Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Just Realized Something...

No doubt most of you remember the rather famous text message that was mocked around town between State Representative Marisa Marquez and a former state representative.

The former state rep sent a text message to Rep Marquez saying, U R Not My Friend. It became so talked about that there was talk around town about putting it on a t-shirt.

The concept of Reps Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez endorsing (regardless of what they say in the paper, those comments are an endorsement. They were given specifically for a mail piece. Call it what you want but I don't have to stand outside all day to recognize the sun.) Dee Margo over Democratic candidate Joe Moody because Margo is a "nice guy" is being mocked around town now.

Apparently at the UNITY walk this morning Senator Jose Rodriguez got the party started with a speech about his support for Joe Moody. I'm trying to find out if anyone recorded it and if they did, I'll post it. I'm told it was pretty good.

He apparently talked about the Marquez/Gonzalez duo supporting Margo because he's a nice guy and then proceeded to give a litany of all the bad stuff Margo supported. Followed by the phrase, "But he's a nice guy". I'm told the crowd of volunteers joined in every time he said, "But he's a nice guy."

Near the end of the speech someone apparently asked if Jose Rodriguez had an opponent. I'm told Rodriguez said yes but that he couldn't remember his name. Followed quickly by, "but I'm sure he's a nice guy!" My source said the crowd cracked up laughing.

I think Jose Rodriguez just made, "But he's a nice guy" Marquez/Gonzalez's U R Not My Friend!

On a separate note, I think the endorsements from Marquez and Gonzalez might actually have helped Moody. First of all, here's a group of volunteers that showed up today. Biggest group I've seen for a block walk in town.



First thing I notice is the fact that I think it represents the future of the Party. A mixture of young and new faces with some old-school Party veterans.

The other thing I noticed was the fact that three reasons there was a UNITY block walk event are all there, Senator Jose Rodriguez, Congressman-elect Beto O'Rourke, and Joe Moody. Rodriguez wore a Moody shirt to show his support for his fellow Democrat. (But lets be honest, Rodriguez doesn't need to even walk. He's going to trounce his opponent (again) and the fact that he even shows up is a testament to the fact that he's a gamer even when he doesn't have to be.

I'll bet he's been able to raise some money out of this as well.


State Reaction to Marquez / Gonzalez Endorsement of Republican Candidate

There has been reaction at the state-level of the Texas Democratic Party to the endorsement of a Republican candidate, State Representative Dee Margo, by two Democratic State Representatives Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez.

The Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party Gilberto Hinojosa told me via phone interview that he bothered and disappointed by what they did.

"...their support for him means that they also support these extremist positions that the Republican Party has taken in the state of Texas that Dee Margo has supported." stated Chairman Hinojosa.

He went on to say that "..they chose to ignore the importance of picking up new Democratic legislative seats in the state of Texas...I don't understand how they can't see how important it is that we start adding more Democrats. Look what happened this last legislative session, they (Republicans) overwhelmed and as a consequence the Republican legislators, led by what was supposed to be a moderate Speaker, did everything from voter ID bills, discriminatory redistricting legislation, discriminatory voter registration laws, all which have been thrown out by the Federal District Courts, all which were supported by Mr. Margo's right-wing Republican super-majority...friendships need to be set aside because at the end of the day, when Republicans win in this state its hurtful to Texas families, particularly those in El Paso County. I would hope they would reconsider their position."

The State Chair wasn't the only one commenting about Marquez and Gonzalez either.

One Texas PAC Founder and State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher sent out this press release yesterday:


Dee Margo deceives El Paso voters in campaign mail; Can't hide from his Republican voting record

Dee Margo can run from his record in El Paso but can't hide from his votes with Republican supermajority in Austin to cut funding for schools and health care providers in El Paso 

Austin, TX – One Texas PAC Founder, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) issued the following statement:
 
Republican Dee Margo knows he is losing this campaign and it is understandable why he wants to look like a Democrat back home.

The facts speak for themselves. The bottom line is Margo’s votes in Austin resulted in:
  • Republican cuts to schools that Dee Margo knew in 2011 would force El Paso County schools to lose 193 full-time teaching positions. 
  • Dee Margo and Tea-Party Republicans also cut $2 billion from Medicaid and CHIP, this includes $805 million in cuts to doctors and clinics that provide critical care to El Paso families. 
  • Finally, Margo voted with all Republicans for redistricting maps that guarantee his own survival by discriminating against Hispanics in El Paso. 
 I caution anyone who would want to support someone with that disgraceful record.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Representative Marquez's Response to Previous Mailer Post

Your comments on your blog are correct.

In the past I supported Moody, with not only endorsements but with
financial contributions. However, my choice not to support him came
during this last primary. During my contested race, Moody considered
actually joining my primary and challenging me for my District 77
seat, a complete about face and without any provocation. The level of
trust I had for him, already strained for several reasons, was
shattered. Our delegation cannot move forward with these types of
actions.

On a personal level, I like Dee. I find him to be a person who is true
to his word. I chose to allow my support statement to be used for
these reasons.

These choices are about making decisions that support the betterment
of the whole rather than the personal agenda of one. Our delegation
has proven it can work together and make El Paso a priority. I will
continue to do my part for what I believe is right, even though it may
take sacrifice and I may receive criticism.

It's time El Paso put function above form.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Et Tu Democrats? 2 EP Democratic Legislators Support Republican Candidate

In a pretty surprising move two members of El Paso's Democratic delegation are included in Republican State Representative Dee Margo's latest mailer. Both State Representatives Marisa Marquez (HD 77) and Naomi Gonzalez (HD 76) were featured in the piece giving pretty glowing remarks about Margo.

In the parlance of El Paso..."Zas!"

Margo and former State Representative Joe Moody are locked in a very competitive race for state representative and is one of the few districts in Texas where a Democrat has the ability to gain a seat in the legislature.

Representative Gonzalez states in part, "Dee has demonstrated time and again that he is willing to listen to both sides of an issue and work across party lines for the good of El Paso."

Which is interesting and problematic for Gonzalez and Marquez because Margo was the only member of the delegation to vote in favor of the controversial budget last session. The duo both expressed opposition to that budget and Marquez specifically mentioned the cuts to women's health funding as the reason she "...could not in any good conscience vote for that bill. Absolutely not..." (around the 16:00 mark of the video posted below.)

Marquez's quote about Margo is also problematic because she appears to contradict herself by saying that Margo remains "a trusted ally in our fight for a better El Paso."

I'm pretty sure the teachers affected by Margo's vote on the budget aren't going to be happy about that quote. Especially considering we have 230 less teachers in El Paso County than we had a year ago.

This breaks a cardinal rule about supporting people in your own Party. Its not like Margo's opponent, former State Representative Joe Moody is some long-shot candidate with no chance of winning. Moody has a great chance at winning that race especially given the numbers. Moody stayed out of Marquez's primary challenge earlier this year.

It also represents an about-face from Marquez. In her remarks to the El Paso Young Democrats during the primary portion of this election cucle, Marquez declared her support for Moody. "I support Joe. I've always supported Joe Moody. I do support Joe Moody, and yes I think its absolutley important that we have more Democrats in the State House." (It starts at 13:20 mark of the video)



Both of those factors make this mailer a big deal. They are working against a Democrat in a seat that Democrats have a chance of winning back. Both have expressed the need to have more Democrats in the legislature.

