Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Out the Gay Vote & Wendy Davis Update

There's an event tonight specifically geared at getting out the gay vote. This is probably the first real effort at mobilizing the LGBTQ community that I can recall in recent history locally. Here's the announcement from Facebook:

Get Out The Gay Vote, Drags and Costumes to the Polls! Thursday, Oct 30th, EPIC Nightclub, with special guest Diamond, Puta Kahlo, Chandelier Kahlo, and Kiara Kahlo, among others. Rallying at 5pm, marching to vote at the courthouse at 5:30pm, and drink specials after at EPIC for voters with “I Voted” sticker.

In other developments, there is a time change for the Wendy Davis event tomorrow. Davis is flying in and out of El Paso that day so the event time was moved to 5:00pm at the El Paso County Courthouse.

Abbott Ad Shows Republicans Continue Efforts to Pander to Latinos

Its hard to watch television during this time of year and avoid political ads. They are everywhere these days.

The other night I caught one featuring Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's suegra.

For some reason Republicans think that communicating with the Latino community involves a feeble attempt at Spanish or an obligatory brown face in front of a camera.

George P. Bush is an example of both.

So in an attempt show that they somehow understand the needs of our community they will give them a script that will pepper in a Spanish word here and there. They usually mispronounce the words and make everyone uncomfortable. Like when the Castro brothers do the same.

But my favorite part is when they shovel their one Latino relative in front of a camera.

Its pandering and it does nothing to convince Latinos that you understand our needs or even really care about earning our vote. But for some reason, white Republicans think putting brown faces in front of us will do the trick.

Now I know what you're thinking, you saying "but Jaime, you just said that Wendy Davis should bring in Eva Longoria".

Indeed I did. But thats because she's a celebrity and well known in the Latino community for political activism. Abbott using his suegra is just his way of saying "my wife is brown".

As long as you have policies that are anti-immigrant and often come off more like anti-Latino, you will not be able to "speak our language". Especially with that crazy anti-immigrant running mate of Abbott's.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wendy Davis Stops in Borderland on Friday

Democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis will be in El Paso on Friday. She will be in front of the El Paso County Courthouse at 3:30pm.

Friday is the last day of early voting. For years El Paso has tried to position itself in statewide elections to a position of influence because we overwhelmingly vote Democratic and because we are in a different time zone.

But as usual our turnout is abysmal. Her stop in El Paso on the last day is likely a last ditch effort to spike turnout. 

If the TDP is really interested in spiking turnout by having a big shot show up on the last day of early voting they should've considered having a big star like fellow Texas Democrat Eva Longoria attend. 

You'd attract more passive voter participants that don't normally have much of a motivation to come out and play.

That's why they GOP brought in Chuck Norris, although he doesn't have the demographic appeal in El Pado tha Longoria does. 

So the Davis appearance underscores the importance of El Paso to her strategy, but to an extent it also highlights the lack of an effective GOTV effort.

Monday, October 27, 2014

LVP - Chuck Norris - Voting Trends

I didn't go see Leticia Van De Putte this weekend.

I didn't see Chuck Norris either.

Sorry, I don't have anything to share as a result.

That being said, the Times reports yet again that rallies apparently don't matter because we still suck at voting. There's a County with half of our population that is out-voting us by a few hundred voters.

There are a boatload of ways to vote. Early voting, mobile voting, vote-by-mail, and Election Day voting.

I don't care how you do it, just do it.

And don't feed me this crap about "Me not voting is actually a protest about who's on the ballot". It isn't you lazy hipster. Now get off your i-Pad at Starbucks where you're drinking your douchey over-priced latte and ride your beach cruiser to a polling location and vote.

Oh, and one last thing. Its really hard to say what the impact of the low voter turn-out will be on local races. Without knowing what their outreach, GOTV, and accuracy is like, its really impossible to say if it hurts or helps any one particular candidate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chuck Morris to Roll Through El Paso

Sources in the EP GOP indicate that movie star and Walker, Texas Ranger Chuck Norris will be in town next week.

The actor will be in town as part of a rally for Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbot. 

Stay tuned for details.

Diaz Out of Compliance with Campaign Finance Reporting Requirement

Democratic candidate for El Paso County Commissioner Precinct #4 Julio Diaz has again found himself out of compliance with reporting requirements relating to his campaign finances.

Candidates that are on commissioner's court or a candidate for an office on commissioner's court are required to report donations over $2500 to Commissioner's Court within 30 days.

