Thursday, June 30, 2011

Will He or Won’t He, Should He or Shouldn’t He…

Those are the questions that entered my mind when I watched the ABC 7 Xtra show last Sunday night with Beto O’rourke. He gave every indication that he is going to run for Congress. He toyed with the idea recently and then chose otherwise at the last minute.

His decision to not run for another term, when he has the ability to do so, is probably the clearest indicator that he is going to do it.

But I think there are also a fair amount of indicators that he won’t do it. More on that in a minute.

But first, let’s talk a little about O’rourke. I am a liberal, so while many might look at Beto as the devil, he is far from it. I can honestly say that there are very few leaders that I have met in my life like Beto O’rourke. He has something that I think too many elected officials lack, the balls to stand up for their convictions, the balls to stand up for minorities, even if it means some public scorn.

Most politicians look for the path of least resistance or do what is most politically expedient. Beto O’rourke has never been that guy. He’s had the guts to stand by his beliefs and I think this town would be better off if more people did so. I’ve interviewed a lot of elected officials and candidates and I have seen some worms. I have seen people duck and dodge questions. I’ve seen people have public tantrums before I was even able to ASK my questions. But O’rourke is a stand-up vato who will take the hard questions. I know, I’ve asked him several, including one that admittedly made me a little squeamish to ask but he answered like a total pro.

There is a lot I don’t agree with O’rourke about, but he’s a strong liberal and I admire the fact that he’s not ashamed of it. And I can’t think of an El Paso leader that I was more proud of when O’rourke took on the priest at one of his last meetings, other than Congressman Reyes when he faced the town hall meetings.

So lets examine why I think he won’t run. Basically the reason I think he won’t run is because Beto is a smart guy. He’s said some pretty interesting stuff in that ABC 7 interview that certainly weren’t gaffes. He meant what he said. And that’s the reason I think he’s not going to run. Let me lay it out for you.

As a liberal, I am a union man. I believe in unions and collective bargaining. It’s a Democratic national platform central tenant. That’s why Republicans are trying so hard to do away with them. Which is why Beto’s comments about unions really bother me and I think make a congressional run problematic at best.

Beto is a liberal and so if he were running, it would be in the Democratic Primary. He said that El Paso’s had the same congressman for going on 20 years. Its actually 14 years, so I guess Beto is awarding him 3 extra terms. But there is a reason we’ve had the same congressman…El Paso voters like him.

They aren’t going to like Beto’s remarks about unions. He has not only said publically that the police officer’s union is “out of control”, but he’s gone so far as to say he doesn’t think civil servants should have collective bargaining...period.

Democrats are NOT going to be okay with that sentiment. Nor should they.

The question following host Darren Hunts question about a possible congressional bid was about running for mayor. This is were I think  O’rourke really showed his hand.

He said Mayor Cook was doing a great job (he’s termed-out btw), and spoke of how the Mayor is the first to arrive and last to leave. Beto then closed the conversation with, “I just don’t know if I can keep up with those kinds of demands”.

He was speaking of being mayor, but think about how many more hours he’d be putting in as a Congressman. Much, much, much more. Beto has three young children, which would complicate a heavy congressional work load that much more. Plus that puts him in a really awkward situation. Would he travel to DC and leave his family here? Or would he take his young family to DC and deal with people saying he’s never in his district?

And finally…there’s the drug thing.  There’s no getting around the big elephant in the room. He is very vocal about his support of something very controversial. I think that policy stance is not only unpopular, but that it scares people in El Paso.

That’s not a good thing.

Its not a thing voters are going to forget and it will likely be the topic that defines the race. But based on the factor s I mentioned, this conversation will be like talking about a Paqcuaio – Mayweather fight…it just ain’t gonna happen.

Here's What I'm Working On...

I've been a little quite lately because I am working on a few pieces that are complicated.

Here's what I'm trying to get to the bottom of:

Two CEO's of Non-Profits in town have been making some interesting decisions. I'll explain what they are and let you make up your mind about the issues.

The court house has been called a cesspool by some. I'll explain the irony in that statement.

And the last one, why I don't think Beto O'rourke will run for congress after all.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Perry $ecurity Co$ting Taxpayer$

Texas taxpayers are footing the bill, a bill likely to balloon with Perry's possible presidential bid, for Governor Perry's security detail. There is nothing uncommon about that and its appropriate that given his office he has a security detail assigned to him.

But what is raising the eyebrows of many in Texas is the fact that the Republican governor called a special session and one of the issues the Republican majority is undertaking is a bill that actually hides the amount of money taxpayers pay for Governor Perry's security detail FROM taxpayers for an 18-month period. That means, we wouldn't know how much we are paying until after the 2012 election.

What area teachers want to know is simple. How many teachers could have been employed with the money tax payers will spend on Perry's security detail.

Perry is going to be visiting several states in his ramp up to the presidential run. He's already recently traveled to LA, New York, New Orleans, Colorado, and North Carolina, and he'll be heading to San Diego soon too.

I'm sure we pick up the security costs for dignitaries that visit Texas, why can't the other states pick up the tab to protect Perry when he's in their state?

Tax payers should not be held in the dark on this issue. I can assure you if the Governor were a Democrat, this bill would never make it out of committee.

Here's a perfectly good reason why we should know whats going on with our money sooner than 18 months. According to this piece in the Texas Tribune, "taxpayers paid for the rental of scuba gear and a golf cart during Perry's 2005 trip to the Bahamas, records show."

Scuba gear in the Bahamas!

How about teachers in the classroom?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Texas Republican Boosters Urge "No" Vote on HB9

I have to give credit where credit is due. A couple of Republicans are circulating a letter to Texas legislators urging a "no" vote on HB 9.

