Thursday, November 29, 2012

Candidate Profile - Getsemani Yanez, Candidate for City Rep District 2


Name: Getsemani YaƱez

Office: Candidate for El Paso City Council, District 2

Hometown:
  • Henderson, Texas (Now lives in El Paso)

Education:
  • UTEP, MA Candidate 2013
  • Baylor University, BA
  • Southeastern University, AS
  • Southern Careers Institute, Technical Degree
  • Tatum I.S.D, (PK – 12)

Military Service:
  • Applied but was denied due to medical history

Occupation:
  • Small Business Owner

Professional Experience:
  • Public Sector
    • Staffer in two Congressional Offices
  • Private Sector
    • Current Owner & Partner of two local small businesses
      • Consulting
      • Service Industry
    • Staffer in Washington, D.C., Government Relations Office
    • Industrial Construction (Energy)

Community Involvement:
  • Formerly Elected Central Neighborhood Coalition Representative
  • Co-Founded Fort Blvd. Business Association
  • Member of Central Neighborhood Association
  • Former Board-Member of Five Points Development Association
  • Formerly appointed to City of El Paso Community Development Steering Committee
  • Formerly appointed to Greater El Paso Civic, Convention, and Tourism Advisory Board
  • Served on Sheriff’s Advisory Committee
  • Graduate FBI Citizen’s Academy

General Political Persuasion:
  • Proud Texas Democrat

What are your priority issues for the district?: 
  • Aesthetics
  • Institutional Practices
  • Public Safety
  • Public-Private-Partnerships

What are the first three acts you would undertake as a member of Council?:
  • Work with neighborhoods, businesses, and city staff to beautify our city in a truly progressive and responsible manner.
  • Work with city staff and private sector to position El Paso as the leading economic driver on the border to attract domestic and foreign direct investment to our region.
  • Create, adopt, and adhere to better ethical guidelines as well as better rules of decorum. This should include an ethics hotline, modeled after the state ethics line, where attorneys can help people and venders better understand our municipal rules and regulations.

How often have you voted in elections in El Paso?: I have a “hard dem” classification with an 88.6 voting grade.

Okay, Okay, Its True. LSB Ends New Years Eve

Yes, I will be ending the L*B in about a month. I've been getting lots of calls asking me if its true since the KVIA piece came out and yes it is. I'll be writing some farewell pieces as the date gets closer.

I know, I've said I was quitting twice before. And each time my intent was to hang'em up. But something was always able to pull me back in. When I was quitting the other two times it was mostly out of frustration. You readers can be a very difficult master to please.

But this time is different because I HAVE to quit the blog. So yes, it will be done and over on the 31st.

I have plenty of time between now and then so I'll make sure I keep it interesting around here until then and the last week should be a lot of fun.

Its good to go out on a high note, so I plan on having a lot of fun with the L*B over the last month.

The question I keep getting asked the most is why?

I've told people its because I'm going to go away to clown college. That's a bold face lie.

The truth is, I won the Powerball Lottery last night. Now I can afford clown college.

Don't believe me? Meh, who cares? Those crazy bloggers have no credibility anyway and nobody reads those guys...right?

Robinson - Wilson (Further Review)

Yes, it pains me greatly that I had to actually agree with City Rep Carl Robinson on an issue. I still think he's right, but I think in order to provide a more complete discussion of the context, I think we need to go to the instant replay booth for further review.

Apparently the offending remark had to do with the alleged onset of dementia in a couple members of city council.

I really started to wonder why Wilson might say something like that, ya know, how did she come to the conclusion that dementia might be setting in? Frankly I was stumped. The only thing I could come up with was Carl Robinson's "oversight" relating to citations about not having a driver's license.

Guess we have to spend some time under the hood on this one...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thoughts on Dame La Mano Losing City Funding

I'll make this one quick. I watched the city council meeting yesterday. I feel like I've done my penance for any sins I might have committed because sitting through those meetings is freakin' painful.

I don't know who gets on my nerves worse, the same speakers that go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about all the stuff they hate about El Paso, or the members of city council who think its their job to bore the hell out of us with their explanation of their vote.

Just freakin' vote. We don't care why or why not. You can go tell your story to the press gaggle later.

And my buddy City Rep Eddie Holguin...surprise me will ya? Just vote yes on something. Anything for God's sake! Yesterday when he wasn't voting no he was abstaining from a vote. What the hell? If you're there you might as well vote. We all know its going to be a no anyway.

Except the Rio Bosque issue. Its in his district so it got a yes.

Anyway, sorry for the rant.

Back to Dame La Mano. By their own admission (watch the video), there is an on-going investigation. City Council and the Mayor went out of their way to clarify that when and if they are cleared of any wrong-doing, then City Council will revisit their funding.

What's the big deal here?

They really rely on the funding from the city, which in my opinion indicates that they need to do a better job fundraising and grant-writing.

Everyone was very polite about Dame La Mano and apparently they are all pretty scared because they have a lawyer. So they have to be tactful in what they say or do.

So before we all get carried away building statues to how great Dame La Mano is, let me tell you my personal OPINION, as a private citizen, that I am free to express about why I have an issue with Dame La Mano.

I hate to see women have to pan-handle in the middle of the road in order to fund the organization. I think its degrading to those in need to have to do so. I'm not sure what the arrangement is for that, but the women I have interviewed told me that they were required to do so. I've seen them out in the hottest part of the day, in the hottest part of the year in areas that in my opinion are detrimental to their health and public safety.

Those are my personal issues with the organization. I'd like to see them come up with a better fund-raising plan. Look to grants. I just don't feel making women pan-handle is a solid fundraising plan.

Mark the Date & Time...I'm Agreeing with Carl Robinson

It pains me to admit it, but I'm with City Rep Carl Robinson on this one. He was right to publicly admonish City Manager Joyce Wilson for her actions.

I'm actually a little bothered by the same people who run around using "transparency" as their watch-word want to handle this "behind closed doors". I'm sorry, but City Manager Joyce Wilson isn't your average city employee or staffer. She's the City Manager.

Top dog.

And when you're top dog, different rules apply. Sorry, not my choice, its just the way it is.

I can't believe that Representative Lilly has the nerve to call Reps Holguin and Robinson "unprofessional" for raising this issue. What's unprofessional is they conduct of Wilson.

Before any of you start to go defending Joyce Wilson on this one, ask yourself one thing. And be honest with yourself.

If she were you're employee and had sent emails to your subordinates or peers, would she still have a job?

Had she been anyone else at any other level, I'm pretty sure she'd be gone. But that's just my opinion.

And why the desire to sweep this under the rug? I can see the motivation to sweep it under the rug before the proposition elections, but why now? By her own admission, she messed up. The fact that this is even a necessary conversation to have blows my mind.

I happen to know a lot of employees at the city. If memory serves whenever they log on to their computer some advisory note pops up. You know, like the terms and conditions we always ignore? I'm pretty sure there's a line or two in there about personal email or professional conduct via email, etc.

And I'm pretty sure that note, at some point in time, went through the City Manager's Office.

She messed up.

