Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Marched with Cesar Chavez

(Note to readers: This piece is a reprint from a blog/column from two years ago)

“When your children and grandchildren take their place in America, going to high school and college, and taking good jobs at good pay-when you look at them you will say, ‘I did this, I was there…at the point of difficulty and danger’.

And though you may be old and bent from many years of hard labor, no man will stand taller than you when you say, ‘I marched with Cesar Chavez!’” Robert F. Kennedy


Cesar Chavez Day is coming up and I thought I’d write a few lines about the man that I have come to regard as a personal hero.

THE LINEAGE

I grew up in the United Farmworker’s Union, as you can see in this photo. I was about 3 or 4 years old in this picture. It’s a picket line in Arizona, around 1978 or 1979.


My family’s name is well-known in “La Causa” and am the third generation of my family to be heavily involved with the Union and the movement. My grandfather Pedro, and great-uncles Hector and Ernesto were close advisors to Cesar and were with Cesar since the birth of the Union. Tio Hector was with Cesar since the days of CSO and Fred Ross.

My father, as I’ve previously mentioned, was an organizer for Cesar and my Tia Barbara (Dad’s sister) was a contract negotiator (one tough lady!) for the Union. Her ex-husband, I still call him Uncle Mark, was his long-time Press Secretary.

I tell you this because I want you all to understand the fact that I have a different perspective of the man than some other people because of the fact that my family was so intimately involved with the Union. I’ve had the great privilege of seeing things happen in real time that others only learn about in books.

My children only know of Cesar Chavez through pictures and video clips. But that’s more than I can say for a lot of people, even people from my generation. I can stress enough how important it is for our people to remember him and his legacy.

My father made a very bad mistake when he was a young man. That mistake led to a short prison sentence in the 60’s. After he got out of prison, my abuelito and my father had a falling out. My father went to live in California with my tia who was working with Cesar Chavez. This was right before the grape boycott. At the time, the Union was in its infancy. Chavez mentored the young misguided man and gave him direction. The man my dad was died on that day, and my Father was born.

Dad stopped thinking about himself and starting thinking about others. Cesar put the energy and angst of my father to good use and unleashed him as a fervent field organizer. As I have previously written about in my blog entry about the Hillary Clinton ad, my parents met one another in the fields when my father was trying to organize the fields that my Tata Remigio worked.

So it was not a strange thing that we were different from the other kids when we grew up. We were raised to be causistas since we were little. We were politically aware years before our peers. Though we didn’t always enjoy it, we spent a lot of time on picket lines, marches, and demonstrations. To this day, my sisters and I are world-class hell raisers. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I am not telling you anything you don’t already know.

THE MEMORIES

One of my earliest memories was of my father taking my brother and sister (eventually there were 8 of us and we were all born about 9 to 13 months apart) out to the fields to work the cebolla. My dad wanted us to know what it was like to have to work with our hands so that we’d study hard and not end up working with our hands. I remember the smell of the soil and onions. I remember how the dirt felt between my toes when it made its way through a hole in my shoe. At first I enjoyed the dirt in my hands, but it got old real quick and my finger nails looked green because of the dirt under my nails.

But what I will never forget is the heat. They call El Paso the Sun City, but it’s nothing compared to the way the sun beats down on you in Arizona. It’s dry (for some reason people think it’s humid, but it’s not) and it almost feels like the heat from a fire. The heat and sun make you squint when you are out doors and you almost don’t sweat because it quickly evaporates in the parched air.

It was that kind of heat that day. My brother and I were beat by the end of the third row that we worked. We didn’t even work that hard, I mean we were really little so we couldn’t have gotten all the much done, but it was certainly exhausting. My little brother started crying out of frustration, so I started crying too. Normally my Mom would’ve bailed us out when we started crying, but having worked in the fields much longer than even my father, I think my Mom was a little embarrassed that we cried so soon.

My father made us finish a couple more rows, but it was an experience I will never forget. We worked in the fields much more than that, but you never forget your first time. It is humbling work, but there is a quite dignity to it. The dignity that only comes through enduring the worst conditions possible and producing something with your own dusty, calloused hands. Vegetables and produce taste a lot better when you work in the fields. Onion has a better zip, chilé is more vibrant and colorful, oranges are heavier and sweeter, strawberries are meatier, and a good piece of cold, refreshing watermelon waiting for you at the end of your last row can’t be beat. Especially when you know that the adults didn’t get permission from the farmer to pick it for themselves or divide it amongst their many children.

The food that we enjoy on our tables passes through the humblest of hands before we enjoy it. If the meek shall inherit the Earth, then our planet will be in good, hard-working hands in the next life.

Dad played Santa Clause every year around Christmas time and would take toys from the Union, churches, and local nice people out to the farmworker children in the campos. Campos were small little make-shift communities that had their own unique culture and structure. I remember the older kids and men working out in the fields and the older girls and women all working together to make meals. Everyone ate together and I think that must be where I developed my life-long addiction for home-made (field-made) tortillas. I can still hear the sound of older señoras slapping and clapping white masa back and forth between their hands before they would lay them on a giant fire-warmed comal.

Naturally since my Dad was Santa, guess who got to be the little tights-wearing elves? We felt ridiculous, but my Mom and Nana worked really hard at making the costumes for me and my brother. One year we didn’t have enough toys so my Mom drove us to the house and we wrapped some of our toys for them. It really didn’t bother us because we all played together anyway, so the toys weren’t going far. It always amazed me though that no matter how poor we were, there were always kids poorer than us.