They lay out their argument in a very common-sense manner and are basically making the point that Republicans can't attract Latinos to their party with perceived anti-Latino legislation. The Texas Tribune has a good article about it today.

Interestingly, Dee Margo is now on the record as being against the bill. That is, against the bill NOW. He was originally supportive of a much worse bill earlier in the session.

There's a good piece in the El Paso Times written by Zahira Torres in which Dee Margo says a couple of very interesting things.

First, Dee Margo defends previously voting in favor of the bill that would cost El Paso millions of dollars by saying, "I thought it was a fairly innocuous bill...I didn't think there was a whole lot to it. I thought it was more form than substance, and not one member of the city or county ever called me about it at all."

First of all, don't think...know. 

Second of all, and more importantly, is the last comment. 

I don't believe for a minute that not one member of the city or county called him about the bill. In fact, one El Paso source in Austin said, "...(the legislature) spent two days on the damn bill in regular session. Over and over and over we said that there were going to be lawsuits. They said it on the mic and in committee reports, he had access to the same info the whole delegation did...he wants to be spoon fed????"

Torres' piece also said Margo was working with the Attorney General's Office to exclude El Paso from the bill. So, if Margo didn't know it would have negative ramifications for El Paso, why would he be working for an exclusion for El Paso? This looks like he supports the spirit of the bill, but knows he will have to answer for El Paso losing a lot of money and doesn't have the political fortitude to make a stand so he wanted to try to find a way to have his cake and eat it too.

But back to giving credit where credit is due, here is the text of the letter that the Republican boosters are circulating in opposition to the bill. In stark contrast to Representative Dee Margo, who is now Latino, they are making a values argument against the bill. They oppose it because its not consistent with the values, as opposed to Margo who is opposing the bill because of expediency. 

Dear Representative:
The State Affairs Committee has rescheduled its Friday morning meeting to Monday morning.   After talking to most of the Republican committee members, it seems to me the sole purpose of this bill is political.  I believe most of the Republicans on the committee feel they have to enact something, but they don’t want to do any real harm. 
The current version of HB 9 is better than SB 9 in that it only deals with the one single issue; a strong penalty against any governmental entity that restricts the authority of their employees to make inquiries regarding an individual’s immigration status.  It now includes a non-discriminatory provision, which is broad enough that in theory it would not be randomly applied solely because a person is Hispanic.  However as a practical matter, we all know that it will be Hispanics, including Hispanic American Citizens, that will be asked to prove their immigration status as opposed to white or black persons. 
The bill itself can only serve political purposes, allowing Republicans to claim that they have done something and giving Governor Perry a "perceived" victory.  But it’s essentially unenforceable.  It has been sold as having something to do with helping law enforcement detain criminal aliens or terrorists, which is factually incorrect. 
Any law enforcement agent can make an inquiry based on probable cause to determine whether or not someone is committing a crime or is engaged in terrorist activities.  This bill allows a law enforcement officer to make inquiries solely for immigration purposes. 
Consider this.  If an officer determines he has reason to believe that someone is out of status, a difficult legal determination since this is a federal offense and in many cases it is not even a criminal offense, the officer has no authority to arrest that individual and can only report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  If the individual is going to be arrested, this entire law is irrelevant because we already use 287G and Secure Communities.  So what this means is, we will have officers making inquiries of those individuals they cannot otherwise arrest, and then advising ICE and detaining such individuals until ICE picks them up.   
As a practical matter, ICE does not have the resources.  ICE, in fact, has their own enforcement priority which is to focus their limited resources on the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, suspected terrorists and individuals with outstanding deportation orders.  Therefore, it is unlikely that ICE would even allow one of its agents to respond to a call simply to determine if someone is out of status.  Even if they were to do so, in the interim that police officer would be out of commission and there would be a serious issue as to whether or not the officer had made a false arrest by holding someone that is not subject to any criminal charge.  Just imagine the number of lawsuits! 
The Governor's political advisers evidently believe this bill will help his image nationally.  The fact is, passage of this bill will convince more Hispanic voters that Republicans really do want to deport their mothers!   What a terrible message for Texas! 
The media headlines will read "Texas follows Arizona!"   How ironic it is that Texas Republicans would vote for a bill that will make it more difficult to recruit Hispanics to their party!  
Republican members of this legislature have rightfully refused to even consider scores of bills based on the fact that they would generate unfunded mandates.
No one denies this bill will increase the number of citizen children whose parents are deported.  This bill will increase the cost of housing nonviolent inmates.  This bill will increase the cost of officer training.  This bill will increase required officer manpower. 
So what will you do?  Will you vote for a bill that creates unfunded mandates because of political pressure?  Or will you do what is best for Texas and vote NO?  Even if you think the majority of your constituents favor this bill, you should make your decision based on facts and reality.  That is why you were elected.  Otherwise, we could simply do a poll on every issue.  You could be at home running your business and enjoying your family.  Most of your constituents have not studied the issues, or heard the testimony!
Please allow me to close with one point we have learned so well over the four  years of the immigration debate.  Illegal immigration is an emotionally charged debate.  However one thing is clear, on this issue, the haters are the minority. They are not the voting majority!
It is our prayer you will vote NO.
God bless you for listening, and may God continue to bless Texas!
Norman E. Adams, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy
Steven Hotze, MD, Conservative Republicans of Texas

Smart Phone Wars

If you know me, then you know I am a gadget guy. If you are in the market for a new phone, I wanted to pass on a little insight to you because I have used all of the major types of smart phones and I know it can be hard to sort out which one is the best.