She's owned it.

Robinson got his public wagging of the finger.

Time to move on now.

PS - I happen to think most of the people she referred to as "crazies" probably are, in the colloquial sense of the term anyway.

Don't like it, I'm not hard to find.

Candidate Profile: Adam Gurrola - Candidate, City Rep District 2


Name: Adam E. Gurrola

Hometown: El Paso TX

Education: 

Crockett Elementary/Collins Elementary, Terrace Hills Middle, Chapin High School 06’, EPCC 06-07, University of Mary Harden Baylor 07-09, UTEP 10-present 

Military Service: N/A

Occupation: Project Coordinator- TVP NON PROFIT 

Professional Experience: 

El Paso Foster Parent Association Board of Directors 2010-2012
EPISD CIP (Campus Improvement Program) 2010-Present
Opportunity Center For The Homeless Board of Directors 2011- Present
Vice President PTA 2012-13 school year
Director of the Lower Dyer Community Center
Site coordinator For VITA Tax Program – El Paso Affordable Housing

Community Involvement: 

I am a member of Central Neighborhood Association. Working with Project Noel we have handed out 200 coats for the winter last year and on same tack this year. I have coordinated 4 parades (Lower Dyer Neighborhood), 8 agency fairs, 3 senior health fairs. I have coordinated 14 different agencies and put into place mentoring programs both for adults and children, parenting classes, senior health classes, after school clubs (art, dance), GED and ESL Classes. I am the Head Coach for the Generals youth football team at Grand View Park 6 years. I was previously the head coach of the Ducks youth baseball team, volunteer coach at the YMCA for 3 years and Asst. Coach for the Lobos volleyball team for one season.

Though its a non-partisan race, please indicate your general political persuasion: 

I have always been the middle of the road kind of person. For me I have never put a party before community I am an American an El Pasoan and a Daddy and that’s all that matters. 

What are your priority issues for the district?: 

Land infill, we need to get rid of the vacant lots.
What are the first three acts you would undertake as a member of Council?: 

First item on my agenda would be bringing utility companies to the table and have a conversation on the high hook up prices that they charge developers when building homes/apartments on vacant lots in the community, infill is something that we need to be promoting and a solution is needed. I would also like to look into why central youth are so underserved when it comes to park athletic fields and research possible solutions. Next would be spending wisely when it comes to El Paso as a whole, El Paso’s debt needs to be looked at. Although we are showing high ratings now, I don’t see that being the case in the future if we continue our current spending rate.

How often have you voted in elections in El Paso? (going back ten years): 

Going back 10 years I was not of age to vote, but I voted 100% of the time that I was eligible and living in El Paso.

Candidate Profile: Steve Ortega - Candidate for Mayor


Name: Steve Ortega
Hometown: El Paso, TX
Education: Eastwood Heights Elementary, Desert View Middle School, Cathedral High School, B.A., Government - University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Sociology - University of Texas at Austin, J.D. - The George Washington University
Military Service (Please indicate branch, years of service, rank achieved, and military occupational speciality): None
Occupation: City Representative, Attorney
Professional Experience: Education, Law
Community Involvement: Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso - mentor, YMCA - basketball coach, Metropolitan Planning Organization - chairman, Regional Ports of Entry Advisory Board - chairman, El Paso Crime Victims' Memorial Committee - organizer, Mayor' s Congresso on Immigration Reform - co-organizer, Juarez Displaced Journalists Fundraiser - co-organizer, Miner Orangeville - co-organizer, Jose Rodriguez Campaign for County Attorney - campaign manager, El Paso History Museum Mayors' Oral History Project, 65th District Court Ad Litem Advisory Committee
Though its a non-partisan race, please indicate your general political persuasion:
Democrat
What are your priority issues for the district?:
1) creating a competitive regional environment for quality job growth,
2) aggressively support efforts at the Medical Center of the Americas, Ft. Bliss, and reducing wait times at our int'l bridges, and
3) ensuring proper implementation of the bond projects.
What are the first three acts you would undertake as a member of Council?:
1) meet with each council member to discuss and understand their goals and concerns,
2) work with business/neighborhood leadership, our congressman, and state/county leaders to create a formal and unified El Paso agenda to continue moving El Paso forward, and
3) schedule monthly constituent meetings around the community to get regular constituent input and feedback.
How often have you voted in elections in El Paso? (going back ten years):
I believe I have voted in all local, state, and national elections over the past ten years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mike Torres - Homeboy of the Month

I know a lot of attorneys in El Paso. I like most of them and there are a few that I really respect and admire not only as practitioners of the law but as individuals.

Mike Torres is one of those guys. He's a real Chicano. If you don't know what I mean by that, you wouldn't understand if I explained it anyway. But he is.

A kid from Canuts (Canutillo) who went off and made something of himself. A man of many talents and a wealth of knowledge on any manner of issues, Torres is the kind of guy that can hold court with the best of 'em and is at the same time, as down to earth as any vato loco from Canutillo.

He's is, as they say in the neighborhood, 'a toda madre.

I first met Judge Torres back in 2008 at the Texas Democratic Convention. He was the guy who was part of the effort to ensure the Obama delegation had the proper amount of delegates at the convention. I didn't know who he was at first, I just knew he was a cool vato to drink with a play cards with in the back of the bus on the way to Austin.

Then I found out he was an attorney. He was a lawyer who could've flown in and out of Austin like all the other big shots did. But he rode the bus. Over and back. And he kept everyone on the bus entertained with jokes, stories, and knowledge about a range of stuff not seen since Cliff Clavin from Cheers.

There has been talk about Torres being a candidate for House District 77 and there are a whole lot of us sad to see that he is out of the running for that position now, but we couldn't be happier and prouder for him on his appointment as a Magistrate Judge.

He's not just my homeboy, he's a compa'.

So its high time I awarded a Homeboy of the Month Award.

Felicidades Mike.  Te aventaste!

Working on Bio Pieces for Muni Candidates

Okay people, I'm working on a bio / introductory piece to all the municipal candidates. I've sent them a questionnaire asking just basic biographical information.

I'm doing this because a lot of the candidates are people you probably have never heard of and I wanted to give you some context before the race heats up. So watch for those pieces to be posted soon, maybe as early as later today.

Here are the questions I posed to the candidates. Again, its just a bio/introductory piece:


Name:

Hometown:

Education (Please include elementary, middle, high school, and post-secondary education):

Military Service (Please indicate branch, years of service, rank achieved, and military occupational specialty):

Occupation:

Professional Experience:

Community Involvement:

Though its a non-partisan race, please indicate your general political persuasion:

What are your priority issues for the district?:

What are the first three acts you would undertake as a member of Council?:

How often have you voted in elections in El Paso? (going back ten years):

Bill Maher to Appear in El Paso

As a flaming liberal myself, Bill Maher is someone I've always thought was hilarious. I especially appreciate the fact that he's one of the few commentators out there that is willing to stand up to the absurdity of the right. It helps that he's a comedian and is therefore good on his feet.