These are memories that I will carry with me forever. But perhaps the memory that is the strongest is of one particular march that we went on with Cesar Chavez. We marched from El Mirage, Arizona to the state capitol in downtown Phoenix. It’s about a 20 mile trek down Grande Avenue. It was a beautiful morning when we left the UFW office my father ran in El Mirage. We started with a few dozen people but the crowd grew steadily as we made our way through Sun City into Peoria, Glendale, and then west Phoenix. My brother and I took turns pulling my little sister Margarita in our little red wagon. We carried the tattered red, black, and white Huelga flags on rested them on our little shoulders as we marched.

It was a little breezy that day so we could hear the flags ruffle in the wind. I looked up to see my father walking next to Cesar and a group of older men and women. There were priests and nuns fingering their rosaries as we proceeded. My father and Cesar would often close their eyes and pray along the way, a trick my father taught me to take my mind off of being hungry, thirsty, or tired. They made small talk and laughed at the occasional joke. I remember that my father and another man often served as body guards for Cesar, so my dad was always rotating his head back and forth, scanning the area and crowd. To this day I wonder how a man with my father’s notorious temper managed to keep to the union creed of non-violence. Especially when people would be in his face, saying nasty things about him or trying to grope my mother just to provoke a reaction.

In the front of the march, even in front of Cesar, where three people. One carried the American flag, another carried a large union flag, and yet another carried a large banner of the Virgen de Guadalupe. The image of “mama virgen” was always around the marches and campos. Right behind us were the mariachis. Strumming their guitars and blaring their trumpets. My heart is still moved and a tear comes to my eye whenever I hear Nosotros Venceremos or De Colores. The music always took our mind off the heat and fatigue. During my Nana’s funeral, Don Manuel and his Mariachi Campesino played. I remember looking at him and thinking how he’d changed over the years, but his voice was still strong as I remember as I child on that march.

Cesar eventually pulled my sister along himself, giving my brother and me a much-needed rest. He winked at us when the news reporters and cameras came around. He told us to “stand up straight and make your parents proud”. He tried to comb my hair to the side with his hands and patted my head as he made his way over to the microphones set-up for the press conference at the end of the march.

As I grew up, Cesar always reminded me about how we pulled my little sister on a march that was so long. He used to laugh with my Dad about the time I tried to stop a cop in Yuma from arresting my Dad at a demonstration, talk about how much we’d grown and tell us how important it was to La Causa that we continue our education.

The remarkable thing about Cesar was how unremarkable of a man he was. He was so normal and down-to-earth that if you didn’t know who he was, you’d never know that he was a founder of a movement. He started a movement and had the courage to speak truth to power. He was not a dynamic, fire-and-brimstone speaker. He was small in stature but big in courage. It’s natural that such a humble and dignified man led such a humble people. His parents knew what they were doing when he was given such a powerful name. He was able to do things that could only have been done by a Cesar!

Cesar was a visionary. He was an environmentalist and pacifist before his time. He even fought for the improvement of the treatment of animals. No matter how much he tried to reassure me, I was terrified by his two dogs, Huelga and Boycott, when we went to visit him in La Paz. He never stayed in fancy hotels when he visited a town to organize or speak. He stayed at the homes of supporters, often insisting to sleep on the couch or on the floor.

When he died, my father got to carry the simple wooden box he was buried in for a short while. My father was already in declining health, but he was determined to help carry the body of his friend and mentor. Cesar’s wishes were to have his coffin carried by as many campesinos as possible, so it was a memorable experience to see famous people and farmworkers carry Cesar’s body through the streets of Delano.

We’ve come a long way during his time. Streets that Cesar once led marches on now bear his name. He fought legislatures for the simplest of rights for farmworkers, and now legislatures have passed holidays marking his birth. Cesar Chavez Park in Phoenix used to be the same fields where farmworker’s toiled. Ironic and fitting.

He once led a move to recall the governor of Arizona and now politicians all over the southwest trip over one another to speak to Latinos on Cesar Chavez Day. He used to tell young people about the importance of an education though he only had an eight grade education himself, and now he has schools that bear his name. My tio, who worked in the fields next to my mother, now teaches at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in south Phoenix! How’s that for improving the lives of farmworkers!


THE LESSON

If I’ve learned anything from Cesar it was to never be afraid to speak truth to power. We all have a responsibility to make sure that our children understand who he was and what he did.

From now until the day that I draw my last breath, I will be proud to say, I MARCHED WITH CESAR CHAVEZ!

¡Viva La Causa Y Viva Cesar Chavez!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Naomi Gonzalez Answers My Question...Just Kidding.

She didn't.

She danced around it, which might very well be the reason that she avoids talking with media for very long. Its sort of the Melina Castro/Rachel Quintana school of campaigning.

Talk to regular people, avoid anyone who might have an actual question.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Political Marriages


Normally a title like that would be the lead in to a piece about some elected official or candidate being funded by a person or group one would not normally expect to see as a supporter of said elected official or candidate.

But in this case, its about actual marriages.

State Representative Joe Pickett will soon tie the knot with Shannon Wiggins in an unusual place. He is apparently going to swap vows under the dome of the state capitol in Austin. This follows a whirlwind romance that started during last session and an engagement materialized before the end of the session.