Blackberry – the innovator of the smart phone world has been passed up by the other smart phone brands over the last year, but at one point, Blackberry was ubiquitous. They were everywhere and everyone had them. They were also addicting, so much so that they earned the nickname Crackberry. They did, and still do, one thing well…email. They are simple and reliable without a lot of frills. They are also without a lot of apps these days.

i-Phone – The new “it” gadget for a very long time, and it was basically the Blackberry killer. Faster, better graphics, more memory, more capabilities, and a much sexier look, the i-Phone, with its integration with music, photos, and video quickly rendered the Blackberry obsolete.

Android – The “droid” is the new “it” gadget for many people and the latest craze. If you pay attention to social medial circles it can basically do anything from keeping track of your appointments to rescuing little kittys from treas. Okay, I made the last one up, but to hear droid users, they make some pretty ridiculous claims sometimes. It’s more hyped than a pro-boxing fight these days.

Since I’ve used all three, I have to say that I think i-Phone is king. Droid is cool, but there are two things that bother me about droid, aside from the annoying people in social media that are constantly blabbing on about droid like they are getting paid for it.

#1, apps. Sure, there’s probably more apps available in the Droid Marketplace than in the Apple store, but the difference is, Apple’s apps actually work. In a couple of days I have lost track of how many apps I downloaded either didn’t work, or interfered with someone else on my device. Boo, I hate having to uninstall an app. The strength of droid is also its weakness. Anyone can make an app and have it in the market place. Apple is much more Darth Vader about that kind of thing, which is what I don’t like about Apple. But for as much innovation as you get from droid, you also have to filter through a lot of bullshit apps that basically suck.

#2 – lack of consistency. Performance of droid OS and the apps is going to depend on the hardware of your phone. That is a MAJOR weakness of droid. Some apps run great on some phones, and run horrible, lock up, or crash on other phones because of memory or processing speed.

i-Phone has uniformity and when an app is rolled out for i-Phone, you know its going to work. Oh, and the facebook app on i-phone is better than droid. I can manage pages from i-phone, I can’t from a droid. 

That being said, both i-Phone and Droid are light years better than anything Blackberry has right now. 

The next battlefront...tablets...

Numbers Crunch Post

Alright a few days ago I wrote a post in which I presented some data regarding the the American tax dollar and how it was spent. Although this was not the intended focus of the piece, the numbers certainly got it. At this time I, first and foremost, would like to apologize. Looking back, I should have explained the numbers a little better, so in response to all the readers who are insistent the numbers are incorrect and that I am wrong, I will take the time today to explain the numbers in detail and hopefully convince some you out there that the data is correct.

Now, before we look at the numbers we have to understand one simple fact, a fact that I think is the main concern behind those whom feel that the data I presented is incorrect. We have all been spoon fed the numbers, numbers like defense is 19% of what we spend and Social Security is another 30% and Medicare/Medicaid taking along another 20%. Now these are just approximations of course but fairly accurate ones. I think someone responded to my post with similar numbers, but looking at the data, I am not one to be fed and have to take a closer look at the information presented.

Now, when we look at American tax dollars we think of the big three named above, primarily because those are what we see taken from our paychecks. Don't beat yourselves up its perfectly rational assumption, albeit an incorrect one. Here we go:

Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid- throw those number out the window! Yes "entitlements" are taken of your paycheck and mine too; however, these programs cannot be counted as tax dollars simply because they do not serve the primary function of a tax dollar. In theory, these are investments in ourselves, we pay into medicare and social security because we are supposed to be getting that money back when we are of age or in need. Furthermore, money paid into SS or Medicare will never go to paying solders, building roads or education, why, because that is not their purpose. If Medicare and SS did not exist, again in theory, that money would still be in our paychecks. They are what I call specific taxes simply because they serve a specific purpose.

The Federal Income Tax, contrary to the aforementioned programs, is not a specific tax. These dollars are taxes in the purest forms; this tax is what generates the revenue that runs the country. The income tax pays for things like defense, wages for all three branches of government, education, roads, and some social programs. Everything that is not related to Social Security and Medicare/Aid is paid with the income tax, which is why its the bigger portion taken out of your paycheck. So now that we have the distinction better explained, I hope, we can move on to the numbers crunch.

Approximations of Fiscal Year 2011

Projected Income Tax/General Revenue: Approx 3 trillion dollars *this does not include entitlement taxes

Some one quoted the White House as a source and the White house has the defense budget at approx. 964 billion, right?

So lets take 964 Billion/3 trillion = approx .213 or 21.3% of the income tax, well I have been fed this number too and here is the problem with it.

This budget number is for current military, meaning things like the Veterans Affairs and healthcare for veterans is not calculated into this number, the bill for that is $60 billion. That $60 billion also does not include any public funds spent on veterans or immediate family that collect public benefits, such as social security.
Homeland security, judging by the title, can be added to the defense part of the check for approximately another $4.3 billion, bringing the bill to approximately
1.02 trillion

Now we can include NASA because its primary function is to launch military satellites but I don't want to be accused of using a technicality, so we will skip that 19 billion for now.

Adding the budget of the Army core of Engineers of 5 billion and National intelligence of 75 billion, the little things start to add up.
Compounding the budget is the huge chunk that comes from 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations, not including Iraq and Afghanistan, and approximately 255,000 service members stationed abroad. There are 116,000 in Europe and nearly 100,000 in Japan and South Korea.

Like everything else this money has to be financed and the interest alone to borrow this money comes to roughly 4-500 billion dollars, so now we are at about 1.608 trillion dollars:

$964 B + $60 B + $4.3 B + $5 B + $75 B + $500 B = 1.608 trillion dollars, 1.608 trillion / 3trillion  = 53.6 or approx 54% of the federal income tax.
*as a note I did not include NASA in this calculation

One more thing to note, although Homeland Security does get a piece of the defense budget, it is one of few things that gets a share of nearly every aspect of appropriations. Meaning it gets a share of defense, general government and physical resources, meaning that the 4.3 billion, quoted above, is actually quite a bit more.