It probably wouldn't be a big deal if both candidates were doing it to a candidate in a race with no chance of winning. But they are hurting a viable candidate. And one from their own Party.

Frankly my initial reaction to the piece was along the lines of What is Margo thinking? My initial thoughts were that a pair of Democrats in another district aren't going to appeal to Margo's base so what is the point of putting them on a piece of mail. Then I found out it was mail specifically targeted to Democratic voters in the district. Which puts an even sharper edge on the effort.

But it might be for a couple of reasons. District 78, more than any other district in El Paso and possibly in the state of Texas with the possible exception of CD 23, tends to reflect the top of the ticket. If its a gubernatorial year, it will go red. If its a presidential year, it will go blue. Lets face it Romney sure isn't inspiring a lot of support and Margo has to pull some cross-over votes if he's going to win re-election. So that might explain the inclusion of two Democrats in the piece.

I also can't help but notice that Mitt Romney is trying to run as something he's not and perhaps Representative Margo wants to do the same thing.

However there are a couple of other connections between the three candidates. All three have rather famously received money from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR). The TLR funds, almost exclusively, Republican candidates. All three of the candidates also happen to be clients of Forma Group as well. Forma is El Paso's top political consulting firm.

By contrast, Democratic Representative-elect Mary Gonzalez is out-front with her support of Moody.Now that I think about it, Senator Rodriguez has also been supportive of Moody.

This move also has to put Congressman-elect Beto O'Rourke and El Paso County Democratic Party Chairman Rick Melendrez in a tough spot because they are trying to push for the UNITY campaign. So much for supporting Team D.

I guess it was confused for Team Dee.

Support for Margo from a few select Democrats isn't a new thing. As you can see in this photo, former County Judge Anthony Cobos also supported Margo in the past.

Perhaps the biggest impact of the actions of Gonzalez and Marquez is the fact that it undercuts activities related to the UNITY effort.

Prominent Democrats supporting a Republican over a candidate in their own party for personal reasons?

Hmm....where have I heard that before?

Marquez and Gonzalez's support of a Republican is frankly no different than the group of Sore Loser Democrats that are supporting the Republican Congressional nominee over fellow Democrat Beto O'Rourke.

Many within the Party are trying to take action against the vocal Democrats that are also officials within the Democratic Party for not being supportive of the nominee. Those efforts are now undercut by two members of the delegation who are essentially doing the exact same thing.

Since their public policy positions are well documented, its extremely difficult to see this public support for a Republican as anything other than a personal beef. That is reminiscent of Marquez's former mentor and Gonzalez former rival doesn't it?

I attempted to reach Representative Marquez for comment but have not heard back from her yet. If she responds I will include her response in another piece. I am also waiting to hear back from the Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party Gilberto Hinojosa on the matter as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dr. Zolkoski's Plush Pad - Its Good to be YISD Superintendent

Dr. Zolkoski, affectionately known as Dr. Z, is the Superintendent of the Ysleta Independent School District. You probably already knew that based on several articles highlighting the top administrator, like this one explaining the penalty YISD pays for having him, or this one that has actually sparked my interest in Dr. Z.

This is the kind of stuff that infuriates tax-payers and ultimately does education a disservice in my opinion because it turns people off to the idea of giving school districts more money when they see their money spent on this kind of stuff.

Here's what I mean. In addition to his nearly $248,500 salary, and the $100,000 Ysleta tax-payers have paid in fines since 2009 to employ Dr. Z, it turns out they also fund the maintenance on his pool, lawn care, and pest control.

Yes, Dr. Z does in fact rent the home owned by YISD (why the hell they own a home in the first place is beyond me) but he only pays rent in the amount of $1,300 a month for a pretty nice pad with a pool in Eastridge.

But wait, it gets better. Who does the regular honey-do's that normally a husband would be made to do around the house by his wife? Apparently in many, if not most cases, YISD maintenance staff.

Yep, according to the article from the Times in July, the people that should be maintaining the schools your tax dollars pay for are also called away from their jobs to do stuff like remodel kitchens and pick up debris from the yard...at the house your tax dollars paid for too.

Trust me, the Times article has a whole host of other expenses that will drive you crazy too.

The reason I am writing about this is because apparently this issue came up to the YISD board recently and apparently the Board is hunky-dory with Dr. Z's living situation. That's cool I guess, but it does raise a few questions for me.

Like why are we paying for all this in the first place? Don't we have situations of teachers coming out of pocket for supplies or a shortage in teachers going on right now? With the cuts to education from the state, should we really be absorbing that cost? Did Dr. Z go in to Executive Session with the Board to discuss his lease agreement?

I'm just curious. And you should be too...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear City Officials - Fix Parks & Rec PR Issue

Whenever I feel strongly about an issue having to do with the city, I usually pick of the phone and call the offices of almost every city rep and let them know how I feel about an issue.

Sometimes I call them to support an issue or a vote, sometimes I call to complain. I'm entitled to, I'm a constituent. Their job is to hear me complain.

But every once in a while, I have the opportunity to use my public soap box to discuss an issue I feel strongly about. This is one of those times. And be forewarned, I came pretty close to breaking my New Years Resolution against cursing in my blog (almost 10 months now!).

Fellow bloggers Tim Tolbert and David K turned me on to an issue that should have everyone who cares about transparency, especially in the era of public corruption, up in arms about. Read about it in El Paso Naturally or Refuse the Juice.

City officials need to fix it and fix it now. Yep, I'm talking to you Joyce Wilson and yes, I'm talking to the Mayor and every single member of city council.

From Tolbert's blog, it appears that Wayne Thornton, who I've always known to be a great guy, is refusing to put Tolbert on a mailing list because he doesn't consider him media. CITY OFFICIALS NEED TO FIX THAT AND FIX IT NOW!

Sorry Wayne, you don't get to decide who is and who isn't media. Your title as I understand it is Public Relations Director. Its not Director of Communications with Whoever-The-Hell-You-Arbitrarily-Decide-is-Media. So you have to relate to the public. Face it, El Paso has a pretty robust blogosphere. Get with the times and understand that digital media is here to stay.

I don't know about other bloggers in town because I haven't asked, but I am on most media lists in town despite the fact that I am not a journalist. They understand the interface we have with the community. I'm on the State Senator's list, the Congressman's list, most of the State Delegation's list, a lot of non-profit organizations, and I even get stuff occasionally from the White House.

Yeah, I'm name-dropping here because I think its pretty Bush league for a rinky-dink city department to refuse to put someone on their list. Especially when that blogger is someone who actually blogs about a topic that the few people in town that actually give a crap about your department would actually read. Its not only pompous to not include Tolbert on the list, but its bad public relations strategy.

You know who else has me on their list, just about every City Rep.

The biggest lie elected officials in town (not all of them, only the less savvy ones) say is that they don't read blogs.

Puro pedo.

When they tell me that its usually followed by them proceeding to quote me or another blogger chapter and verse.