I used to watch his show Politically Incorrect religiously because I really liked the fact that he could get celebrities and policy-makers on the same stage to talk about current events and politics. As a young person, its the kind of thing that drew me in further in to politics. I also think it made other political shows by comedians possible.

He now hosts Real Time on HBO where he continues to entertain and enlighten. And his New Rules segment is the part of the show I look forward to the most.

So I'm excited that he's coming to El Paso for a show. I'm gonna try to catch the show myself and you should to. People always complain that there's nothing to do in El Paso, well political junkies, there's a good show coming our way.

So here's a new rule of my own. New Rule, if you complain that there's nothing to do in El Paso and then a show comes to town, you have to put your money where your mouth is and go see the show!

The show is February 10th at the Plaza Theater. Check out the box office for ticket info. There might even be a break on tickets for a group of people that go so check it out.

Now...if someone could only get Bill Maher and Glenn Beck to debate on the same stage...that would be worth Pay-Per-View!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time to Stop Making Excuses for City Manager Joyce Wilson

Based on a series of emails that have surfaced in recent weeks, I think that its time that the El Paso City Council stop making excuses for City Manager Joyce Wilson.

Not only do I think that they should stop making excuses, but I also think they should fire her. And if they don't, I think the voters should hold the members of council responsible for not doing so.

This isn't a matter of disagreeing on policy anymore. I assure you, if it were I would be saying that if you don't have the votes, but your big-boy pants on and deal with the outcome. But this isn't about policy. This is about a City Manager, who is not directly accountable to the people of El Paso, doing what appears to me to be over-stepping her role as a City Manager.

That is not something that members of council should simply shrug off or sweep under the rug. We have a serious problem here and it needs to get fixed. I think city council is on the right track right now, but having a boat anchor in terms of public support like Joyce Wilson is only going to stunt our growth and progression.

Maria Garcia of KVIA did this package yesterday and its pretty eye-opening. Frankly the arrogance of the City Manager and City Rep Ann Lilly are on full display. The subject of the piece is an email that Wilson sent to Lilly, but when you look at another email, its clear to me that Wilson seems to desire more power than what is given to her by the City Charter. One has to wonder what anyone's motives are when they want more power.

Especially when that person is not directly accountable to the voters.

Here is the email at the center of the controversy:


Wilsons' reaction to questions about the emails is the classic pobresita ploy my daughters give me when they are in trouble. Sorry, there may be a witch hunt, and I may think that most of the opposition are backward-thinking idiots who are contrarian for the sake of being so, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Check your watches people, this is one of those times.

"..Now we're having to nick-pick and explain every word we're using..." is Wilson's reaction to emails that have been made public that show (above) the fact that Wilson directed a city council member to put an item on the agenda.

Many, myself included, would see that move as exceeding her duties as the City Manager. A point she alludes to herself when she says, "...Council is very sensitive about staff initiating policy..." Wilson then turns around and does just that in the email.

City Rep Eddie Holguin sums it up best when he responds in the piece by saying, "...the city representatives are the ones that come up with policy and its her job to implement policy, not the other way around..."

Unlike most of the opposition I don't think Ms. Wilson is the devil incarnate. I've spoken with her and she's a nice person who seems 100% well-intentioned. But that isn't my point. My point is she's already had a couple of strikes against her based on her characterization of members of council, her bosses, and members of the public, who pay her salary and are her ultimate boss.

At this point, its irresponsible for people to continue to make excuses for her actions. I think had this taken place in any other Texas municipality Ms. Wilson wouldn't still be around.

"I don't think its any of his business. Its between her and me." was the response by Rep Lilly to Holguin's assertion that Wilson is over-stepping her bounds.

No Representative Lilly, you are incorrect. Its his business, and its the community's business because we are your bosses. The public has a right to know, as demonstrated by the fact that this information came to light through FOIA in the first place.

I am frankly shocked by the arrogance of Lilly's posture.

I actually agree with Wilson when she says that they have done honorable work and that nothing has been shady or under-handed. That isn't the point. The point is that the integrity of the process has been called in to question and has been compromised by her actions. The very appearance that a non-elected official staff member is attempting to interject themselves in to policy making compromises the work of city council.

And if members of city council haven't figured it out yet, Wilson will end up being a campaign issue if she's not gone by election season. Don't roll the dice on this one, Wilson is a negative campaigner's wet-dream.


------------------------------------------------------

But wait, there's more...

As if the previous email wasn't bad enough, here is another email that actually concerns me more because it has a tie-in to EPISD.

One of the problems with EPISD was the auditing process. If you want a good and reliable audit, they can't report to their own boss! A good auditor will report to the City Council, much like the County does. But as you can see in this email, Wilson didn't want that at all.

That makes me VERY suspicious of the process. Its difficult to evaluate tone in an email, but the first sentence certainly appears to me like someone who doesn't want power taken away. The second sentence makes it pretty clear that she believes that an internal auditor should report directly to her. I'm sure you see the problem with such an idea. The fourth sentence actually reminds me of a saying in the Army we used to have when we were told to do something by some know-nothing officer. Don't confuse your rank with my authority. Although were always wrong on that statement.

The seventh sentence is the one that I find the most interesting, but I'll have to go and check out video from that time frame to figure out why she was of the opinion that she needed her own lawyer.


The agenda for tomorrow's meeting has an item on it that is basically going to be an opportunity for the minority members of council to wag their finger at Wilson, but I doubt anything serious comes of it.

But now is the time for bold leadership from Council. Its time to move towards another city manager so that the city can move forward. In a city that is fatigued by a lack of trust in local government, its imperative that steps be taken to improve that sentiment.

City council, you're up to bat....

Blurb on Council Races

I'm really surprised I haven't heard more buzz in District 7. I figured there would be a classroom-size group of candidates run for that race. A large field of candidates the likes we have not seen since the 2008 Sheriff's race.

Anyway, I'm surprised that there's only one candidate out there.

If you're thinking of waiting until January, no matter what city rep race you are looking at, you're waiting too long. Especially if you don't have name ID with municipal voters. Its going to take time to get up and running with your campaign and the holiday season is the perfect time to catch voters at home because there are a lot of days off during that time period. People burn a lot of vacation time too.

The idea that voters aren't going to care about the election during that time frame doesn't hold water either. That might be true for casual voters with bad voting records but people that vote always care.

Tea Party Rejection

If this last election showed anything, it was that America has very strongly rejected the Tea Party. In fact, I'd expect to see people jump off the Tea Party ship like rats off of a sinking boat.

I've been looking at races across the country involving the Tea Party Republicans and they sustained strong losses all over the place.

When Bush won re-election with a smaller margin than President Obama, he very famously stated that he had political clout and he was going to spend it. Republicans called his win a mandate. If thats the case, then the President has a mandate.

The Tea Party was soundly defeated. The new members of Congress are women and minorities for the most part. Take a look up at the scoreboard conservatives...America has spoken.

Members of Congress, vote accordingly.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Apodaca Files a Treasurer

Long-time Democratic Party activist Mike Apodaca has filed the necessary paperwork to designate a treasurer for a possible bid for City Representative for District 2. The field is already crowded with mostly second-tier candidates.