Now the 3 trillion number comes from general revenues like the income tax, ad-valorem taxes, business and corp taxes along with charges and fees, add them up and we get approx 3 trillion dollars. If we simplify the numbers just a bit and use just income tax revenue and the given defense budget we get something very interesting:

Income tax 2011- 1.6 trillion=====>  964 billion / 1.6 trillion = .602 or 60.2%

So you see looking at it as we should we get the numbers that I originally proposed. As a bit of trivia, as defense spending began to increase in the Vietnam Era in the United States, the budget was then reformatted to include the entitlement programs to make the defense spending seem smaller than it was, I guess it worked.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wage Theft Report

Check this story out. This kind of thing happens all the time in El Paso and its a story about hard working people doing an honest day's work and are getting screwed and not getting paid.

Its yet another example of the complexities of our immigration policies and yet another reason the policies need to be reformed.

This is more complex than your typical racist, xenophobic right-wing retorts of this-wouldn't-be-a-problem-if-you-people-would-go-back-to-where-you-come-from....

Congressman Reyes Shows Humor About Perry

If you haven't heard about Governor Perry and his "tweeter" reference, it might be because he's been all over the country running for President instead of being a Governor of Texas.

But he recently said in a video taped message, and apparently in other places, to follow him on "tweeter". I assume he means follow him on Twitter. (Yes, I know, that is a bad assumption to make considering, as Bill Maher recently said, he makes George Bush look like the smart one...)

Congressman Reyes Twitter feed today had the following tweet, with a hilarious hash tag:

"Rick Perry shouldnt be surprised by his reception in San Antonio. Most anti-Hispanic legacy in TX history. "

Are Democrats Losing Our Identity?

Ernesto Villanueva, Jr.

Well I want to apologize to my reader for the long delay on this post, but it has been brewing for a while and I hope that its not too long winded for your taste. I think we, as a party, have reached the breaking point in national politics. What has been going in this country for the last 20 years is something that has been having deep ramifications to the so-called identity, or what we once thought was the identity, of the democratic party. Now I am not one to bash my party or question my ideals, but as the Republican Party continues its tectonic shift to the extreme right wing, it is having the intended affect of moving the Democrats further and further to the right; proposing ideas that would have been, at one time, considered right wing or conservative thought not more than 15 years ago. So whats going on?

Now I'm not here to tell others what they are supposed to believe in or what ideals they should hold true simply because they vote a particular party, but, there are some truths that are considered "self evident." Certain ideas are, what I thought, made us democrats, things like equal rights for all, protecting the environment and more importantly, standing up for the working and middle class of this country. Not in the last 90 years has the middle class been so depleted and in such dire straits. With record unemployment and more and more Americans losing unemployment benefits, we are facing a time in our history where the real possibility of the disappearance of the middle class is becoming a painful reality. To make matters worse, those Americans still lucky enough to work are losing their right to be represented.

Today New Jersey joined the likes of Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan by passing a bill that would strip bargaining rights from city and state employees. With a governor like Chris Christie, the piece of legislation was no surprise, the bewilderment came from the wide support from New Jersey Democrats. With the bill being passed and expected to be signed on Monday, state legislators where met by protesters holding banners that read "this is the death of the Democratic party," one of which adorned the side of a hearse. These people are understandably upset, this the base of the Democratic Party, these are the people Democrats are supposed to be fighting for, the people they have to defend, the people that republicans continue to ignore and if we lose our elected legislators our "voice" in congress...whats left?

Democrats over the last 10 years have found themselves proposing ideas, now considered radical left wing liberalism...ahh just saying the word Liberal makes me feel all warm inside, are actually proposals that are not left wing at all! Ideas like Cap and Trade and the mandate language in President Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act, are just two examples of Democratic "ideas" that were at one time presented by Conservatives...Republicans 15 years ago in the Clinton years. So why the shift? Well the answer is very simple, since the Republicans have moved so far to the right, to areas of uncontrolled deregulation, aristocracy and xenophobia...the political spectrum has actually shifted with them and the Democrats are now becoming the Republicans of old. Was that the intention all along? Are our victories hollow Republican shams? I would like to believe that this was a giant orchestrated move by the right, but honestly, I feel that the Republicans, contrary to all logical thought and reason, actually believe what they spew on the floor in the House of Representatives, which does not bode for the other 97% of Americans.

Democrats need to stand up for the ideals that make us Democrats, we need to stand together and point out that Republican Administrations have had the largest spending sprees beginning with Reagan, who actually raised taxes by the way. I understand that America needs to cut spending but we also have to increase revenue and cutting revenue by lowering taxes further will not create jobs, just ask the millions that lost their jobs under Bush. Vice President Biden is now in budget talks with Republican leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell, several cuts have been proposed by the right but to understand these cuts you have know where your tax dollar goes dollar goes.

The Federal Dollar:

54% or .54 cents of every dollar goes to military, i.e. defense
30% or .34 cents of every dollar goes to Human Resources (things like the labor, education...etc)
11% or .11 cents of every dollar goes to General Govt (pays all branches of government, debt..etc)
5% or .05 cents of every dollar Physical Resources<-----------------this is where Republicans have made most of there cuts!

From this 5% percent we get things like the National Science foundation,The Endowment for the Arts, HUD, roads, transportation and yes even Homeland Security gets a share of this pie. This is where Republicans have decided to cut! We are losing the fight and we losing ourselves. The right wants to balance the budget by cutting out the smallest pieces and refusing to consider any type of taxes, proven today as Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, walked out of budget talks stating that taxes were off the table. Is is what we have become, the party of silence of inaction? As large corporations continue to pay nothing in taxes, as the median income for the upper class continues to skyrocket, middle class families are being left in the cold, left to take their modest 2% increase in income over the last 50 years and make ends meat. This where we find ourselves today, this is what our elected officials are fighting for, simply for our survival and before our country can go any further we have to stop and look at what we have become and asses if this is the current direction we want to continue as the party of the People.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

USA V. MEX in Copa Oro Final

Okay, so team USA will be taking on Mexico in the finals on Saturday.

