Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Did I Ever Tell You the Time I Wrestled a Bear?" My Final Post

My dad used to tell us crazy stories when we were kids. Sometimes they were so over the top that we didn't know whether or not to believe them. He once told us a story about wrestling a bear. We didn't believe him. 

Turns out, it was true.

I've been lucky enough to have a lot of stories to tell myself since starting this blog.

Over the last few weeks I've been struggling with how to properly end The LionStar Blog. I am moving on to another stage of life and career and as a result, I am leaving The LionStar Blog behind me.

Its not the easiest thing to do. I've quit a couple of times before. But the previous times it was after an election and usually out of frustration. This time is different. The change is not only professional, but its personal as well.

This year has been a year of change for me. And like most change, it wasn't always comfortable and welcomed, but change comes whether you want it to or not. Ultimately it was a wonderful change that signaled a new beginning.

The message I wanted to convey in a final piece on The LionStar Blog is one of gratitude. I am truly grateful for the fact that for several years now, you have come to read my blog for information and analysis. I didn't always get it right of course. I was wrong many times along the way but I like to think I was batting around .800, which are Hall of Fame stats any day of the week in baseball.

Whether it was by a PC, tablet, or cell phone, via Facebook, Twitter, or my URL, I was able to connect and engage in a dialogue about local policy with thousands of El Pasoans every day. Not many can say they did that.

Hard to believe but I'm proud to say that The LionStar Blog left a footprint in this town. Not a big one, maybe not a deep one, but a footprint nonetheless. I never planned on influencing policy, shaping an election, or breaking the occasional news story. Thats not what The LionStar Blog was supposed to be. It was just supposed to be a place were I could post summaries of forums and occasionally get up on my soapbox for a rant or two.

The pictures, videos, and audio recordings were never part of the plan. I never intended to put so much work in to this little project. It just sort of happened.

Like a romance. Unplanned, unintended, and out of nowhere. But it felt like a good thing so I went along for the ride.

I was originally anonymous when I started blogging. I wanted to be able to write what I felt without having people try to pressure me or intimidate me. I was accidentally outed by Sito Negron at Newspaper Tree when I wrote a column about Cesar Chavez. That was ultimately a good thing because I learned that I would only have credibility if I were able to lay my analysis with no net underneath. Any blogger with a set a brass ones doesn't need to be anonymous.

And yes, along the way I've had my share of people who have tried to pressure me, push me, pull me, sweet-talk me, and intimidate me in to, or out of, writing something. Thats when you should what you're made of.

I've had the chance to interview every major elected official in this town. I've interviewed almost every candidate who's run for anything in this town over the last few years. I've interviewed the homeless, celebrities, Senators, and even Cabinet members. I've interviewed Republicans, Libertarians, Green Partiers, and of course members of my own beloved Democratic Party.

I've been a local source for media outlets in town, in Austin, around Texas and in DC for info on candidates and issues. Trust me when I tell you that its a little overwhelming at first when they come to you for local information. But I like to think I made my pop proud. He got a kick out of my blog even though he didn't really understand the power of the internet at the time.

For the most part, people hate me. And I'm okay with it. Trust me, I take more than my share of lumps. And I doubt most of you would be able to take the amount of crap people say and write about me as easily as I have over the last few years. Sometimes its just a front. I'm a human and of course some of the stuff stings a little. But it comes with the territory.

If you don't want to get hit, then don't get in the ring.

But if you enjoyed reading my blog, I thank you for reading it. If you read it because you hate me and just wanted to see what I was talking about on that particular day, I still thank you.

So it comes full circle. David K started the local blogosphere and he's the last one standing. As he should be. Batman always needed the joker, and the Yankees are no fun without the Redsox. But David K and I, despite being from totally different worlds and opposite ends of the political spectrum, have never been enemies. Hell David K and I once made up a fake candidate for County Judge just to have fun with the media.

He doesn't even live in El Paso anymore but he still knows more about local politics and policy than most people that go and cast a vote. You have to respect that. And I do.

So no big finish here on The LionStar Blog. Just a big heartfelt thank you.

