Latinos For Texas Blog


Minimum Wage Bill and Capitol Demonstrations

Filed under: — kevin @ 11:23 am

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Via Austin American Statesman :

Groups back proposal for $1 raise

A number of advocacy groups will gather at the Capitol today to support House Bill 816 filed by Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, proposing to raise the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour.

Burnam said Texas has one of the largest minimum-wage and low-wage populations in the nation and has the third-highest percentage of workers earning at or below minimum wage.

The Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday.

Representatives from the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of United Latin American Citizens, United Farm Workers and a list of other organizations will be at a morning news conference.


Rep. Rodriguez talks about his Opportunity Tax

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:26 pm

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“Income tax is in many ways the easiest way to raise the kind of dollars, from the broadest base of population with the least amount of damage and the least amount of economic distortion. ”
-Political Analyst Harvey Kronberg

We wrote about Rep. Eddie Rodriguez’s income tax plan late last month and asked that you help him get a hearing by calling, e-mailing or visiting the Chair of the House Public Education Committee - Rep. Kent Grusendorf.

Watch the latest story on it at News8Austin (complete with Strayhorn, Kronberg and Rep. Rodriguez).

Then call the members of the House Ways & Means Committee and tell them to schedule a hearing. If you have doubts about the bill see Sen. Eliot Shapleigh’s presentation. It is an opportunity to fund schools equitably, reduce property taxes and still increase revenue. It beats the tax-shift shell game.

Dem Trouble in Bexar County

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 7:13 pm

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I am from San Antonio and regularly read the Express-News, but I missed a Rebeca Rodriguez story about the troubles with the Bexar County Dems. Rodriguez reports that the County Chair, Rudy Casias, is under fire for what is being pegged as a struggling organization. They have no full-time staff, the office has been downsized and hours have been cutback due to “manpower shortage” while they attempt to raise money to maintain operations.

Many party faithful are worried and have been quick to voice their complaints - mostly about the lack of funds available. Former chair, Gabe Quintanilla, agreed but also stated that Casias inherited “a professional office furnished with several computers, up-to-date software and other resources to enable him to hit the ground running.” A letter to the editor in today’s paper (Friday) states, “talented and hardworking volunteers are staffing the office… wealthy Democrats have abandoned their local party… Ten dollars a month makes you a sustaining member of the Democratic Party. Take back your country for $10 a month.”

Rep. Charlie Rodriguez believes “that Rudy has not had the support and encouragement that any chair would require. Everyone is really great at complaining, telling people what their doing wrong, but very few people are able to come together to talk about what’s right.” However, the Northwest Dems and San Antonio Young Democrats were credited with bolstering the party by staying active.

A second letter to the editor complained that Casias failed to follow state party rules by not calling meetings (apparently not even one) with precinct chairs. It’s hard to imagine organizing a city as large as SA with no meetings and no cash. While volunteers keep up the good work, let’s hope these issues can be resolved… quickly.


Top 10% Law and Equitable School Funding

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 3:15 pm

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Today’s top headline in UT’s student paper, The Daily Texan, read: “Top 10 percent may hurt minorities, report says: Black, Hispanic students less likely to go to select universities, study finds.”

The report was based on an unpublished study by Marta Tienda a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and Sunny Nui, a research associate at the Office of Population Research. The study consisted of a sampling of more than 13,000 high school seniors interviewed in 2002 and cross-referenced a smaller sample of more than 5,000 of the same students interviewed a year later.

Interestingly, the headline should have read the opposite. In fact, UT’s own research reveals that in 2003, 79% of Hispanic and 73% of Black students admitted were HB588 automatic admits and constituted a combined total of 20% of all incoming freshmen. On the other hand, A&M has not been as successful, experiencing two years of decline in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, Black enrollment declined by 4.7% and Hispanic enrollment increased by a mere 0.7% constituting almost 12% of the overall campus headcount.

Additionally, the byline of the story states that minorities are unlikely to attend flagship institutions. Although the Tienda study does not directly address Hispanic preferences, in referring to Black student choices it explicitly states, “…that black students are 34 percent more likely than white students to prefer non-Texas institutions to four-year Texas institutions, and that they prefer other four-year Texas institutions over the Austin and College Station campuses.”