So I think President Obama and Presidente Calderón should make a wager on the game. Whoever loses gets stuck with Arizona.

And to make it really interesting…they also have to take Rick Perry as the Governor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reyes Testifies to Protect Tigua Status


Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Lt. Governor Carlos Hisa also testifies before subcommittee

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) testified today before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in support of his legislation, H.R. 1560, to eliminate the one-eighth blood quantum requirement on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo unfairly imposed by Congress in 1987. Of the 565 federally-recognized Native American tribes, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is one of the only known tribes whose membership is dictated by the federal government, not members of the tribe. Below is his testimony as delivered:
"Good morning, I would like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member, and the committee for holding this hearing on my legislation, H.R. 1560, to grant the people of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo the right to determine their own membership. This historic federally-recognized Native American tribe is the oldest community in Texas, and one of only three Native American tribes in the state. The Tribal community, known as “Tigua,” was established in 1682, after the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish colonization of the Americas, nearly a century before the Declaration of Independence, and more than 160 years before the annexation of Texas to the United States.

"For over three centuries, the Tigua have maintained a vibrant presence in my congressional district in El Paso, Texas, and are a central part of our community’s rich culture and heritage. Today, there are nearly 1,700 enrolled members in the Tribe, but without legislative action to correct an injustice that has existed in federal law since 1987, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo will lose its recognition as a sovereign nation. Due to an unfairly-imposed one-eighth blood quantum requirement by Congress that singles out the Tigua, in the coming generations, they will lose their federally-recognized status, and the right to self-govern their historic community.

"Of the 565 federally-recognized Native American tribes in the United States, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is one of the very few, if not the only one, whose tribal membership criteria is prescribed by the federal government, and not by the members of the tribe. Every other Native American tribe has the right to determine the criteria of its own membership, based on its unique customs, traditions, and language, in addition to tribal blood. According to a former Tigua governor, the imposed blood quantum requirement was the first time Congress had taken such action since 1946, and it has not done so since. None of the newly-recognized tribes since the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo have been subject to such blood quantum requirements by the federal government.

"My legislation corrects this inequity and the singling out of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. It removes the one-eighth blood quantum requirement in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act of 1987, and allows the Tigua to determine their own criteria for membership based on its own unique culture, heritage, and traditions.

"My legislation has no cost associated with it, and I ask unanimous consent to submit two letters for the record, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Health & Human Services, that support this fact.

"The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo has been an important part of the community’s cultural heritage for nearly 330 years. The tribe is an inseparable part of our history, and it should be allowed to preserve its status as a sovereign nation for future generations.

"As many of you know, I have been deeply committed to correcting this inequity for many years. It has passed this committee and the House under both Republican and Democratic leadership in the 106th Congress and in the previous two Congresses. I appreciate the support that many of you have shown in this effort and in helping to rectifying this inequity.

"Passage of this bill and its enactment into law is critical to this historic tribe’s survival. By eliminating this unfair tribal enrollment requirement, the Tigua will have the same rights afforded to every other federally-recognized Native American tribe, and will be able to preserve their unique heritage based on shared history, customs, and language, in addition to tribal blood. This bill will ensure the preservation of Texas' oldest community, and the only remaining pueblo in the state. I strongly urge your support passage of this legislation."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Apple to Open El Paso Store

For all my fellow techie geeks out there, Apple is opening an El Paso location.

The new location will be in Cielo Vista Mall.

As you can see in this screen shot, they are already accepting applications for employment in the new store. 

Props to my buddy Tim Holt for the tip!

Press Release: Rep Naomi Gonzalez

Contact: Claudia Tijerina
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
– Governor Rick Perry has signed 23 bills authored or sponsored
by State Representative Naomi Gonzalez. The youngest female member of the 2011
freshman class and the only Hispanic female, Representative Gonzalez faced
incredible odds this session.

Additionally, Representative Gonzalez was chosen among 37 incoming House
members to receive the "Freshman of the Year" awa rd from both the Legislative
Study Group and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

"My goal from day one was to work hard and stay focused on the matters important
to the district I represent. Because of this, I was able to pass legislation under
tough circumstances, but our efforts are far from finished. While the legislation I
passed will support residents of District 76 in the tough times that lie ahead, I will
continue to work collaboratively to ensure that more is done back home that will
help our community weather difficult times."

Among Representative Gonzalez's legislative accomplishments, the following bills
specifically protect the young, elderly, and veterans, increase government efficiency,
and help save taxpayer dollars.

HB 1866
designates Alameda Avenue an historic highway. HB 1866 will promote
economic development and community pride
around Alameda Avenue and allow the
Texas Department of Transportation to apply for federal funds to restore this area.

HB 2496
creates a teen dating violence court that provides justice for victims of
dating violence and a court-approved program for perpetrators of teen dating
violence. This bill
will free up taxpayer dollars and promote healthy relationships
among our youth
by stemming the cycle of violence and incarceration.

SB 604 increases government efficiency
by allowing jailers to serve inmates
warrants, subpoenas, and execute other processes, ensuring that peace officers can
remain in the field where they are needed most.

SB 221
and SB 223 protect our elderly by improving the regulation of home and
community support services agencies and adding identity theft as a form of
exploitation and abuse.
SB 540 protects our veterans
by paving the way to adjust tax exemptions for
disabled veterans, making it easier for them to afford housing.

