Category Archives: Texas

TLCQ 2018: Ivan Sanchez

In the Fourteenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Ivan Sanchez,  candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Texas’ 7th Congressional District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

IS:  Ivan Sanchez

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

IS:  No.  I have never held public office.

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

IS:  The purpose of government is to provide, as best as possible, a system guided by what is in the best interest of the common good.  It must protect and defend the principles of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; wherein, “all men are created equal”, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, “that among these are life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

IS:  As a freshman congressman, I realize I will have limited opportunity to directly introduce legislation; however, I will passionately support and advocate for legislation that: (1) acknowledges climate change and the need to control abuse of our ecosystem, including development of renewable energy; (2) is designed to implement a path to citizenship for DREAMers and other (non felony) immigrants; and (3) will provide single payer healthcare.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

IS:  Improving Texas’ infrastructure must be addressed as a two-fold issue—addressing current infrastructure and developing sustainable long-term solutions.  Currently, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is involved in “developing solutions to the problems and challenges facing all modes of transportation.”  This research, along with the work being conducted by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and NASA must be collaborated to maintain an effective and efficient infrastructure as we know it today.  At the same time, these same types of agencies and enterprises must collaborate to create visionary modalities of transportation and infrastructure.  The recent news items regarding the Dallas-Houston bullet train are indication that we are headed in the right direction, but the bullet train must not be the only solution.  Government must step up to partner with industry to develop urban area transportation infrastructure that does not only increase current highway capacity (adding more lanes to a highway is not a sustainable solution), but considers automation and other technologically informed solutions.  There must be paradigm shift from single-vehicle transportation as the mode to mass-transit as the mode.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

IS:  The rural healthcare issues and concerns are symptomatic of a national healthcare crisis.  Providing affordable healthcare is the goal, which is to-date being compromised by the greed of huge pharmaceutical companies and the skyrocketing cost of providing healthcare.  Shifting the conversation of healthcare as a right, not a privilege implies government intervention in regulating the industry to limit excessive costs of R&D and profit-margins passed along to the consumer (patient).  Addressing the healthcare crisis will inherently benefit the rural healthcare enterprise.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

IS:  What the light bulb was to the 19th century, the internet is to the 21st century.  It is an everyday convenience that touches every aspect of our lives.  We are in an informational era, and the opportunity to utilize all that the internet has to offer must not be limited by corporate giants who seek to profit based on the speed of a person’s connection, or which web pages and services someone wants to access.  I am a strong proponent of net neutrality, who believes the government must ensure the Internet continues to be treated as a utility, and internet providers cannot charge different rates, or favor certain websites over others.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

IS:  I know the struggle.  I came to the U.S. as a child when my mother, seeking asylum from the violence that prevailed in Colombia, wanted to raise her children in a safe environment that would provide opportunity for her and her family.  It took me seven years, since I had to work multiple jobs, to complete a four-year program and earn my bachelor’s degree.  This great land has provided many opportunities and given me much.  I say I am DREAMer with papers, yet because of our democracy I am a candidate for the U.S. Congress.  I am passionate about being part of the solution to bring change to a compromised system, to ensure that our country maintains its edge as the greatest country on earth and continues to be the land of opportunity for all.  My passion is supported by my youth, providing an unparalleled level of energy and fresh perspective, and a contemporary of the next great generation.  And, despite my youth, I have had the great fortune to work as a senior liaison in a congressperson’s office.  I have developed a network of federal agency leaders, working to solve issues related to such areas as Social Security, immigration, and homeland security.  I am familiar with and comfortable to move throughout the bureaucracy, and challenge the status quo as needed.

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

IS:  I am committed to my family, most especially any opportunity to visit with my toddler niece.  My girlfriend and I enjoy evenings alone or among friends, enjoying fellowship.  I am energized being around people, and any chance I have to celebrate life is my greatest joy.

 

Thanks to Mr. Sanchez for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

#FreeDennis: Austin High School Students Protest ICE Detention of Senior

 

Frequently portrayed in the media, “Immigration Reform”, “Dreamers” and “DACA” can often seem like rather remote concepts, especially for those that follow the news from Washington.  For over a decade, Congress has been perpetuating  loop of partisan stalling tactics, party line bickering and a series of flat out refusals to address the issues.  We’re to the point now where some Democrats in the United States Senate consider it a win to even “hold a debate” on the issue.

But for cities like Houston, the consequences of the Federal Government’s horseplay are creating earthquakes across large segments of our community.  The fear of deportation is inescapable, and the consequences of when loved ones are ripped from their communities do not end with the next day’s news cycle.

Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento is a Senior at HISD’s Austin High School, just months from graduation.  Here’s what happened to him, directly from the United We Dream petition

On Tuesday, January 30th, after he was repeatedly bullied by his classmates, he decided to defend himself. Things escalated and he found himself in an altercation with one of the bullies.  Instead of de-escalating the situation, and guiding Dennis and his classmate in reconciliation, HISD’s troubling protocol allowed HISD Police Department to arrest Dennis on charges of assault, which the District Attorney immediately filed against him. Within hours he was transferred to Harris County Jail where an ICE hold was placed on him for being undocumented.

