Category Archives: Houston Politics

Texas Vietnamese Community Worries As Trump Administration Threatens Deportations

From venerable institutions like Mai’s restaurant and Les Givral’s in Midtown Houston, to the bright bustling scenes of Saigon Plaza on the city’s West Side, to Radio Saigon piping across the airwaves of the Southeast Texas, the influence of Texas’ Vietnamese Community is a palpable and celebrated part of the Houston region’s diverse mosaic.  With a multi-generational populace over 80,000 strong since the fall of Saigon in the 1970s, most Houstonians today couldn’t imagine their city without them.

Which is why many Houstonians are disturbed to hear of the Trump Administration’s constant efforts to weaken and threaten immigrant communities.  Here’s the story from Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur of The Atlantic

The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.

[…]

The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said the American government was again reversing course.

Washington now believes that the 2008 agreement fails to protect pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants from deportation, the spokesperson, who asked not to be identified by name because of embassy procedures, told The Atlantic.

“The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral agreement on removals in 2008 that establishes procedures for deporting Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States after July 12, 1995, and are subject to final orders of removal,” the spokesperson said. “While the procedures associated with this specific agreement do not apply to Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, it does not explicitly preclude the removal of pre-1995 cases.”

In true Trump fashion, the Executive Branch is once again exhibiting behavior which blatantly Un-American. Thankfully come January, there will be at least one real-time check on these misdeeds, via the Democrat-controlled House Of Representatives.

But the fact that such vile can fly under the radar of municipal, county and state leaders is equally inexcusable. Texas Leftist is calling on Members of Houston City Council, former and currently serving state legislators, and our statewide elected officials to call out the Trump Administration for these hatefilled tactics.

It’s time for our political leaders to stand up and protect the great Texans in this community. If you can’t do that, you don’t deserve to hold office.

Point of Light: The Passing Of Bush 41

President George H. W. Bush’s record of achievement is unparalleled… from bravery in battle to political bravery during the height of constitutional crisis, from navigation of complex foreign relations to unprecedented champion of the disabled.

But above all, his example as a good man, devoted husband and loving patriarch continues to inspire us all.  Just as President Bush spoke of 1000 Points of Light in his inauguration speech, his incredible legacy will continue to shine bright in the hearts of Americans, and citizens of our great global community.

My sincere prayers to the entire Bush Family. 

 

Ray Hill: Never Afraid To Speak Out

Everyone has moments in their life where we are faced with an immediate choice.  When we witness an injustice, do we speak out at that very moment, or do we shy away and try to make sense of it in our individual way?  Rarely is this inner struggle an easy one.  But whether easy or not for Houston human rights activist and LGBT icon Ray Hill, we do know that he found the courage to speak out, and fight for justice over the course of decades.

Now Ray himself may have referred to this speaking out as a “performance piece” in some circumstances… he was willing to yell, scream, get arrested and perform any type of civil disobedience as needed to draw attention to issues.  But whether performing or not, Hill was known as someone that generated important results.

Over this weekend, the legendary Ray Hill passed away.  From the Houston Chronicle

Hill, who late in life eschewed leadership roles in activist circles to hone a career as a monologuist — a dramatic undertaking that gained him appreciative audiences in New York, Pennsylvania and New England — died of heart failure in hospice care Saturday. He was 78.

A legend in his own right — and in his own mind — Hill’s business card described his profession as “citizen provocateur,” a proudly worn label he received from a Supreme Court justice after a long-ago legal battle with the cops.

“I was born to rub the cat hair the wrong direction,” he once said.

A rabblerouser, a social gadfly with a sting, Hill made the issues that mattered to him matter to everyone — or at least to those in power. He launched his activist career in 1975 after returning to Houston from a four-year stint in prison for burglary and larceny.

Ever willing to fight the man, at one point Hill bested the City of Houston in the highest court in the land when he got the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an ordinance that made it illegal to interrupt police officers.

Hill’s work continues to have an impact.  Long before the days of cell phone video, Hill fought for the constitutional rights of citizens as they encountered law enforcement.  A case he won against the City of Houston in the Supreme Court not only struck down the city ordinance, but is now used across the nation as more documentation of these interactions are known to the public.  His experience as a prison inmate turned prison reform activist have caused substantive changes in an aspect of Texas that few may understand, but that affects us all.

For decades, Ray Hill showed Houston, the state of Texas, and the entire world the true power of refusing to accept one’s contemporary circumstance.  Be it through civil disobedience (and maybe occasionally un-civil), wielding drama or plain old persistence, Hill was willing to work for change when he saw the need for it.  And as a result, he left an indelible influence on a whole generation of Texas activists.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Hill on a couple of occasions, but the one I remember most was sitting down with him and fellow activist Jenifer Rene Pool when she was a guest of his on KPFT.  Pool was running for Houston City Council, and I served as her Social Media director at the time.  As they spoke about various topics, the notion of finding one’s place came up.  After a moment of back and forth, Hill finally said, “but it’s not always about finding your place.  If you can’t find it after a while, you better just make it.

And that was Ray Hill, a true Texas original.  Because of his work, many more of us have a place in the conversation.  But that’s no excuse to stop making new ones as well.