Though a very difficult session, Representative Gonzalez has worked hard to protect
and serve her constituents. She remained focused on putting District 76 first and
collaborated with members of the community and all levels of government to ensure
the maximum local benefit.

"Job creation, healthcare and education are the backbone of a strong economy and
must be our priorities. Legislation like HB 1866HB 2496 and SB 604 are examples
of creative ways we can promote positive growth, save taxpayer money and support
our community."

County Redistricting Process

by George Ybarra

The County of El Paso is the first local entity to begin the Redistricting Process. Attached are two maps. The first is the current districts and the second is what it has proposed for the new districts.

The time to get involved and offer our suggestions, comments or opinions is right now. Take a look at the proposed plan. What are your thoughts on it. You can send your comments to Javier Chacon, County Elections Director.

On June 30th at 10:00 am in the County Judge's Conference Room, there will be a work session to discuss the comments, opinions and other plans submitted. 

Lame Duck Rep Takes Trip to DC with Discretionary Funds

So I wrote about Rep Quintana going to DC a few days ago and I questioned if tax payers were funding a road trip for a lame duck rep and if so...why?

A couple of people got upset about it and obviously spoke before they knew the facts. They assumed that because she was invited by some young elected officials club that she was paying her own way. I had a hunch she wasn't.

And I was right. The city says (in this KVIA piece) the money from her trip will come from discretionary funds.

The question is, do you think it should have?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Antiques Road Show Comes to El Paso – Have Your Old, Worthless Junk Appraised…

So I have to confess, I have been a fan of Antique Road Show on PBS for a long time. I am now addicted to the other shows like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars too, probably because of Antique Road Show.

What’s not to like? 

You can take your old, useless stuff that is just sitting around, not doing anything, and just collecting dust and find out how much it’s worth.

There were in town on Saturday.

No official word if El Paso’s most notable old, useless stuff that is just sitting around, not doing anything, and just collecting dust – City Rep Ann Morgan Lilly, was taken to be appraised or not.

Pastor Tom Brown Compares Himself to MLK...

I know, the headline sounds like a joke. But it isn’t.

Last night on ABC 7 Xtra with Darren Hunt, Pastor Tom Brown and City Rep Steve Ortega were discussing the Domestic Partner Benefits Issue.

It was a thorough beat down and Pastor Brown was actually visibly upset. He also seemed to be walking back the threat of a recall.

Brown was questioned about jeopardizing the tax exempt status of his church by using his church’s website and newsletter for political purposes. Brown on the one hand said that its not a violation if they don’t have political action towards a specific candidate. I think most people recognize a recall against specific members of council would be such an action. And so would endorsing his wife’s candidacy, which was done during the recent city council elections.

He then changes his story to say that the website belongs to him personally and not the church. Funny thing about that, the website has the church address, invitations to attend, video of sermons, etc. from the actually church.

But my favorite part of the discussion is when Tom Brown had the nerve to compare himself to civil rights great Martin Luther King. It came about after several phone calls, emails, and tweets that said Tom Brown was hateful and judgmental. Fellow Christians took issue with his persecution of the issue. He refused to answer those critiques, but at one point he did say that he felt that he walked in the footsteps of Martin Luther King.

A comparison to a civil rights leader, from a guy who is trying to deny Domestic Partner benefits to the gay community. Pastor Brown, you are persecuting a minority. That is the EXACT opposite of MLK.

Preventing them from being treated fairly is NOT being a civil rights leader. That’s like saying the people pointing the fire hoses in the south are the same as the people who had the hoses pointed at them.

Let’s not forget this is the same man who basically said he had to leave Riverside High School and go to Eastwood because it was hard being white at a Latino school. He’s also the same guy who said his wife changed colors for him.

I think we all know how ignorant it was of him to say that he has anything in common with Martin Luther King.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Republican Hypocrisy on Weiner

I've been getting tired of the right and their constant barrage of hypocrisy in calling for the resignation of Anthony Weiner due to Twitter-gate.

Weiner tweets his weiner to a few women and the Republicans are calling for his head. Uh, the one on his shoulders.

But there is no indication that he broke the law, and there is no indication that he even had sex with any of the women.

Yes it was wrong for him to do. Yes, he will probably be in the dog house for a long time with his wife and the next time she lets him see her vagina might be at their kids birth...if he's lucky.

But while the right-wing echo chamber has been blasting the Democrats for not calling for his resignation, they have been busy demonstrating the height of their hypocrisy.

But they have probably set themselves up for a new standard of conduct in Congress that might be a tough one for them. Let's take Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.

Let's take a look at what he did. He was a regular customer of the DC Madam. He actually had sex. He broke a couple of laws, like being a John and he actually used government resources, actually making phone calls from the Senate Floor to set-up his trysts.

How did the very same Republicans that are calling for Weiner's resignation react when Vitter returned to the Senator Floor?

They gave him a standing ovation.

Weiner lied, which is clearly wrong. But he didn't break the law or even commit adultry. Vitter did.

Weiner is forced to resign and Vitter is still in the Senate.

It doesn't add up.

Press Release: Pluma Fronteriza

The Legacy of Luis Jimenez, Sculptor of San Jacinto Plaza's Los Lagartos
El Paso, Texas – The El Paso County Chicano(a) History Project will a screen a two-part interview conducted in 1997 by Miguel Juárez with acclaimed sculptor Luis Jiménez Jr. The screening will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, 2011, in the auditorium at the El Paso Public Library Main Branch, in Downtown El Paso. The screening is part of the “Keep Los Lagartos in San Jacinto Plaza” Campaign.
At the time of Jiménez ' death in 2006, Stuart Ashman, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, said that Jiménez was considered "the most important Chicano artist in the United States…[who] made great contributions to contemporary art in America."  Jiménez’s father was trained by Francisco “Frisco” Gutierrez, Artist-in-Residence at the Plaza Theater for over 35 years. In the “who's who” of sculptors in the United States, Jiménez gained international fame in his lifetime. Institutions such as the Smithsonian and universities across the nation currently display Jiménez' sculptures.

