants to deport children and moms back to violent countries in which they will face even more violence. The simplistic “I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform” line is pretty much ineffective when we have tens of thousands in freezing private prisons and deportations are being stepped up. We want to hear solutions.

As Bernie Sanders steps up his game on issues, especially immigration, the Hillary fans are now coming up with new material:  We can’t afford Bernie’s ideas; We can’t pass it in Congress; We can’t!

In other words, Clinton will work from the middle to the right to convince Republicans, as if this worked for President Obama. The fatalism that has penetrated supposed liberals in defense of their candidate is quite sad.

That I first noticed these chants around the MLK, Jr. holiday makes it even sadder. Martin had a dream, remember? Suppose white allies back then told him he couldn’t get all he was calling for.

Oh, that’s right, they did.

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action; “who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Now, I won’t dare compare Bernie to MLK, but we can agree that ideas of social and economic justice are quite similar. Recently, even Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez stated that Bernie Sanders’ platform is similar to that of La Raza Unida Party as he endorsed Sanders. Ideas and pronouncements that brought thousands to Washington, DC and that once empowered and excited Texas Mexican Americans enough to vote in huge numbers are once again being discussed because of Bernie Sanders. Yet, “we can’t”?

Frankly, the oft-stated “she can get things done” quote that Hillary fans are selling is also pretty annoying. It’s a reminder of the last eight years in which the Obama administration gave away the store to the Republicans prior to beginning negotiations on any given issue. Immigration reform is a great example as President Obama stepped up deportations (numbering 2.5 million) as a means of convincing Republicans that Democrats were “tough” so they would pass reform. Watered down legalization was discussed over citizenship. Instead, a co-opted immigration reform movement looked weak, and Democrats even weaker and inhumane when they didn’t call out the administration for the deportations and human warehousing of children and mothers in private prisons. And all efforts failed. Meanwhile, we’re left begging the Supreme Court for deportation relief for a few without any real rights for the migrants who might benefit. I’m sure Hillacrats are secretly mortified that the Supreme Court may side with the administration and “hurt Hillary’s chance.”

Now, all of us who want justice are being told to wait our turn, and to elect someone who can supposedly pass (watered down) legislation. If it’s in the same way as President Obama, then we’re sure not building an excited progressive base for 2016. Let’s recall that we had an excited base in 2008 only to return to failed Democratic pragmatism, thus demoralizing said base (I give you the 2010 midterms as an example of what happened). If you want to excite voters, then you must call for what is needed, not for what we can maybe, sorta get, if even that. Let’s excite the electorate and win big, then we can negotiate later with the backing of a committed base. But we need start with what we want.

Instead, Bernie Sanders’ opposition seems to want more of the same. And this needs to change. Because “We can’t!” should not be in our political vocabulary as Democrats. If that’s the response to Bernie Sanders, then, spare me.

Ballot Change: Lane Lewis Now Unopposed for Party Chair

donkey-fightIf you visit the Harris Dems’ primary candidate listing, one will see that incumbent County Chair Lane Lewis is now unopposed. Recent At-Large 5 candidate Philippe Nassif’s nascent candidacy for County Chair has been declared ineligible for the Democratic Primary.

According to state law, a candidate for county chair must collect the signatures on a petition of 10% of the party’s incumbent precinct chairs. According to the Party, that number would then be 48. According to folks inside the Party, Nassif did not meet the required number.

Although the decision of eligibility on all candidate applications was left to Chairman Lewis, Lewis went further and sought the opinion of an election law counsel and of the Democratic Party Primary Committee, who also agreed with the result.

Nassif has informed his supporters in an e-mail about the situation:

Even as I accept the decision, I was very disappointed to receive this news. The signature process is a precise one and requires 48 legible signatures from current precinct chairs. It also requires that none of these chairs sign more than one petition for a single race, yet some had forgotten they had signed Lane Lewis’ petition during the summer.

Here in Harris County, our democracy has been dealt a setback. The process to challenge a sitting party chair is convoluted and flawed, and the number of signatures I received displayed a level of anxiety with our party leadership that needs to be addressed immediately. My challenge of Lane Lewis’s chairmanship was never personal, but it was meant to send a strong message that change is needed in order for our party to start growing again and winning big.

