Gallegos to run for I

The Chronicle has updated their article on the District I candidates to include one more: Robert Gallegos. Gallegos is the President of a local civil club, but other than that he has not made much news. He was mentioned in an article from Kuff back in 2009 about his opposition to a Metrorail overpass, but has not made much of a mark sense. The article mentions that he works for the Sheriff’s Department.

I do not have any idea what Mr Gallegos’s political persuasion is, but I would still guess Garces has the advantage with the incumbent Councilmember’s endorsement.

In re Fisher

My take on Affirmative Action, from my day-job at The Justice:

This past week was the 50th anniversary of integration at my hometown’s college, the University of Houston.

The college has seen a dramatic transition and is now the third most racially and ethnically diverse college in the nation, according to the U.S. News and World Report. This reversal is most likely the result of both changing demographics and affirmative action.

On the other hand, the diversity at the University of Texas is less likely to be attributed just to changing demographics: Since integration, the proportion of African-American students has risen to 20 percent, and the proportion of Latino students has risen to nearly 21 percent.

This blossoming of diversity is newly found in the South, finally taking part in the progressive tenants of the 20th century. However, these programs now face new challenges from our judicial system.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, in what will, most likely, be a landmark Supreme Court decision. It  could outlaw all affirmative action programs used at public universities.

The Supreme Court is likely to strike down all affirmative action programs, as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the swing vote who saved the programs 10 years ago, is no longer on the court.

There is no doubt in my mind that affirmative action has tremendously changed this country for the better.

In my “Social and Political Philosophy: Democracy and Disobedience” course, Prof.Andreas Teuber (PHIL) mentioned that President Johnson once stated that affirmative action was necessary because students overcoming poverty and racism could not be accurately measured against those who did not have to face the same difficulties.

Johnson compared a person helped by affirmative action to a person who “has been hobbled by chains, and then when liberated, brought to the starting line of a race and told, ‘You are free to compete with all the others.’”

Indeed, the harshest critics of affirmative action today, in their blind hatred of anyone given the slightest push in college admissions, underscore why affirmative action is needed in the first place.

All too often, those who oppose affirmative action lay out the same story: The sad rich white kid was denied entrance into a prestigious university, as he may feel is his birthright.

Each of the plaintiffs of affirmative action court cases have sued institutions of higher learning after they were denied admission. These people assumed that the sole reason for their rejection was because they were white. 

Additionally, most detractors seem to fundamentally misunderstand how affirmative action programs function today.

While originally, universities may have had quota systems, these actions have been illegal for 34 years since the Supreme Court case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Under current precedents and universities’ rules, race may only be considered a part of the larger picture in admissions decisions.

In reality, several other factors are considered during the college admissions process aside from grade point average, leadership and extracurricular positions. Personality (that is one of the reasons there is often an interview), background and profile are some of the additional factors.

Affirmative action’s opponents may not understand that wealth, familial connections and a stable home life have tremendous influence on a student’s grades throughout high school.

In 2010, Harvard University published an article alleging that the SAT was biased toward white people, citing cultural differences in the verbal section. Additionally, a 2009 study published by The New York Times showed an average difference in score of about 375 points between the lowest and highest income groups, most likely as a result of the ability to purchase preparation materials and tutoring.

Rather, the opponents of affirmative action should look at the positive effects of fostering diversity within the community. An article from The New York Times from this past Friday claimed that ending such programs, “would reduce the number of black students by about 60 percent, and the number of Hispanic students by about one-third, at selective private schools.”

Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio, who delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, is another example of the positive attributes of affirmative action. While Castro had always stood out among his friends and family for being intelligent, he could not overcome the institutional bias of standardized testing.

According to a New York Times article from a few years ago, Mayor Castro’s SAT score was 1210 out of a maximum of 1600, well below the mean score for Stanford University.

He attributed his acceptance to Stanford to its affirmative action program. Granted, Castro boasted a stellar grade point average, but affirmative action was most likely at least partially responsible for his acceptance. It is worth noting that without any further help, he excelled at Stanford, was elected to the university’s student senate, and gained admission to Harvard Law School, this time in the median range of incoming students.

Nevertheless, opponents of the program find that any such boost is unfair. Conservative organizations and blogs such as Breitbart, Drudge Report, and The Washington Times have given Castro the pejorative, if not racist, title of “affirmative action boy” or “Mayor affirmative action.”
Such hatred underscores why the program is still needed today, just as it has been needed in the past.