This is a requirement laid out in the El Paso County Code of Ethics, Article XII:

13. Campaign Contributions
If a member of commissioners court, or candidate for a seat on commissioners court, accepts political campaign contributions of Two Thousand, Five Hundred and No/100 Dollars ($2,500.00) or more, including in-kind contributions, from any one person or entity within a twelve month period, he shall report the amounts, the donor, and the dates of said contributions by an item on the agenda of the El Paso County Commissioners Court within 30 days of the date of said cumulative contribution. The report shall also be placed upon the El Paso County web page.

Woody Hunt donated $2500 to Julio Diaz on September 22 of this year according to records at the County. The contribution should be on the agenda for Monday's meeting to be in compliance with the Ethics Commission.

Diaz has previously stated that the creation of the Ethics Commission is one of the best things the County has done.

"It's my first time running for office. I'm learning a lot." Diaz stated about the compliance issue.

Diaz also stated about the failure to report the contribution, "It was an oversight. I will go later today to take care of it."

As I previously wrote, Diaz has a pretty large campaign staff but he indicated that he does the reporting.

It was also the first time his primary and general election opponents, Melodya Salaices and Andrew Haggerty, have run for office as well. Neither of them have failed to comply with the reporting requirements.

His opponent, Republican candidate Andrew Haggerty stated, "This is why his previous record was brought up by both his opponent in the primary as well as me, he has shown over and over again that he feels the rules don't apply to him. We don't need another politician who feels like he is above the rules. We need to be the example."

Former First Lady Hits The Mission Trail

Former First Lady Laura Bush was visiting the Mission Trail here in town yesterday. 

I assume she hit all three but can only confirm that she was a La Purisima in Socorro and San Elizario.

Here is a photo of Bush with Mayor Maya Sanchez if San Elizario as they made their way to the mission. Photo courtesy of Ryan Montes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Leticia Van De Putte to Attend Rally Saturday

Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor Leticia Van De Putte will be in El Paso in Saturday. 

She will headline a GOTV rally being held at the El Paso County Coliseum.

The rally begins at 4:15pm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Social Media Continues to Evolve in Campaigns

Congressman O'Rourke leveraged social media pretty effectively during his campaign in which he defeated former congressman Silvestre Reyes. 

It's still evolving and candidates are still experimenting with how to make it work best.

Looks like Julio Diaz has decided to utilize sponsored ads on Facebook. Pretty good idea during early voting because it's a good reminder to voters and is pretty inexpensive. People are on Facebook multiple times a day. 

I would've included early voting locations and hours, but it's pretty smart on Julio's part.

But before you post a campaign ad, you might want to double check the English.

Not sure "enforcing" is the word he was looking for.

Cecilia Abbot is in Town

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbot's spouse Cecilia is supposed to be in town today making phone calls at the GOP headquarters today.

I don't have any other details on her visit, that is the information I was provided by a Republican insider.

Homegirl of the Week: Niland to Reclaim Her Seat

Hey look, a non-doctored photo of Niland!
Somebody tell Paredes he missed
doctoring this one.
Time for me to put this conversation to rest and time to award the Homegirl of the Week to a gringa.

City Representative Cortney Niland will be reclaiming her old seat at the next city council meeting.

As you have no-doubt heard there has been a long on-going novela about where people sit at El Paso City Council because City Representative Lily Limon can't seem to behave herself like an educated Latina during city council meetings.

For the second time a member of city council as asked to be moved from sitting next to Limon because of her conduct during the meetings. 

Representative Limon has apparently been more concerned with distracting her colleagues during meetings than representing her constituents which has led to her constituents having to seek assistance at other levels of government.

Sources indicate that Niland will reclaim her seat and save the tax payers the expense of having to pay for Representative Limon's behavior at the next city council meeting. 

About time someone stood up to Limon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More on Tropicana Low-Income Housing Protest

So here is a follow-up to the piece I did about a protest yesterday in front of Senator Rodriguez's office by constituents who live in an area of East El Paso near Loop 375 and Rojas.

They live in upper middle to upper class area of the east side of town. Tropicana Homes, owned by Bobby Bowling and family, applied for some tax credits with the state and was able to get permission to build a 300 unit low-income housing community in their area.

The reason that the protesters were in front of Senator Rodriguez's office is because he signed a letter of support for the Tropicana project.

The residents indicate that they don't want the development in their area because they believe it will affect their property values, traffice, crime, and the local elementary school. Their primary concern at this point is that they feel there weren't adequately notified that the project was in the works and that robbed them of the ability to expressed opposition before a decision was finalized.

According to an email from Representative Ordaz's office, who represents the area, there may be very little the constituents can do at this point to stop the development.