Apodaca is now one step closer to being a declared candidate for the position but for all intents and purposes, he's a candidate since filing a treasurer means he can start collecting money.

If Apodaca decides to jump in to the race, he'd certainly be the class of the field in terms of field organization and grass roots operations.

At first glance the race looks like the top three candidates so far are Michael Apodaca, Jim Tolbert, and Getsemani Yanez. The two other candidates have a lot to do in order to be competitive. Tolbert seems to be the candidate as the one most-impacted by Apodaca getting in to the race.

Until you take a look at history. Turns out people from the Newman Park area have had a strangle hold on the seat for quite some time now. More than a decade for sure. It appears places like Newman Park are pretty important if you want to win the district. Guess who has been a previous president of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association?

That's right, Jim Tolbert.

So clearly Newman Park has to be hit pretty hard by the other candidates if they have any hope of looking competitive.


Apodaca has the advantage of still being in fighting shape so to speak. He's fresh off a big win for President Obama. Apodaca has steadily moved up the food chain within the state party mechanism for his campaign performance.

So if anyone SHOULD be able to run an effective campaign operation based on the current field it would be Apodaca. Followed by Getsemani Yanez. The rest of the field seems to be pretty evenly matched in terms of their ability to organize although I'd give Tolbert the inside track fro the rest of the field based on some activist stuff he's previously been successful with.

Tolbert's biggest weakness? Appearing one-dimensional based on his environmental activist.

Yanez actually has a couple of weaknesses to over-come. #1 is trust issues with voters. He was with Beto, then he was with the Congressman. The district supported Beto big. Its going to take some finessing on the party of Yanez to over come that. Although I will say that Yanez is more than adequately equipped to deal with the issue. The harder issue is that his firm's performance in terms of political consulting is still up in the air. They've won races they are supposed to win and he usually operates with candidates that have the dough to do things. The real measure will be winning the races no one expects them to be able to win .

Apodaca's biggest problem so far is his accent. He talks a bit like Dr. Gar-cee-uuuhh

But of all the problems to have so far, thats the easiest one to deal with and overcome.

The other candidates, well they have to actually get working. Very few if any of them are actually declared candidates and no one, i mean no one in the district knows anything about them. They need to get off their nalgas and start making that happen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

UPDATE: 2012 Awards Part 2

So I came up with some more award categories with the help of a buddy.

First of all, Most Annoying Campaign Manager is still up in the air. Submit your pick and your reason.

So here's a couple more awards and we'll start with a race to the bottom:

Worst Candidate Award / Person Who Should Never Run for Anything Again - I've thought about this one a lot over the last few days and I was going to say Dan Chavez. I was also going to say Fred Chavez. Actually now that I think about it, Chavez's don't do well in El Paso County over the last few years. I was also going to say Ron Paul - mostly because I think he gets a total pass for the stuff he wrote a few years back and has someone else take the fall for it, oh and for being a neo-confederate. But alas, my award for Worst Candidate and Person Who Should Never Run for Anything Again goes to Texas Governor Rick Perry. I now see why he ducked and dodged Bill White every chance he had. I know my friends from across the aisle are going to flip out and be outraged that I said Perry is the worst candidate but you have to admit, he is. In fact, El Paso Republicans should've been the main folks correcting the Texas Guv'nuh when he said stupid stuff like car bombs going off in El Paso. Don't give me this bad-back-he-was-on-medication excuse for his terrible performance. Especially in New Hampshire. That was some funny stuff. I seem to recall saying, at the time of Perry's announcement to run for President, something along the lines of "A Republican governor from Texas...what could go wrong?" Sarcastically of course. Congrats Guv'nuh, you managed to embarrass Texas even more than Bush.

Oh, and the reason I didn't give it to our local boys is because, well, they provide comic relief. They make me laugh and don't we all need a good laugh?

Best Dressed Candidate - Hands down this award goes to Aaron Barraza. Very sharp dresser and looks like an actor. He dresses well even when he dresses casually. As I said before he needs to wait a few election cycles before he runs for anything again (I know, I know, he might want to take another shot at HD 77 but he needs to wait until he's closer to 30 and see what the political landscape looks like then. Plus I hear there's already two candidates that Austin people are looking at for HD 77). This is Barraza's second award of this type because in the primary he was nominated by Victoria Nevarez a frequent ready of my blog, as Best Cougar Bait. I think she might be a cougar herself and thus her nomination, lol. Kidding Victoria.

Best / Worst Use of Facial Hair - Fred Chavez. Its so bad...its good. He has a mustache that I can only describe as half Emiliano Zapata and half Yosemite Sam. Its awesome.

Hottest Campaign Manager - Don't know her name, but just about every guy I know as told me the award needs to go to Judge Bill Hick's campaign manager. Have you seen her? Wow.

Best Use of Technology - Mike Cervantes. He purchased a text messaging campaign from Entravision and it sent out messages to their universe reminding folks to go vote and to vote for Cervantes. I've been waiting to see if that was going to work in this market and there are a whole lot of improvements needed to the effort but it was the first time done in a local election and it was innovative on his part. Once you are able to get a universe of registered voters, consistent voters and people who haven't already voted, you can really leverage that kind of tool. Its gonna take a few election cycles, but text messaging is going to be a regular part of campaign contact like phone banking, block walking, email and FB. Mark my words. And Cervantes was the first to do it.

Honorable Mention goes to young campaign volunteers. I've seen countless volunteers use their smart phones, tablets, and lap tops to do all manner of things while out on the campaign trail. Its in their political DNA to turn to technology when they need to problem-solve.

One more honorable mention for best use of technology - Don Williams' camera. He goes to everything and takes pictures of every one. Its a huge photo archive that someday someone with half a brain at UTEP or within the Democratic Party is going to realize is a valuable treasure and will acquire it. Unlike my boatload of archival video footage that I literally couldn't give away to UTEP or EPCC. (Now they will have to pay me for it one day, lol.)

Most Surprising Political Beat Down - This award goes to the opposition of the ball park propositions. They were completely ineffective at messaging or leveraging public sentiment against the propositions. Even with help from a questionable process by city council and some unprofessional and embarrassing emails from City Manager Joyce Wilson, the opposition should they had zero ability to affect the outcome of the election.


Okay, thats all for the awards...


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Setting the Record Straight on Stephanie Townsend-Allala's Voting History

I checked out her voting history. Yes, there is still a record of an old address in Austin. But according to Texas VAN, which is the voter database that campaigns use to identify voters, Townsend-Allala is a regular voter in El Paso County.

Unfortunately, Google doesn't index Texas VAN so you will not get the full detail.

I write this because there's a piece on David K's Blog that indicates a pretty thin voting history for STA. The problem is in her name. She's been married before and has changed her name a couple of times along the way.

But once I was able to figure all that stuff out, I found she was a regular and consistent voter. Not a 100% voter, and she's missed 3 municipal elections since she came back to El Paso according to VAN, but she votes regularly nonetheless.