Students go to school for education, and they should feel safe while they’re there. They shouldn’t have to fear that they’ll be disciplined by police – or worse end up in detention or deported.

Dennis was eligible for, and paid, a $2,000 bond, but instead of being released to his family, the Sheriff’s Department handed him over to ICE. This is because the Sheriff’s Department has a policy to work closely with ICE by sharing information, allowing them to interrogate individuals in the jail, and to pick them up before they leave the jail. Because Dennis was not given any information about his rights, the information he shared about himself alerted ICE of his presence at the jail. This ongoing collaboration between the Sheriff’s Department and ICE is just a way to increase mass deportations locally.

A high school Senior at Austin High School, Dennis was accepted to both Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Lamar University, and plans to study computer science. If deported, Dennis will be sent back to Honduras, a place of extreme violence and insecurity. And he will not be able to graduate in May or attend college in the Fall of 2019.

The outrageous reality is that too many systems have failed Dennis and many other immigrant youth. HISD failed Dennis by letting police officers decide that incarceration is the solution to bullying. The District Attorney’s office failed Dennis by using their discretion to charge and prosecute Dennis, and to file a second case against him for forfeiting his bond, which was of no fault of his own because he went into ICE custody. The Sheriff’s Department failed Dennis by obtaining information from him that was shared with ICE and then allowed ICE to arrest him from the jail.

So today during their lunch period, the students of Austin High School decided to take a public stance in solidarity with one of their own.  Video from KPRC Local 2 News Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon captures the protest, as students overtake the street adjacent to their school.

Lest we forget, this is Houston, under the jurisdiction of Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who allegedly ended automatic cooperation with the ICE officials (a program known as 287(g)) within months of assuming office in 2017.  If you recall, ending the program was a central tenet of Sheriff Gonzalez’s campaign platform, due in part to the fact that Harris County jails are already too overcrowded that they should not be housing non-violent offenders.

Umm, Sheriff… is that practice over?  After all the talk about ending 287(g), is it still in effect??

The story is still developing, but one thing is for sure.  The Immigration “debate” is anything but remote for Houstonians.

#FreeDennis

Planned High Speed Rail Selects Houston Terminus

Even in the face of uncertainty and some fierce opposition, the bold plan for a high-speed rail line connecting Texas’ two largest metros marches forward.  In fact, as Dug Begley of the Houston Chronicle reports, yesterday’s news on the project represents a rather significant leap forward…

Once a Houston destination for shopping, movies and visits with Santa, the site of Northwest Mall is poised for revival as a bullet train terminal, with local officials and train backers seeing dollar signs from the sales tax growth potential.

Texas Central Partners and Houston-area elected officials on Monday announced that the company, which is seeking federal approval for a 240-mile high-speed train line, has chosen the mall’s 45-acre tract near Loop 610 and U.S. 290 as its preferred site for the southern terminal.

Mayor Sylvester Turner called the announcement further proof of a dramatic change in how — and where — people will travel in the Houston region.

“We are moving to a new phase in this city,” Turner said at a Monday ceremony announcing the site selection and releasing renderings of the proposed station.

The station would alter mobility for miles around it, as Houston — with some yet-to-be-determined help from Texas Central — aims to connect the location to downtown, both Houston-area airports and other major job and entertainment centers.

Here’s a clip of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Press Conference announcing the preferred site…

Last week, Texas Central Partners in junctions with Dallas city leaders, made a similar reveal of the Dallas terminus, to be located just south of the cities’ Downtown.

The announcements come on the heels of a whirlwind round of contentious public hearings by the Federal Railroad Administration, where many residents shared concerns, complaints and a few praises about the project.  Even with these large steps forward, the high speed rail line still faces major hurdles.

But if completed, this project could be the catalyst for what Mayor Turner calls a “Transportation Reformation”, especially for the Houston region.  Though still a ways from reality, plans for local light rail projects which would connect downtown, the Galleria and to Houston’s airports have been accelerated.  These associated projects could prove a major leap for Houston’s many complex transportation needs.  Of course, funding them would require some serious buy-in from Houston voters, so it remains to be seen.

That’s the latest news.  Off the Kuff has more excellent coverage.

(from the Mayor’s announcement, a rendering of the proposed station at the Northwest mall site)

(GPS view of the proposed station location)

 

TODAY is the Voter Registration Deadline for the March 6th Primary!!

The Big Question for today… ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE?!?!

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Remember for the Primaries you can vote for either the Democratic Slate, or the Republican Slate, but not both.

Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery Countyand Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

Be sure to check your registration today!

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of January 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks a house of cards built by a hyperactive six-year-old is more stable than Donald Trump as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best shot at getting elected.

SocraticGadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to actually take a political stance.

In a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump’s alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what’s new on Gorilla Channel viewing both run with Ken Silverstein’s Washington Babylon.