No official word on whether or not the Pickett wedding reception will be held in his 50's diner-style office in the legislature, but if it is, there is a pretty good chance that the guests will dine on free sodas, ice cream, and popcorn. Sorry, thats in inside-Austin joke.



In related news, Judge Sam Medrano and is wife will also be renewing their vows here in El Paso soon. It appears they will be getting married through the Church.

For the record, I wasn't invited to either ceremony.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Things Make Me Laugh...


I was at EP Fitness earlier and I noticed a pretty big dude come out of the gym and get in to a car that was parked in a handicap parking space. I've seen the guy there before and I know I've seen him running on the treadmill there before.

So why is a physically fit guy parking in a handicap space? He had handicap plates, which really isn't the point. He was completely healthy so why does he need a handicap spot?

Which got me to thinking about how often I've seen people with no problems walking or moving parked in handicap spaces. I guess the way I think about the whole situation is if you don't have a mobility-related disability, what do you need the space for?

Don't get me wrong, I am all for increased accessibility for the disabled but does someone who doesn't have mobility problems really need to park closer to the front door?

Am I wrong on this one?

Teenage Fashion



Maybe its a sign that I'm finally growing up, but when I pick my cubs up from school and I notice the fashion sense of some of the students I find myself asking, “What the hell?”

Somethings are just wrong. Fundamentally wrong to the core.

Things like guys wearing skinny jeans.

Its just not right.

Back when I was in high school there was a fad that drove my parents nuts, which thankfully we never really got in to. It was sagging pants. For some reason a lot of homeboys felt it necessary to show half their nalgas and most of their chones to the whole world.

Which brings me to the most unholy marriage I have ever seen in teenage fashion. Guys who try to sag skinny jeans. Aside from looking like big pendejos, they walk funny as hell.

Some of these little chavalos have the nerve to walk around like they are tough shit.

I just want to tell them that it is impossible to look like a tough vato loco in skinny jeans. Especially when they are the same guys that shave their eyebrows.

Correction


My bad. I messed up.

I wrote in a previous blog piece that an email exchange was between Rebecca Robledo and Blanche Darley. I misidentied one of the parties. The exchange was between Becky Baca and Blanche Darley.

I got confused because I saw both names in the email exchange. I hate when people don't admit when they are wrong so I have to admit when I am.

My bad people.

I'm giving myself the Asshole of the Week Award.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UTEP Animal Rights Advocates Protest Outside McDonald's

People wonder why I carry around my camera and video equipment with me every where I go. Here is the reason why, you never know what you are going to come across.

As I was on my way home from the station I saw this group of students protesting outside McDonald's and I stopped to learn more about them. They will be on the show on Wednesday so tune in to www.TalkRadio1150.com to hear the interview.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quick Note Re: Margo V. Moody

David K and the Strelz have both made a similar point that I think needs a little clarification.

Both have referred to the number of votes that each of the candidates have received in the primary race.

Under most circumstances it would be an interesting comparison, but there is one factor that makes the comparison inaccurate.

Moody didn't have an opponent, so naturally there will be less votes for Moody in an uncontested primary.

Margo was locked in a race with two other candidates that were churning out people to the polls so the numbers are higher on the Republican side than on the Democratic side.

JP #4 Race

The race for Justice of the Peace Precinct #4 is basically over already.

Nonetheless, let's do some analysis of this race. The race is a run-off between former City Rep/County Commissioner/School Board Trustee/talk radio personality Barbara Perez and former Constable Pete Melendez.

Like it or not, Barbara Perez will be able to add another title to her long list because she is going to win this race pretty handily. Aside from having name recognition that is astronomically higher than her opponent, he is coming off a recent loss, which is why he is a former Constable.

Yes I know, Barbara Perez lost her last election, but that was a while back, Melendez lost in the last election. And one election is a very limited time to reestablish a relationship with voters.

Perez has signage all over the place and says that she's working hard and not going to be out worked.

Perez's biggest weakness was that she's not an attorney, but that is not an issue against Melendez because he's not an attorney either. Perez's opponents didn't handle the issue of Perez not being an attorney well. Perez showed why she's a skilled candidate by turning the negative in to a positive and took the argument away from her competitors by doing a little homework.

The opponents should have bombarded Perez with legal questions, opinions, and precedent. But they didn't and Perez turned the campaign in to a discussion about truancy, which was ground of her choosing. A brilliant move her opponents didn't see until it was too late.

Had the opponents simply pulled the docket and showed a percentage of the cases heard in the court that were related to truancy and the percentage of other legal issues heard they would have been able to demonstrate the importance of having a strong knowledge of the law.

Watch for the early voting results because this one is going to be over early. Perez will win this one by at least 20% if not more.

El Paso Democratic Party: A House Divided

Yet another reason I'll never make it in to the El Paso Democratic Party Hall of Fame. More bad news coming from our party.

This is an email exchange between Rebecca Robledo, head of the Tejano Democrats and Blanche Darley, who thinks she's the head of the Tejano Democrats. Darley has sent out emails weighing in on her thoughts for the election and various candidates.

In a previous email she admitted that she didn't support President Obama, who was the Party's nominee for President, something she is required to do if she wants to maintain her status as a Precinct Chair.

In this email exchange, which is pretty much a lot of nothing if you ask me, Darley mentions that Gilbert Sanchez is a member of the Tejano Democrats. The TD's endorsed Norma Favela in the race for District Clerk.