Current plans to redesign San Jacinto Plaza propose removing the “Los Lagartos” sculpture, a statue that was a site-specific commission by the City of El Paso and that has become synonymous with San Jacinto Plaza or “Plaza de los Lagartos” as it is known by the Latino community. Sculptures by Chicano artists are rarely displayed, not only in the United States, but as well as in El Paso. Removing “Los Lagartos” from San Jacinto Plaza would give the message that the City of El Paso does not view Chicano art as first rate and that it does not recognize the contributions of its largely Latino community.
The July 9th screening is from the series: "Frontera Artists: Mexican and Chicano Artists in El Paso," which originally aired from 1997-2005 on EPCC-TV. The series was 19-part program that aired close to 600 times on KCOS-TV Channel 13 (PBS) and/or on Cable Channel 14 since its creation in 1997. The show was co-produced by Miguel Juárez (also the host) and Gabriel Gaytan.

The screening is co-sponsored by the Friends of the El Paso Public Library (Main)

The El Paso County Chicano(a) History Project is a new initiative whose mission is to collect, rediscover, revise, and preserve and promote El Paso's County's Chicano(a) historical legacy. To learn more about the El Paso County Chicano(a) History Project call (915) 258-0989 or

Replacing Dr. Rhodes...

Interesting development I've been hearing about and I am still working on gathering more details. It looks like there is a faction of the El Paso Community College Board that is already on the search to recruit a replacement for Dr. Rhodes, who will be leaving the EPCC next week to head another community college system.

Rhodes has been there a long time, so one would assume that there would be a more methodical search for a new President, but apparently one faction has taken it upon themselves to do some independent recruitment.

If my information is correct, the word on the street is that they are looking to recruit former Senator Eliot Shapleigh to replace Dr. Rhodes. Shapleigh has been rumored to be interested in running for everything in town except District Clerk, but there has been chatter in the past in some education circles that Shapleigh would one day like to replace Dr. Natalicio at UTEP.

Though I imagine Natalicio will be as old as Dr. Uxer before she decides to leave her current job.

Stay tuned on this one, I still have some more digging to do...

Long-Time EPISD Board Member Resigns

Lisa Colquitt-Muñoz, who represents El Paso High and Bowie High School feeder patterns for EPISD School Board, has resigned.

Sources say she's going to Europe for 8 months and ironically will be home-schooling her children during the time. Which makes sense since its only 8 months.

Colquitt-Muñoz was previously a staffer for then-County Judge Alicia Chacon and a reporter for Noticias 26 (KINT).

Colquitt-Muñoz served as Board President from 2005-2007.

The EPISD Board of Trustees will appoint a replacement to fill out the remainder of her term.

Why is Rachel Quintana Going to Meet the President?

If you saw the headline in the Borderland section of today’s paper, City Reps Holguin and Quintana are going to meet with President Obama about immigration reform.

I know the city paid for Rep Holguin’s flight and hotel. Which I think is appropriate because he is an elected official representing the City of El Paso and was recently re-elected. He and his wife have also had a long history of advocacy for immigration reform.

But Rachel Quintana? Are you kidding me? Why in the hell is she going? And for God’s sake, I hope we aren’t paying for her trip. She’s out of office in a matter of days. How could the expense ever be justified? More importantly, why are we paying for her to have a big ass road trip at the end of her political career so she can’t party it up in DC?

I’m sure she will say its all business and she wants to talk about the importance of immigration reform. Sure she does. That’s about as up-front and straight-forward as her political stage name.

Oh yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that. She’s Veronica Rachel Quintana. A couple of friends of mine worked with her at FedEx and said the whole name change thing happened when she ran for office. No one knows why.

And another thing…what the hell does she know about immigration policy? She has NEVER been around a single conversation about immigration reform. I went through my notes and photo, audio, and video archives and I have no record of her being at a single immigration reform event or discussion.

There was just one on Saturday that I participated in, and guess who wasn’t there…V. Rachel Quintana.
I understand travel is part of the job of elected leadership and we should pick up the travel and lodging if they are doing business for the city. I’m not debating that point.

If she's going on her own dime, orale pues, have fun. 

But at some point someone has to speak up and say, WTF when a lame duck who is leaving office is just a few days takes an expensive trip on our dime if we have to pay for it.

2 Prominent El Paso Dems Vote Against National Platform Issues at City Council

Gay rights and equality are part of the Democratic Party’s national platform. Plain and simple.

City Reps Holguin and Acosta voted against the Mayor’s agenda item to restore domestic partner benefits. 

They voted against retirees, they voted against social justice, they voted against the national platform of their party.

I for one, am personally disappointed in their votes. Yes, I know, Lilly and Robinson voted with them. Robinson has been against this from day one, so I am not surprised at his vote at all. Lilly had to pay back her masters, so I am not surprised by her vote.

But when the two flag-waving Democrats on council vote against a fundamental issue like equality, as a proud DEMOCRAT who stands by the principals of my party, I will not stand silent.

I know some of you agree with their vote. But save me the “Will of the People” nonsense. It’s not the will of the people, it’s the will of the small percentage of people that actually voted.

And stop with the ridiculous statements about Democracy coming to an end. Relax, there are no Chinese tanks in the Plazita, so stop being a bunch of drama queens.

Let me back up a bit for a moment.

Is this issue about healthcare benefits or homosexuality.

The reason I ask is because in the beginning, the reason we have this problem with the ordinance language is because the Pastor Tom Brown crowd didn’t want it to appear that they were singling out the gay community.