The Austin American-Statesman has reported Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry as saying that the law causes ‘brain drain’ forcing many qualified students to enroll in out-of-state schools. However, the study dispels this myth concluding that students from high-performing or “feeder” schools are not in fact being “crowded out” of Austin and College Station. It stated that an equal number of these students prefer out-of-state schools as much as they prefer the Texas flagships. Moreover, 75% of the seniors aspiring to attend either campus did so and 88% attend other colleges that were their top choice.

Critics such as Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), who has authored a bill to repeal the law, was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as saying, “the top 10 percent law is inherently unfair because it uses only one criterion on which to either accept or reject applicants.” However, the study also reveals that high-performing students from lesser performing high schools were readily admitted to prestigious private schools such as “New York University, Smith College, the University of Chicago and leading institutions” which base their admissions on a plurality of factors.

The civil rights organizations MALDEF, Equal Justice Society, Society of American Law Teachers and Americans for a Fair Chance have recommended that Texas lawmakers integrate racial considerations and the top ten percent law and reconsider the effects of legacy policy in admissions. Their published report is entitled “Blend It Don’t End It.” The Tienda study not only backs this recommendation but also states that lawmakers should look seriously at school equity and spend much needed tax dollars on low-performing schools - once again bringing school finance to the forefront.

Indeed, it is becoming ever more apparent to those who care about the future of Texas kids that fair and equal funding for all schools - best achieved through a progressive tax structure - will open the door to opportunity and access for every Texan. The remaining question: When will our leadership choose equality over electoral politics and shell game tax plans?

Choicepoint Identity Theft Debacle Prompts New Legislation

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:42 am

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Another great job by State Rep Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) to do something for ordinary citizens, rather than for companies. Are Texans less worthy than Californians of getting word that the mis-steps of a big corporations will affect you quite personally — as in right in the pocketbook? As a person whose checkbook was stolen, i know the hassle. But whats most bothersome is NOT KNOWING what else is the thieves are doing, trying to do or have done that i dont know.

(official press release follows…)
House Bill 1527 Gives Consumers Right to Know When Security is Breached

(Austin, Texas) On the heels of the revelation of a major security breach at data broker Choicepoint, a State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) has introduced a measure to give Texas consumers the right to know when crooks infringe on their financial DNA.

“We only know about the Choicepoint fiasco because security breach legislation enacted in California requires notification when consumer data are compromised,” said Representative Eddie Rodriguez. “Texans should have the same right to know, so they can take steps to protect themselves.”

The bill, HB 1527, would require companies to alert their customers if a breach of security has put them at risk of identity theft. Recent reports that a fraud ring gained access to the personal and financial information of an estimated 11,081 Texans from computer databases maintained by ChoicePoint, Inc. This incidence underscores the need for tougher safeguards to protect Texas consumers against identity theft. The ChoicePoint files that were compromised contained such sensitive information as Social Security numbers linked to names and addresses. Already, an estimated 750 people were reportedly targets of an identity theft scheme as a result of the ChoicePoint security breach.

“Creditors and identity thieves alike are routinely given the key to the database vaults,” said Luke Metzger, an Advocate with the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG). “When businesses mess up, they need to own up, and they need to alert consumers that they may be at risk”


Contact: Gerardo Castillo (512) 463-0674


Another bad idea in the Lege, this time it’s a Democrat

Filed under: — kevin @ 10:39 am

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Via Quorum Report’s Border Buzz :


HB 805 would require law enforcement to take fingerprints of undocumented immigrants receiving emergency medical help

Civil rights groups are mobilizing opposition to legislation from a Valley lawmaker that would require law enforcement officers to take fingerprints of undocumented immigrants along the border that receive emergency medical help.

“House Bill 805, authored by Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco), is due to be heard by the House Border and International Affairs Committee at a hearing Wednesday.

Groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to voice strong opposition to the bill.

“Law abiding Texans will feel that they are being branded as criminals for seeking emergency medical attention,” said Ana Yáñez-Correa, former public policy director for LULAC. “Ultimately this is a matter of life and death. The state should not create any barriers for those seeking emergency medical services.”


Repubs Continue Attack on Texas Minorities

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 11:02 am

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The 78th Legislature, with all its ideologues (i.e., Republican majority) and no-tax mantras, chose to assault the neediest of Texans and protect the special interests that helped elect them instead of finding viable solutions through a progressive tax structure.