The system, which is a VITAL tool for campaigns because its accuracy with data is what campaigns base decisions off of, is solid. It indicates that her partisan index is listed as Hard Democrat and her turnout is Certain. These are classifications used in the system to describe a voter. Obviously this means that based on her voting history she is someone you would want to send mail to, phone bank, or block walk because she's going to vote.

Her 2012 DCCC score is 83.87. Thats a score put out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign to score voter participation. By comparison mine is 88.90. It means I vote more regularly than she does, but she's not far behind me.

I'm on the other side of the issue on the ballpark, but facts are facts. She's a regular voter.

The confusion is in her name. Its an honest mistake. No big deal. Nothing to see here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post-Election Awards

Its become somewhat of a tradition here on the L*B that I give out fake post election awards to candidates, campaigns, etc after the election. Its all meant in good fun so don't get your panties in a wad.

Best Political Slogan - "The People's Judge" Bill Hicks used this slogan and his people in the valley had shirts that said, "El Juez de la Gente".

Best Sign Engineer - Mr. Perez, Vince Perez's dad. He came up with a way of displaying signs that looks like a small pyramid and his held down by bricks. I don't know why it hasn't been used before but other campaigns incorporated the idea near the end.

Best Campaign T-Shirts - The I Heart Beto shirts. Personally they annoy the hell out of me because they scream young hipster douchebag, but they became very popular and I saw them everywhere. Beto had overall the best design work in terms of buttons and stuff.

Most Annoying Social Media Operative - My friend freakin' Matt Sutton! This guy single-handedly must've caused half of El Paso to change their Facebook settings to that they couldn't be tagged in pictures because of this guy. Since I travel in political circles I would often hear a stream of expletives from people because "pinche Matt, he tagged me again." Gotta love the devotion though.

Best Comeback Line During a Debate of the Campaign - This one is easy. Mary Gonzalez whacked an SISD board member, Craig Patton who has trying to grill her during a candidate forum. He's a friend of her opponent and he's really tall. Taller than Beto O'Rourke tall. Mary Gonzalez is small. Hobbit small. She turned the question around on Patton and it was a defining moment in terms of her credibility as a candidate.

Best Debate of the Campaign - Luis Torres and Beto O'Rourke at the Transmountain debate. Followed closely by their debate Valle Verde. Great stuff, especially for political nerds like me. Too bad Torres wasn't the candidate. He also gets award for the Best Stand-In for a candidate.

Best Debate Performer - A tie between Beto O'Rourke and Vince Perez. The two best communicators in El Paso politics in this town bar none. They were in different races but each of them out classed their opponents and each of them had different challenges to deal with. O'Rourke had to deal with rarely facing his actual opponent and then had to maintain composure and credibility while on the stage with other candidates that ranged from weird, to crazy, to comical. Perez also stood out from the crowd in terms of debate performances and had the second-best comeback line during a debate of a campaign. It was part of the Best Closing Statement in a Debate (by a Duo or Group, sorry, I always wanted to say that) during the debate in Socorro. Interestingly both candidates won their races and if you're thinking a dream match-up some day between O'Rourke and Perez in a debate you're too late. Its already happened. They debated on drug legalization on KVIA a few months before the campaign got started.

Worst Debate Performer - A tie between Mary Gonzalez and Liza Montelongo. They both had up and down performances and when they were good, they were good. When they were bad...well it was sorta uncomfortable to be in the room.

Most Memorable Line from a Debate: "Brain fart." - Liza Montelongo

Biggest "D'Oh!" of the Campaign - Representatives Marquez and Gonzalez support for a Republican who then lost to a Democrat they will now have to serve with.

Biggest Political Comeback: Smokin' Joe Moody's second knock out of Dee Margo

Turning Point of Campaign Season - The arrest of then-County Commissioner and HD 75 State Rep Candidate Willie Gandara, Jr on drug trafficking charges. The incident completely changed the complexion of two races.

Worst Use of Campaign Funds - I know what you're thinking, it should go to Congressman Reyes and State Rep Chente Quintanilla for spending all kinds of money, being a front-runner, and still losing. Normally you'd be right, however this award goes to Dee Margo. How can you leave 200 large in your account in a tight race.

Most Effective Mail Piece - That award was going to go to Vince Perez for a couple of different pieces of mail he deployed. But then I saw Judge Hicks' mailer. Hands down the most effective piece of mail of the campaign. I actually said the word "Zas!" out-loud when I saw it.

Best Team Player Award - Mary Gonzalez. After winning her seat in the Primary, Gonzalez went across Texas to help other Democrats and most-notably State Rep-Elect Joe Moody. Big contrast to their colleagues Marquez and the other Gonzalez. Mary Gonzalez also helped the Pete Gallego campaign quite a bit down in the valley and was Johnny-on-the-spot with a few things. Gallego is damned lucky she was putting out small brush fires.

Best Political Duo or Group - The Progressives. They don't lose and they all have each other's back. They will shortly be in charge of just about every major political level in the County and there is very little that can stop them.

Most Miles Spent Block-Walking - Beto O'Rourke. He wore out a lot of leather.

Candidates That Should Stop Running for Office - Dan Chavez, Ben Mendoza, and Fred Chavez. Seriously guys, get the hint. Notice I did not say Jerome Tilghman. He doesn't need to stop running, he just needs to stop having visions of grandeur and run for something he can, and should, win. Like EPISD School Board of Trustees.

Candidate with the Most Devoted Supporter - Bill Hicks. Have you seen the 1970-something Gremlin that is plastered with Hicks stickers?

Going the Extra Mile - One goes to a campaign the other goes to a specific volunteer. Middle-of-the-night door tagging operation by the Vince Perez campaign to remind voters to vote on Election Day. Crystal Ontiveros for helping out the Mary Gonzalez campaign and then jumping in to help with phone-banking for another campaign while she was out of town. Gangsta.

Worst Place to Poll Sit - Fabens. Its the earth-equivalent to Tatooine. You only get that reference if you are a Star Wars nerd and have been to the Fabens early voting site. There is so much sand and wind there that you expect to see Obi Wan Kanobi scare off Sand People at any minute. Seriously, Fabens blows. You have to hand literature to people in the car while they are pulling in to the polling site. Lame.

Best Place to Poll Sit - During a contested primary, it HAS to be Carolina. That's where stuff always hits the fan. Plus they have wi-fi.

Best Place to Vote if You Want to Avoid Poll Sitters - Basset Center

Best Contraption Made for Poll Sitting - Rudy Loya's Man Cave. It had everything you need. Signage, shade, chairs, coolers of cold drinks, and good conversation.

Terms I'm Tired of Hearing, Saying, or Writing - Document dump (it sounds like what the character from I'm Just a Bill of School House Rock Fame does when he has to drop a duece) "We the People", universe, target, downtown stadium, take our country back, liberty, push cards, "took away our vote", ballparks for billionaires, nullification & secession, and recall.

Funniest Campaign Moment - Three-way tie between Ben Mendoza advocating for the US to annex Mexico, the look on the Republican Congressional nominee's face when the speaker for the Labor Day breakfast was ripping Romney a new one, and the Vince Perez/Fred Chavez debate.