So...if the City Reps that are reading this, and lets face it, we both know you are, you need to pick up the phone, or shoot an email to someone and fix this issue. Don't be hypocritical, you guys turn to bloggers to get information out all the time. We provide a service for you. You know the value of what we do. You recognize the value by including us on your lists so there's no reason Tolbert should be refused.

And you know the value of somebody like Jim Tolbert.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Republican Latino Make-Overs

I've commented on multiple occasions lately about the fact that Republicans seem to go out of their way to court Latinos through what seems to be silly ploys and stunts rather than policy positions.

I've mentioned State Representative Dee Margo suddenly becoming Latino and rolling his r's as a ploy to appeal to Latino voters.

But that's a state rep from just one district in El Paso.

How about that Mitt for brains eh?

Who in the blue hell came up with the idea of giving Mitt Romney a spray-on tan for his appearance on Univision? Seriously, Hulk Hogan and Snooky think it was a bad tan. The only other white man Romney's age that I know of that tries that hard to be brown is George Hamilton.

Did his campaign staff actually talk that one out before making the decision? Did some campaign strategist talk with his intern about the idea? "Hey, ya know what would be a good idea for this whole Spanish-language television thing? We should get him a spray-on tan to make him look darker. You know, so that Latinos will like him more."

"Capital idea boss! More coffee?" replied the intern.

"Yes. But hold the creme please. I like my coffee like I like my Republican nominees, dark and rich!" quipped the strategist.

I'm kidding of course but don't the Republicans get how offensive their actions are to our culture? How much more over the top could they have gotten? Have Romney come out in a sombrero?

Well, normally that would be a rhetorical question, but it appears the over-the-top antics to appeal to Latinos knows no bounds.

Apparently the Republican nominee for the 16th Congressional seat really raised the stakes this weekend.

I will see your sombrero...and raise you a Mexica headdress!


Yeah...that really happened. Its not photoshopped.

Since we are talking about appealing to Latinos, I personally think the Democratic nominee, Beto O'Rourke, should get in on the act. I think he should get the Virgen de Guadalupe tattooed on his back with "O'Rourke" in Old-English font above the Virgen. And the bikes he so famously rides? He needs to drop the frame, get Commissioner Sergio Lewis' body shop to hook-up a firme paint-job (I suggest green with some gold flake), chrome it out, and throw some white wall tires on that bad-boy.

Lets just hope Charlie Garza doesn't get a small cross tattooed on his hand, a tear drop near his eye, or the words "Mi Vida Loca" on his chest. Then we'd really lose votes to the Republicans!

Oh yeah, quick sidebar. Uh, I have a question for the so-called Democrats that are supporting the Republican congressional nominee. Are you voting for Romney too? Because I want to know how you can vote for President Obama and the Republican nominee at the same time since their policy stances are so clearly different...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Speaking of Sports...All in the Family

Since we are on the topic of sports lately here on The Lion Star Blog, I thought I would show some love to a fellow blogger. I'm a little biased because, well he's my kid brother Relles.

Yes, that's how its spelled. Get over it, move on.

Anywho...my brother is about sports they way I am about politics. The vato knows his shizzle.

He's never blogged before and we are totally different, so if you hate my blog, you might dig his. So far he just has an introductory piece but check back with him on Monday and I'm sure he'll have something new up.

Trust me, if his blogs are half as interesting as his conversations with the TV are during a Redskins game, it should be fun stuff.

Click the link and you'll find it. Its called the AZ Sports Guru.

Guest Post: GREETINGS FROM ALTERNATE-EL PASO!

By Chris Babcock, KVIA

Hello citizens of El Paso, thanks to a new trans-dimensional portal here at Tier 1 University Texas Western (I believe it is called UTEP in your timeline) we would like to congratulate you on taking your first definite steps toward becoming the city a majority of your citizens have always dreamed of.

From trolleys, to shopping malls, to pro-teams, our cities have taken very different paths, however it does warm our hearts that our fellow non-parallel universe El Pasoans are now on a very familiar and positive track. 

Here are just a few examples of what you missed out on, and what the next few decades may hold for you guys.

Now here in our timeline, our City Council and Mayors have been making what you'd call 'progressive' calls since the mid-1920's, but we didn't really start to see the results of those decisions until after World War 2, so don't expect a transformation overnight.

In your timeline, thanks to pressure from internal combustion engine-based transportation companies, your city council began shutting down trolley lines in the late 1930's so they could be replaced by 'cheaper' buses. 

Here, council members decided not only to keep the trolley lines (in partnership with El Paso Electric) but re-invested city money in the lines and even bought the Ysleta Interburban Line and extended it all the way to Socorro.

The old 'Smelter Line' that runs along Paisano was also upgraded, extended and connected to the North Mesa line creating an 'Inner Loop' for commuters. 

This investment in what is now known as 'light rail' set the stage for the growth our cities experienced right after the war. By 1950, the trolley lines running to Ft. Bliss were extended all the way down to the new developments near Sunrise Center, Beaumont Army Medical Center and (eventually) Northgate Shopping Center. 

This ability to get from the outer reaches of the city to the heart of the shopping district allowed stores to remain in central El Paso, as well as our city's theater district, where they remained movies houses or concert venues, not the discount stores you have now.

In your timeline, the city tore up the tracks, paved over the remains and relegated the trolleys to Downtown and South El Paso, cutting the revenue of the lines and creating an excuse to kill the remaining unprofitable lines over the next couple of decades. 

On the good side, at least you've decided to undo that mistake, so good for you guys on that point.

The freeway that came through in the early 60's allowed for the city to plan for further growth. Here that project was completed by the early 70's, along with a companion loop called the Cesar Chavez Highway. 

It runs all the way around the outskirts of the city, allowing for a secondary route for east-west traffic to get through the Pass of the North when I-10 is jammed up.

The bridge over Chihuahuita is a marvel of engineering, leaving that community virtually untouched. The land underneath the bridge is now the Southwest's largest skatepark and is used for countless fiestas and family gatherings by residents and visitors alike. 

The residents protect it and care for it as if it was their own backyard and it is now a badge of pride for the entire community.

We understand that in your timeline, a few residents stood up and complained that about the loss of their homes or identity, and would not even consider a bridge. It appears that the vital link may never get done.

Had the infrastructure investment not been made, our El Paso would have ended up like yours: being surpassed in population (and other quality of life issues) by Phoenix, and then Tucson by 1960.

But transportation infrastructure aside, it was the decisions of local businessmen, forward-thinking city council members coupled with an invested voting public that really allowed our El Paso to explode from the Mid-60's right on through today.

We are so happy for you getting the ballpark deal done and getting that AAA ballclub for the 2014 season. It reminds us so much of ourselves when we got our pro teams. Of course, we had naysayers here too, but that over 50 years ago and 5 professional franchises ago.

Shortly after the Sun Bowl was completed, local businessmen working with El Paso County Commissioners tried to secure a seasonal lease for the 53,000 seat stadium for an upstart league called the AFL.

While El Paso didn't get one of the first AFL teams, the league remembered the group's presentation about how the population of the of the city (and county) doubled from 1950 to 1960, and how our sister city of Juarez brought the region's population to nearly 1 million. 