The hammer fell and budget cuts – from new textbooks and higher education to children’s health insurance and child protective services – were imminent and soon became law. Undoubtedly, minorities and working-class Texans were hurt the most.

The 79th Legislature is proving to be no different. Republicans have continued their attack on minorities. Kent Grusendorf’s hollow attempt at ‘fixing’ Robin Hood (HB2) raised considerable school equity questions and Jeff Wentworth’s repeal of Texas’ Top 10% law (HB320) could lead to a drastic reduction in minority enrollment at flagship institutions.

But wait, their work is not done… here comes a real doozy…

Betty Brown (R-Athens) has filed HB516 which would require newly registered voters to provide proof of citizenship in the form of a birth certificate or passport. Apparently, diluting minority voices through mid-decade gerrymandering nor the already required certification (under penalty of law) by new voters that they are citizens will not appease the power-hungry Republicans.

It is clear that the intentions of this bill are to harass and intimidate an ever growing minority population. So, while their leader, George W. Bush, appoints minorities to cabinet posts and screams “democracy for all” from the mountain-top, Texas Republicans continue their disservice to our state by choosing political maneuverings over people.

Stand up and be heard. Join us, along with LULAC, the NAACP, MALDEF, Advocacy, Inc., Texas AFL-CIO and Common Cause in opposing this bill.

Call, write or email the House Committe on Elections and Betty Brown (who failed to answer questions regarding the Lege’s own votes).


Texas Monthly article: Grand Opportunity Party

Filed under: — kevin @ 10:26 am

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Via Quorum Report :

The Republicans and George W. Bush won a record share of the Hispanic vote in November—and that ought to scare the Democrats to death

THE CRITICAL BATTLE FOR THE HISPANIC VOTE, and all it portends for Texas and for America in the years to come, has its roots in a meeting at the Capitol in the fall of 1998. Karl Rove, the political adviser to then-governor George W. Bush, summoned Lionel Sosa, the head of a San Antonio advertising agency that specialized in marketing to Hispanics, to talk about how Bush’s reelection campaign could generate a big Hispanic turnout. Rove was already thinking ahead to a presidential race in 2000, and he saw an opportunity to prove to Republicans outside Texas that Bush had the ability to win over a traditionally Democratic constituency. The meeting was scheduled for one hour. It lasted three. Bush had three goals. First, he wanted the highest percentage of the Hispanic vote of any Republican candidate in Texas history. Second, he wanted his message to be emotional and bilingual—“un nuevo día,” “a new day.” Last, he wanted the campaign to be a road map for Republicans, starting with himself, to effectively target Hispanic voters in the future.”

If anyone has any doubts about the Republican Party’s long term goals and their ability to carry them out, just read this article. When you are done, join us in helping organize Latinos for Texas, a grassroots political group dedicated to the political participation and broad prosperity of all Hispanics in Texas.


Paper trails, ex-felons allowed, and a Nat’l Holiday: Oh My!

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:44 am

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This is a great idea, but we will need to contact our Reps and apply some pressure. A contact list of your reps is available at


Some good news on electoral reform: Today Senators Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, working together with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, introduced the Count Every Vote Act, a bill that proposes several necessary improvements to the way Americans conduct democracy. Among other things, the legislation would require that all electronic voting machines print paper ballots; that ex-felons be allowed to vote; and that Election Day be made a federal holiday, so people don’t have to worry about the consequences of being away from work while waiting in a line at the polls. The law, Boxer said in a press conference, “is meant to ensure [that] the election debacle of 2000, and the serious election irregularities of 2004, never ever happen again.”

It’s a helpful start. But election reform is a notoriously tricky thing to get through Congress (people who’ve already won aren’t fans of changing the rules of the game), and, like reform proposals of years past, the Democrats’ effort will go nowhere unless it garners the blessing of some Republicans (we mean you, John McCain!) and broad public support. In other words, to all the folks who insisted, last November, that Bush stole the election, we say: Call your representative and push for this bill.

– Farhad Manjoo


Raymond (D-Laredo) to run for U.S. Congress

Filed under: — kevin @ 10:13 am

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Via Quorum Report’s Border Buzz:

A South Texas lawmaker says fellow Mexican American Legislative Caucus member Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) is running for Congress.

