My old friend Richard Moya left us yesterday. Here is from the Statesman:
Richard Moya, political trailblazer and the first Mexican-American elected to public office in Travis County, died early Thursday after a battle with prostate cancer at age 84.
Moya, a Democrat, rode the first wave of successful Hispanic political activism in the county when he was elected to the Travis County Commissioners Court in 1970.
Former Austin Mayor Gus Garcia said that Moya was a brilliant politician in Austin, maybe the best in Travis County.
“Knowledgeable, astute, street smart,” Garcia said. “These are just but a few of the characteristics that describe Richard Moya.”
Politics runs in the family. His daughter, Lori Moya, served on the Austin school board from 2006 to 2014.
“He meant the world to me,” she said. “He was my best friend. He was my mentor. He was my coach. He was my conscience. He was my sports buddy.”
Moya was elected commissioner for the precinct representing the heavily Hispanic district in the southeastern portion of the county, where there were large pockets of poverty. His path was cleared when parts of East Austin north of the river were redistricted into Precinct 4.
He credited his election to the galvanizing effect on the Hispanic community of 252 workers who walked off their jobs in 1968 at the Economy Furniture factory, demanding better pay, benefits and workers’ rights. After winning union recognition in court, the strikers and an emerging coalition of Mexican-American organizations helped Moya get elected.
“The strikers walked the picket line, then came back to help my campaign,” Moya recalled at age 82. “A week before the election, John Treviño got six kids to run my campaign for nothing. But we really needed $1,200 for radio ads. I’d already borrowed money from my dad, so I talked to the strikers. They got $21 a week on the picket line. When they got paid, they gave me their checks.”
“He really appreciated what they sacrificed for him,” Lori Moya said. “And what it meant to his election.”
Other Latinos would soon follow Moya into office. Garcia was elected to the Austin school board, and state Rep. Gonzalo Barrientos (later state senator), a confidant of Moya’s, was elected to the Legislature, where he would serve until 2006.
Along with Austin City Council Member John Treviño, Moya was known in the 1970s as part of the “Brown Machine,” according to Garcia. It was also the nickname of Moya’s printing press, which saw a lot of political action.
Moya worked hard to reform welfare and hiring programs at the county. He pushed to add a child abuse unit to the district attorney’s office and to improve emergency services, rural transportation, mental health services and road maintenance.
After his first bruising election, Moya went on to win three more terms, leaving office in 1986. Moya summed up his old-fashioned political sense as: “If you can’t get the whole thing, take what you can get.”
He later served as deputy chief of staff under Gov. Ann Richards, then branched out, mostly into business ventures.
I actually met Richard in the 60s during my fast-pitch softball days. Richard was the manager of the old Austin Pan American Aces.
Richard was a key player in the empowerment of Latinos statewide. In politics, we worked closely on founding and creating the Mexican American Democrats (MAD) of Texas. He was a pioneer in getting Latinos organized and recognized within the Texas Democratic Party.
Commentary served as MAD Chair from 1979-1981. Richard succeeded me and served as Chair from 1981-1983. He also presided over one of the most tumultuous MAD meetings ever in 1983 held in Austin – a doozy.
In 1982, after Mark White was selected as the Democrat’s nominee for Governor, Richard campaigned throughout the state for White and other statewide candidates. The following year, Governor White named Richard to serve as Vice-Chair of the entity that implemented the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).
Commissioner Richard Moya was a force in Austin, Travis County and the state of Texas. He was one of the best and greats of our politics. He will be missed but not forgotten.
Commentary said this yesterday:
If some folks think H-Town pension reform is going to happen if only the Mayor, city council, and the employee groups make a deal and that is all – go for it.
Here is from today’s Chron:
A state lawmaker carrying Houston’s pension reform bill says her version of the proposal will require a public referendum on a $1 billion cash infusion central to the negotiations, an idea Mayor Sylvester Turner called a “poison pill” that could derail the reforms and force “massive” layoffs.
The requirement that voters have a say on the $1 billion in pension obligation bonds is the brainchild of Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. Fellow Houston Republican Sen. Joan Huffman, who is carrying the reforms in the higher chamber, said she understands the mayor’s frustration but said her bill – which still is being drafted – will not pass without the provision.
“It is a billion-dollar bond, and though it’s not new debt – it’s debt that the city owes to both the police pension fund and to the municipal pension fund – I can understand how the voters would want to have a voice in the issuance of the bonds,” Huffman said. “To get it out of the Senate, it’s a necessary addition to the bill.”
“That is a poison pill, and you are saying you want this deal killed – and it will kill this deal,” Turner said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “If that’s the course that the Legislature chooses to take, then the Legislature must also say to people in this city – to businesses and property owners – ‘We are assuming responsibility because the state can do it better.'”
Turner also sought to spell out the consequences if the reforms fail: still-rising pension debts, an additional $134 million added to an already sizable deficit in the coming budget, and “massive layoffs” touching every city department.
Police union leader Joe Gamaldi noted Turner’s warning in accusing Bettencourt of trying to torpedo the deal to better position his friend and 2015 mayoral runner-up, pension hawk Bill King, to again challenge Turner.
“While Sen. Bettencourt and Bill King play political games,” Gamaldi said, “the safety of our city and of everyday Houstonians hangs in the balance.”
Commentary also said this yesterday:
I guess it is too much to ask if all the parties got into a room and tried to work something out on this very important piece of public policy. We don’t need a stand-off so to speak. As far as “if they kill it, they own it”, I really don’t think that is how it works.
If Donald Trump hates fake news, why he does spend so much time consuming it? Yesterday’s rant on national TV was a response to the media covering his first 26 days in office.
And then this tweet from this morning:
BREAKING: Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups http://abc13.com/1759618/
I am thinking that is not why folks signed up for the Guard.
2018 could be a record turnout year for the Latino vote.
The fake news stuff hit home – sort of, yesterday. My good friend Anna Eastman’s mug got some buzzfeed.com run. You need to check out the story here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/hollywood-funded-fake-local-news-and-this-real-local-newspap?utm_term=.jblQxJD3r#.xq5pPjJ8G.
I can believe it these days.
There is no MLB today.