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks its funny that Blanche Darley is talking about UNITY!!!!

Subject: Re: Tejano Endorsements


Blanch, we know that the Tejanos have always been fair with their endorsements, but in this case Gilbert Sanchez did not receive the endorsement, so he should have not been mentioned. I know that you are supporting Gilbert but what's fair is fair. I also want to make it cleat that Carlos Aguilar and Sabastian are not Norma's campaign managers as you and Ken have told everyone. By the endorsements Norma has gotten, it should be very clear that people want a change. Let's not hurt Tejanos by trying to get someone in that was not endorsed. These are my feelings and don't hate me or get mad at me for stating so. Love you, Becky




n a message dated 3/13/2010 10:59:04 AM Mountain Standard Time, NameWithheld@gmail.com writes:
Tejano Members,

Tejano membership endorsed candidates for the primary. UNITY is a strong word in our organization. I'm sure those candidates that were elected without a run-off and those that were not fortunate, had they been in a run-off they would have asked the Tejano membership to honor our ENDORSEMENTS. Needless to say that it's your vote and you can vote or support for whom ever you want, granted.

We have three members in a run-off -

Naomi Gonzalez - State Representative District 76
Norma Favela - District Clerk (Gilbert Sanchez is also a Tejano member)
Brian Haggerty - Justice of the Peace # 2

They need your support and help.

blanche


--
Blanche Darley

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Darren Meritz Out of The El Paso Times


The El Paso Times lost another reporter Thursday. Sources indicate that Darren Meritz was fired but details are sketchy as to the exact reason.


This is fresh of the recent departure of another reporter, David Montero who also left the El Paso Times after only a brief stint on the political scene here in the Sun City. Montero left quite an impression with readers and apparently with management as well because his letter of resignation was posted on the Community Board within the Times.


Sources at the Times tell me that they can think of no other time that an employees letter of resignation was made available to the rest of the staff.


The Community Board is usually reserved for announcements, thank you letters from kids, or atta-boys from the public.


Meritz refused to comment on his employment status with the Times and said that if I wanted information I “should contact the Times”.


If you aren’t familiar with Meritz reporting, these are the two most recent articles post on the El Paso Times’ website by the reporter. This is a piece involving crime and this is a piece about the State Board of Education, which ought to be a crime.


Stay tuned, things are getting interesting over at the Times.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

El Paso Chicano Leaders Mostly Absent on Text Book Debate


Other than State Representative Norma Chavez, El Paso’s Chicano leaders are completely and conspicuously absent from the debate at the state level over the inclusion and exclusion of certain historical figures from text books of Texas school children.

The question is why?

At some point, many of the Chicano leaders in this town that sit on Commissioner’s Court (four out of five members), City Council (four out of eight), the legislature (four out of six), and most El Paso area school boards have benefited from the hard work of history-making trailblazers.

Yet they are no where to be found on an issue that will impact El Paso students one way or another.

I sincerely hope these individuals haven’t forgotten where they come from.

Get off the bench and get involved.

Your absence is an insult and embarrassing.

Blanche Darley & Democratic Party Rules


Blanche Darley has been a fixture in Democratic Party politics for years. She has been as involved in party politics about as much as anyone else in El Paso that I can think of, mostly because she’s former State Representative Paul Moreno’s sister.

She and State Representative Norma Chavez don’t play in the same sandbox. Its obvious to anyone that spends five minutes with the two in the same room that they don’t like one another, and trust me when I tell you, that is an understatement.

The two found themselves on opposite sides of the presidential race in the 2008 Democratic Primary. Chavez was a big Obama supporter and Darley was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. It took a long time for the Hillary supporters to come around to supporting the President, but eventually the majority of them did.

For most Democrats supporting a candidate is an individual choice. But for party officials like the County Chair, members of the Executive Committee, or Precinct Chairs, their support of the party’s nominee is mandatory if they want to maintain their office.

Many have long suspected that Blanche Darley was not going to support the President.

Recently in an email sent out to several party insiders, Blanche Darley admitted she did not support the President. This appears to be a clear violation of party rules and should jeopardize her position as a Precinct Chair.

The email specifically states “…I didn't vote for President Obama or anyone else for that matter, I'm Hillary all the way.”

Darley is pretty tight with El Paso County Chair Danny Anchondo and Yolanda Clay, another key player within the Democratic Party structure so Darley’s removal is unlikely.

To add a further layer of irony, Darley is also a member of the Democratic Party Hall of Fame here in El Paso. The rules of selection to the Democratic Party Hall of Fame are a little loose and ambiguous and each Party Chair has the ability to make their own mark on the process.

Nonetheless, its interesting that the party would have a Hall-of-Famer that does not support a Democratic President or follow the express rules of the party.

Blogging from "the right"



The El Paso blogoshere isn’t a competitive place, which is a bit counter-intuitive.

For the most part, El Paso political bloggers have been made up of just a few of us like myself, David K. JOP, Lewis Irwin, the Avocadoan and that’s about it.

As I have said before, bloggers are completely different from people that post on a forum, so I’m not dissing anyone by leaving them out, just making an important distinction that people should understand.

My homeboy Sammy C has finally gotten in to the mix of bloggers in El Paso.

As a Republican and a Chicano, he’s gonna have a different take on local politics that some might be used to. He’s blogging from “the right” so his blog is called www.LaDerechaBlog.blogspot.com.