Rep. Aaron Peña (D-Edinburg) made the claim in his daily “Capitol Blog,” saying he had some juicy, behind-the-scenes news.

“Richard Raymond is running for Congress,” Peña wrote Wednesday. “Richard will be challenging Henry Cuellar for the Laredo/San Antonio seat, CD 28. No, Richard has not announced but you can trust me on this one.”

Peña is right. Raymond has not officially announced he is running, though Border Buzz understands he has been holding meetings with community leaders in the rural counties of CD 28 in recent days.

Peña is the first state legislator to start a “blog.” It can be found at”

We should follow this race and see how we can be involved, no?

Hispanic caucus flunks House education plan

Filed under: — kevin @ 9:35 am

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Via Austin American Statesman :

“Texas House leaders’ plan to reform the state’s education system is unfair and inadequate, members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus said Wednesday.

About 35 members of the House, almost all of them Democrats, gathered to denounce the bill in the loudest statement of opposition since Republicans filed it two weeks ago.

“What we’re really doing is in essence rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and really not making any substantive changes or substantive improvements in our education system,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, the caucus chairman.”

Even our man Eddie Rodriguez weighs in: “It’s disingenuous to say we’re going to get more money when, in fact, we’re just going to go back to zero,” said Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin.”

Muchas gracias, by the way, to Rep. Rodriguez for speaking to us about his income tax proposal, a long-term method to invest in high-quality education for all Texans, on Wednesday night.


Defend New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman

Filed under: — kevin @ 1:53 pm

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Via dailykos :
“New Mexico Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman voted against the Alberto Gonzales (R-Torture) nomination despite a sizable hispanic population in his home state, a looming campaign in ‘06 and the general competitiveness of New Mexico.

Now he is being targetted for having a conscience.”

As poster AmericanRenaissance says, “Nothing infuriates me more than the racist tactic being employed by the Republicans to label opposition to Gonzales as anti-Latino. The tactic itself is racist. It assumes that Latinos will support any other Latino, even if he endorses torture. This condescending racist attitude would paint Latinos as basically immoral and uncaring as to the issue of torture. The reverse is true. Latinos understand what the torture issue is and what it means.

Senator Bingaman deserves our full support against this Republican smear. So do Latinos.”

Sí señor! This will be the Republican argument for Condi Rice in 2008 and we need to work hard to nip it in the bud when extremists play the race card in their quest to pull support from the Democratic side by promoting people of color.


Bob Menendez on SS privatization

Filed under: — kevin @ 8:55 am

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Here is a great post via latino pundit on Hispanic Caucus chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on SS. They link to an article that says:

In an op-ed published in a Spanish-language newspaper, Democrat Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez of New Jersey wrote, “A nation that wants to take away the retirement money of its seniors to give it away to large corporations on ‘Wall Street’ is not a nation of justice.”

Menendez said Democrats “continue fighting…to protect today’s seniors and future retirees from a scheme that threatens Social Security and puts it at risk in the stock market.”

He said Democrats would stop President Bush “from playing the lottery with our grandparents’ retirement money.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee said Menendez’ comments show why Democrats are struggling to connect with Hispanic voters.

I’d say that whenever the Republicans get shrill like this, they know they are on weak ground. Adelante, Bob!

Texas Reps against privatization!

Filed under: — kevin @ 8:15 am

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A local response against Bush’s privatization scheme, via Quorum Report :

“Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) has filed legislation to focus taxpayers’ attention on the Bush Administration’s plan to put a portion of Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Raymond said more than thirty Texas state representatives have expressed their support for HCR 54 which asks Congress not to privatize Social Security. Raymond expects to add additional co-sponsors next week.”