Best Shadow Ninja, Stealthy, and Possibly Sith Lord Political Move - El Paso Liberty Group. Through the help of a wise Jedi Master, they were able to infiltrate the Sith, or as I like to call them, the Republican Party, and take leadership positions and the majority of delegates to the Texas State Republican Convention. The Force is strong with them.

And finally....

Most Likely to Secede - Also the El Paso Liberty Group

Nico Dominguez Follow-Up

I just wanted to clarify a few points about my criticism and call for Nico Dominguez's resignation as President of the one of the LULAC Chapters in El Paso.

The reason I think he should step down is because LULAC's do a lot of good in this community. They don't deserve to be connected to controversy that has nothing to do with the organization. I mentioned his position with LULAC for context and out of reaction because KVIA mentioned it in their coverage. As a Chicano activist I feel totally justified in stating that Dominguez's actions in speaking in support of an admitted drug trafficker bring unfair discredit upon the organization.

LULAC's reputation in the community should not be jeopardized because Dominguez chose to act on his friendship and association with the Gandara's.

This community suffers from a crisis in confidence in elected officials because of the on-going public corruption scandal. Dominguez, and all elected officials in this community, owe it to their constituents to earn the confidence of the people. That deficit in trust is further comprised by Dominguez' support of Willie Gandara Jr.

I understand and value friendship, but as an elected official he has a higher duty to his constituents to maintain the level of faith and trust in leaderhsip

The image of neither LULAC nor the EPCC Board should have to be jeopardized because of matter unrelated to either organization.

Hey Ray from Dan Chavez's Campaign

I didn't forget our friendly little "wager".

You owe me vato.

Call me so you can square up. You know how to reach me.

Follow-up on Gandara Sentencing

I've spoken with a couple of attorneys about the Gandara sentencing since I posted my piece last night. Turns out I was wrong about something and I should clarify.

If you read this article in the El Paso Times today, clearly the Judge didn't take Gandara's actions lightly.

I was wrong. Montalvo actually gave Gandara a pretty stiff sentence based on the federal sentencing guidelines, which are advisory to judges as recommended sentences by the US Sentencing Commission. It was explained to me that in a 60kg case that the recommended sentence is 24-30 months. The fact that the judge tacked on another 4 years is a big deal and almost certainly took in to account his status as an elected leader in this community.

Wish I'd have known that before I made my previous statement about the sentencing being too light. I should've known more before I said anything and I should know better. My mistake.

I'm also told that as a general rule, maximum statutory sentencing ranges almost never come in to play. Special thanks to the attorneys who set me straight.

But I still stand by my outrage and disappointment towards Willie Gandara, Jr. And after reading the comments of his brother Gary, also an elected official, I'm outraged at his reaction too. He thinks the sentence was too stiff and defended his brother.

I have brothers. Unless you have brothers you don't know the bond that there is for brothers and there is almost nothing you wouldn't do for them. But I can tell you this, no one should feel sorry for Willie Gandara Jr. Gary Gandara thinks that just because his brother might have done some good for the community through charitable donations that there should be some sort of trade-off for his actions? On the contrary, I think it further underscores Willie Jr character flaws. As the judge pointed out, he was leading a double life and the judge was right to point out that during Pablo Escobar's reign as a drug lord that he was a major charitable contributor.

I also stand by my criticism of Nico Dominguez. Clearly I expect both Gary Gandara and Nico Dominguez to experience political fall-out following this scandal. Though neither of them played a role in anything Willie Gandara, Jr was involved in, I think the community will made decisions based on their public support of the former County Commissioner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

El Paso Community Victimized by Gandara Sentence; Supporters

(This is 100% my opinion and mine alone. This is entirely editorial.)

These days it takes a lot to surprise me when it comes to local politics. I have met nearly every elected official and candidate who's run for just about everything in this town for the past few years.

But I have to admit that I was completely shocked today. I was shocked by a few things.

First things first. I don't wish bad on many people. (There are a few I assure you)

I feel bad for Willie Gandara Jr's children for having to miss their father for the next 6 1/2 years. My heart goes out to them.

But I don't feel bad for Gandara himself one bit. In fact, I'm probably finally gonna break my New Years' resolution and end up cussing in this piece.

The fact that Willie Gandara Jr received less than half the maximum sentence is and insult to this community and we should rightfully all be mad about this situation. In my opinion, just wasn't served. I don't care that he hasn't had any priors.

I think its a damn shame that he got a similar sentence in prison as Gilbert Sanchez. Not that I think Sanchez doesn't deserve what he got, but I don't know how you can call it justice when one vato gets similar time to someone who admitted to selling the equivalent of a small woman's weight in weed.

Willie Gandara, Jr was an elected official at the time of his crimes. He had the trust of the community. I think the judicial branch had a duty to ensure that the community can have their trust in the government restored by ensuring justice was dispensed properly.

And you know what, it bothers me more that this happened to people in the Valley. Yes, it bothers me even more because it happened to the poorest and brownest part of the County. The people who live at the edges of our economy. How dare he do something like that to his own people!

No one should feel sorry for him for that. These are good, hard-working people who do their level best day in and day out to try to scratch out a living. They deserve better than to have the people who they entrust with leadership betray them. And thats exactly what Gandara did, no matter how you try to dress it up.

This guy told everyone he was going to give 90% of his salary back to the people. To my knowledge he never gave a penny back.

What bothers me more is the idea that people in this community actually supported Gandara after he admitted guilt. People like Nico Dominguez. Dominguez is listed as being President of LULAC. That stands for League of United Latin American Citizens.

I think he should resign his position with LULAC immediately. I think it is an embarrassment to our people to have someone in a position of leadership among Latinos stand up for someone who betrayed the trust of his constituents. I think it calls in to question the character of Mr. Dominguez that he stands up for the admitted drug trafficker and not raza.

How dare you Mr. Dominguez. I believe you bring shame upon our people and upon the organizations to which you are affiliated. Your actions stand in direct opposition to the goals of LULAC.

Mr. Dominguez has chosen to stand with Willie Gandara, Jr. He is up for re-election to the El Paso Community College Board.

The election is next May. If anyone chooses to run against him, I will help them. Dominguez made a choice and I think its up to responsible members of the community to remind his constituents who he stands by and what is personal judgment is like. Pictures of Dominguez and Gandara should be on a mailer, along with Dominguez's quotes in support of Gandara.

Then let the people decide if Mr. Dominguez deserves his seat at the EPCC Community College Board.

Mr. Dominguez, as an elected official and particularly as a Latino elected official that represents a largely Latino constituency, in my belief, has no business supporting someone like Gandara.

You sir, have an obligation to the people. I believe you've been derelict in that obligation to the people. An elected official should be defending the people he represents, not people who have dishonored their office and this community.

Gandara, Gandara, Gandara, Gandara, & Gandara

If memory serves, former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh might have been the one who dubbed the Gandara's the Kennedy's of the Valley. I could be wrong about that but I know he used to speak very highly of them.

What a difference an election cycle makes.

Willie Gandara Jr is being sentenced today for drug trafficking charges.