But before I go, here's a couple of fun facts about The LionStar Blog:

My first piece was about Anna Perez. She was with the County Attorney's Office then and a candidate for El Paso County Commissioner. She's going to be a judge tomorrow. Things really do come full circle. The last campaign sign my dad ever put up was for Commissioner, then candidate Anna Perez. He held the sign for me while I hammered it in the ground off of Montana. And I'm actually writing my last post on Commissioner Perez's dinner table this evening.

My first interview with an elected official was with City Representative Eddie Holguin at the 2008 Texas State Democratic Convention. He was a Hillary Clinton delegate then. A few years later and he is now poised to run for House District 76 if he so chooses. And he's probably still waiting for the rest of the Clinton Super-delegates to come in.

My last interview was with Congressman-elect Beto O'Rourke. I've always enjoyed interviewing O'Rourke and there's a reason. O'Rourke is a challenge. As you know I relate a lot of things in politics to boxing, but my dad related it to baseball. Whenever I do an interview I typically like to “back them off the plate” as my dad used to say. Throw something hard, inside, and near the head. It sends a batter a message. So I do the same thing with questions. No matter how hard, fast, or inside the question, O'Rourke never backed off the plate. Even when political wisdom said he should've.

So that's it people. I'm reminded of a line from Forrest Gump when Bubba dies. Forrest says “If I'd have known that was the last time I talked to Bubba, I'd have thought of something better to say.”

Well I can't really think of something better to say right now other than the echo of my roots.

Si se puede! La causa sigue!

And of course, SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!

Monday, December 31, 2012


I think I saw a piece somewhere about headlines that the author wished he or she saw but didn't. I thought I'd offer a few local headlines I wish I'd seen but didn't over this last year in El Paso.

So here's what I came up with:

















The Most Important Election in El Paso You Never Hear Of

The men of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo will gather at the Tus'la (not 100% sure on the spelling) tonight to hold elections for their Governor and other positions.

This isn't an office people campaign for and it is usually closely tied to family alliances and feuds. The elections are important to the region because the leadership determines the direction of the Pueblo and its relationship with the rest of the region.

Hopefully word will get out tomorrow as to who the leadership will be for the Pueblo. The terms are a year long and there is no indication that the Tiguas will go in a different direction than the one they are going in now, but these elections are very unpredictable and there's no telling what is going to happen.

Again, only Tigua men older than 18 are allowed to vote or attend. Also there are no electronic devices allowed at the meeting either.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Suck It!!!!

As El Paso's unofficial biggest Redskins fan, I just want to send the Dallas Cowpies a warm heartfelt goodbye to the playoffs!

Suck it Cowpie fans!

How to Win an Election in El Paso

I have to confess, as a blogger I have always loved city elections the most. Yea, they aren't as fun in terms of policy as state and federal elections where I can feed my inner wonk, but everyone loves a good train wreck.

And candidates for city elections have a tendency to be walking train wrecks. Its the place where the ankle-biters, weirdos, nutcases, and the eccentric try their hand a politics.

But since this is the holiday season, I feel like being generous so I'll tell you exactly how to win an election in this town. This is a total freebie people. And don't worry, I'm not giving away the nuclear launch codes here. I'm just telling you what has worked for WINNING campaigns.

#1 - Timing and opportunity. Politics is 100% about timing and opportunity. If these two things don't line up, do not pass go. And an open seat is not opportunity. You're ability to WIN and open seat is opportunity. Or running against a vulnerable candidate.

#2 - Money. Generally speaking the rule is He who has the most money, wins. But if you don't manage the money properly that is an advantage that can be overcome. Just look at Chente Quintanilla and Mary Gonzalez. Those are perfect example of how having a ton of money and not spending it properly will ensure you lose, and how having all the money in the race and spending it properly will ensure you win.

#3 - Messaging. You have to have a message that will resonate with voters. You have to be able to deliver that message in a way that they will understand and which will result in a desired outcome. This part isn't easy and is one of the areas where candidates trip up the most.