That message has been sent.

Convoluted and flawed? Sure, but it’s also allowed by state law. How to change that? Talk about convoluted and flawed!

Anyway, Nassif isn’t done serving the party and Democrats and will be of service. As I told a friend of mine who I had been advising on a possible run, you don’t have to be a candidate or an elected official to be of service. There’s always fundraising for candidates and causes, or, I don’t know, doing every we can to increase voter turnout.

 

 

Keeping an Eye on 2016 Dem Primary

donkey-fightYes, most political insiders and activists have all eyes open for Bernie, O’Malley, and Clinton, but there will be much more on the 2016 Democratic Primary Ballot. The Harris County Democratic Party already has a webpage up to give you the latest filings for the Primary, which shall be held on March 1, 2016.

Although there does not seem to be a lot of contested races, the deadline to file is December 14, 2016, so we can expect more. There is some scuttlebutt as to an opponent for HD137s Gene Wu. The race to replace Sylvester Turner in HD139 already has two candidates, including Randy Bates, whom I’ve known from his service on the Lone Star College board, and Kimberly Willis. Also, although only Mary Ann Perez has filed, I’ve heard of at least two more filing soon to take back HD144.

On the judicial side, the 11th Civil District Court has two, thus far, with Rabeea Collier, whom I’ve known from my Kingwood days, and Julie Countiss. I won’t write about other prospective contests until they actually file. Judicial candidates require signatures, whether they pay the filing fee or not, so, I don’t want to get ahead of myself and announce anyone that may end up failing to collect them.

All of this said, just keep visiting Harris County Democratic Party to stay updated on filings. There will always be some who will be upset with the possibility of contested primaries becoming divisive, but, that’s why we have primaries; so we can have a choice.

Stay connected!

Clinton Changes Mind, Obama Deportations Were Harsh

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonAfter defending Obama’s deportation policies for so long, Hillary Clinton has conveniently admitted that they were actually harsh. Clinton stated the reason for Obama’s hardheadedness:

“The deportation laws were interpreted and enforced, you know, very aggressively during the last six and a half years, which I think his administration did in part to try to get Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform,” she said. “That strategy is no longer workable. So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”

Some of us have argued from Day 1 that it was never workable and that there was a better chance of getting Latinos engaged on the issue if we went for broke on the issue–fighting for the best reform possible. Instead, we have theatrical gridlock, a pissed off Latino electorate, and, unfortunately, the same politicians vying for the Latino vote.

Sure, the Republinuts will pounce on this as a flip-flop (I call it primary politics), but that means they’d have to defend Obama’s 2,000,000 deportations, right? No doubt, Republicans are the worse, but it’s about time Democrats were better than usual, don’t you think?

It seems too many people on both sides of the aisle want to have it both and all ways. Some Dems want the Latino vote, while Republicans want a cheap Latino workforce. Either way, Latinos get kicked around and the issue gets kicked into the future, as always.

And just a reminder, there wasn’t much mention of Central American children escaping violence and poverty whom Clinton wants to deport without due process.

Poll: 25% of Latinos Are Clueless, Self-Hating Trump Supporters?

trumpinata

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz/GoComics

While the media is selling the latest poll of Latino thoughts on Donald Trump as “75% having a negative view.” I’m pretty concerned about a quarter of those polled being accepting of Trump’s message; not surprised, but concerned, as they could easily accept the usual GOP message on Latinos and immigrants. Given recent elections, they probably have accepted the GOP message.

More specifically, the poll found the following:

Asked to assess that comment (about immigrants being rapists and drug dealers), 55 percent of Latinos said that the remarks were “insulting and racist and have no place in a campaign for president.”

Another 29 percent said that “Trump should have been more careful with the language he used, but he is raising an important issue.” Fourteen percent said that “Trump had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind about an important problem we need to deal with.”

A huge majority also found that Trump is hurting the GOP’s image. I would ask, “More than usual?” Let’s face it, the GOP has a “nice” way of insulting Latinos and immigrants, which probably coincides with the 29% who felt Trump should have said it differently. Be nice, but we still won’t vote for you, might be the message.