Go check it out and make it part of your blogging routine.

Vamos a !Washington DC La Reforma no puede esperar!

The Border Network for Human Rights is headed to Washington to push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Help them out:

Please come and join us to support the Texas Caravan going to Washington DC to demand a just immigration reform.
Presenting:
Frontera Bugalu(Cumbia/Mambo)
Stanton St Collective(Poetry/Jazz)
La Familia(Dance)
Crissy Gurrola(Acoustic)
Enjoy:
Antojitos
Aguas Frescas
Justice
Date:
March 14th, 2010, 12pm
Location:
BNHR Office
Address:
2115 N Piedras
El Paso, TX 79902 (map)

Video: Fun with Cell Phone Bans

Okay, I just had to have some fun with the cell phone ban at City Council. Why stop at cell phones? Lets ban anything that is a distraction to driving.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

City Council Approves Cell Phone Ban

In a stunning move of stupidity not seen since the last time The Weakest Link had on hip-hop artists (see video below), the City Council voted to ban the use of cell phones while driving in the City of El Paso. The same City Council that wants to legalize pot.

No one wants accidents and certainly no one wants children injured or worse, but lets stop and think about this one for a minute.

What is next to be banned?

And there has to be someone making money off of this idea somewhere (cue the conspiracy-theory music). Blue-tooth makers come to mind first.

I completely agree that using a cell phone while driving is a distraction and therefore dangerous, but if we are really serious about stopping distracted drivers, why stop at cell phones? Why not ban:

Women who apply make-up and drive?
People who read a map and drive?
People looking in the paper for a movie time?
Listening to the radio?
Arguing with your significant other in the car?
Smoking in the car?
Refereeing fights between your kids in your car?
Adjusting the temperature in your car?
Looking at scenery while driving your car?
Eating while driving your car?
The television show Cash Cab?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Special Guest Post: Rene Diaz to Run for EPCC Board

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a special to TheLionStarBlog by Sammy C, co-host of Homeboy Fridays on The LionStar Live! heard on www.TalkRadio1150.com

L. Rene Diaz woke up one morning and decided he wanted to make a difference.

A former bank branch manager Diaz felt that his strong conservative views and relentless focus on change was what District 78 needed. He threw his hat into the Republican primary race up against a very well known Dee Margo and newcomer Jay Kleberg.

Diaz had no name recognition, no big contributions to his campaign and had a very small following outside of his family and friends.

Diaz spoke from his heart at every forum, he was the only candidate that was really sincere about his service to the community.

With his wife by his side Diaz walked relentlessly. He was set on knocking on every door and talking to every person in District 78. Diaz had a good message that came from the heart.

Would District 78 hear him out?

I spoke to him before election day and he sounded confidant like a warrior before battle. He had his war paint and battle gear on. March 2nd came around, the battle was brutal. All that walking, all that talking and all that waving netted Diaz a devastating 275 votes.

That's just 3.51% of the total vote.

That was enough to make anyone give up.

I gave him some time to take it all in and to spend alone with his family because he definitely needed and deserved it. I emailed him six days after the results came in. I didn't know how he would respond, I didn't know if he was ready to speak about his ordeal.

Then my phone rings. I recognize the number on my caller I.D. and prepare myself for a somber conversation.

Boy was I wrong!

I had planned to give Rene the good old "it's all going to be alright" speech. But as soon as I asked him how he was doing he blew me away.

Diaz said he had never been more motivated to serve.

He said he had done better than he expected election day, a lot of you are wondering, did he know he had only got 275 votes?

He did.

To him that meant that he had 275 people that agreed with his message. That's definitely looking at the positive side of things.

Most candidates would take some time off, regrouped and maybe run for a lesser office in the future. It would only make sense. Well, Rene is so dedicated in serving his community that he is going to do just that, minus the taking some time off.

L. Rene Diaz just met the filing deadline today for El Paso Community College Board of Trustees District 1.

That's right, Rene Diaz is running against long time incumbent Dr. John Uxer for the seat of District 1.

The election will take place May 8, 2010.

When I asked Diaz why he would jump into another race less than a week after loosing a statewide race he responded, "Why not?".

Diaz said that he ran for election to make a difference in the community not just to win an election.

His dedication to serve his community is what fueled him to continue this election cycle. He has the momentum, the energy, the desire to serve and not to mention a supportive wife, well I don't see why Rene Diaz shouldn't run for Board of Trustees.

Most people don't run for election once in there lifetime. Diaz is running in two within a week of each other. His actions are very admirable to say the least. That is just the energy and dedication that we need here in El Paso.

Just imagine, a candidate who sincerely wants to serve his community, what a concept?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Amber Alert!!!

A special announcement from The Lion Star Blog!

Please be on the look out.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sex


That always gets people's attention.

Since St. Patrick's Day is around the corner and everyone talks about the luck of the Irish, I thought I'd post a new poll about how often my readers get lucky.

Take a break from politics and have a little fun.

Responding to a Few Comments

I thought I would take a few minutes to respond to some comments made around the blogosphere about me and my support for Norma Chavez.

Its funny how different people hate me for "supporting" different candidates. When I support someone from the Shapleigh camp, I get a group of people that hate me for it.

If I support someone from the Chavez camp, I get an entirely different group of people hate me for it.

You people need to make up your minds.