Willie Gandara Sr still faces court.

Jesus Gandara Sr has legal problems.

Jesse Gandara has some legal issues as well.

The only member of the Gandara family in elective office that is NOT facing any kind of charges, investigation, or legal issues right now is Gary Gandara who is a member of the Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees.

I recall having a conversation with Jesse Gandara, who is a member of the Socorro city council and he was complaining at the time about the fact that now Commissioner-elect Vince Perez was campaigning on ending Gandara politics. He told me he was supporting Rudy Loya at the time because he didn't like all the Gandara's being painted with the same brush.

A still on-going investigation popped up during the run-off election and the very day I saw him at a restaurant in Socorro it turns out investigators had visited his home.

Not sure what he has to say about that brush these days, but he recently released another video. I wasn't going to comment on it because I thought it was silly. I mean the guy lays out a wide-ranging conspiracy theory full of factual errors and he decides to set it to music?

And he expects to be taken seriously?

Thats just what Socorro needs right now during the height of all its problems. A sitting member of city council alleging a conspiracy theory...set to music.

Terrible music at that.

There's a lot in this video but let me just hit the highlights. He refers to both Sheriff Wiles and a deputy or detective as "sheriff". There is only one sheriff, the others are deputies.



Yes, Wiles lost every precinct in Socorro when he ran opposed.

Sort of.

Lets start with being honest, there aren't that many precincts in Socorro. He lost all of them in the Democratic Primary that he won handily. If I had a truth-meter I'd call that half true. I could equally say, in the same election cycle, that Sheriff Wiles won EVERY precinct in Socorro handily. In the general he beat a Republican, from the valley, very handily.

I should also mention what you are all thinking but are afraid to say...he's white and he did that.

The rest of it just comes across as sorta "out there".

The music part is seriously freakin' annoying. I don't know who told Jesse that fighting it out on YouTube was a wise public relations move but who ever it was should never be allowed to give political advice.

To anyone.

Ever.

I'm serious.

Following the end of the all of these cases perhaps the people of Socorro and the valley will truly be able to realize the change they voted for in the last election. Perhaps then, and maybe only then, will Socorro truly be able to realize its full potential and take its place in the Borderland as a partner in good government and a thriving community.

EPISD Board Meeting Part 1

So I went to my first EPISD board meeting in a while last night. Lots of stuff to go over but I'm gonna do it in two posts.

First, lets go over the fun stuff and we'll get the the icky stuff later.

On the union-front there has been a dust-up between the El Paso Teachers Association (EPTA) and the El Paso Federation of Teachers. They are each part of their larger organizations the Texas State Teachers' Association and the American Federation of Teachers respectively.

EPTA won exclusive consultation with the district late last school year. They came in and campaigned for it. They actually used some pretty damning video of the Federation's president Lucy Clark speaking before the EPISD School Board advocating for the crappy health insurance plan no one in the district likes but they are stuck with by state law.

Apparently the election was contested and recently Mr. Butler, the new EPISD Superintendent settled the matter and EPTA still has the exclusive consultation. So they are the big dog in terms of a teacher's association in the district.

SIDEBAR: A guy from the Federation named Ross Moore mocked a parent that was speaking to the board. He said, "you should be able to pass a breathalyzer if you are going to get on the microphone" to another teacher. I happen to know the parent they were mocking and to my knowledge he's not a drinker. I let Mr. Moore know that. But it was a complete lack of professionalism and class. And I'm quite certain he wouldn't say that to the parent's face. Just thought I'd put him on blast for doing that because there are a lot of great teachers out there that are supportive of parents as partners in education and shouldn't be tainted by the act of one individual teacher's remarks.

The other thing that was interesting was something that seemed pretty mundane of an agenda item. The renaming of a baseball field at El Paso High School. Former City Rep Elvia Hernandez, a grad of EPHS, asked that they not rename the field and keep it the name it currently has. Tiger Field I think.

The agenda item was to rename it after a prominent African-American athlete George Hodge. Don't get me wrong, I understand why they would want to be absolutely certain about naming something after someone considering I think a school was/is named after someone in the public corruption scandal. But based on the guys bio that was read at the meeting, I'm not sure why the trustee who represents the area wanted to postpone the agenda item to do her "due diligence".

Uh, shouldn't you have already done that?

More on the EPISD fun later.

Secession & Nullification - Neo Confederates

In the days following the re-election of President Obama I have heard a steady drumbeat across American from Republicans and their Libertarian little siblings.

(SIDEBAR - Apologies to my Libertarian friends on the right, but lets be honest. You are on the right. You aren't this perfect utopian mix of the best of Liberalism and the best of Conservatism. You are conservatives. You never hear of the Libertarian wing of the Democratic Party. You only hear of the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Why? Cuz you're Republicans essentially. Sorry, but someone has to say it. But at least the ones in El Paso are motivated and are doers. God bless their less than 1% of the vote hearts, but they have been far more effective at shaping the Republican Party than the Republican Party has to be quite frank. Take a look around, the young people in the GOP are Republicans. And they're getting good. Just look at how many of them ran campaigns for the GOP)

Anyway, back to the drumbeat. The steady drumbeat sounds a lot like "WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't get my way, I can't grasp the reality that a majority of Americans supported the President so I wanna take my ball and go home."

Boo-effin-who. Put your big boy pants on and deal with the reality.

A Democratic President was re-elected. Since the Electoral College is still the process we use (which I don't support by the way), Obama won handily. And before you whip out popular vote numbers...lets remember a Republican had less of the popular vote and was selected by the Supreme Court to be President. And we had to deal with it.

So Obama was re-elected and America sent a binder full of women to Congress.

Suck it.

Now Republicans and Libertarians are talking about secession and nullification? And we're supposed to take that crap seriously? I refrained from jumping on this topic earlier because I didn't want to dignify it with a response but someone has to stand up to the march of the insane towards a neo-confederacy.

In fact, thats what we should call them. Neo-Confederates.

The whole idea of not being able to deal with the results of an election and deciding to take their ball and go elsewhere has been around since the Primary election in this town. Make no mistake, there is no difference between the Neo Confederates and the Sore Loser Democrats.

The exact same level of detachment from reality that makes Sore Loser Democrats is the same witch's brew of crazy that makes Neo Confederates.

If secession is stupidity personified, then nullification is its ugly kid sister. And frankly there are so many levels of hypocrisy here its almost comical. The idea that people are signing a petition to secede is hilarious. They went from misspelled signs as Tea Party rallies that said "We came without our guns, this time!" to signing an online petition? And then you have "Constitutionalists" advocating for secession and nullification?

I'm being punked right? Ashton Kutcher is somewhere with a hidden camera ready to jump out of some bushes right?

Because this can't be real.

I know people want to romanticize the idea of nullification, an idea that went out of fashion more than a century and a half ago, but lets have a little fidelity to history shall we? John C. Calhoun and other people from the south used the idea to promote the further extension of slavery in the United States.

But aside from reliving the Civil War, nullification represent the surrender of America. And its uniquely unpatriotic.