They were warned about the language in the ordinance. 

They didn’t care.

Multiple groups tried to meet with them to hash it out before it went to the ballot. The Browns wanted the language to stand. The matter went before the court and yes, Brown screwed everyone, not just the gays.

Yes, pun intended.

So the Mayor had a problem on his hand. A lot of people lost their benefits and the people who wrote the ordinance are now changing their story and saying that it was always about the gays.

If it was always about the gays, then the Mayor did the right thing by attempting to resolve the issue. The reason that the Browns wanted the broad language was to avoid the Constitutional problems of going after just the gays. So the situation is all screwed up.

So was it about benefits or was it about the gays? Now that this is a question, and since its impossible to find out from every voter what their individual intent was, then the Mayor was right to step in to attempt to fix the situation.

That is why the “will of the people” argument is total bullshit. You can’t possibly know what the “will of the people was”, benefits or gays, without checking with each individual voter.

Leadership means making the tough decision sometimes. It means making an unpopular decision sometimes as well too.

I know that some people don’t want to make the hard choice because they want to be popular or they don’t want to hurt their future chances at another office, etc. But don’t pull a Pontius Pilot and wash your hands of this and say leave it up to the voters just so that you don’t have to make a tough decision.

The public comment portion of the meeting was pointless by the way. All the city reps had their pretty little speeches ready to explain their vote. That means their minds were already made up and everyone basically wasted their breath, no matter what side of the issue they were on.

But what I find the most troubling about the “will of the people” argument is how disconnected with history those that hide behind that statement appear to be. The “will of the people” held African-Americans in bondage. The “will of the people” prevented women from voting. The “will of the people” said white people could sit at the front of the bus, drink from their own water fountains, swim in their own pools, and go to their own schools.

The “will of the people” crowd should not be ignorant of our nations past. The “will of the people” crowd should remember that part of Democracy means the protection of minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

Every meaningful change in terms of justice, and specifically the historical points I referred to, came about because brave leaders made unpopular decisions to do what is right.

I shudder to think what else those members of council would tolerate because of “the will of the people”. 

Actually a friend of mine on Facebook said it best, “To the three who changed their votes because "the voters" like discrimination: What other degrading acts would you be willing to do for "the voters"?

I wish those leaders acted more like Rosa Parks, brave and bold, and less like a park bench, passive and inanimate.

If you say you are a Democrat, act like it and don’t side with Pastor Brown. Don’t try to have your political cake and eat it too. Do what’s right, even if it means a few angry phone calls or emails. 

Others faced REAL threats and still had the courage to do what is right.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pastor Tom Brown Posts Petition to Recall Mayor on his Church's Website

Didn't take long for Pastor Tom Brown to react to yesterday's vote and post a document called Recall Form. There is a very specific political message before the form that states: 

Open Letter to City Council
City Council and the Mayor disrespected the will of the people. They overturned the legitimate vote for the Traditional Family Ordinance. People who have complained that their votes do not count are justified. You lost the most basic, fundamental civil right of all, and that is to have your vote count. The whole idea that the people have the right to address grievances against their government has been abolished by this council. If you are upset at this action and would like to sign and/or circulate a recall petition against Mayor John Cook and Representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega, then fill out the form below. Share this page with your friends and get them to fill out the form. Thanks.

How is this NOT a violation of the terms of their tax exempt status?

Here is a link to the actual page. 

What Tea Partiers REALLY Think About Latinos

Watch the video below to hear what Rebecca Forest, a Texas Tea Party Leader and founder of an anti-immigrant group that tries to fool people with its name, Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas, says about Hispanic Legislators.

Among the many ridiculous things she says, the one that stands out most is, "If you want to know why we can’t pass legislation in Texas it’s because we have 37, no 36, Hispanics in the Legislature. All of the states that have passed legislation have a handful and I mean literally, some of them have no Hispanic legislators, well, maybe 3 or 5 or something. So that’s, umm, part of our problem and we need to change those numbers...So the problem is these Hispanic legislators…"

Yes, she really said that. There's video to prove it. 

More importantly, she doesn't make a distinction between Republican or Democratic Hispanic legislators either. She meant Hispanic legislators. And thinks there should be less of them.

Wonder how the El Paso Latino National Republican Coalition will defend and/or apologize for that little remark...

This is the EXACT reason why Republicans cannot make a good rational argument for Latinos to be Republican. Their policies and rhetoric isn't only anti-immigrant, it comes off as anti-Latino. 

A point made by other white Republicans like Dr. Steve Hotze of the Conservative Republicans of Texas. And at about the 2:50 mark of the video, the person on screen makes a very solid point that Republicans should understand about the debate of immigration reform. Essentially he says that Latinos aren't going to vote for the party that they think is going to deport their grandmother. 

Interestingly the narrator of the video says (around the 4:28 mark) that the reason that Latinos haven't moved sharply away from the Republicans in the last election was because Governor Perry opposed Arizona-style immigration legislation. But the video was made BEFORE he switched positions on that issue. 

I've been to Tea Party rallies. Even in El Paso there are very few people of color at the rallies. Somehow the handful that are there end up in news coverage of their events, much like the handful of African-Americans at the GOP convention in the last election ended up with a lot of camera time.

As long as this is the prevailing message of the GOP, Latinos will never go to the GOP in large numbers. Latinos should remember this rhetoric next November. Remember the votes of the Republicans in the legislature, how they affect your family, and the words they say about us when they think no one is listening.

How can Latinos feel welcomed in a party that identifies Hispanic legislators as "the problem".

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Press Release: Westside Democrats of El Paso

are invited to the following events for 2 of our members:
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
DoubleTree Downtown (Sky Room)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Oasis Bistro Lounge
125 Pioneer Plaza
(Next to the Plaza Theatre)