I was floored when I learned Friday morning that my old pal Lori Rodriguez was no longer with us. She had not been reporting or writing the last few years and had taken a medical leave of sorts from the Chron. She was a true pioneer in H-Town journalism, that’s for sure. She was the reporter that most covered the emergence of the H-Town Latino political and civic community. When somebody ever gets around to writing the history of local Latino politics, Lori’s articles will be a big time source and reference.
I don’t even remember when I first met Lori but I will always remember her professionalism and passion for her work. Having covered and followed the Latino community for most of her career, of all the media members I’ve met, she knew our politics and our players the BEST. We had a very good working relationship that was based on trust and respect. In our numerous conversations throughout the past few decades, she never hesitated to let me know who was genuine, who was full of BS, a wannabe, or a fake.
Later in her career she told me on an occasion or two or three that every now and then she would a get a call from some Latino leaders complaining that she quoted me too often in her articles and columns. She would tell me that she would blow off those phone calls by telling the complainers that I could always be counted on the be honest, candid and not play games. I never told Lori that her telling me that made me feel that she had awarded me a special badge of honor.
Lori always defended her work. On that rare instance where I would call her and challenge a part of her article she wouldn’t hesitate to get in my face and that would sometimes lead to heated exchanges. But we would be OK with each other after a couple of hours of cooling off.
A few years or so ago, I kind of paid a little tribute to Lori when I was asked to be part of a panel on dealing with the media. My presentation was titled “Never lie to Lori …she’s a player too.” She gave me permission to use her name and articles for my presentation. During my presentation I explained who she was and that her coverage helped shape the local Latino political landscape. I said then that if there is a perceived split within the local Latino leadership it is because Lori said so and that the split would be over when Lori got around to saying it was over. I also said that Lori pi__es off folks and in dealing with her be honest and careful and never try to threaten, intimidate, or even get mad, and don’t ever try to go over her head and talk to her bosses. It won’t work and will only pi__ Lori off.
Even though I was often a source for Lori on numerous stories, she never cut me, my clients, or my work any slack. About 12 years ago, in a kind of high profile local race I put together a mail piece going after a candidate and calling him a “traitor”, “hot head”, “mentiroso”, and “vendido.” Lori did a story on the mailer and it landed on the front page of the Chron. I think that’s the only time the Chron has put a story about a campaign mail piece on the front page. That certainly wasn’t my best campaign moment. It turns out about three years later the candidate that I went after did end up selling out by switching from a Dem to the GOP.
Lori didn’t promote our politics, she just covered them. Her coverage however created a greater awareness of our community and for that I thank her. Many local Latino leaders have and will in the coming days pay tribute to Lori. If Lori had not left us so soon and was still covering our community, this being an election year she would probably be getting ready to write one of those mega articles she was known for this time analyzing why the local Latino vote is still sitting on the bench and indirectly chastising all of us including those that our paying tribute to her today for not doing a better job with our politics. That’s the story that Lori liked to write.
I have a lot of favorite Lori moments but one of the most memorable was totally unrelated to our work. We were at The Yard together when it first opened in 2000 and I was able to snatch a foul ball and gave it to her. She was wearing a ‘Stros lid and had this “you did the right thing by giving me the foul ball” look.
Here is what CM James Rodriguez told the Chron about Lori:
"There were not many Latinas covering politics for major newspapers. She was a very aggressive, fair and balanced reporter who took the time to develop relationships in this city and cover the growing number of Latino politicians and elected officials."
Commentary has nothing but praise for Kathy Miller and her Texas Freedom Network (TFN) crew for putting together a couple of outstanding and informative workshops this past weekend at the Lone Star State Dem Convention. On Friday they put on “Not Your Parents Progressive Movement: Training & Tactics for Youth Activists”. Saturday morning it was SRO for “Ignorance Is not a Texas Value: Electing a Smarter State Board of Education.” Way to go, TFN!
MLB watchers know that ‘Stro Jose Altuve leads all MLB second basemen in batting average – .326. Who is numero 2 among second basemen?
Traci Jensen, Democratic nominee for State Board of Education, District 6 made the rounds at the convention this past weekend and received a lot of encouragement and offers of assistance. Stay tuned!
Bonus: Who leads the MLB in dingers this season among shortstops?
Here is an AP story on the 2012 Latino vote. This is how it starts:
The nation’s rapidly growing Latino population is one of the most powerful forces working in President Barack Obama‘s favor in many of the states that will determine his contest with Mitt Romney. But Latinos are not registering or voting in numbers that fully reflect their potential strength, leaving Hispanic leaders frustrated and Democrats worried as they increase efforts to rally Latinos.
Interviews with Latino voters across the country suggested a range of reasons for what has become, over a decade, an entrenched pattern of nonparticipation, including a distrust of government and a fear of what many see as an intimidating effort by law enforcement and political leaders to crack down on immigrants, legal or not.
Commentary got some AP run this past weekend on The President’s campaign ads directed at Latinos. Check this:
"It makes sense for Obama to run nice ads in Spanish that only Latinos watch. It’s a way of saying, ‘We’re the candidate and the party that respect you,’" said Marc Campos, a Texas-based Democratic strategist who produces campaign commercials targeting Hispanics. "When they see positive, feel-good ads in their native language it reinforces the notion that this administration is working on their behalf."
"Latinos were bashed during the primary, especially on immigration," Campos said. "They don’t live in a vacuum. They’ve heard what Romney has to say."
I’m not going to comment on that silly tweaking of the Lone Star State GOP Platform plank on immigration because it is more of a PR gimmick than serious public policy discussion.
Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano of course is numero 2 among second basemen with a .296 batting average.
‘Stro shortstop Jed Lowrie of course leads all MLB shortstops with 12 dingers this season.
If this keeps up I wonder if Altuve and Lowrie will be All Star game bound.
The ‘Stros finally won their first road series of the season yesterday and take the day off today.