#4 - Targeted Universe. If you don't know what this term means then you have no business running because you are going to get trucked. This is the other area where the wheels fall off of a campaign. You can pay political operatives all the money in the world, but if they don't know how to identify a strong, effective targeted universe of voters, they aren't worth a double order from Chico's. They should be tweaking the universe based on any available election data they can get a hold of. A perfect example of this is Jaime Romo. He ran for County Commissioner in Precinct 1 earlier this year. He was young and progressive. Genuinely nice guy that people would vote for. The problem? Bad targeting of voters. He knocked on the door of every voter in the precinct (thats what he said anyway). Huge mistake. My tocayo should've been knocking on the door of LIKELY voters and should've done so more than once. El Pasoans like meeting their candidates one-on-one. They like sizing them up. They like people to ASK for their support. They want to be talked to, not talked at.

#5 - Effective Mail. Your mail has to effectively deliver your message. Its that simple. It needs to be short and make an impact. Sending big long Luther Jones style mail pieces do nothing for you. Mail should be as targeted as your block-walking. And despite the fact that so many people say they don't like negative campaigning, its still effective.

#6 - Commitment. If you aren't committed to winning, don't bother running.

#7 - Effective Media Relations. For the most part, the media in town isn't going to cover your race. Unless you are in trouble, or you can find a way to make them cover it. Media is biased towards one particular candidate or another. Act accordingly and hope you are that candidate.

There, you just saved yourself some money. Now you have to be able to execute. And thats the hard part. Thats the part that determines who wins and who loses.

Mayors Race Will Be a Snoozer

The last election showed very clearly that despite a few loud voices out there, we are not a divided city. We are a city that pretty much agrees on the direction of El Paso.

The results of the proposition measures show that pretty clearly.

And thats exactly why the mayoral election is going to be one giant snoozer. Come back in May and read this blog post again and you'll see I'm right about this one.

City Rep Steve Ortega will be the next mayor of El Paso. Make no mistake about that. There is no one even remotely poised to be a credible challenger. Steve Ortega is exactly what El Paso voters love in a candidate. He's young, smart, dynamic, and progressive.

Take a look at nearly all of the races in town and really in the county for that matter over the last few years and you will see what I mean. I've made the point over and over that given the chance, El Pasoans will choose the younger and more progressive candidate.

I'm sure there will be an effort to make someone who isn't a credible challenger look like a credible challenger, but trust me there is no one out there right now poised to beat Ortega. You'd need a lot of money and no one else has started working yet. You'd need much more time to take out someone as formidable as Ortega and I just don't see anyone getting off their butt to do so. Plus, you have to have a candidate voters would prefer over Ortega.

Not gonna happen.

The only other person out there that I can think of that has articulated a desire to run for office doesn't appear to actually be doing anything significant. And don't give me the "its still early" argument. Its never too early. Especially when you are trying to defeat someone from a faction that is basically undefeated.

Get used to the idea people, you should get used to calling Steve O, Mayor Ortega.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dear USC Trojans

Welcome to El Paso. You'll find we are a very warm and welcoming city...to those that deserve it. But for those that smack talk about our little town, well you can kiss our collective nalgas.

I'm an El Pasoan by choice, that is to say I wasn't born here but I am an El Pasoan just the same. We are no LA, that is to be sure. But lets face it, almost every Latino in LA probably has family in EP.

There is a character about this city. We do our share of fighting with one another, but nothing brings people from Chucotown together like some idiot talking smack about our home town. Just ask the last guy from Oklahoma how that worked out for him. And lets be honest, you have to be certa-effin-fiable to be from Oklahoma and have the nerve to bad mouth El Paso.

You are going to find everyone in this town to be very friendly. Unlike the cesspool of humanity that is the LA area, we still say Buenos Dias when we see strangers, we stand up for seniors on the bus, and we hold the door open for ladies. Being from a big city is no excuse to be a classless idiot, although you guys from LA seem to have refined it to nuclear grade capacity.

Frankly, you guys are going to be treated like kings. You'll be wined, dined, and thoroughly taken care of in this town. We don't have fancy stuff like other towns but we have what you people don't have. Good, genuine, salt-of-the-earth people.

And no one, and I mean no one, parties better than people from El Paso. And we have more hot women per square foot than any other town in the country.