Frankly, what the poll found is not surprising. That Democrats, throughout this Trump media frenzy, have simply pointed and blamed on the issue is disappointing. This is an opportunity to lead on immigration reform, deportation reform, and immigrant warehousing (detention)–and that goes for Bernie, too–along with the rest of the issues in which Latinos poll strongly progressive. Whether Dems will wake up to this is still yet to be seen, so, here’s another opportunity.

DosCentavos Feels the Bern

bernie

I joined over 5000 of my closest friends and attended the Bernie Sanders rally at UH Hofheinz on Sunday evening and I must say I was impressed in a lot of ways.

Sure, I was expecting a great, truly progressive speech from Senator Sanders–even after the weirdness of #NN15–but what I didn’t expect was such an amazing atmosphere. The diversity in the room was notable, if only because I had recently been reading some snark on Facebook by Hillarite friends of mine talking about how “white” Sanders’ events had been. The Houston event, though, blew those notions away. The bottom line:  A diverse cross-section of America seems to be listening to Bernie Sanders because he’s saying the right things on most issues, rather than just speaking in one-liners (evident in a one-hour speech).

Now, much like Hillary Clinton, Sanders has not provided expanded answers on immigration reform (usual standard stuff), but after Saturday, Sundays venture into racial justice issues hit all the right notes. While Clinton has offered her standard stuff on immigration reform, she also has a record of calling for immediate deportation of children and more deportation judges, so, the negative stuff being tossed about by her fans against Sanders on the issue really hasn’t affected what I think of Sanders. I’m hoping Sanders expands on the issue, as well as Latin American affairs in the future.

PDiddie expands on what Bernie said, so, no sense in rehashing the speech. I will provide a youtube of film I took when Sanders began his talk on racial justice and immigration, in case he is still receiving criticism. The good thing about the #NN15 stuff is that, hopefully, Dem candidates will begin to speak on the issue. Ultimately, this isn’t about race or identity politics, it’s about expanding the space that the issues have received in Democratic Party politics (more on that in the future) and actually doing something about these issues. If Dem activists cannot handle it, then we can’t win in 2016.

As far as the event, it was good to see fans of Hillary and other Dem activists in the crowd. I think we were all looking for a dose of energy because these are our issues Bernie was hitting on. Primaries are a good thing, nationally and locally, so, let’s enjoy the discussion.

The Myth That Is a Kinder, Gentler Rick Perry

ef6ca-shrp2Much is being made by the media  about Rick Perry’s supposed move to be the kinder, gentler Republican in the race for the GOP  nomination for President. Perry’s announcement that he was “offended” by Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican remarks need to be met with a certain reality:  Perry’s policies prove he is worse than Trump. Perry’s record speaks for itself:

  • The DPS Border Surge in response to children escaping violence and poverty from Central America. (Failures all around)
  • Cutting $4 billion from K-12 and $1 billion from higher education.
  • Anti-Woman policies to close women’s health facilities.
  • Attempts to keep Texans uninsured–would not support Medicaid expansion.
  • And a whole lot more. We know what Rick Perry is all about–destroying Texas.

That’s the problem with the whole Donald Trump BS that has overtaken political news. While Trump will open his big mouth, there are candidates for the GOP nomination with a right-wing record who will now try to play nice offering worthless platitudes. What’s next? Public eating of Mexican food?

Anyway, at this point, it would seem that Rick Perry has as much of a chance for the nomination as Donald Trump (despite Trump’s rise in the polls). What we are seeing because of Trump are the true colors of some in the GOP, and the lengths to which some will go to gain political points; even by attempting to play nice despite the policies they promote. Ultimately, it’s policies that matter and we need to pay attention to the policies (and pronouncements) of every candidate.

The Trump Thing and Latino Voting

trumpinata

by Lalo Alcaraz

Fact:  Trump is a pendejo. Fact:  All the pageant and show cancellations are not going to hurt Trump’s wallet. So, what else are all the hurt Latinos going to do after the Trump anger fades away?

What was noticeable in all of this was Latinos declaring that they would not be voting for Trump in 2016. Of course, I asked myself if they meant in the Republican Primary or in November 2016? Given that not many Latinos vote in the GOP primary, I’m guessing they meant November, in which Trump was likely not going to be candidate, anyway. So, those declarations didn’t excite me much, but if it means more Latinos are going to show up or get involved, great!