Texas Religious Leaders Tell President, Congress: The Only Mandate that Matters is God’s

Filed under: — kevin @ 11:46 am

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From Texas Impact :

Texas Religious Leaders Tell President, Congress: The Only Mandate that Matters is God’s

Statement Signed by More Than 1,000 Leaders Nationwide Reflects Consensus that Protecting God’s Creation is a Moral Issue, Denounces Clear Skies Initiative as Moral Violation and Calls for Action on Climate Change
AUSTIN — With the Kyoto Protocol set to go into effect without U.S. support this week at the same time that the Administration’s “Clear Skies Initiative” is scheduled for markup in Congress, Texas religious leaders are joining colleagues nationwide to tell the Bush administration and members of Congress that the only “mandate” that matters is God’s.
In a statement released today, clergy from across Texas expressed alarm at the Administration’s erosion of protection for God’s creation. Religious leaders oppose the Clear Skies initiative and proposals to weaken the Endangered Species Act, and are calling on the Administration to take action on climate change.

The statement was released by Texas Impact, a statewide interfaith network that works with clergy and congregations on air quality and other issues.”

UFW Co Founder to visit STC!

Filed under: — Zemi @ 3:15 am

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Dolores Huerta is going to be at STC in McAllen on Friday February 25. She worked side by side with Cesar Chavez in the founding of the United Farm Workers. She is 73 years old and is as much an activist today as she was 50 years ago.

She is scheduled to give a presentation. If you have the Sunday, February 13 issue of the Monitor, the article is in either Valley Life or Valley and State page 11 or 13. Further information will be posted soon.


City Elections Kicking Off

Filed under: — Zemi @ 2:57 am

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Elections are starting up in Hidalgo County. School board elections in Edinburg and the Mayors race in McAllen are definitely kicking into high gear.

On February 9, 2005 I attended the Godinez for mayor event at the Holidome. It was really good.

Do you have any comments on any upcoming elections? If so let me know we can follow them together.


Texas, Latinos, 2004

Filed under: — kevin @ 5:05 pm

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The state Democratic party has a three-way fight going on, according to the academic experts here.

This fight is between:
-executive leadership
-Tejano Democrats
-Mexican American Democrats

Kerry won w/ a 17-pt. lead in the Valley when the local Democrats got only $17,000 for this effort.

Catholic church leaders told parishioners that voting for Kerry would take them to hell.

The GOP can afford to lose races when they back Republican Latinos (like Dogget’s opponent, etc) because it is part of their long-term strategy to raise name recognition and party identification. It’s like fertilizing the ground for future harvests.

Why are we failing to plan ahead and fertilize our own ground?

Latinos really do vote issues (more than would be expected from their education levels, etc) and on most economic issues they are with Democrats.

The problem is, many of the most important issues for voters were social: (1) abortion, (2) gay marriage, (3) faith-based initiatives.

At UT 2004 Latinos conference…

Filed under: — kevin @ 3:22 pm

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Lila and I are here at the Law School. The panelists are moving through the states, one-by-one. Texas is later this afternoon. We’ll check back in in a moment. Re: Florida, until Castro dies, GOP will have a lock on the Cuban-American support (the majority of the Latino pop.).

So do progressives give up on Florida? (No democrat has won a state seat since 1984!)


update: New Jersey is not a swing state. It won’t be as close as it was in 2004 in the future.


2004 Latino Elections, Womans Suffrage, ‘knowledge capitalization’, and religion, democracy

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Great Stuff At UT Austin:

Two-day conference examines 2004 Latino elections

Leading Latino politics and education experts from around the country discuss the issues and accomplishments of Latino voters in the 2004 elections during a two-day conference from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday. Today’s sessions are in the Francis Auditorium and Saturday’s sessions are in the Eidman Courtroom, both in the School of Law. All sessions are open to the public.

Lecture focuses on ‘Partisan Politics of Woman Suffrage’

Corrine McConnaughy, assistant professor in Government, discusses, “From the Outside In: Gender, Race and the Partisan Politics of Woman Suffrage” at noon in the Gebauer Building, Room 4.200C. The lecture, sponsored by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, is free and open to the public.

Visiting professor discusses ‘knowledge capitalization’

Professor Elisa Cobas Flores, Tecnologico de Monterrey, presents “New Venture Creation: The Challenge for Knowledge Capitalization” at noon in the College of Business Administration Building, Room 3.304. Flores specializes in economic-environmental analysis and the service life of products. Seating is limited. RSVP to

Political theory workshop investigates religion, democracy

J. Judd Owen, assistant professor of political science at Emory University, discusses “Is Devout Religion Good for Democracy? The Enlightenment’s Ambiguous Legacy” at noon in the Gebauer Building, Room 3.312. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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