Tag Archives: senate

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.

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Republicans Block Chavez Resolution Because of Immigration

Unsurprisingly, the Republicans in the US Senate blocked a resolution honoring late labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Why? Because the Republicans wanted to honor Chavez’s anti-immigrant work.

But Republicans blocked it after Democrats refused their demand that they also include in the resolution mention of how Chavez pushed for tighter border security and saw undocumented immigrants as detrimental to U.S. workers.

I mentioned this particular fact about Chavez’s life in the review of movie last week, and it is a part of his life that Republicans have tried to exploit for their own benefit, much like they attempt to co-opt Martin Luther King’s Republican past.

Much like most labor unions, the United Farm Workers were opposed to immigrant labor because of how easy it was to exploit this source of cheap labor, thus making it easier to end the labor movement. While Chavez and the Union wanted fair labor practices and fair pay for what were mostly American citizen workers, it was people like Ronald Reagan and other Republicans who would have none of that and supported strike-breaking in the form of immigrant exploitation. Some things never change, much like the corporations that want to exploit immigrants today in order to avoid benefits like health insurance, equal pay, and simple worker protections. It really is an old Republican strategy of “divide and conquer.”

Ultimately, Cesar Chavez changed course on immigrant rights as the Chicano civil rights movement took on a more global view of labor, civil and human rights. Plus, the Union was in need of membership. Obviously, Republicans have never supported civil and human rights for anyone, much less labor rights.

Frankly, I’m not much into empty resolutions when Congress isn’t getting any real work done. I want public policy, like, I don’t know, immigration reform, equal pay, jobs creation, health care reform/single payer, education funding, stuff like that. But it’s not like the Republicans will ever support anything of value to a majority of this country.

 

Perry and Dewhurst Will Continue Attack on Texas Women

As was expected, after Democrats defeated a bill to limit access to women’s health care and abortions in Texas, Rick Perry has called for a 2nd special session that will deal with “abortion restrictions,” as well as transportation and juvenile justice.

David Dewhurst showed his lack of leadership as president of the State Senate by  making and allowing some bad calls against State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. After 11 hours, a final “violation” was sustained and stopped Davis’ filibuster. After a challenge by State Sen. Kirk Watson, and with the help of Senators Van de Putte, Royce West and a loud crowd of activists in gallery, the debate was extended enough that Senators finally voted on SB 5 at 12:03 AM, after the deadline.

An empowered group of activists will likely grow and be ready for the July 1st Special Session. Will Dewhurst be ready to follow his own rules on July 1st? Or will he continue on a disastrous trek of embarrassing the state of Texas by allowing the re-writing of rules and changing time-stamps on final vote outcomes? Of course, all of this is reflective of Perry’s lack of leadership, too.

One thing is for sure, I’m sure there will be multiple UStream accounts and video cameras around the Capitol to make sure the world is watching again. And the Twitterverse will definitely be blasting away. All Perry and Dewhurst need to do now is ban them. Boy, wouldn’t that be smart?

Kuff has a major recap.

Wednesday: SD6 Community Breakfast Briefing on Redistricting

From the office of State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

Join me tomorrow morning or at any of these upcoming events throughout the week to make sure your voice is heard about redistricting! On the same day that the regular session ended, Governor Perry called a Special Session on Redistricting with specific instructions to adopt the interim court-drawn maps for the State House of Representatives, State Senate, and U.S. Congressional Districts.

Opportunities to Make Your Voice Heard

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Community Breakfast Briefing

A community briefing to be held at the East Aldine District Offices to discuss the redistricting process and give valuable input to take back to Austin.

East Aldine District Offices

5333 Aldine Mail Route Road. Houston, TX 77093

8:00 AM to 9:00AM

RSVP to Celia Valles (713) 923-7575 or Celia.Valles@senate.state.tx.us

There will be a couple more opportunities in the form of legislative hearings to make your voice heard on redistricting, as TXRedistricting tells us:

Here are the details for the House redistricting committee hearing in Houston on Wednesday of next week.

Wednesday, June 12 @ 2 p.m. – University of Houston – Downtown, Michael J. Cemo Hall, Room 100 D, 4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77004

The Senate redistricting committee also will hold a hearing in Houston onSaturday:

Saturday, June 8 @ 11 a.m. – University of Houston – Downtown, Michael J. Cemo Hall, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, Texas 77004

But I think it’s at the University of Houston main campus on Calhoun, and not the Downtown campus, which is a whole different university. Anyway, FYI.