Another applicant for a tax credit with the state was Ike Monty and he filed a complaint against Tropicana regarding the notification process for residents. Monty's complaint basically says that Bowling's project wasn't in compliance with the state criteria for the tax credits because residents weren't properly notified.

It appears that state didn't agree with Monty's complaint. Here are their findings:

So it appears that the reason that the residents weren't informed is because they weren't formally organized into a recognized neighborhood association. 

They apparently formed after this project and the tax credits were approved. 

Representative Ordaz produced emails that demonstrate her efforts to look into the matter to ascertain what the process was and at what stage the parties were in the process. Representative Ordaz took office in August of this year and so most of it occurred under the previous city representative Eddie Holguin.

Once the tax credits were approved the only other issue was to verify if it met zoning requirements, which it did. 

Representative Ordaz's emails indicate that she would like the city to look into seeing if its possible to work with the state, perhaps requiring legislation, to mirror the city's method of notifying neighbors of a zoning change if they live within a certain amount of feet of the proposed project in order to avoid another situation like this in the future. 

When asked if she was supportive of the neighborhood associations bid to stop the construction of the affordable housing community in their neighborhood Representative Ordaz responded by saying. "I believe they should have been notified, just like any of the City's zoning cases, they go through CPC and have a public hearing at council giving the public an opportunity to speak about it. They didn't know anything about it until they called the city a few weeks ago to see what development was being built in their backyards.

I've made myself accessible and tried to find any information to help answer any questions. There is not a lot I can do at this point. Bowling received funding from the state early last year, it didn't go through the city, but all the zoning looks correct. I'm working with our legal team to work on legislation to see if TDHCA can mirror what the city does in our zoning cases so that the public at least gets notification."

In terms of the next step for the constituents, they have a meeting scheduled next week with Senator Rodriguez's office to discuss his letter of support that was written to support the tax credits for Tropicana

Members of the Bowling family frequently contribute to political campaigns and have donated to Senator Rodriguez on multiple occasions

Commissioner 4 Debate Summary

You all know I'm a Democrat so I'm sure you'll take this post with a grain of salt but I'll be as objective as I can on this one.

In terms of performance in the debate hosted by the West El Paso Republican Women I think you'd have to give a slight edge to Julio Diaz, the Democrat.

Both candidates surprised me with the depth of their knowledge of county policy and issues. Haggerty showed that he's running on more than just a storied family name. Diaz showed that he's more than just a pretty face.

If the question is who impressed me more, then hands down I'd have to say Andrew Haggerty. Clearly young Andrew could use some polishing. He's a little unpolished and probably a little more blunt than he should be, but he wouldn't be a Haggerty if he wasn't.

Haggerty came out with a very sharp message about Diaz that he's been open to since the primary. Haggerty basically used Diaz's own message against him. Diaz has spoken about ending the culture of corruption and ethics, etc. Haggerty pounced on that in front of what should've been a friendly crowd save for the fact that Julio showed up with a huge entourage and a campaign staff larger than I've seen for congressional candidates.

He reminds me a little of Hector H. Lopez in that way, but I'll get to that later.

Photo taken from Diaz campaign FB page
Haggerty mentioned Diaz's “multiple run-ins with the law” and Diaz's business that is “near failure”. I went back and looked at the video and Diaz was clearly annoyed by the fact that Haggerty raised those two issues. I was going to post a screen shot from the video to illustrate my point, but this photo from Diaz's campaign team actually does more justice to it than the screen shot I was going to use. 

There is a mugshot of Diaz floating around. His primary opponent used it in social media and in a mailer so he was clearly arrested and booked for something.

But when it was Diaz's turn to speak he practically leaped out of his seat to get to the microphone.

Diaz was ready with a response that was right on the edge of political brilliance. Until he may have erred. 

Diaz responded by saying that he had “no misdemeanors...but what I do have is a security clearance...” from the military.

That was a pretty good answer and he should've stopped there. But like anyone who is uncomfortable with a topic, he kept going and he made a comment that has the potential to be the turning point in the race.

Diaz added, “I have no criminal record.” What he should've said was that he's never been convicted of a crime. But that's not what he said.

Its going to be hard for a voter to take Diaz seriously with a statement like that if there's a mug shot floating around of him. If Haggerty puts that quote on a piece of mail along with Diaz's mugshot, its really going to hurt Diaz.

I don't know if Haggerty even has the time, talent, or resources to put a piece like that together considering early voting started Monday, but that statement has the potential to be a game-changer.