When the Dallas Texans franchise couldn't compete with the NFL's Cowboys, El Paso was selected as the city to relocate to; Owner Lamar Hunt and league officials cited our city's 'positive business attitude and international flair' as the best match for the team. 

History was made a few years later when our El Paso Texans won 2 AFL championships ('66 & '69) and beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl 4 in 1970. But the sports success did not stop there.

With Texas Western winning the NCAA Championship back to back ('66 & '67), the city was more than willing to foot the bill for a new 18,000 seat arena, right where the original Kidd Field stood. 

One year later the NBA, looking to place a new franchise in the Southwest, selected the Sun City for their newest franchise: the El Paso Suns.

In scanning your timeline, it looks like Texas Western only won in '66 (still a really, REALLY big deal) and there was some hesitancy to upgrade the school's arena until the mid-70's. 
We still can't figure out why your school ever killed the "Texas Western" brand after that historic win, but we digress.

Baseball continued to be red-hot during both of our city's progression from the 60's through the 80's. This was especially so during the heyday of the SunKings/Diablos days, when they were racking up all those Texas League wins.

When rumors of Major League Baseball expansion began popping up in the mid-80's; it was the Diablos' long-time relationship with the Brewers that gave our El Paso a leg up over smaller cities such as Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Orlando and even Denver.

It was decided that a pitch to get a MLB team would be made, and the city would take most of the land reclaimed from the downtown rail yards and a few old warehouses. 

Since the railroad lines were relocated to the land adjacent to the Rio Grande right after the Chamizal Settlement in the 60's, there was plenty of land to spare for the construction of the "new" Dudley Field.

As was the case with the El Paso Texans, the Borderland was initially passed over in favor of Denver. But when it came time for more expansion, the Diablos and entered the majors, along with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998. 

The Diablos then made Borderland and baseball history when they defeated the New York Yankees, in the wake of September 11th, becoming the fastest expansion team to win a professional championship.

At the same time that New Dudley field was going up, and old Dudley was given over to the El Paso Zoo, the city and county cast their eyes to improving the much maligned County Coliseum, home to the semi-pro hockey El Paso Buzzards. 

Contingent on getting a new arena, the NHL gave conditional approval of a franchise, only IF the city, county and the team's ownership group could move quickly.

In a renovation that Bob Villa himself would have been proud of, the old 'barn' and surrounds were knocked down and a new 15,000 seat arena was put in its place in a mere 18 months. 

Upon completion of the new Southside Coliseum, the Buzzards made the leap to center ice in 2000; just a few miles from the new Texas Tech Medical School and the twin towers of University Medical Center.

When Major League Soccer came knocking on El Paso's door, our community greeted them warmly, authorizing a new 10,000 seat stadium in Northeast El Paso, on some vacant land right beside the gleaming new El Paso Technical University. 

Served by two freeways and a trolley line, the El Paso Patriots made their home there, and have had nearly 15 years of sellouts.

Enchantment Park, the motorsport complex just off I-10 and Sunland Park built in the early '60's, became El Paso International Motor Speedway. 

Had it not been for an amicable and adult conversation between the owners of the Speedway, Sunland Park Racetrack, and governments in both states, the speedway would have been shuttered and plowed under due to noise complaints.

Now the region has NHRA drag races, NASCAR events and horse racing; all playing to sold-out crowds, just not on the same weekend. Amazing what can happen when people discuss and work out their differences, instead of threaten and complain.

Because of the success in the athletic endeavors, the entire region benefited from businesses relocating to the Borderland. Just as the garment industry was dying, the city pursued and got the new Toyota plant that had been rumored to be headed to San Antonio for some reason. 

Aside from the Alamo and the River Walk, there really isn't much to in that humid city, besides tour the World's Fair remnants from 1968 and watch their perennial loser AA baseball franchise. But they do have the Spurs, which seem to always lose to our Suns.

The cooperation between El Paso County and City officials led to the opening of 6 Flags over Ascarate, as well as the preservation of the International Bosque / Wetlands Preserve along the city's southeastern-most boundary. 

It is rumored that both parks, as well as the Wet-n-Wild Schlitterbahn on the city's western-most limits continue to be the big-time draws for companies wanting to relocate to the Sun City.

According to our scanning of your timeline, much of this did not happen. 

Division, suspicion, conspiracies, inaction and corruption all conspired to keep your El Paso down. In fact, it seemed to us that your residents enjoyed living in that sort of suspended animation, no progress, just a lot of noise.

It used to sadden us, until your elected officials decided to make a decision and stick with it. 

Now we get to see your growth and experience the excitement over the next few years and decades. 

It will not be easy, but nothing ever worth doing is. But the good thing is you are finally on your way. 

And now, as fellow parallel universe El Pasoans, we welcome you to your future.

Baseball Stadium: Why November Doesn't Matter

On my previous post I mentioned how most of the people making a fuss for or against the new stadium don't really care about baseball all that much. I made a mistake.

I should have also said that they don't really care about the City Hall Building all that much either. Again, this is more about opposition to the Shapleighites, The Progressives, or whatever you wanna call them more so than it is about baseball or city hall.

Lets be honest most people on both sides of the issue don't follow baseball that closely and rarely visit city hall.

So now that the opposition has lost, they move to their next step, the November bond stuff and a recall threat.

There are two reasons why that doesn't matter:

1. A recall is the emptiest threat in this town next to sub-zero temperatures. Yep, they've happened exactly the same amount of times in El Paso County in recent history and they were both pretty expensive. Actually, its never happened in El Paso. The only successful recall was that of former Socorro Mayor Willie Gandara, Sr. and he had to be arrested in order for that to have even been a possibility. Niland will be fine. A lot of stuff has to go write for the recall people in order to make it happen and she recently took office with a pretty strong showing of votes. IF they even collect enough signatures for a recall all she has to do is some campaigning and drop some mail reminding the district of her utility win. Problem solved.

2. And more importantly, the Progressives are undefeated. They've never lost an election. And you can't count former Mayor Caballero's loss against them. The vato had a fake family in campaign material, no one can save someone who does that, I don't care how good of a campaigner you are. Bottom line is The Progressives have never lost an election. Not only do they not lose, they usually win by big margins. Face it, they can raise money and they work harder than almost anyone else. They are behind the stadium. There is already pro-ballot initiative material printed.

You might not like them, but you ain't gonna beat'em. I know that might get under your skin, but you can't argue with the facts. They don't lose.

They are in the drivers seat because they know how to organize, mobilize, and capitalize. The opposition will need a whole lot of help and a lot of stuff to go their way to have any hope of stopping the inevitable.

The stadium and the El Paso Padres are going to be a reality. And eventually, even members of the opposition will be at the stadium, buying tickets to the games, and cheering on the home team.

Hell, I'm willing to bet that some of the people who voted against the stadium issues on Monday will be at the ground-breaking ceremony with their Padres hats and golden shovels for the photo-op.

EP Demo Meeting Update

Last night was the meeting of the El Paso County Democratic Party's Executive Committee. You know, the follow-up to that embarrassment that happened last month at The Garden in which all the crazy in the El Paso Democratic Party was put on full display in all its drunk, old, petty, territorial, glory.

In front of the new Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party no less. Way to make an impression team.

Anywho...

