Two days ago, I ran a post on the blog about a letter I got from 295th Harris County District Court primary Candidate Paul Simon. The letter was in Spanish. My guess was that I got the letter because my last name is Aquino. Aquino sounds Hispanic, but in my case is Italian. My feeling is that this assumption I speak Spanish based on my name is a kind of profiling that would not be welcome if practiced by a police officer in a criminal case.
The Texas Democratic Primary is on this upcoming Tuesday.
Mr. Simon saw my post and offered the reply you see below—
Dear Mr. Aquino,
I learned today that you posted a blog about a letter you received from my campaign. I understand that you were offended by it, and for that, I am sincerely sorry. But I also wish to explain to you what I did and why I did it, and if you email me at (xxxxxxx), I will give you a number where you can call me so we can talk in person.
Before beginning, I should note that, about a week ago, I ran into Rick and Melissa Noriega. They also received my letter, and Rick was complimentary of my effort at trying to reach Latino voters, who are obviously a large, but underrepresented, segment of our country, particularly here in Texas.
Now, as for the “what” I did. What you should have received from me in the mail was an English and Spanish translation of my push-card, along with a list of the endorsements I have earned in this primary race, and information about Early Voting and where to go vote. If you only received a document translated into Spanish, that means something went wrong.
As for the “why,” I sent my mailer out because my practice consists mainly of representing Latino families, nearly all of whom are first generation immigrants who do not speak English or who do not speak English well. I decided to run for Judge in large part because of the racial insensitivity some judges have to litigants (like my clients) who sign contracts they do not know how to read after the other party to the contract fails to explain all of the important parts of the contract. In any case, when I asked those of them who regularly voted why they don’t vote the whole ticket, they sole reason I was told was because they don’t know anything about the candidates because they don’t receive anything from us down-ticket candidates in Spanish.
Obviously, one cannot know whether any particular voter is Spanish or English speaking, bilingual or otherwise, based solely on his or her surname, so when I was at a petition signing event on the East Side where I was told there would be a large number of voters who did not speak English (or who preferred to speak in Spanish), I had ready for them an English/Spanish version of my push card. But when it comes to sending out a mass mail piece, I did the best I could, and I am sincerely sorry for offending you.
I hope you will accept my apology and give me a call to talk more.
Paul Simon, for Judge
295th Civil District Court
I appreciate Mr. Simon’s reply and his sincerity. I remain of the view that one cannot make assumptions about people based on a name.
Maybe an issue here is the failure over the years of our local Democratic party here in Harris County to consistently reach out to all possible voters, and the willingness of some office holders in low turnout districts to say nothing about the poor turnout as they cruise to reelection every two or four years. With a stronger infrastructure in place to reach Spanish speaking voters, candidates for down-ticket offices in Harris County would be better able to address these voters at campaign time.
Individual voters can assess this issue for themselves and vote as they will on March 2.
I’m voting for Sylvia Pubchara-Munoz in the Democratic Primary for Harris County Criminal Court at Law #9. A veteran attorney, Ms. Pubchara-Munoz will bring a wide variety of life experience to the bench as she serves our diverse county.
Here is some biography on Ms. Pubchara-Munoz—
“I was seventeen (17) years old when I left Cuba, alone, for the United States. With no money, with only three (3) outfits, including what I was wearing, and no knowledge of the English language, I started my life in Miami, Florida. My jobs, among others, were selling coffee for 5 cents a cup, sorting tomatoes in a farm-camp and making and pressing uniform name labels in a hot laundromat twelve (12) hours a day. My cousin urged me to come to Houston for a better job. I started as a file clerk with the Hartford Insurance Company and worked my way up, going to the University of Houston at night, to become the first woman in Houston, and the second in Texas to hold an underwriting position with the Travelers Insurance Company. While working for Exxon Risk Management as an Insurance Analyst, I went to school at night to earn my law degree. I worked for the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office before opening my own practice twenty two (22) years ago. I am proud to be part of our criminal justice system, which is the finest in the world. My brother was a political prisoner in Cuba and he never had the opportunity to defend himself. Fortunately, I was able to bring my entire family to the United States via Spain, after seventeen (17) years of trying. I look forward to serving as Judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at law #9. I will be fair and just. I will treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of their place of origin, religion, gender, and gender preference. Serving the community is my way of paying back for the opportunity to live in the greatest country in the world. I am a former Assistant District Attorney, for Fort Bend County. I was appointed by the late Governor Ann Richards to a committee to establish prosecutor standards and guidelines. I also have over 23 years experience as an Attorney in private practice exclusively handling criminal cases in bot federal and state courts.”
Here is a picture I took earlier this week of a bird in the Cincinnati airport.
The bird seemed well. It was hopping around on the carpet and nibbling and pecking at crumbs on the floor.
The bird saw me eating a bagel and hopped over hoping I would make some crumbs.
