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Archive for July 20th, 2009

Commentary goofed up big time last Friday by not wishing a big happy birthday to The Lovely Wendy and by the way, she is looking lovelier everyday now. I just forgot. She turned 30 – wow! So Happy Birthday Last Friday The Lovely Wendy – sorry!

The Lovely Wendy was sitting on the front row at Saturday’s Houston Area Latino Summit Mayoral Debate taking down notes. She was one of about 200 folks that showed up. The debate itself lasted a shade under two hours.

The assembled panel of Latino activists (5) that were uncommitted in the mayor’s race scored it Gene Locke 79.6 out of a possible 100, Annise Parker 71.2, Peter Brown 64, and Roy Morales 51.6. Of course, it really doesn’t matter since there was nothing scientific about picking the panel. They were just folks that haven’t made up their mind in the mayor’s race. We added the panel just to give the debate a little something extra like salsa so to speak.

Two Cents and Bay Area Houston had some good takes on the debate.

Check them out: http://doscentavos.net/ and http://www.bayareahouston.blogspot.com/.

The Chron also ran a piece on the debate. Check it out.

Minerva Perez gets high marks for how she moved it along and got in all the prepared questions. What a pro!

H-Town CM James Rodriguez also gets high marks for getting it and providing much needed leadership. He’s utilizing his position and reputation to get Latino leaders and activists all under one roof to get focused on the important issues. He is certainly one of the most astute political players in these parts.

Here’s a quote from James Saturday that kind of set the tone: “The individual that wins the mayoral race this year will in all likelihood be our leader for the next six years. During their first term, it is highly probable that the U.S. Census will announce the City of Houston is 50% or better Latino so the next mayor will be leading a city whose largest population group is Latino so they better have a clear understanding of our concerns and who we are.”

Now let me say that I think all the candidates need and are actively going after the Latino vote. We will just find out who puts in the resources to win it.

Here are a few of Commentary’s observations on their responses to some of the questions.

Question #1 – “¿Quien Habla Español?”

I have to say advantage Peter for at least stringing together a response.

Question #3 – “According to the latest US Census estimate, the City of Houston is close to 45% Latino however, there are only 4 Latino department heads out of 24 departments or 16% of city department heads. Do you think that’s appropriate? If not, what are your plans to correct this?”

Peter, Annise and Roy all said city government should reflect the city’s diversity, so if any of them win, we’re going to demand 50% of the department heads. Gene said that when he looks at top job applicants, Latino resumes will be among those in the final round. Of course, it doesn’t do us any good if we’re runner up 24 times. He needs a better response.

Question #6 – “If elected Mayor, which Latinos not currently serving on city council will be among your circle of close advisors? Who is your ranking Latino campaign advisor or advisors? Please name names.”

Roy, Peter, and Annise all threw out a couple of names. Gene put out a bigger list, of course one or two of those on his list I wouldn’t want near the city government throttles.

Question #10 – “All of you have touched on your involvement in the local Latino community. On the sheet of paper in front of you can you write down 3 local Latino non-profits?”

This question was put in to see what they know and they all know something. Good for them!

Question # 11 – “What processes and policies will you implement that will allow Latino professionals and business owners to increase their share of City of Houston contracts?”

They all gave the standard responses that they are supporters on making sure Latinos get more contracts, blah, blah, blah. I would have said something like “As mayor, I am going to meet every few months with Latino business and professional groups to see how we’re doing and how we can improve. Latino businesses are among the fastest growing in the region and they need to be full business partners with City Hall.”

Question # 12- asked by Maria Jimenez., well actually she had a different version than this one – “In recent weeks there has been extensive coverage in the Houston Chronicle about the Houston Police Department getting into the immigration enforcement business and becoming a defacto arm of ICE. The implementation of 287G is a testament to this. Many Latinos believe that implementation of 287G will lead to police officers on patrol beginning to inquire about immigration status when they pull someone over on a traffic violation. As you well know, they will only ask someone that looks like me. Many in the Latino community consider this unnecessary and believe it will result in immigrants not coming forward to report criminal activity and also scare immigrants away from participating in the 2010 census. What is your position and what will you commit to?”

Roy went south on this one. The others kind of wanted to review which translates into let me see what the police union does on their endorsement. On this issue there is a definite disconnect between the candidates and the Latino community.

Question #14 – asked by Commentary. “After the 2010 Census, the City of Houston could be looking at a population that is 50% Latino, however, we currently only hold 2 out of 14 council positions. On the issue of redistricting, historically the Latino community has had to put up legal and political challenges against various local governments including the City of Houston in the fight for political representation. As you well know, we will be adding two new council seats in 2011. The way it typically works is the Mayor sets out on redistricting process with the philosophy of protecting the nine district council members first, which can be problematic because council members look to survive first rather than do what is right like Ben Reyes did in the 90s when he gave up half of Denver Harbor to District H in order for a Latino to be elected. If elected Mayor will you commit today to work hand in hand with Latino leaders for more Latino political representation opportunities on council during the 2011 redistricting process by giving us a seat at the table and letting us help you pick your experts, consultants, and attorneys instead of having half the population shut out of the process that ends up fighting you and taking you to court?”

They all said they supported increasing Latino political representation, however, Gene probably understood more where I was coming from on the question though because as a lawyer, he has worked with various governmental entities on redistricting.

Question #21 – “Cities across the country are preparing for next year’s 2010 Census by forming advisory committees to engage the community to make sure everyone is counted. As you well know, Latinos are the most undercounted community. The city has budgeted $500,000 for a Census awareness campaign. Compared to other major cities some are saying that this is not enough money and could once again lead to under counting the city’s largest population group. If elected Mayor, would you increase this amount when you first take office?”

None would commit to increasing funding so they all blew it on this one. The city budgeted $500,000 for the effort ten years ago. Since then, the Latino population has grown so it kind of makes sense to at least triple what was spent ten years ago. The census is serious business – heck, it is in the Constitution. They don’t give Mulligans when it comes to counting. If we don’t get it right this time, we have to wait another ten years. It is pretty obvious that the candidates and their campaign staff haven’t thought this one through.

Question #22 – “There is debate going on in the East End on the rail line about the construction of an underpass or overpass on Harrisburg. Experts say an underpass would cost too much. What is your position and how would you pay for it?”

Annise responded by taking a shot at METRO’s credibility. Peter threw out a slogan – something like it ain’t over til it’s under. Both kind of pandered to the overpass opposition. Gene’s response was the most thoughtful.

All in all, I think it went well if I don’t mind saying.  Thanks to CMs Michael Sullivan and Jolanda Jones for showing support and sticking through the entire debate.  Stay tuned!

The ‘Stros easily could have swept the four games in LA this past weekend but an ump blew a call Saturday night and Mike Hampton was upset at a bad pitch and in anger threw the ball into his mitt and missed letting a run score – huh. Yesterday, reliever Alberto Arias missed an easy toss at first and and lost the handle to the ball after a grounder to him and that was enough for us to lose – drats! So now Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa and the Cards come in for three and the first 10,000 fans tonight get Lunar Lids to commemorate the moon landing 40 years ago today.

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