The previous raucous was over the attempt to fill vacancies with the precinct chairs. Most of the old nuts lost their mind over the fact that the new chairman was doing something that the previous chairman failed to do over his multiple terms as El Paso Democratic Party Chairman and that is fill vacancies of Precinct Chairs. Ironically the group were crying foul because no one had vetted the new Precinct Chairs.

Which is ironic because these are the same people that nominated someone who has only voted as a Democrat one time to be the Parliamentarian. Gotta love the hypocrisy of that group. (Understand that isn't a shot at Aaron Barraza. I actually like him as an individual. Genuinely a nice guy. His momma did well with him. Cool guy, just not ready to be a Parliamentarian yet. But I think he's actually gonna stick around and by the next election, he's going to be a much more formidable person to deal with. whatever he decides to do, once he's more seasoned.)

So last night, with pretty much no fight at all, the new precinct chairs were sworn in. I think it was about 20 of them. Which is probably 20 more than were filled under the old chair. There was a minor challenge issued, but the new Parliamentarian, Sebastian Martinez, ruled against the challenge. Martinez was elected Parliamentarian following the resignation of Barraza. There was no word on why Barraza resigned.

In short, even though I was supportive of another candidate for Chair of the El Paso Democratic Party, I have to admit that Chairman Melendrez has already started to move the ball down the field. He's tried a fundraiser, had a watch party, and has filled a big chunk of vacancies.

Can't argue with results...

Guest Post: El Paso Ron Paul Revolutionaries in Tampa for RNC


(Editor's Note: As I mentioned previously, I extended an invitation to both Republicans and Democrats that attended their respective National Conventions to write guest posts about their experiences. This is the Republican submission.)

By: Mark Ortega

It has been close to a month since we left El Paso for Tampa Bay, Florida. The Republican National Convention was being held in late August and we didn’t let hurricane Isaac, or the fact that neither I nor my girlfriend Judy were delegates or alternates, stop us from going. The main event for us would be the Ron Paul Rally at the University of Southern Florida’s Sun Dome. At least ten thousand people were there from all over the country to hear Dr. Paul speak. It was a moving speech where he spoke of policy and also about virtue and excellence. These words are in stark contrast to what was witnessed at the GOP convention that officially started the next day.

Judy and I, although we were close to the action and had a friend on the inside, had decided to stay far away from the spectacle of the RNC after seeing how the establishment Republicans and the Romney campaign treated our delegates and our candidate. We had been planning to use the guest pass of a fellow Ron Paul supporter who was an alternate to get into the convention. Of the two Ron Paul supporting alternates from El Paso selected at the state convention he was the only one to make the trip. We spent time with him and his wife, but they are the ones who had the true convention experience. Judy and I were on vacation. This was the culmination of years of learning the political system, teaching and defending the concepts of liberty and the constitution to everyone who would listen, and working to do whatever we could to expose Ron Paul’s ideas and make him president. We spent our time in Tampa with liberty minded people that each had their own story of having their apathy cured, their political views challenged, and eventually determining they would support Ron Paul all the way to Tampa as we had.

When it came time for the actual convention is when we went on vacation and focused more on the beach and riding roller coasters. We didn’t need to be insulted and abused in person by the national Republican Party for our efforts. We heard all the stories of the convention from our friend the alternate and from the internet. We had held out hope that maybe our delegate numbers would exceed expectation or that the Republican Party would follow its own rules, but experience from around the country had shown that they wouldn’t. Even after some of his delegates from Massachusetts and Maine had been removed and replaced, Ron Paul had the plurality of delegates from the required five states to place his name into nomination. This achievement would have given him the chance to speak to the nation without having his speech vetted by the Romney campaign. The Republican National Committee ignored this. In fact they wouldn’t allow Ron Paul’s name to even be mentioned on stage during vote counts. It is clear that the national Republican Party wanted to appear unified, but their plan to silence an entire segment of their party was not the way to do it.

To add further insult to injury, rules changes were passed without amendments being entertained. One of the rules changes allows the elite of the party to change the rules between conventions. They passed a rule change with the help of a teleprompter which had the results of the voice vote already scripted for Speaker of the House John Boehner to recite. The delegation from Texas and other states were very much against the rules changes and although many tried to call a point of order, microphones were off and shouts were ignored. The Democratic National Convention had a similar occurrence when the platform was changed even though it was clear those in favor of the platform change did not have two thirds of the voice vote. If anything both conventions show that leadership in both parties want to give the people and delegates the illusion that they have a voice in the party, but when it comes down to it the votes are scripted and the outcomes are predetermined.

There are plenty more stories like this, but I don’t want to stray to far from our own experience. After Judy and I had heard about some of the things that the Ron Paul delegates were going through and the useless deception in the name of unity, we felt it was right to just ignore the convention. We didn’t try to get in and we didn’t watch many speeches on television. We felt content to spend our time exploring the beautiful city of Tampa, excluding the police state surrounding the convention downtown. Many lessons were learned from our experience at the state convention in Ft. Worth and from the stories we heard from the national convention in Tampa. Although many in the Republican Party would like to see their numbers shrink by kicking the Ron Paul supporters out, we will not leave. The local Republican Party seems glad to have us and willing to listen to our viewpoint. We will continue to work for the liberty of all Americans, not just Republicans or just Democrats. Beyond this election we will fight corruption wherever we see it.

The Ron Paul revolution has had a profound effect on this election and it will only grow stronger as the policies of the two establishment candidates get worse and worse.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

County Budget Talks - Show Up or Shut Up

Seriously, I really don't want to hear people complaining and whining about the County budget and a tax increase if they didn't even take the time to weigh-in during the process. For those of you that did, relax I'm not talking to you anyway.

But it amazes me how frighteningly few people keep abreast of the budget process. Yet it impacts all of us so much.

But boy, do you people all of a sudden care about baseball!

The County Budget has an item for the jail that is somewhere north of $45 million. Not a peep about it, but $50 million for a stadium that could bring economic development to our community.

I hate to go all Jerome Tilghman on everyone but (in JT's voice) - We need to spend more money on recreation and less money on incarceration!

But you can't fault the County if you don't know much about the budget. The meetings are available to be streamed online and are open to the public.

The County Judge and the Court are actually actively seeking audiences in the community to talk about the budget. At Monday's Commissioner's Court meeting the Judge said she was giving a presentation on the budget every night this week.

Make it a point to attend one if you haven't already. Tonight's is in the Yucca Neighborhood, over by Bel Air High School.

Guest Post: My time in Charlotte: Reflections from the DNC


By State Representative-Elect Mary Gonzalez

It is without question that attending the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will always be one of
the most memorable moments of my life. To see first hand such a large demonstration of coalition
building, solidarity and diverse leadership- is exactly what makes me proud to be a democrat .

I have previously discussed the beauty of the diversity at the DNC, I wanted to highlight another
important aspect that was very evident during the convention: the power of Texas.

Sometimes I believe it is easy for us to forget what an important role Texas plays at the National level.
If we were able to turn Texas Blue (which is very possible), the National electoral map would be in our
favor. The combination of Texas, New York and California equates to 122 electoral votes, and let’s
remember we only need 270 to win the presidential seat.