I am sure there are many more like Castro whose stories have yet to be written. If our nation’s Supreme Court justices overturn the 30 years of precedent to outlaw affirmative action in public institutions, their stories may never be written.

New Contributor

I have had some reflection over the weekend and have decided something: I am going to move Texpatriate in a bit of a different direction. Before, I wanted to have a Houston Progressive blog, like the dozens of other ones. However, I have decided to make Texpatriate a tad more diverse. I am welcoming an old City Hall buddy of mine, Andrew Romo, as a Contributing Writer.

Andy is a fellow Texpatriate, sojourning in New Orleans. Andy was a moderate in High School, but I think he has taken a slight turn to the left since starting College. However, he is probably more professional than I and writes from a non-partisan point of view rather than my unabashedly liberal point of view. He has some very interesting perspectives that I hope he can share with everyone soon.

District I starts up

I am so surprised that I seem to be the first Houston blogger to break this, but here it goes:

The Chronicle is reporting two candidates for Councilmember James Rodriguez’s seat: Graciana Garces and Leticia Ablaza. Garces is Rodriguez’s chief of staff and I presume the heavy favorite at this point. Ablaza used to work for Councilmember Helena Brown and was insinuated by the Chronicle to have worked for a member of the Texas Supreme Court’s re-election campaign (in the GOP primary, of course {he lost, for the record}).

The Chronicle wrote heavily upon comparing Garces with Rodriguez when he first ran in 2007. Rodriguez was his predecessor’s, Carol Alvarado, Chief of Staff as well. Rodriguez faced no stiff opposition in 2007 and was elected without a run-off, as I recall. Additionally, Ablaza looks like a pretty conservative candidate, I cannot imagine much support in the liberal district.

I can’t find a website for either of these two yet.

Cheerleaders and Bible Verses

I tend to try to report the political news, and not the sensationalist news, but given that BOR had only been covering this story for the last few days, I might as well give my take.

From what I understand, these High School cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas (Hardin County, between Liberty and Jefferson) printed Bible verses on their signs before Football Games. Any person above the age of 12 with average intelligence should be able to understand why this is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. This separation of the Church and the State, this iron wall between the two, has been applied to the States and Municipalities through the effect of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Again, they teach this stuff in the ninth grade.

The major critique of Governor Perry, Attorney General Abbott, and district judge Steve Thomas (who just yesterday extended an injunction allowing the use of the signs) is that the School District’s ban on the signs restrict religious freedom, equating the action with people like Tim Tebow praying during a game or a Baseball player pointing to the heavens after hitting a home run. However, there is a very powerful distinction between an individual and a group.

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (also from Texas) that “student-led, student-initiated prayer at High School football games violate the Establishment Clause”. From here, one must only need to see that religious items (such as written Bible verses) are tantamount to spoken prayer, which the precedent of the Supreme Court has been for fifty years. It is worth nothing that the Santa Fe case was 6-3, with both O’Connor AND Kennedy joining the Liberals, meaning that there is no current threat of the Supreme Court overturning the case.

The logic behinds these cases are that whether it is the Football team, the Student Council, or the Cheerleading squad, there are institutions comprised of students which must espouse the positions of the School, as they are officially representing the school. The issue of the entire Cheerleading team carrying posters quoting the New Testament is very different than something like an individual football player writing “John 3:16” on his eyeblack. One is an individual decision of religious freedom, and the other is a position that reflects the entire school.

I think, though, what truly made me angry about this was reading the summary of the hearing on the subject held yesterday. From the Beaumont Enterprise:

Kountze High School cheerleader Kieara Moffett was the first to testify Thursday, saying Scripture signs were meant to inspire everyone – not just Kountze players. She cried while on the stand, saying she felt her religion wasn’t good enough when she was told she couldn’t use the signs.
This is where I draw my line in the sand and go to war: war in defense of liberty and the constitution. It has always been a pet peeve of mine when Christians have attempted to play the role of persecuted minority. It seems that these radicals feel entitled to “preferential” treatment because they are the biggest religion. Can you imagine the controversy that would arise if a group of Muslim cheerleaders wished to hold signs quoting Koran verses in the original Arabic.
The Government, nor any of its institutions, including Public Schools and their representatives, may not endorse one religion over another, or religion over irreligion. It is not that difficult of a concept. Shame on you, Governor Perry, shame on you, Attorney General Abbott, for wanting to idly stand by and support this injustice.

Endorsements: “Renee’s list”

A friend of mine who attends UT asked for my take on Austin elections. I told her that I “did not even want to get started with that clusterfarkacht about 8-2-1 and 10-1 and what not” However, I drafted up a list of Austin endorsements of Candidates for her,  so I might as well share it with the world.