Sometimes the bird would fly over to the potted tree near the door of the smoking lounge in the terminal. It would sit on the tree for a few minutes before coming back to look for some more food.
I think the bird was doing just fine in the airport. It sure was cold outside.
(2/26/10—Blogger’s Note—This the second time for this post—Just as Mr. Miles is looking for another go-round in Austin. I’m running the post again because I think it is an important race. A shift from incumbent Al Edwards to Mr. Miles will offer District 146 representation much more in line with the needs and concerns of the district.)
This is in Texas House District 146. Please click here for a map of this district.
Mr. Miles was at one point seen by many as a promising legislator.
However, during his term in the legislature Mr. Miles went to a party and was alleged to have waived a gun at people attending the party.
(Above–Borris Miles seeming calm and well-composed.)
This alleged gun waiving did not help Mr. Miles at the polls in 2008.
However, we must recall that Mr. Miles was found innocent of charges related to this event.
The man Mr. Miles lost to in 2008 was the same person he defeated in the 2006 Democratic primary to win the seat in the first place –Al Edwards.
Mr. Edwards is awful. His district is quite Democratic, yet he has often aligned himself with the most conservative Republicans in the Texas legislature.
Voters understood this in 2006 when they turned out Mr. Edwards and elected Mr. Miles.
Mr. Miles is a smart man and I think he has changed his course for the better.
Al Edwards is the same man—playing all sides and for himself at all times—that he was when voters tossed him out in 2006.
In the Democratic primary coming up this March 2nd, I ask District 146 voters to please consider giving Mr. Miles another chance.
We all merit a second chance.
Mr. Edwards has had many chances, and each chance he gets he goes to Austin and helps far right-wing Republicans make Texas an even tougher place to live.
Best Resources To Figure Out Who To Vote For In Harris County & In Texas For 2010 Democratic Primary
The Texas Democratic Primary is coming up on March 2, 2009.
Any properly registered voter can vote in the Democratic primary. The only restriction is that you cannot also vote in the Republican primary if you vote in the Democratic primary.
There are many contested races on the ballot in Texas and here in Harris County, Texas.
How should one vote? Nobody knows about all these people running for all these judgeships.
Please take note—The judicial races in Harris County are for the whole county. Though it may say district court on the ballot, the races are countywide.
What are the best resources to learn about the candidates in contested Democratic primaries both in Harris County and statewide?
I am aware of two resources that are best.
Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a spreadsheet with information about the candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This spreadsheet has links to interviews that Mr. Kuffner conducted with most of the candidates, a list of endorsements the candidates have received, and links to the web homes for the candidates.
Another strong resource is the voters guide issued by the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area. This guide, accessible online, has information for both Harris County and Fort Bend County.
Please find some time over the weekend to figure out who to vote for on primary day. There are campaign volunteers, party workers, bloggers and others who spend time on these races because they think it is the right thing to do as citizens. Please make some effort on your part to be a good citizen as well.
I Support Linda Chavez-Thompson For Lt. Governor Of Texas—Why You Should Vote For Ms. Chavez-Thompson
I am voting for Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lieutenant Governor of Texas in the Democratic Primary to be held on March 2.
Early voting is taking place now. Here are facts about early voting in Texas.
The Lieutenant Governor is important in Texas. The Lt. Governor presides over the Texas State Senate. He or she can appoint standing committees and select who will serve on these committees. The Lt. Governor picks committee chairpersons and is the final arbiter of the rules of the Senate. Here is further explanation of the role of the Lt. Governor.
Why do I feel that Linda Chavez-Thompson is the best person for this job?
Here is why—
1. A daughter of immigrant sharecroppers, Ms. Chavez-Thompson has kept faith with working people. Ms. Chavez-Thompson has rooted her professional and political life in concern for others.
From the Chavez-Thompson campaign—
“Linda Chavez-Thompson’s.. story began when she was born in Lorenzo, Texas. At.. ten, she started working for thirty-cents an hour hoeing cotton… In ninth grade, she had to leave school and to go to work full time to support her family. She continued picking cotton in the fall months and cleaning homes…to earn enough money to buy clothes and food for her family…In December 1967, she was hired as a Secretary at the Constitution Laborer’s Union in Lubbock, Texas. Over the next forty years, Chavez-Thompson kept working.. on behalf of working people, fighting to bring fairness and opportunity to Texans… Her work with unions culminated in 1995, when she was elected Executive Vice-President of the National AFL-CIO, the first woman and the first person of color to hold that position. In January of 1997, Chavez-Thompson was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.”
(Below—Francis Lubbock was both a Lieutenant Governor and a Governor of Texas. Unlike Governor Lubbock, who led Texas during the Civil War, Ms. Chavez-Thompson will not agree to leave the union if Governor Rick Perry leads Texas to secede.)
2. Ms. Chavez-Thompson has pledged to push the expansion of children’s health insurance programs in Texas. This is very much needed in our state.