Every conversation I had with someone who was not from Texas (and I had a lot of them) started with
the same question: How do we turn Texas Blue?

Not only was Texas politics a main conversation, but Texas leadership was front and center. Speakers
such as Mayor Julian Castro, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the
Former Governor Ann Richards, and even Eva Longoria demonstrated Texas as a powerhouse.

During the convention, I was empowered to continue the fight to help Democrats in El Paso and across
the State win, because it is not only for those at home but the entire nation.

I hope that everyone who watched the DNC felt as inspired and is reminded of the work that must be
done during the 2012 election and the 2014 Governor’s race. El Paso is a key component to turning
Texas Blue, and so now that all the balloons and confetti are gone, El Paso Democrats need to ask
themselves- Am I doing enough to get everyone I know to vote and to vote democrat?

Quick side note - Here are some speeches that weren’t talked about by mainstream media but were
really powerful. It is important to note that women and female leadership were central to the DNC this
year.

1.) House Democratic Women
2.) Senate Democratic Women and Senator Mikulski 
3.) Sandra Fluke 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Okay, My Turn to Talk About the Stadium

I haven't posted much, if anything, about the stadium because I wanted to get all the facts before I opened my big mouth.

But with so much changing in this issue, I'm not sure I ever will have all the facts. But in my time watching the issue unfold, I realized that there was something happening more interesting than the actual debate about the stadium.

Its the heat between the two sides on the issue. So let me do what I do best and just tell it like it is. This fight is stupid. Lets be honest, none of you really give a crap about baseball as much as you all are trying to act like you do. This is about frustration over several issues over the years and this is the issue that has congealed the opposition to the majority on council. So lets be honest, this isn't about baseball and its barely, just barely, about he stadium itself. How do I know? Because none of you let out a peep about a $45 million school in Clint for 700 or so students. (Go ahead, look it up.)

Okay, so lets get to my thoughts on the stadium itself. For those of you who have never left El Paso, you should. Go to a town, any town, with a vibrant downtown area. Guess what, they almost all have a stadium as the anchor to their vibrant downtown area.

Yes, I like the idea of a new stadium. Yes, I want Triple-A ball in El Paso. Yes, I think the best place for the stadium is Downtown. And yes, I want El Paso to move forward. I don't apologize for that.

SIDEBAR: I think the far east would also be a good spot. Around the I-10 and Loop 375 area. Lets face it, Cohen blows. The wind is crazy over by the mountain. The northeast has some growth, but the area is finite. The population center in this town is on the eastside, there's plenty of room, and its already the cool side of town with all cool restaurants and bars anyway. Plus it would be an economic plus for people in the valley as well.

So I hope we get the stadium and the ball team. I'm not a Padre fan and will never be. But I want to see TALENT in town. The Diablos, God bless'em, suck. The last time there was decent baseball talent on the field in this town was when Randy Johnson played a game for the Diablos when he was rehabbing an injury.

The main attraction to Cohen isn't the Diablos, as it should be. Its not the nice facilities because, well, they aren't nice. Its also isn't the scenery because the fans have their backs to the damn mountains. Lets face it, the main attraction to Cohen has been the cheap beer and cheap taco nights. Oh, and fireworks and most of the people who watch the fireworks don't watch them from Cohen. They watch them from Transmountain.

Now...here's what I don't like about the stadium.

The deal.

It blows. We are the one's putting up $50 million and yet the city agreed to caps? Are you freakin' kidding me? The business guys are professional negotiators. The people negotiating on the behalf of the city suck. We need to recoup the money we put in to the stadium. Or at least a big chunk of it. So we should be able to make money off of ticket surcharges, parking, etc. Hell, we should get a piece of the merchandising action as well.

A public-private partnership isn't the public footing the bill and the private companies call the shots. That's irresponsible.

I get the urgency in the deal, but that shouldn't be the concern of the city. That is the concern of the private parties involved. Let them buy some time. They are businessmen and businesswomen, I'm sure they've bought some time to make a deal happen in the past. We are talking about a boatload of money and we need to slow down and do it right.

Creating urgency in a deal is a sales tactic. Ever try to buy a car? They pressure you with the clock. That's what is happening now.

And what is with the crap about the tenant is calling the shots for events in the stadium? Who is the genius that thought that was an acceptable term of the contract? They pay rent and then get to decide what events take place there? What the hell?

All of you that are against this stadium should also be against the Dallas Cowboys. Yep, I said it. And not just because I hate the Cowboys but because you are being a gigantic hypocrite if you are cool with the Cowboys new digs but are complaining about a ballpark because they were financed in the exact same manner.

One more thing. I have to give Representative Acosta credit. She's taking a HUGE risk. If she plays her cards right, she's everybody's hero and would likely be back in the picture as a viable mayoral candidate. But if she doesn't play her cards right and El Paso loses baseball she becomes the villain and people aren't going to be happy with her.

Acosta has already gained concessions from the money guys. Caps have been removed or adjusted because of Acosta. Good for her.

In conclusion, I WANT baseball in El Paso. Real baseball, not the stuff being played at Cohen. I want progress. I want a better El Paso. I want a vibrant downtown.

And I want a better deal.

So what should happen?

The private entities need to sweeten the deal to the city.

Make us an offer we can't refuse.

Not an offer we should refuse.

Shapleigh Clashes with Community Activist & Educator

An email exchange is circulating around town in which former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh appears to clash with community activist and educator Xavier Miranda.

Miranda is a teacher in EPISD and has been publicly discussing the need for education reform for quite some time. 

The letter from Shapleigh, in my opinion, seems to imply that the Senator is accusing Miranda of being part of some effort to intimidate teachers that attended a press conference with the former Senator. In fact, he almost appears to cross-examine Miranda. 

Frankly the tone of the email from the former Senator is exactly the tone that irritates people about Shapleigh. Especially the part near the end were he appears to question Miranda's stature as a grassroots leader. Sorry Senator, you don't get to decide who the community views as a grassroots leader. I've personally witnessed, on several occassions Mr. Miranda's grassroots leadership through organization of events, rallies, phone banking, block-walking, and signature collecting. All text-book grassroots organization activities.

But in fairness to the former senator I've seen him throw several press conferences and town hall forums for issues outside of his influence as a then-State Senator. I suppose that is sort of like grassroots organizing...

Here is the former Senator's email:

Dear Xavier,


Below is an email sent to me from "Grassroots" EP on being transparent.


What I need to know from you is what you were doing in our Senate office in 2010 during the Austin High School Press Conference. On that day, we had brave parents, teachers and counselors exposing what has now become a national scandal. After that conference, each of the teachers was immediately contacted and intimidated. Back then Lorenzo Garcia, Damon Murphy, James Anderson, Pricilla Terrazas and principals around EPISD believed that with fear, they could keep incentive bonuses and cover up a national scandal.


What we now know is that Lorenzo Garcia and many others at EPISD disappeared students at 22 priority schools including Austin, El Paso High, Chapin, even Coronado.


That press conference was designed to deliver the key message that Bowie was not alone-that students all over El Paso, especially LEP students were being denied a constitutional guarantee of a quality education. In my view, Garcia's scheme to disappear students at EPISD is the darkest passage in El Paso's history. That more people did not take a stand and stop this crime is a tragic shame that we will labor to overcome for many years.