But let’s look beyond the idiotic comments and pay attention to issues, like health care, education, jobs, economy, and yes, immigration. Who has real solutions, or which candidates can we as voters drive toward real solutions, rather than just the usual campaign talk? Thanks to Trump, folks are paying attention, so, campaigns need to talk issues rather than just point fingers at Trump and Republicans.

In the quest for higher turnout, Latinos won’t respond favorably to blame, though.

Here in Texas, no sooner did Leticia Van de Putte lose in her bid for Mayor of San Antonio, I started seeing rants from liberals and Dems blaming Latinos for the loss. It was a bit annoying, considering it was coming from folks who are part of the problem and who refuse to look inward for solutions.

My friend Joaquin Guerra from TOP penned an excellent op-ed. Here’s a bit of it:

If we’re not part of the plan to win or part of the engagement strategy, then, no, we’re not to blame for the fact that you came home and dinner wasn’t waiting for you on the table.

Stop taking us for granted.

Here are five tips for politicians, pundits, reporters, editorial boards and political consultants who are scratching their heads about what happened:

  • Respect: Stop implying that Latinos are too lazy and disinterested to vote..
  • Ask Latino voters what’s important to them.
  • Lean into economic and racial justice issues. Economics and race are at the core of some of our biggest problems.
  • Make Latinos part of the solution.
  • It’s not just about Latinos. We’re all in this together. It’s easy to look at voter data and say that Latinos don’t vote, but the reality is that Texans as a whole don’t, either.

Read the whole thing and not just the tips I took out of the article.

The bottom line is that Latino hires and token words by campaigns aren’t enough to excite Latino voters. And avoiding questions surely doesn’t help. And, it certainly doesn’t help when Latinos are used by supposedly liberal candidates as a piñata to gain a few right-wing votes, either.

Obviously,Trump’s Mexican attack was an attempt to gain votes in the GOP primary, and we’ll hear it from other Republicans, too. But, Dems do it as part of a continually losing strategy, too, if they get desperate enough. It needs to stop and Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, let’s take Joaquin’s tips seriously. Seriously.

There’s Some Buzz Going Around about 2016

donkey-fightOne of the best sources for local political news, especially if you’re not an insider, is the Facebook. Whether it’s an actual announcement or someone putting out feelers with the hope of getting some attention, you find out what’s going on. Here are some of my observations, thus far.

President:  Looks like former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will be joining Sanders and Clinton in the race for the Dem nomination on May 30. I’m a fan of O’Malley’s, actually. He would be the only one of the three to have made a strong statement in support of the Central American kids–or, at least nothing hateful that called for jailing and deporting them; at least not without legal representation and due process. I haven’t seen any policy pronouncements about Latin America, but at least Maryland wasn’t involved in the Honduran coup. All this said, I’m leaning O’Malley at this point.

The Local Judges:  When I emceed the Kingwood Area Dems brunch the other day, 151st District Judge Mike Engelhart was hard at work collecting signatures for his re-election campaign. I noticed thru FB that 127th District Judge Ravi Sandill was back on the trail for his re-election campaign. Former 165th District Judge Josefina Rendon FB-announced a run for her former seat. Immediately after Judge Al Bennett was confirmed as a Federal Judge, former District Judge Dion Ramos announced he would be running for Bennett’s old 61st District bench. Kristen Hawkins announced for the 11th District Court. Out in Precinct 3, Galena Park ISD trustee Joe Stephens, whom I met at the Kingwood shindig, seems to be running hard to replace retiring Judge Mike Parrott as Justice of the Peace.

There are also some exploratory campaigns that I’ve noticed, including Ursula Hall for the 165th District; Shawn Thierry for the 333rd District. Joe Montemayor has been putting out feelers for a possible JP3 run, too.

And given that there has been some stepped up activity by others who have run for something in the past (patriotic and partisan meme sharing and attending all sorts of events), there may be others. No doubt, we may see some Democratic Primary battles, and that’s probably good thing, even though some of the candidates may not want to be in these battles.

Sheriff:  It is becoming more and more obvious that a Democrat needs to announce for Sheriff–and soon. Given the Republican new guy’s hiring practices, it seems we need a Democrat. Anyone? Anyone?

If you’re actually running in 2016, let me know at my contact page.