·         US Representative (25th)—Lloyd Doggett (Democratic)

·         State Board of Education, District 5—Rebecca Bell-Metereau (Democratic)

·         State Senator, District 14—Kirk Watson (Democratic)

·         State Representative, District 49—Elliott Naishtat (Democratic)

·         3rd Court of Appeals, Place 2—J. Andrew Hathcock (Democratic)

·         3rd Court of Appeals, Place 3—Diane Henson (Democratic)

·         3rd Court of Appeals, Place 5—Karen Watkins (Democratic)

·         3rd Court of Appeals, Place 6—Bryan Chase (Democratic)

·         53rd District Court—Scott Jenkins (Democratic)

·         98th District Court—Rhonda Hurley (Democratic)

·         126th District Court—Darlene Byrne (Democratic)

·         167th District Court—David Wahlberg (Democratic)

·         200th District Court—Gisela Triana (Democratic)

·         345th District Court—Stephen Yelenosky (Democratic)

·         353rd District Court—Tim Sulak (Democratic)

·         390th District Court—Julie Kocurek (Democratic)

·         427th District Court—Jim Coronado (Democratic)

·         County Court at Law 8—Carlos Barrera (Democratic)

·         District Attorney—Rosemary Lehmberg (Democratic)

·         County Attorney—David Escamilla (Democratic)

·         Sheriff—Greg Hamilton (Democratic)

·         Tax Collector—Bruce Elfant (Democratic)

·         Constable, Precinct 2—Adam Ballesteros (Democratic)

·         ACC Trustee, Place 7—Barbara Mink

·         ACC Trustee, Place 8—Betty Hwang

·         ACC Trustee, Place 9—Allen Kaplan

·         AISD Trustee, Position 8—Gina Hinojosa

·         AISD Trustee, District 5—Amber Elenz

Endorsements: Master List (Meyerland/Bellaire)

For the Meyerland/Bellaire area at least:
42 Democrats, 8 Republicans, 4 Abstentions, 3 Greens, and 0 Libertarians.

President–Barack Obama (Democratic)
US Senate–Paul Sadler (Democratic)
US House of Representatives (7)–James Cargas (Democratic)
Railroad Commissioner 1–Dale Henry (Democratic)
Railroad Commissioner 2–Josh Wendel (Green)
Supreme Court 2–ABSTAIN
Supreme Court 4–Charles Waterbury (Green)
Supreme Court 6–Michele Petty (Democratic)
Court of Criminal Appeals 1–Keith Hampton (Democratic)
Court of Criminal Appeals 7–ABSTAIN
Court of Criminal Appeals 8–ABSTAIN
State Board of Education (6th)–Traci Jensen (Democratic)
State Senate (17th)–David Courtney (Green)
State Representative (134th)–Ann Johnson (Democratic)
First Court of Appeals 2–Ron Lovett (Democratic)
First Court of Appeals 6–Chuck Silverman (Democratic)
First Court of Appeals 7–Natalia Oaks (Democratic)
First Court of Appeals 8–Nile Copeland (Democratic)
First Court of Appeals 9–Kathy Cheng (Democratic)
Fourteenth Court of Appeals 3–Barbara Gardner (Democratic)
Fourteenth Court of Appeals 4–Jim Wrotenbery (Democratic)
Fourteenth Court of Appeals 5–Tanner Garth (Democratic)
Fourteenth Court of Appeals 6–Bill Boyce (Republican)
Fourteenth Court of Appeals 8–Julia Maldanado (Democratic)
11th District Court–Mike Miller (Democratic)
61st District Court–Al Bennett (Democratic)
80th District Court–Larry Weiman (Democratic)
125th District Court–Kyle Carter (Democratic)
127th District Court–RK Sandhill (Democratic)
129th District Court–Michael Gomez (Democratic)
133rd District Court–Jaclanel MaFarland (Democratic)
151st District Court–Mike Engelhardt (Democratic)
152nd District Court–Robert Schaffer (Democratic)
164th District Court–Alexandra Smoots-Hogan (Democratic)
165th District Court–Josephina Rendon (Democratic)
174th District Court-Ruben Guerrero (Democratic)
176th District Court–Shawna Reagin (Democratic)
177th District Court–Vivian King (Democratic)
178th District Court–David Mendoza (Democratic)
179th District Court–Randy Roll (Democratic)
215th District Court–Ken Shortreed (Republican)
333rd District Court–Ted Halbach (Republican)
334th District Court–Donna Roth (Democratic)
337th District Court–Herb Ritchie (Democratic)
338th District Court–Brock Thomas (Republican)
339th District Court–Maria Jackson (Democratic)
351st District Court–Mark Ellis (Republican)
County Court at Law 1–Erica Graham (Democratic)
County Court at Law 2–Damon Crenshaw (Democratic)
District Attorney–ABSTAIN
County Attorney–Vince Ryan (Democratic)
Sheriff–Adrian Garcia (Democratic)
Tax Collector–Mike Sullivan (Republican)
HCBOE 3–Diane Trautman (Democratic)
County Commissioner (3)–Glorice McPherson (Democratic)
Justice of the Peace (5)–Russ Ridgeway (Republican)
Constable (5)–Phil Camus (Republican)
Prop 1–YES
Prop 2–NO
Prop A–YES
Prop B–YES
Prop C–YES
Prop D–YES
Prop E–YES