As for being an uneducated ex-cholo...you act like thats something I should be ashamed of. Sure, I'd like to have a degree, but it won't magically make me any more or less credible and won't change the "ex-cholo" thing. So basically, kiss my ass. Your acceptance of me is neither desired, nor required. Moreover, the person who made that comment clearly reads my blog, which sounds alot like acceptance to me.

As for Naomi not answering questions from me, get over yourself. Its not that I want her to answer questions from me, its that I want her to answer tough and relevant questions to the campaign. Has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with her articulating what her message and plan is.

As for me being a journalist, join the rest of us on planet earth. I have said a bazillion times I am not a journalist, nor do I play one on TV. I am the first one to tell people I'm not a journalist. Which means I don't have to be objective and can be one-sided all I want. The funny thing about you people is that you are pretty one-sided in your critique of my support for Chavez. Funny how when I am critical of Chavez, I don't hear shit from any of you, but your tune changes when I speak highly of her. How one-sided of you.

My credibility goes only as far as people are willing to recognize it. So for some, I have no credibility, which honestly doesn't bother me.

It used to, but I learned something from David K. Even when they hate you, they are still waiting to hear what you have to say. Lay all the criticism you want, many of you still tune in and many more of you still read my blog

I guess that's a form of credibilty.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Campaign Billboard

Well that was fast!

I drove by the spot that used to have Christine Pacheco's billboard on I-10 and Mesa downtown. It has already been changed back to a Reyes & Reyes sign.

That was really fast and sort of plays in to the criticisms many had of the length of time it took Larry Medina to change his campaign billboard on I-10 near Basset Center.

A Note to Naomi



I realize that I have pissed a lot of you off because I was very frank in my assessment of Saint, oops, I meant Senator Shapleigh.

I have challenged a lot of people on something and no one has been able to meet the challenge. The challenge is this: identify a platform or policy stance from Naomi Gonzalez.

Go ahead, take all the time you need.

I'll wait.

Can't think of one?

Try her website.

Go ahead, I'll wait here and tap my toes while you look for one.

Done yet?

It's okay, I have all day, I can wait...

Seriously, keep looking.

Can't find one can you?

Neither could I.

Thats because she doesn't have one.

This is the closest thing I could find to a platform or policy stance. Its from her website:

Restore public integrity to our State Representative Office.
Hold the line on property taxes.
Put El Paso first in the push for state funding.

There is a mailer that says the words "New Vision. New Leadership". At the risk of sounding like New Hector, I have to ask the question, just what exactly does that new vision look like?

This is the major weakness of the Gonzalez campaign. There is no substance to her campaign.

Now look, I get it. There are a lot of you that don't like Chavez because, well she can be a big pain in the ass to work with.

I get it.

But in your fervor to get rid of Chavez because of her personality flaws, ask yourself a serious question. Do you even know what Naomi stands for? Do you even know what her policies are?

If so, please pass them on to the rest of us because we'd sure like to hear them.

I know what you are thinking, LionStar likes Norma so thats why he's writing this stuff. A fair critique. But hey, don't take my word for it, look for yourself. This link is to all the mailers Gonzalez sent out. Do you see a platform anywhere?

I mean other than saying Norma is bad and she's not Norma, what is she all about?

Like I said, don't take my word for it, look for yourself.

Surely Naomi Gonzalez has a plan right? I'm not entirely sure she does.

Gonzalez has ducked and dodged anyone that will ask her a meaningful question. We have a responsibility to vet her candidacy before sending her to Austin. Just not being Norma isn't enough. We might find ourselves with a severe case of be careful what you wish for.

I think I understand why she only goes on ground of her choosing. If you remember back to the last time she ran, she went on talk radio and it was a bad experience for her. She was asked a basic question and bombed it on air.

Flash forward to this election and it was more of the same. I was able to get one 2 minute interview with her and I asked her a very basic question that ANY candidate should be able to answer, though several have had a problem with it. I asked her if she was elected what would be the first meaningful piece of legislation she would introduce. After fumbling around for an answer she came up with making Alameda a historic district.

Naomi has ignored repeated requests for interviews. In my opinion she, much like Theresa Caballero, seems to be focusing on negative campaigning, but hasn't given the voters any insight in to her positions.

There may be a couple of reasons why. Either she doesn't have any, which is something she wouldn't want revealed, or they are similar to her opponent, which would make the entire debate about personality and not substance...something else she isn't likely to want to be revealed.

She doesn't want to put herself in a position where someone exposes that liability of the fact that she doesn't have a strong position on issues.

Gonzalez has been and will continue to be the darling of mainstream media. That's why she's gotten a pass on the contributions from TLR. But replace TLR with a person. If 90% of contribitions came from a person, just how up in arms would the mainstream media be? Wouldn't people think she was indebted to that benefactor?

Gonzalez once asked me at a Halloween party last year if I was "bought and paid for by Norma Chavez." I guess that real question now is this. Naomi, are you bought and paid for by the Republican controlled TLR?
Ask yourself something. Is there a single elected official in this town that we can be proud of that won based on negative campaigning alone?

If this election were about ideas and vision and who has the better plan, and if the constituents evaluated the plans of both candidates and chose to replace Chavez, then I would be in support of the electorate.

We deserve to elect people in this town because they have the best ideas, not because they are the best negative campaigners.

If they want to "make us proud" to be our state rep, then they should make us proud in their campaign conduct and in their ideas for El Paso.