Thank you Ray.

 

Houston Region Prepares For New Era With Harris County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… Elections have consequences.

Speaking on Election Night 2018 after her incredible victory, Harris County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo reflected briefly on another recent election…

Like thousands of women across the country this year, I decided about 15 months ago that I wasn’t just going to let things be.  That I was going to do things myself.  I never thought I would work in politics.  I never thought I would run for office.  I thought I would continue my career working, pushing for the system to work better from the outside.

But I had to step up.  And truth is, with the turnout we saw this year, we’ve all stepped up.  We realized that Democracy depends on our participation.

And because she stepped up, Hidalgo will now be the top government official of the third largest County in the country… a county larger in population than 26 states.

To many, the result is something of a surprise.  Even this very blog endorsed Judge-Elect Hidalgo’s opponent Ed Emmett, largely based on his record of service and his ability to put the needs of citizens largely above politics.

But with the race now settled, Texas Leftist looks forward to Ms. Hidalgo’s leadership, and many possible changes to come.

One change is already clear.  Joining Hidalgo will be Commissioner-apparent Adrian Garcia (at present Commissioner Jack Morman has yet to concede the race) and Commissioner Rodney Ellis, which marks the first Democratic majority in charge of Harris County in over a generation.

And what can we expect to see under Judge Hidalgo’s leadership??  Issues highlighted during her campaign were to create a county government that is “proactive, not reactive” when it comes to flood protection, disaster preparation, comprehensive public transportation, education and government transparency.

Check out this wide-ranging interview done with political blogger an media strategist Egberto Willies.  For those with any doubt, this should make it perfectly clear that Judge-Elect Hidalgo is ready to lead the 4.6 million residents of Harris County.

 

Voter Suppression 101: Why Are Harris County Voters Subjected To Limited Hours, Locations?

It may not be top of mind for most visitors, but the city of Houston and its surrounding region is something of an educational powerhouse.  With nearly 100,000 students in the area’s public and private universities, Greater Houston is a regular destination for young adults seeking higher education advancement.
As most can tell by now, interest in the 2018 election is high across the board, including college students, which have traditionally proven to be a less than dependable voting population.  As Sammy G. Allen of DIVERSE- Issues In Higher Education reports, that interest has hit a fever pitch for Texas’ Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs…

The U.S Senate campaign of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has motivated students at historically Black colleges and universities in Texas, resulting in thousands registering to vote, rallying for the right to vote on campus, and encouraging others to do the same.

O’Rourke, who is an El Paso congressman, has crisscrossed the state, visiting all 254 counties in an effort to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Along the way, he has stopped by numerous community colleges and universities, including four of the state’s nine HBCUs.

The pollsters and political consultants would never tell you to visit Paul Quinn College, Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M University in the last month of the campaign. With so few days left, with limited time and resources, they would say spending that time with young people is a waste. That’s exactly why this campaign doesn’t use pollsters or consultants,” O’Rourke said. “My campaign is about showing up to every community and not taking anyone for granted.”

O’Rourke’s platform includes prison and judicial reform, supplying school districts with needed resources and increasing Pell grants for students who want to attend college.

Students at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, and Prairie View A&M (which, as Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show, is in fiercely discriminatory Waller County) will be able to exercise their right to vote between classes on campus, as both institutions will have an on-site Early Voting location, for at least part of the state-sanctioned early vote period.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Texas’ largest historically black university, as Texas Southern University students do not have an Early Voting location on campus.

The very same is true outside of the HBCU sphere.  The University of Houston happens to be the largest institution in the state of Texas that DOES NOT have an Early Voting location on campus.  UH, as well as other system institutions University of Houston- Downtown, University of Houston- Clear Lake and University of Houston- Victoria all lack access to Early Voting on campus.  This is in marked contrast to other similarly-sized schools, like UT-Austin , Texas A&M  and UTSA, which all have at least one Early Voting site right on their campus.

As a reminder, Harris County has a population of 4.6 million people… the third largest county in the United States.  While 46 Early Voting locations may seem copious when compared to other Texas Counties, this year’s long lines would suggest that it may be time for the county to consider further expansion of their sites.  For example, Dallas County has 47 Early Voting locations for it’s 2.6 million residents, and nine more “temporary locations” employed for the 2nd week of voting.

So if you compare much larger Harris County to our neighbors to the north, you can expect longer lines and a less convenient experience getting to and through the polls, as many Houston area voters have already seen.  Compound that by the continued practice of Harris County Voters having reduced hours for the first week of Early Voting, which can further depress turnout, even if from the inconsistency of hours.

 

Folks… this is Voter Suppression.  Some may find it more subtle than aggressive Voter ID laws, or downright intimidation.  But restricting hours, limiting voter access of certain populations and having fewer locations in general than the population demands can all serve as a deterrent to voters.  And just let it sink in for a second… the third largest county in the United States doesn’t even employ MOBILE Early Voting centers?!?!  Wouldn’t this election be the year to start??