Nullification is counter-productive to the greatest of American political values - COMPROMISE. You know, that silly little thing that was used to create this nation? Nullification says if I don't like a law, screw it, I don't have to follow it. It literally takes the United out of United States of America.

Hell nullification would essentially create 50 little kingdoms off doing their own thing with only a loose association with one another. Oh great, the Americas version of the European Union.

Super.

And don't give me this crap that nullification is only for when the feds over-step their bounds. Who decides if they over-step their bounds. And oh by the way, we already have a solution for that...its called the Supreme Court. You remember the judicial branch of government right? Its that branch of government created through...wait for it...COMPROMISE!

Nullification is predicated on the idea that the federal government is not the boss of me. So by definition, there is really no limit to the extent of nullification. Which makes people who believe that is a rational solution for America, the Mayor of Crazytown!

And don't get me started on international relations. The US would not be able to speak with foreign governments as though it speaks with one voice when there are 50 little kingdoms.

You want to secede from America? You don't have to.

Just do what Romney said to do. Self-deport.

And yes, my friend Isabel Gonzalez is right. We Texas joke about being our own country because we like being annoyingly proud of being Texans. Its our God-given right to do so, especially at football games. But this is real.

You can't have a government that is being undermined by what constituted the government in the first place.

Nullification is anti-constitutional.

Nullification is the government of the Articles of Confederation. Which is EXACTLY what the Constitutional Convention was created to fix.

In fact, if the Constitution were a person, I'm pretty sure it would kick nullification's ass and stand over it and declare:

"Don't Tread on Me!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Post: SECESSION?


By Isabel J. Gonzalez
In case you haven’t heard, several states are petitioning the Obama Administration for a “peaceful withdrawal” from the United States. 
I browsed the White House petition page to take a look for myself. At approximately 10:30 p.m. MST on 11/12/12, there were a total of 83 active petitions -- and 32 were petitions for secession. In order for the Obama Administration to review and provide an official response, the petitions need to acquire at least 25,000 signatures within a month. 
Here are the totals thus far (yes, I took the time to write them all down): 
  1. Oklahoma - 647
  2. Utah - 1,430
  3. Wyoming - 1,601 
  4. California - 2,613
  5. Ohio - 2,618
  6. New York - 2,081
  7. Delaware - 2,866
  8. Nevada - 4,039
  9. Pennsylvania - 5,346
  10. Arizona - 8,379
  11. Oklahoma - 8,578
  12. Arkansas - 11,382
  13. S.C. - 11,815 (repeat)
  14. Georgia - 15,083 (repeat)
  15. Missouri - 9,586 (repeat)
  16. Missouri - 8,599
  17. Tennessee - 14,830
  18. Michigan - 10,506
  19. South Carolina - 9,319
  20. New York - 9,697
  21. Colorado - 11,461
  22. Oregon - 8,494
  23. New Jersey - 8,069
  24. North Dakota - 7,399
  25. Montana - 8,247
  26. Indiana - 10,361
  27. Mississippi - 10,205
  28. Georgia - 8,163
  29. North Carolina - 14,428
  30. Alabama  - 15,588
  31. Texas - 56,630 
  32. Louisiana - 25,040 
The first petition was put forth by Louisiana on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. Currently, the state that has an overwhelming number of signatures is Texas with a total of 54,725 (and counting). That is more than plenty. But we must not forget that Texas has a population of approximately 25,674,681. That means that the petition only reflects about 0.002% of Texas’ population. Further complicating the matter is the fact that non-Texans are signing the petition. 
I have joked about being in favor of Texas seceding from the United States because it’s fun to act annoyingly proud to be Texan. However, now that there is an actual petition to secede, I feel obligated to take this seriously. 
The Texas petition reads as follows: 
The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.
I share the same dissatisfaction as a result of the aforementioned abuses cited in the Texas petition but I do not think that secession is the route we should pursue. Perhaps this petition is not going to actually lead to a secession, but it is definitely making history. When was the last time 30 plus states asked to secede from the United States? 
It is also important to note that the Declaration of Independence states: 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In sum, when the people feel that their government is acting beyond its power, which is to secure unalienable rights, the people have the right to abolish the existing government and form a new government. So, when people refer to secession as “treasonous,” I would have to disagree. Secession from the British Empire was how our country was born. Ron Paul has an interesting take on secession, so watch this video: 
Moreover, I disagree with those who are calling petitioners “crazies” and “racists,” because that is not entirely accurate. I am not disregarding the likelihood that some people who have signed the petition are doing it because they dislike Obama, or even that some are racist. But I am saying that a good number of those people are doing it because they are unhappy about the direction the U.S. has been heading for quite sometime.
I think Obama getting reelected was the final straw for a lot of people. I can relate to that frustration because Obama has done a lot to undermine our freedom and has not received one fourth (arbitrary number that popped in my head) of the outcry Bush received, especially on foreign policy and civil liberties issues. So, yes, there are many individuals who are concerned Obama was reelected despite his horrible record on foreign policy, civil liberties, states rights and the economy. Moreover, this secession talk is nothing new in Texas.
I have chosen not to sign the petition because I think the best way to fix a problem is from within. If Texas secedes, how will we positively influence politics in the U.S.? I am extremely motivated to promote economic freedom, international trade, diplomacy, and humane treatment of immigrants. I cannot turn a blind eye. I think nullification is a better route and something I can fully support.  

City Rep District 7 & 2 Update

Well the candidates should be starting to come out of the woodwork at this point to run for the various offices up in the municipal elections next year.

I've actually been pretty surprised that there has not been more action in District 7 in terms of candidates. So far its just Ray Mendoza who has expressed an interest in the office. As I have previously mentioned, appointed Precinct 3 Commissioner Tania Chozet was very clear that she is not running for City Rep Ortega's office. If memory serves I wrote about that in September following a conversation in which she was crystal clear of her intentions not to run.

By contrast, District 2, currently represented by Susie Byrd, has a whole host of candidates. Environmentalist Jim Tolbert, Political Operative Getsemani Yanez, are the more liberal-leaning candidates in the race so far. Adam Gurrola and Edward Beck are the more conservative leaning candidates.

Two more liberal candidates are considering a run too, which will crowd up the field in a very progressive district. Political new-comer Esteban Terrazas has told a few people he's interested in a bid. He's helped out a bit with the Beto O'Rourke congressional campaign. And Democratic Party veteran Michael Apodaca confirmed last night that he is also considering a run and would likely be filing for a treasurer in the new few days.

Its early, but with this many people in the race you can pretty much guarantee a run-off election. The question is which of the liberal candidates will face one another. The two conservative candidates are probably thinking they can squeak in if all the liberal candidates split the vote, but there just aren't enough conservative voters in that district to make that a reality. I haven't seen the organization or energy from the conservative candidates to make me think they'll end up being able to get moving and make a run-off election. Not with a LOT of help and a LOT of things going their way.

There may or may not be more candidates that enter the race for District 2. I'd bet on more, especially at this rate...

More on both races as things progress. Oh yeah, more on the race for Carl Robinson's seat as well.