Diaz never really addressed the state of his business. But I was extremely impressed by Diaz's discipline of staying on message. If he didn't mention the fact that he has military experience in every answer it sure as hell felt like it.

The rest of the debate was the two trading positions about public policy that pretty much followed party lines. Haggerty talked a lot about smaller government and the budget. Diaz used the phrase “fiscal conservative” several times but spoke like a liberal Democrat on most policy issues. He fiercely defended the clinic votes and did so better than most members of commissioners court frankly. He clearly knows that issue inside and out and will eat anybody's lunch on the topic. He was absolutely brilliant on that issue.

But in Haggerty's opening remarks he touched on something I didn't catch at first but as the debate went on I started to notice he was right. Haggerty implored the audience to hold them accountable in answering questions. I'm pretty sure he did that because he knows Diaz takes a long time to get to a point and is often unresponsive in his answers.

Haggerty impressed me with his prosecution of Diaz. He talked about trust and said that the county doesn't need another mug shot. He also stayed on Diaz about a quote he made about the Ethics Commission. Haggerty mentioned that Diaz praised the creation of the Ethics Commission but that he'd been out of compliance with several ethics issues including filing his campaign finance reports late, accepting corporate contributions, note reporting the big dollars to commissioner's court, and filing the report improperly.

Perhaps in response to Haggerty's prosecution Diaz mentioned that he's “...not perfect...” several times and said that only God is.

Diaz scored with a sharp line about Haggerty's lack of military experience and Diaz's entourage celebrated when he dropped the line on Haggerty. One of Diaz's campaign staffers actually did a fist-pump so it was obviously a line they've been wanting to use for a while.

Diaz stayed on the military stuff pretty much the entire debate which made me chuckle to myself for a variety of reasons that I'll explain in another post, but I'll explain one of the reasons here.

Diaz went to ROTC and is a officer in the reserves. He's in a public affairs unit. But he's in charge of S-1, which means he's basically in charge of personnel issues. In other words, he's in charge of paperwork. He has a degree in political science.

I know when I was in the Army, they hammered home a little thing called “attention to detail”. It surprises me that a guy who, as Haggerty put it, “has a degree in campaigning” and touts his military paperwork experience, would make a mistake on campaign paperwork. Apparently on more than one occasion.

In terms of the debate performance I'd have to give the edge to Julio Diaz. He's very well packaged. He has deeper policy knowledge than I expected despite the fact that he takes to long to answer a question if he answers it at all. He also does his best not to answer questions that might get him in trouble and that takes discipline. I think he needs to make sure that his campaign staff don't become a distraction. Campaign staff, if they are doing a good job, are usually seen and not heard. If even seen at all. His campaign manager stood behind me during my post-fight interview with Diaz and signaled him a couple of times.

Haggerty did well. He didn't lose, he just didn't come across as well as Diaz. Haggerty has to have a sense of urgency about him. Diaz appears to be running a solid ground game, which hasn't been done by a Democratic candidate in that race before.

There were several moments in the debate when the two went after each other that made me say "Zas!", so it was pretty entertaining. 

The X Factor

What makes this race a perfect storm for the Democrats is the fact that Diaz is a more formidable candidate than expected in terms of the mechanics of an election. There is also a major issue on the GOP side.

There is no Republican state rep candidate on the ballot so there is no outside money being pumped in to push the GOP turnout. To add to Haggerty's worries is the significant number of undervotes that race has. Haggerty can't afford to have 2,000 people go to the polls and not vote for him in a tight race. So if there is a big push for the GOP to turnout, its going to be up to young Mr. Haggerty to make it happen. I think if the election were held today, he'd lose. If he doesn't call the rest of the family off the bench to pitch-in, Diaz is going to pull the upset.

Ebola Media Debate on Social Media

Late last week when there was a dust-up about a patient in an El Paso hospital that may have had Ebola-like symptoms, social media exploded with rumors.

A reporter from KVIA and the editor of the El Paso Times had two different takes on the situation and I monitored the conversation and found it fascinating. The comparison of one very seasoned reporter from print media and a pretty studious television news reporter was a great contrast.

It was interesting to see the two approaches to the story. One the more traditional and methodical newspaper approach and the other was the get-the-info-to-the-public-quickly breaking news approach.

An interesting debate arose about being first versus being right and the responsibility of media to inform the public in a timely manner without causing confusion and alarm unnecessarily.

It was all centered around the establishment of whether or not it was factually accurate to say that the emergency room was closed. 

Interesting conversation.

LATER TODAY - More on the subdivision on the Eastside that had a protest yesterday and more on the Diaz/Haggerty debate last week.