All this to say, it’s time for the citizens of Harris County to speak out and call attention to these issues.  Yes we MUST vote in the 2018 election.  But while you’re waiting in line, it’s a perfect time to call or tweet Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart and ask him why Harris County is so far behind when it comes to making Early Voting accessible for all.  This is a problem that can be solved.

Election Day 2018 is Tuesday November 6th, and Early Voting runs from October 22nd through November 2nd.  For Houston area voters, here’s early voting information for Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery Countyand Galveston County For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

DON’T LET THEM SUPPRESS YOUR VOTE!!!  

Harris County Early Voting– With Bus and Rail Info!!

With Day One of Early Voting for the General Election concluded in Harris County, (and what a day it was, with record-shattering turnout for a Mid-Term Election), Texas Leftist has compiled a list of Harris County Voting locations, and added the nearest Metro Bus and Rail routes.  This could be a big help to voters that take public transportation, and possibly the difference for some that are on the fence about voting.  Some may not be aware of an Early Voting location near to their transit route.

Check it out, and please share!!

 

 

1)    Harris County Law Library- Conference Center (Downtown)

1019 Congress Ave, Houston, 77002

Metro Red Line, Green/Purple Line

 

2)    Moody Park Community Center (Near Northside)

3725 Fulton Street, Houston, 77009

Metro Red Line

 

3)    Kashmere Multi-Service Center (Kashmere Gardens, Greater Fifth Ward)

4802 Lockwood Drive, Houston 77026

Bus 003, 080

 

4)    Ripley House Neighborhood Center (Second Ward)

4410 Navigation Boulevard, Houston, 77011

Bus 080

 

5)    Houston Community College- Southeast Campus (Gulfgate)

6960 Rustic Street, Parking Garage, Houston, 77087

Bus 076

 

6)    Young Neighborhood Library (Third Ward)

5107 Griggs Road, Houston, 77021

Metro Purple Line, Bus 005, 080, 087

 

7)    Fiesta Mart- Houston (Astrodome/NRG)

8130 Kriby Drive, Houston, 77054

Bus 084, 014

 

8)    Metropolitan Multi-Services Center (Montrose/ Neartown/River Oaks)

1475 W. Gray Street, Houston, 77019

Bus 032

 

9)    Harris County Public Health Bldg (Galleria)

2223 West Loop South Fwy, 1st Floor, Houston 77027

Bus 032, 082

 

10)  SPJST Lodge #88 (The Heights)

1435 Beall Street, Houston, 77008

Bus 027

 

11)  Northeast Multi-Service Center (Trinity Gardens)

 9720 Spaulding Street, Bldg #4, Houston, 77016

 Bus 003, 045, 077

 

12)  Sunnyside Multi-Service Center

 9314 Cullen Boulevard, Houston, 77051

 Bus 029, 087

 

13)  Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center (South Houston)

 3810 W. Fuqua Street, Houston, 77045

 Bus 014

 

14)  Bayland Park Community Center (Southwest Houston)

 6400 Bissonnet Street (near Hillcroft), Houston, 77074

 Bus 047, 065

 

15)  Tracey Gee Community Center (Near West Side, Beltway 8 & Richmond)

 3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, 77042

 Bus 025, 153

 

16)  Trini Mendenhall Community Center (Spring Branch)

 1414 Wird Road, Houston, 77055

 Bus 072

 

17)  Lone Star College- Victory Center

 4141 Victory Drive, Houston, 77088

 Bus 079

 

18)  Acres Homes Multi-Service Center

6719 W. Montgomery Road, Houston, 77091

Bus 044, 064

19)  Harris County Scarsdale Annex

 10851 Scarsdale Boulevard, Houston, 77089

 Bus 088

 

20)  Alief ISD Administration Bldg

 4250 Cook Road, Houston, 77072

 Bus 002, 151

 

21)  Nottingham Park

 926 Country Place Drive, Houston, 77079

 Bus 162

 

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of April 9th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is neither the subject nor the target of an investigation, but it is bringing you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff noted that Texas lost another federal lawsuit about voting rights.

Socratic Gadfly, seeing the latest anti-Palestinian violence by Israelis, looks at myth vs reality in a major piece of Jewish history.

Stace writes about Tex-Mex music Grammy winners Los Texmaniacs’ new album, Cruzando Borders, which will touch on border and Mexican American themes. It’s quite timely during this era of Trumpismo.

After more than a generation of one-party dominance, it’s tough for any Texas Democrat to predict what a winning statewide campaign would actually look like. But if Texas Leftist had to take guess, it would come pretty close to the Beto O’ Rourke campaign thus far. After a massive fundraising haul, Beto is showing that he means business in this race. And speaking of winning, more great news for Texas’ Classical Music community as the Houston Chamber Choir receives a very prestigious National honor.

Neil at All People Have Value attended, as he does each week, the John Cornyn Houston Office Protest.

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

Stan Spinner, Lindy McGee, and Julie Boom urge Texans to not politicize vaccinations.

Better Texas Blog explains why a property-tax-for-sales-tax swap is a bad idea.

Elise Hu remembers her first mentor and his warning about Sinclair Broadcasting.

Deborah Beck urges elected leaders to have in-person meetings with constituents.

Therese Odell grapples with the politics of Roseanne.