But we won't forget what your linebacker Tony Burnett had to say about our fair town. When you are in restaurants, bars, and attractions around the Sun City you are going to taste good ol' El Paso hospitality. But when he enters the stadium on New Years Eve, well, don't be surprised if he meets good ol' El Paso hostility. After all, when you talk about where someone is from, you are pretty much talking about their momma.

And everyone knows those are fightin' words.

Trust me, I wanted to really rip your whole team a new one for what was said about El Paso. I was going to have a post filled with snarky remarks like the fact that the most popular Trojans in this town come in box that is held behind the counter at a convenience store, not your mascot. Although the ladies around town tell me that if you take your helmets off that prevents a pregnancy just as well as the Trojan in a box.

But I'm not going to do that. I'm gonna go out of my way to be as friendly as I can to you all. I'm gonna kill you with kindness like everyone else in town.

Except when Burnett enters the stadium. I'm gonna boo him like crazy.

Forget Texas, Don't Mess with Chuco.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the entire staff here at The LionStar Blog, (which is just me) I'd like to extend my warmest wishes to you and your families during this holiday season.

I am grateful to have had such a large and devoted base of readers over the years and for that I am truly appreciative.

May all of you, even my haters, have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Feliz navidad!

Socorro Special Election?

A frequent reader of The LionStar Blog in Socorro reminded me of something the other day. I mentioned the sudden resignation of Trini Lopez as mayor of Socorro as one of the top political stories of 2012.

My reader reminded me to ask what what is going to happen to replace former mayor Lopez? I haven't heard a peep as to what the process is going to be to replace him. Are they going to have a special election to replace him as the mayor of Socorro?

If so when and what is the process going to be like?

And frankly it wouldn't surprise me if some old names popped up yet again. When and if there is another election for mayor down in Socorro I assure you that you will see the same old names recycled again. My only hope is that some good candidates jump in the race.

Socorro is in need of good, strong, ethical, and progressive leadership.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just in case the Mayans were right...

My buddy Jose Landeros and I were sittin' around shootin' the breeze, which means drinking beer, and we got in to a conversation about what we would do if the Maya are right about the world ending. (Yes I know, thats not really what the calendar says, don't be a douche. Just go with it...)

So we compiled a list of people we'd like to shoot the breeze with before the Mayan-Zombie-Pole-reversal-Planet-X-Solar-Flare-Apocalypse. See if you can figure who picked each item.

People We'd Like to "Shoot the Breeze With"

All living presidents. So we can tell them where they went wrong. And cuz, lets be honest, who doesn't wanna have a night on the town with Bill Clinton?

Ron Paul & Arch Bishop/Duke/Jedi Knight Tom Brown - see we can tell both of them how silly and irrelevant they are.

Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards - Because we both like Top Gun. I want them to help me sing "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" to Estela Casas. Jose wants to buzz the tower with them. "Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full."

Vicente Fernandez - cuz no one understands me like Chente.

Dierks Bentley - cuz no one understands Jose like Dierks.

Captain Kirk - Cuz he kissed a green chick and made out with Uhura.

Spock - because is logical.

The Pope - just communion wine.

Sting....the wrestler, not the singer. He wears face paint. Chicks dig mystery.

Stone Cold Steve Austin - Cuz he said so.

Julio Cesar Chavez - He's my childhood idol and he could kick Chuck Norris' ass.

Salma Hayek, Carrie Underwood, Penelope Cruz, Rachel McAdams - have you seen them?

Tom Hanks - Jose's favorite actor. A man who's lived alone on an island for that long as got to have some good stories. And we hear he's met a few presidents too.

George Strait - Because he's George Strait.

Richard Rodriguez - He makes cool movies and Salma Hayek is his comadre.

Edward James Olmos -I want to have him record my voicemail message.

Morgan Freeman - Because he's God.

Little Joe - I've drank with him before and I want Jose to experience how cool it is.

Obi Juan Kenobi - Because the Force is strong with him and everyone knows he's handy in a bar fight.

Daisy Duke - Innovator of our favorite shorts for women.

Jorge Ramos & Anderson Cooper - Clearly they were separated at birth and we'd like to reunite them.

Lou Diamond Phillips - Ritchie! (We want to show him what Mexicans are really like.)