Instead of joining us at the conference table to expose what Garcia and others did, you were behind the cameras with Austin Principal John Tanner and others while Tanner shook his head and told the press it did not happen. Tanner then gave the Garcia message to reporters in his own attempt to cover up.


Why did you do that?


Who told you to come to the press conference?


What was your goal in coming?


What did you know about what Tanner was doing at Austin High School?


What did you tell the press that day?


What will you do personally to fix the issues at EPISD?


Please, put your reply in writing and be transparent so I can understand your own actions before I open any more emails from Grassroots El Paso. For you to portray yourself as a 'grassroots leader' with deep interest in education reform, we all need to know why you did what you did that day.  

I look forward to your reply.



Very truly yours,


Eliot Shapleigh 

And this is the response from Miranda:


Dear Mr. Shapleigh,


I attended the press conference because at the time I had heard from the education community that an intimidation was prevalent. I had recently joined the Districtwide Educational Improvement Committee (DEIC) because I felt educators were not adequately represented at the district level, especially when it came to education policy and curriculum development. It seemed to many that wasteful and irrelevant programs such as INOVA were scams to gain the system. Tracking students, and concocting classes geared to exclusively teach to a test, in my belief, is not serving our kids at all. Many of us educators have grown complacent, and been disconnected from the process, which results from being curriculum-centered, rather than student-curriculum-centered. I joined the DEIC to make a difference.


Further, I attend as many PTSA meetings to convey to our parents the perspective from the classroom. In turn, I hope to convey to my colleagues the parents' perspective so we can renew our commitment to our kids. Reforming education may be as inconsequential as making a home visit to kids that have been taught to a test for the past 10 years, then telling the parents that we're in it together because we care. Reform may come when our activism is seen as experiential learning for our kids, inserting a relevance to the curriculum, and demonstrating the importance of engagement.


But if you ask what is measurable for what I do to encourage education reform, look to the 160 students, parents, educators, union representatives, and district administrators who conducted an education forum. Authentic dialogue ensued, community members, Texas State Representatives, educators, and parents communicated with each other. (I still have the giant post-its that have their feedback and suggestions. This was prompted by a leaked district announcement that 10 teachers from each high school, based on campus seniority, were going to be surplused. We also learned that plans were being made to have teachers teach more classes, with increased classloads. These were a couple of reasons why our community meeting on education was organized. District administration and school board members listened to what we had to say, and revised their personnel-related decision. Our community made a positive difference, in spite of the continued absence of State Representative Dee Margo, of which to his credit, send his most competent assistant, Russell.


What I said to Principal Tanner is not something I recall, I most likely gravitated towards him because I recognized him from being around the district. I tend to acknowledge folks I've previously met.

I probably heard of your press conference from being on your mailing list, and took the time to learn what you presented. Additionally, I may have received it from a few other educators that knew of my challenges to Dr. Garcia's decisions. Now that I've mentioned the challenges, please refer to the minutes from the monthly DEIC meetings to determine the level of my commitment to education reform. In fact, I ask that you inquire of my colleagues, parents, and students of my dedication to education.



I believe I may have answered your questions, sir. As for portraying myself a grassroots leader, it is my practice not to self-promote, rather to support issues such as health reform, immigration reform, registering voters, calling for the support of human rights of immigrants, voicing my outrage when children are being shot dead for throwing rocks at Border Patrol, marching to Cd. Juarez to support Javier Sicilia in calling to an end to the drug cartel violence...these are the actions I engage in, because I have a son that lives in this community. I engage in my larger community, because my daughter is studying to be a Social Studies and English teacher, and I am concerned about the state of education as it stands.


Sir, my El Paso Grassroots emails are published for all to scrutinize; my Facebook postings are self-evident.


I hope this public response demonstrates transparency.

(I attempted to reply promptly, but some grammatical errors may exist.)

Regards,

Xavier Miranda
El Paso Grassroots

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest Column: Fired Up; Ready to Go

(Editor's Note: I have extended the invitation to attendees of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to write guest posts about their experiences. I'm still waiting on the GOP's pieces, so if you are a Republican and went to the Convention feel free to send me a guest piece for publication on the LSB.)

By Don Williams, SDEC SD29

El Paso, Texas and Senatorial District 29 was amply represented at the Democratic National Convention by five (5) die-hard, yellow-dog democrats in Danny Anchondo, Esq., Immediate Past Chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party; Yolanda Clay, former State Democratic Executive Committeewoman and current Precinct Chair; my wife, Ruth Ybarra Williams, Community Organizer for Organizing for America (OFA) and current Precinct Chair; Jeanette Walker, former Precinct Chair and the local Matriarch for Organizing for America ; and, yours truly, Donald L. Williams, Esq., current State Democratic Executive Committeeman, Chair, Black El Paso Democrats and 2012 Presidential Elector.

After experiencing mechanical difficulties on the 7:00am flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, that was scheduled to arrive around 2pm on Labor Day, we landed in Charlotte past 9:30pm. The Texas Delegation was housed at the Great Wolf Lodge, some 30 to 40 minutes from the Charlotte Convention Center and the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Having attended the 2008 National Convention, I feel uniquely qualified to compare and comment on the content, ambience and substance of each convention. Needless to say, there is a marked difference in the presentation when one is a candidate as opposed to being the President.

I'd like to address four areas prevalent and considered in the campaigns and at the convention.

I. The Democratic National Convention actually reflected the true make-up of our diverse U.S. society on the stage and off. The delegation was the "melting pot" that defines the United States of America. It actually looked like an assembly of the United Nations, a fact that generates suspicion, hatred, mistrust and wariness from some citizens of this country. Every racial, religious, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and culture was represented and celebrated. One example was the Attorney General of California, who was introduced as the first female, first African American and first Southeast Asian to serve in that position. It was comforting to see Blacks, Hispanics, whites, Asian, women, gays all filling positions as Governors, Lt. Governors, Senators, Representatives, Mayors, Attorneys General, military officers, Cabinet Members and other officials, business people and delegates. None of these compare to the pride that I feel when I wake up every morning and Barack Obama is the President of the United States and the First Lady is the descendant of slaves.

There was no need for patronage or tokenism at our convention because the Democratic Party is truly the party of all the people.