Endorsements: Propositions

First and foremost: the METRO Referendum. For reasons I have outlined previous (here), I recommend in the strongest terms I resounding NO.

For the City propositions, I recommend a YES on 1 and NO on 2. Both are probably okay, but the legalistic individual in me is quite dubious of any vague referendums or propositions.

For all of the bonds (A-E), I recommend a YES.

“I am not a Liberal”

My roommate has an alarm that consistently goes off in the early morning, irrespective of whether he gets up or not. The alarm is a song that beginning with the audible word of “Craziness” before descending into a sub-par Chinese song that is unintelligible to me.

Well, that seemed to be what last night’s debate was like. I keenly remember Sadler calling Cruz “crazy” a few times, and then the event drifted into gibberish and pedantic drek. The two did not seem to get to very much policy, which was somewhat disappointing, but traded quite a few ad hominems and other oddly placed insults, jabs, and gibes.

In re the Seinfeld Reference:
In what I cannot overstate enough tarnished my respect for Paul Sadler, he took the bait and took offense to Ted Cruz calling him a “liberal”. This has always reminded me of the Seinfeld scene where Kramer accuses Jerry of being discriminatory against dentists. The fact is that Ted Cruz is simply calling his opponent by his political affiliation. It makes Sadler look quite weak when we runs away from honest labels like a scared, little mutt. If he had any real chutzpah, he would explain what it means to be a Liberal (e.g., have a heart like Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton) and why a Liberal would be good for our state. Instead, he legitimized Cruz’s preposterous insult by simply refuting it on face value.

Kramer: …and you’re an anti-Dentite
Cruz: “I commend my opponent’s courage in running an unapologetically liberal campaign”

Jerry: I am not an anti-Denite!
Sadler: “Do you consider it Liberal to say we have to pay down the national debt?”

Yes, Paul, yes I do find it Liberal to be concerned with our deficits. The last true Liberal we had as President did exactly that, but I digress. With this stupid turn, the Democrats have taken the bait and lost their 9th Senate election in a row in Texas.

Endorsements: Everyone Else

I wrap up my candidate endorsements.

School Board
I endorse the Democrats: Diane Trautman, Siliva Mintz, and Erica Lee. I have thoroughly enjoyed the work that Trustees such as Jim Henley have done to benefit our community. Plus, I think someone mentioned that Roy Morales’s seat (6) was the greatest pickup opportunity for Democrats this election.

County Commissioner 1
I endorse the incumbent, Democrat El Franco Lee. Commissioner Lee has little opposition, and I think he has done a sufficient job in office.

County Commissioner 3
I endorse the Democratic challenger, Glorice McPherson. The astute will remember how I ALMOST ran against Commissioner Radack, so needless to say, I am happy to vote for any sort of competitor. However, I met the Democratic candidate at the State Convention and was pleasantly surprised. I think the Democrats have a strong, commendable candidate. Unfortunately, we have no money to fund these races.

County Commissioner 4
I endorse the incumbent, Republican Jack Cagle. My Kingwood connection tells me that he is truly not as bad as his predecessor.

The JPs seem to all be uncontested races.

Constable 1
I endorse the Democrat, Alan Rosen. I heard quite a few of Rosen’s speeches at the Convention in June and am convinced, quite strongly, that he will be a good constable.

Constable 2
I endorse the Democrat, Chris Diaz.

Constable 3
I endorse the Democrat, Ken Jones.

Constables 4-8 are uncontested. I live in 5, where Camus (R) is running unopposed. I will vote for him, he hasn’t seemed to have done anything especially wrong.