3. As proven organizer, Ms. Chavez-Thompson will offer the Texas Democratic Party needed skills in rallying more Democratic voters to go to the polls this November and beyond 2010. There is no good reason that a majority-minority state with many large urban centers should be so strongly Republican.
Please consider voting for Linda Chavez-Thompson in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of Texas.
Here is my endorsement of Hank Gilbert in the Democratic primary for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.
(Below–A mural in Ms. Chavez-Thompson’s hometown of Lorenzo, Texas. Here is the city web home for Lorenzo. Here is a history of Lorenzo from the Handbook of Texas Online. Lorenzo is near Lubbock and had a 2000 population of 1,372. The town is part of Crosby County.)
“Blogger’s Note—This is a post I made in 2006. It is true today just as it was four years ago. A Shamu at a Sea World in Orlando, Florida has in recent days attacked and killed a trainer. While I’m sorry someone is dead, why are these creatures held as prisoners in a tank? There is just no way people see these killer whales and start to care about animal life and the oceans. People often can’t even muster up any care for each other.”
A killer whale attacked her handler yesterday at Sea World in San Diego. I’m glad the trainer is not seriously hurt—But how long will we allow these huge creatures to be kept in tanks?
Killer whales, which are really dolphins, live in big social groups. They swim around with others of their kind and are pretty much able to kill anything they want to eat. It’s lousy to put such a thing in a tank.
Sea World promotes Shamu to make money. Shamu is a generic name for many killer whales held at the different Sea World parks. There is always a “Shamu.” If one Shamu dies they have another Shamu ready to go. I’m sure they must die. Sea World does not talk about that. They just have an eternal Shamu always ready to put on a show.
I don’t know what killer whales think about. It could be that the attacking orca was just having a bad day. However, if these Shamu’s ever do think about freedom, you can’t blame them for attacking the instruments of their captivity.
If you’ve got the money to visit Sea World, then you’ve got the money to go to the ocean or buy some books about sea life and learn about ocean creatures for real. You won’t learn anything by watching creatures held in fish jail for the amusement of human beings.
Here is a video clip of Ken Hunter. Mr Hunter is the son of Vernon Hunter. Vernon Hunter is the IRS worker who was killed by the terrorist tax-resister Joseph Stack. Mr. Stack is the person who flew his airplane into the side of the IRS building in Austin, Texas last week.
Vernon Hunter was father of six, a Vietnam veteran, and a dedicated public servant.
Some people think Mr. Stack is a hero of some sort. Yet the clear fact is that a person who flies an airplane into the side of the building is a terrorist.
Paying taxes is part of what makes us citizens in a free society. The person who resists paying taxes with violence is a terrorist and a traitor.
Former Vice President Richard Cheney has survived his fifth heart attack.
How does he keep surviving these heart attacks?
Is it possible that after each heart attack, a human sacrifice is made and Mr. Cheney is given a fresh heart?
Here are facts about Aztec sacrifice such as the one you see illustrated above.
Mr. Cheney desires as many fresh new hearts as required to keep him alive.
I hope for Vice President Cheney’s quick recovery and for his return to good health.
While Mr. Cheney is an evil man with blood on his hands, I’d be diminished if I wished ill on him.
The best web resource to learn about the Vice Presidents is at the web home of the U.S. Senate.
As you can see from the picture above, my father will not be running out of cigarettes anytime soon.
He’s 79 and he is not going to quit. I’m not going to ask him to quit.
Though my father will not quit smoking, you should quit smoking right away.
Smoking will kill you.
The flight attendant on my Cincinnati to Houston flight this afternoon was a pro. She was polite, communicated well, and was patient.
As I was leaving the plane, I offered her a complement.
We’ve got to be respectful of our fellow working people. It is up to working people to advocate and offer respect for other working people.
Work is the hours of our lives.
I’m sitting here in Ohio watching reports on MSNBC about the 39% increase in health insurance rates in California and about the fact that Toyota worked to delay safety regulations and recalls.
All I can say is that folks are crazy to count on private business to do the right thing unless they are forced to do so by average people and by government.
This White Castle, at the intersection of Taft and Reading in Cincinnati, is quite fair-minded to offer six hamburgers for under $400.
Here is a picture of a nice tree I took a few days ago in Cincinnati, Ohio.
You see the snow and you can imagine that the day was cold. But even in the cold, you can see how hopeful the tree and all it’s branches are.
The picture you see is of River Downs racetrack in Cincinnati, Ohio.
No races are being run at River Downs today.
However, in the clubhouse you can watch and bet on races taking place at other tracks across the U.S.
I made some bets this afternoon. One bet, a boxed trifecta on a race run at Gulfstream Park in Miami, was a winner. It paid $51.
This put me $20 ahead for the afternoon. I left the track at that point becuase all cliches are correct.
The cliche I followed today says “Quit while you are ahead.”
This is what I did.
Now, I can spend that $20 on booze, chili dogs, and lottery tickets.