II. In order to diminish the achievements of this administration, the Republicans are presenting the question "Are you better off now than you were four (4) years ago?" What does this question mean? This question was asked at the convention and the delegates answered with a resounding "YES". We are better off now than four (4) years ago. Is it better to have 30 straight months of job growth in the private sector, than losing 700,000 to 800,000 jobs per month as we were four (4) years ago? Then the answer is "YES". If it means that 95% of American taxpayers have received an average $3,600 per year tax cut, then the answer is "YES". If it means 4.5 million jobs added over the last 30 months then the answer is "YES". If it means saving the automobile industry from financial ruin and saving 1.1 million auto-related jobs, then the answer is "YES". If it means that General Motors and the other automakers have all repaid their "bailout" loans in full years ahead of time and GM is back to being the number 1 in automobile sales in the world, then the answer is "YES". If it means eliminating banks as the middle men between students and student loans and using the savings to double Pell Grants to deserving students, then the answer is "YES." If it means providing affordable health care to more citizens than any other time in our history, eliminating pre-existing conditions and spending caps on health insurance payouts; and, covering over 129 million Americans and young adults on their parents health insurance, then the answer is "YES". If it means providing more health coverage and job training to veterans, then the answer is "YES". If it means a safer country and world because many of our long-established enemies and their allies have been systematically brought to justice or otherwise eliminated, then the answer is "YES". If it means eliminating traditional de jure barriers so that every citizen is free to love whom they want or for women to have control over their health and reproductive rights, then the answer is "YES". If it means proposing and initiating over the objections of a dormant congress the beginning of a process whereby children who are culturally American but due to no fault of their own they are in this country without proper documentation, then the answer is "YES". If it means we are on a clear path to a sustained financial recovery, then the answer is "YES". No doubt our futures are much more brighter than they were four (4) years ago.

III. It is the goal of the Republican Party to "take the country back." Back from whom or back to what? It appears that statements of this nature connote "Code" words to those who believe that this country is bastardized due to the influx of non-Europeans, people of color and non-Christians. Back means to the days when only whites were in control and in command. Back means to the days when opportunity was enjoyed only by the privileged or as we call it the one percent (1%). Statements of this nature disturb and frighten me. It appears to be a return to the days of the poll tax and literacy tests, the precursors to the current day Voter ID laws and other schemes designed to diminish or eliminate minority voting strength as with the current day redistricting plans. Back means to the days where reproductive decisions were made and conducted in back alleys and unsavory and unhealthy clinics. Back means to the days where there were few or no black, brown, red, yellow, gay, female business and political leaders and decision-makers. Back means to decisions and deregulation that actually contributed significantly to the current financial and housing crises. Back means to substandard, segregated, inferior, underfunded, over-crowded school districts and poorer teacher pay. Back means to where employees had no say in their working conditions, safety, pay, hours, healthcare and other work-related situations. No going "Back" is NOT and option.

IV. It is the goal of the Democratic National Committee to "Move America Forward". "Moving America Forward" where every person who wants a job can get one; where every person can make a living wage based on his education, training, ambition and risks. "Moving America Forward" toward new technology, industries, manufacturing and energy. "Moving America Forward" so no American family will ever go bankrupt again due to unaffordable and catastrophic health care expenses. "Moving America Forward" so no person will ever die simply because they cannot afford health care and no community will ever have to sponsor fundraisers so one of their own can get quality treatment and live. "Moving America Forward" where the U. S. regains its position as first in education not seventeenth (17th) among industrialized countries. "Moving America Forward" where the U.S. has the means to defend itself militarily but does not use its strength to bully the world; but, to be admired and respected because it helps protect the world. "Moving America Forward" where all of its citizens live in dignity. "Moving America Forward" where becoming elderly is not to be dreaded and treated as a punitive sentence. "Moving America Forward" where the benefits and opportunities are available to all, not just the privileged and monied. "Moving America Forward" where when one succeeds, they reach back and pull someone else up instead of limiting or denying the means of success to others. In moving forward we must look at the current and future leadership that is available to serve as leaders and role-models to those who want to follow. In addition to having the guidance and stewardship of President Bill Clinton, who presided over one of the longest periods of prosperity in recent U.S. history, the Democratic Party has the posterity in leaders such as Caroline Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy III; the drive and charisma of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas and Mayor Denise Parker of Houston, Texas. We have the courage of Attorney General of Delaware Beau Biden who is a combat army officer in the National Guard; Lt. Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is not only the first Black Lt. Governor in Maryland but as a reserve Colonel in the U.S. Army he is the highest ranking elected official who has served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic Party is heavily equipped to go to the limits to insure that this country moves forward for generations to come. The Democratic Party is the only party that exemplifies that our diversity is our strength and should not be construed as a weakness.

In closing, the 2008 Convention was much about anticipation, much about hope, much about changing the course of history. The 2012 Convention was much about maintaining the small gains that have been made, maintaining a course of action whereby progress for all Americans can be sustained and maintained for the future. As stated, we must "MOVE FORWARD, NOT BACK". This can and will be done with the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States of America.

"FIRED UP AND READY TO GO!!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Post: DREAM Act Student Made Us Proud

By State Representative Pete Gallego

San Antonio resident and DREAM Act student Benita Veliz made us all proud when she shared her story of struggle and inspiration with the country. Ms. Veliz, who was brought to this country by her parents when she was only eight years old, last week became the first DREAM Act student to address a national political convention.

At only 16, Benita graduated from San Antonio’s Jefferson High School as valedictorian. She was a National Merit Scholar and attended St. Mary’s University on a full scholarship, where she double majored in biology and sociology. Outside of the classroom, Benita continued to give back to her community by inspiring other students to continue to pursue an education.

Despite her dedication, Benita could not join the workforce and fully contribute to this country. And she lived under the constant fear that any minute she could be deported.

Stories like Benita’s are a reminder of just why we need the federal DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would allow young people like Benita, who were brought here as children by their parents and have stayed out of trouble to earn citizenship if they go to college or join the military. The DREAM Act is the right thing to do.

But extremists in Congress have blocked the DREAM Act from becoming a reality, and for too long held captives the futures of many kids in our community.

And while not a permanent solution, the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is an important step forward. DACA protects model students kids like Benita from deportation and lets them apply for work permits so that their lives are not on hold until Congress passes the DREAM Act.

Estimates show that 226,700 young people in Texas and around 6,000 young students in Congressional District 23 will benefit from the deferred action. The lives of more than 200,000 young people in Texas will be made better off.

If Quico Canseco had his way, stories like Benita’s would not be possible.

Congressman Quico Canseco and his extremist colleagues stand against Benita and kids like her by standing against the DREAM Act. Quico applauded Sen. John Cornyn for voting against the DREAM Act saying that the bill “elevated illegal aliens.” Canseco has even remained silent on the deferred action policy even though it would help more than 6,000 kids in the district.

We can’t let kids continue to be the casualties of Quico's partisan pandering.

Every parent knows that nothing should be more precious than a child's future. In Congress, I will stand up for kids like Benita and push for the federal DREAM Act.

Ms. Veliz is an inspiration to all young people. I congratulate her on her triumph over many adversities. She has made herself an asset to our state and our country. She is a child any parent would be proud to call their own. She embodies the American dream.

A native of Alpine, Pete Gallego has represented the people of House District 74 in the Texas House of Representatives for twenty two years. He is currently running to represent District 23 in the U.S. Congress.

Political Satire Troupe, The Capitol Steps to Appear in El Paso

Attention policy wonks, people who keep up with current events, or just regular fans of comedy! The political satire troupe, The Capitol Steps will be in El Paso on Sunday, September the 30th at 6pm at the Plaza Theater. They are presented by Impact | Programs of Excellence, which is an El Paso-based non-profit that presents educational, cultural, and performing arts programs.

They are hilarious and were started by former congressional staffers using satire and musical parody. Its some funny stuff. This video is a sample of the type of stuff they do and its a song I'm sure people in the Borderland that have been keeping up with Arizona's antics can appreciate.