Senator Shapleigh, Naomi Gonzalez, & Rick Perry

If you've seen my previous interview with Senator Shapleigh, you probably remember the Senator getting pretty bothered by the fact that I asked him if he would vote for Representative Moody if Republican Jay Kleberg made it to the general election.

How dare his Democratic credentials be challenged.

But when you think about it, the self-described Democrat of all Democrats has challenged his own Democratic credentials. As I have previously posted, the Senator has been openly cozy with Kleberg.

Now Senator Shapleigh used his visit with KVIA last night as a chance to attack Representative Chavez over her argument about money from the Republican-backed Texans for Lawsuit Reform and by default, defended Gonzalez's acceptance of the money.


This is part of the reason why people are becoming frustrated with Senator Shapleigh. Organizations like TLR, along with Rick Perry and Tom Craddick backed Dee Margo in his bid to unseat Senator Shapleigh a few years ago. Now he's defending Gonzalez's acceptance of their money?

What happened to the Democrat of all Democrats?

I know the Senator's intellect is supposed to be the stuff of legend, but does he really think voters are stupid, or does he really not understand the difference between the contributions received by Representative Chavez and Naomi Gonzalez? Representative Chavez took TLR money to help Representative Marquez get elected. Shapleigh was against Representative Marquez and supported his colleague in the legislature, Paul Moreno.

Now he wants to plot against a colleague in the legislature?

Representative Chavez's donations from TLR are no where near the amount of money Gonzalez has received from TLR. To imply that there is some kind of equivalence is quite simply dishonest on the part of Senator Shapleigh.

Last I heard Shapleigh championed against people like Rick Perry Republicans, now the self-described Democrat of all Democrats is backing their play in their support of Naomi Gonzalez?

The Senator is trying to act as though Naomi Gonzalez's appoximately 90% Republican-backed contributions is somehow the same as Representative Chavez taking a limited amount of money from TLR?

Nearly all of the Senator's criticisms of Representative Chavez are critiques that could equally be applied to Senator Shapleigh. Combative, abrasive, egotistical, difficult, arrogant, abusive, petty, self-centered...those things could as easily said about Senator Shapleigh as Representative Chavez.

I respect the Senator and he's a smart guy, but I gotta call it like I see it. I think the Senator is full of it on this one and is being a hypocrite.

Senator Shapleigh now seems to be setting his sights on getting Gonzalez elected and defeating Chavez. Why is the Senator weighing in against a colleague when the last time around he was helping a colleague? Why is the Senator trying to be a king-maker and a behind-the-scenes power broker?

Representative Chavez backed a political nobody with no history of service to the community in order to take out her rival in the legislature. Senator Shapleigh is essentially doing the same thing to Chavez that Chavez did to Moreno but acting as though its different.

Now where have I heard that before?

That sort of reminds me of some else around town.

Sounds like another former elected official that has left office but continued to try to influence local elections.

His actions sound a lot like...Luther Jones.

A Republican by the way.

Tough Love for Representative Chavez

I have to admit it, I'm shocked at the outcome of the race for HD 76.

So much for bullet-proof.

To all you haters that are leaving comments without a name, kiss my ass, no one has “shut” me up. Gonzalez didn't win, she's in the lead going in to the run-off.

But there are clear lessons to be learned in this election for Chavez. First of all, she is in trouble...big trouble. Her camp needs to take her cell phone from her, snatch her laptop, break them, put the pieces in a plastic bag, climb to the top of the giant Asarco chiminea and drop them in there so she can't get a hold of them.

They have to do everything they can to keep Chavez from being her own worst enemy. Keep her off talk radio so that she will stop her sudden compulsion to commit public political suicide.

I'm serious, somebody needs to go to the dollar store and buy all the duct tape they can find. They have to stop the conspiracy theory, everyone-is-out-to-get-me, I'm-running-against-everyone, the-commercials-are-why-I'm-behind, my-consultants-screwed-up,Sito-Negron-is-part-of-a-political-faction-out-to-get-me tirades on the radio. It's not helping.

All that stuff does is feed in to the criticisms that are often leveled at her.

Chavez is bad in crowds, but she is a master of personal interaction with people in her district. She has to remind the voters of what she's done. But not the big stuff like the medical school, etc. Its a great accomplishment, in fact its historic.

She has to go back to her roots. She's Jenny from the block who stood up for her parent's small business and working class people like them back in the 90's and went all the way to Austin and fought rich white guys in suits, boots, and cowboy hats.

What I mean to say is, she has to remind the voters of the stuff she's done for them that is tangible to them. That has an impact to their lives. The medical school doesn't.

But things like paving Socorro Road does.

And so does saving a thousand homes during the Lee Trevino extension debate.

And fighting against the Yarborough Bridge.

She's a blue collar girl from working class parents who took on the establishment when her family needed her. That's real leadership, not a hot shot young lawyer who is looking for a title and prestige.

She didn't grow up in parochial schools, didn't have all the best opportunities others might have had, and doesn't have a law degree. But she's a gritty, street-wise American success story that pulled herself up and willed her way to a college degree.

Chavez is a beat-up old Chevy pick-up. Sometimes she's a little noisy and not so graceful, but when you need someone to haul the legislative payload, she gets the job done.

But its time for a tune up. Chavez has to come to grips with the fact that her woes aren't because of a media conspiracy, who wounds are most-often self-inflicted. She has to realize that her election numbers are ONLY because of negative campaigning and a bad summer in the press. Its the culmination of years of strained relationships and public missteps.