Kim Jung Un - to tell him to lighten the hell up.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt - in suits in a Vegas Casino. Cuz if the Oceans movies can have Chinitos, why not Chicanos? (Relax, its an accurate term. The character was small and Chinese.)

Tommy Lee Jones - We're Texas Democrats and he's is therefore a God to us.

The Swedish Cook from the Muppets - Our theory is he'll make sense if were drunk. Plus, Jose and I have really spent an afternoon chopping turkey nuts. But its cool cuz it was charity.

Prince - Who else could you listen to all night long?

Gene Simmons - We know he doesn't drink but...we do.

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - so we can hear their music and they'd be good to have around if anyone wants to start some shizzle with us. Hey even Obi Juan Kanobi needs someone to give him 'squina.

Carlos Slim - the richest man in the world. He's Mexican and loaded. And after all the people on this list, we're going to need someone to pick up the bar tab.

Updated info on Romero

So my friend Jackie ripped me a new one for "poor fact finding" on the District 2 Candidate Larry Romero. I usually am the one that whacks people around here, but she thumped me pretty good so I have to take it like a man.

She posted a comment on the last piece I wrote about Romero but since she whacked me pretty good on getting facts wrong, I thought it deserved its own post. He's her uncle and if someone got facts wrong about my uncle, I'd correct them to.

So here it is:

He was a big part of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has relatively well rounded connections with our current representatives in El Paso. He used to work at the City in the Economic Development office, before he left to become a small business owner, not a bookkeeper. As a matter of fact, he doesn't even provide bookkeeping services. He previously ran for the El Paso Community College Board of Trustees when he came back from his position with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, so he does have campaign experience. So no, there isn't going to be a "steep campaign learning curve."

Honestly, Jaime...Slacking on the information gathering? I mean, you have almost everything wrong about him. There is a pretty sweet thing known as Google and his LinkedIn profile is there for all to see.

Now then, let me respond to just a couple of things she wrote. Having run for arguably the most inconsequential office in town, and lost, doesn't necessarily mean he has campaign experience. Well, not the right kind anyway. This is an entirely different ball game and with all due respect..he lost. So yes, there is going to be a steep campaign learning curve. I stand by that part.

The rest of what I wrote, well she was right to whack me and I deserved it. 

Jackie 1 - LionStar 0

Nothing is Going to Happen, & the World is Not Going to End

Okay so apparently every school in West Texas is closing early, increasing security, or taking some other over-reaching ineffective steps to prevent some act from happening at our area schools.

Nothing is going to happen. Not even teenagers are stupid enough to post a warning on FB that they are going to do something like that. And teenagers are pretty stupid.

Hell, they can't even organize a flash-mob without some help. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is going to happen.

And the world is not going to end tomorrow. Although I am going to do a piece about stuff I want to do if the world was really going to end.

But it isn't. And anyone who takes the word of a group of people who couldn't foresee their own demise needs their head examined.

Relax people and have a cup of cheer.

District 2's Other Candidate

I keep forgetting to write about this guy named Larry Romero.

He's another candidate for District 2 and he is a book-keeper or something like that. From what I'm told he was previously going to run for the District 2 seat in the last go-around. For whatever reason he chose not to, which tells me he is at least a strategic thinker.

Word on the street is that he has some money saved up for the bid and has the ability to raise more if necessary. I don't recall him ever running for anything before so there is going to be a steep campaign learning curve.

Not sure if he has a campaign manager yet either.

He's an older guy and has some ground to make up in terms of name ID and a platform but having money is a good equalizer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Byrd Endorses Candidate in Precinct 2 Race

City Representative Susie Byrd has thrown her support behind a candidate in the race to replace her in City Rep District 2.

In a text message sent to me earlier this afternoon, Byrd said "I'm 100% behind Jim Tolbert. He's been a great neighborhood leader and advocate for smart growth."

This is exactly the sort of thing that Tolbert needed to be competitive in this race. If he ends up getting some money as well, then I think Yanez and Apodaca need to start worrying because he's from the same neighborhood that has owned that seat for nearly a decade.

The public sign that she's behind Tolbert changes the tone of this race greatly. This means if you aren't in the race yet, you should probably sit this one out.