Neil at All People Have Value discussed the great Houston Democratic Socialists of America endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas communities. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

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

Jim Schutze observes that life as we know it has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster.

Leah Binkovitz ponders the Houston region’s transit future.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Therese Odell reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Leif Reigstad rounds up the Texans we lost last year that we’ll miss the most.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.

 

In 2018, Harvey Recovery Still A Long Road For Rockport

In the midst of a heightened news cycle, and almost daily scandals in the realm of politics, it’s often tough to remember what all has occurred in the past few weeks, let alone the time span of an entire year.  For most Houstonians,  inundated by historic, unprecedented, unimaginable floods from Hurricane Harvey, those weary days are finally beginning to seem like last year’s event as the city recovers and people try to move on.

But for Houston’s many smaller neighbors on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hurricane Harvey is a daily struggle that is just as present in 2018 as it was a few weeks after the storm.  As Omar Villafranca of CBS News reports from December 26th, it’s a tough start to the new year for residents of Aransas County…

 

Harvey made landfall in Rockport with 150 mile per hour winds and a 13 foot storm surge. Nearly 1,500 area families sought federal housing assistance, but 284 still don’t have permanent housing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a third of Rockport was so badly damaged, it will be impossible to rebuild.

More than three months later, there is still so much debris, the state is having to use a highway median as a collection point. Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax says more than 2 million cubic yards have been collected so far, and that is just on the first pass.

Meanwhile, Wax tells CBS News about 70 percent of the town’s businesses are still closed.

“I’ve got an attraction problem, I’ve got a hotel problem, I’ve got a business problem,” Wax said.

It’s that last set of issues that Mayor C.J. Wax mentions which continues to plague the community. With the local economy of so many small towns built largely around tourism and fishing, recovery from a hurricane is challenging cycle. You can’t open for business without customers, but the customers won’t come if you’re not open.  Even as residents have banded together to clean up and survive, many are still far from the existence they knew before the storm.

As Mike Probst of The Rockport Pilot shares in an editorial, the community moves forward, even if they’ve yet to move on…

Food, shelter and clothing were the critical needs during the first weeks after the storm. Many were stripped of everything. The basics of life became a harsh reality. Everyone was affected at some level. The outpouring of help was constant. Everywhere one turned there was someone handing out supplies or a free meal.

That period is over, but there are still people who are hurting. Some people have done everything in their power to move forward, but it has been hard. Others don’t have the ability to move forward under their current circumstances and are losing hope. And, there are some who are waiting, and expecting government (at any level) to make them whole.

Our local government entities, state government, nor the federal government is going to make anyone whole again.

It’s simply not going to happen.

Every entity has its role, but the process is slow. Mistakes made today can cost local taxpayers millions of dollars down the line.

Hard decisions are being made and many don’t like that, but that’s the reality in which we now live.

Far from the national spotlight that a city like Houston commands, it’s important to remember our neighbors on the ravaged Texas Coast.  And very important that we continue to advocate for government assistance for these communities.  Though these brave Texans are faced with a long road, we know they’re going to not only recover, but come back stronger than ever before.

If you’d like to help, there’s lots of great ways to support the community, from donations to volunteering opportunities, or even planning a trip.  Find more information by visiting the Rockport-Fulton website.

 

Final Bow?? San Antonio Symphony To Suspend Operations Next Week

Since the 1880s, the citizens of San Antonio and South Texas have demonstrated their love and appreciation for classical, symphonic music.  And since 1939, those artistic endeavors have culminated in the San Antonio Symphony.  But after months of uncertainty and painful negotiations, residents of the Alamo City are receiving some heartbreaking news today.  From Nicholas Frank of The Rivard Report, here’s the story…

The Symphony Society of San Antonio said late Wednesday it would cancel the remaining portion of the San Antonio Symphony’s 2017-18 season following this weekend’s Tricentennial Celebration concerts, set for Friday and Saturday.

The failure to resolve management issues and complete negotiations with the musicians’ union means that nearly two-thirds of the symphony’s season – more than four dozen concerts, by a count of performances on its website – will not occur. The orchestra’s current calendar lists performances through June 10.

“[Twenty] weeks of work in a 30-week season have just been wiped out of existence. This is only week 10,” Craig Sorgi, negotiating chair for the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony, wrote in a text to the Rivard Report. 

Another big thanks to The Rivard Report, whose coverage of this situation has been invaluable to local and statewide readers.

Though Symphony leaders pledge that the suspension of this season does not signal the end of the San Antonio Symphony, it’s hard to imagine what their future looks like at this point.

Sadly, tragedies like this one are nothing new.  Orchestras and other arts organizations across the country have struggled to stay open, with many that have yet to fully recover from severe financial crisis of 2008.  As patrons from the older generation fades, the Arts world continues to seek new sources of revenue.  But at the end of the day, those efforts may not be enough.

If there is an alternative resolution, let’s hope San Antonio can find it soon.

And a reminder… PLEASE support your local Arts organizations!!  We need them to not only survive, but to thrive!!