The sooner she comes to that realization, the sooner she can start a new relationship with voters.

She can't go negative against Gonzalez at this point. She has to highlight her value to the voters and the value of her legislative prowess, experience, and seniority.

She has to ignore the negative campaigning of her opponent and force her opponent in to talking about policy and issues, something no one in the mainstream media appears to be interested in asking Gonzalez.

And Gonzalez appears all to eager to avoid anyone that will ask her a substantive question.

Chavez needs to live in her comfort zone at this point. Stay organizing. Stay in the field, stay on message.

Its true that radio is Chavez's preferred medium, but the medium is only as good as the message. Chavez needs to make sure the voters don't change the channel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Message to Voters

This is the first time that I've stuck out my neck for a couple of candidates, which means I have a tremendous amount of faith in the candidates.

There are three other candidates that I wanted to do the same for, but two of them don't need my help and I ran out of time for the third one.

Please take a couple of minutes to hear me out on State Representative Norma Chavez and County Attorney Jo Ann Bernal.



Monday, March 1, 2010

Christine Pacheco & Robert Andrade Deal with Donation Issue



If you heard my show last week then you heard me discuss something that I think is worth some clarification. If you read the El Paso Times last week, very carefully because it was hard to find, you would've seen a piece talking about Pacheco returning a certain amount of money that had been donated to her.

Pacheco had taken more money than was allowed under election rules for judicial candidates.

The article leads the reader to believe that it was an error that was caught by the campaign.

If you were under that impression, you are wrong.

The piece in the El Paso Times specifically says, “She said she recently discovered that the firm's total contributions of close to $6,000 exceeded the limit on law firms established by the Texas Ethics Commission.”

She discovered that the contributions exceeded the limit because I told her campaign manager about it. Stick with me here, I want to lay out the timeline for you.

I also wanted to write about this because there are some things that you don't see transpire during an interview on the radio. I had come across the contributions and got a hold of the relevant documents.

I had the documents organized in a folder complete with tabs and highlighted sections to guide me through the law. I told Pacheco and her campaign manager, Robert Andrade that I was going to ask the question during the break, so that she wouldn't feel like she was ambushed.

Andrade did most of the talking; he's a lot more diplomatic than Pacheco. He told me that they had already been asked about the donation by a reporter from the El Paso Times, Adrianna Chavez. I guess the implication was supposed to be that it was nothing because the Times hadn't written about it.

I really didn't get a chance to get the question out before Pacheco started telling me how I was wrong, so I got the impression that she was familiar with the issue.

I then asked her the question on air and she all but dared me to call the state Ethics Commission to verify a particular sticking point (whether a law firm was considered on person or counted individually).

So I did.

Turns out, I was right and she had exceeded the maximum amount.

So I ran into Andrade the next day at a polling place. I told him what I'd found out and that I needed to get comment from Pacheco. He said he'd be happy to get me comment but that it would have to be later in the day.

I never heard back from him.

A couple of days later, the El Paso Times version of the story came out.

Not a front page piece, but buried on a subsequent page. The Times didn't get a quote from Pacheco either, but they did get a nice quote from Andrade about transparency.

I just wanted to explain what happened on my show when I asked about the issue nearly a week before the Times piece came out because I thought it would give a deeper understanding of the sequence of events.

KVIA County Judge Debate



So I was watching the KVIA debate on Sunday morning between County Commissioner Veronica Escobar, Sergio Coronado, and Rick Ledesma.

I was watching for several reasons, but the smart ass in me was watching to see Coronado and Escobar struggle to answer a question in under and hour and forty-five minutes. Don't get mad, admit it, they take a long time to answer a question.

For some reason Rick Ledesma showed up dressed like Cab Calloway, minus the fedora and tap shoes.

My favorite part of the debate was the end when Rick Cabrera gave the candidates a chance to ask each other a question. When this is done, you can always tell who the candidates see as the front runner because everyone guns for that candidate.

Ledesma started the questions by asking Escobar about the Playboy article and government cheese comment. Escobar offered a bit of a new development. She stated that Ledesma knew very well that the author of the article was a freelance writer, not a regular contributor to Playboy. The new part was a statement the author has come forward with indicating that Escobar did not make the “welfare flavor” comment.

Despite the fact that the author came forward with a statement stating that she didn't make the comment, something tells me its not going to go away.

I haven't seen a negative mailer capitalizing on it yet, but if its gonna happen it will happen it will show up in the mail Monday or Tuesday.

Coronado also aimed his question about Escobar and Escobar basically turned the tables on him and tied him to Theresa Caballero's argument against County Attorney Joan Bernal.

Escobar then asked Coronado a question about a contribution that he had received from the spouse of someone implicated in the Public Corruption Investigation. Escobar wanted his take on the Catalina Lawsuit, which involves the aforementioned implicated individual. Either Coronado really didn't know, or pretended he didn't know who she was talking about. Turned out the contribution came from Stanley Jobe and Martie Jobe was the implicated individual.

Coronado could've gotten away with answering the question without the Jobe's names being mentioned but he either didn't understand or was being evasive, which gave Escobar the chance to mention the Jobe's. Coronado struggled but didn't really have a chance to answer the question.

The bottom line is that Coronado and Ledesma identify Escobar as the front-runner. Escobar identifies Coronado has her main opponent and no one looks at Ledesma as any kind of threat.